An early silk-weaving industry (still in existence, on a smaller scale) as well as the wool trade brought prosperity to Sudbury, which has three fine Perpendicular Gothic churches and some half-timber houses.

Thomas Gainsborough, one of the greatest English portrait and landscape painters, was born here in 1727; a statue of him holding his palette stands on Market Hill. In Charles Dickens's first novel, The Pickwick Papers, Sudbury was the model for the fictional Eatanswill, where Mr. Pickwick stands for Parliament.

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