Sutton, London

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Manor Park fountain Sutton.jpg
Sutton collage (4).jpg
Long exposure night shot of Sutton pace.jpg
From top, left to right: Manor Park fountain; Thomas Wall Centre and clock; Trinity Church spire; old inn sign above town centre crossroads; multicoloured facades in Sutton High Street; taxi outside Sutton station
Sutton is located in Greater London
Sutton shown within Greater London
Population 41,483 (2011)[1]
OS grid reference TQ255645
• Charing Cross 10.7 mi (17.2 km) NNE
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town SUTTON
Postcode district SM1 SM2 SM3
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
London Assembly
List of places
51°21′56″N 0°11′47″W / 51.3656°N 0.1963°W / 51.3656; -0.1963Coordinates: 51°21′56″N 0°11′47″W / 51.3656°N 0.1963°W / 51.3656; -0.1963

Sutton is the principal town of the London Borough of Sutton in South London, England. It lies on the lower slopes of the North Downs, and has the administrative headquarters of the borough, it is located 10.7 miles (17.2 km) south-south west of Charing Cross, and is one of the eleven metropolitan centres identified in the London Plan.[2]

An ancient parish originally in the county of Surrey, Sutton is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as having two churches and about 30 houses. Sutton's location on the London to Brighton turnpike from 1755 led to the establishment of coaching inns, spurring its growth as a village. When it was connected to central London by rail in 1847, the village began to grow into a town, and further expansion followed in the 20th century, it became a municipal borough with neighbouring Cheam in 1934, and became part of Greater London in 1965.[3]

Sutton has the largest library in the borough, several works of public art and four conservation areas, it is home to a number of large international companies and the sixth most important shopping area in London, centred on Sutton High Street. Sutton railway station is the borough's largest, with frequent services to central London and other destinations. Sutton is a hub for filming in south-west London,[4] it is home to the Royal Marsden Hospital and the Institute of Cancer Research, where there are plans to create the world's second biggest cancer research campus.

Crime levels are among the lowest in Greater London.

Sutton borough is among the highest performing education authorities in the country; in 2011 it was the top performing borough for GCSE results in England.[5]


Sir Nicholas Carew

Origin of the name[edit]

The placename Sutton is recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as Sudtone, it is formed from Old English 'sūth' and 'tūn', meaning 'south farm'. It was probably in relation to Mitcham and Morden that it was considered southerly.[6]

Pre 1700[edit]

Archaeological finds in the region date back thousands of years, including the excavation of a Roman villa in Beddington. An implement from the neolithic age was found in Sutton town centre,[7] the Roman road of Stane Street formed part of the northern boundary of the parish.

Sutton was recorded as Sudtone in a charter of Chertsey Abbey believed to have been drawn up in the late 7th century when the Manor was granted to the Abbot of Chertsey by Frithwald, Governor of Surrey, some sources state the name as Suthtone or Sudtana instead.

William The Conqueror's Domesday Book of 1086 records Sutton as spanning about 800 acres, and having about 30 houses and a population of about 200.[8] It states that the Abbot of Chertsey held the Manor; in 1538 the Manor was sold to King Henry VIII and granted to Sir Nicholas Carew of Beddington. When Sir Nicholas was sentenced to death for treason, the King seized the manor. Queen Mary later restored it to Francis, son of Sir Nicholas, the Manor later became a Crown possession again until King Charles II granted it to the Duke of Portland in 1663, who sold it in 1669. The Manor changed hands regularly thereafter.[9]

From the time of Domesday until the 19th century, Sutton formed a parish in the Wallington hundred of Surrey, in the feudal system.[10][11][12]

1700 to 1900[edit]

The first Cock Hotel in 1789.[13] The tollhouse is to the right and the tollgate is in the centre.[14]

The area around the road from London to Banstead Downs, through Sutton Common and Sutton, was a haven for highwaymen during the 18th century;[15] in 1755, two turnpike roads, which met at Sutton, were built: one from London to Brighton (Brighton Road), the other from Carshalton to Ewell (Cheam Road). The toll bars for the roads were originally located by the Cock Hotel, a coaching inn at the junction, the inn's sign straddled the Brighton road.[13]

The London to Brighton stagecoach began in 1760, and the Cock Hotel was the 9am stop for coaches leaving the city. Regular contact beyond the town brought expansion and sophistication. Small businesses opened up, at first related to travelers and later to provide goods for neighbouring areas,[8] the toll bars moved away from the junction as Sutton expanded, remaining in use until 1882.[9]

The Nightingale pub

Sutton railway station was opened in 1847. Following the arrival of the new, fast link to central London, Sutton's population more than doubled between 1851 and 1861, and the village became a town. New housing was built in the Lind Road area, and called "New Town". A pub built in 1854 on the corner of Lind Road was named the Jenny Lind, after the famous Swedish opera singer Johanna Maria Lind, who was visiting friends in the area in 1847 and enchanted locals with her singing, it has recently been renamed the Nightingale, also after the singer, who was known as the Swedish Nightingale.[8]

Sutton Water Company was incorporated in 1863, and the provision of water mains allowed houses to be built outside the area of water-yielding Thanet Sands, the Lord of the Manor, Mr Thomas Alcock, sold land for new construction. Sutton's population more than doubled again in the next ten years between 1861 and 1871,[9] spurred in part by the development of upmarket Benhilton in north Sutton.

The High Street near the top was known as Cock Hill until the 1880s – the shops on the east side were built in 1880, ten years later than those on the west side,[16] the grand and decorative London and Provincial Bank building (now home to Barclays Bank) was built overlooking the historic crossroads in 1894. It is four storeys tall and forms a prominent landmark. There is a series of arches at ground level, and an ornate entrance where the two roads meet.[7][14][17]

In 1884 Sutton High School for Girls was founded by the then Girls' Public Day School Trust.

In 1899 Sutton County Grammar School (now Sutton Grammar School for Boys) opened.

Sutton Masonic Hall

In 1897 Sutton Masonic Hall was built in Grove Road. Freemasons have met there since its foundation, apart during World War II when the military requisitioned it and it served as a shelter for displaced people.[18][14]

In 1898 a new, larger, Cock Hotel replaced the original one.[19]

20th century[edit]

Sutton High St., Christmas, 1910

By 1901, the town's population had reached 17,223 as further housing was built and the High Street was developed.[20]

In 1902 the Banstead Road site of the South Metropolitan Industrial school was bought by the Metropolitan Asylums Board, the site later became the Downs Schools and then the Downs Hospital. It is now shared between the Royal Marsden and Sutton Hospitals and the Institute of Cancer Research.[21]

The Thomas Wall Centre

The Sutton Adult School and Institute opened in 1910 in a large Edwardian building in Benhill Avenue, it later became the Thomas Wall Centre,[22] named after the area's benefactor of Wall's sausage and ice cream fame. Thomas Wall's own lack of education led to a desire to encourage learning in others, resulting in the establishment of a trust and the construction of the Institute, the adult school is said to have had the best premises in the UK: by 1915 there were social clubs, a library, clubs for maternity and horticulture, debating and temperance societies, a legal advice committee, bible study and English literature classes, and what was claimed to be the finest public gymnasium in southern England.[23]

During World War II bombing was not as heavy as in central London - 434 bombs in total were dropped on Sutton and Cheam; despite this, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists 187 civilian casualties for the area.[24]

In 1950, in order to widen the High Street, the Cock Hotel was demolished. However, the inn sign and its finger-posts survive, overlooking the historic town-centre crossroads.[25]

In 1959 a local resident, George Edgar Alcock, started a campaign to preserve a unique avenue of copper beech trees, this campaign led the same year to the formation of the Sutton and Cheam Society, a local amenity group. A plaque commemorating Mr Alcock's life is situated at the junction of Christchurch Park with Brighton Road.[26]


Sutton came within the area of the Metropolitan Police District in 1840, the parish of Sutton adopted the Local Government Act 1858 in 1882 and a local board was formed to govern the area. The Local Government Act 1894 reformed it as Sutton Urban District.

In 1928 the area of the urban district was expanded to include the parish of Cheam, and renamed Sutton and Cheam, the town became a municipal borough in 1934, and the civil parishes were merged in 1949.[10] The municipal borough was abolished in 1965 and its former area became part of the London Borough of Sutton in Greater London.

For Westminster elections, Sutton is part of the Sutton and Cheam constituency, formed in 1945, the Member of Parliament is Paul Scully, of the Conservative Party.

Sutton (parish) population
1881 10,334
1891 13,977
1901 17,223
1911 21,270
1921 21,063
1931 27,989
Absorbed by
Sutton and Cheam parish
source: UK census[27]

Population and demography[edit]

Most of Sutton, including the town centre, falls under the SM1 postcode area, though places south of Sutton railway station are part of SM2 instead, and the western part of Sutton Common is in SM3.

The population of the town, comprising the Sutton Central, Sutton West, Sutton North and Sutton South wards, was 41,483 in the 2011 census.[28]

A majority of the town's population is in the ABC1 social group.[29]


Trinity Square from above

Geology, soil and elevations[edit]

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,[30] the belt of Thanet sands allowed wells to provide clean water, and this attracted settlements from a very early date. The Sutton and Cheam Water Company began operations in 1864, and by 1900 had built a total of 142 miles of mains, the company amalgamated with the East Surrey Water Company in the 1990s to form Sutton and East Surrey Water.[31]

Elevations range from 115 metres (377 ft) AOD in Belmont to 23 metres (75 ft) in Sutton Common, at the start of the Pyl Brook stream.


Sutton has formed part of Greater London since 1965,[3] despite this, "Sutton, Surrey" is often used for addresses in the town.[32] Apart from being inaccurate, there is another, much smaller Sutton in Surrey proper, near Dorking.[33][better source needed] Sutton mainline railway station is known as "Sutton (Surrey)" by Southern Railway Ltd.[34]

Green spaces[edit]

Autumnal trees on Sutton Green

In addition to the St Nicholas church grounds, there are two areas of green space within the town centre:

Sutton Green is at the lower (northern) end of Sutton High Street, near All Saints Church, it is bordered by a row of detached Victorian villas to the west, the High Street to the east and Bushey Road to the south. The green dates from 1810 when it was awarded to the residents of Sutton under the Sutton Common Enclosure Award. Victoria Gardens, a smaller area of green space which once included a pond, lies across the road from Sutton Green.[35]

Just to the north of Sutton Green there are more extensive green spaces in the form of Rose Hill Park East and Rose Hill Park West, situated to the east and west respectively of the main thoroughfare Angel Hill/Rosehill. Rose Hill Park East contains Greenshaw Woods, for which Greenshaw High School is named.

Fountain, Manor Park

Manor Park lies opposite the police station, it was opened by the Chairman of the then Sutton Urban District Council in 1914, and its fountain was added in 1924-5. A plaque on the pool surround states: "This fountain was presented to the town by Councillor Chas Yates Chairman of Sutton U.D.C.1924-25"[36]

The park is also the site of the Sutton War Memorial, which was unveiled in 1921 by Sir Ralph Forster, a resident whose son had died in the war,[37][38] the memorial, in portland stone, consists of a large ornamental cross on a plinth.[39] 524 men who died in the First World War are commemorated on the memorial. There are also four angels on the plinth overlooking the park.[39]

Sutton War Memorial

The current Manor Park Café opened in October 2010, this eco-friendly, thirty-seat café has a range of environmental features, including its straw-bale construction. It was erected using UK produced straw-bales and natural sustainable materials, giving the building a potential lifespan of over 200 years, it was designed by Amazonails Architectura designers, and constructed by a mixed team of builders.[40] It was London’s first energy-efficient building to use this construction method.[41]

In the south of Sutton starts Banstead Downs, which extends for around a mile south towards neighbouring Banstead. Banstead Downs is a large Site of Special Scientific Interest, covering 430 acres (170 ha). Banstead Golf Course is on the northern slopes.

Local Nature Reserves

Sutton contains two Local Nature Reserves.[42]


Ornate commercial architecture in Sutton High St.

Sutton is mainly the product of the railways, which arrived in the town in the mid-19th century. So, although it already existed (as a village with coaching inns) in the horse and carriage era, most of the town's earliest architecture is Victorian.[citation needed]A few buildings date from before the Victorian era, the Georgian Sutton Lodge on Brighton Road is thought to be the oldest fully surviving building in the former parish of Sutton. The lodge was initially the farmhouse of the former Sutton Farm. Later, the farmland around the lodge was sold off for house building, the lodge itself survived and was bought by Sutton Council, for use as a day centre.[45] During its early history, an apocryphal story was that the lodge had also served as a hideaway for the future King George IV (the Prince Regent) and his mistresses,[8][46] the building is Grade II listed.[47]

The High Street and the central area housing has a majority of Victorian architecture; Edwardian architecture is also represented, especially among the town's housing stock. Of architectural interest because of its particularly varied style is the Victorian residential quarter east of the high street known as Newtown, where no single developer was in overall charge,[8] the town also features more recent architectural styles from the 1930s (including some art deco and moderne), for example the handsome brick Baptist Church in Cheam Road designed in 1935 by architect Nugent F. Cachemaille-Day,[48] up to the 21st century.

Sutton's Edwardian Police Station

The most prominent examples of 21st century architecture include the Aspects of Sutton and Lamborne apartment buildings and the new police station extension. Aspects was created out of a former office building; it was reclad in a terracotta colour and three additional floors were added at the top to house a number of penthouses, and, with a total of eighteen floors, it can be seen from across Sutton. By contrast, the Lamborne building is completely newly built.

In 2003 the extension to Sutton Police Station was completed and officially opened the following year by Commissioner Sir John Stevens, the extension, which is far larger than the original Edwardian listed building to which it is attached, is used by Sutton CID, the criminal justice unit and the borough intelligence unit.[8]

Landseer Road Conservation Area

Conservation areas[edit]

There are four Conservation Areas in the town of Sutton itself (among several others within the wider borough). One of these is in the town centre, while the other three are residential: Grove Avenue, Landseer Road and the Sutton Garden Suburb.[49]


Russettings as seen from rear garden
Russettings heritage sign

Russettings is a large house built in 1899 on a three-quarters of an acre plot at 25 Worcester Road. It was among the last of a number of similar upper middle-class houses built in the vicinity, it was originally occupied by George Smith and his wife Mary, who was the sister of local benefactor Thomas Wall. Smith had his initials GS put on the façade of the red-brick building, which was designed by Frederick Wheeler in an Arts and Crafts style.

Features include gabled roofs, large chimneys, bay windows, a green copper dome and a porch with a tiled roof and marble floor, with the newly formed London Borough of Sutton in 1965, the house became the Sutton Register Office and was refurbished in 1994 to provide accommodation for the registration of births, marriages and deaths and a marriage suite.[50]

Places of worship[edit]

Three main churches are in the town centre: Trinity Church, Sutton Baptist Church and St. Nicholas Church. Trinity Church and St Nicholas Church are opposite each other on St Nicholas Way, and the Baptist Church is situated nearby, in Cheam Road.

Among the other churches in the vicinity are: All Saints Church just to the north of the town centre, St Barnabas to the east and Christ Church to the south (all Anglican); and two Roman Catholic churches, Our Lady of the Rosary to the east, and the Church of the Holy Family on Sutton Green. The Salvation Army have a centre in Benhill Avenue.

Sutton Synagogue is located on Cedar Road, just south of the town centre.[51]

Trinity United Reformed and Methodist Church[edit]

Trinity Church, Cheam Rd side
Trinity Church in the spring

The Grade II listed Trinity Church is traditional in style, with its exterior in Kent ragstone, its "crown and lantern" spire, however, is a very unusual feature, shared with two cathedrals — St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh and Newcastle Cathedral.[52] The present building, officially opened in 1907, was renamed Trinity Methodist Church following the Methodist Union in 1932; in 1972 the Congregational and Presbyterian Churches united, and the Congregational and Methodist congregations in Sutton also united, with Trinity becoming a joint United Reformed and Methodist church.[53]

Sutton Baptist Church[edit]

Trinity Church (left) and Sutton Baptist Church (right), Cheam Road

In contrast to the other two town centre churches, the Baptist Church is relatively modern—it was designed by the architect Nugent Cachemaille-Day (1896-1976) using mainly traditional materials, such as brick and tile, in a style influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement. Built by Messrs. Pitchers Ltd of Holloway in 1934, the church took little more than half-a-year to build, and its notable design aroused interest not only locally, but also in church and architectural circles nationwide.[54]

The church is noted within the borough for its contemporary brick design with long walls and concave sweeps in the moderne style, the windows are in simple clean lines, in a simplified Gothic style. The interior has much exposed brickwork and sweeping pointed arches, which are highlighted by the directions in which the bricks are laid.[55]

St Nicholas Church[edit]

St Nicholas churchyard
St Nicholas clocktower

The Grade II listed St Nicholas Church[56] is the oldest of the three town centre churches, and is surrounded by a small ancient graveyard, which is wooded, it is in ecumenical partnership with other denominations and in a Team Ministry with other Anglican churches.

Many of Sutton's notable historic residents are buried in the churchyard, these include Mr Horward Orme, the final owner of the manor house, and 185 orphans from the Metropolitan District School. The orphans' graves are marked by a memorial put up by the church's Sunday school children in 1921. A large World War II bomb landed on the churchyard in September 1940, it caused the destruction of several graves, but the church building itself remained intact.[16]

All Saints Church[edit]

All Saints Church

Just to the north of Sutton town centre at the foot of Angel Hill in All Saints Road is All Saints Church, Benhilton, its large size and prominent location make it a local landmark. Its parish was created in 1863, and the foundation stone of the Grade II* listed building was laid in the same year, designed by Samuel Teulon in the Gothic Revival style. English Heritage describe the church as "a very fine building in the decorated style of the early 14th century". The building owed much to Thomas Alcock who was then lord of the manor, and gave £18,000 towards the building, plus the land for the church, the vicarage and a school, the church was conceived as an amenity for an estate of upper class Victorian housing which Alcock was developing on the land to the east.[57][58]

St. Barnabas Church[edit]

To the east of the town centre is St Barnabas Church, which was built between 1882 and 1884 by architects R H Carpenter and Benjamin Ingelow, its purpose was to serve the Newtown area of Sutton, which was developed in the second half of the 19th century. Architecturally, it is a red brick building with stone dressings, and is in the Gothic Revival style, its nave has five bays, and is supported inside by columns with clustered shafts and a timber scissors truss roof.[59][60]

Christ Church[edit]

Christ Church from the road
Christ Church from the grounds

To the south of the town centre in Christchurch Park sits Christ Church, Sutton, it was built in 1888 by architects Newman & Jacques and builders Gregory and Company of Clapham for £8,000. It was sited among the then lavender fields east of Brighton Road. Additions were made c. 1910 to 1912 by J D Round. The church has the largest auditorium in Sutton, and comprises a nave of five bays, a chancel, apse, north and south aisles, chapel, narthex and vestries.[61] [62]

Church of Our Lady of the Rosary and Church of the Holy Family[edit]

To the east of the town centre, in St Barnabas Road, is the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, it was built in 1892 and consecrated that year by Monsignor Patterson. It was enlarged in 1912, and in 1932 the church's current altar was consecrated by the then Roman Catholic Bishop of Southwark, Peter Amigo.[63]

The Church of the Holy Family began in the 1960s, and the current church was built in 1988.[64]


Sutton has a range of public art, a large library, a music venue and a cinema and theatre, it is also a hub for filming in south-west London.[4][65]

Mosaic on the side of the Sutton Centre for Independent Living and Learning (Scill)

Imagine festival of arts[edit]

In 2006 the annual Imagine festival of arts was launched, it has since gained Arts Council England funding.[66]

Public art[edit]

The town centre features six examples of public art.

The Sutton Heritage Mosaic

Three of the six works are creations on the side walls of buildings.

