Reddicap, Newdigate, Falcon Lodge, Sutton Wood

In the mid 1700s, possibly 1760s, there stood a farm on Reddicap Hill. This was known as Mother Red Cap Farm. The word Cap may indicate a high point or hill, but another Mother Redcaps, this time in Wallasey, Wirral, was the name of a famous smugglers tavern simply because the proprietor wore a red cap.  Reddicap Hill rises between the Plantsbrook river and valley to the west and Langley Brook to the east. First records are dated 1821.

Agriculturally poor, the area was mainly heath land. The eastern slope of Reddicap Hill is Reddicap Heath. Now Reddicap Heath Road.  In 1841 this was noted as Ready Cap. This region of Reddicap remained heath land well into the 20th century but is now a large sprawling council estate with precious little of the land remaining although an ancient brook runs through the centre on the estate.

An early 16th century cottage stands on Reddicap Hill, the opposite side to Reddicap Heath looking towards the town. No 59 is single storied and built of sandstone. The roof is clay tiles.

Vesey houses, such as the one mentioned above, were named after Bishop John Vesey who had a successful church and royal court career with Henry VIII. When he returned to his home town, it was in the process of becoming run down, so he spent a large amount of money upon many projects in the manor. He used his influence with King Henry VIII to carry these projects out.

No.59 Reddicap Hill is an interesting survival. It is possibly an early Vesey cottage dating from mid-16th century. Single-storeyed and built of sandstone, it has a pitched roof made of old clay tiles.

John Harman, alias Veysey, Bisshope of Excestar borne in this towne, much manetynge the decay of it got a new prevelege of Kynge Henry the 8. for restorynge the market there, and began to repayre and build new howses ther, and furtharmore obtayned licence to deforest the chace there; whereupon he buildyd dyvars praty howsys of stone in the forest, and plantyd his pore kynesmen in them, allotynge ground conveniently unto the howsys, for the whiche the tenaunts bere the Kynge a mean rent. Taken from john Leland’s Itinerary through England & Wales 1540.

1886 map. 1. Rectory 2. Boot Inn. 3. Hollyfield  4. Mount View  5. The Blabbs. 6. Now Rectory Park
7. Cemetery  8. Now site Good Hope Hospital  9. Now Bedford Road  10. Gas Works

The Mount, Reddicap Hill. Built around 1870. By 1965 the house had gone and council built flats and maisonettes on what is now Mount View (below)

Reddicap Hill

1921 Map and below 1887. Image from: David Wilcox


Richard Newdigate, who was High Steward of Sutton Coldfield 1646 to his death in 1679, was the son of John Newdigate who had in 1586 exchanged the ancient family seat at Harefield Place, Uxbridge for an estate at Arbury near Nuneaton. Richard was a highly successful barrister whose wealth enabled him to buy back the Harefield property. He was MP for Tamworth, briefly in 1660 Lord Chief Justice and in 1677 was created first baronet Newdigate of Arbury by Charles the Second. He married Juliana Leigh. He is the subject of ‘ The Squire of Arbury’ published in 1990 by Eileen Goodman.

A collection of almost 4000 Newdigate family letters 1673 - 1715 is held by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC. His grandson Sir Roger Newdigate, the fifth baronet 1718-1806, was also a succesful barrister who exploited the coal found under the Arbury estate at Nuneaton, He greatly extended and altered Arbury Hall in Gothic style and also rebuilt Harefield House. The Newdigate connection with Sutton was renewed with the appointment in 1925 of a descendant of Sir Richard as High Steward :- Sir Francis Alexander Newdigate was born 1862 and married Elizabeth Bagot in 1883. He was MP for Nuneaton and Knight Grand Cross Order of St Michael and St George. He changed his name to Newdigate-Newdegate in 1902. He was President of the newly formed Sutton Coldfield Conservative Club 1911 to 1917. He was step nephew of his predecessor in the office of High Steward Lord Leigh of Stoneleigh. He died in 1936 without a male heir. His daughter Lucia had married John Fitzroy, 3rd Viscount Daventry, in 1919 and Arbury Hall has remained the home of the Fitzroy-Newdigate family ever since.

