The Earl of Warwick granted a lease of Sutton Manor House and Park to Sir Ralph Bracebridge in 1419, possibly renewing an earlier lease. A bank and ditch earthwork in Sutton Park, believed to date from about 1400, can still be traced, and indicates that the woods and watercourses within it were being managed for profit. Sir Ralph was paying an annual rent of £10, or alternatively he could provide 120 bream. He is credited with making Bracebridge Pool in order to supply these fish, with special small ponds for growing on the small fry before they were released into the main pool and fish stews where the fish would fatten up and lose their earthy taint. The bream was a highly valued fish, and the boundary fence would help to keep poachers out as well as animals.

Two centuries later fashions had changed and the fishery had been abandoned, but the pool was put to another use. In 1594 the Sutton Corporation made a grant to John Barlow of Sutton Coldfield, allowing him to alter Bracebridge Pool and build a watermill there either for fulling cloth or for making blades. This mill did not prosper, and the pool was left in peace until 1757.

From 1757 Bracebridge Pool was private property, leased in perpetuity to Simon Luttrell and his successors at Four Oaks Hall. The pool probably supplied some fish to the Hall, and the ice house in the grounds of Four Oaks Hall was probably replenished with Bracebridge Pool ice each winter, but the main reasons for lease of the pool were the status its ownership gave to the Luttrells and the opportunity for pleasure parties by the pool in fine weather.

Sir John William Cradock-Hartopp, Bart. succeeded his father in 1864 as the owner of Four Oaks Hall, but lived on another estate, and the pool was leased. In 1866, Mr. Gillott, the pen manufacturer from Birmingham, took the lease of the pool for £100 per annum. The Sutton gentry were dismayed that a Birmingham Manufacturer should occupy part of their park, and persuaded the Warden and Society to buy it back from the Hartopps when Gillott’s lease expired. The Warden and Society duly purchased Bracebridge Pool in 1869 for £1520, but still rented it out to private tenants on short leases. In 1877 Bracebridge Pool was drained while the nearby railway embankment was constructed, and then the Midland Railway built a bigger and stronger dam.

Bracebridge Pool (photo courtesy Sutton Reference Library