June 2002 – Bulletin 142
J W Bazalgette in Morden – W J Rudd
Sgt P K Walley – J A Goodman
Roger of Salisbury and the Augustinians – L E Green
John Arbuthnot: more facts – J Pile & J A Goodman
The Welch Family – J Welch
The Weller Family of Mitcham – J Herbert
Medieval Field Names in Morden – P J Hopkins
and much more
PRESIDENT: J Scott McCracken BA FSA MIFA PRESIDENT: J Scott McCracken BA FSA MIFA
VICE PRESIDENTS: Viscountess Hanworth, Lionel Green and William Rudd
BULLETIN NO. 142CHAIRMAN: Lionel Green JUNE 2002
Friday 14 June 1.45pm Visit to Croydon Airport
Cost £2 a head.
Meet at the Rayon d.Or café on the ground floor of the Croydon Airport visitor centre, in
Way (A23). There is a Heron aeroplane in front of the building, which is opposite the Hilton
Hotel. The café serves snacks and lunches from 11am.
The tour includes three floors of the old control tower (there is a lift). There is a
exhibition as well as the preserved booking hall to be seen.
Bus 289 (every 15 min.) goes past and can be picked up outside Sainsbury’s, near Waddon Marsh
stop. A more reliable service is the 119 Bromley-Purley Way (every 10 min.) from opposite East
Car parking may be possible at or behind the visitor centre, or there should be space across
Purley Way, at
Saturday 13 July Coach outing to Parham House, Sussex
There may still be some places available. Contact Ray Kilsby promptly.
Saturday 10 August 2.30pm Visit to Dr Johnson’s House
Recently refurbished, this 17th-century house preserves the atmosphere of Johnson’s occupation
1746-59. He compiled his dictionary, with the help of six clerks, in the attic here.
Meet in Gough Square, off Fleet Street, near Fetter Lane. Cost £3 a head.
Saturday 28 September 2.30pm Visit to Reigate Priory
A visit arranged to follow up Audrey Ward’s talk to the Society last December. The Priory is in
Bell Street, Reigate. There is an hourly bus from Sutton, or travel by shared cars.
The Society’s events are open to the general public, unless otherwise stated.
BILL RUDD celebrates a famous local resident:
J W BAZALGETTE IN MORDEN
The first the writer knew of J W Bazalgette’s existence in Morden was a brief mention in Canon
T L Livermore’s
booklet The Story of Morden and its Churches published in 1968, though recent research reveals
that he did not
live at The Lodge, Farm Road, as indicated by the rector of Morden.
To some people who are particularly familiar with the name of Sir Joseph William Bazalgette CB,
he is more
disrespectfully and vulgarly known as .the sewer man., simply because he masterminded the
design and execution
of the main sewerage system of London. A read through the long entry in the Dictionary of
shows that he was responsible for a large number of great engineering works in addition to very
and reports. (A copy of a Report to the Rural Sanitary Authority of the Croydon Union on the
matter of Wandle
Valley Drainage is in the Local Studies Centre.)
A survey of the monuments in St Lawrence, Morden, parish churchyard revealed that the mother of
J W Bazalgette,
Mrs Theresa Philo Bazalgette, has a simple headstone on the south side, and that she died on 20
June 1850, aged
54. The Register of Burials shows that she was living in the St George, Hanover Square,
district of London. The
family must have established a connection with the parish of Morden, and J W Bazalgette Esq.
appears in the
Kelly’s directories from 1851 onwards, and somewhat later in the electoral registers, where he
is described as
occupying a house and land in Morden Lane (later Central Road). He appears with his growing
family in the 1851
Census return, where he is described as Civil Engineer, born Enfield, aged 32. Also his wife
Maria, born Ireland,
aged 31, and three sons: Joseph William, aged five; Norman, aged four; and Edward, aged two,
all born in London.
Also a daughter Theresa Philo, aged seven months, born in Morden. In fact both she and three
other daughters and
three more sons were baptised at St Lawrence within the next ten years. The headstone records
the deaths of two
of Bazalgette’s sisters, Theresa Philo (living in Wimbledon), died 1885, aged 68, and Laura
Maria (living in Hove,
Sussex), died 1907, aged 71. The Census return records the presence of his sister-in-law Emily
Keogh, 27, and
three servants, Mary King, James Wood and Eliza Potterton.
The house stood on the south side of Central Road
near the Plough public house, and was named in
the Census return as Union Villa. Many years later
the house was renamed by a later occupant as The
Willows. It was pulled down some time in the early
1930s and replaced by a cul-de-sac called Willows
Avenue and another house on one corner also called
The Willows. A plan of c.1866 shows four parcels
of land: first, a long narrow strip next to the road
and east of the house, referred to as an orchard;
second, another narrow strip called Ice House
Meadow; next came the house, set back a little from
the road, with a large garden at the rear and
containing a large pond; finally a large rectangle
occupying the corner of Central Road and Farm
Road. The total area was over seven and three-
quarter acres (three hectares). At a meeting of the
Morden Vestry on 8 April 1858 the minutes record
that .Joseph W. Bazalgette Esq. having enlarged and
improved his house, it was considered proper to have
it assessed at £70 p.a. instead of £45 as heretofore..
Bazalgette was like so many important men of the
time who found in the little village (population in
1851 – 628) a measure of peace and quiet from the
bustle of London, and like such men he took his
turn in the running of the parish. At a meeting of
the Vestry on 25 April 1859 he was appointed
churchwarden on the part of the rector, in place of
the late Henry James Hoare, a position he held for
several years. Hoare was the son of George Matthew
Hoare, and grandson of Henry Hoare, the banker.
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
Bazalgette c.1865 (Thames Water plc)
Illustration taken from S Halliday The Great Stink of LondonSutton Publishing, Stroud 1999
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 142 . JUNE 2002 . PAGE 2
It is gratifying to know that such an eminent man as Sir Joseph William Bazalgette CB was for a
time a part of
local village life, although he did not receive his CB until 1871, shortly before he left
Morden to live in Arthur
Road, Wimbledon, and his knighthood in 1874. The population of Morden in 1861 was 654 and in
787, at which time the neighbouring parishes of Merton, Mitcham and Wimbledon were making giant
into the thousands. He is buried in St Mary, Wimbledon, parish churchyard in a large vault,
several of his family, but the monument is woefully neglected.
(This article first appeared in the November 1981 Bulletin of the Wandle Group. Since then Bill
revised Canon Livermore’s booklet, and the Bazalgette monument in Wimbledon may have been
PETER McGOW of Croydon has been able to fill a gap in the account in the last Bulletin of the
site later occupied by Welch’s works and then by those of William Morris:
A NOTE ON WILLIAM WEST
Mr Montague’s assertion in Bulletin No.141 that the date on which William West left his works
Abbey is not known, is not entirely correct. In fact, the date of his departure can be fixed to
within a few
months, in the latter half of 1812.
On 21 January 1812 a summons was issued against him by the West Brixton Justices of the Peace,
for the nonpayment
of the poor rates. Another summons for the same offence was issued on 23 October 1812.1 On that
same day he was declared bankrupt.2
In November 1812 it was advertised that the lease of his premises at Merton Abbey was to be
offered for sale at
an auction to be held on 1 December .by direction of the Assignees.. The property was described
Calico and Bleaching Grounds, with every appropriate and well-arranged buildings, suitable for
business upon a large scale.. On the following day all his plant, utensils, stock-in-trade and
other effects were
to be auctioned.3 The sale of the lease was later postponed to 2 December.4
Despite what would seem to have been financial ruin, West tried again, at premises somewhere in
yet identified, but two years later he was again in trouble with the West Brixton Justices. On
1 September 1814
they heard a complaint that West had failed to pay duty amounting to £84 19s 5d due on 5287
yards of linen
which he had printed at Mitcham six months earlier, and he was ordered to pay double duty. On
1814 he was again charged with non-payment of duty of £60 6s 5d on 4685 yards of printed linen.
