Samuel Brown, (1803 – 1880), was a well-known and influential Freeman of Sudbury. A butcher by trade but also a natural entrepreneur who traded successfully in land and property. When his house and business next to St. Peter’s Church was pulled down in the 1840’s as the Market Hill was cleared, he moved his family into Number 1 North Street, just across the road from his first home. His new house was large and comfortable with an impressive white brick frontage.
Samuel served on the Paving and Lighting Commission and was a Conservative member of the Town Council. He was also a parish churchwarden of St. Peter’s, Sudbury, for many years with a great love of and practical knowledge of Gothic architecture.
He was never backward in contributing to the restoration of local churches and, for example, funded the replacement of battlements and stone work on the tower at St. Gregory’s, Sudbury.
His great love was campanology and he was a well known bell ringer during the early part of his life. He contributed generously to the restoration of church bells and, in 1874, helped to increase the ‘ring’ of bells at St. Peter’s from six to eight. Everything relating to the history of Sudbury was important to him and, as a Freeman, had a great respect for the Freedom. As one of the more substantial citizens, Samuel taught his daughters to show compassion for the more impoverished people of the town.
When he died in 1880, he left a considerable sum of money and farmland to his four unmarried children: Sarah Frances, Susanna (known as ‘Susie’), Ellen and Alice Mary. The sisters were all determined to live by their parents’ example. Alice Mary became a District Visitor for the Rector. Her district was the largest and one of the poorest in the town but she knew and cared about every man, woman and child in it. She was also very aware of animal welfare and provided a drinking fountain not just for people but for cattle, horses and dogs as well.
Although the sisters worshipped at St. Peter’s Church on the Market Hill, they spent some of their money on All Saints Church. It was closed for a few months in 1882 for important renovations which included the installation of a magnificent East window behind the altar. The subject of the new window, which was formally dedicated by the Bishop of Ely, was the Ascension. The Misses Browns dedicated it to the memory of their parents who were married at All Saints Church on January 10th, 1837.
They also placed a beautiful stained-glass window in St. Gregory’s Church in memory of their father. Ellen and Alice Mary arranged for another stained-glass window in the same church for their aunt, Susan Brown, who died in 1899.
St. Peter’s was given a fine reredos (carved oak canopy) and Ellen and Alice Mary beautified the Chancel in memory of their sisters Sarah Frances and Susanna. They replaced the stone figures in the niches over the south porch and paid the insurance premiums for St. Gregory’s and St. Peter’s for many years.
It was said of the sisters that there had scarcely been a subscription list to which their names had not been added.
Samuel’s only son died in infancy and his daughters never married so they were free to spend their inheritance as they wished. Sudbury was indeed fortunate to benefit from their generosity.