Nurses return to Sudbury hospital where they trained to see new role of buildings

Former student nurses at Walnuttree Hospital in Sudbury. Left to right: Janet Gray, Phyllis Felton,

Former student nurses at Walnuttree Hospital in Sudbury. Left to right: Janet Gray, Phyllis Felton, Kate Bullard and Suzanne Richold. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

Four of the first student nurses at a Sudbury hospital have made a sentimental journey back to see the new role of the buildings where they once worked.

An aerial view of the new St Gregory's Place development at the former Walnuttree Hospital site in S

An aerial view of the new St Gregory's Place development at the former Walnuttree Hospital site in Sudbury. Picture: PJ LIVESEY - Credit: Archant

The four friends – Janet Gray, Phyllis Felton, Kate Bullard and Suzanne Richold – trained at Walnuttee Hospital as teenagers in the 1960s and returned to the site to see the new apartments and houses at the renamed St Gregory’s Place.

Phyllis, who started her nursing career at the hospital, wrote a book detailing its history, which was published in 2006.

Beyond the Bricks of Walnuttree Hospital traced the history of the site from the Iron Age, and part of Phyllis’ research is on show at Sudbury Heritage Centre, where she is one of the longest serving trustees.

The four friends trained at Walnuttree at the time of starched aprons and caps under a harsh regime headed by a matron and senior staff, who has served in military hospitals during World War Two.


You may also want to watch:


Phyliss said: “They didn’t stand any nonsense, discipline was really strict. I’m so pleased that the main buildings have been saved though there are some who wanted to see everything demolished because of its past as a workhouse.”

Though the hospital gained a reputation for good care in the NHS era, there were still shadows of the workhouse years when the four were students and several elderly former inmates were still there.

Most Read

Phyliss’ book tells the story of the last of those inmates, Lily, who died in 1985 but had been admitted to the workhouse 70 years earlier, when she was believed to be 15.

The workhouse records were destroyed but it was assumed that Lily, like many other girls, had been admitted to give birth to an illegitimate child.

The historic hospital building is being converted into 35 new homes - a mix of apartments and houses.

The first new homes won the approval of the retired nurses, including one which ended its hospital life as the blood test centre for the whole of Sudbury.

Specialist teams have been working on site all year and more than half the properties in the first phase of the development are already reserved.

The first residents are expected to move in by the end of the year and the development will complete next year. Prices start at £249,950 for a two bedroom apartment.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter