March 2005 – Bulletin 153
The Smith Tomb, St Mary’s Merton Park – D Muirhead
Return to ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Oct 2004 – T Kelley
The Knights Templar – L Green
Young & Co, Merton Abbey, in 1950s – J Pile
The Archbishopric of York 1139-1154 – L Green
Wandle in Literature: Leigh Hunt – J A Goodman
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. 153 CHAIRMAN: Peter Hopkins MARCH 2005
Saturday 5 March 2.30pm Martin Way Methodist Church Hall
.The Evolution of the English Manorial System.
A fully illustrated talk by Lieutenant-Colonel J W Molyneux-Child, himself a lord of the
manor. He will relate the story of the English manor from its beginnings, and describe how
some ancient traditions are kept alive today.
Martin Way Methodist Church is a 10-minute walk from Morden town centre.
It is on bus routes 164 and 413, and there is a car-park.
Saturday 9 April 2.30pm Mitcham Library Hall
‘sir Joseph William Bazalgette, engineer to the Metropolitan Board of Works.
Denis Smith will give an illustrated talk on the great Victorian engineer (who lived for many
years in Morden and Wimbledon), best known for his design and construction of London’s
Mitcham Library is in London Road and is served by many bus routes. There is a small car-park.
Thursday 26 May 1.30pm .Pleasure Gardens of Clerkenwell.
Sheila Miller, one of our members, who has made a special study of this aspect of
Clerkenwell’s history, will lead us on this walk. Numbers limited to 15. Please book your
place with Sheila. There is no charge. Meet outside Angel Underground Station.
Monday 13 June 11am Apsley House and Wellington Arch
This visit to two sites connected with the first Duke of Wellington includes
and slide show at the Wellington Arch. Please book your place with Sheila.
Costs £12 (adult), £10 (concession), £7 (English Heritage members); pay on the day.
Meet outside Apsley House, which is signposted from Hyde Park Corner Underground Station.
Saturday 9 July
Coach outing to Shaw’s Corner at Ayot St Lawrence, and Hatfield House
Please see enclosed information sheet and book directly with Ray Kilsby
The Society’s events are open to the general public, unless otherwise stated.
You are invited to make a donation to help with the Society’s running costs.
‘sHERLOCK HOLMES IN STREATHAM’
A large audience at Morden Baptist church on 4 December heard John
Brown, a member of both our Society and of the Streatham Society,
give an entertaining talk on this initially unlikely subject. But yes,
Holmes did go to Streatham, with Watson, and it was The Adventure
of the Beryl Coronet that took him there. A classic adventure it was
too, in which Holmes typically displayed a range of talents . mental
(.a very sweet little problem.), thespian (disguise .in the shape of a
loafer.) and physical (.I clapped a pistol to his head before he could
strike.). The story was first published in theStrand Magazine for May
1892, with illustrations by the incomparable Sidney Paget..
We were given a brief biographical sketch of Arthur Conan Doyle
(1859-1930), in which John reminded us that the author had lived at
Norwood for a time, where his house, 12 Tennison Road, bears a GLC
blue plaque, and he can be assumed to have known south London
reasonably well. Brixton, Norbury and Croydon feature in other stories.
John took us through the Beryl Coronet, which concerns, among other
characters, Alexander Holder, ‘senior partner in the second largest
private banking concern in the City of London., his son, his niece, a
man .without heart or conscience., .one of the highest, noblest and
most exalted names in England., and a one-legged greengrocer.
Holder’s house in Streatham was called Fairbank, and John went on to explain how, using clues
from the story,
he had turned detective in an effort to identify the banker and his house in the real Streatham
of the time. In his
account of his research he painted a picture of a fashionable and fast-growing suburb in the
last decades of the
19th century, with its new department store, new library and new town hall. Grandest of local
probably sugar magnate Henry Tate at Park Hill, but there were many smaller but substantial
even had names beginning with .Fair., though there was no Fairbank. But John came to the
William Matthew Coulthurst, senior partner in Coutts & Co, and his house Streatham Lodge, were
match to Holmes’s client Alexander Holder. The Coulthursts seem to have lived in style, and to
have been well
thought of locally. There is a large block of flats called Coulthurst Court as a reminder of
their presence in
Streatham. Sadly, their house, of which no pictures are known, was pulled down a century ago,
and, despite his
best efforts, John’s researches have failed so far to reveal a one-legged greengrocer in the
Streatham of the
This was an interesting and amusing lecture, which was thoroughly enjoyed by its audience. John
published a fully-illustrated booklet called Sherlock Holmes in Streatham, which is obtainable
for £3.50 plus
postage from Local History Publications.
The last talk in a programme put on by theMerton Multi-Cultural History Group is called .The
of Indian Design on William Morris.. It will be given by Di Reynolds, Manager of Morden
7.30pm on Monday 21 March, in the meeting room at Morden Library. All welcome.
The current exhibition atMerton Heritage Centre, The Canons, Madeira Road, Mitcham, is called
Ground. and looks at Mitcham Common, Wimbledon Common and Putney Heath. Admission free. Open
Tue/Wed 10-4; Fri/Sat 10-4.30. Tel: 020 8640 9387
The annual service of Nones will be held in the Chapter House of Merton Priory on Sunday 1 May
at 3pm. This service recalls the celebration on Ascension Day (3 May)1117 when the canons of
entered their new site by the Wandle. All are welcome.
The second Wandsworth Heritage Fortnight takes place from 28 May to 12 June, with exhibitions,
and talks. Further information on 020 8871 7074 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The National Archives, Kew, offer Behind the Scenes Tours every Saturday at 11am and 2pm. These
free, but booking is essential. Call 020 8876 3444.
One of Sidney Paget’s illustrations toThe Adventure of the Beryl Coronet.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 153 . MARCH 2005 . PAGE 2
.THE HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE LONDON UNDERGROUND.
We may complain about the London Underground system, and at times it may seem very antiquated,
but it is
undeniably a major means of mass transport around the capital. Members and friends of the
Society were given
an excellent survey of its history and development in a talk by Neil Lloyd at out January
The Underground system had its origins over 140 years ago, when City solicitor Charles Pearson
an underground railway .to relieve the congestion of London streets.. The scheme which
was a steam operated underground railway nearly four miles long between Farringdon Street and
Road, Paddington, to link three mainline railway termini, Paddington (Great Western), Euston
North Western) and Kings Cross (Great Northern). Roads were dug up and the railway tunnel was
by the .cut and cover. principle. Construction commenced in 1860 and was completed very
quickly, in two and
a half years. The line was built with a mixed gauge, the (now) standard gauge of 4ft 8½in and
gauge of 7ft 0¼in, both gauges using a common rail on the platform side.
The North Metropolitan Railway was opened on 10 January 1863 and used Great Western broad gauge
stock. However there was a disagreement with the GWR, who withdrew its support at short notice
August 1863, and the Metropolitan had to call upon the Great Northern, who provided standard
stock. The broad gauge line was subsequently removed.
The North Metropolitan Railway did not go out to the fast developing suburbs of west London,
and so, within
a couple of years, the Metropolitan District Railway Co. was set up, and a line between South
Westminster was opened in 1868. It was soon extended eastward to Blackfriars as part of the
the Victoria Embankment. To the west, the Metropolitan Railway was extended from Paddington to
Hammersmith Broadway, and the District countered by running trains to Richmond (1877) and to
(1889). Extensions to the country towns were built, and the Metropolitan Railway was extended
to Pinner and then to Rickmansworth, and finally to Chesham in 1889.
