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Sudbury Pied Cow

previously known as Harlequin, Bear


closed 2009

last owner Punch

12 King St, CO10 2EB

grid reference TL 875 413

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listed building grade II

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CAMRA West Suffolk & Borders branch.

last updated 06/07/2015

The building probably dates from the 17th century, but has been much altered. It has been converted into several retail units, having stood empty for several years.

A report in the Bury & Norwich Post** on Aug-05 in 1835 when Thomas Mills was the landlord states that:

Mr John Crisp Gooday, Surveyor of Taxes, Mr Francis Sykes Gooday, his son, an attorney, and Mr Blestoe Smith, surgeon,were indicted for causing a riot in Sudbury a few days before an election. These three men were selected as they were the most active in directing the mob. Thomas Mills, landlord of the Bear Inn (a Blue), stated that he saw Smith (a Yellow) at his back gate directing twenty persons armed with walking sticks and broken faggots. Even though stones and coins were thrown and many windows broken by a 200 strong mob, a police constable on the scene believed there was no riot whatever. The three accused were acquitted.

There was a brewery here in the 19th century; the Bury Free Press*** of August 20th 1864 reported:

Valuable Inn and small brewery to be lett in Sudbury called the Bear Inn and brewery situated in the best possible position for trade in Sudbury being in the neighbourhood of the railway line and large wharves and maltings.

A report in the Ipswich Journal** in May 1825 states :

To be let, with immediate possession, in the populous and very flourishing town of Sudbury, the Inn called the Bear, with large yard, stables, and every convenience for the public business, lately put through repair and now in full trade. The house has the most desirable advantage of commanding the entrance from Colchester and Ipswich, and has many villages in its immediate neighbourhood. For particulars apply to Mr Thomas Turner, on the premises.

Also listed at Borehamgate Street (in 1839 & 1855 & 1865).

The Feb/Mar 1981 edition of Last Orders***** reports that the Bear is owned by Ind Coope.

Alfred Hedges' 1976 book "Inns and Inn Signs of Norfolk and Suffolk" says of the then Bear,

[...] a most amusing but probably apocryphal story is told about its sign. It concerns John Gainsborough, brother of the illustrious Thomas. Scheming Jack, as he was known to the whole of Sudbury, was something of an eccentric and devoted most of his time to inventing unwanted things like a mechanical cuckoo and a self-rocking cradle, but he was astute enough to see that one day men would fly. [...] He was also an accomplished painter and the landlord of the Bear offered him £1 to paint a new sign. "Make it 30/-", said Jack, "and I'll do the job and put a nice gold chain round the animal's neck." When the landlord refused to raise his price Jack painted the bear without its chain and collar as agreed, and both seemed satisfied with the bargain. Early next morning the landlord became aware of a gathering crowd laughing at his signboard. He dashed into the street and discovered that the bear had vanished from the sign. The background was there in all its detail, but the only trace of the bear was the silhouette of its outline. Jack was sympathetic when tackled by the landlord and said what a shame it was that the landlord had not paid the extra 10/- so that the bear could have been tied up! He did not explain that he had painted the animal in soluble colours and that it had rained hard the previous night.

Hedges also says of the then Bull,

The Bear [...] was at one time extensively used by the local farmers as a kind of corn exchange. The growers would take samples of their grain as far as the door of an upstairs room. Then they popped it through a hole in the door, to be valued by the unseen and unseeing occupant of the room. In this way a true valuation could be arrived at without suspicion of favouritism.

Known as the Bear before 1990.

(Most pub, location & historic details collated by Nigel, Tony or Keith - original sources are credited)

(** historic newspaper information from Stuart Ansell)

(*** report reproduced with kind permission from Foxearth & District Local History Society)

(**** historic newspaper information from Bob Mitchell)

(***** Last Orders is a free local newsletter - published by Suffolk CAMRA memers since 1978)

(some old PO directory information courtesy of londonpublichouse.com)