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Places > Sutton

12th Century: The nave is the oldest part of the present church dating from the late 12th or early 13th century. The chancel was rebuilt in the 14th century and the west tower was added in the 15th century.

c1220: Sutton Castle was built sometime after 1200, the site is now marked only by an oval motte. The site is unusual as it lies some distance from the village and church.

1504: The first mention of Sutton Packhorse Bridge is when Thomas Loffe of Sutton left 3s 4d towards its upkeep. The bridge was used by travellers with pack horses on the trade route to major wool towns such as Bedford and Dunstable. The wool was most easily carried in packs by horses, often travelling in convoy. The importance of keeping wool dry led to packhorse bridges being built across rivers and streams.

1741: Sutton Enclosure Act.

1799: Edward Drax Free was Rector of Sutton from 1799 until 1830. He was sued by the churchwardens for lewdness, indecency, fighting in the church, keeping pigs in the churchyard, keeping fodder in the church porch, keeping pigeons in the belfry and selling lead from the church roof. Proceedings in the Ecclesiastical Courts sentenced him to be deprived of his living as the Rector of Sutton and he was removed from his living in the parish in 1830. Unsurprisingly Free could not find any further ecclesiastical employment and he died a beggar in 1843 when a cart hit him in a road accident in Gray's Inn Lane, London.

1825: Sutton Park House destroyed by fire.

1835: John O'Gaunt Public House licensed.

1870: Village School opened.

1876: Sutton Park House partially redesigned.

1941: Bedfordshire County Council assumes responsibility for Sutton Packhorse Bridge.

1986: Bedfordshire County Council undertake major repairs to Sutton Packhorse Bridge.

1988: Bedfordshire County Council's restoration of Sutton Packhorse Bridge earns Civic Trust award.

1992: The sum of 37,500 raised to save the church tower from dereliction.


  • Newspaper Cuttings Collection, Local Studies Library, Bedford Central Library
  • PICKFORD, C.  Bedfordshire Churches in the 19th Century. B.H.R.S. Vol.79 2000
  • OUTHWAITE, R.B.  Scandel in the Church : Dr. Edward Drax Free 1764-1843.  1997.

Page last updated: 4th February 2014