South of the river, the London & South Western Railway Co. wished to get its passengers from
its terminus at
Waterloo into the City, and so the Waterloo & City Railway (known in later years as .the
Drain.!) was opened
in 1898. A little earlier, in 1890, the City & South London Railway opened a deep tunnelled
line from King
William Street to Stockwell, and this was extended southwards to Clapham Common and northwards
in 1900. On 13 September 1926 the City & South London Railway was extended from Clapham Common
Morden, and the .West End. branch came into use, linking from a junction at Kennington to an
between the Strand (now Embankment) and Highgate.
Although a number of railway companies combined to form the Underground Electric Railways Co.
and others formed the London Electric Railway in 1910, all of London’s underground railways
control of London Passenger Transport Board on 13 April 1933, and the names of the lines as we
today came into general use.
It is interesting to note that although the Victoria Line came into being in 1968 and the
Jubilee Line only a few
years ago, each of them used many miles of existing tracks. The last totally new line on the
system was the Bakerloo Line, opened in 1907 . nearly a century ago!
THE MIZENS OF MITCHAM
Groundwork Merton are currently developing an educational project on the Mizen family and the
market gardening in Mitcham. They aim to work with two primary schools in Mitcham as part of
their study of
Victorian Britain, and hope to produce resources for use by other local schools and by the
wider local community.
A key part of the project will be the recording of Oral Histories, and they are looking for
people willing to
share their memories. They also need people willing to help with the interviewing, as well as
those with experience in this kind of work. Volunteers are also needed for a Steering Group.
If you can help in any way, please contact Mary-Ann Anagnostu at Groundwork Merton, Morden
Morden Hall Park, Morden Hall Road. This is a project deserving the support of our Society.
Mrs C Stokes, a former member of the Society, has for sale a copy, in excellent condition, of
of Merton Priory (OUP 1898), for which she is asking £25.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 153 . MARCH 2005 . PAGE 3
.BRICKWORK IN SURREY TO 1850’
Ian West, a building surveyor by profession, with a special interest in old buildings, spoke to
audience at Mitcham Library on 5 February. In a chronological survey of the subject he began
right at the
beginning, telling us that he had been part of the team which excavated the large Roman
brickworks at Ashtead.
There are Roman bricks incorporated into the fabric of both Ashtead and Bookham churches. After
a lapse of
many centuries brickmaking began again in England, at first in East Anglia, with technology
imported by the
13th century from the Continent.
In Surrey, which, by contrast, had some reasonably good building-stone and plentiful timber,
there was no
significant brickmaking before the 15th century. Bishop Waynflete’s tower at Farnham Castle has
of 1470-75. We heard that bricks were normally made on site, so brick buildings would only have
in places where clay was at or near the surface. The work would be done by travelling
journeymen. The clay
was dug out in the autumn and left to weather in the winter frosts before being moulded into
shape and fired in
clamps . stacks of green bricks. Inevitably there was uneven firing, resulting in a range of
different colours, but
these could be put to effective use in patterns.
From the 16th century we were shown views of Sutton Place, which has very good decorative
detail in terra
cotta, that specialised form of .baked earth. made from extremely fine sieved clay fired to at
The Whitgift Hospital in Croydon, 1596-7, is a fine, if sober,
example of its period. But brick was genuinely smart. It is significant
that Ham House, dating originally from c.1610, continued to be
improved and embellished in brick by the ultra-rich and ultra-
fashionable Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale in the 1670s. The
Dutch House at Kew, from the 1630s, was the first building in this
country to use Flemish bond (though not the first to have Dutch
Ian also showed us a number of slides of Surrey farmhouses from the 17th century, including
Abinger, which has very decorative brickwork . though only on the .public. façade – and
.galleting., chips of
stone pushed into the mortar, a typical Surrey feature. Sometimes, as tastes changed, early
brickwork has been
concealed by later rendering, as at Coombe Hill farmhouse of 1651-2. Ian admitted that the 17th
century was his
favourite period for brickwork, especially the exuberant baroque decoration popular then. North
is a place to see brick mullions and transoms (1635-50), and Godalming High Street has
decorative gables and
moulded bricks of a little later. He explained that fancy bricks were made in shaped moulds,
but further (expensive)
detail could be produced by carving.
Three fine buildings from the early 18th century are Epsom’s assembly rooms, rescued from
neglect and now a
Wetherspoon’s pub, Croydon’s Wrencote and Mitcham’s Eagle House. Well House, Ewell, of the same
was one of the buildings we were shown that had gauged brickwork. Ian explained how fine
smoothed so exactly that scarcely any mortar separates them, are used above windows or to frame
a niche oe
though sometimes this appearance was achieved with a false coating.
He pointed out, with the example of a house in Chobham, how clues to extensions and alterations
to a house can
be picked up by looking closely at the brickwork
In the 18th century yellow became the fashionable colour for brick. Ashley House in Epsom, for
instance, has its
front in yellow brick, and its sides in the, by then, less fashionable red. By Regency times
red brick was
completely out of style. Typical of the date are a row of yellow stock villas in Leatherhead.
Finally, stepping just out of the period of
his title, we were shown some Victorian Rat-Trap bond.
This used fewer bricks to reach
polychromy in the Hautboy at Ockham, a
building which also displays rat-trap
bonding . that is, Flemish bond but with
the bricks laid on edge instead of on bed.
Altogether this talk explored a fascinating
subject, and was an encouragement to look
at buildings with an alert eye. Perhaps Ian
will pay a return visit with the other half
of his subject . tiles.
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
a given height, and is therefore
cheaper than other bonds.
Illustrations taken from
R W BRUNSKILL
Brick Building in
London 1990, p.91
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 153 . MARCH 2005 . PAGE 4
THE SMITH TOMB, St MARY’s PARISH CHURCH, MERTON PARK
Mrs Dawn Muirhead, a member of this Society, is co-ordinating fundraising efforts for repairing
this important tomb. She writes:
Resting against the outer walls of the chancel and vestry
of St Mary’s is the tomb of Merton’s other admiral, Rear
Admiral Isaac Smith. Smith was a near neighbour of
Nelson and Lady Hamilton, but lived on many years after
Nelson’s death, spending his summers at Abbey Gate
House (now demolished) with his brother Charles. Their
first cousin once removed, Mrs Elizabeth Cook, widow
of navigator James Cook, often stayed with them. Isaac
Smith’s hatchment hangs in the church alongside those
of Nelson and Sir William Hamilton. Mrs Cook paid for
the marble monument in the church which commemorates
the Smith brothers, their nephew Isaac Cragg Smith, and
his wife Caroline (née Wyatt).
Isaac Smith joined the Navy in 1766 aged 13, when he
served on Cook’s ship Grenville, and impressed Cook
with his mapping ability in the survey of Newfoundland.
