Enter the borough of Sutton
Even though the story of this family-friendly borough dates back to the beginning of the previous millenium, when Sutton was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, this time we decided to leave the history aside and make a different kind of list.
The happiest London borough deserves this – so let us give you some reasons to smile, while we’re in Sutton.
Time to Spin the Pedals
The oldest shop in Sutton is Pearson Cycles. Let’s make this sound even more impressive - Pearson Cycles in Sutton is the oldest bicycle shop in the world!
Its story begins in the 1860s when Pearson was a blacksmith shop. However, in the 1890s Harry Pearson turned to mending and making cycles and from that the Pearson Cycles business began its development, therefore the name came itself.
Five generations later the shop is still owned by Pearsons and stays on the same location offering the same services, which should guarantee a really professional attitude, don’t you think?!
Let it Snow
Be careful when dreaming of a white Christmas, while in Sutton, cuz’ your days may not be merry and bright.
Did you know that the first offence dealt with at the old police station at Sutton in 1908 was for throwing of snowballs?! The history has the habit to repeat itself so don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Touch the Green, Green Grass of Home
There’s a big chance to hear how the residents here praise Sutton for being London’s greenest borough. We won’t argue but we can offer some firm facts:
- 1,500 – that’s the number of acres of green open spaces and parks in Sutton. There are 16 parks in the borough.
- Sutton has one of the highest densities of tree cover per hectare in the whole of London. In total, there are more than 190,000 trees in the borough.
- 35.1% of Sutton’s land is taken up by gardens, which is the highest proportion among the districts in England.
If you still want to make some kind of comparison with other boroughs, we’ll be glad to discuss the data in the comments section below.
A Friend Who Takes Care of the Weed
Relax, we don’t mean anything illegal, simply residents of Sutton are blessed to live in one of the cleanest places in England, in other words, every morning here is bright and pure.
In 2018, 50% of all waste in Sutton have been recycled, which makes the borough the second greenest in London. For the last year, the recycling rate here has increased by 13.5 percentage points from 36.5% to 50%, which is the second biggest increase anywhere in the country. Sutton is now one of just three London boroughs that are recycling 50% or more of its waste and now it also proudly stands in the top quartile in the whole country.
Although the citizens are doing a fine job on their own, they can hire a professional cleaning company operating in the district to take care of their household.
That’s not all. London’s first energy-efficient building to use the
brown method of construction was built here in 2010. The eco-friendly Manor Park Café is literally built from straw and sticks. As you correctly assume, it is located in Manor Park so yes, it is green, bright and beautiful. Of course, it is a fair trade as well and serves healthy organic ingredients sourced locally – aside from delicious breakfast, which includes fresh bacon, you can enjoy a vegetarian or even vegan meal as well.
Gold Metal for a Gold Medal
When a decades-old tradition has been changed there must be a really good reason why. Red – this is the traditional colour of post boxes used by the Royal Mail since time immemorial, with just a few exceptions through the decades.
But in the summer of 2012, more than 100 letterboxes had been covered with gold paint to celebrate every Team GB and Paralympics GB gold medal that had been won that year during the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.
A year later came the decision these post boxes to remain permanently gold to mark the achievements of the athletes and the historic Games. This marked the first occasion in the Royal Mail’s history that the colour of post boxes in the United Kingdom had been changed from their traditional red.
Along with the gold medal stamps programme, Royal Mail was the first postal administration in the world to produce stamps for every gold medalist in both Games.
One of the most recognizable gold post boxes stands at Ewell Road in Cheam to mark Joanna Rowsell’s Olympic gold medal for the Women's Cycling Team Pursuit. So next time when you post a letter why don’t you do it with style and choose gold?!
Smells Like the Canary Islands
Don’t you dare to picture a beach, a sea and tropical cocktails – try to think out of the box for a minute – here are some hints – we’re talking about a humble (as long as it spreads on almost every continent) flowering plant, which originates from the mint family and has the colour of the rain, that Prince sang about…
Did you get it – we’re talking about the lavender, of course. It is native to the Old World and can be found from Cape Verde and the Canary Islands, across northern and eastern Africa, the Mediterranean, southwest Asia and China, all the way to southeast India. Here comes the best part - you can find in London as well.
