Sutton and Shopland

Photo:St Mary's Shopland

St Mary's Shopland

Demolished in 1957

A brief history

By Margaret Summerfield

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Sutton with Shopland is a very spread out parish that incorporates Sutton Road, from Purdeys Way to the new roundabout before the crematorium, and Shopland Road down to Stonebridge. There are 55 houses and 105 voters. There are two specific organisations for the welfare of Sutton. One long established is The Friends of Sutton, originally started to assist Sutton Church to pay their insurance, and the other more recent is The Sutton with Shopland Community Plan Group. The Friends of Sutton was started back in the 1990's with seven local couples running musical evenings and dances for the church. Now the church is closed for the time being, they work for local charities, at the moment helping Jackie Pope in Rochford with her youth schemes.

The Community Plan group are specifically to make sure that Sutton with Shopland does not get swallowed up by its immediate neighbours, Southend, Rochford or even Barling. The group ran a very successful Jubilee event but have now taken a step back, leaving the social side to the F.O.S. However, there are plans to set up a residents association in the near future. There is a Parish Council who meet monthly at Charles Tabor's home Beauchamps, (pronounced by the locals "Beechams"). Charles is the Chairman and Barry Summerfield the parish clerk. The other councillors are Norman Andrews, Alan Dobson, Alan Bell and Bob Howatt.

In the Millenium year, we set up a village sign, which was designed by Mrs. Gillian Tabor and painted by Mrs. Tina Cottis of Rochford. It was actually built by Barry Summerfield and Christopher Tabor. They put a pipe inside so that at special times, i.e. New Year and national celebrations, we could use the sign as a beacon, with flames issuing from the basket at the top. Very impressive to see.

Sutton with Shopland has twice been in the book published by Bruno Peake about the Millenium and the Jubilee. (No, Southend isn't in it!). The whole village banded together to try and stop the closure of our church, but we were no match for a determined diocese and it was closed. However, permission has been granted and the Friends of Sutton have staged very successful Christmas carol services there. Years ago, we had our own Sutton Primary School, but sadly, due to lack of pupils it was closed, once again, not without a fight, but it was sold to Crowstone School of Leigh. That closed several years ago and the school has been sadly neglected since. The house called Temple View on the corner of Shopland Road and Fleet Hall Chase was the original school house, before the Victorian school was built. However, the school building has now been sold to become a private residence.

The major farmhouses in the parish are Sutton Hall, Beauchamps, Butlers, and Fleet Hall. There are other large houses, such as Sutton Manor, which was built in the 1950s. New Hall, although old, is a combination of two cottages and has been greatly altered. Shopland Hall is a modern house built on the site of the previous farmhouse. "Winters" on the left as you go into Shopland Road is the site of the old tannery and the shed and pond are still there. 1-6, Fleet Hall Cottages were built in the 1880's and used to be called Cockerton Cottages. Opposite is Sutton Hall Cottage, which used to be two cottages with a further small cottage to the side. A rough date of Sutton Hall Cottage is around 1777. The parcel of land it stands on was originally known as Parsley Piece as it was owned by a Joseph Parsley.

Sutton Hall has a Georgian façade on a much older building, Beauchamps retains a wonderful plaster ceiling in the drawing room, Butlers, although large is of Essex weatherboard construction. On the Butlers land there is a chalybeate spring and also a very eerie tumulus surrounded by trees. Fleet Hall has been divided into two residences for many years. One half is occupied by our very own war veteran commando John White. His medal bar is almost too heavy to pick up. John is 90 years old and he is a real character with a fund of stories. His wife Violet is a delightful woman. New Hall was once the home to Chester Moore. Moore is sometimes thought to have been from Sutton in Surrey but really he is from Sutton with Shopland. Moore lived from 1703 to 1771 and invented the achromatic lens which is used in a refracting telescope to prevent colour distortion. Heading down Sutton Road towards Southend, there are Temple Gate Cottages. The Chairman of the Sutton with Shopland Community Plan group, Richard Gaylor lives there. There are one or two other substantial properties there, for instance, Rectory Lodge, the home of Cllr. Alan Bell.