Sutton heritage mosaic[edit]

In addition, there is a large town centre mosaic measuring 9 metres (30 ft) high and 5 metres (16 ft) wide, and covering the whole of another three storey wall in the town square near the Waterstone's bookshop. One of the largest examples of wall art in Britain, it was commissioned by the London Borough of Sutton to celebrate the borough's heritage. [67] Created by Drostle and Turner, the mosaic was made from vitreous ceramic tesserae (small tiles made of glass and clay), and put in place in 1994.[8]

It was designed by Rob Turner, and shows several aspects of Sutton's heritage and local history in a classical geometric pattern with nineteen black and white panels set against a multi-colour background, the centre-piece is the depiction of Henry VIII's palace at Nonsuch. Other panels depict armorial bearers from the old local families, as well as industrial and architectural heritage.[68]

The Sutton Heritage Mosaic, in situ

A plaque describing the panels was installed in 2011, and unveiled by Councillor Graham Tope, Executive Member for Community Safety, Leisure and Libraries, who said:

This beautiful mosaic has been a much-loved feature of our High Street for the past 17 years, but unless you're a historian the chances are you would not know what all of the intricate panels mean. I hope this plaque will encourage people to take a look, and for those already familiar with the mosaic, I hope it will help them to appreciate it even more."[67]

Wellesley Road mural[edit]

Art in Wellesley Road, Sutton

There is a third example of such building-height wall art, situated in Wellesley Road, about a hundred yards south of the mainline railway station, it was created by the street artist, Eva Mena, who is from Bilbao in Spain and a leading practitioner in the urban art movement. The mural dates from 2008,[69] and was completed in three days.[70]

It was specially-commissioned by the owner of a cleaning firm keen to promote local art, and depicts an image of Erykah Badu, the American singer-songwriter, the painting covers the entire side wall of Indepth House, a small office building occupied by the firm.

Sutton twin towns mural[edit]

The painting of Gagny
Sutton twin towns mural
The painting of Minden

The twin towns mural is a set of seven individual paintings inset within seven mock window frames on the side of a Victorian commercial building at the junction of the High Street with Sutton Court Road, the paintings depict scenes of the London Borough of Sutton and its four European twins:[71] Gagny, a suburb of Paris; Gladsaxe (a suburb of Copenhagen) in Denmark; Minden in Germany; and Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf in Berlin.

The paintings were designed and painted (on to plywood) by professional public artists, Gary Drostle and Rob Turner and were unveiled in 1993 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Sutton's twinning with Wilmersdorf, the five twins are each painted with their heraldic shield above images of their key features. Each twin also has its own plant to symbolise its environmental awareness; for Sutton this is a beech tree, from which Carshalton Beeches in the borough derives its name.[72][73]


Sutton armillary[edit]

The Sutton armillary

In addition to the wall art, there is a Millennium Dial armillary, which was dedicated to the town in the year 2000 by the Rotary Club, it is in the form of an historical timepiece, and it serves three purposes: firstly, simply to tell the time; secondly, to commemorate time through various inscriptions including the Rotary motto "Service Above Self" and distances to nearby areas such as Kingston upon Thames; and thirdly, to commemorate the work which the Rotary Club has done.[74]

The Sutton armillary is a popular feature of the town, and it continues to provide a focus for the town centre,[75] it will remain as a permanent memorial, marking not just the new millennium but also the central part that the Rotary has played in the welfare of Sutton since 1923.

It was originally installed in the centre of a small "Millennium Garden", but was slightly re-positioned in 2011, since when it has stood on the edge of the new central square in the town, directly in front of a bookshop.

The Messenger

Since 1981 two outside sculptures have been installed.

The Messenger[edit]

First, The Messenger statue, a sculpture in bronze with very dark patination completed by David Wynne, OBE in 1981 of a large horse and rider. The horse, with a slightly raised left leg, looks towards the railway station, the rider, seated bareback, raises his left hand in the air above his head and his right hand to his mouth, as if calling. It is fully life-size and mounted on a 7-foot plinth of marble and granite slabs, the total height is 150 inches.[76]

The statue was commissioned by the then Business Press International Ltd, and upkeep of the work now falls to Reed Business Information, who occupy Quadrant House,[76] it was a major commission for the sculptor, which took four years from his first idea and inspiration on receipt of the brief through roughing out, refining and foundry to the final unveiling and installation.[77] The creation is located directly outside the main entrance to Quadrant House (in the Quadrant), adjacent to Sutton railway station.

Transpose 2002[edit]

Secondly, the Transpose 2002 sculpture by Michael Dan Archer, located at the junction of Carshalton Road and Langley Park Road, about 250 yards from the town's historic central crossroads, it is 7 metres (23 feet) in height, 1.5 metres (5 feet) in width and 1.5 metres in depth, and made of Chinese granite and stainless steel. It is composed of a steel blade-like structure next to a granite form, the blade contains a grid allowing the sun to shine through on to the granite.[78][79]

It was commissioned jointly by Chartwell Land, B&Q and the London Borough of Sutton.[80][81] As its name suggests, it dates from 2002. Archer says his sculptures "primarily invoke the massiveness and physicality of stone and its relationship to architecture, humanity and landscape",[82][83] the design, location and dimensions of Transpose 2002 all combine to make it a significant landmark for those entering Sutton town centre from an easterly direction along Carshalton Road.

