Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, UK
The source of much of
the information for this page is W. Clay-Dove's book Sutton-in-Ashfield in Times Past,
published in 1978 by Countryside Publications Limited. The book is a collection of
old photographs, with captions, of Sutton-in-Ashfield. I tried to find an official
website for the town but I was unsuccessful. If you know of one, please email me.
Sutton-in-Ashfield is located on the edge of Sherwood Forest approximately 25 km
(14 miles) north of Nottingham. It currently has a population of about 40,000.
The photo at left shows Outram Street looking towards Portland Square. The
photo is taken from what used to be the bridge over the old Northern railway line serving
the Sutton train station.
Sutton is an common English
placename of Anglo-Saxon origin, the "ton" indicates enclosure or fenced in
area. The additional name of Ashfield came from the abundance of Ash trees in
Sherwood Forest. Sutton-in-Ashfield appears as Sutone in the Domesday Book,
a comprehensive "census" of taxable property in England carried out in 1085 by
order of William the Conqueror.
The parish church, St. Mary
Magdalene, dates from the 12th century. It is mentioned in Dr. Robert Thoroton's Antiquities
of Nottinghamshire published in 1678 that the church was given to the Thurgarton
Priory in 1189. The church records date from 1577. Up to 1978 (the date of W.
Clay-Dove's book) over 56,000 children had been baptised (including me), 17,000 marriages
celebrated and over 22,000 people buried in the churchyard.
The North Notts area is dotted
with coalmines and mining was a key industry for towns like Sutton-in-Ashfield. In
the 17th century, the textile industry was introduced to the town and Sutton-in-Ashfield
rapidly changed from an agricultural village to an industrial town.
In November 1811, three hundred
Luddite rioters marched from Nottingham to Sutton-in-Ashfield with the aim of destroying
machinery introduced to speed up the stocking manufacturing process. The mob
dispersed when soldiers arrived from Mansfield but not before seventy frames were
Like most towns in similar
situations, Sutton-in-Ashfield's economy suffered with the decline in the mining and
textile industries. The development of industrial estates near the M1 motorway have
provided some diversity to the economy. The A38 bypass will likely provide
opportunities for new industrial estates and train service has returned to the town as a
result of the recent construction of the rail line to Nottingham.
The town centre, particularly
around the Portland Square and market area, has been converted to a pedestrian mall.
In the middle of the Square the town now boasts what is billed to be the largest sun dial
in Europe. The two photos above show a view of Low Street taken from Market Place.
The photo at left (Photo
from the book - Sutton-in-Ashfield in old picture postcards) was taken around the turn of the century
while the photo at right was taken in 1996 when my parents visited Sutton. Notice
that many of the buildings in the older photo are still there today.
W. Clay-Dove, the Willey family settled in Sutton-in-Ashfield in the early 18th
century. William Willey came to the town as a young man around 1750 and married Anne
Frignal twelve years later. Many of our ancestors were in the retail meat or fish
trade. At left is a photo of the Willey and Son, Fish Merchants premises around 1900
(Photo from the
book - Sutton-in-Ashfield in old picture postcards). The block of buildings was torn
down in 1905 to expand the market.
My paternal grandmother's family
name was Bellamy. My maternal grandfather's family name was Broughton and his wife's
maiden name was Bean.