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Thames Street - geograph.org.uk - 793279.jpg
Thames Street, Sunbury
Sunbury-on-Thames is located in Surrey
 Sunbury-on-Thames shown within Surrey
Area  7.60 km2 (2.93 sq mi)
Population 18,041 (2011 census)[1]
   – density  2,374/km2 (6,150/sq mi)
OS grid reference TQ105695
   – London  13.5 miles (21.7 km)[2] 
District Spelthorne
Shire county Surrey
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district TW16
Dialling code 01932
Police Surrey
Fire Surrey
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Spelthorne
List of places

Coordinates: 51°25′19″N 0°25′08″W / 51.422°N 0.419°W / 51.422; -0.419

Sunbury-on-Thames, also known as Sunbury, is a town and suburb of London in the Surrey borough of Spelthorne (historically Middlesex), England. Sunbury lies just outside Greater London and is approximately 13 miles from Charing Cross. The town has a railway station and is situated at the beginning of the M3 motorway. Lower Sunbury contains most of the town's parks, clubs and allotments and is home to Kempton Park Racecourse, served by its own railway station. A large retail centre is at Sunbury Cross, otherwise shopping and pubs are dispersed. By Sunbury Park is a public walled garden which has a large millennium tapestry in its art gallery/café. Most of Sunbury's riverside is privately owned, including Wheatley's Ait and Sunbury Court Island.

Sunbury is surrounded by other suburban towns with Feltham to the north (in the London Borough of Hounslow), Hampton to the east (in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames), Ashford to the northwest and Walton on Thames to the south. Sunbury is bordered by the River Thames to the south.


Coin from the Sunbury hoard, with design derived from Greek coins of Marseilles, with stylised head of Apollo and butting bull, 100-50 BCE.[3]
Sunbury Court Conference Centre, built 1723

The earliest evidence of occupation in Sunbury is provided by the discovery of Bronze Age funerary urns dating from the 10th century BC. It is mentioned in the Sunbury Charter in AD 962. Many years later the arrival of Huguenot refugees gave the name to French Street.

Sunbury was in the Middlesex Domesday map in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Suneberie. Its Domesday assets were: 7 hides. It had 5 ploughs, meadow for 6 ploughs, cattle pasture. It had about 22 households, including one priest and have included the manor of Kempton, Kynaston, Chenneston, Kenton or Kenyngton, listed separately. The manor rendered £6 per year to its feudal system overlords. That of Kempton rendered £4.[4][5][6]

Sunbury's history is in part told by its surviving buildings, see Landmarks, in particular the wealth and community tie of its parish church and mansions built in the 'Georgian period', the 18th century.

Rev. Gilbert White described Sunbury, in The Natural History of Selborne, letter xii, 4 November 1767 as "one of those pleasant villages lying on the Thames, near Hampton Court".

In 1889 a group of music hall stars met in the Magpie Hotel in Lower Sunbury to form the Grand Order of Water Rats. The pub itself was named after the horse that one of the entertainers owned, whilst the Grand Order was named because the Magpie (a trotting pony belonging to Richard Thornton, music hall owner)[7] had been described as a drowned water rat. The Three Fishes in Green Street is one of the oldest pubs in Surrey, thought to date back to the 16th century.[8]

In the twentieth century, kennels near Sunbury Cross in the town were used for keeping greyhounds for racing at the disbanded stadiums of Wandsworth, Charlton and Park Royal.[9]

Sunbury-on-Thames is historically in Middlesex. Under the Local Government Act of 1888 County Councils were established the following year, with Sunbury governed by the new Middlesex County Council. This was further refined by the creation of Sunbury-on-Thames Urban District in 1894.[10] In 1965, most of Middlesex was absorbed into Greater London. However, the Sunbury-on-Thames Urban District was instead transferred to the County of Surrey.[10] The Royal Mail did not adopt the change in 1965 and the postal county remained Middlesex; although postal counties are no longer officially in use.[11] In 1974 the urban district was abolished and it has since formed part of the borough of Spelthorne.[12]

Topography and localities[edit]

Map of Sunbury
The island park - Rivermead Island
View of Sunbury Park
London Irish training academy is in the town

Sunbury is a post town that is in part north and south of the M3, varying from 14 to 9m AOD with a term for each part.

