kids encyclopedia robot

Sutton, London facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Manor Park fountain Sutton.jpg
Sutton collage (4).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
Sutton is located in Greater London
Population 41,483 (2011)
OS grid reference TQ255645
• Charing Cross 10 mi (16 km) NNE
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town SUTTON
Postcode district SM1–SM3
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
  • Sutton and Cheam
London Assembly
  • Croydon and Sutton
List of places
51°21′56″N 0°11′47″W / 51.3656°N 0.1963°W / 51.3656; -0.1963
Barclay's Bank building, Sutton (Surrey), Greater London 03
The Barclay's Bank building in Sutton's shopping area

Sutton is the principal town in 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 Outer London borough. It is 10 miles (16 km) south-south west of Charing Cross, and is one of the thirteen metropolitan centres in the London Plan. The population of the town was counted as 41,483 in the 2011 census, while the borough overall counted 204,525.

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.

Sutton has the largest library in the borough, several works of public art and four conservation areas. It is home to several 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, including Horsham. Sutton is a hub for filming in South London. 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.


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 'the south farm'. It was probably in relation to Mitcham and Morden that it was considered southerly. The name was later applied to Sutton Common and the Sutton New Town development in the 19th century.

Pre 1700

Archaeological finds in the region date back over ten thousand years, but the first substantial evidence of habitation comes from the excavation of a Roman villa in Beddington. An implement from the neolithic age was discovered close to the junction of Sutton High Street and Carshalton Road. The Roman road of Stane Street forms part of the northern boundary of the parish of Sutton. The course of Stane Street through the area is now followed by the modern roads Stonecot Hill and London Road, and designated A24 on road maps.

Sutton was recorded as Sudtone in a charter of Chertsey Abbey believed to have been drawn up in the late seventh century when the Manor was granted to the Abbot of Chertsey by Frithwald, Governor of Surrey. Some sources state the early name as Suthtone or Sudtana instead. Other place names that appear in this charter are Bedintone (Beddington), Cegeham (Cheam), and Aeweltone (Carshalton).

William The Conqueror's Domesday Book of 1086 assesses Sudtone:

In the time of King Edward it was assessed at 30 hides; now at 8½ hides. There are 2 carucates in the demesne, and 29 villains and 4 cottars with 13 carucates. There are 2 churches, and 2 bondmen, and 2 acres (8,100 m2) of meadow. The wood yields 10 swine. In the time of King Edward it was valued at 20 pounds, now at 15 pounds.

The Domesday Book adds that Sutton was about 800 acres in size, and had about 30 houses and a population of about 200. It also states that the Abbot of Chertsey held the Manor. In 1145 the Prior of Merton had vineyards in Sutton. 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 Carew. 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 to Sir Robert Long, who sold it that year to Sir Richard Mason. The Manor sold almost all of its land and has regularly changed hands since.

From the time of Domesday until the 19th-century establishment of local government and disestablishment of hundred courts, Sutton formed a parish in the Wallington hundred of Surrey, in the feudal system. However, by the time of Richard II, the parish was exempt from paying feudal dues at the Hundred Court.

1700 to 1900

The Cock
Painting of the first Cock Hotel by Thomas Rowlandson in 1789. The tollhouse is to the right and the tollgate is in the centre.

Sutton was mentioned briefly in two early criminal cases heard at the Old Bailey. On 14 October 1685, Morgan Bourne of Stepney was found guilty and subsequently executed for counterfeiting Half Crown coins in Sutton. During part of 1721 and early 1722, George Simpson, a highwayman and member of a notorious gang robbing mail coaches leaving London, hid in Sutton before returning to London and being arrested and hanged. The area around the road from London to Banstead Downs through Sutton, in particular the highway across Sutton Common, was a haven for highwaymen during the early modern period. A public house called Little Hell, located beside the Brighton road at the junction with Sutton Lane, was reputed to be a meeting place for highwaymen and their pursuers; the window shutters had spyholes through which watch was kept for highwaymen.

