Sutton, Surrey

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Sutton High Street - - 385209.jpg
Sutton High Street
Grid reference: TQ255645
Location: 51°21’56"N, 0°11’47"W
Post town: Sutton
Postcode: SM1
Dialling code: 020
Local Government
Council: Sutton
Sutton and Cheam

Sutton is a large suburban town in Surrey, within the outer reaches of the metropolitan conurbation but taking its character very much from it. It is identified as one of the “major metropolitan centres” in the regional plan.[1]

The town was connected to London by rail in 1847. As part of the suburban growth of London in the 20th century, Sutton significantly expanded and increased in population as the metropolis grew and absorbed more and more of northern Surrey until Sutton became contiguous with the mass of the conurbation. It now forms a significant civic and retail district for the surrounding towns.

Sutton is within the Wallington Hundred.

Name of the town

The name “Sutton” is relatively common and in each case derives from the Old English ‘’Suþ tun’’, meaning “south town” or “south farmstead”. Sutton in Surrey is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Sudtone.[2] It may have been named “south farmstead” in relation to Mitcham and Morden to the north.[2] The name Sutton was later applied to Sutton Common and to the Sutton New Town development in the 19th century.[2]


Market stalls set outside ASDA (large building on right) at the bottom end of the high street.

Sutton is one of several towns located on a narrow bed of Thanet sands which extends from Croydon in the east, to Epsom in the west. To the south of this belt is chalk of the North Downs, and to the north is clay. The belt of Thanet sands allowed wells to provide clean water, whereas the clay to the north mostly offered surface water of unsuitable quality. This feature attracted settlements to the sand belt from a very early date. The most notable of these were Epsom, Ewell, Cuddington, Cheam, Sutton, Carshalton, Wallington, and Waddon. Nearby settlements include Belmont, Carshalton, Cheam, Banstead, St. Helier, Wallington and Worcester Park.

The Aspects apartment block can be seen across Sutton. In Sutton town centre, there are three main churches which are the Sutton Baptist Church, Trinity Church and St. Nicholas Church, as well as a Salvation Army in Benhill Avenue.

There are also two areas of green space in the town centre; one called Manor Park which is situated opposite the modern Police Station and the other simply called Sutton Green, located at the lower end of the high street relatively near Sutton Bus station. Sutton Library sits at the top of the town next to the Civic Offices, home of Sutton Council. There is a cinema opposite the St. Nicholas Centre, the two being connected by an above street level covered walkway. To the north of Sutton, there is the Benhill Estate.


Before 1700

Archaeological finds in the region date back over ten thousand years, but the first substantial evidence of habitation nearby comes from the excavation of a Roman villa in Beddington. The Roman road of Stane Street forms part of the northern boundary of the parish of Sutton; the course of Stane Street through the area is now followed by the modern roads Stonecot Hill and London Road (designated as the A24).

The Domesday Book of 1086 assesses ‘’Sudtone’’:

In the time of King Edward it was assessed at 30 hides; now at 8½ hides. There are 2 carucates in the demesne, and 29 villeins and 4 cottars with 13 carucates. There are 2 churches, and 2 bondmen, and 2 acres of meadow. The wood yields 10 swine. In the time of King Edward it was valued at 20 pounds, now at 15 pounds.

The Domesday Book also states that the Abbot of Chertsey held the Manor. This remained so until 1538 when the Manor was sold to King Henry VIII, along with the manors of Ebisham (Epsom), Coulsdon, and Horley. They were all then granted to Sir Nicholas Carew of Beddington in that same year. When Sir Nicholas was sentenced to death for treason, the King seized the manors, and Sutton remained possessions of the Crown. Queen Mary I later restored the whole of these manors to Sir Francis, only son of Sir Nicholas Carew, who died childless so that they fell to the Crown once more. In 1589 Queen Elizabeth granted the reversion of the manor to Sir Francis’s grandson, Edward Darcy, in tail male, The manor passed through various of the family until the direct male line from Edward Darcy ended on the death of Sir Edward, and the reversion fell to the Crown.

King Charles II granted the manor to the Duke of Portland in 1663, who sold it in 1669 to Sir Robert Long, who sold it that same year to Sir Richard Mason. The Manor has frequently changed hands since.

After 1700

In 1755, a turnpike road was built from London to Brighton, intersecting with a turnpike road from Carshalton to Ewell which was built at the same time. The toll bars for Cheam Road and Brighton Road were originally located at right angles to each other by the Cock Hotel, an inn that sat on the south-east corner of the intersection of the turnpikes. The toll bar for Carshalton Road was where the police station is now, though the existence of this toll bar is disputed. All three of these toll bars moved further away from the intersection after a number of years to account for the growth in Sutton's size. The northernmost toll bar was situated where Rosehill is now. The toll bars remained in effect until 1882.

Sutton railway station was opened on 10 May 1847. Now that Sutton had a new, fast link to central London, the town’s population more than doubled between 1851 and 1861. New housing to accommodate this growth was constructed in the Lind Road area, and called the "New Town". Today, a pub on the corner of Lind Road and Greyhound Road is named The New Town. Sutton Water Company was incorporated in 1863, and the provision of water mains finally allowed houses to be built outside of the area defined by the water-yielding Thanet Sands. The Lord of the Manor at the time, Mr Alcock, sold land that was previously unsuitable for residential buildings, making it available for new construction. Sutton's population more than doubled between 1861 and 1871.

During the Second World War, few places were bombed. However, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists 187 civilian casualties for Sutton and Cheam. In 1959 a local resident George Alcock started a campaign to preserve a unique avenue of Copper Beech trees. This led the same year to the formation of the Sutton & Cheam Society of which he was secretary for many years. A plaque commemorating his life is situated on the corner of Christchurch Park with Brighton Road.

Outside links


  1. Mayor of London (February 2008). "London Plan (Consolidated with Alterations since 2004)". Greater London Authority. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Mills, D. (2000). Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names. Oxford.