Carshalton Road, Banstead, SM7 3JA – remember this address, especially if you’ve found yourself even once gazing silly into a photograph, which depicts the magnificent and somehow magical beauty of the lavender fields. What if we tell you that you can shoot a stunning photo like this while walking through the fields of lavender, breathing their sensual aroma, while the gentle wind plays with your hair as the sun goes down?
Mayfield Lavender Farm or the largest organic lavender farm in the UK, certified by the Soil Association - can offer you all of this and much more. This year it will be open from June 1st to September 1st 2019 - 7 days per week from 9 am to 6 pm. Children at 16 and under won’t be charged. 25 acres of lavender fields await you, ready to dazzle you with their purple haze, to give you their most glorious time, and their tender age in bloom.
We Know the Pieces Fit
Have you heard the shattered story of Sutton - maybe the Heritage Mosaic rings a bell?! It was created to showcase the eloquent heritage and expressive history of the London borough. It seems that artists Gary Drostle and Rob Turner have put a lot of effort into it and we’re not even talking about the arrangement of all the little pieces of the 9 metres (30 ft) high and 5 metres (16 ft) wide mosaic – look closer.
This magnificent patchwork contains 19 black and white panels, each of them, depicts various aspects of Sutton's heritage and local history so we can only be guessing how many hours of reading were needed to clear the idea. Over 100,000 pieces from vitreous ceramic tesserae blend together to form the iconic images. It took over 1,500 hours to design and construct the mural, which covers the whole three storey wall.
This unique masterpiece was put in place in 1994 – just before the present borough of Sutton marked 30 years of existence. The mosaic tells so many stories hidden within its thousands of pieces, so many, that in 2011 the council decided to put an information plaque, which describes the panels and their valuable meaning. The centrepiece represents King Henry VIII’s Nonsuch Palace – the same which Lady Castlemaine pulled down around a few decades later in order to pay off her gambling debts. All that left were ruins at least they can still be seen at Nonsuch Park.
The Pub that Discovered the Stones
265 High Street, Sutton, SM1 1LD – you might not remember (or even ever heard of) this address but do you know who will – The Rolling Stones.
The Sutton High Street pub, then called The Red Lion, was where in 1963 the band was spotted for the first time in their career, while playing a gig in front of as few as 30 people – if only back then they knew that they were witnessing this rock and roll moment…
However the other 29 among the
crowd may forever remain unknown but one person among the audience that night was bigwig promoter Giorgio Gomelski, who signed the Stones up for a residency at Richmond's iconic Crawdaddy Club. The rest as they say is history. Just a few months after The Rolling Stones hit the charts and became overnight stars.
Today’s pub now called The Winning Post was also where Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman became permanent members of the band on 23 January 1963.
Recently the pub, which helped The Rolling Stones on their road to fame and glory, has been added to the list of protected buildings in Sutton. After an appeal by Sutton Council, the Winning Post was one of the 170 symbolic buildings and landmarks that were added to the Local List. Each of these sites identifies and preserve structures with local significance.
Come to Snuff the Rooster
Despite the dark meaning behind Alice in Chains' Rooster, lyrics we’re actually talking about a cockerel, which never used to crow its COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO – simply cuz’ its magnificent feathering is made interlay of steel, cast and wrought iron.
Back in the happiest borough - Could you possibly imagine Sutton High Street without the Cock Sign? We neither – that’s why it’s about time to reveal its fascinating story.
The Cock sign dates back to the beginning of the last century - around 1907. It originated from The Cock public house, which was owned by the famous pugilist Gentleman Jackson, who used to teach notable aristocrats like Lord Byron, for example, to box at his London academy.
The sign used to stay on a junction known as The Cock Cross Roads. Around 1915 the gas lamp-post and pub sign was relocated and converted to a road sign. The structure stands just south of the intersection of the pedestrian Sutton High Street and the vehicular Carshalton Road.
There is a whole list with principal reasons why the Cock sign is a Grade II listed. Here are some of them:
- It accurately illustrates the late C19 and early C20 history of Sutton.
- The combined lamp-post, pub sign, and road-marker is an impressive and increasingly rare example of a large-scale structure, featuring a complete set of finger posts, skilful decorations and craftsmanship as well.
- The design was created by the eminent company of Hart, Son, Peard and Co, associated mostly with its ecclesiastical works.
The Cock sign is one of the most Instagrammed Sutton sites, so if you’re about to shoot it – be creative.
We're pretty sure that there are stories that you love about Sutton but we've missed, so don't hesitate to tell them in the comment section below.