In 1755, a turnpike road from London to Brighton was constructed, meeting with a turnpike road from Carshalton to Ewell which was constructed at the same time. The toll bars for Cheam Road and Brighton Road were originally located at right angles to each other by the Cock Hotel, a coaching inn that sat on the south-east corner of the junction of the turnpikes. The inn's sign straddled the Brighton road, and its proprietor was the champion pugilist, "Gentleman" Jackson. Its name originated from the cock horses needed along this part of the road. Twenty horse and carts passed up and down this stretch in a day. The London to Brighton stagecoach began in 1760, and the Cock Hotel was the 9 a.m. breakfast stop for coaches leaving the city two hours earlier. Regular contact beyond the town brought both expansion and sophistication. Small businesses opened up, at first directly related to travellers on the turnpike – bakers and brewers to feed visitors, seamstresses to provide running repairs and leather workers to make or mend harnesses – and then to provide trade goods for neighbouring communities. All three of the toll bars moved further away from the junction after a number of years to take account of account of Sutton's expansion. The northernmost toll bar was situated where Rosehill is now. The toll bars remained in effect until 1882.

SUTTON (Surrey), Greater London - Nightingale pub
The Nightingale pub, formerly the Jenny Lind

Sutton railway station was opened on 10 May 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 developed into a town. New housing to accommodate this growth was constructed in the Lind Road area, and called the "New Town". A pub on the corner of Lind Road and Greyhound Road was called The New Town. Another, built in 1854, 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.

Sutton Water Company was incorporated in 1863, and the provision of water mains finally allowed houses to be built outside of the area defined by the water-yielding Thanet Sands. The Lord of the Manor at the time, Mr Thomas Alcock, sold land that was previously unsuitable for residential buildings, making it available for new construction. Sutton's population more than doubled again in the next ten years between 1861 and 1871, helped considerably by the development of upmarket Benhilton to the north of the town.

The 1870-1872 Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales describes Sutton:

Sutton, a village and a parish in Epsom district, Surrey. The village stands adjacent to the Epsom railway, 4½ miles WSW of Croydon; consists chiefly of one street; is the head polling place for Mid-Surrey; and has a post-office under London S, a railway station with telegraph, and two hotels.—The parish includes Ben-hilton group of new villas at Been Hill, numerous other new villas and cottages, and the South Metropolitan District school. Acres, 1,803. Real property, £12,061; of which £30 are in gasworks. ...

Barclay Bank, Sutton High St, SUTTON , Surrey, Greater London (6)
Bank at the historic crossroads
Sutton Masonic Hall, SUTTON, Surrey, Greater London
Sutton Masonic Hall

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. A notable building to appear around this time was the grand and decorative London and Provincial Bank building (now home to Barclays Bank), which was built overlooking the historic crossroads in 1894. It is four storeys tall and forms a prominent landmark when arriving in the town centre from a westerly direction. There is a series of arches at ground level, and the main entrance is on the corner where the two roads meet, rounded in shape and surrounded by an ornate architrave and segmental pediment.

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, initially with just nineteen pupils.

In 1897 Sutton Masonic Hall was built in Grove Road by freemasons from the locality. Freemasons have met there since its foundation, apart from a two-year interval during the Second World War when the military requisitioned the hall. It also served as a temporary shelter for people displaced from their homes. It was built by a locally known architect, Richard Creed, and local builder, Duncan Stuart & Sons of Wallington. The building features three central bays projecting under a tympanum, supported by pilasters on the second storey.

In 1896 to 1898 a new Cock Hotel was built on an adjacent site to the north of the original one, which was demolished shortly afterwards.

20th century

Xmas Show Week 1910
Sutton High Street, Christmas, 1910
The Thomas Wall Centre

By 1901, the town's population had reached 17,223, as housing was built for workers and the middle class. By the beginning of the 20th century, the High Street had become heavily built up.