In close proximity to where I live is Newdigate Road and Newdigate playing field. There are many such roads in Sutton Coldfield with direct links to the towns history.

Falcon Lodge

The development of Falcon Lodge Council estate. The RAF Unit (later St Georges Bks) can be seen in the background. The large
building became a Gym, a listed building, but was demolished in the 1990s due to asbestos being used in the construction. The
curved Road is Falcon Lodge Crescent

1947 Model of Falcon Lodge. Top is Reddicap Heath Road, bottom is Rectory Road. The circular section far lower left does not exist

Falcon Lodge is in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, West Midlands being covered in predominantly council houses forming the Falcon Lodge Estate. It is located between Whitehouse Common and Reddicap Heath. To the west of the estate lies Rectory Park. It forms part of the edge of the Sutton Coldfield conurbation and the English countryside. The estate takes its name from the house built on newly enclosed common land in 1820. In 1852 the estate comprised some 54 acres of meadow, pasture and arable land. In 1937 the Sutton Coldfield Corporation acquired the house and land for £39,500 for the provision of local authority housing. The resultant Falcon Lodge Estate was built between 1948 and 1950. There are two secondary schools opposite each other: John Willmott School & Fairfax School. The road (Fairfax Road) on which Fairfax School lies acts as the border of the estate. There is also a primary school called Newhall (formerly Springfield School) and Langley School on Lindridge Road (a special needs school. This was demolished in 2010).  Woodington Infants School, just off Woodington Road was demolished in 2007/2008.

The estate is split by a small stream along which Churchill Road is situated. This road acts as the main route on which National Express West Midlands buses travelling through the estate take. The Falcon Lodge area is served by the Sutton Trinity electoral ward which only came into being in 2004. The area has a row of shops running along Churchill Road and the estate has its own community centre, run by Birmingham City Council, offering classes and activities for young and old alike. Sutton Coldfield Town Boys Football Club is located on Lindridge Road. And there is another football pitch off Newdigate Road.

Fowler Road Falcon Lodge 1950

Cattell's Farm on Springfield Road. The foreground is already being prepared for the building of the estate. Late 30s?

Newdigate Road Feb 2014

Churchill Road

Churchill Road

Churchill Road

St Georges Barracks & Falcon Lodge

Sutton Woods: first record in 1207

For many centuries the area east of Springfield Road was known from a Sutton perspective as 'Walmley and Beyond the Woods', a term which suggests the survival of a large amount of woodland in the Langley area. A document of 1207 refers to a property called Ramshurst (hurst = 'wooded hill') on Bulls Lane as being located in Sutton Woods; there is still a working farm here of the same name.

By the 13th century the national population was three times greater than that of Domesday and previously marginal farmland became economically viable. Although vestiges of woodland still do remain, most of this woodland would have disappeared during this time of expansion. In the 1530s one of Bishop Vesey's charitable acts was to set aside the income from a hay meadow for the benefit of 15 poor widows. Known as Lord's Meadow or Widows' Acre, the field measured some 5 hectares and was situated Beyond the Wood and Warmley. For Springfield Road see Froggatts Farm on the map above. Indded, one of the roads off Springfield Road is called Froggatts Ride.

St Georges Barracks as it was in approx 1956 when an RAF Maintenance Unit. Numbers: (1) Where I live, extreme right of the picture. (2) What was main gate when St Georges Barracks. (3) Building where I worked when it became the home of the Army School of Recruiting. (4) Leftover from WW2, a Barrage Balloon hangar.  This was still there when I worked there 1991-94 and was painted white; used as a gymnasium. It was a "listed" building but had to be demolished as it was built with asbestos linings and was too dangerous to keep. (5) Barely visible - a Spitfire sits here, just to the left of the "5". This whole area is now a private housing estate. History of Reddicap Heath