He then went on Cook’s first and second voyages to the
southern hemisphere, between 1768 and 1775. On 28
April 1770, when still only 16, Smith, on the command
.You first, Isaac. from Cook, jumped onto the Australian
shore, and the Union flag was planted, claiming Australia
for King George III, although of course others, such as
the buccaneer Dampier, had been before him, mapping
Smith later fought in the West Indies and also served in the East India Station. He retired on
health grounds in
1807 and died in 1831.
The tomb is now in urgent need of conservation, and St Mary’s would be very grateful for
Grants have already been received from the Council and from several Trusts. All contributions
acknowledged. Please send them to St Mary’s Treasurer.
Cheques should be made payable to PCC of St Mary’s, Merton.
A RECIPROCAL ARRANGEMENT
Once a year in July Pat and Ray Kilsby organise a day out by coach for Merton Historical
Society. These trips
cost no more than about £20 or £25, and include a meal. Ray and Pat take care of all payments,
such as entry fee
to museums etc, and the coach driver’s tip. So all we have to do is sit back and enjoy the day
Unfortunately the MHS cannot fill a coach, and to offset what would otherwise be a loss to the
Society, or a
cancelled trip, the vacant seats are offered to the Kilsbys. branch of the WEA. A reciprocal
event occurred in
August 2004 when a number of seats were offered to MHS members, unsold on one of the WEA trips.
MHS members responded, and saved the day.
These trips are very time-consuming to organise. You need an itinerary that will appeal, and be
attractive price range. Pat and Ray do the trip they have planned, to note how long it takes,
and how accessible,
and not too tiring, as some of us are not as young and fit as we were. They try out venues for
comfort stops and
for the meal. Finally comes the real headache, and that is getting persons onto seats, and at
Pat and Ray’s prices
that means every single seat. Ray also likes to have a reserve list of people who don’t mind
stepping in at the last
minute, as he does a full refund for a no-show.
I can personally recommend Pat and Ray’s trips and can guarantee a very enjoyable day out. Also
up to now Pat
(Ray gives her the credit) has provided perfect weather for us . just how, she keeps tight-
[The details of this year’s trip for the Society are enclosed with this Bulletin.]
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
The Smith tomb at St Mary, Merton,
drawn by Simon Muirhead
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 153 . MARCH 2005 . PAGE 5
LOCAL HISTORY WORKSHOPS
Friday 19 November 2004. Six present. Judith Goodman in the chair.
!!!!!Eric Montague had been contacted by Nicholas Hart (Wandle Industrial Museum) about alleged
for development on the site of the early 18th-century Ravensbury calico-printing works.
Enquiries by ENM
at the Planning Department of LB Merton had not confirmed this, but he had provided Nicholas
with a copy
of notes on the site’s history. [It was later found that the council proposes to rebuild the
derelict café fronting
Morden Road to include living accommodation and a doctor’s surgery.]
!!!!!Peter Hopkins distributed copies of pages from the proposed MHS website. He also reported
on a manorial
workshop held at Woking, and a new manorial documents register. Of considerable potential value
historians were records at the British Library and elsewhere relating to the manor of Morden
c.1379 and 1555; to the manors of Ravensbury and of Biggin and Tamworth; Tudor rent rolls for
Morden; and a custumal and and a rental for the manor of Mitcham Canons from the reign of
Peter drew attention to David Bird’s recent book Roman Surrey, containing references of local
!!!!!Bill Rudd’s correspondence with Australia and New Zealand descendants of the Howard and
(calico printers) of Morden and Mitcham continues.
!!!!!Lionel Green has received several slides of Mitcham and Morden taken by Mike Nethersole in
Passed to Judith Goodman and ENM. Lionel’s A Priory Revealed (i.e. Merton Priory) is in
for publication. He concluded with a sometimes amusing account of the appointment of a
Thurstan, the 12th-century archbishop of York [see pages 15-16].
!!!!!ENM passed to Wandle Industrial Museum for safekeeping Compass Archaeology’s report on
their work at
Grove Mill, Mitcham, early in 2004.
A family historian researching the Rosiers (mid-19th-century licensees of the Three Kings pub
has been supplied with copies of illustrations and information, and ENM has contacted Mary-Ann
(Groundwork Merton), hoping to provide her with information on herb growers and market
!!!!!Judith Goodman passed round a number of early postcards of local scenes, which she
from John Gent. They included one of The Grange, Morden, when it was a military hospital. She
meeting with an account of Gilliat Edward Hatfeild’s attempt in 1916 to regain vacant
possession of Ivy
Lodge, in Morden Hall Road, to use it as a home for nurses.
E N Montague
Postmarked 1907, the year in which
Wimbledon saw its first trams, this
view looks up Merton Road.
A LUT tram is swinging round from
Merton High Street. It advertises
Skewes. store in Wimbledon, as well
as Sandown Park Races.
Friday 28 January 2005: Seven present. Cyril Maidment in the chair
Cyril Maidment asked if anyone knew why the Bazalgette family took over the mausoleum in
churchyard built for John Anthony Rucker. No one present knew, though possible explanations
Cyril then showed us a number of maps which he has produced. For the Nelson Bicentenary
has provided a local Nelson Trail, and a full-colour map of Merton Place and its environs. He
has also been
working on a copy of the 1805 map of the neighbouring Merton Abbey estate. Bill Rudd offered a
copy of his
transcript of the 1802 Survey of Merton Abbey.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 153 . MARCH 2005 . PAGE 6
Sheila Harris was intrigued by the illustration of Merton Priory on the Mayor’s
Christmas card. It is a section of a window installed in 2002 at St John Fisher church in
Cannon Hill Lane, Merton. She has obtained the following information from the
window’s creator, Leslie A Huitson:
The design brief has been to depict St Thomas Becket in one panel, and to suggest a
visualization of Merton Priory (known locally as Merton Abbey) in panel two. St Thomas
has important connections with Merton having studied at the priory for many years.
The overall scheme of the new stained glass is to blend harmoniously with the existing
windows (also designed by the artist) and those in the lower panels featuring the Stations of
the Cross. An almost medieval approach to the windows has been applied from drawing
board to installation, this being pertinent to the life and times of St Thomas and the history
of the Priory.
Saint Thomas is depicted bearing a cross. To the left of the figure is a writing desk, on top
of which is an open book suggesting the importance of study both ecclesiastical and secular.
The book is inscribed with the words .into your hands O Lord I commend my spirit. these
being the Saint’s last words as he was brutally murdered in Canterbury Cathedral. The fleur
de Lyes which appear in the window are symbols of his French origins and the time spent in
France by St Thomas.
The two coloured windows incorporated within the window have two tiny roundels of glass
depicting two angels inscribed with .Laetabitur Justus., as sung at the requiem of the saint.
Below the writing desk are images of four swords, an inverted crown, and a branch of
twigs; all symbolic of the Knights who murdered St Thomas, and of the subsequent remorse
and public penance of King Henry II who unwittingly instigated the deed.
The Merton Priory panel has been delicately drawn in a medieval style, the perspective
attempting to magnify the importance and standing of the once vast and holy construction
of Catholic Merton. The inscription is joined by the figures of two monks; the surrounding
areas of glass loosely suggesting the outlying rural and monastic environment that was
Eric Montague reported on an English Heritage review of the Greater London
Archaeology Advisory Service and the Greater London Sites & Monuments Record.
He will keep us informed. Eric had also been able to help Sarah Gould with an enquiry
from a former resident of Mitcham, now living in New Zealand.