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.

Sutton's main post office moved into new premises adjacent to the Masonic Hall on Grove Road in 1907 from its former site at 14 High Street.

The Sutton Adult School and Institute opened in 1910 in a large Edwardian building in Benhill Avenue. It later became the Thomas Wall Centre, 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 first section of the building, which contained assembly halls, opened in January 1910, and an extension opened in April 1911. The adult school is said to have had the best premises in the UK: by 1915 there were mens', boys' and girls' social clubs, a reference and a lending 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 gymnasium, excluding those in prisons, in southern England, which was available to both sexes.

In 1934 Sutton Baptist church opened in the town centre, a short distance from the existing St Nicholas Church and Trinity Church.

During World War II bombing was not as heavy as in central London; despite this, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists 187 civilian casualties for Sutton and Cheam. Between 1940 and 1944 a total of 434 bombs were dropped on Sutton and Cheam, and a local "bomb map" was produced after the war recording the date, time, location and type of each bomb.

In 1950, in order to widen the High Street, the Cock Hotel was demolished, and not rebuilt. However, the inn sign, complete with its finger-posts, survives overlooking the historic town-centre crossroads. Another former pub was the Greyhound, which in 1932 had a gantry sign over the High Street. The pub's name survives in the street name Greyhound Road.

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 which still exists today and of which Mr Alcock was secretary for many years. A plaque commemorating his life is situated at the junction of the road Christchurch Park with Brighton Road.

Population and demography

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

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.

A majority of the town's population is in the middle class ABC1 social group.


Trinity Square, SUTTON , Surrey, Greater London (8)
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. The belt of Thanet sands allowed wells to provide clean water, whereas the clay to the north mostly offered surface water of unsuitable quality. This feature attracted settlements to the sand belt from a very early date. The Sutton and Cheam Water Company was founded in 1863 with a capital of £8,000: it began operations on 1 January 1864 and the main waterworks were in south Sutton. Total takings in the first quarter were £11.14s.2d. By 1900, it 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.

Pyl Brook, Hamilton Avenue Recreation Ground, SUTTON, Surrey, Greater London
The Pyl Brook, as seen in the Hamilton Avenue Recreation Ground

Elevations range from 115 m AOD in the south of Belmont (a contiguous neighbourhood formerly considered part of the town) (or 85 m on the borders of the two places, south of the railway station) to as low as 23 m in the Sutton Common neighbourhood north of the High Street and at the start of the Pyl Brook, the major tributary of the Beverley Brook.

Benhilton in north Sutton is significantly elevated above the surrounding area. Great Grennell, the hill on which St Helier Hospital and Greenshaw High School is located, is up to 64 m above sea level; Benhill to the south, approximately where Oakhill Road meets Thicket Road, is 60 m; Angel Hill is 53 m. Sutton lies around 50 metres (160 ft) above sea level.


Sutton has formed part of Greater London since 1965. Despite this, "Sutton, Surrey" is often used for addresses in the town. Apart from being inaccurate, this is also problematic as there is another, much smaller Sutton in Surrey proper, about five miles south-west of Dorking. Sutton mainline railway station is known as "Sutton (Surrey)" by Southern Railway Ltd.

Green spaces

Sutton Green in greens and browns. 17-11-11.
Autumnal trees on Sutton Green

In addition to the St Nicholas church grounds, there are two larger 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.

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, SUTTON, Surrey, Greater London
Fountain, Manor Park

Manor Park is situated opposite the police station. The park was officially 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" Manor park is the site of the Sutton War Memorial. The memorial was unveiled at a service in June 1921 by Sir Ralph Forster, a wealthy local resident whose son died in the war. The memorial, in portland stone, consists of a large ornamental cross on a plinth.

524 men who died in the First World War are commemorated on the memorial.

Sutton War Memorial, Manor Park, Sutton, Surrey, Greater London (21)
Sutton War Memorial

There are also four angels on the plinth overlooking the park.