Transpose 2002

Literary facilities[edit]

Sutton Library is situated close to the top of the town, near St Nicholas Church, and is part of a complex which contains the Civic Offices and Sutton College, it is the largest library in the borough. Opened in 1975, it was extensively refurbished in 2004 to meet changing customer needs, it was the first public library to appoint a library writer-in-residence; the first to establish a CD and video lending library; and the first to offer a full public library service on Sundays. The library is arranged over four storeys, and the lending and reference facilities extend to a reader's lounge; café and shop; IT facilities; opportunities to listen to music; and a children's library themed around the world's environments.[84]

Art exhibitions are held in the library's Europa Gallery.

Wall art, Manor Place

Sutton is referred to in two rhymes, the original dates back to the 18th century, referring to the time when sheep were grazed there. The other rhyme was a revision of the original in the Victorian era, the rhymes are:[85]

Sutton Life Centre[edit]

Sutton Life Centre

The Sutton Life Centre situated in Alcorn Close, just off Sutton Common Road, is an £8 million facility designed to improve life chances for younger people and encourage good citizenship. Aiming to encourage community engagement and involvement, the centre was opened on 27 October 2010 by the then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.[86]

The centre's key feature – The Lifezone – is a virtual street, a room with giant projection screens on all walls using film-set technology, it aims to provide an "immersive learning environment" through the use of surround sound, evocative lighting and interactive features. Using these media, pupils are shown real-life scenes from Sutton's streets to teach them about citizenship, personal safety and the environment.[87][88][89]

Theatre and cinema[edit]

The Secombe Theatre, night and day

The Secombe Theatre[90] (named after Sir Harry Secombe) was in Cheam Road, adjacent to the Holiday Inn Hotel. The theatre was opened by Sir Harry, who lived in Sutton for over 30 years,[91] the theatre was created in 1984 out of a former Christian Science church building dating from 1937.[92] The theatre was operated together with the Charles Cryer Studio Theatre in Carshalton, formerly by the London Borough of Sutton;[93] in 2014 Sutton Council requested bids to take over the running of the theatres, and in January 2015 the bid by the new "Sutton Theatres Trust" was given approval by the council's environment and neighbourhood committee to take over the theatres.[94] In August 2016 the Trust went into administration and the theatre closed permanently.[95]


The former Granada Cinema opened in 1934 as the Plaza Theatre in Carshalton Road, where Sutton Park House now stands,[96] the six-screen Empire Cinema, opened in 1991 opposite the St. Nicholas shopping centre.


Along with Wimbledon Studios, Sutton is a hub for filming in south-west London.[4][97]

The Return of Mr Bean was filmed in Sutton High Street.[98]

Episodes of The Bill were filmed in Sutton.

The E4 sitcom Phoneshop, was filmed in a vacant shop unit in Sutton High Street.

Scenes for the Hollywood film Black Sea were shot outside Sutton Grammar School in 2013. Jude Law is seen getting in and out of a car, while pupils leave the school.[99]


Sutton Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1946, it has given an average of three concerts every season.

The Boom Boom Club in West Sutton hosts regular rock gigs.[100]

The Rolling Stones[edit]

The Sutton pub where the early Rolling Stones gigs took place

The Rolling Stones were spotted by a notable music promoter in 1963 at the then Red Lion public house (now the Winning Post) in Sutton High Street. The band played several early gigs there, and it was during one such performance that the audience included impresario/music manager Giorgio Gomelsky, who spotted and signed the band up for a residency at Richmond's Crawdaddy Club, months before they made the charts and became stars.[101][102][103][104]

Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman also became permanent members of the band at the then Red Lion Pub on 23 January 1963.[105]

In 2011, the Winning Post was added to a list of buildings and structures of local significance.[106][107]


The historic commercial heart of Sutton at the High Street crossroads

Sutton is one of the eleven major metropolitan centres identified in the London Plan[2] in a borough that benefits from very low crime by London standards, the town contains a major retail district, centred on Sutton High Street.

Sutton has over 6,800 businesses, an increase of about 19% since 1994.[108] Statistics published in March 2013 by business analysts Duport have found that 863 new companies were formed in Sutton in 2012, the highest number since records began.[109] Most of these are small or medium-sized enterprises, but several large businesses, such as Reed Business Information, the well-known media publishing company, are also present and have substantial office space in the town: Reed occupies the large Quadrant House office building adjacent to the mainline station, and is a major local employer.

G4S is another significant company in the town, with office accommodation in the large Sutton Park House commercial building opposite Manor Park. Crown Agents Ltd, the international development company, is headquartered in St Nicholas House in the town centre.[110] Another important business locally is subsea engineering company Subsea 7.

There is a town centre manager, who works in partnership with local businesses, the police and transport providers to promote the centre and its economic development, the manager acts as the focal point for a range of initiatives funded by the Council and other partners. "Opportunity Sutton"[111] and Sutton Chamber of Commerce[112] also play a part in the local economy.