Sarah had also asked via Judith Goodman for any information about artist Charles
Edward Flower, born in Merton in 1871, probably son of Walter Louis Flower of 8
Fairlawn Villas, Kingston Road. Anything known?
Judy had confirmed, from the baptism registers of St James Piccadilly, that Caroline
Smith, commemorated on the Smith monument in St Mary, Merton, was a sister of
its sculptor, Richard James Wyatt. She also spoke briefly about the famous recusant
Sir Thomas Tresham, who was accused in 1587 of harbouring seminary priests at a
house of his in Mitcham.
Peter Hopkins had obtained from the National Archives a copy of a Merton rental dating to 1547
had helped him to identify some elusive properties in Merton. Two documents which the Manorial
Register ascribes to the manor of Mitcham Canons were found to relate to other properties.
Peter had also been
in correspondence with Peter McGow of Croydon, who is researching the history of the various
mill sites on
the Wandle from previously unused sources. A document of 1595, supplied by Dave Saxby via Cyril
may provide a clue to the origins of the straight cut which served .Merton Mill. in Wimbledon.
Lionel Green read a paper on the Knights Templar and their links with Merton (see p.9). He also
some possible illustrations for his forthcoming book on Merton Priory.
Bill Rudd has had further correspondence with the descendants of Richard Howard, in Australia
Zealand. They sent a photograph of Bill by Howard’s tomb in Morden churchyard. Bill has also
an enquirer whose house in Love Lane, Morden, was hit by a parachute mine in 1941.
Dates of next workshops: Fridays 18 March and 13 May at 7.30pm at Wandle Industrial Museum.
All are welcome to attend.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 153 . MARCH 2005 . PAGE 7
TOM KELLEY, who gave us in December 2003 a lively talk on .Merton in Wartime., describes his
RETURN TO ‘s-HERTOGENBOSCH, OCTOBER 2004
In October 1944 I was in the 53rd Welsh Division. We had advanced to the river opposite Arnhem,
relieve the 1st Airborne Division. As a result of the failure to take the bridge, we were in a
very narrow corridor,
which we had to enlarge. Our divisional task was to attack the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and
this started on 22
October, my 20th birthday. My uncle worked for the publication Blighty, and he sent me a bundle
bound together, about an inch thick, which arrived just as we set out. I put them in the front
of my battle dress,
as armour, and to read later. My regiment, the 1st Oxf. & Bucks. Lt. Infty., were to clear the
the town. The battle lasted until 27 October.
The 53rd Div. Association has returned annually to commemorate the battle, but this October,
the 60th anniversary,
was the first time I have gone back, and the first time I have actually been into the town. My
wife and I went
over Monday to Saturday to join about 80 Liberators, as we were described, and their
companions. We had four
busy days, starting with a boat trip on the canals. These are 500 years old, but have been
renovated in the years
to 1985. When someone wanted a house they erected a bridge over the canal and built the house
on it. We were
given badges with our names on them, and .Liberator., which were passports to the city.
Our coach took us to various memorials, then to lunch in the Town Hall, in the evening to a
large church for a
concert with the local choir and the Chepstow Male Voice Choir. It was crowded. The next
morning we were in
the cathedral, once again packed with veterans and local people. The children came to the altar
with a poppy
cross for each of the 144 soldiers killed, as their names were read out. A Requiem for World
War II, which had
been composed by a local woman, was sung in English, followed by Going Home. We were clapped by
standing audience as we left to walk to the Town Hall, through crowds of clapping people, many
wanted to shake hands. Each of us was given two separate red roses and a flower arrangement.
When we got to
the Town Hall there was another lunch, and we were given copies of the local paper, containing
pictures of each of us. All of this appeared on Dutch TV and TV Wales. To a service in a war
many of our dead were buried, a photo opportunity for a book being written about the battle,
then an evening at
Heineken’s brewery, unlimited food and drink. I had three glasses of orange juice. Then a
Friday to a War Museum, and in the evening a splendid concert, with wartime songs and newsreel
liberation. We were each presented with a medal. Much of these events I have recorded on my
woman in the party had come from Australia, and wanted to meet someone who knew how her father
when she was 19 months old. He was our commanding officer, and I had seen him a few minutes
before he was
A most memorable but exhausting time.
We were very sad to learn that Audrey Thomas, who had been a loyal and active member for many
died suddenly, on 28 December. She joined the Committee for the first time in 1970, and, after
Honorary Treasurer for three years in the 1980s, she was in the chair for two years. Then,
death of her husband, she took on his job as editor of theBulletin for a time. Finally in 1993
-4 she held the
fort again as Honorary Treasurer. Audrey, a professional librarian, was very well-informed, and
lively mind. Those who heard her delightful talk on the Furzedown Estate after our last AGM
her infectious enthusiasm for one of her favourite subjects. Audrey had a brisk tongue, but a
and I particularly recall the warm welcome she gave to new members.
Cecil (.Bill.) Sole died just before Christmas. He had been a member for many years, and served
Committee for a while in the 1990s. Bill used to be our representative on LAMAS, and also
the post of Membership Secretary. Although he had not attended events for some years we
past support with gratitude.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 153 . MARCH 2005 . PAGE 8
LIONEL GREEN tells the story of the KNIGHTS TEMPLAR
This was an international and military order arising out of the Crusades. The Templars amassed
great wealth and
became international bankers. Henry II gave them sufficient money to pay for 200 knights for a
year in the Holy
Land in expiation for Becket’s murder.
At the beginning of the 14th century king Philippe IV of France found the Templars arrogant and
unruly but rich.
He decided to join the order as a postulant but was rejected. In 1303 and 1304 two popes
(Boniface VIII and Benedict XI). King Philippe was successful in securing the election of his
own candidate, the
archbishop of Bordeaux, to the papacy and he became Clement V in 1305.
In 1306 the newly elected pope asked the prior of Merton and the archdeacon of old St Paul’s,
London, to settle a
dispute involving the Knights Templar and the monks of Sele priory (near Upper Beeding, Sussex)
concerning certain possessions, tithes, returns and other things..1 The pope’s commissioners,
the prior and
archdeacon, duly summoned the prior and monks of Sele to appear before them. It was agreed that
Sele would not
claim tithes of the parish of Shipley and that if a monk of Sele performed divine service in
the chapel of Shipley
called Cnappe (Knebb), he would pay obventions (occasional dues) to Shipley church and receive
(30p) from the Templars. .The respective seals of the commissioners and the signature of the
parties were set
thereto..2 One wonders why the pope was involved.
In 1306 in both London and Paris there were murmurs about the Templars. alleged vices and
Philippe issued sealed and secret orders to his seneschals throughout France, which were to be
and implemented at dawn on Friday 13 October 1307. All Templars in France were seized and
placed under arrest
by the king’s men, and their goods confiscated. In Paris and other parts of France knights were
burned at the stake.
In England and Wales in 1308, there were 165 Templars . six knights, 41 chaplains and 118
(mostly former knights). Their gross annual revenue was £4,720. In Surrey they owned the manors
Merrow(one third), Temple Elfold and Wychyflet in Southwark.3
On 20 December 1307 the sheriffs of England were instructed by Letters Close to arrest all
members of the Order
.on the Wednesday next after Epiphany in the morning. (8 January 1308), and to take inventories
possessions.4 In September 1308 Walter de Geddinges, sheriff of Surrey, held an inquisition at
John de Foxly.5 Templars were sent to the castles of London, Lincoln, York and Dublin.