The current Manor Park Café opened in October 2010, replacing an earlier one. This eco-friendly, thirty-seat café has a range of environmental features, in particular its straw-bale construction. The café building was erected using UK produced straw-bales and natural sustainable materials, a type of construction which means that the building could last for longer than 200 years. It was designed by Amazonails Architectura designers, and constructed by a mixed team of builders. It was London’s first energy-efficient building to use this method of construction.

In the south of Sutton starts Banstead Downs, which extends for around a mile further 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.

  • The Anton Crescent Wetland reserve has ponds, willow carr and reedbeds, and the ponds never dry out as the rock formation is Oxford Clay. The pools and mud provide a habitat for birds such as the green sandpiper and common snipe. In 2005/6 the Environment Agency funded the installation of a pond-dipping platform and boardwalk.
  • Devonshire Avenue Nature Area is a Site of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation, Grade II. It is mainly neutral grassland, but it also has areas of chalk grassland, scrub and trees. A notable species is the small blue butterfly, which is rare in the borough. Plants include the nationally scarce ivy broomrape, and kidney vetch and bird's-foot trefoil.


The Georgian, Grade II listed "Sutton Lodge"
Sutton, Surrey, Greater London - Costa Coffee bar building
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. A few buildings do, however, date from before the Victorian era. The Georgian Sutton Lodge on Brighton Road is thought to be the oldest surviving building in the former parish of Sutton, other than a few fragmentary remains and boundary walls. The building is formed of a three-bay central block, with matching north and south wings of two bays. The Sutton Archives record that on 16 August 1762 John Wells handed over to a London merchant called Thomas Thomas "a new brick messuage and dwelling house with the several stables, granaries, oasthouses, edifices and buildings upon the said [Downs] close, lately erected and built by the said John Wells". The lodge served as the farmhouse of the former Sutton Farm. Later, the farmland around the lodge was progressively sold off for house building. The Lodge itself survived and was bought by Sutton Council, for use as a day centre for senior citizens. 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) to have trysts with his mistresses. The building is Grade II listed.

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. The variety resulted from the fact that no single developer was in overall charge, with instead several different builders being responsible for their own small plots. One of the main builders was George Wilks, who was responsible for several of the finest examples of Victorian houses.

The town also features a variety of more recent architectural eras and 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 right up to the 21st century. The three most prominent examples of the latter are the Aspects of Sutton and Lamborne apartment buildings and the new police station extension.

Sutton Police Station by night
Sutton's Edwardian Police Station

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 slightly less tall Docklands-style Lamborne building is completely newly built; it is finished in white with wooden inserts and is balconied throughout.

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.

SUTTON, Surrey, Greater London - Landseer Rd Conservation Area - Bridgefield Rd
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.


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 latter part of the 19th century in this and neighbouring roads. 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.

Places of worship

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 the western street parallel to the High Street, while the Baptist Church is situated nearby, in Cheam Road. The Salvation Army have a centre in Benhill Avenue.

Among a number of other churches in the vicinity of the town, there 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.

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

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. The present building, officially opened on 2 October 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.

Sutton Baptist Church

Two churches and some flowers, Cheam Rd, SUTTON, Surrey, Greater London
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, the church took little more than half-a-year to build, commencing in January 1934 and opening in September the same year, and its notable design aroused interest not only locally, but in church and architectural circles nationwide.

The church is a noted example of a contemporary brick building in the Borough of Sutton. The design has proportions 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, and its clean simplicity is in tune with the ideals of the Arts and Crafts Movement, as well as the later modern architectural movements.

St Nicholas Church

St Nicholas churchyard
St Nicholas clocktower

The Grade II listed St Nicholas Church 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.

All Saints Church

All Saints Church, Benhilton, by night, SUTTON, Surrey, Greater London
All Saints Church, floodlit

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.

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.

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.

