Monumental Brass Society

Charles and Evelyn Sutton

Date of Brass:
West Tofts


October 2022

 The attractive Victorian brass commemorating Charles Sutton and one of his three sons is to be found in the church of St Mary in what had been, until it was evacuated in 1944, the village of West Tofts in the Norfolk Brecklands. The land was needed for training the troops who were to invade Normandy later that year, and remains a battle area to this day, the Stanford Training Area (STANTA). West Tofts and the other villages that lay within in it are wholly deserted. The church has been brought back into occasional use.

West Tofts Hall and its estate was bought around 1830 by Sir Richard Sutton, the second baronet, a very wealthy man. He already owned nearby Lynford Hall, which he had remodelled in 1828. Charles, his ninth child and fourth son, had been born on 16 August 1823 in Lincolnshire, and was soon followed by Augustus, born 13 January 1825. Augustus took Holy Orders and was rector of West Tofts from 1849 until his death in 1885. The Sutton chapel in the church is off the chancel that was rebuilt by A W N Pugin for Augustus, a rich man in his own right, and sumptuously decorated. The chapel, built 1845-6, is to the memory of Jane Mary Sutton, died 1842, whose monument it contains. The glass is mainly by Hardman of Birmingham, Pugin’s preferred supplier of monumental brasses, but some was painted by Charles Sutton’s youngest brother, the Reverend Frederick Heathcote Sutton.

Charles Sutton was a Captain in the 12th Lancers. He married Alicia Frances Anna Dixie on 10 July 1861 at St James the Less, Thorndike Street, London. They had three sons. Evelyn Willoughby Sutton, the youngest, was born in 1868. After Charles' death Alicia married Major the Honourable Robert Needham on 18 May 1893. Charles and Alicia are buried in Brompton Cemetery, London. Their son Evelyn had departed for India in 1886 and had been promoted to Lieutenant before his death only eighteen months after that of his father.

The brass has an achievement of arms on its upper part, the shield charged with Argent a canton sable (Sutton) impaling Azure, a lion rampant or, a chief of the last (Dixie) below a helmet with the Sutton crest, A wolf’s head erased gules.

The motto ‘Tout jours prest’ is in the border below. The other three sides of the border have an attractive design of oak leaves curling around a stem with Tudor roses in the corners. The inscription occupies the lower half of the plate and reads:

          To the loved memory of Charles

          fourth son of Sir Richard Sutton

          2nd Baronet died 21st Jany 1892 aged 68

          also of Evelyn Willoughby

          youngest son of the above drowned

          in India 25th June 1893 aged 24

It is not clear who was responsible for placing the brass in the church. Perhaps it was Alicia.

Copyright: Jon Bayliss

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