Sudbury is situated on the western border of Brent, just west of Wembley. The name first appears in 1273-4 and means 'the southern manor'.
Until late 14th century Sudbury Manor was the main Middlesex residence for the Archbishops of Canterbury. Then it was divided and leased out. The 16th century remains of the Barn at Hundred Elms Farm remind us of the rural past of this area which was a centre for animal farming with many farmhouses in the 17th and 18th centuries. There was a prosperous agricultural community until a farming crisis in the beginning of the 19th century.
In 1582 John Lyon, founder of Harrow School, provided funds for the upkeep of the road from Harrow to London, then called 'Harrow waye'. The road conditions still were bad (until a turnpike trust (a body that raised money to improve roads) was created in 1801. Nevertheless, in the middle of the 17th century a daily coach passed here joining Harrow and London, and the Swan coaching inn was built in southwest Sudbury, with more public houses following later
The common land was gradually built over and enclosed (claimed by local landlords). The road to London and the presence of Harrow School contributed to the development of Sudbury - it was the first part of Wembley to grow significantly in the 19th century. Several large houses were built. A brewery existed here by 1859. Hundred Elms Farm became a dairy and a sub-post office opened in 1864. A little later a shopping centre, the Mall, grew around the Swan.
The Misses Copland, local philanthropists built a new house, Sudbury Lodge in the grounds of Crabs House, their father's home. Sir George Barham, founder of the Express Dairy, came to live in Sudbury. He purchased the Copland estate in 1895, renaming Sudbury Lodge Barham House.
In 1895 Sudbury's population reached 925.
With the arrival of railways, transport service through Sudbury improved and this encouraged the development of the area. In 1903 District electric trains began serving the area, and from 1906 Great Central Railway from Marylebone stopped here. A little later this was complemented by electric trams and motorbus services to Charing Cross. In summer many Londoners came to Sudbury to the Swan's tea garden and a racecourse on the site of the present Methodist Church.
In the 20th century some of the large estates and farms were sold off as building plots and suburban development began. Roads and transport services were improved and shops set up. This process was facilitated by the 1924-5 British Empire Exhibition. Sudbury became an Anglican parish in 1925. Between the two world wars new schools and churches opened, complemented by a post office (1929), Odeon cinema (1935) and Vale Farm playing fields (1928) with a public swimming pools on this site (1932). Several housing estates were built by the Wembley Urban District Council. One of them was Sudbury Court Estate, built on the land sold for development by Captain E.G.Spencer-Churchill. These were some 1,700 'tudorbethan' semi-detached houses, built between 1928-34 by the local firm Comben & Wakeling.
In 1931 Charles Holden rebuilt Sudbury Town station in a striking modern style.
On his death in 1937 Titus Barham, son of Sir George, left Barham House and its grounds to the new Wembley Borough Council. The Council neglected the main house so badly that it had to be demolished in 1956-7. Crabs House survived and became Barham Park Library.
In the 1950s many old buildings in Sudbury were demolished. Sudbury Court Drive was developed in 1951-54. More flats followed in 1960s-70s. Nevertheless, parts of Subdury, like Elms Lane, still feel more rural than many suburbs.
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© Brent Heritage website 2002