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Sutton, London

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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 is the administrative headquarters of the borough. It is 10.7 miles (17.2 km) south-south west of Charing Cross, and is one of the thirteen metropolitan centres in the London Plan.

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. Its location on the London to Brighton turnpike from 1755 led to the opening of coaching inns, spurring its growth as a village. When it was connected to central London by rail in 1847, it began to grow into a town, and it expanded further in the 20th century. It became a municipal borough with Cheam in 1934, and became part of Greater London in 1965.[2]

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.[3] 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 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.

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 Sir Nicholas Carew
Sir Nicholas Carew

Origin of the name

The placename Sutton is recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as Sudtone. It is formed from Old English 'sūth' and 'tūn', meaning 'south farm'.[4]

Pre 1700

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.[5] 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 date from 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.

The 1086 Domesday Book records Sutton as spanning about 800 acres, and having about 30 houses and 200 people.[6] It states that the Abbot of Chertsey held the manor. In 1538 it was sold to King Henry VIII and granted to Sir Nicholas Carew of Beddington. When Sir Nicholas was sentenced to death, the King seized the manor. Queen Mary restored it to Francis, son of Sir Nicholas. It later became a Crown possession again until King Charles II granted it to the Duke of Portland, who sold it in 1669. It changed hands regularly thereafter.[7]

From the time of Domesday until the 19th century, Sutton formed a parish in the Wallington hundred of Surrey in the feudal system.[8][9]

1700 to 1900

 The Cock Hotel in 1789,[10] with the tollhouse and tollgate.[11]
The Cock Hotel in 1789,[10] with the tollhouse and tollgate.[11]

The road from London to Banstead Downs, through Sutton, was a haven for highwaymen in the 18th century.[12] 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.[10]

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.[6] The toll bars moved away from the junction as Sutton expanded, remaining in use until 1882.[7]

 The Nightingale pub
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.[6]

Sutton Water Company was incorporated in 1863, and the provision of water mains allowed houses to be built outside the Thanet Sands area. The Lord of the Manor, Mr Thomas Alcock, sold land for housing, and Sutton's population more than doubled again between 1861 and 1871,[7] spurred 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 after those on the west side.[13] 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 a prominent landmark. There is a series of arches at ground level, and an ornate entrance where the roads meet.[5][11][14]

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
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.[15][11]

In 1898 a new, larger Cock Hotel replaced the original one.[16]

20th century

 Sutton High St., Christmas, 1910
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.[17]

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.[18]

 The Thomas Wall Centre
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,[19] 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.[20]

During World War II bombing was not as heavy as in central London - 434 bombs in total were dropped on Sutton and Cheam, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists 187 civilian casualties.[21]

In 1950, in order to widen the High Street, the Cock Hotel was demolished. However, the inn sign and its fingerposts survive, overlooking the historic crossroads.[22]

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.[23]


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.[8] 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[24]

Population and demography

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.[25]

A majority of the town's population is in the ABC1 social group.[26]


 Trinity Square from above
Trinity Square from above

Geology, soil and elevations

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.[27] 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 142 miles of mains. The company merged with the East Surrey Water Company in 1996 to form Sutton and East Surrey Water.[28]

Elevations in the vicinity of the town 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.[2] "Sutton, Surrey" is often used for addresses in the town, Surrey being the former Postal County (and the historic or traditional county) in which it lies. Royal Mail's Flexible Addressing policy allows this.[29] There is another, much smaller Sutton in Surrey, near Dorking.[30] Sutton mainline railway station is known as "Sutton (Surrey)" by Southern Railway Ltd.[31]

Green spaces

 Autumnal trees on Sutton Green
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 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.[32]

To the north of Sutton Green are 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
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"[33]

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.[34][35] The memorial, in portland stone, consists of a large ornamental cross on a plinth.[36] 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.[36]

 Sutton War Memorial
Sutton War Memorial

The current Manor Park Café opened in October 2010. It is eco-friendly and has a range of environmental features, including its straw-bale construction, giving the building a potential lifespan of over 200 years. It was designed by Amazonails Architectura, and constructed by a mixed team of builders.[37] It was London’s first energy-efficient building to use this construction method.[38]

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.[39]


 Sutton Lodge
Sutton Lodge
 Ornate architecture in Sutton High St.
Ornate architecture in Sutton High St.
 Sutton's Edwardian Police Station
Sutton's Edwardian Police Station

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.[42] During its early history it may have served as a hideaway for the future King George IV and his mistresses.[6][43] The building is Grade II listed.[44]

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.[6] The town also features more recent architectural styles from the 1930s (including some art deco and moderne) up to the 21st century.

The most prominent examples of 21st century architecture include the Aspects 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 for penthouses. With a total of eighteen floors, it can be seen from across Sutton. By contrast, the Lamborne was 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.[6]

 Landseer Road Conservation Area
Landseer Road Conservation Area

Conservation areas

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.[45]


 Russettings as seen from the rear
Russettings as seen from the rear

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.[46]

Places of worship

There are three churches in the town centre: Trinity Church and St Nicholas Church on St Nicholas Way and Sutton Baptist Church on Cheam Road.

