The Royal Park Of Sutton Coldfield


Never feed the wild birds bread, it does them no good, feed corn, specially made pellets or, in my case, cereal multi grain. (Cheerios)

The Parks Pools each have their own page.       Donkey Sanctuary 

I had not been to the Park for quite some time, months in fact. So I decided to spend the morning of February 7th 2014 just drifting along and taking some pictures. To put it bluntly it is going 'down the nick' and we all know which Council is to blame. There is dog muck piling up all around Town Gate car park, and those people who have been 'kind' enough to bag it, have then thrown their bags full of dog muck into the bushes! Filthy people who care nothing for the effects on children and adults alike. Do these ignorant people not know that dog muck can kill a child, can blind a child!!?

The walk I had intended took far longer than planned, mainly due to retracing my steps due to impassable pathways that are either afloat with black slippery mud or actually flooded. Where flooded there is no evident means of run off for the water, although there are the Pools nearby. There is little or no maintenance in Sutton Park these days. Even the main pathways are covered in large pools of water and mud - yes ok, we have had our fair share of rain, and more - but we always do and yet there seems to be no planning or counter measures in place. When I passed the Park maintenance yard there were a few men in there laughing and joking and seemingly doing little. Get out and clear some paths!

Map & Info provided by Sutton Coldfield Civic Society (Alan Green) The yellow shaded area is primarily heathland but has plenty of trees.
The Green, is mainly wooded.  Below names recorded in 1774 and this updated on 1904

The Geology of the Park

Now a carvery
As with other colour postcards I have in here, the lady in white is the artists wife and has been painted in
Again, my thanks to David Wilcox for this lovely image of the Park gates and the cafe on the right. David owned this cafe for quite some time. I would love to know what that sign says on the left, top image - looks like ***ved the ***dens???

David Wilcox's former cafe by the Park Road Entrance

Park Road with Clifton Road crossing at figure. Now a very busy roundabout junction (Image: David Wilcox)

This was  a favourite place for sledging  in the winter it also acted as as an arena for many social events i remember in the 50s a giant firework display celebrating The Coronation - David Wilcox  (Note the lady is there again, with the white dress and hat). Image David Wilcox

   What is this memorial? Cant say I have ever seen this
The Pines 1906

The jewel in Sutton Coldfield's crown is Sutton Park, with an area of about 2,400 acres, is the largest urban park in Europe. A triple SSI site. The park originated in the 12th century although there is evidence of prehistoric burial mounds, an early, fortified settlement and a Roman Road. Sutton Park was given to the people of Sutton Coldfield in 1528 by King Henry VIII. The story goes that Henry VIII was attacked by a wild boar whilst out hunting in Sutton Park with his good friend Bishop Vesey. Before it could harm the king though, the beast was killed by an arrow. To the King's surprise, when he called for his saviour to be brought to him, he discovered that the marksman was a young and beautiful woman. Henry was told of how her family had been dispossessed of their property and he ordered that restitution be made to them. Henry was also keen to show his gratitude to Vesey and the people of Sutton Coldfield and on December 16th, 1528, a Royal Charter was signed giving Sutton Coldfield the title of Royal Town and Sutton Park to the people of Sutton Coldfield in perpetuity. Henry also gave his emblem of the Tudor Rose to the town, which was used as the town's Coat of Arms until Sutton Coldfield became part of the Birmingham Metropolitan District in 1974.

Throughout the years since, the people of Sutton Coldfield have guarded their rights to the park fiercely and lawsuits were brought against the town's Warden and Society, those that administered the town and park, if there was evidence of mismanagement. Complaints were made about the stocking of the park with strangers' cattle, spoiling the woods, felling timber without the consent of the town's inhabitants and increasing the fees for the pasturage of horses and cattle in the park.

The southern part of the Park is so named after the 'col' the charcoal burning activities which went on here until into the 18th century.  Hence the name South Ton Col Fields = Sutton Coldfield.