He failed to
appear at the court.1
1. West Brixton Justices of the Peace Minute Book 1812-16
2. The London Gazette 20-24 October 1812
3. The Times 14 November 1812
4. The Times 1 December 1812
IN THE MIDST OF LIFE …
In Lionel Green’s article about the Black Death and the monasteries in the last Bulletin
(No.141) the omission
of a short paragraph and a misprinted date introduced some confusion to his narrative.
Please note that the following passage should have appeared after the second paragraph:
But to meet the expenses of the war with France, the king borrowed money and requested wool
English monasteries in 1347. The latter was for 20,000 sacks, of which Merton was assessed for
In the first paragraph of the section headed The Pestilence and the Monasteries the date in the
should of course be 1348.
Many apologies to the author, and to our readers.
THE WESTMINSTER ABBEY VESTMENTS
In the report of Rosemary Turner’s talk that appeared on page 7 of Bulletin 141 it should have
been made clear
that Rosemary, though undoubtedly a good .plain needlewoman., is also, and in particular, an
embroiderer. Our apologies to Rosemary for appearing to belittle her skills.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 142 . JUNE 2002 . PAGE 3
LOCAL HISTORY WORKSHOPS
Friday 8 March 2002 – 7 members present
!!!!!Sheila Harris started the ball rolling, with letters she had received requesting family
information. A Miss
Joan Welch of Ealing wrote to say that she was the great-great-granddaughter of Henry Welch,
Thomas Welch the table-cloth printer of Merton Abbey [see page 13 for Miss Welch’s letter, and
Montague’s article on page 14 of Bulletin 141].
Mr Jeffrey Herbert of Crawley is seeking information on the Weller family who had been involved
watercress industry at Mitcham [see page 13].
!!!!!Eric Montague discussed the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. The Revd. Herbert Randolph, in
fascinating notebook (see below), recorded receiving complaints that some of his congregation
receiving .out relief.. This was pecuniary assistance (strictly regulated) given to paupers
under the Act.
!!!!!Don Fleming followed by referring to the workhouse, and the degradation which this
institution inflicted on
affected families. The National Trust has restored a workhouse at Southwell, Nottinghamshire.
building dates from 1824, pre-dating the Act, but a fore-runner of the hundreds of new ones
built as a result of
the 1834 Act. The Southwell one is now open to the public, and Don looked forward to a NT
!!!!!Peter Hopkins produced maps of Merton showing .tithe-free. land. Church land and glebe
always exempt, and some estate holders were granted the right to the tithes from their own
prevalent misconception is that former monastic land was also tithe-free. Merton Priory’s
lands within Merton remained tithe-free, but other parcels of their demesne land in Mitcham and
continued to pay tithes. In Mitcham the medieval owner of the tithes was Southwark Priory,
Abbey owned the tithes in Morden.
Peter then looked at a possible alternative source of information to help identify former
lands. When the former Merton Priory estates in Mitcham . Biggin and Tamworth and the Amery
were sold in 1544, an annual payment of £1 13s 8d was due to the Crown. When New Barns Farm in
Mitcham was sold in 1695, the Crown was still entitled to a .farm rent. of £1 13s 8d out of the
Peter suggested that this might be evidence that New Barns had once been part of this Merton
!!!!!William Rudd is working assiduously on a new history of Morden Park, soon to be published.
maps he had found that the course of the East Pyl Brook had been diverted in the 19th century.
had taken a winding course, but, probably because of flooding, its flow now takes a gentle arc
south-eastern section of the park. The maps also made clear that an extension had been made to
!!!!!Lionel Green read a paper on the life of Roger, bishop of Salisbury (1102-39), a friend of
Sheriff. The bishop was able to persuade the king to grant a foundation charter for Merton
priory in 1121
[see article on page 6].
!!!!!Judith Goodman reported that she had received more Bidder documents from E F Clark,
biographer of railway engineer G P Bidder of Mitcham. When sorted they would be deposited at
She also produced this photocopy of an
attractive water-colour from the 1830s of
Brookfield Cottage, which was situated near the
Watermeads. This was the home of the Revd.
Herbert Randolph and his wife Martha in the
late 1830s. His diary and notebook are to be
published by the Society as a Local History
Note. The water-colour was painted by a Miss
Wilson whose family lived for a time at
This is only a summary of what was discussed.
Absent members will have missed the banter, the
jokes – and not forgetting the treasures which the
workshops regularly produce.
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 142 . JUNE 2002 . PAGE 4
Friday 17 May 2002 – 6 present. Peter Hopkins in the chair
Judith Goodman began by reporting that she had come across another Merton artist. George
Wallis (1761-1847) was born at Merton, though it needs to be confirmed that it was our Merton.
an oil-sketch by him in an exhibition at the National Gallery in 1999, and there are works by
him in several
She had recently visited the site of the Battle of Maldon (AD 991) in Essex. One of the Anglo-
warriors, a kinsman of Byrhtnoth, their leader in this battle against a Viking force, was
called Ælfwine. In
the great poem The Battle of Maldon, which was possibly written by one of the few survivors,
given a heroic speech. And Ælfwine (this is the local connection) was a nephew of Ælfheah, to
Edgar granted Merton in AD 967.
She had also been able to find out some more about John Arbuthnot of Ravensbury [see page 11].
History Today had provided Don Fleming with a challenging view of Nelson. The May issue
report of a lecture by Colin White (Director of Trafalgar 200) to the National Maritime Museum,
he argues that Nelson ‘spun. his heroic image like a 21st-century politician, engineering
leaks of exaggerated material to newspapers, and bribing artists to retouch their paintings. Mr
his study on many documents in archives in London and America.
Don’s reading had also turned up a typically acid comment from James Lees-Milne’s Diaries 1946
Murray 1996 (page 233):
.Wednesday 18th February 1948. Had an excellent lunch at Baldwin’s with John Wilton. Then drove
Merton where, with Robin Fedden, we looked at the abbey wall which the National Trust owns, a
ridiculous bit of flint wall in the middle of a paper factory yard, quite pointless..
The 1901 Census has begun to turn up some nuggets of information. Bill Rudd has been able to
riddle of Flitwick Cottage’s name. As suggested in an article in Bulletin No.130 (June 1999)
the answer did
lie in the Census. The Trendell family, one of whom occupied Flitwick Cottage with his wife
brickmakers connected with the works nearby in Garth Road. Although the male Trendells all came
Croydon or Sutton, we now know that Mrs Caroline Trendell’s origins were at Flitwick in
Bill is still trying to learn more about Misses Isabelle and Helena Collinge, occupants from
1913 to 1925 of
Morden Park, who are said to have bred horses. He suspects, from their name, that they might
Peter Hopkins had been pursuing medieval field names [see page 15].