Other churches in the town include All Saints Church in the north, St Barnabas in the east and Christ Church in 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, south of the town centre.[47]

Trinity United Reformed and Methodist Church

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.[48] 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.[49]

Sutton Baptist Church

 Trinity Church (left) and Sutton Baptist Church (right), Cheam Road
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.[50]

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.[51]

St Nicholas Church

St Nicholas churchyard
St Nicholas clocktower

The Grade II listed St Nicholas Church[52] 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.[13]

All Saints Church

 All Saints Church
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 Sanders 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 then lord of the manor, Thomas Alcock, 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.[53][54]

St. Barnabas Church

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.[55][56]

Christ Church

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.[57] [58]

Church of Our Lady of the Rosary and Church of the Holy Family

In St Barnabas Road is the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary. It was built and consecrated in 1892. It was enlarged in 1912, and in 1932 the church's current altar was consecrated by the Bishop of Southwark.[59]

The Church of the Holy Family began in the 1960s, and the current church was built in 1988.[60]


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.[3]

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

Imagine festival of arts

In 2006 the annual Imagine festival of arts was launched. It has since gained Arts Council England funding.[61]

Public art

The town centre features six works of public art. Three are murals and three are sculptures.

Sutton heritage mosaic

 The Sutton Heritage Mosaic
The Sutton Heritage Mosaic

There is a large town centre mosaic measuring 9 metres (30 ft) high and 5 metres (16 ft) wide covering the whole of a 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. [62] 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.[6]

It was designed by Rob Turner, and shows several aspects of Sutton's heritage and local history. The centre-piece is the depiction of Henry VIII's palace at Nonsuch.[63]

A plaque describing the panels was installed in 2011, and unveiled by Councillor Graham Tope, who said:

This beautiful mosaic has been a much-loved feature of our High Street for the past 17 years.....I hope this plaque will help [people] to appreciate it even more."[62]

Wellesley Road mural

 Art in Wellesley Road, Sutton
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, Spain and a leading practitioner in the urban art movement. The mural dates from 2008,[64] and was completed in three days.[65]

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

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:[66] Gagny, a suburb of Paris; Gladsaxe in Copenhagen; Minden in Germany; and Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf in Berlin.

The paintings were designed and painted on to plywood by public artists, Gary Drostle and Rob Turner and were unveiled in 1993 on 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 environmental awareness; for Sutton this is a beech tree, from which Carshalton Beeches in the borough gets its name.[67][68]

Sutton armillary

 The Sutton armillary
The Sutton armillary

The Millennium Dial armillary 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: first, 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.[69]

The armillary is a popular feature of the town, and it continues to provide a focus for the town centre.[70] 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 former "Millennium Garden", but was slightly re-positioned in 2011 to the edge of the central square, in front of the Waterstones bookshop.

The Messenger

 The Messenger
The Messenger

The Messenger statue is 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.[71]

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.[71] It was a major commission for the sculptor, which took four years from his first idea and inspiration, through to roughing out, refining and foundry to the final unveiling and installation.[72] It is located by the main entrance to Quadrant House, adjacent to Sutton station.

Transpose 2002

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.[73][74]

 Transpose 2002
Transpose 2002

It was commissioned jointly by Chartwell Land, B&Q and the London Borough of Sutton.[75][76] 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".[77][78] 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.

Literary facilities

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.[79]

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

 Wall art, Manor Place
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:[80]

Sutton Life Centre

 Sutton Life Centre
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.[81]

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.[82][83][84]

Theatre and cinema

The Secombe Theatre, night and day

The Secombe Theatre[85] (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.[86] The theatre was created in 1984 out of a former Christian Science church building dating from 1937.[87] The theatre was operated together with the Charles Cryer Studio Theatre in Carshalton, formerly by the London Borough of Sutton.[88] 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.[89] In August 2016 the Trust went into administration and the theatre closed permanently.[90]


The former Granada Cinema opened in 1934 as the Plaza Theatre in Carshalton Road, where Sutton Park House now stands.[91] 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.[3][92]

The Return of Mr Bean was filmed in Sutton High Street.[93]

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.[94]


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.[95]

The Rolling Stones

 The Sutton pub where the early Rolling Stones gigs took place
The Sutton pub where the early Rolling Stones gigs took place

The Rolling Stones were first spotted at the Red Lion public house (now the Winning Post) in Sutton High Street. The band played several early gigs there in 1963, and, during one, the audience included impresario/music manager Giorgio Gomelsky, who spotted the band and signed them up for a residency at Richmond's Crawdaddy Club, months before they made the charts.[96][97][98] It was also at the pub that Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman, on 23 January 1963, became permanent members of the band:[99]

In 2011, the Winning Post was added to a list of buildings and structures of local significance.[100][101]


 The historic town centre at the High Street crossroads
The historic town centre at the High Street crossroads

Sutton is one of the eleven major metropolitan centres identified in the London Plan[102] 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.[103] 863 new companies were formed in Sutton in 2012, the highest number since records began.[104] Most of these were small or medium-sized, but several large businesses, such as Reed Business Information, the media publishing company, are also present and have substantial office space in the town: Reed occupies the large Quadrant House office building next to the station, and is a major local employer.