Lower Sunbury[edit]

51°24′40″N 0°24′32″W / 51.411°N 0.409°W / 51.411; -0.409
Lower Sunbury, colloquially also known as Sunbury village, borders the River Thames and makes up the southern portion of the town. This area is uniformly buffered residential suburbia and includes the majority of Sunbury's schools. Southwest of this, partially in Sunbury's postcode and partially in Shepperton's are parts of the Metropolitan Green Belt including four farms, a golf course, a rugby training centre[n 1] and Upper Halliford's park. Lower Sunbury has the town's medical centre. Football and tennis grounds are in both halves of the town, more local sports teams are on the Sunbury-Feltham border than in Lower Sunbury. Sunbury Park which has dog-walking/cycle paths and facilities and a tree-lined linear park, Hawke Park are in Lower Sunbury.

The town has been the home to London Irish Rugby Club since 1932 although since 2001 its premiership team has played at the Madejski Stadium in Reading, Berkshire. However hundreds of minis, youngsters and adults turn out for the club each weekend in Sunbury during the rugby season. A few hundred yards to the east of Sunbury Cross is Kempton Park Racecourse.

Lower Sunbury is the home of the Sunbury Millennium Embroidery which was conceived and designed in the 1990s and completed in 2000. Since July 2006 its permanent home is the purpose-built Sunbury Millennium Embroidery Gallery, in the well-tended, free-to-visit Walled Garden adjoining Sunbury Park. The opening of a café within the gallery building, which architecturally resembles a boat, has increased the leisure time spent in the old village by locals and tourists alike, just across the road from a picturesque stretch of the Thames. The walled garden also hosts annual concerts and plays in the summer months.

In July of each year, Lower Sunbury is the start of the colourful traditional ceremony of swan upping, where two livery companies carry out marking of the swans on all upper reaches of the River Thames. In August, the traditional Sunbury Amateur Regatta takes place on the stretch of the river around Rivermead Island.

Lower Sunbury has similar property plot sizes to Shepperton and house prices as Hampton.[13] The mixture of Victorian terraces and 1930s semi detached houses in the leafy village offers a compromise between lower speed of access to London relative to the South West Main Line developments of Elmbridge, typical Surrey-size plots private land, parks, walks and sports such as mentioned elsewhere and at the Sunbury Leisure Centre. A conservation area within Sunbury village has been recognised to cover Thames Street and this reflects its historic buildings, numerous pubs, restaurants and an undeveloped stretch of the Thames river bank in parkland leading up to the church. A village meadow is by the modest parade of shops at which Carols are held, and at the regatta time in August a celebratory street market takes place.

Sunbury Common[edit]

51°25′16″N 0°25′19″W / 51.421°N 0.422°W / 51.421; -0.422
The northern section is Sunbury Common, patches of which remain, commanded by its four tower blocks and two hotels, overall with a mixed-use urban composition; it also houses major employers including offices of Siemens, European Asbestos Solutions, Chubb and BP. The M3, with its the large roundabout junction at Sunbury Cross, divides the two sections and it is the Common half of the town which has a modestly sized shopping arcade that includes a sports store, jewellery shop, Marks & Spencer, Halfords, Laura Ashley and a Farmfoods. Also in this area, set off the main road is a Tesco Extra. North and east of the area is part of the green belt, is a small farm and natural brookland habitat with most of this area being in the adjoining London Borough of Hounslow and directly connected to the more formal Hanworth Park, historically part of Hounslow Heath. This forms the Kempton Park Reservoirs SSSI. The operational Kempton Reservoirs and roads passing into Hampton form the rest of the town's eastern border and buffer zone, further south.

Sunbury here has five or six high rise tower blocks: one commercial; two and a half-size block residential; and two hotels. Similarly it has industrial/business parks clustered generally in the acute angles between the M3/A316 (Country Way) and the A308 (Staines Road West). BP's Engineering and Research Centre, located in the north of Sunbury on the site of Meadhurst House, formerly owned by the Cadbury family evolved into BP's international centre for business and technology and is home to a large number of BP's business units. A number of other major companies, including Chubb, also have premises.

Marking the western border of the Upper Halliford/Charlton parts of Sunbury ecclesiastical and historic parish, however no longer by the town,[14] is the Queen Mary Reservoir which was constructed 1925-31 and is home to a sailing club regularly used by schools and youth organisations to teach water sports.