Dates of next workshops: Friday 5 July and Friday 23 August at 7.30 pm at Wandle Industrial
Everyone is welcome
WEIGHTS, MEASUREMENTS ETC ETC
Readers may notice that the editor is metrically minded (she has been since the 1950s) and
tries to remember to
insert metric equivalents where required. Such usage is now general, and should not be
daunting. Throughout our
history haven’t there been changes in the way we measure everything? The booklet How Heavy, How
How Long? by Colin R Chapman, Lochlin Publishing ISBN 1 873686 09 9 sets it all out clearly and
in tables, from Ancient British Numerals, rose-nobles and Quantities of Fish to SI Units, (new)
pence and tonnes.
SGT P K WALLEY
The Bourne Society Bulletin 188 (May 2002) has an illustrated article about some of the many
war graves in the
churchyard of St Luke, Whyteleafe. Kenley airfield, a key base during the Battle of Britain, is
just up the road from
the church, which is in Whyteleafe Hill, close to Whyteleafe station, and is signposted from
the A22 Godstone Road.
Sergeant Peter Kenneth Walley, 819018, of No.615 Squadron Royal Air Force (Aux Air Force) had
been at Kenley
for only 12 days when, on 18 August 1940, his plane, Hurricane P2768, was hit by Messerchmitts
Park. He struggled to guide the crippled plane towards the open ground of Morden Park, and
safely cleared the
houses nearby, only to crash in flames into some trees in the park.
At Merton College a plaque commemorates this brave young man of only 20, but his grave is at
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 142 . JUNE 2002 . PAGE 5
LIONEL GREEN, in another chapter in the story of Merton priory, looks at the influence of a
ROGER OF SALISBURY AND THE AUGUSTINIANS
Prince Henry, the younger brother of William Rufus, entered a chapel near Caen in Normandy with
a party of
knights. The priest was commencing mass, but on considering the rank of his congregation and
of youth (Henry was about 22), he performed the service with accommodating rapidity in the
Latin tongue so
that he finished before his hearers suspected that he had reached the moment of consecration.
declared that .no better chaplain could be found for men whose profession was arms.,1 and Henry
into his service as a chaplain.
The priest’s name was Roger and on his succession in 1100, Henry admitted him to the highest
office of the
state as Chancellor. Two years later he was appointed bishop of Salisbury, and about 1108 he
Following Henry’s success in defeating his brother at Tinchebrai, Normandy, in 1106, the king
started to reorganise
the governments on both sides of the Channel. The youthful knights who had followed him were
advantage when he required clerks in his chancery and .new men. as sheriffs in the counties. In
appointed Gilbert the Knight to be sheriff of Surrey, Cambridge and Huntingdon.
Recalling his earlier days at Caen, Roger rebuilt Old Sarum cathedral as a copy of the Abbaye
aux Dames, and
the stone used was fashioned at Caen and transported by ship and cart to Old Sarum. William of
was inspired to say that it appeared to be carved out of a single stone. Roger .beautified it
in such a manner that
it yields to none in England, but surpasses many, so that he had just cause to say .Lord, I
have loved the glory
of thy house…2 He also built the bishop’s palace and castle, each with its own hall, within
the enceinte at Old
Now .he was second only to the king. said Henry of Huntingdon,3 and head of the royal
of the sheriffs were his nominees, and many his protégés.4 He .acquired a most profound
knowledge of the
Exchequer, so much so that, as without doubt the rolls themselves made manifest, it flourished
His household included three sons, Roger le Poer, who became Chancellor to King Stephen, Azo of
dean of Salisbury and Ranulf le Poer, later sheriff of Gloucestershire. Nephews included
Alexander who was
adopted by Roger and appointed archdeacon of Salisbury in 1121, and bishop of Lincoln in 1123,
who became bishop of Ely in 1133.
Roger was interested in the new order of Augustinian canons, and materially assisted many
the founder of Merton, Gilbert the sheriff, sought a royal charter confirming the priory’s
rights and endowments
in 1121 he approached Roger. The king was holding a Council, and Gilbert invited Prior Robert
him to Winchester. The proposed charter gave the ville of Merton to the new foundation and
liberties which shocked some legal advocates at the court, who were afraid to show it to the
king. Gilbert and
the prior also dreaded that the king might nullify the whole charter when it was read to him.
Gilbert’s friendship with Roger no doubt began at the Exchequer where Gilbert had become the
sheriff in the land and had no trouble in dealing with the grudging officials at the Treasury.
When the king saw the contents he complained that the text reserved no jurisdiction to himself
and no provision
for service to him. Roger argued that the king reserved everything to himself all the better
when he gave freely
to God. Henry finally confirmed the royal charter, which required Gilbert to pay 100 pounds of
silver and six
marks of gold. The church was retained .under the royal hand and protection, as though my own
which could be construed as meaning that Merton was a royal foundation. The charter was
witnessed by the
bishops and nobles of the land attending the Council, and included Alexander, Roger’s nephew,
appointed archdeacon of Salisbury. Roger himself confirmed the document with his
Gilbert was able to use his skill by flattering the treasury collectors and easing the debt.
Roger went to the mountains of Wales to assist a few canons at Llanthony in the 1120s. He was
their strict observance of the Augustinian Rule and urged the king to support them.
About 1123 Roger gave the church of St Sepulchre to St Bartholomew’s priory in London. In 1122
instrumental in founding a house for regular canons at St Frideswide, Oxford.6 The king
installed his chaplain
Master Guimund as prior.
Roger supported Serlo, former dean of the Sarum cathedral chapter and canon of Merton priory,
as the first
prior of Cirencester abbey in 1131. He gave rich endowments but retained a life interest in the
also encouraged the foundation of a daughter house of Cirencester at Bradenstoke in his own
brother became the first prior.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 142 . JUNE 2002 . PAGE 6
1. .could say mass fitly for hunting men. William de Newburgh Historia Rerum (R’s.82) )R
Howlett 1885) I.c.6.
2. William of Malmesbury Gesta Regum Anglorum (trans. J A Giles) ii 484
3. Henry of Huntingdon Historia Anglorum (T Arnold 1879) v 245: Anglo-Saxon Chronicle s.a. 1122
(Whitelock 1961) p251
4. W L Warren Henry II 1973 p15
5. Dialogus de Scaccaria (C Johnson et al 1950), quoted in English Historical Documents 1042-
1189 II 1953
6. William of Malmesbury Gesta Pontificum Anglorum (R’s.52) (N E S A Hamilton 1870) p316
SURREY HISTORY CENTRE
The striking new Centre has replaced the cramped old Surrey County Record
Office at County Hall in Kingston and the Guildford Muniment Room. For
the staff the convenience of working in purpose-built premises must be a
wonderful improvement, and for the public the space, comfort and lay-out
should outweigh the relative remoteness (for Mertonians) of its location.
On 14 March our party converged on Woking, mostly by train, in rather
miserable weather. After a friendly welcome we were divided into two
groups, with meticulous head-counts for the sake of security, for our behindthe-
Once through the security door we first saw the Holding/Sorting Room, where on arrival any new
item is assessed.
The decision is taken whether or not to keep it. Duplicates are often passed to libraries, and
material more appropriate
to another record office is routed there. The intriguingly labelled Disaster Control Cabinet
holds hard hats, boots,
torches etc, so that staff can, properly equipped, rescue objects from the scene of fire, flood
or other catastrophe. So
far, apparently, the cabinet’s contents have not been needed.
Things to be added to the collection are immediately given accession numbers and entered onto
the computer. Then
they have to be treated. Drying (unheated), cleaning and pest control are carried out at this
stage. Any insects are
killed by blast-freezing the clingwrapped item to -30°C, in two phases, to allow any eggs to
hatch between freezing.