Judicial papal enquiries began in London on Monday 20 October 1309. The inquisitors included
plus the pope’s French chaplain. The enquiry elicited nothing derogatory, and the Grand Master
of the Templars
in England refused to admit to any crimes. He was kept in the Tower .confined with double
irons.,6 but did not
long survive this treatment. Six Templars were convicted in July 1311, but given light
sentences and sent to
monasteries as a penance.
In 1311 pope Clement held a church council in Vienne, south of Lyons. On 8 September the prior
of Merton wrote
to him stating that three canons from Thornton, Cirencester and Waltham would be his proctors
at the council.7
This met on 1 October and demanded the suppression of the Order of Knights Templar. This was
dissolved by a bull published 15 August 1312 and their possessions confiscated. The papal bull
was never proclaimed
in Scotland and many French Templars made their way there and fought for Scotland in 1314,
helping to defeat the
English at Bannockburn.
One English Templar, Stephen de Stapelbrigg, was delivered to Merton priory to do penance in
1312 whilst the
king ordered Henry de Cobham, keeper of the Templars. lands in Surrey, to provide a maintenance
fourpence (2p) per day.8 At his examination on 23 June 1311, Stapelbrigg stated that he had
been made to spit
upon the cross and to deny the Saviour and the Virgin.9 Later, he escaped from Merton and was
Salisbury. He was sent to London where he was examined in 1319 and finally sent to Christchurch
(now Dorset) to do penance.
In the 1320s another Templar, Thomas Totty (or Tolly) was sent to end his days at Merton.10
After Edward II had taken his pick, he transferred their possessions in 1323 to the Knights
Hospitaller of St John.
1 A Heales Records of Merton Priory OUP 1898 p.197
2 Heales p.198
3 Bermondsey priory held the superior rights. Surrey Archaeological Collections 16 (1901) p.561
4 Close Roll Cal. pp.14,49; Surrey Archaeological Collections 22 (1909) pp.156/7
5 Surrey Archaeological Collections 22 (1909) p.157
6 Sussex Archaeological Collections 9 (1857) p.274
7 Heales p.207
8 Heales p.212; VCH 2 p.98
9 Sussex Archaeological Collections 9 (1857) p.272
10 VCH 2 p.98; Bull of pope John XXII
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 153 . MARCH 2005 . PAGE 9
JOHN PILE recalls LIFE AT YOUNG & COMPANY (WESTMINSTER) LTD,
MERTON ABBEY, IN THE 1950s
I cannot recall how I got to hear, exactly 50 years ago, in the winter of 1954, that Young &
Limited required a junior draughtsman, but, having been working for an air-conditioning company
Anne’s Gate for little more than a year, I decided, at the tender age of 17, that I had had
enough of rush-hour
travel on the Tube from Morden to St James’s Park, and it would be much nicer to cycle the two
miles to work
when the weather permitted. I applied for the position at Young’s, and I was asked to attend an
Mr Brown, one of the directors of the company, at his home in Stratton Road, off Kenley Road,
Joshua Brown was a formal, but genial, man of between 60 and 70 years of age. He was a lively
and quite short, having short grey hair and a bristly grey moustache. Invariably dressed in a
brown tweed three-
piece suit and brown brogue shoes, Mr Brown possessed the appearance of a country landowner
rather than a
director of a small engineering works in Merton. This impression was supported by the sight, in
his small study,
of several fox-hunting directories together with other evidence of rural interests. I liked Mr
Brown, and I was
pleased to be offered the position by letter a few days later.
The contrast between the modern appearance and bustling efficiency of the Carrier Engineering
Queen Anne’s Gate and the faded splendour of Young & Company’s premises in High Path, Merton,
hardly have been greater. According to the company’s letter-head, the business had been
established in 1875,
presumably in Westminster, and it had moved to SW19 in the early 1920s. A letter from Young’s
by Merton and Morden Urban District Council on 21 July 1919 when the company was seeking to buy
the junction of Abbey Road and High Path on which to build its new offices and workshops. These
subsequently occupied a narrow wedge of land between High Path and the single-track railway
Wimbledon and Tooting Junction. This line, like Young’s, has now gone, and has been replaced by
Way. I cannot now be certain, but I believe that goods dispatched from Young’s by rail were
taken to Merton
The Young’s buildings consisted of an office block constructed from asbestos sheets above a
range of showrooms
built with breezeblocks and covered with roughcast. Adjoining these to the west were the
with a small office for the works manager, an open-fronted forge, and storage racks for the
mostly galvanized steel tubes and a variety of steel sections. The exterior of the offices was
distinctive both for
its appearance of .timber-framing., which was constructed from flat strips of wood fastened
over the joins in
the asbestos cladding, and for the window running the length of the internal gallery that gave
access to the
various offices inside the building. The expanse of glass was obviously a temptation for
children to throw
stones, and all the windows were covered with wire mesh guards.
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
Bird’s eye view of Young’s
works, from an undated
(courtesy Merton Library
The ground floor showroom was carefully designed to display the complete range of Young’s
in their catalogue of cowhouse, piggery and stable fittings; and even the showroom windows were
of the metal
.hopper. type used to illuminate and ventilate the various types of buildings. For many years
Young’s had been
leaders in their field, and even during the first decade of post-war Britain they had few
serious rivals. The
equipment offered by Young’s in the 1950s had changed very little in design or quality since
the end of the
Great War, and the malleable iron castings, produced by a foundry at Halstead in Essex,
continued to be made
from the same wooden .patterns.. There was an important reason why Young’s had few competitors
time. During the war years, British farmers had been given every encouragement by the
government to produce
as much of the nation’s food as possible, but there was little money or raw materials available
to replace farm
equipment that was not regarded as essential, and this situation changed only gradually after
1947. Slowly, as
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 153 . MARCH 2005 . PAGE 10
The Site of Young’s Cowhouse and Stable Works at Merton Abbey, from the
1:1250 Ordnance Survey map 1952 (courtesy Merton Library Service)
circumstances improved, landowners and tenant farmers began to invest in new and replacement
but fashions and practices were changing, and some of the equipment that had been pioneered by
had formed the basis of their business, was becoming outmoded. Young’s continued to receive
orders . some of
them quite substantial . for their standard cowhouse fittings, but the anticipated post-war
boom failed to
materialize. Despite the post-war popularity of pig-keeping, particularly with ex-servicemen
eager to find a
lucrative career in .Civvy Street., sales of piggery equipment never picked up. .Horsiculture.
had not yet
arrived, and orders for stable equipment were rare indeed. In order to survive, Young’s clearly
had to diversify.
During my time at Young’s, the total workforce remained at between ten and twelve, and this
divided between the office and the workshop. There were four of us in the upstairs offices. The
was Ted Tomlin, and he and an office-boy worked in the main office at the back of the building,
railway line, where, twice a day, as I recollect, their routine was enlivened by the appearance
of a heavy goods
train hauled by a steam locomotive. At that time there was very little building to the south,
between the railway
and Morden Hall Park, except the Lombard Road factory estate. To the south-east, an avenue of
partially hid Liberty’s works, and the corrugated bleaching grounds still showed clearly
through the rough
grass. The scene was almost rural. Inside the principal office, the space in front of the long
the railway line was occupied by a long, high, wooden desk with a sloping top made from thick
dark oak boards.
