Grid Ref: SK 158 321
Dates: 28 Sept 2015, 21 Oct 2019 & 29 April 2022


  Sudbury Hall  
  Front elevation of Sudbury Hall, Sept 2015  
  Long Gallery  
  The Long Gallery, 2019  

Arthur Mee, writing in 1937, gives a poetic introduction to his section on Sudbury. 

It is in the rich meadows of the Dove, with old houses, old inn, old stocks and a wayside green.  Through it two busy highways join for a spell so that none shall miss its beauty, bringing us to the open lawns of the stately Hall. A House of warm red walls, it is full of treasures within and beauty without; on one side it looks to fair parklands; on the other to gardens and lake, river valley and the Needwood Forest.

Sudbury Hall is a Grade I listed mansion built in the 1660s, just after the Restoration of the Monarchy.  It has been in the care of the National Trust since it was given by the family in 1967.  It houses the Trust's The Museum of Childhood in the former servants' area. 

The Vernon family came to Sudbury as a result of the 16th-century marriage of Sir John Vernon to Ellen Montgomery the Sudbury heiress. The house was built between 1660 and 1680 by George Vernon, grandfather of George Venables-Vernon the 1st Baron Vernon.  It has an impressive Great Staircase and a magnificent Long Gallery, which displays pictures of Charles II's mistresses, including Nell Gwyn. Inside there are carvings by Grinling Gibbons and Edward Pearce, murals by Louis Laguerre and elaborate plasterwork by Samuel Mansfield, James Pettifer and Robert Bradbury. The carvings above the main entrance porch were sculpted by William Wilson. There are formal gardens with a tree-fringed lake.

The house was used for the internal Pemberley scenes in the BBC dramatisation (1995) of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. The frontage of Pemberley was provided by Lyme Park in Cheshire.  Both properties continue to be frequented by Austen enthusiasts.

drawing room   drawing room
Drawing Room looking right   Drawing Room looking left
portrait   library
Restoration Lady in Long Gallery   The Library
outbuilding   Vernon Arms
Museum of Childhood, Sept 2015   Vernon Arms, Sept 2015
Post Office   Alms Houses
Village Post Office, Sept 2015   Alms Houses, Sept 2015


  Part of the courtyard adjacent to the hall with shops and cafe, April 2022  


Family History

Wikipedia tells us something of the complex family history of the Vernons of Sudbury, one branch of many of that name.  Sir John Vernon (died 1545) was the fourth son of Sir Henry Vernon (died 1515) of Haddon and Tong. He was a member of the King's Council for Wales, High Sheriff of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire in 1528 and Custos Rotulorum of Derbyshire. He married Ellen Montgomery, one of the three heiress daughters of Sir John Montgomery (died 1513) of Marchington and Sudbury, Derbyshire; the Sudbury estate thereby passed to the Vernon family.

Their only son Henry Vernon (died 1569) married Margaret Swynnerton, co-heiress of Humphrey Swynnerton of Hilton Hall, Staffordshire thus combining two substantial estates. They had two sons, John (died 1600) and Henry (died 1592); neither had a male heir, but the family wealth was preserved by the marriage of Henry's only child, Margarett, to her third cousin Sir Edward Vernon (1584–1658) of Houndshill, Staffordshire.  Their eldest son Henry Vernon (1615–1659) married a distant kinswoman Meriall Vernon, only surviving daughter of judge Sir George Vernon of Haslington, Cheshire; the extensive Sudbury, Haslington and Houndshill estates were inherited by their elder surviving son, George, with the Hilton estate passing to the younger one, Henry.   George Vernon the elder son (1636–1702) continued the Sudbury line. His son, Henry Vernon, (by his third marriage, to Catherine Vernon, eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Vernon, merchant of London) was a Member of Parliament for Stafford, married Ann Pigott, niece and heiress of Peter Venables the last Baron Kinderton. Their only surviving son, George (1709–1780), Member of Parliament for Lichfield and Derby, changed his surname in 1728 to Venables-Vernon and was created the first Baron Vernon of Kinderton in 1762.  The Vernon Barony remained in the family until 2000 when the 10th Baron died and the Barony passed to a distant Vernon-Harcourt fifth cousin.

One of the most famous of the Vernons was the 5th Lord, George John Warren Venables-Vernon, 5th Baron Vernon (22 June 1803 – 31 May 1866). He was one of the last members of parliament for Derbyshire and the first for South Derbyshire after the Reform Act of 1832. He was born at Stapleford Hall in Nottinghamshire, the only son of George Charles Venables-Vernon, 4th Baron Vernon (1779–1835) of Sudbury, Derbyshire, and Frances Maria, only daughter of Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren. Sir Richard Vernon, Speaker of the House of Commons from 1425 to 1426, was an ancestor. He was educated at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford.

He was a boy when he first went to Italy and it made a great impression on him. Later he lived in Florence where he studied Italian literature and history.  He was particularly attracted to the work of Dante and devoted much of his time, until his death in 1866, to the production of a remarkable book.  With the aid of friends he produced the work in three volumes of the finest quality.   It has been described as an astonishing piece of scholarship, which for utility of purpose, comprehensiveness of design and costly execution, has never been equalled in any country. In acknowledgement, the Italians made him a member of one of their most distinguised orders of merit as a Cavaliere di San Maurizio e Lazzaro.

The full title of Lord Vernon's book is L' Inferno di Dante Alighieri disposto in ordine grammaticale e corredato di brevi dichiarazioni di G. G. Warren, Lord Vernon, London, 1858–1865, 3 vols. folio.

Grinling Gibbons carving in the Drawing Room

The Buildings of England, Derbyshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner, revised by Elizabeth Williamson, Yale University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-300-09591-0
The King's England, Derbyshire, by Arthur Mee, first published in 1937, 6th impression 1951
The Vernons of Sudbury are related to those of Hanbury Hall in Worcester, a property on my England pages.

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