Every page of a book or surface of a document is dusted with a soft brush, and a bottle-type
brush is used for book-
Packing is the next stage, in acid-free materials, such as transparent pockets and folders, and
then special cardboard
boxes, secured with archivally safe cotton tape – always tied at the side. Rust is very
destructive, so brass is used for
Conservation and repair work goes on upstairs. Light-boxes and even a light-wall, big enough to
accommodate a 12foot
map, are an important aid for this meticulous work. Starch paste, safe and removable, is used
for repairs. Paper
is mended with paper and Japanese tissue, in sandwich form; parchment is repaired with
sheepskin; seals with
beeswax and pigment.
Then, in the core of the building, we saw the two strongrooms, where temperature
and humidity are at optimum levels for safe storage of paper, photographs, lantern
slides, maps and so forth. The atmosphere is mainly an argon/nitrogen mix, with only
6% oxygen, which minimises oxidation but will support life if anyone is accidentally
Opening off the foyer at one end is the Heather D Hawker Room, where members of
the public have access to computer screens, books, fiche- and film-readers and modern
maps, including the 25″ series, and can order items from the collection, for study. At
the other end of the foyer is a smaller room used for themed exhibitions.
Many aspects of Surrey’s history are referred to in the specially commissioned tapestry
that hangs above the reception desk. In a reminder that the county is not and never has
been just a back garden to London, it incorporates images from prehistory to the
present time as diverse as Nonsuch and the Woking mosque, Roman roads and
Brooklands motor-racing, Magna Carta and the worldwide web. Two glass panels
designed by Martin Donlin explore other themes – texts, maps, the names of the
hundreds, the plan of a Lutyens house and symbols from mythology.
This was a fascinating visit, conducted by informed and enthusiastic guides, and much
appreciated by us all.
The Centre is at 130 Goldsworth Road, Woking GU21 1ND tel: 01483 594594, open Tuesday –
Saturday. If you do
not have a CARN card already you need to take identification with you. The staff are most
welcoming and helpful.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 142 . JUNE 2002 . PAGE 7
THE WANDSWORTH MILLS
On 20 April about 20 members of the Society assembled at The Canons, Mitcham, to hear a talk on
the mills of
Wandsworth by Dorian Gerhold. There were seven mills in Wandsworth in 1086 at the time of the
but their locations were not recorded. It is probable that their sites continued in use until
Victorian times when
although there were only four mills in the parish, each one was identified as a .double mill.,
there were parallel wheels working equipment on each bank.
Milling was a big business in Wandsworth and in the 16th century it has been estimated that
between 10% and 15%
of Wandsworth’s population worked in the four mills. In 1610 all the mills produced flour, but
earlier there are
references to at least one being a fulling mill. Subsequently, the mills beat copper, ground
gunpowder, wrought iron,
crushed linseed and even produced a wood dye.
Working our way up the Wandle (against the flow) starting from Ram Creek, the first mill to be
seen would have been
the Lower Mill (also known as Loampit Mill). This was downstream of the present railway bridge.
It was first
mentioned in 1371 and for most of its life was a corn mill. By the 1630s it was grinding up to
100 quarters (1270kg)
of wheat per week. In the 1820s it was leased to Daniel Watney, son of the Daniel Watney who
lived at New Barns
Farm, Mitcham. The Lower Mill was converted to steam power in the 19th century, but ceased
production in 1893
and was demolished in 1899.
The Middle Mill stood further upstream, between the present railway bridge and the High Street.
It was first recorded
in 1504 as a flour mill, but was a brazil mill by 1569. The name refers to the process of
rasping brazil wood into
fragments which would be soaked in water to produce a purple/brown dye. The Middle Mill was a
small mill with
only four stones, and perhaps for this reason a windmill with two stones was built beside it in
1750. This lasted for
only 70 years. The watermill became part of the Watney flour-milling empire in the 1860s and
was used until 1893,
although the building survived into the 20th century.
The Upper Mill was upstream of the High Street and approached from Garratt Lane. It was first
identified in a
reference of 1521 when it was owned by Westminster Abbey. It was acquired by the Smith family
of Mitcham in
1638 and remained in their possession until well into the 18th century. As mentioned already,
the Wandsworth mills
were all double mills. The Upper Mill east was a leather mill in 1705, whilst the west mill was
a copper mill. By the
1890s one of the mills pulverised linseed to produce oil (for use in paint and in the
manufacture of linoleum) and the
other was a flour mill, leased by Daniel Watney, grandson of the Daniel Watney of Mitcham.
Although at the start of
the 20th century the mill was steam powered, it was converted back to water power and was in
use until 1928.
Further upriver was Adkins Mill whose lease was purchased in 1363 by Westminster Abbey. In 1535
it was a fulling
mill, which removed grease from wool by treating it with fuller’s earth and washing it. In 1654
one half of the mill
was converted to beat copper into sheets, bowls and kettles, although the other half remained a
flour mill. In 1777 the
whole mill became an iron mill making forgings and cannons from pig-iron and it continued this
role until 1826 when
it became a paper mill producing paper for The Times and The Illustrated London News. It
continued to produce
paper until the late 1890s and during this time it carried the name The Royal Paper Mill.
Dorian Gerhold also spoke about the gunpowder mills at Earlsfield, although not strictly within
A gunpowder mill was established there in 1656 and another was built upstream in 1661. Soon
there were five mills
in the area, all producing gunpowder, and in 1702 Earlsfield mills supplied 12% of all the
gunpowder used by the
British government. The mills were closed in 1713 and the buildings demolished and replaced by
a double mill. One
mill was used for snuff and the other for grinding seeds for oil. In 1853 both mills became a
double paper mill which
continued in production until burnt down in 1894.
Milling in Wandsworth ceased due to the greater efficiency of steam-powered mills located close
to a coalfield, and
also to the decreased flow of the River Wandle caused by abstraction of water in the
BOOKS ON LOCAL HISTORY
We do not publish commercial advertisements in the Bulletin, but we have details of one or two
local history and
topographical booksellers who deal in new/secondhand/remainder/reprint publications. Contact
the editor if interested.
A new publication from Surrey Archaeological Society, Hidden Depths . an Archaeological
Exploration of Surrey’s
Past, is a .popular. overview of the archaeological heritage of historic Surrey, which included
the present London
boroughs. Written by Roger Hunt, the book follows the themes: Hearth and Home, Food and
Farming, Religion and
Ritual, Power and Protection, and Markets and Manufacturing. It has a wealth of plans and
The book costs £12.95 and should be available from local bookshops. (ISBN 0 9541460 1 8)
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 142 . JUNE 2002 . PAGE 8
MORE ABOUT JOHN ARBUTHNOT OF MITCHAM
from JOHN PILE:
I am very grateful to Eric Montague (Bulletin No.141 p4) for providing the answer to a question
I had asked
myself more than 40 years ago, but had failed to follow up. While transcribing some Morden
Lambeth Archives in 1960 I came across a counterpart lease of 19 September 17641 confirming the
in 1755 of the manor of Ravensbury and land in Mitcham and Morden by Sir Nicholas Hacket Carew
Arbuthnot for a term of 99 years, the confirmation apparently being necessitated by the fact
that Sir Nicholas,
the last male heir in the direct line, had died in 1762.2 A discrepancy between the two
documents concerns the
terms of the leases. According to Eric’s account the original lease of 1755 was for a term of
30 years, but the
Lambeth Archives lease of 1764 refers to a term of 99 years from Christmas 1755.
