Zoom in to see the detail on this map by hovering over it with your mouse or touching your screen. The key to the map can be found below it.

This map was created by illustrator John Shelley, with historical advice from Dr Mike Hodder. John and Mike both grew up in Sutton Coldfield. Every endeavour has been made to ensure the map is as historically accurate as possible.

KEY

1. Gum Slade

Gum Slade has been claimed as Shakespeare’s inspiration for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

2. Stonehouse farm

Stonehouse Farm was established soon after Sutton got its Royal Charter in 1528, thanks to a clause that allowed anyone to take up to 60 acres out of Sutton Park to establish a farm. The farm was eventually demolished in the 1950s though its name lives on in the nearby road name. The map does not show Powells Pool because this was not created (on Stonehouse Farm land) until 1730.

3. Baldmore Lake

This lake no longer exists but it gave its name to the area of Sutton we now know as Boldmere.

4. Bishop’s Stones

In 1675 John Ogilby created the first British road atlas. This shows the intriguingly named ‘Bishop’s Heap of Stones’ near Canwell. The heap is associated with Bishop Vesey who (according to legend) had hired labourers to gather loose stones off the road and pile them in heaps, thereby making the road safer for horses and travellers. 

5. Muffin’s Den

There has been a building on this site since the 15th century. Muffin’s Den was reputedly a hide-out for highwaymen who preyed on travellers in this area and so Bishop Vesey had a house built nearby (which is now known as Vesey Grange on the Weeford Road) where he installed some of his servants as a deterrent to these highway robbers and thieves.

6. Moor Hall

In the 1520s Bishop Vesey had a new Moor Hall built near to the site where he had been born (tradition has it that this was the building now known as Moor Hall. Farm). Bishop Vesey lived in his sumptuous home with 150 servants until his death in 1555. The current Moor Hall was built on the site of Vesey’s palace in 1905.

7. Ashfurlong Hall

Bishop Vesey is credited with several improvements to Sutton, including paving the roads around the Moot Hall and market (near to the current Vesey Gardens). He also had 51 stone houses built across the town and the original farmhouse at Ashfurlong was one of the Bishop Vesey stone houses. 

8. Cocksparrow Hall

This was a timber-framed building on a piece of land just next to where the railway now cuts through beside the Moat House and the college. The Hall was demolished around the 1870s.

9. Arrow sharpening

In England in the 16th century it was a legal requirement that all able-bodied men kept up their archery skills. Underneath the archway at No. 5 Coleshill Street you can see the grooves left by many years of sharpening arrow heads. A couple of archery butts (practice sites) are also shown on the map.

10. The Rectory

What is now known as Rectory Park has housed two Rectory buildings in the past. The first was a substantial mediaeval building, approximately as large as Langley Hall or New Hall. This building was replaced in the very early 1700s by the then Rev. Riland, and lasted until 1936 on the site where there is now a playground.

11. The Dam

Now known as Lower Parade, this stretch was indeed a dam, perhaps built as early as the 12th century, to create a large pool to supply water to the town’s mill, and to act as a road across the swampy valley. The Gracechurch centre is now on the site of the mill pool.

12. Maney’s Vesey Cottage

Another of the 51 stone houses Bishop Vesey had built across the town. In the time of Shakespeare, most of the houses and cottages in Sutton were timber-framed with thatched or tiled roofs. Some of these may have had stone footings, but the only other stone buildings in the area were churches and grand houses like New Hall, making Vesey’s cottages particularly unusual.

13. New Hall

New Hall was first recorded in the 13th century. It is one of several moated buildings in the vicinity of Sutton, including Peddimore, Langley Hall and Hermitage Farm, all of which can be seen on the map. By the time of Shakespeare, relatives of Bishop Vesey were living at New Hall – the Gibbons family.  In 1582 Thomas Gibbons built the mill on the Ebrook which still exists today.

14.  Wylde Green Farm

Diarist and theatre critic James Agate once wrote, “I suppose I shall never again know such happy hours as those I spent at Wylde Green before the war, watching the horses at work on that raised plateau. To the left the farmhouse built in Shakespeare’s time, to the right and below one, the rich Warwickshire plain.” The farm was demolished in 1957.

15. Penns Mill

John Penn was the miller at this site around the time of Shakespeare. During its early existence the mill appears to have had several functions – grinding corn, fulling i.e. working wool cloth to clean it and thicken it, and sharpening blades.

16.  Bow Bearer’s Cottage

A bow bearer provided security for travellers crossing the Coldfield, which was known for its highwaymen.

17. Park Hall

Park Hall was one of the homes of the Arden family, to whom Shakespeare was related via his Mother, Mary Arden. Park Hall was demolished in 1970.

18. Water Orton Bridge

As well as having houses built and streets paved, Bishop Vesey had two bridges built across the River Tame, one being this one at Water Orton, which still exists. The second bridge, at Curdworth, only lasted about 150 years. The Water Orton Bridge is said to have been built with masonry brought from the Manor House in Sutton Coldfield.

19. Peddimore Hall 

This was another important building near Sutton which was owned by the Arden family, to which Shakespeare was related.  First recorded in the 13th century,  by the early 17th century the original Peddimore Hall had fallen into disrepair (all that is shown on the map is the double moat and the nearby barn). The brick building that still stands today was built in in the second half of the 17th century.

20. Langley Hall

Langley Hall was once the richest and most splendid house in Sutton. In the time of Shakespeare it was owned by the Pudsey family, one of whom, Edward Pudsey, was a big fan of the Bard. Between about 1600 and 1615 he kept a notebook, now known as his Commonplace Book, in which he wrote out quotations from several Shakespeare plays including Romeo and Juliet. This book is of great importance to Shakespeare scholars and is now housed partly in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and partly at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Signed, limited edition, A2 Giclee art prints (£50), 1000 piece puzzles (£20) and postcards featuring the part of the map which focusses on central Sutton (£1) are available to purchase. Please email Zoe on zoe@foliosuttoncoldfield.org.uk if you wish to purchase any of these items.