National reports launched by Historic England celebrate Sutton’s heritage

How can the distinctive character and heritage of Sutton be preserved for future generations? To address this challenge, Sutton Council, in partnership with Historic England, Successful Sutton Business Improvement District and Carshalton and District History and Archaeological Society (CADHAS), has formed the Sutton Heritage Action Zone (HAZ).

The Sutton HAZ partnership unveiled two landmark reports at a public event held on 1 October at Sutton Baptist Church, a building recently awarded Grade II* listing by the Secretary of State. 

The Historic Area Assessment for Sutton Town Centre report and accompanying Gateway Document are authored by Locus Consulting. The report celebrates Sutton's rich and longstanding history, exemplified by the streets, buildings, spaces and people that have shaped its town centre. The legacy of Sutton's historical status as a significant highway, crossroads and stopping point between London, Brighton and the Banstead and Epsom Downs, remains the single most dominant feature within the townscape, while several characteristics have been inherited from Sutton's rural past. The report charts Sutton's transformation from a modest railway town into the main civic and administrative centre of the modern London Borough of Sutton.

The report identifies opportunities for proactive conservation management and strategic planning to address changes to retail frontages and enhance Sutton's heritage. The research will assist planners, property owners, developers and the local community in shaping a sustainable future for Sutton town centre. 


The known and potential archaeological significance of Sutton town centre is described within the research report Early Sutton: to inform the present for the future undertaken by Oxford Archaeology. Members of CADHAS supported the project by carrying out research in the Sutton Archives and History Centre and a large part of the on-site assessment. The report covers a 3km radius around Sutton town centre. Volunteers surveyed the extent of pre-1800 structures within the Sutton HAZ boundary and identifed areas of previous ground disturbance and areas with the potential to contain surviving archaeological remains.

Simon Latham, Assistant Director of Housing, Planning and Regeneration at Sutton Council, said: "The council welcomes the research reports as they will help to strengthen our position in protecting Sutton's heritage and encouraging a high quality development as part of the town centre regeneration. The council will be reviewing the opportunities identified in the report, including setting up a Design Review Panel. We look forward to working with the Sutton HAZ partners in realising our shared ambitions."   

David English, Historic Places Principal, Historic England said: "Sutton is London's first Heritage Action Zone and deservedly so. The town centre has a rich history. However, it faces many challenges and it is vital that Sutton's heritage plays a key role in informing how the centre continues to develop and thrive.  Both the Historic Area Assessment and the archaeology report contribute to understanding of Sutton's historic environment and will lead to better place-making." 

More information:

About Sutton Heritage Action Zone (HAZ)

The Sutton HAZ partnership will see Historic England, London Borough of Sutton, Successful Sutton Business Improvement District (BID) and Carshalton and District History and Archaeological Society (CADHAS) work together over three years (2017-2020) to deliver a series of projects that will support local heritage to promote economic growth in Sutton Town Centre. It is part of the national initiative of Heritage Action Zones led by Historic England.

About Historic England

Historic England is the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England's spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. It protects, champions and saves the places that define who we are and where we've come from as a nation. Historic England cares passionately about the stories it tells, the ideas it represents and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists, Historic England shares its passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.

Historic Area Assessment for Sutton Town Centre

Early Sutton: to inform the present for the future

Sutton Town Centre Heritage Action Zone

Discovering Sutton Heritage Action Zone

The monument to Isaac Littlebury

On the north wall is a tablet with the following inscription:

Isaac Littlebury.

"In memory of Isaac Littlebury, whose liberal education, travels abroad, skill in divers languages, knowledge of history and conversation with eminent men, rendered him a lover of public liberty and good order, which he endeavoured to promote by publishing several eminent books. He was, through the course of his life, just, open, modest, generous, mild, beneficent, frugal. He died the 30th of April 1710, in his 53d year."

Isaac Littlebury is said to have been the son of "Mr. Thomas Littlebury, the famous bookseller in Little Britain, eminent for his skill in languages (fn. 9)." He is best known as the translator of Herodotus; what his other publications were I have not been able to learn, nor any thing further of his history.

