Sutton lawns date back to the mid-eighteenth century when Samuel Unwin built his magnificent castle-styled cotton mill and family residence, Sutton Hall.
A 1795 survey describes ‘The Lawn’ as being 13 acres 3 roods and 29 perches with a smaller piece about 4 roods. The survey then adds the ‘Lower Lawn’, being 4 acres 3 roods (see note 1) and 13 perches in size. The Dam being 7 acres.
In 1779 Catherine Hutton, a visitor to the Unwins’ home, writing to her brother, describes “A shrubbery which is the seventh part of a mile in circuit encompasses their garden, and hence the plantation is continued down to a lake and a bath, and beyond are walks cut into a wood.”
The mill itself changed hands several times in the 1800s before coming into the ownership of silk throwsters, Allsop and Dobson in 1920. The waterwheel and windmill have long since gone but the listed ruins, now known as Dobson’s Mill, have been converted for residential use.
In 1863 Sutton Hall was sold and subsequently demolished in 1865. There has been some speculation that subterranean passages exist under the Lawn Grounds, although there is little substance to this theory.
A new house was built on the site of Old Sutton Hall in 1884 and the grounds of the property were leased by the Sutton Urban District Council “for the benefit of the inhabitants, from representatives of the Unwin family, in 1903, becoming known as The Lawn Pleasure Grounds”.
A caretaker, Mr Henry Parnell was employed at a weekly salary of £1 1s and £50 per annum is paid in rent, the entire cost of maintenance being met out of the general district rate of the parish. It is a much favoured spot for the holding of al fresco gatherings. The Lake (previously known as the Mill Dam) became a boating lake as part of Sutton Lawns Pleasure Grounds.