Health and research[edit]

The Institute of Cancer Research

The Royal Marsden Hospital has a longstanding presence in Sutton, on a site at the southern end of the town acquired in 1962, the Institute of Cancer Research is located next to the hospital, and in 2012 the Institute's Centre for Molecular Pathology opened.[113]

In 2014, The Royal Marsden Hospital, the Institute of Cancer Research and the co-located St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust set out their vision to develop a "world class" life science cluster on the site, the initiative, known as "Sutton for Life", focuses on the provision of enhanced facilities for drug discovery.[114] The benefit to society of the work carried out at the Institute of Cancer Research led to its being named as the country's leading university, ahead of Imperial College, London School of Economics, Oxford and Cambridge.

The former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, visited the facility in 2014, and lent his support to the plans to create the world's second biggest cancer research campus on the site.[115]

The new headquarters of Subsea 7

In February 2016, further plans for the site were released: the "London Cancer Hub", a partnership between the Institute of Cancer Research, the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and the London Borough of Sutton, will bring together 10,000 scientists, and clinical and support staff and provide space for biotech and pharma companies to carry our research and development. The aim is to increase the number of clinical trials and innovative drugs, working in partnership with industry, it is expected to do for South London what Tech City has done for East London.[116][117][118][119][120][121][122]

The London Cancer Hub is also planned to include a new secondary school on the site, which will specialise in the life sciences.[123] Leisure facilities in the form of shops, cafés and hotel space for patients and families are also planned,[117][124] the Hub is expected to be twice the size - at 265,000 square metres – of the existing research and treatment space. It will facilitate collaboration by bringing together those working in different scientific fields. By 2018 the Institute of Cancer Research will develop the first phase of the plans with 20,000 square metres of drug discovery facilities.[125]

In September 2016 Sutton Council's housing, economy and business committee approved a provisional framework of the plans, it was noted that site’s transformation would attract a total investment of £1 billion over its lifetime.[126]

Town centre regeneration[edit]

Art deco High Street building

A number of major building projects are underway in the town centre:[127]

Sutton Point, was granted planning approval in mid-2013, and initial work by developers CNM Estates started in spring 2014, at the southern end of the town centre, it will include a hotel, apart-hotel, apartments (with a car club), a health club, shops, restaurants and office space.[128] Construction of the £90 million scheme has been awarded by CNM to building firm, Ardmore, and is due for completion in August 2018.[129][130]

The Old Gas Works,[131] a major development by LXB Retail Properties PLC at the north end of the High Street area, including apartments, a Sainsbury's supermarket, a mix of retail units, a landscaped square and fountain[132] was completed in late 2016.[133] The scheme represented a £50 million investment in the town.[134]

Subsea 7 has expanded its presence in the town through the construction of new offices[128] on a site once occupied by Quakers[135] and later a 630-space car park.[136] In 2013, the car park was bought by Subsea7 from the council and it has been replaced by a five-storey, 17,500 square metre set of offices of modern design to become the company's new world headquarters.[137] Four hundred jobs were added in Sutton, mainly by relocation from outside the town,[138] this takes the total workforce to 780.[139] Construction of the £39 million development by Galliford Try started in 2014, and was completed in late 2016.[140]

All Bar One, Sutton

In September 2015 the Council appointed a design team led by Bilfinger GVA to produce plans covering the next 15 years for the central area of the town, the plans include identifying sites for new housing and commercial space, a possible new primary school and improved transport links, including the introduction in 2020 of trams to Sutton station. The plans require the retention of the "high-quality Victorian, Edwardian and Mock Tudor buildings that reflect the historic core of the town centre"[141]

In February 2016 a draft masterplan entitled "Sutton 2031: Planning for our Future" was published by the Council, its plans include new developments, enhanced public space and improvements to transport. It will include:

  • "A range of immediate High Street projects"
  • "Transforming the St Nicholas Centre"
  • "Creating a new south London destination with culture, leisure and restaurant activity"
  • "Redeveloping the Civic Centre"[142]
Grand Parade, Sutton High Street
Heritage Action Zone

In March 2017 it was announced that Sutton town centre had been designated one of the first ten Heritage Action Zones by Historic England. Gaining this status will unlock resources to enhance the historic environment, including the conservation area, with the aim of encouraging economic growth. Heritage will be made a central consideration for new developments in the area so as to retain the town's distinct architectural nature.[143][144][145]


Retailing history
Waterstones Bookshop

Retailing has long been a major part of the Sutton economy, with its High Street dating from the Victorian era, the oldest retail business currently operating in Sutton dates back to the 1860s – Pearson Cycles was originally a blacksmith shop, but in the 1890s changed to bicycle making and repair. The Pearsons have run the cycle business from the same High Street location ever since,[146] it has been recognised by Guinness World Records as the oldest bicycle shop in the world.[147]

Retail environment

Sutton is London's sixth most important retail centre, and attracts shoppers from a wide area, it is often the chosen location for new retail ventures,[148] for example the Sutton branch of the Waterstones bookshop chain being the first to have a café installed.[149]

Sutton High Street starts at Sutton Green and extends for nearly a mile south to Sutton mainline railway station.[150] Many of the country's High Street names are represented in the central area.[151][152]

Shopping centres

In recent decades, two covered shopping centres have been added to the town, both situated in the central, High Street area, the larger of the two is the St. Nicholas Centre with three levels, and five levels for Debenhams, the anchor store. Times Square is the smaller of the two. It opened in 1985, and was granted planning approval for a refit in June 2014; work is currently underway, with completion expected in mid-2017.[153] The refit is assessed as being a "high quality refurbishment scheme which will make a significant contribution towards the regeneration of this part of the Town Centre."[154][155]

Multicoloured High Street facades
Restaurants and bars

Sutton also has a number of restaurants, patisseries, coffee bars, gastropubs and bars, including the country's first branch of All Bar One,[156] the central area is pedestrianised, and the extra space encourages the provision of pavement seating.

