A Brief History of Sutton Coldfield

There are signs of life going back as far as the bronze age in the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield. Evidence of burnt mounds from the period we’re found during an archeological survey for the M6 Toll in 2002 – 03. There is also evidence for an iron age settlement from around 400 to 100 BC.

So Sutton Coldfield certainly has a long history!

There are more signs of pre-Roman human habitation in the area in Sutton Park. Evidence of settlement in the area from the Roman period can be seen around the park where a 2.4 km section of Icknield Street can be walked. It’s quite fascinating to walk along this stretch because it is very straight and you cannot help but imagine it being built and used by legions of Roman soldiers and there is an urge to look for some lost Roman coins. Sadly, none were lying around when I walked the road but people have found them previously. We live in hope.

The Romans eventually left and Sutton Coldfield became part of the Anglo Saxon Kingdom of Mercia, albeit in a still under-developed state. Maney Hill was the site of a hunting lodge that was built for the Mercian leaders. It is still a posh place to live today.

Sutton Park has various ditches and banks which originate form when the park was used as a deer park. These banks were almost certainly the base for a wooden fence which was used to contain the deer.

Powells Pool Sutton Coldfield Park

The 1086 Doomsday book records Sutton Coldfield. Suth tun means south farm and this must have evolved into Sutton. It is probable that people meant out of Tamworth when they used the term suth tun when referring to Sutton Coldfield.

A chap named John Harman was born in Sutton Coldfield town in the fifteenth century and he went on to become known as Vesey and he was a large benefactor to the place. John was born somewhere on the Moor Hall estate and was the eldest son of Joan and William Harman. He went to live with the Vesey family (maybe relatives of the Harmans?) and he must have adopted the surname Vesey as a result. He had a good career and was consecrated as Bishop of Exeter in 1519 having obtained high office in the reign of King Henry VIII, no less.

Vesey did not like the sight of Sutton Coldfield when he returned for his mother’s funeral in 1524 and acted to improve things. It had previously been a busy market town but the market place became deserted and the Manor House e had been demolished.

Prosperity came to Sutton Coldfield in the 17th and 18th centuries allowing the local population to enjoy an enhanced quality of life, enjoying luxury items such as sea food.

Country houses were built in Sutton Coldfield as it was some distance from the polluted areas of local towns.

A warden and 24 local people became responsible for the governance of the town. This was achieved by a charter of incorporation for Sutton Coldfield which was granted by the king. This governing body was known as the Warden and Society of the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield. The market place was rebuilt, a town hall was built and a grammar school created. It bears his name to this day.

Did you know that a race course once existed in Sutton Park? It was there in the 1840s in the area which is now the Rangers depot and workshop. It was eventually removed for fears of the effect upon the park but another racecourse was built in 1868.

Today, Sutton Coldfield is a municipal borough and is about mid-point between Birmingham and Lichfield. 2400 of its almost 14,000 acres is occupied by the wonderful Sutton Park, which an area of natural woodland, heartland and heath. It is a wonderful area, enjoyed by those from near and far afield. There are several lakes and many more features which grant people access to open land and nature which have been enjoyed by generations of families.

The town became part of Birmingham in Birmingham 1974 as part of the metropolitan county of the West Midlands. There has often been a call for Sutton Coldfield to become independent of Birmingham and a Parish council was formed in 2015 which took over some powers from Birmingham.

A railway from Birmingham to Sutton Coldfield was opened in 1862 allowing people to visit the park. The service ran daily. A man named Job Cole created some leisure gardens near Wyndley Gate and went on to establish the Crystal Palace company with the ability to provide accommodation for up to 2000 people who could visit various events and exhibitions. Sutton Coldfield Park was a venue for military training in the 19th century. There is a wall which was used on a military rifle range which still exists there, today and there are undulations in the ground in one area of the park which are the remnants of military training.

In fact, a prisoner of war campo was created in the park in World War Two and it was also used for tank testing.

A well known event is the 1957 World Jubilee Jamboree which saw 35,000 scouts from 37 different countries visit the park where they camped for two weeks. A large stone commemorates this enormous event and is a local land mark.

Sutton Coldfield has been the residence or birth place of such people as Aston Villa owner Doug Ellis, Actor Trevor Eve, footballer Paul Merton, actor Sir Roger Moore (but he ended up living in Monaco, just a little better than Sutton Coldfield), actor Dennis Waterman and many others.

There are some areas which are thought of as being posh. Four Oaks and the Hartopp Road are a couple of them but there are some very modest properties in Four Oaks, to be fair. The real place of wealth in the area is Roman Road which is a private road containing individually architectured road, some of which are extremely grand. It is one of the most popular places for lottery winners to splash their cash on their dream, forever home and has many rich and successful people in it.

Well, there is as great deal more that could be said about Sutton Coldfield but it gives you a flavour of the place.

Grateful thanks for the images:

Stephen McKay / CC BY-SA

Jim Champion / CC BY-SA

Mikey from Wythenshawe, Manchester / CC BY-SA