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

To the east of the town centre, at south end of St Barnabas Road, is the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary. It was built in 1892 and consecrated that year by Monsignor Patterson. Plans to enlarge the church came to fruition in 1912, and in 1932 the church's current altar, dedicated to the Rosary, was consecrated by the then Roman Catholic Bishop of Southwark, Peter Amigo. The Church of the Holy Family, though closer to the town centre, is of more recent date, starting as Holy Family Church Hall in the 1960s. The current church was built in 1988, two years after being given its own parish.


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.

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. Artists featured include John Hegley, Dog Kennel Hill Project, composer Fraser Trainer.

Public art

The town centre features six examples of public art.

Sutton, Surrey London Heritage Mural edited-4
Sutton heritage mosaic

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

Sutton heritage mosaic

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. 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.

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.

Sutton Heritage Mosaic, Turner and Drostle, Sutton, Surrey, Greater London (8)
The Sutton Heritage Mosaic with High Street buildings behind

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."

Wellesley Road mural

Wall Art in Sutton Surrey London
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, and was completed in three days.

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, record producer, activist and actress. It shows her head, face and shoulders, with beads and multiple bangles which she is wearing held up in front of her, while pink and purple flower petals complete the image. The painting covers the entire side wall of Indepth House, a small office building occupied by the cleaning firm.

Sutton twin towns mural

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

The twin towns mural consists of a set of seven individual murals on one side wall depicting scenes of the London Borough of Sutton and its four European twins: Gagny, a suburb of Paris; Gladsaxe (a suburb of Copenhagen) in Denmark; Minden in Germany; and Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf in Berlin. The paintings are inset within seven mock window frames, positioned along the north flank of a Victorian commercial building at the southern end of the High Street near the train station at the junction with Sutton Court Road.

The murals were designed and painted (on to plywood) by professional public artists 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; in the case of Sutton this is in a separate smaller painting above the main one and depicts a beech tree, from which Carshalton Beeches in the borough derives its name.


Sutton armillary

Rotary Armillary, Sutton High St, SUTTON , Surrey, Greater London
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.

The Sutton armillary is a popular feature of the town, and it continues to provide a focus for the town centre. 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

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.

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. 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. The creation is located directly outside the main entrance to Quadrant House (in the Quadrant), adjacent to Sutton railway 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.

It was commissioned jointly by Chartwell Land, B&Q and the London Borough of Sutton. 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". 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, SUTTON, Surrey, Greater London
Transpose 2002

Literary facilities

Sutton Library is situated close to the top of the town, near St Nicholas Church and the Holiday Inn Hotel, and is part of a complex which contains the Civic Offices, home of Sutton Borough Council, and the Sutton College of Liberal Arts. 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.

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

Sutton Life Centre

Sutton Life Centre, SUTTON , Surrey, Greater London (3)
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.

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.

Theatre and cinema

The Secombe Theatre, night and day

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


The former Granada Cinema, designed by Robert Cromie, opened in the town centre as the Plaza Theatre in Carshalton Road in September 1934 with the films Catherine the Great and Oliver the Eighth. Whilst the Plaza Theatre was built as a cinema, it also had a fully equipped stage and several dressing rooms, and put on pantomimes at Christmas. In common with many cinemas from that era, it has since been demolished (in 1975). The site is currently occupied by the office building, Sutton Park House.

Approximately half-a-mile northwest of the former Granada, there is the six-screen Empire Cinema, situated opposite the St. Nicholas Centre shopping centre. It was opened in 1991, at the same time as the centre.


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

The Return of Mr Bean was filmed at Allders.

Episodes of The Bill were filmed in Sutton.

The sitcom Phoneshop, which began in 2010 and was broadcast on E4, was filmed on Sutton High Street.

A local film director won the 2014 award in the 16-21 age category at the IAC British International Amateur Film Festival.

Scenes for the Hollywood film Black Sea were shot outside Sutton Grammar School on 1 August 2013. The film stars Jude Law, who appears in the scenes getting in and out of a car, while school children walk out of the school in the background.