Having, at the time of examining the latter lease, recalled from
my O-level Social History course that a certain John Arbuthnot
was an 18th-century .agricultural improver., I began to wonder
whether the lessee of Ravensbury was the same man – a fact which
Eric’s note has at last confirmed. My curiosity about John
Arbuthnot having been re-awakened, I wrote to the Rural History
Centre at the University of Reading for further information, and
received a very full reply from the librarian John S. Creasey, who
very generously provided me with a copy of the relevant section
of Arthur Young’s 1811 lecture to the Board of Agriculture On
the Husbandry of three celebrated British farmers, Messrs.
Bakewell, Arbuthnot and Ducket [fig 1].
This refers to the work of .John Arbuthnot, Esq of Mitcham, in
Surrey., who began his agricultural experiments at some time
before 1771. Stimulated by the difficulties of cultivating .those
harsh, wet, tenacious loams, which are normally called clay.,
Arbuthnot perfected ploughs capable of tilling the land to depths
of between six and 18 inches (15-45cm) [fig 2].
According to Young, .the greatest exertion made by this Gentleman in cultivation, was in the
article of madder,
which he carried to the extent of above 50 acres, and with great success and profit.. Madder
was one of the
principal dye-stuffs employed at Arbuthnot’s calico works at Ravensbury, and he found it
worthwhile to grow
his own madder when it was at the high price of £4 per hundredweight (51kg). The process of
printing as it would have been practised at Ravensbury is described fully in Eric’s Textile
Bleaching and Printing
in Mitcham and Merton 1590-1870, Merton Historical Society 1992.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 142 . JUNE 2002 . PAGE 9
Surprisingly, in view of the importance ascribed to Arbuthnot’s work by Arthur Young, he does
not gain a place
in theDictionary of National Biography, and few of the standard histories of agriculture devote
more than a line
or two to his achievements. However my friend John Cunningham kindly placed his genealogical
resources at my disposal, and was able to provide the following details of his pedigree:
of Arbuthnott, Kincardineshire, mar. c.1687 Catherine Ochterlony
b. c.1657 d. –
George Arbuthnot mar. c.1728 Margaret Robinson of Leicester
b. 1688 bur. ?1733
b. c.1701 d. c.1729
of Ravensbury, Surrey
mar. (1) c.1753 Sally Margaret Cecil
b. 1733 d. 1797 (2) c.1760 Ursula Fitzgerald of Taplow, Bucks
(3) 1762 Anne Stone of Rockfleet Castle, Co. Mayo
(4) c.1788 Helen O.Halloran of Fife
(5) c.1791 Anne Elizabeth Heard of Co. Cork
Although John Arbuthnot was related to the Viscounts Arbuthnott of that Ilk he was evidently a
member of a
cadet branch of the family, and does not appear in Burke’s Peerage 105th edition, 1970.
The coat of arms [fig 3] is based upon my sketch of the seal attached to the
1764 lease, and may be described, in the absence of the tinctures, as: a
chevron ermine between three estoiles. The crest is a bird’s head erased
(species uncertain). The arms of the Viscounts Arbuthnott as described in
Burke are: azure a crescent between three mullets argent, and the crest
incorporates a peacock’s head. It is puzzling that the arms on John
Arbuthnot’s seal seem completely unrelated to those of his family. Perhaps
a reader better versed in heraldry can offer an explanation.
Since beginning this piece I have unearthed my copy of Eric’s booklet
Ravensbury Manor House and Park MHS 1981. I would like to add the
Eric states on page 6 that the baptisms of seven of John Arbuthnot’s children
are recorded in the Mitcham register between 1764 and 1773. It would
therefore appear that these were the issue of his marriage to Anne Stone of
Rockfleet, although it is puzzling that – according to Eric – John Arbuthnot
should be described as of Rockfleet at the time of this marriage when he was
presumably still living at Mitcham. It is also odd that Mrs Ursula Arbuthnot
née Fitzgerald died in 1781 (Ravensbury Manor House page 6), that is, after
his marriage to Anne Stone. Clearly there is a need for further research to
clarify these details. (And John Cunningham tells me that his genealogical
sources are not always reliable with regard to dates!)
The following references supplied by John S. Creasey have not been consulted, but they are
included here for
the record and the convenience of readers wishing to pursue the subject further. Mr Creasey’s
included in brackets.
J G Gazley The Life of Arthur Young 1741-1820 American Philosophical Society 1973 (numerous
references to Arbuthnot
and to his friendship with Young)
A Young The Farmer’s Tour Through the East of England vol 2 1771 (pages 251-560, more than half
the contents, devoted
to an exhaustive account of Arbuthnot’s farming, including the culture of madder, and plates of
J Arbuthnot .On the culture and curing of madder. Dublin Society Transactions vol 1 1800 (copy
in British Library)
J Small A Lecture on Ploughs and Wheeled Carriages 1802 edn. (contains Arbuthnot’s instructions
on the formation of
ploughs. Copy in the Perkins Agricultural Library at the University of Southampton)
1. Lambeth Archives, Minet Library. Surrey deed No.3380
2. Revd. T Bentham A History of Beddington John Murray, London 1923 p23
fig 3: Arms of John Arbuthnot 1764from seal on Lambeth Archives(Minet Library) Surrey Deed No.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 142 . JUNE 2002 . PAGE 10
and from JUDITH GOODMAN:
Having been able to read John Pile’s comments before publication, and having already had my
by this unusual story, I have followed up one or two lines of enquiry, and have been able to
clarify one or two
Fortunately, I discovered, there exists an admirable, lovingly researched history of the
Arbuthnot family.1 Most
of the information which follows comes from the dozen pages or so devoted to our John
Arbuthnot, his wives
and his children. A family tree shows that he was descended from the second son of Robert
Arbuthnot of that
Ilk, who died in 1450. The Viscounts Arbuthnott are descended from the elder son, and may have
second .t. when they acquired the title, in the 17th century. John Arbuthnot was possibly
eighth cousin once
removed to the viscount of his day.
He was born, not in 1733, but in 1729, and was four years old when his father, Captain George
Queen Anne’s Guard and of Kinghornie, Kincardineshire, died. According to Arbuthnot’s own third
(who was himself brought up by his mother’s family, the Stones) the young John was cared for
family. .The persons under whose care my father had been placed, felt that the best mode of
disposing of him
was to educate him for trade. This, from what I have heard of my father, was a mistake; as I
that, having very superior talents, he was well calculated to succeed in the army or in one of
professions. In trade he failed….
In 1754, aged 25, John Arbuthnot was .retoured.2 heir to his father. By this date he was
already married and,
Eric Montague tells us,3 established at Ravensbury, which suggests either that he had acquired
funds, or had
been able to borrow on his expectations. In 1760 he sold Kinghornie. This estate was close to
the sea, near the
mouth of the Bervie, between Montrose and Stonehaven. Interestingly, in the light of
Arbuthnot’s future career,
but perhaps coincidentally, Inverbervie was a notable flax-spinning centre. A little way up the
Bervie is the
small town of Arbuthnott, with its great house and its church full of family graves.
Now for all those marriages:
He married Sally Margaret Cecil, of the family of John Cecil of Ravensbury printworks in 1753.
seem to have been no children. She died in February 1759 and was buried at Morden.4
The second wife was Ursula Fitzgerald, whom he married in the following year, only for her to
17614 (not 1781), possibly in childbirth, as there was a son John born that year.
