Ancient gift-giving in Sudbury lives on

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Sudbury continued a 17th century tradition in distributing gifts to reflect the wishes of two men who left bequests for the benefit of the elderly community.

The gift-giving ceremony, now in its 395th year, took place in St Peter’s on Holy Thursday, when Keith Robins, vice-chairman of the Sudbury Municipal Charities, welcomed mayor Sarah Page and consort Fred Page, along with charity trustees and the recipients of this year’s gifts.

This time, a total of 40 vouchers, each with a value of £25, were handed out to local residents. The vouchers can be exchanged for clothing or food at two stores in the town.

The tradition began back in 1622, when Martin Cole directed that the rent charge on Shalford Mill, Great Henny, should be used to purchase and distribute 50 shirts and 50 smocks to men and women around Sudbury.

In 1668, the ceremony was extended to include food, when ex-mayor Nathanial King left money to provide 100 bread loaves on the same day.

Mr Robins stated he was pleased the people of Sudbury had kept this ceremony going almost four centuries later, and he also thanked the Friends of St Peter’s for the use of the venue.