THIS week it’s the turn of Sutton to go under the spotlight, one of the four townships that helped form St Helens in 1868. 

Sutton is an old English word meaning South farm or South homestead. 
The Victoria County History says: “It partakes of the ‘unpicturesque’ character of other Lancashire townships where the country is flat and open, containing manufacturing towns and coal mines. 

“The smoke and fumes arising from factories have well-nigh destroyed the best trees, and even hedges have a blackened stunted appearance, and cinderpaths are frequent. There are, however, crops grown in the more favoured parts of the district.”

It adds: “The greater part of the township lies upon the coal measures. A belt of sand stone extends across the south-eastern portion with small areas intervening at Leech Hall, Peckers Hill Lane, and Sutton Moss.

“Numerous roads radiate from St Helens to the south and south-west, and there are cross roads from Prescot to Burtonwood and Parr. The London and North-Western Company’s lines from Liverpool to St Helens, and from St Helens to Widnes, pass through the township; on the latter are stations at Peasley Cross, Sutton Oak, and Clock Face. The same company’s Liverpool and Manchester line crosses the southern part of the township, with stations at Lea Green and Junction. 

It goes on to say: “The eastern end of the Rainhill trials course was at Lea Green. The L&M Railway, opened in 1830, passed through Sutton and some of the bridges, built by George Stevenson, are listed.  

“The rich coalfields of Sutton have long been known, a ‘mine of coals’ being mentioned in 1556. The plate-glass works at Ravenhead were established in 1773. Earthenware, especially in drainage pipes, is an important trade, a peculiar clay being found here. St. Anne’s Well lay on the border of Rainhill; the water had a reputation for healing diseases of the eyes. 

“Sutton, Eccleston, and Rainhill were probably members of the Widnes fee in 1086. In 1212 William de Daresbury held these manors. The manor continued in the line of Daniell of Daresbury until 1517, when John Daniell sold his manors of Sutton, Eccleston, and Rainhill, to John Bold. With the rest of the Bold estates they came into the possession of Sir Henry Bold Hoghton. Sutton being sold, was, in 1869, purchased by William Pilkington, from whom the Lordship of the manor has descended to William Lee Pilkington, his son. 

“The 13th Century bounds identifying several places now lost. They began at Thurstanshaches on the border of Bold and Sutton, followed Bold acres to the Chester Gate—the road from Sutton to Chester to Holbrook head. This shows the position of Holbrook in Bold.

"From this point the bounds went to ‘Priesteolers,’ and by Raven Syke to Ritherop Brook, which divides Sutton from Rainhill; along this to Wetshaugh, thence to the Pye thorn by Scoles in Eccleston, to Thetwall (now Thatto), by Thatto Brook to Nutty Brook; along this till it falls into Poghden Brook, and by this to Shittersiche; thence in a line to Bale birch in Morkel’s moss—near the present Marshall’s Cross— and thence straight to the starting point.”

The Hospitallers had land in Sutton called Crossgate. 

The Hollands retained the Sutton Manor down to the 18th Century. Roger Holland died at the stake for being a Protestant under Queen Mary. Thomas Holland, a Jesuit, died at Tyburn for being Catholic.

William Holland held the hall of Sutton of the Queen as Duke of Lancaster. In 1700, the manor had been sold to Richard Bold, and became merged in the superior Lordship already held by him. 

In 1803, it was sold to Michael Hughes of Sherdley, ancestor of Captain Hughes, the present owner. Large portions of lands pertaining to it have been sold.

The Eltonheads held a share of the manor. Richard took arms for the king in the Civil War and thus lost a lot of wealth.

He had no dowry for his daughters and sent them to his brother in America to find them good husbands. Their descendants include Robert E Lee, Barack Obama and Brad Pitt. The land was sold and descended to the Marquis of Salisbury. 

Churches include St Nicholas’, built by King’s College, Cambridge, and a parish formed in 1848.  All Saints’ was erected in 1893, and St John the Evangelist’s, Ravenhead, was built in 1870.

The Wesleyan Methodists have a church in Sutton, and the United Methodists one at Marshalls Cross. The Congregational church at Peasley Cross was begun in 1864–5.

And there was also a Roman Catholic chapel at Ravenhead Hall, in 1716.