On 19 October 1762 he married thirdly Anne, daughter of Richard Stone, a Lombard Street banker.
Anne bore him ten children between 1764 and 1773, seven of whom, Eric Montague tells us,3 were
baptised at Mitcham. (It is strange that the wives were buried in one parish and the children
the other.) Anne died in 1782.
In 1788 he married Helen Fitzgerald née O.Halloran of Cork, whose date of death has not, as far
know, been discovered.
And finally there was Anne Elizabeth, daughter of Bickford Heard of Cork, whom he married in
and who survived him.
There were no children by the last two marriages.
At Ravensbury one of Arbuthnot’s enterprises was the growing of madder. This dye root, so
important in the
textile printing industry, was expensive to buy. In one of his letters to Arthur Young, the
expert of the time, he wrote, .My madder this year has made me almost mad, having just
conquered what I
thought [an] insurmountable difficulty; but courage to a degree of wildness, and perseverance,
will do great
things … in short madder engrossed me …..
Young, who, before 1775, had his own problems, once wrote of that period, .The only pleasant
moments that I
passed were in visits to my friend Arbuthnot at Mitcham, whose agriculture so near the capital
company to his house. He was, upon the whole, the most agreeable, pleasant and interesting
I ever made in agricultural pursuits.. It was a mutually beneficial acquaintance, for through
mixed with such notable people as the musical and intellectual Burney family.
In 1773 Arbuthnot published An Inquiry into the Connection between the Present Price of
Provisions and the
Size of Farms, with Remarks on Population as affected thereby, etc. by a Farmer, in which he
enclosure of common lands and endorsed scientific and efficient farming practice as a means of
price of food and alleviating the distress that prevailed at the time.
Some time in the mid-1770s there was an extraordinary episode in his career, which must have
excitement in Mitcham and Morden. According to Young, Catherine the Great of Russia ‘sent over
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 142 . JUNE 2002 . PAGE 11
eight young men to learn practical agriculture, two or three of whom were fixed with my friend
Young was asked to examine them after their training, to see if they were fit for imperial
service. One stubbornly
refused to be tested and Young was told that he would be sent to Siberia for life. .The
intended establishment of an
Imperial farm never took place, and after at least an expenditure of £10,000, the men on their
arrival [back in
Russia] were turned loose, some to starve, some driven into the army, and others retained by
In this wretched and ridiculous manner did the whole scheme end ….
Arbuthnot seems to have written a treatise on grasses, which was translated into Russian for
probably by one of his visitors, with .an English hayloft metamorphosed into a Russian
shrubbery.. He wrote,
.This … will certainly establish my character with her Majesty as a most ingenious farmer,
and as she is very
desirous of having a large tract laid out in the style of an English garden, it is not
impossible but that I may be sent
for to plan and plant her stables in Petersburgh. I think I could almost laugh to hear the
whole read again into
Such a Russian trip seems to have remained a dream. Admiral Marriott Arbuthnott,4 whose precise
uncertain, but can only have been a very distant connection, entered into a Chancery dispute
with John Arbuthnot
in 1778. It appears that he had advanced the sum of £5000 to John in 1774, and, when the latter
refused to repay,
without giving a reason, it seems that the Admiral was able to take possession of Ravensbury.
This episode ties in with the recollection of Charles Arbuthnot, John’s third son, quoted
earlier, who was born in
1767. He wrote, .When I was at a private school at Richmond, my father failed in his trading
speculations and he
went to reside in France with his whole family.. Arbuthnot was certainly described as .of
Boulogne. after he was
.of Ravensbury.. By 1781 he seems to have quite given up farming, and Young writes of .a sad
letter from my
friend Arbuthnot on his return from France … written in so melancholy a strain on his own
situation and that of his
wife and family, that it has made my heart ache to read it.. Arbuthnot’s letter, of 2 April,
survives. …. Happy as I
was last year, I am as downcast this, and see nothing but misery before my eyes, for Death
would be preferable to
living as I do, torn from my family without having it in my power to assist them sufficiently
… Jack got the first
year he was in India an appointment of £1000 per ann. and is as happy as a Prince. If I can get
George out next
Spring I shall regard nothing as to myself, trusting they will assist the girls. Little Alex
turns out a Wonder of the
Age, is an excellent scholar and though but turned of twelve years has gone through six books
of Euclid; he is
indeed deservedly the admiration of all the place, having every accomplishment a Boy can have,
conception… Poor Mrs Arb. was for many months last year at Death’s door, I never went through
such a scene, but
thank God she is now better than she has been for years …. (this was Anne, who died the
Soon however there was an upturn in Arbuthnot’s affairs. According to Young, it was by Lord
interest that Arbuthnot got an appointment in Ireland, under the Linen Board, and Young thereby
lost .by far the
most agreeable friend I was ever acquainted with.. The post was Inspector-General of Leinster,
Connaught, at a salary of £500 per annum from June 1782, with a house in Dublin for his use. He
himself energetically into his new role, and his reports on the condition of the linen trade
gave great offence in
Ireland. Moreover the man who had considered the appointment his own published a pamphlet
pointing out that
Arbuthnot had always failed in everything, claiming that he had engaged in smuggling while in
France and accusing
him of wanting to change Ireland from a linen manufacturing country to a flax growing one.5
In 1786 Arbuthnot however acquired Rockfleet, Carrighahooly (Carraig an Chabhlaigh) and
Newport, Co. Mayo, on a permanent lease, under which he was required to build a .neat, good
house.. This was
Rosyvera House, near the ruined Rockfleet Castle, and was not completed until after his death
in 1797. Little
seems to be known about his last years, although a letter of Young’s says, .I am greatly
concerned for Mr. Arbuthnot,
tho his silence made him dead to us from the time he went to Ireland; I never knew a family
which was the centre
of every mild & agreeable virtue so shattered into nothing by a man’s failure..6 He was buried
in Newport churchyard.
On his tombstone is the following inscription:
BENEATH THIS STONE ARE DEPOSITED THE REMAINS OF THE LATE
JOHN ARBUTHNOT ESQRE OF ROCKFLEET CASTLE IN THIS COUNTY
AND FORMERLY OF MITCHAM SURREY IN ENGLAND
DIED ON THE 27TH DECEMBER, 1797,
IN THE 69TH YEAR OF HIS AGE
THIS STONE IS PLACED HERE BY HIS FOURTH SON COL. SIR
ROBERT ARBUTHNOT, K.C.B., OF THE
As Eric Montague has pointed out,3 three of Arbuthnot’s sons have their own entries in the
Dictionary of National
Biography – something that cannot be said of many fathers. Charles became a respected diplomat
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 142 . JUNE 2002 . PAGE 12
He married two celebrated beauties, the second of whom achieved fame of a sort by becoming the
Wellington’s favourite mistress (.confidential friend. as the DNBsedately puts it). Robert, who
General Sir Robert KCB KTS, was a gifted and gallant soldier, who saw action in three
continents. And Thomas,
who became Lieutenant General Sir Thomas KCB, was another distinguished soldier who served
under Sir John
Moore and General Picton in the Peninsula and ended as regional commander of the English north
and the midlands.
