Has Anything Interesting EVER Happened In Sutton?

By M@ Last edited 12 months ago
Has Anything Interesting EVER Happened In Sutton?
Just about the only stock image of Sutton on Shutterstock.

In our 14 year history, Londonist has published around 50,000 articles about the capital. Only eight of them are tagged 'Sutton'.

Is this because we're blind to the wonders of this outer borough? Or is it really 'the most normal place in Britain', as adjudged in 2014?

Turns out that Sutton is really a dynamic, exciting and occasionally strange borough, as these historical insights show.

1682: Local palace torn down to pay gambling debts

Nonsuch Palace. Before...

There's not much left of Nonsuch Palace. The grandest of Henry VIII's properties (hence its name) was inherited by his eventual successor Charles II, who gave it away to his mistress Lady Castlemaine. Even more merry than the Merry Monarch, Lady C ran up huge gambling debts. She could only pay them off by dismantling the palace and selling on the building materials.

Nonsuch Palace. After.

Castlemaine might have destroyed Sutton's greatest landmark but she also contributed to the stock of national treasures. Lady Diana and Bertrand Russell are among her descendants, along with the Mitford sisters, Anthony Eden and Sarah, Duchess of York.

1940: Penelope Keith is born in Sutton

"I am not and, furthermore, never have been, Penelope Keith."
Image Chatham House, creative commons.

The actress, famed for playing snooty roles in The Good Life and To The Manor Born, is one of several notable people born into the future London borough.

Cotmates include Quentin Crisp (1908), David Bellamy (1933), John Major (1943 and pictured), James Hunt (1947), Jeremy Vine (1965), Tim Vine (1967), Sally Bercow (1969), James Cracknell (1972) and Johnny Borrell (1980). Other notables who've lived in the borough include Joan Armatrading, Noël Coward, Ruth Kelly, Katie Melua, Harry Secombe and Dave who sometimes writes our beer festival articles.

1963: The Rolling Stones are discovered in Sutton

The Rolling Stones. Sutton not pictured. Image Shutterstock.

Sutton has a hallowed place in the history of rock and roll. Visit The Winning Post pub on the High Street and you are in London's equivalent of The Cavern Club. It was here, in 1963, that the young Rolling Stones were spotted by Giorgio Gomelsky. The impressed impresario signed the Stones as house band at his Crawdaddy Club in Richmond. From there, they conquered the planet. The pub is also notable as the venue where Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman first played with the band.

We've never visited The Winning Post, but an unimpressed local ale drinker describes it as a bit drab, serving only Greene King IPA. You can't always get what you want.

1970: Puma mauls boy; causes factory strike

A puma, possibly not in Sutton, yesterday. Image Shutterstock.

The Oldfields Trading Estate in Sutton does not sound like the kind of place you'd expect an attack from an exotic mountain cat. But that's exactly what happened to eight-year old James Tyler in October 1970. As the boy was running towards his mother, a puma sprang at the boy from a parked van. The beast was beaten back by a man with an iron bar, but not before James sustained serious injuries to the head and neck.

The puma called Tara was one of numerous big cats owned by local builder Maurice Wheeler. The attack prompted a strike by factory workers on the estate, who refused to work until Mr Wheeler removed the animals. Wheeler eventually sent them to a zoo, and new legislation about big-cat ownership was drafted. Tyler made a full recovery, and even received a hospital visit from Chelsea greats Ron 'Chopper' Harris and Peter Osgood.

2008: Sutton potting shed obliterated by frozen shit

What a dump. Image Shutterstock.

Lloyd Gater and his partner were sitting at the kitchen table, when they heard an almighty crash outside. Rushing to the garden, they found their shed had been destroyed by a block of ice that had fallen from the sky. The Civil Aviation Authority put the strike down to a 'poodlebug' — a block of effluent from the toilet of a passing jet. It could only land on Sutton.

2011: Ban on wilful jostling is lifted

Like all local authorities, Sutton maintains a long list of bylaws to keep its citizens in check. In 2011, the council announced the repeal of some of the more absurd. Until then, a person might have been arrested for throwing orange peel or carrying a bag of soot. The prohibition on 'wilful jostling' was also lifted. Police have since reported a 300% rise in slapstick humour within the suddenly liberated borough.

2013-16: Council car park used for hardcore porn shoots

Most recently, Sutton residents got all pumped up about a series of low-budget film productions shot on their very streets. The hardcore porn shoots took place at various locations, including the 'romantic environs' of St Nicholas Shopping Centre, Cotswold Road, Langley Park Road and Sutton civic centre car park. Raunchy action was captured in broad daylight 'under the noses of unsuspecting shoppers and families'.

The narrative arc of each film revolves around the amorous exploits of a female taxi driver, who tours Sutton accepting the generous tips of her male passengers. More than that, we can't say, having only viewed short sections of the footage several times on HD setting with the curtains drawn. If you want to find the videos, they're filed under 'cougar'. We believe this is another name for a puma. And so Sutton has come full circle.

Know of any peculiar goings-on in Sutton? Let's be having them in the comments.

Last Updated 08 August 2018