Anthony Reay Wheeler spent his retirement generating pride in Sudbury’s history which is threaded by the involvement of his own wider family in business and civic life.
He qualified as a Freeman of the town as the Sudbury-born son and grandson of Freemen and was an active member of their Trust. The blue plaques on 14 historically significant buildings in the town are largely due to his influence and so is the effigy of 8th century Bishop Aelfhun outside St Gregory’s churchyard. This was a joint project with Canon John Nurser and commemorates the first written example of the town’s place name. This is in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles which record the Bishop dying in Sudbury in 798 AD.
Tony was best known for his lively talks on Sudbury history spiced with a quirky humour that entertained and informed countless audiences. His rich voice and tall commanding presence (he was a captain in the Army Education Corps) ensured there was no dozing at the back when he told the dramatic story of Sudbury’s Zeppelin raid in 1916.
Another of his specialist subjects was Sudbury Grammar School where he broke his family line of master butchers by opting to read archaeology and anthropology at Jesus College, Cambridge, and then teach. He retired in 1987 from the Royal Grammar School at Worcester where he was a deputy head.
Tony led a modest bachelor life and died leaving £3m mostly to charities. Local beneficiaries included Christ Church United Reformed Church where he was an Elder; the churches of St Gregory’s and St John’s; Society of Friends; Friends of St Peter’s; Gainsborough House; Sudbury Museum Trust; the Sudbury Society; Eden Project and the Common Lands Charity.
Valerie Herbert, Trustee, Sudbury Museum Trust