Sutton Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1946, giving its first concert in November of that year. The orchestra has given an average of three concerts every season and almost every one has featured a solo item. The majority of concerts take place in Sutton, some at St. Andrew's United Reformed Church, Northey Avenue. There have been two charity concerts, at the Sutton Secombe Centre and the Epsom Playhouse.

The Boom Boom Club in West Sutton hosts regular rock gigs, often by classic rock bands such as Focus and the Strawbs.

Historical note: The Rolling Stones

IMGP8710 Red Lion Pub Sutton
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 a historic performance over half a century ago 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.

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

January 23, 1963: Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman become permanent members of the Rolling Stones with this day's gig at the Red Lion Pub in Sutton, Surrey.

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


Clock by Sutton station, SUTTON, Surrey, Greater London
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 at Carshalton and 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 stations 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, London United, Abellio London and Metrobus. There are express coach services to both Heathrow Airport and Gatwick Airport.

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. There are three main car parks in the town centre and a car club.

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


Sutton High St crossroads, SUTTON, Surrey, Greater London
Sutton town centre

Sutton is one of the eleven major metropolitan centres identified in the London Plan 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. 863 new companies were formed in Sutton in 2012, the highest number since records began. 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 has offices in the large Sutton Park House building opposite Manor Park. Crown Agents Bank, a provider of the wholesale foreign exchange and cross-border payments services, is headquartered in Quadrant House, in the town centre. 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" and Sutton Chamber of Commerce also play a part in the local economy.

Town centre regeneration

SUTTON (Surrey), Greater London - Subsea 7
The new headquarters of Subsea 7
Top Shop, Sutton High St, SUTTON, Surrey, Greater London
Art deco High Street building
Grand Parade, Sutton High Street, SUTTON, Surrey, Greater London
Grand Parade, Sutton High Street

Several 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 was due for completion in December 2018.

The Old Gas Works, 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 was completed in 2016. The scheme represented a £50 million investment in the town.

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. Construction of the £39 million development by Galliford Try started in 2014, and was completed in late 2016.

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"

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"

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, to encourage economic growth. Heritage will be made a central consideration for new developments in the area to retain the town's distinct architectural nature.


Retailing history
Waterstone's 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. It has been recognised by Guinness World Records as the oldest bicycle shop in the world.

Retail environment

Sutton is London's sixth most important retail centre, and attracts shoppers from a wide area. 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.

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

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 the former Debenhams anchor store. Times Square is the smaller one – it opened in 1985, and was re-launched in 2017 following a refit. The refit was assessed as being of high quality and making a significant contribution to the regeneration of the town centre."

All Bar One building, SUTTON , Surrey, Greater London (3)
All Bar One, Sutton
Shinner & Sudtone, Sutton
The Shinner and Sudtone pub on Sutton High Street
Restaurants and bars

Sutton has several restaurants, patisseries, coffee bars, gastropubs and bars, including the country's first branch of All Bar One. 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, Lebanese, British, vegan, Malaysian, Thai, Pakistani, Portuguese, Turkish, Sri Lankan and Japanese cuisine, in addition to the more longstanding Italian, Indian and Chinese establishments. One French restaurant was in the 2013 Good Food Guide and was Michelin-listed then.

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.

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.

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

Green wall

There is a green wall or "vertical garden" in the shopping area, designed both for aesthetics and to improve air quality and biodiversity. It provides additional breeding and nesting options in the vicinity and safeguards local flora and fauna. It helps to offset the carbon footprint, lowers the heat island effect of the urban area and reduces smog from traffic fumes. The green wall covers the façade of a large High Street store, and is in bloom all year round.


Sutton United F.C. play in the EFL League Two, the 4th level of the English football pyramid. They did so for the first time in their 123 year history after winning the 2020-21 National League. 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. 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.