Anglican church[edit]

St Mary's Church, Sunbury

St Mary's Church was built originally in the medieval period, to which its foundations date. It was entirely rebuilt in 1752, designed by Stephen Wright (Clerk of Works to Hampton Court Palace); it has a tall apsidal (dome-like) chancel with a south chapel and western extensions to aisles added in extensive remodelling designed by architect Samuel Sanders Teulon in 1857. A solitary central monument in the church itself is to Lady Jane Coke (died 1761), stained glass and a vestry much extended in the early 20th century. It is a listed building in the mid-category, Grade II*.[15]

Sunbury Court[edit]

Sunbury Court in Lower Sunbury (b.1723) is the home of the high council of the Salvation Army since 1925.[16]

Hawke House[edit]

Sunbury has the main home, Hawke House, of Admiral Hawke who blockaded Rochefort in 1757 and in 1758 he directed the blockade of Brest for six months. Individual large have since been converted and are listed buildings and the extensive grounds have been also been partially developed into homes with gardens.

Millennium Embroidery[edit]

Its own modernist gallery contains the wall-dominating commissioned artwork, a substantial tapestry, that commemorates Sunbury's ascension to the third millennium. It was designed by John Stamp and David Brown to be a large patchwork of Sunbury landmarks, including St. Mary's Church, the Admiral Hawke/Hawke House and the river. The finished piece is actually composed of several embroideries, the largest of which measures 9 by 3 feet (3 m × 1 m). It took four years to complete and enlisted the help of over 140 volunteers and artists. Queen Elizabeth II visited the Embroidery in 2001 and the gallery built for it in 2006.

Wheatley's Ait[edit]

Main article: Wheatley's Ait

This residential island of Sunbury is one of the longest on the River Thames and is divided into two sections by a storm weir. It is connected by a wide footbridge. The main weir, maintained and owned by the Environment Agency, connects the downstream end of the island to Sunbury Lock Ait, which is almost uninhabited, and is within the modern parish bounds of Walton and has the Middle Thames Yachting and Motorboat Club.

Sunbury Court Island[edit]

Main article: Sunbury Court Island

Sunbury Court Island, as with most of Sunbury's riverside, privately owned, is another residential island, connected by a narrow arched footbridge well above river level.

Sunbury House[edit]

Sunbury house was originally designed by Sir Christopher Wren to be the local army barracks. Sunbury House was a large building standing in spacious grounds between Fordbridge and Halliford Roads. It was leased in 1855 by the Bishop family, who had owned it since 1789, to Captain Auguste Frederic Lendy, a French officer, who, with the assistance of the exiled French Royal family (living nearby in Twickenham) founded a military academy.

If the concept of a private military academy sounds strange today, this was a period when military commissions were still bought and sold, and training of officers in the army itself was quite rudimentary, so these establishments existed to teach students the necessary skills before taking up their posts.

On New Year's Eve 1915 the house was largely destroyed by fire, with only the two outer wings surviving. One of these was later demolished, the remaining wing is now called Sunbury House.


State schools[edit]

Primary schools[edit]

The town has five primary schools:

  • Chennestone Primary School
  • Hawkedale Infants School
  • Kenyngton Manor School
  • St Ignatius RC Primary School
  • Springfield Primary School

Secondary schools[edit]

Independent schools[edit]

There are no Junior or Senior independent schools in Sunbury-on-Thames. The nearest Senior schools are Hampton School (for boys) and Lady Eleanor Holles School (for girls) in Hampton, Halliford School (for boys) in Shepperton and St James Senior Boys in Ashford. Local Preparatory Schools include Denmead School (part of the Hampton School Trust) and Twickenham Preparatory schools in Hampton, and Staines Prep in Staines.

Local leisure and entertainment[edit]

In literature[edit]

The riverside St Mary's Anglican Church and the Ferry House nearby are mentioned in the book Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.

Sunbury's islands and the difficulty of rowing up Sunbury backwater (weir stream) to access the public riverside are mentioned in Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome.

Sunbury is the setting for the 1890 novel Kit and Kitty by R. D. Blackmore.

Sunbury Cross, with its clocktower is envisaged under a pall of smoke during The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells.