G4S is another significant company in the town, with offices in the large Sutton Park House building opposite Manor Park. Crown Agents Ltd, the international development company, is headquartered in St Nicholas House in the town centre.[105] 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"[106] and Sutton Chamber of Commerce[107] also play a part in the local economy.

Health and research

 The Institute of Cancer Research
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.[108] The Institute was named the country's leading university, ahead of Oxford and Cambridge, in recognition of its contribution to society.

In 2014, The Royal Marsden Hospital, the Institute of Cancer Research and the co-located St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust set out a vision for a "world class" life sciences cluster ("Sutton for Life") on the site, focusing on the provision of enhanced facilities for drug discovery.[109] The then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, visited the facility that year, and lent his support to the plans for what will be the world's second biggest cancer research campus.[110]

 The new headquarters of Subsea 7
The new headquarters of Subsea 7
 Art deco High Street building
Art deco High Street building
 All Bar One, Sutton
All Bar One, Sutton
 The Shinner and Sudtone pub
The Shinner and Sudtone pub

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.[111][112][113][114][115]

The London Cancer Hub is also planned to include a new secondary school on the site, which will specialise in the life sciences.[116] Leisure facilities in the form of shops, cafés and hotel space for patients and families are also planned.[112] 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 between 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.[117]

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.[118]

Town centre regeneration

A number of major building projects are underway or have recently been completed in the town centre:

Sutton Point, at the southern end of the town centre, will include a hotel, apart-hotel, apartments (with a car club), a health club, shops, restaurants and office space. Construction of the £90 million scheme was awarded by the developer CNM to the building firm Ardmore, and is due for completion in August 2018.[119][120]

The Old Gas Works,[121] a major development by LXB Retail Properties at the north end of the High Street, including apartments, a Sainsbury's supermarket, retail units and a landscaped square with fountain[122] was completed in 2016.[123] The scheme represented a £50 million investment in the town.[124]

Subsea 7 has expanded in Sutton, making it the site of its new world headquarters. The firm moved within the town to a new, purpose-built, five-storey, 17,500 square metre office building. Four hundred jobs were created, mainly by relocation, taking the workforce in Sutton to 780.[125] Construction of the £39 million development by Galliford Try started in 2014, and was completed in late 2016.[126]

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"[127]

In June 2016 a 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"[128]
 Grand Parade, Sutton High Street
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.[129][130][131]


Retailing history
Waterstones Bookshop

Retailing has been a major part of the Sutton economy since the Victorian era. The oldest retail business currently operating in Sutton, Pearson Cycles, dates from the 1860s – it 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.[132] It has been recognised by Guinness World Records as the oldest bicycle shop in the world.[133]

Retail environment

Sutton is London's sixth most important retail centre, and attracts shoppers from a wide area.[134] Sutton High Street runs for nearly a mile from Sutton Green to Sutton station, and hosts many of the country's main high street names.[135]

It is often the chosen location for new retail ventures, for example the Sutton branch of the Waterstones bookshop chain being the first to have a café installed.[136]

Shopping centres

There are two covered shopping centres, both situated near the middle of the retail area. The larger of these is the St. Nicholas Centre with three levels, and five levels for Debenhams, the anchor store. Times Square is the smaller one - it opened in 1985, and was re-launched as "Sutton Place" in 2017, following a refit.[137] The refit was assessed as being of high quality and making a significant contribution to the regeneration of the town centre."[138]

 Multicoloured High Street facades
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.[139] 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 Italian, Indian and Chinese establishments.[140][141] One French restaurant is in The Good Food Guide[142] and is Michelin-listed.[143]

 The Sunset Cinema
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.[144]

 The Green Wall on Sutton High St
The Green Wall on Sutton High St
Street performance

The high street and town square host street performances, including music, arts and theatre. Markets are held from time to time, including French, Italian and Continental markets, as well as arts and crafts fairs.[145][146]

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.[147][148] The scheme, the only one of its kind in London, aims to encourage greater use of local restaurants and bars.[149] The High Street has hosted a Country music festival with live music and dancing for the last two summers.[150] A temporary mini-golf course is set up during August.[151]

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.[152][153]


 Clock installed in 2015 opposite the mainline station
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.[154][155]

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.[156] There are three main car parks in the town centre and a car club.[157]

In 2014 a consultation was held into options for the route of a proposed Tramlink extension from Wimbledon to Sutton.[158][159]

Notable individuals

 Quentin Crisp
Quentin Crisp

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.[166] In 2011 Sutton was the top performing borough in England.[167] For more information about performance see London Borough of Sutton.

Adult Education

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 in the FA Cup in 1989. In 2016–17 they reached the 5th Round of the FA Cup for the first time, beating three Football League teams before losing to Arsenal.[168] 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.[169]


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Further reading

  • 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

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