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

  • All Saints Benhilton, C of E Primary
  • Brookfield Primary School
  • Avenue Primary
  • Devonshire Primary
  • Homefield Preparatory School
  • Manor Park Primary
  • Robin Hood Infants
  • Robin Hood Junior
  • Westbourne Primary

Secondary schools

  • Glenthorne High School
  • Greenshaw High School
  • Overton Grange School
  • Harris Academy Sutton
  • Sutton Grammar School for Boys
  • Sutton High School for Girls (independent school)
  • Eagle House School (specialist autism school)

In 2013 Sutton's GCSE performance was second across all boroughs in England. In 2011 Sutton was the top performing borough in England. For more performance information 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.

Notable people

Quentin Crisp

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

  • Martin Adams, professional darts player, was born in Sutton.
  • Joan Armatrading, singer-songwriter and musician, lived in Sutton in the 1970s.
  • Ben Barnes, actor, attended Homefield Preparatory School.
  • David Bellamy, broadcaster and botanist, attended Sutton Grammar School.
  • Sally Bercow, wife of the former Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.
  • Johnny Borrell, guitarist, singer and frontman of the band Razorlight.
  • Noël Coward, actor and playwright, lived in Lenham Road, Sutton between the ages of seven and ten.
  • Constance Cox, playwright and scriptwriter, born in Sutton
  • James Cracknell OBE, Olympic gold medallist in rowing.
  • Quentin Crisp, writer, author, raconteur was born in Sutton.
  • Clark Datchler, lead singer of Johnny Hates Jazz.
  • Jack Draper, professional tennis player, born in Sutton.
  • Charles Hazell, recording artist better known by the stage name Sketchman, was born in Sutton in 1988.
  • Catherine Holman, actress, born in Sutton.
  • Jon Hiseman, drummer with the pioneering progressive jazz-rock band Colosseum, was born in Sutton
  • James Hunt, racing driver and 1976 Formula One World Champion, lived in Sutton as a child.
  • Penelope Keith, actress, and famous for her role in The Good Life, was born in Sutton.
  • Ruth Kelly, former Labour Party member of parliament and Transport Secretary, attended Sutton High School.
  • Rebecca Litchfield, photographer, was born in Sutton.
  • Bradley McIntosh, member of former chart topping band S Club 7, attended Greenshaw High School.
  • Robbie McIntosh, air guitarist first strummed his tennis racket in Sutton High Street.
  • Katie Melua, award-winning singer, songwriter and musician, lived in Gander Green Lane, Sutton.
  • Phyllis Mudford King (1906–2006), Wimbledon ladies doubles winner 1931 attended Sutton High School.
  • Brian Paddick, Baron Paddick, the British Liberal Democrat politician, attended Sutton Grammar School for Boys.
Jack Draper (50088332011)
Jack Draper
  • Peter Penfold, CMG, OBE, diplomat, attended Sutton Grammar School.
  • Sidney Richard Percy, painter, lived in Mulgrave Road, Sutton.
  • Frank Potter, artist and art teacher, was born in Sutton in 1896.
  • Michael Reeves, film director and screenwriter, best known for the 1968 film Witchfinder General
  • Gavin Roynon, cricketer and military historian, was born in Sutton.
  • Dora Russell (born Dora Black, 1894–1986), author, feminist and progressive campaigner, attended Sutton High School.
  • Sir Harry Secombe, the humourist, singer, comedian, entertainer and member of the Goon Show cast, was a local resident and personality. The Secombe Theatre in Sutton is named after him.
  • Ian Stewart, co-founder of The Rolling Stones.
  • Graham Sutherland, painter, etcher and designer, attended Homefield Preparatory School, Sutton.
  • Baron Tope of Sutton, Liberal Democrat politician
  • Helen Young, BBC Weather Presenter and former BBC Weather Centre Manager lives here
  • Zacron, born Richard Drew, designer of the Led Zeppelin III album cover

Images for kids

kids search engine
Sutton, London Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.