The flat top at the back of the desk was fitted with two horizontal brass rails running the
length of the desk and
supported on short brass columns. This was a shelf on which ledgers were once rested. There
were about six
sections to the desk, each with a hinged lid, but these had long since ceased to accommodate
pens, rulers and
blotting-paper, and they now held drills, files, welding-rods, saw blades, and many other items
valuable to be kept in the workshop. The modern occupants of the main office might occasionally
of its former life by the persistence of cylindrical ebony rulers, heavy glass inkwells, a
press, and other such office bygones.
The desk I have described came from the company’s Westminster office, when its customers
included the like
of the top-hatted gentleman farmer depicted on the front cover of the catalogue against the
background of his
Victorian model farm. In the 1950s Young’s supported but one lady secretary-cum-ledger-clerk,
who still used a steel pen and red and blue-black inks to enter the details and value of the
orders into large half-
leather-bound ledgers. The secretary’s office, which was the warmest room in the building,
adjoined an unheated
room in which the ledgers were stored on stout wooden shelves. Those ledgers went back to the
origins of the
company, and their contents would have told the story and charted the fortunes of the firm over
a period of some
80 years. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to look at them in any detail.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 153 . MARCH 2005 . PAGE 11
I worked alone in a small office . the drawing office . that overlooked the yard of a works
coloured light bulbs. It was my job to provide the drawings that accompanied the quotations .
equipment as it would appear when installed on the customer’s premises. Usually, however, one
of the many
standard drawings, finely executed in Indian ink on blue linen many years earlier, could be
utilized for this
purpose. The most interesting work I was given was to design and make detailed drawings of new
from which the foundry could make the patterns for the castings, or the workshop could
fabricate the designs in
mild steel. One of the lines that Young’s had developed successfully some years before I
arrived was tubular
steel pedestrian guard railing, with panels sometimes filled with either welded or woven wire
examples of guard railing, with the distinctive tee-clamp and elbow castings bearing the name
relief, could be seen in towns all over the country. I have said that Young’s had to diversify
in order to survive
in the post-war years, and this involved the fabrication, sometimes from clients. own drawings,
from our own designs, of a wide range of builders. ironwork, as well as steel sinks for hotel
and works kitchens.
In addition to drawing, I was often given the job of preparing estimates, especially for the
fabricated work, and
this involved calculating the quantities of materials required, and consulting the works
manager as to the estimated
time for production. It was always of great interest to me to compare the estimated time with
the actual time
taken on some of these jobs, as unforeseen problems would sometimes result in a loss. This was
always a very
real danger when taking on new and unfamiliar work.
The other rooms above the showrooms included the Board Room. This was relatively well, but not
furnished. It had a large Persian carpet on the floor, a roll-top desk, and a large table in
the centre of the room,
used only when the two directors met, probably no more than four times a year. The other
director was a lady
who lived at Coulsdon, I believe, and on board meeting days it was Ted’s job to go off in a
ancient, car to fetch her. I remember once the office boy telling Ted about the advantages of
.modern. cars that
were smarter, cheaper to run, and more reliable! Mr Brown would also arrive, on board meeting
days, at about
the same time as the lady director, and after the meeting, at about noon, they would go off
together to lunch, as
I supposed. Mr Brown sometimes appeared at the offices by himself, occasionally to discuss
ideas for new
equipment, for which he would ask me to produce the working drawings. Very infrequently Mr
Brown and I
visited a customer together, usually one of the wealthier clients on his farm in Berkshire or
Sussex, but most
farm visits were for the purpose of measuring-up, and these were generally made in the company
One of the rooms contained big brown paper parcels of catalogues. The .large catalogue. was a
book printed on art paper and bound in stiff board covers. This contained comprehensive details
of the complete range of Young’s farm equipment including the cowhouse equipment, and the
stable fittings. A thinner catalogue excluded the stable fittings, and this was the one most
frequently sent to
prospective customers, although it was in the process of being superseded by a more up-to-date
paper covers listing only the more popular items. The half-tone blocks from which the catalogue
had been printed were also kept, and these were occasionally re-used to illustrate
advertisements in the magazine
of the Country Gentlemen’s Association, and trade journals such as Dairy Farmer and Farmer and
Half-tone blocks were expensive to produce, and when new illustrations were needed the
was done in the drawing office. The blocks for these line illustrations were called .zincos.,
being made on zinc
plates by an acid etching process.
The print-room equipment at Young’s was positively primitive compared with the continuous
I had been accustomed to at Carrier’s, which produced prints with black or blue lines on a
The old-fashioned blueprint process still in use at Young’s produced copies with white lines on
a blue background.
The machine was most definitely an antique. It consisted of a large vertical cast-iron-framed
about 2ft in diameter and 4ft 6in tall, down the centre of which descended a carbon arc lamp
whose speed was
regulated by a butterfly governor mounted on the wall. Light sensitive paper was placed over
the drawing that
had been made on translucent tracing paper or linen, and both were secured against the outer
surface of the
cylinder, and exposed to the light of the arc lamp. The image was fixed by washing the print in
a large, shallow
zinc-lined bath of cold water. The blueprint was then hung over a rack to dry.
In accordance with long-established tradition, the workshop started an hour before the office
staff arrived at 9
am and continued until 5 or 5.30, the office having closed at 4.30. Will Tomlin, Ted’s brother,
workshop and, considering the almost complete absence of modern machinery, even by 1950s
the Victorian office methods, the pair ran the day-to-day business of the firm with commendable
Working conditions in both office and workshop were poor, even by the rather bleak standards of
During the winter, when the only source of heat in the main workshop was a single coke-burning
in the middle of the floor, the cold could become intolerable, and although the stove might
glow from top to
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 153 . MARCH 2005 . PAGE 12
bottom with a dull red heat, those working only a few yards from it would receive very little
benefit and would
be obliged to come up closer every now and then to warm up. The favourite job in cold weather
when the iron was heated on a hand-operated forge. Winter in the office was not much more
was little, if any, insulation in the building construction, and the only heat was from radiant
electric fires, relics,
one suspected, of the company’s earliest days in Merton.
Mild steel was virtually the only material used at Young’s, and this was supplied by one of the
stockholders. Galvanized mild steel tubing was used for all the cowhouse fittings, including
the stalls and
yokes, for the stockyard railings, pens and gates, and for the pedestrian guard railing. The
tubing was formed to
the required shape using a hand-operated hydraulic tube-bender capable of handling material up
to two inches
in diameter. Mild steel sheet was folded by means of hand-operated machines, and most of the
operations were performed by hand at the bench. The only powered machines that I recollect were
a saw, and two grinders, one portable and the other mounted on a bench. Considerable quantities
of chains were
used, purchased directly from the manufacturers, Eliza Tinsley, at Cradley Heath in the West
cutting and welding could be done in the workshop, the gas cylinders being supplied by the
Oxygen Company nearby. Arc-welding was the more usual method, and an experienced welder was an
member of the workforce. Most of the equipment and fittings supplied by Young’s were galvanized
by a specialist
company whose lorry called regularly to collect and return the work. Occasionally, parts of a
large order that
involved, for example, stainless steel or aluminium, might be subcontracted. Young’s had no
transport of its
own, and large, heavy orders were dispatched by hired vehicles. Smaller parcels and sacks of
fittings went by
goods train. A permanent overhead gantry spanned the access to the works, to which a block-
attached when heavy loads had to be lifted.
