Sutton, Coldfield, UK
The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, England
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The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield is an ancient town, once forming part of the kingdom of Mercia. Before the Conquest its wood and chase provided sport for the Mercian Earls, as they did for the subsequent royal and noble owners until the time of Bishop Vesey in the Tudor period.
The Domesday Book entry for Sutton Coldfield is the first known written mention of the town and it values the Manor, held by Edwin, Earl of Mercia, for the King, at four pounds.
Sutton Coldfield became a Royal manor in 1489 and remained in the hands of the crown until 1528. Then, through Bishop Vesey, Henry VIII granted the town its first Charter of Incorporation. The Charter decreed that the “town and village shall for ever here-after be accounted, named and called the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield”. A Corporation of 25 men known as the “Warden and Society” was created with all manorial rights, powers and liberties.
Sutton Coldfield’s own attempt at industry took place in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, when most of the pools in Sutton Park were formed by damming the streams, and mills were built on them. Their trades ranged from buttons, leather, bayonet and blade to cotton making. However, the development of new sources of power in the rapidly expanding towns of the area soon meant that water powered industry was unable to compete and the mills slowly went out of business.
The Warden and Society carried on running Sutton until 1885 when a Royal Commission set up a new town Council. In 1886 a new Charter was granted which established the new Town Council, consisting of six wards, six Alderman and eighteen Councillors. The first Mayor of Sutton Coldfield was J. Benjamin Stone, a well known photographer of the time, and he and his fellow councillors represented the population of Sutton, which was still under 8,000.
The administration of the Borough Council continued without serious challenge until the early 1970s when Local Government reorganisation saw Sutton Coldfield move from the County of Warwickshire to the Metropolitan District of Birmingham. On 1 April 1974 Sutton became the largest constituency in the new council, covering over one fifth of the Metropolitan District’s administrative area.
One of the major assets of Sutton Coldfield over many centuries is Sutton Park, a remnant of an extensive forest that once covered much of the Midlands.
Sutton today is also a thriving town, a mainly residential area with very little industry, but with a large shopping centre and suburban office area.