Of the rest, bright little Alex, the .Wonder of the Age., grew up to become the Bishop of
Killaloe. Indeed all the
children seem to have thrived, though of the firstborn, John, son of Ursula, and once .happy as
a Prince. at his
appointment in India, we only know that he died there unmarried. Robert, the son named in the
inscription, was in
fact Arbuthnot’s fifth son (the same error occurs in the DNB). John the younger seems to have
been written out of
There are some interesting references to Arbuthnot’s agricultural projects in Gazley’s book on
Arthur Young. On
27 May 1771 a trial of various experimental ploughs was held at his Ravensbury farm, including
two of his own
invention, though neither won the bounty on offer.7
As John Pile’s correspondent at Reading noted, 300 pages, of Young’s Farmer’s Tour are devoted
work, and the latter was horrified when asked to proof-read. …. my Good man, surely you spin
me out too long,
but you best know, don’t think me impertinent, but will people have the patience to go through
such scenes of
damned bad husbandry ….8
Young described 110 experiments by Arbuthnot – lucerne and madder culture, crop rotations,
drills and so on. He was rated as especially skilful at growing madder, having studied this
crop in the Low
Countries. Despite the not very good soil at Ravensbury he profitably grew 80 acres (32ha) of
madder out of his
total of less than 300 acres (120ha).9 Young also described him as .deeply informed in
and his many inventions included the double mouldboard plough, the turnwrest plough, the
Berkshire shim, the
spiky roller and the turnip drill.8 When walking through Ravensbury Park today it is strange to
imagine all this
activity, not to mention the variety of visitors, at the Ravensbury of more than 200 years ago.
1. A J (Mrs P S-M) Arbuthnot Memories of the Arbuthnots of Kincardineshire and Aberdeenshire
George Allen & Unwin, London 1920
2. A Scottish legal term
3. E N Montague and J G Berry Ravensbury Manor House and Park Merton Historical Society 1981
4. F Clayton (transcribed and ed.) The Registers of Morden Parish Register Society Vol XXXVII
London 1901 p59
5. J G Gazley The Life of Arthur Young 1741-1820 American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia
6. ibid. p255 7. ibid. p64 8. ibid. p70 9. ibid. p71
FROM THE POSTBAG:
(i) Joan Welch of Ealing is a great-great-granddaughter of Henry Welch, brother of Thomas
Welch, whose tablecloth
printing works were featured in an article by Eric Montague in Bulletin 141. She writes:
…. Henry was working with Thomas in 1861, and then ultimately the firm became Welch Brothers
1870. Henry was also a Baptist minister in Tooting Grove church…
…. We were always told that the Welches were a Huguenot family and that there was a Jonathan
Joseph Welch on the Wandle in the late 17th century. However I have another 100 years or so [in
tree research] to go before I can tie them in, if indeed they are any relation. Thomas and
Henry’s father was
also a calico printer, and did the classic moves from the Wandle to Crayford, to Waltham Abbey,
Thomas and his son came back to the Wandle…
…. There is a Joseph Welch who lived in Wandle Villa, and also the firm of Welch Margetson at
(ii) Jeffrey Herbert of Crawley belongs to a Sussex family called Weller. He writes:
…. Some [of the Wellers] moved to Mitcham, and I suspect because they were carters more money
made working on the watercress fields along with other aspects of farming.
…. Some lived at Love Lane, Mitcham… My understanding is that a paper was put together
watercress basket that was invented by one of the Wellers! Maybe someone in the Society has
information about this paper!
.I know that some of the Wellers still live at Mitcham, and have been in touch through the
local paper. Any
help you may be able to give would be of great value.“
The Editor would be glad to hear from any reader who can provide further information for either
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 142 . JUNE 2002 . PAGE 13
PETER HOPKINS reports on two talks given by members of our Society to the
SURREY ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY
As part of a recent six-week series of lectures entitledFriars, Monks and Canons: some
Religious Houses in Surrey,
our Chairman, Lionel Green spoke on Friday 3 May on Merton and the Augustinians. Lionel has
Merton Priory since his youth, and was granted the accolade of writing two chapters on the
subject, (plus two other
chapters) in Miss Jowett’s A History of Merton & Morden in 1951.
In this lecture Lionel traced the origins of the Augustinian order, so called because the
Canons followed the rule devised
by St Augustine of Hippo for religious communities in North Africa in the 5th century. The
Order of Augustinian
Canons came into being in France in the 11th century, and soon came to England, St Botolph,
Colchester, being one of
the first houses in England to follow the rule in about 1104. Lionel explained how the
Augustinians, as well as being
regular at worship, were also involved in parochial work, as well as almsgiving, hospitality,
and intercession for the
souls of benefactors. They also administered the many estates and other properties given to
them for their financial
support. They were great innovators, clearing woodland, draining land, building roads and
bridges, and quarrying stone.
By1128 there were over 30 Augustinian houses in England, and most of the hospitals in the land
followed the Augustinian
rule. Over 75% of Augustinian houses set up during the reign of Henry I were founded by the
King or his courtiers. Few
achieved the status of an abbey, and most were administered by a prior, hence a priory.
Within the community officials were responsible for maintaining provisions (cellarer),
organizing services in church
(precentor), caring for the church (sacrist), supplying the needy (almoner), extending
hospitality (guest-master), food
preparation (kitchener), tending the sick (infirmarer), organising the scriptoria(librarian),
supplying clothing (chamberlain),
overseeing supplies of corn and flour (granger), and administering the estates (steward).
The siting of the priory was of paramount importance, especially its proximity to an adequate
water supply to drive the
mill and to carry away sewage. Ten percent of Augustinian houses moved their site, compared
with 33% of Cistercian
houses, and only 3% of Benedictine houses, the earliest Order in England. Augustinian houses in
Surrey were Southwark,
Merton, Newark, Reigate and Tandridge, while Shulbrede priory was just across the border in
Lionel spent much of the lecture speaking of Merton Priory, dealing with its foundation, its
role as a centre for learning,
its outreach in setting up daughter houses (the subject of his new book [see page 16], its
important role in national affairs,
its endowments, including manors, churches, mills, shops and houses, and its granges, such as
Upton Grange in
Buckinghamshire, which still stands.
Lionel is to be congratulated on giving such an excellent and interesting lecture to so august
a body. Perhaps we can look
forward to another publication, dealing with the topics covered in this lecture.
On Saturday 11 May John Pile, a regular contributor to our Bulletin [see page 9], was the main
speaker at the Villages
Study Group workshop, held at Cranleigh. His title was The Richest Historical Record .
Landscape and Local
History. John, whose interest in local history started when he was a teenager living in Morden,
has lived in Hampshire
for many years, and has developed a special expertise in landscape history, particularly the
development of commons.
Although often described as waste, commons were important to the manorial economy, providing
and supplying villagers with fuel and building materials. However, as population expanded,
pressure for additional
farmland and house sites led to many encroachments onto the commons, many of our modern
settlements originating in
Starting with examples from the Havant area, John then considered the green near the High
Street, Wimbledon; Mitcham
Common and the adjoining common land in Waddon; Wrythe Green in Carshalton; Sparrowfield,
the inhabitants of Morden, Cheam, Malden and Ewell; Sutton Common, and finally the two commons
where the lecture was taking place.