Young’s exhibited at some of the nearer agricultural shows, but the most productive in terms of
received was the annual Dairy Show at Olympia. The equipment to be exhibited was taken up in
advance by a
local removal firm, and two or three men went up to erect the stand and fit the equipment. The
generally manned by two of the office staff, often Ted and myself. It was a tedious job, and
the slowly passing
hours were relieved only by the opportunity to talk to visitors and to wander around the hall
looking at the other
stands, whilst the other man held the fort.
Any chance to get away from the office was usually welcomed, and eventually it became my job to
go to the
bank in the High Street on Friday mornings to get the money for the wages. The total weekly
payroll for the
office and the works probably amounted to little more than £200, but collecting the money was a
responsibility which I took very seriously, being careful to vary my route each week, never
returning the same
way as my outward journey. Sometimes I went out along Abbey Road and returned along Pincott
the direction next week, and so on. Occasionally there were errands to be run, the most common
being a trip to
Lampert’s in Merton High Street [now in Pincott Road] to get some item of ironmongery or tools
workshop. Once I had to go to Ted’s home in Rectory Lane to fetch the briefcase containing his
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 153 . MARCH 2005 . PAGE 13
View of part of showroom at
Abbey Road, Merton Abbey
(courtesy Merton Library
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
My career at Young’s was interrupted by two years of National Service in the Royal Air Force.
Carrier’s and Young’s I had been attending Wimbledon Technical College one day a week, studying
Ordinary National Certificate in .Heat Engines., but having completed the course my deferment
was at an end.
I returned to Young’s for a further two years after National Service, but I found the company
struggling to survive despite attempts to enter other fields of light engineering. It seemed to
lack the ideas and
leadership necessary to find a way forward when its traditional market was failing. It had been
capital investment over a long period, and it lacked the expertise to go forward into the
second half of the
century, when more sophisticated production and marketing methods would be required in an
competitive market. Young’s cowhouse equipment was of the highest quality, and it was made to
competitors were appearing whose standards and prices were lower. It is likely that the
directors were content
to accept a lower level of profit for the remaining life of the company, and finally to realize
the value of the land
on which it stood. To be realistic, my time at Young’s had done little to enhance a career in
engineering and I
felt that a change of direction was necessary. I said goodbye to Young’s in September 1960,
when I began
training for a new career in teaching.
(courtesy Merton Library Service)
The Society would be very pleased to receive more reminiscences, of any length, of working for
a local business.
Such memories are an important part of local history. The editor’s address is on page 16.
REVIEW: The Earthly Paradise by Peter Whelan,
performed at the Almeida Theatre November 2004 . January 2005
The play is set in Kelmscott Manor, Oxfordshire, in the early 1870s. Present are William
Morris, his wife Janey
and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Also in the house are the two Morris daughters, unseen. Janey is
For three summers Morris goes to Iceland, leaving Gabriel and Janey alone, and in love. This is
the essence of
the play . nothing more or less.
The first half of the play is mainly long conversations between William and Gabriel. At times
sound more like speeches, and therefore rather artificial. Janey comes on stage but has little
to do or say. The
play would have had a better balance if Whelan had cut the ‘speechifying. and rewritten just
some of it for
Janey, bringing her centre-stage and a more rounded character.
The second part of the play becomes more emotional between the three. William returns from his
third visit to
Iceland, with two silver rings, one for Janey and one for Gabriel. .Where’s yours?. asks Janey
.They only come in pairs. Put them on., William replies gruffly. The symbolism is all too
Soon after this Gabriel suffers a nervous breakdown. He and William have a violent argument
which ends in
Gabriel attacking William physically. There is then a reconciliation between Janey and William.
It is all pure
Victorian melodrama at its best.
A number of things make the play work so well . Whelan’s build-up of drama, Robert Delamere’s
and the set design of Simon Higlett. Rossetti (Alan Cox) is spoilt and petulant. Janey (Saffron
Burrows) is tall,
slim, dignified, but not ethereal.
Morris, played by Nigel Lindsay, is a whole person, due to his superb and sensitive acting . a
genial giant, with
a temper like a summer storm. Just one example is Morris alone on stage, his legs apart and his
his knees, gazing at the floor. Suddenly his face contorts and he starts slapping his head
violently, the slaps
heard throughout the theatre. He suddenly stops and jumps to his feet, his face calm and
controlled. He has
made a decision and walks from the stage with confidence. This portrayal of Morris was a joy to
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 153 . MARCH 2005 . PAGE 14
LIONEL GREEN tells the strange story (which has Merton connections) of
THE ARCHBISHOPRIC OF YORK 1139-1154
Thurstan was a successful and energetic archbishop who had welcomed the Cistercians to
Yorkshire at Rievaulx and
Fountains in 1132. After serving for a quarter of a century he wished to resign in 1139, and
had in mind to stand down
in favour of his brother Ewan, bishop of Evreux. Thurstan sent Richard, the second abbot of
Fountains, to Rome to
attend the second Lateran Council and to obtain from Innocent II permission for Ewan’s election
to the primacy.
Ewan was a good and popular choice, as he was .ranked amongst the most learned men of his
day..1 He had been a
favourite of Henry I, and at his death accompanied the king’s body from Normandy to Reading in
Ewan the elect came to Merton to await the decision of the pope, and took the habit of a canon
of Merton, but died on
2 July 1139 .in the college of the canons of Merton where he was buried..2 England was denied
the services of an
eminent man as archbishop of York. Seven months later, on 6 February 1140, Thurstan also died,
and this is the story
of how the Church suffered to find a suitable successor. Although .a small beginning, the
strife came to involve
almost every person of importance in England, and many on the continent, and lasted in its
ramifications for some
Waldef prior of Kirkham (Augustinian) was a favoured candidate but was vetoed by king Stephen
grounds, as hewas a stepson of king David of Scotland.4 Henry de Sully, abbot of Fécamp, was
then put forward with
the support of the pope’s legate Henry of Winchester, but Sully was reluctant to leave his
abbey, and Innocent II
refused to allow him to hold two offices.
The king wished to put forward his nephew William Fitzherbert, treasurer of York, .an amiable
and generous person,
though unused to exertion of any kind..5 A majority elected him archbishop in January 1141, but
the leaders of the
newly founded Cistercian houses, who had a programme of reform, were not prepared to co-operate
with king Stephen or his brother Henry of Winchester, the pope’s legate. The priors of
Augustinian monasteries in the
north also resisted the decision. Robert Biseth, prior of Hexham, was so disgusted that he
resigned office and proceeded
to Clairvaux to become a novice there.6 Fitzherbert went to the king at Lincoln for
confirmation of the temporalities
(lay possessions) of his see, but on 2 February 1141 Stephen was taken prisoner at the battle
of Lincoln. All turned to
the pope for directions, but Bernard of Clairvaux wrote to him supporting the minority view.