From:  Daniel Lysons, 'Sutton', in The Environs of London: Volume 1, County of Surrey (London, 1792), pp. 492-496. British History Online [accessed 10 September 2018].

Illustrated Talks as part of the Extraordinary Women Event

The exhibition will be supported by a series of short 30 minute illustrated talks on the theme of Extraordinary Women.  

  • Thursday 6 September 2018: 1 pm - Cllr Ruth Dombey - 100 years on
  • Friday 7 September 2018: 1 pm - Clare Parish - Girl Guiding Rocks
  • Saturday 8 September 2018: 1 pm - Alice Brown & Rachel Clark (Sutton Community Farm) - Extraordinary Women in Food and Farming
  • Thursday 13 September 2018: 1 pm - Janice Clarke - Mary Sumner
  • Thursday 13 September 2018: 2 pm - Cllr Jean Crossby - The Path to Survival
  • Friday 14 September 2018: 1 pm - Veronica Williams - Claudia Jones
  • Saturday 15 September 2018: 1 pm - Abby Matthews - Women in the Frame
  • Saturday 22nd September 2018: 1 pm - Olwen Edwards & Jackie McLoughlin - Helen Bamber 
Check out all the events taking place:

Extraordinary Women: Opens Thursday 6th September

The free exhibition "Extraordinary Women" will open at 10 am this Thursday 9th September 2018.  The venue is St Nicholas Church, Sutton's historic town centre church.  The exhibition marks the centenary of when women first gained the right to vote and has been organised by The Friends and St Nicholas Churchyard (in conjunction with St Nicholas Church).  The exhibition has been enabled by event funding from the Heritage Action Zone.

The exhibition and series of events will celebrate the lives of some of the Extraordinary Women who are connected with St Nicholas.

Check out all the events taking place:  

Monika Mary Nightingale: An Extraordinary Woman

"Much beloved she gave herself for others during the Great War".

Monika Mary Nightingale was 14 at the time of the 1911 census.  She lived with her mother, father and her little 6-year-old brother Bernard in a house on Sutton Common Road.  Her father, Frederick, was a Bank Clerk working for the National Bank and her mother, Mary, was a housewife.   They had named their house Luscinia which is a play on their surname as Luscinia is the genus of birds to which the nightingale belongs.  The family had lived previously at Rose Cottage on the Green at Benhilton when they had first moved to Sutton in 1893.

Monika had been called 'Nonnie' when she was little and that's the name she gave the census taker when they came to the house when she was 4.

Monika had another brother called Cyril Frederick Brock Nightingale who was 3 years older than her.  By the time of the 1911 census he had left home and was living elsewhere.

During the Great War (1914-1918), large numbers of women were recruited into jobs vacated by men who had gone to fight in the war. New jobs were also created as part of the war effort, for example in munitions factories.   

Though there was initial resistance to hiring women for what was seen as 'men's work', the introduction of conscription in 1916 made the need for women workers urgent. Around this time, the government began coordinating the employment of women through campaigns and recruitment drives.

More than a million women took the chance to join the workforce. They worked across the economy - from tram drivers and train cleaners, to postal workers and police patrols.

In 1914 the seventeen-year-old Monika Nightingale would have had every expectation and opportunity to be of service to her country.

1918 saw the advent of votes for women and even as men returned home from the war and displaced women from the roles that they had occupied a fundamental shift had taken place in society.  But this was not a change that Monika would be able to enjoy.

Spanish Flu

I had a little bird 
Its name was Enza 
I opened the window, 
And in-flu-enza.

The influenza pandemic of 1918-19 claimed the lives of between 20 and 40 million people around the world, at least three times the number killed in the war.

The flu reached London in the June of 1918.  Unlike ordinary seasonal flu, which was worst in the elderly, weak and sick, the new illness disproportionately struck those aged 20 to 30. Young adults with the strongest immune systems were, unexpectedly, the most vulnerable.

Monika died on Christmas day in 1919.    The quotation on the plaque that commemorates her is an adaptation from Revelation 14:13  

"And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them."