"This tablet is erected to commemorate the occupation of this park from 1914 to 1920 by His Majesty's troops. The park was placed at the disposal of HM Government entirely free. Over 50,000 of HM Troops occupied the various camps constructed.  The Birmingham City Battalions of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment received their training here & were followed by other units. For a considerable period the camps were used for convalescent officers & men - and New Zealand troops also were in occupation prior to their return home. The Council of the Royal Town (of Sutton Coldfield) received the thanks of the War Office for their patriotic action." 
Blackroot Pool 1854 & The park same year

Blackroot Glade 1887

Youngsters collecting faggots (firewood) in the Park and a very old image of the Plantsbrook below

The emergence of the carriage as a popular mode of transport, saw the introduction of highwaymen to the park. A group of bushes within the park became known as 'The Thieves' Bushes' - a suitable hiding place for the highwaymen as they awaited their next victims. In 1862, the railways arrived in Sutton Coldfield and this brought about an increase in the town's population and in visitors to the park. By the time war broke out in 1914, many people had started spending their holidays in the town. Sporting interests were increasingly catered for and in the 1900's, there were two racecourses within Sutton Park. 
During the two great wars of the 20th century, Sutton Park was used for military purposes. During the First World War, the park became a training ground and camping site for thousands of young soldiers and in the Second World War, a prisoner-of-war camp was established there and park maintenance was carried out by German soldiers. There is a plaque near the Town Gate, which commemorates the part played by Sutton Park in the First World War.

Much of the Park has never been cultivated and is today a mixture of woodland and heath with a number of streams and man-made pools. Plants and animals that are not otherwise found in this region are supported in the heaths and bogs of the park, which are themselves somewhat rare habitats in the Midlands area. Conservation and protection of the park are vitally important to the people of Sutton Coldfield and in 1950, the Friends of Sutton Park Association was founded to promote awareness and interest in the park. The association also alerts the public to threats to the park, and checks on 'improvement' proposals offered by administrators. Long may they reign!

Conservationists repairing the Plantsbrook near the Town Gate. This was taken in the same location as the image below.  Image: David Wilcox

Today, the park is still enjoyed by a large number of people who come to walk the dog, have a picnic or to just get a bit of fresh air! All manner of sporting activities are offered, from cross-country running to RAC Rallying. A Visitor's Centre opened in 1985 and offers an impressive array of information about the park. It's a shame one or two areas have been denuded by kids on mountain bikes who will not stay on the paths.  And the curse of English society, the amoebic like vandal, is also taking its toll.  See also Keepers Pool. In Oct 2000, walking the dog, I talked to one of the Rangers. He told me that one or two buildings within the park, built about 100 years ago, have had to be demolished due to vandalism.  Intrusive Silver Birch are currently being removed bit by bit to restore the park to a more natural state. The Silver Birch is by nature, a thirsty tree, and has drained some natural marshland, a situation it is hoped will be reversed.

The park was granted special status from English Heritage in 1995 and is now included in the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. With this Grade II listing, the profile of the park has been raised and, it is to be hoped, that its future conservation ensured by not letting the Council get its hands on it. And now, some random images of the Park taken since 2002 to date.
there is the 'white lady' again! 
Sawmill - (right) location is now the Rangers Yard. The twin roof boathouse can be seen above the Mill. Feb 2020 below

An image I took, not colour enhanced at all
Heritage Signs in The Park 
As shown in the two images below - Victorian in origin 
A bench remembering a departed regular to the Park, sadly, they used the wrong Roses. These are lancastrian. Our Tudor rose is red & white.
Erosion has uncovered this trees' roots 

someone, somewhere, gave permission for a freight rail line to pass right through the midst of the park. A criminal act.

My wifes maiden name  - a Broomfield!

                           Town Gate 6th June 2013 the Parks cattle grazing. Exmoor ponies and cattel have been introduced to the park to assist in grazing
     Water boatman on the Plantsbrook in the park -see also Valley