Notable people[edit]

  • David Gilmour - guitarist and lead singer of Pink Floyd - 1980s in Monksbridge
  • Diana Dors - actress
  • Mal Evans - Beatles roadie
  • Adam Faith - singer and actor
  • John Glen - film editor, director of five James Bond movies
  • Joe Gormley - trade union leader (N.U.M.)
  • Admiral Edward Hawke, 1st Baron Hawke - successful Admiral of the Fleet particularly during the Seven Years' War
  • Gordon Hill - Manchester United and England footballer
  • Rosie Jones - model
  • Kerry Norton - Bad Girls, actress and singer
  • Karl Green - bassist, Herman's Hermits
  • Dickie Valentine - singer, 1960s
  • Flt Lt Dominic Bruce OBE MC AFM KSG MA RAF (Colditz Castle escapee)
  • Eddie Calvert - 'the man with the Golden Trumpet' in 1956 - lived in Minka.
  • Tom Jones - singer
  • Ian Humphreys - professional rugby player
  • Marland Yarde - professional rugby player
  • Colin Pattenden - Bassist with Manfred Mann's Earth Band Lived in The Dormer House
  • Norman Willis - TUC General Secretary
  • David Brown - Architect and creator and long time supporter of the Sunbury Millenium Embroidery project with John Stamp, an eminent graphic designer and Sunbury resident,the embroidery was run from the Brown's ancient Riverbank home while money was raised for its final home in the building in Sunbury Park's walled garden.
  • Freda Dudley Ward - Mistress of Edward 8th until 1934, lived in Monksbridge with her MP Husband. Edward 8th stayed across Thames Street in Pomfret Cottage, still so named.
  • Michael 'Skull Cracker' Wheatley- Sentenced to Life in prison for Bank Robbery at Chelsea Building Society, Sunbury Cross.

Demography and housing[edit]

2011 Census Homes
Output area/ward Detached Semi-detached Terraced Flats and apartments Caravans/temporary/mobile homes Shared between households[1]
Sunbury Common 243 996 1,056 864 1 3
Sunbury Centre and East (Spelthorne 010) 1,213 983 388 633 2 0
South-west (Spelthorne 011D) 173 222 101 88 26 0
West (011B) 155 98 207 126 2 0

The average level of accommodation in the region composed of detached houses was 28%, the average that was apartments was 22.6%.

Output area/ward Population Households % Owned outright % Owned with a loan hectares[1]
Sunbury Common 8,076 3,163 24.0 37.8 174
Sunbury Centre and East 6,798 2,831 41.9 37.8 366
South-west (011D) 1,580 641 39.8 40.9 92
West (Spelthorne 011B) 1,587 656 40.5 45.1 128

The proportion of households in the settlement who owned their home outright compares to the regional average of 35.1%. The proportion who owned their home with a loan compares to the regional average of 32.5%. The remaining % is made up of rented dwellings (plus a negligible % of households living rent-free).[19]

Nearest places[edit]


235 bus leaving its terminus in Sunbury




Although Sunbury is officially outside London, it is served by three London bus routes:

  • 216 (Staines-upon-Thames - Kingston-upon-Thames)
  • 235 (starts at Sunbury and runs to North Brentford Quarter)
  • 290 (Staines-upon-Thames - Twickenham; serves Sunbury Cross).


Emergency services[edit]

Sunbury is served by these emergency services:


Sunbury, the suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia was named after the town.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Under construction during 2013
  1. ^ a b c Key Statistics; Quick Statistics: Population Density United Kingdom Census 2011 Office for National Statistics Ashford makes up 2011 lower output areas Spelthorne 003, 005 and 006. Note: the towns and villages in Spelthorne have one ward each which covers part of a neighbouring town or village. For example, Laleham is split between two wards. Retrieved 21 November 2013
  2. ^ Gridreferencefinder.com Distance measuring tools.
  3. ^ Museum of London exhibit
  4. ^ Surrey Domesday Book
  5. ^ Domesday Map - Sunbury Retrieved 17 December 2013
  6. ^ Domesday Map - Kempton Retrieved 17 December 2013
  7. ^ Grand Order of Water Rats (GOWR)
  8. ^ A history of the Country of Middlesex Vol3
  9. ^ "Greyhound Knowledge Forum". greyhound-data.com. Retrieved 08-04-2013.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  10. ^ a b Vision of Britain - Sunbury UD (historic map)
  11. ^ Royal Mail, Address Management Guide, (2004)
  12. ^ Arnold-Baker, C., Local Government Act 1972, (1973)
  13. ^ Latest 2010-2011 data on mouseprice.com
  14. ^ Google Maps. TW16 postcode
  15. ^ Church of St Mary - Grade II* - English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (1029661)". National Heritage List for England. 
  16. ^ Acquired for construction in the 1720s by John Witt, believed to be a retired master builder and developer see English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (1180231)". National Heritage List for England. , Grade II* listed building listing of Sunbury Court
  17. ^ Prices and times
  18. ^ WSR address
  19. ^ Map showing Super Outputs areas Office for National Statistics Retrieved 2013-12-16

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunbury-on-Thames — Please support Wikipedia.
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