History of Sutton Town Centre

Sutton has a rich and long history going back to 675 A.D! You can read some facts about Sutton below. If you want to find out more, why not join us for one of our Guided Walking Tours.

Our walking tours will return in May and run for an extended period until the end of August.

Watch this space for more information.

Archeological Finds

There have been settlements in the Sutton area dating back thousands of years. A neolithic implement was found near the junction of Carshalton Road and the High Street and other prehistoric material has been on the road from Cheam to Beddington. The site of  Roman Villa was also discovered nearby at Beddington.

First Mentions of Sutton

Sutton first gets mentioned in history as Sudtone in 675 A.D when a piece of land (called a manor) was granted to the Abbott of Chertsey. There does not appear to have been any religious function to Sudtone - it was solely a source of revenue to the Abbey. The name Sudtone derives from South Ton - the word Ton meaning a farm, enclosure or piece of land (not necessarily including a manor house). In this case it was the piece of land to the south of the Parish boundary formed by the Roman road Stane Street (now Stonecot Hilll).

The next significant mention of Sudtone is in the Domesday Book in 1086. The Domesday book was William the Conqueror’s survey of all the manors and farms in England. The Sudtone manor was valued at £15 with a population (estimated by historians) of 150 people.

Creation and Development of Sutton Town

In the late 1600s through to the 1700s, two toll roads intersected at what is now the junction of Carshalton Road and the High Street.  A settlement started to spring up around the tollhouse. The Cock Hotel was situated here and was a place to refresh the stage coach horses and passengers after the climb up the hill that later became the High Street.  In 1755 a law was passed to allow widening and maintenance of the roads which suffered badly from mud, particularly at the bottom of the hill.

The overall population of Sutton was 569 in 1801 and at that time there were about 40 buildings that started to form the High Street as we know it.  The number of buildings grew slowly to 100 by 1850.  In 1847 the railway arrived and with it commuters started to move in leading to the creation of the Newtown residential area of Sutton to the east of the high street. About 250 houses were built here initially on the land of an old manor house. By1850 the population had grown to 1387 people.

Sutton as a Retail Centre

The oldest shop in Sutton is Pearson Cycles. In the 1860s Pearson was a blacksmith shop however in the 1890s Harry Pearson turned to mending and making cycles and from that developed the Pearson Cycles business. 5 generations of Pearsons have and continue run the cycle business from the same location.

A huge influence on shopping in Sutton was Ernest Shinner who opened a small shop near where Waterstones now stands. He gradually bought up the neighboring shops before building Shinner’s department store on the site in 1935. Earlier in 1926 he had built the Sutton Arcade on the other side of the High Street because he felt Sutton needed to be part of the trend for arcades. Shinner’s was taken over by Allders of Croydon in 1979 which later moved to the St Nicholas Centre when it opened in 1991.

Times Square is Sutton’s other shopping centre and this opened in 1985.

Historic Buildings in Sutton

The south end of Sutton High Street has a number of significant buildings of architectural interest. The area has been designated a conservation area to protect them. There are too many to list completely but the obvious land mark buildings are:

  • The distinctive 1897 Masonic Hall in Sutton Court Road.
  • The 1894 London and Provincial Bank building (now Barclays) stands tall, grand and decorative in Cheam Road.
  • Trinity Church with its rare crown and lantern spire also in Cheam Road was built in 1907.

There are two Grade II Nationally listed buildings in the town centre:

  • Sutton Baptist Church in Cheam Road constructed in 1934 in the free Gothic style with imposing proportions it is one of the best examples of a contemporary building in the borough.
  • Sutton Police Station built in 1908 is an unusually elaborate example of a Metropolitan Police Station built in a suburban area.

Is Sutton in Surrey or London?

In the 1900s London started to sprawl and absorb more and more towns into it’s suburbs. For example, despite being firmly in the county of Surrey, Sutton was already being policed by the Metropolitan Police and not the Surrey Constabulary. In 1965, with the creation of the Greater London Council, Sutton (along with other towns like Croydon and Kingston) was brought into London and the London Borough of Sutton was created. As far your postal address is concerned: the Royal Mail do not use counties and therefore for us the designated postal town is Sutton (followed by the postcode). It is a matter of personal choice whether you put London, Surrey or nothing after the word Sutton. The links between Sutton and the county of Surrey, however remain varied and strong.