Sutton's range of restaurants has expanded in recent years, and now includes examples of French, Spanish, British, Mexican, Malaysian, Thai, Pakistani, Portuguese, Turkish and Japanese cuisine, in addition to the more longstanding presence of Italian, Indian and Chinese establishments.[157][158] These include a French restaurant that is listed in The Good Food Guide[159] and is Michelin-listed.[160]

The Sunset Cinema
Pop-up market

A "pop-up" market is held every month at the northern end of Sutton High Street, it is part of a programme to support local entrepreneurs starting their own business. Products and crafts on sale include natural cosmetics, jewellery and handmade clothing.[161]

The Green Wall on Sutton High St
Street performance

The high street and town square host street performers, whose range includes live music, arts and theatre. Markets are held from time to time, including French, Italian and Continental markets, as well as arts and crafts fairs.[152][162][163]

In August and September the high street hosts the outdoor "Sunset Cinema," where films are shown in the evening to an audience seated in deckchairs,[164][165] the scheme, the only one of its kind in London, aims to encourage greater use of local restaurants and bars.[166] The High Street has hosted a Country music festival with live music and dancing for the last two summers.[167] A temporary mini-golf course is set up during August.[168]

Green wall

There is a Green Wall, in the shopping area designed for aesthetics and to improve air quality and biodiversity, this "vertical garden" covers the façade of a large High Street store, and is in bloom all year round.[169][170]


Clock installed in 2015 opposite the mainline station
The former Sutton station c. 1905
Taxis by Sutton station in 2012

Sutton station is the town's major station, from where frequent direct trains run to several main central London stations − London Victoria, London Bridge, Blackfriars, City Thameslink and, for Eurostar services, St. Pancras International. The station is served by both Thameslink and Southern.

The fastest of the Victoria-bound trains from Sutton station take 25 minutes (stopping only at Clapham Junction), as well as these direct trains to central London, there are also direct services to destinations outside central London including Banstead, Dorking, Epsom, Horsham, Leatherhead, West Croydon, Wimbledon, Luton and St Albans.

West Sutton and Sutton Common are both on the Thameslink lines to Wimbledon and on to central London direct. Being on the Thameslink line, they continue on to stations both within and the other side of London.

Local bus services are operated by London General, Quality Line, Abellio London and Metrobus. There are also express coach services to both Heathrow Airport and Gatwick Airport.[171][172]

Road traffic is diverted away from a largely pedestrianised town centre, and there are many designated cycle routes in Sutton, along with links to neighbouring towns.[173] There are three main car parks in the town centre and a car club.[174]

In 2014 a consultation was held into options for the route of a proposed Tramlink extension from Wimbledon to Sutton.[175][176]

Notable individuals[edit]

Quentin Crisp
Noël Coward

See London Borough of Sutton for complete borough-wide list, the individuals listed below are specifically linked to the town of Sutton.



Sutton High School for Girls
Sutton Grammar School for Boys
Eagle House School

Sutton is the principal town in the London Borough of Sutton, a top performing borough for education, the town is home to a significant number of the borough's schools, including one of its boys' grammar schools, its boys' preparatory school and its girls' private secondary school.

Primary schools

  • Manor Park Primary
  • Robin Hood Infants
  • Robin Hood Junior
  • Westbourne Primary

Secondary schools

In 2013 Sutton's GCSE performance was second across all boroughs in England;[185] in 2011 Sutton was the top performing borough in England.[186] For more detailed information about performance see London Borough of Sutton.

Adult Education[edit]

The main centre of Sutton College, originally named Sutton College of Liberal Arts, is based in Sutton, the college offers over 1000 part-time courses at its borough-wide centres.


Sutton United F.C. play in the National League at Step 5 of the English football pyramid. Nicknamed the U's, they famously beat Coventry City 2–1 in the FA Cup in 1989. In the 2016–17 season, Sutton reached the 5th Round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history, beating three Football League teams before losing 2–0 at home to Arsenal.[187] Sutton United's ground is Gander Green Lane.

Sutton Common Rovers F.C. play in the Combined Counties Football League Premier Division.

Sutton Cricket Club is based in Cheam Road, the club’s 1st XI plays at the highest level of the sport available to it, the Surrey Championship Premier Division, which they won in 2009.[188]


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Further reading[edit]

  • James Thorne (1876), "Sutton", Handbook to the Environs of London, London: John Murray 
  • Edward Walford (1883), "Sutton", Greater London, London: Cassell & Co., OCLC 3009761 
  • H.E. Malden (editor) (1912), "Sutton", A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 4 

External links[edit]