John particularly drew attention to the .exit-funnels. which formed where the roadways, used
for driving cattle, emerged
from the commons. Many of these funnels were preserved in .fossil. form when the commons shrank
as a result of
encroachments, and they can still be recognised on 19th-century maps. Funnels at Leigh in the
Forest of Bere must be
very old, as Leigh was enclosed in the 13th or 14th century. John encouraged us to reverse our
normal point of view and
look at the enclosures taken out of the former waste. Many have an oval form, which gives a
good ratio of area to
perimeter, reducing the cost of ditching or fencing. Other oval shapes can be recognised on
maps, where the alignment
of field boundaries within the oval are different to those outside. One such enclosure that has
long fascinated John is in
the Ravensbury manor lands in Morden, at Moreton Green. Many of these ovals were vaccaries, for
dairy breeding and
production. John suggested that the Cranleigh ovals may well represent the .original. Wealden
By studying the waste and its boundaries, John suggested, it is possible to formulate theories
as to settlement origins.
This fascinating talk gave rise to much discussion, and will serve as a new focus for our
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 142 . JUNE 2002 . PAGE 14
PETER HOPKINS has been investigating some mysterious
MEDIEVAL FIELD NAMES IN MORDEN
For some time I have wondered about the significance of the name Hobalds, relating to a farm in
which also included land in Malden and Merton. Margaret Gelling, in Signposts to the Past
(p150), says that hob
names refer to goblins, and may be associated with earthworks. Among the landmarks delineating
the boundary of
the Merton estate granted by King Edgar to Aelfheah and his wife Aelfswith in 967 AD is
benanberwe in the
southwest corner of Merton, in the very area of the later Hobalds Farm. This name also suggests
a burial mound or
earthwork of some kind. Benanberwe’s location at the junction of four parishes and three
hundreds is significant.
But recently I have been in correspondence with Graham Gower of the Streatham Society, who has
a sequence of Saxon look-out posts along the line of Stane Street, and was enquiring about the
origins of the
mound in Morden Park. Some authorities have suggested that the mound might be a burial mound. I
references, between the 16th and 18th centuries, to a Gallowsfield within the lands that became
the Morden Park
estate. Eric Montague had pointed out to me the association of gallows and burial mounds in
other places in
Surrey, especially Gally Hills near Banstead, the Goblin (Electrical) Works site at
Leatherhead, and Guildown
near Guildford, all sites where pagan Saxon burials were excavated, along with slightly later
Graham then pointed out the name Great Hobalds within the Morden Park estate.
reduced from 6. Ordnance Survey 1st edition
So now we have two occurrences of the name Hobalds in Morden, each in the vicinity of a
possible burial mound
or earthwork site. I had often wondered why the Hobalds name was associated with two distinct
Farm was a freehold property that came into the possession of Merton Priory in the 13th
century. The Morden Park
estate was made up from former demesne land belonging to Westminster Abbey. Of course, it is
possible that a
tenant by the name of Hobald occupied both properties at some time, but there is no other
evidence for him.
The earliest local use of the name Hobalds that I have discovered so far is in 1505, when the
Merton Court Rolls
refer to the .way leading to Hobaldsmede.. Hobaldsmede was one of the meadows bordering the Pyl
Brook, in the
present Grand Drive area. It also belonged to Merton Priory, though by the 16th century it was
included among the
priory’s demesne lands rather than as part of Hobalds Farm. It was in Morden, but adjoined
Merton parish. Presumably it had been the meadowland pertaining to the Hobalds estate when it
was granted to
Merton Priory in the 1230s.
However, there is an intriguing series of references to a .Hobaldesmed. in some 14th-century
account rolls from
Wandsworth. Rita Ensing has been transcribing documents among the Westminster Abbey Muniments
the manor of Doune in Wandsworth, and she kindly allowed me to take photocopies of her
transcripts, for comparison
with the Morden documents. Between 1372 and 1396 the Westminster manor of Doune paid 20d a year
Prior of Merton as lord of the manor of Dunsford, also in Wandsworth, for a piece of meadow
Presumably this Hoboldesmed was in Wandsworth, but is it a coincidence that both Hobaldsmedes
Merton Priory estates associated with Westminster Abbey manors?
However, it does take the Hobalds name back to the late 14th century. I wonder whether there
are any other
Hobalds names in Surrey. Do any of our readers know of other occurrences of the name?
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 142 . JUNE 2002 . PAGE 15
Lambeth Local History Forum are running their spring and summer Heritage Walks in South London
until October. Mostly free, and led by local historians. Leaflets and further information from
Archives Department, 52 Knatchbull Road, London SE5 9QY; tel: 020 7926 6076
Next exhibitions at the Heritage Centre, The Canons, Madeira Road, Mitcham: Merton During the
from 11 June to 21 July, and, upstairs, Leg before Wicket: a Celebration of Mitcham Cricket
The new De Morgan Centre for the Study of 19th Century Art and Society is now open. It is
the West Hill Library Building, 38 West Hill, London SW18 1RZ, close to rail and Underground
and on four
bus routes. Open Mon – Wed 12.00-18.00; Fri – Sat 10.00-17.00. Closed Sun, Thurs and all Bank
Tel: 020 8871 1144; www.demorgan.org.uk
On Saturday 27 July the Museum of London is offering two guided visits (90 minutes each) to
Priory, at 11am and 1pm. Fee £5 (£3 conc.). Book on 020 7814 5777.
The microfiche version of the 1901 Census is now available for use at the Local Studies Centre,
The Wimbledon Park Heritage Trail has been created by the Wimbledon Park Heritage Group, with
support from various organisations and the Boroughs of Merton and Wandsworth. There are
posts at points with views/historic interest and you can pick up a (free) leaflet, with map, at
Library or the Wimbledon Society’s Museum. Or take a virtual stroll on www.wphg.demon.co.uk.
Kingston upon Thames Archaeological Society is organising a Multi-Period Archaeological
and Training Excavation at Tolworth Court Farm from 20 July to 25 August. Volunteers are
invited to apply,
and a training course is on offer. Peter Hopkins [address below] has copies of the application
TWO NEW PUBLICATIONS
Merton Historical Society’s latest publications scan the centuries.
Our Chairman, Lionel Green, has produced
Daughter Houses of Merton Priory, based on the
talk he gave to the Society in December 1999.
Profusely illustrated with plans, photographs,
drawings and tables, the book traces the spread of
Merton’s influence in England, Scotland and
Normandy, through the setting up Augustinian
communities at Taunton, Plympton, Canterbury,
Bodmin, Edinburgh, Cirencester, St Lô, Dover and
Christchurch within 33 years of the foundation of
Merton Priory beside the Wandle.
Lionel has been studying all aspects of Merton
Priory for over 50 years, and shares some of the
results of his studies in this excellent book.
36 pages, A5 format, £1.50 full price, £1.20 to
members, plus 35p postage & packing.
Available from Peter Hopkins, Publications
Our Treasurer, David Luff, brings us to the 20th
century with Trouble at Mill, A brief history of
the former Liberty Print Works site including
Textile Printing at Merton Printers Ltd (Libertys)
1965.1982. David started work at Merton Printers
Ltd in January 1965, and completed the last-ever
print-run at the Merton Abbey Works before it
closed in December 1982. In this book David traces
the early industrial history of the site, and then takes
us on a personal tour of the production processes,
introducing us to many of the personalities along
the way. This unique view .from the shop floor.
makes fascinating reading, and the abundance of
photographs, diagrams and plans complement the
52 pages, A4 format, £2.95 full price, £2.40 to
members, plus 55p postage & packing.
Letters and contributions for the Bulletin should be sent to the Hon. Editor.
The views expressed in this Bulletin are those of the contributors concerned
and not necessarily those of the Society or its Officers.
Printed by Peter Hopkins
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 142 . JUNE 2002 . PAGE 16