The pope refused
Fitzherbert the pallium7 and requested all to appear before him on 7 March 1143. The matter was
referred to Henry
of Winchester and Robert of Hereford as judge-delegates. This resulted in William Fitzherbert
archbishop on 26 September 1143. Two days previously Innocent II had died at Rome, and the
legateship of Henry of
Winchester expired at that date. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote to the new pope Celestine II
criticising Henry of Winchester,
suggesting that the bishop’s protégé, the archbishop of York, was an idol set up in the temple
of God,8 and .an
incubus upon the Church, twice intruded into the see, once by the king, now by the legate..9
William could not
exercise full jurisdiction without receiving the pallium, and Celestine died within six months
on 8 March 1144. His
successor Lucius II was favourable towards Henry of Winchester but did not renew his
legateship. He dispatched
Imar of Tusculum to England bearing the pallium for William. When he arrived in England, Lucius
had died on 15
February 1145, and the legate returned to Rome with the pallium for further instructions.
William proceeded to Rome to ask for the pallium, but Eugenius III, the new pope, decided to
suspend him for a time.
William was disgusted and decided to join the court of his kinsman Roger, king of Sicily.
Early in 1147 the pope issued letters authorising a fresh election on 24 July. King Stephen,
having been denied his
choice, nominated a clerk on the staff of Henry, bishop of Winchester. This was Hilary, who had
under Abelard, and was dean of the college of priests at Christchurch (Twynham), Hampshire.
Another candidate was Henry Murdac, the third abbot of Fountains. Both candidates went to Rome,
decided in favour of Murdac. The pope consecrated Hilary as bishop of Chichester on 3 August
1147, and Murdac as
archbishop on 7 December.
At the Council of Rheims in March 1148 William Fitzherbert was once more declared to be
deposed. He returned to
England, and stayed with his uncle Henry of Winchester.
Hilary, still dean of Christchurch, in 1149 introduced canons from Merton priory for the
college to become an
Augustinian priory, the eighth daughter house of Merton.
Bernard of Clairvaux died on 20 August 1153 and the northern province became vacant once more
on 14 October
1153 when Murdac died.
William Fitzherbert set out once more for Rome. The pope, now Anastasius IV, was friendly and
felt that his appointment
would simplify matters both at Rome and in England. William was duly elected archbishop again,
and returned to
York in May 1154 to claim his seat. We will never know if he would have been an ideal choice,
as he died on 8 June
1154, some suggesting that he was poisoned.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 153 . MARCH 2005 . PAGE 15
The saga ends with a formal letter, written for archbishop Theobald of Canterbury by John of
acquainting the new pope Adrian IV with the facts. Did Adrian, a child of the cloister at
Merton, ever realise it
began at Merton?
PS Miraculous cures were reported at William’s tomb behind the high altar at York, and in 1227,
enquiry, he was canonised by Honorius III.
1 The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis (ed. and trans. M. Chibnall) 1969-80 vi 174/5;
2 The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis (ed. and trans. F Forester) 1853-56 iv 29
3 D Knowles The Historian and Character and other essays CUP 1963 p.76; 4 ibid. p.80; 5 ibid.
p.82; 6 ibid. p.81;
7 A woollen mantle with pendents front and back, the symbol of authority of a metropolitan; 8
Knowles op.cit. p.36; 9 ibid. p.87
THE WANDLE IN LITERATURE . an occasional series
3. Three weeks in the life of Leigh Hunt
In his good-humoured autobiography, of which the final version was published in the year of his
death, the essayist,
editor, journalist and poet Leigh Hunt (1784-1859) wrote of an idyllic summer holiday at Merton
when he was a
boy of 12 or 13, including a vivid encounter by the Wandle:
.My aunt1 took a country-house at Merton,2 in Surrey, where I passed three of the happiest
weeks of my life. It was
the custom of our school,3 in those days, to allow us only one set of unbroken holidays during
the whole time we
were there . I mean, holidays in which we remained away from school by night as well as by day.
The period was
always in August. I read, walked, had a garden and orchard to run in; and fields that I could
have rolled in, to
have my will of them.
.My father accompanied me to Wimbledon to see Horne Tooke,4 who patted me on the head…
.My cousins had the celebrated Dr Callcott5 for a music-master . When he came down to Merton,
he let me ride
his horse. What days were those! Instead of being roused against my will by a bell, I jumped up
with the lark, and
strolled .out of bounds. …
.My strolls about the fields with a book were full of happiness: only my dress6 used to get me
stared at by the
villagers. Walking one day by the little River Wandle, I came upon one of the loveliest girls I
ever beheld, standing
in the water with bare legs, washing some linen. She turned as she was stooping, and showed a
blooming oval face
with blue eyes, on either side of which flowed a profusion of flaxen locks. With the exception
of the colour of the
hair, it was like Raphael’s own head turned into a peasant girl’s. The eyes were full of gentle
astonishment at the
sight of me; and mine must have wondered no less. However, I was prepared for such wonders. It
was only one of
my poetical visions realized, and I expected to find the world full of them. What she thought
of my blue skirts and
yellow stockings is not so clear. She did not however taunt me with my .petticoats., as the
girls in the streets of
London would do, making me blush, as I thought they ought to have done instead. My beauty in
the brook was too
gentle and diffident; at least I thought so, and my own heart did not contradict me…
.I had no drawback on my felicity at Merton [except missing a friend, and a recurrence of fear
of the dark] …
Samuel [his aunt’s black footman] . had his bed removed accordingly into my room. He used to
entertain me at
night with stories of Barbados and the Negroes; and in a few days I was reassured and happy.
.It was then . that I fell in love with my cousin Fan. Fanny was a lass of fifteen, with little
laughing eyes, and
a mouth like a plum. I was then . not more than thirteen, if so old. My cousin was about to be
married to a
handsome young fellow of three-and-twenty. I thought nothing of this, for nothing could be more
innocent than my
intentions. I thought everyone must love Fanny Dayrell. It was enough for me to be with her as
long as I could;
to gaze on her with delight as she floated hither and thither; and to sit on the stiles in the
neighbouring fields .“
Mrs Dayrell, whose home was in the West Indies
This was Spring House, an early 18th-century house on the north side of Kingston Road, almost
opposite Church Lane. It survived until the 1930s,
when it was replaced by a block of flats of the same name. John Wallace’s Spring House (1996)
is a detailed history of buildings and occupants. The
previous occupant had been London bookseller James Lackington [see Bulletin 149].
3 Hunt was a pupil at Christ’s Hospital, then in Newgate Street. He entered in 1791.
4 John Horne Tooke (1736-1812) was a radical politician, who at the time of Hunt’s visit, was
living at Chester House, Common West Side,
Wimbledon. The house survives, and bears a plaque commemorating his residence there. Horne
Tooke was also the author of Diversions of Purley
5 John Wall Callcott (1766-1821). He was a composer of glees. In 1787 he submitted 100 entries
for the annual competition of the Noblemen and
Gentlemen’s Catch Club. His Musical Grammar appeared in 1806.
6 The school was also known as the Bluecoat School, as the boys wore (and still do) long blue
coats and yellow stockings.
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
Printed by Peter Hopkins
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 153 . MARCH 2005 . PAGE 16