The Rectory was meant to be built on the other side of the road, but when the builders started on it (this was in the time of Charles Tabor's Aunt Violet), strange things happened. So much so that the builders refused to continue and eventually the site was moved across the road. The historian Philip Benton lived in Beauchamps for a time. He wrote "The History of the Rochford Hundred". He didn't quite complete it and local historian, the late Mrs. Jerram-Burrows took on the task of concluding it. Benton is buried in Shopland Churchyard. There are quite a few gravestones there, but it has been pretty badly vandalised by badgers. The path to the side is still Glebe land but is looked after by the owners of Shopland Equestrian Centre, Mr and Mrs. Robert Murrell. Shopland Hall used to belong to Alec Steel, local farmer and entrepreneur and it was lived in by Mr and Mrs. Morton Law. Morton was a Scot and an expert on Friesian cattle. The Shopland Herd was a source of great pride to the area and often won at the Royal Show. Sadly, when the heir of Alec Steel died, Norman Garon, his will was not quite what was expected and the Shopland Herd was sold off. Muriel Law sadly died and Morton moved up to a house he had near Stoke-on-Trent. At our local fetes our children used to love the milk Muriel gave them straight from the dairy. (And it made better tea!)

The churches: There was St. Mary's in Shopland, a Norman church, which was "renovated" by the ever eager Victorians. It had lightening strikes and sadly a bomb too close, eventually is was demolished in 1957. Its brasswork and some other items went to Sutton Church. This is another little Norman church and is utterly delightful. It is dedicated to All Saints. When the Friends of Sutton first began, we used to "Beat the Bounds" every year. An excuse for a long and enjoyable ramble calling in on various houses on the way for sustenance. The remaining members of F.O.S still take these walks at midsummer and at New Year.

On Sutton Hall Farm stands the "Red Brick Barn" which is very well known locally as a function suite. It is a perfect place for parties and for wedding receptions. Local sixties band "Why Not" have played there regularly and there have been medieval banquets there. By All Saints Church there is a little church hall, now returned to the ownership of Charles Tabor, which is a very useful little building. The foremost families of the area used to be Alec Steel's family and James Tabor. Charles' father was Robert Tabor. The Garons married into the Steel family.

More things about Sutton with Shopland: When the Sutton with Shopland village sign was erected we had a ceremony (with refreshments in the village hall) and we sunk a Millenium Time Capsule at the base. It contained a list of the people and the properties in the village, information about the church and school, a newspaper and various other memorablia. Every year, on Remembrance Sunday, we hold a short service at the Village sign, led by the local vicar and organised by Cllr. Norman Andrews of Temple View. Veteran commando John White speaks the prayer for the fallen by Laurence Binyon and Cllr. Bob Howatt plays the "Last Post" and "Reveille" on his bugle. Very simple and surprisingly touching. We normally have at least 20 or so people there.

For many years Bill and Pam Edgar lived and farmed at Butlers, but sadly Pam developed multiple sclerosis and so they left the farm, which was taken over by Christopher Tabor and his wife, Helen. Bill and Pam went to live at Butlers Gate at the head of the Chase. They had a few peaceful years there and Bill's strawberry teas have gone down in history. We all knew Pam's condition was worsening, but none of us expected the tragedy that unfolded. One morning we found out that Bill had shot Pam and then committed suicide in the reservoir. Her condition had become so serious that neither of them could stand it any longer. The entire village was heartbroken.

For years Bill Edgar used to organise the Shopland Service. It was an afternoon at the site of Shopland Church, with tea and sandwiches, a speaker and a prayer or two, just nice and easy stuff. After Bill had died, we tried to do the service again and it was quite nice. The Friends of Sutton also celebrate Trafalgar Night in October. Just an excuse for a shindig really. They hire a local folk and sea shanty band and once again, Barry lights the beacon for them. Also the beacon is lit on New Year's Eve to see in the New Year. The beacon blazing into the night sky is really a sight to see.

This page was added by Sue Horncastle on 09/03/2015.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

I am researching my son's family history and have found that his 5th great grandfather came from Shopland. His name was John Stibbards and he married in 1790 (to Sarah Coleman in Prittlewell). He died in 1814 and I would love to know whether or not he and his wife were buried at St Mary Magdalene in Shopland. They also had several children who died around 1802-1810 and they might also be buried at Shopland.  Can anyone help please?

By Karen Stead
On 30/09/2017

My name is John Cochrane and I live in a farm about two miles away from the farm that Alex Steel left in Scotland before coming to Shopland. The family were probably the top breeders of Ayrshire Cattle when they were evicted from their farm of Burnhead, Darvel, Ayrshire, in the mid 1890's. An estimated 3000 people came to their dispersal when all but the calves were sold on their leaving, the calves travelling to Essex to found a new herd. I have a picture of the sale and my gragrandfather bought the top priced one.

By John Cochrane
On 04/07/2017
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