June 2014 – Bulletin 190
The British Rototherm Co Ltd – a Life in their Times – John Sargeant
Down Lonesome Way – E Brinsmead Gough
Notes on ‘Down Lonesome Way’ – Keith Penny
Book Reviews: two books on Worcester Park by David Rymill
and much more
VICE PRESIDENTS: Eric Montague and William Rudd
CHAIR: David Haunton
BULLETIN No. 190 JUNE 2014
from an undated
JG). See page 3
Programme June – October 2
The British Rototherm Co Ltd – a Life in their Times – John Sargeant 3
Local History Workshops:
14 March: the Pickle; hoppyngge; ‘Squire’ Blake; the pipe organ at St Olave’s;
a Mitcham churchyard monument; ‘Merton Historical Society Players’ 6
25 April: the priory wall; a local architect; a Sunday walk in 1922; a Tudor will;
the Mitcham Brewery; two artists 7
Down Lonesome Way – E Brinsmead Gough 8
Notes on ‘Down Lonesome Way’ – Keith Penny 9
‘Thirty Years Caring for the Vestments at Westminster Abbey’ 11
‘Worcester Park, Old Malden, and North Cheam: History at our Feet’ 12
Book Reviews: two books by David Rymill 13
‘Merton Priory: Celebrating 900 Years’ 14
PROGRAMME JUNE–OCTOBER 2014
Saturday 14 June 11.00am St Mary’s Church, The Avenue, Worcester Park, KT4 7HL
Walk round Worcester Park and St Mary’s, Cuddington
Led by archivist and local historian David Rymill
Parking at the Church; 10 mins walk from Worcester Park Station (where 213 bus stops)
Wednesday 30 July 2.30pm Tollsworth Manor, Rook Lane, Chaldon, Surrey CR3 5BQ
Tour of house (one of Merton priory’s Granges) and garden
Talk by Gordon Gillett, the owner, and Tea
Ring David Haunton to book (£4 per head) and for travel arrangements
Nearest Station: Merstham
Friday 19 September 2.30pm Cinema Museum, The Master’s House, 2 Dugard Way
(off Renfrew Road), London SE11 4TH
Guided tour (only way to see collection); places limited;
Ring David Haunton to book (£5 per head)
Nearest underground stations: (half-way between) Kennington & Elephant and Castle
Bus Routes 109, 133, 155, 159, 196, 333 and 415 stop within 3 minutes’ walk
Saturday 11 October 2.30pm Christ Church Hall, Colliers Wood
‘Housewives and Heroines of Merton’
Illustrated talk by Sarah Gould, Merton Heritage and Local Studies
Union Pen Co Ltd, 579 Kingston Road
Can you help researcher Peter Hinchcliffe? The ‘Unique’ Pen Co Ltd was established as a fountain pen importer
Road to manufacture fountain pens in the UK for ‘Unique’. They were manufacturing from that site until 1958
when the whole industry started to suffer under pressure from the increasing popularity of the ‘Biro’. Peter
believes the building was also occupied for at least part of that period by ‘Marshall’s Genuine Original Lysol’,
war years. The Board of Trade placed severe restrictions on fountain pen production and he understands that
during 1943 and 1946 Union Pen were working 24-hour days on war contracts, primarily the manufacture of
bullets and shell casings. Ideally he would like some personal reminiscences, but would welcome any information
from members with any knowledge of these companies
If you can help, please email Peter at email@example.com.
MEMORIES OF MERTON AND MORDEN
May 12 to June 14, 2nd floor, Morden Library, Merton Civic Centre
Step back in time with this display designed and produced by volunteers from the Merton Memories Project.
Featuring images from the Library archives, the exhibition highlights many of the buildings and places
(The display is on show during standard library hours: Mon to Fri 9.30–7.00 and Sat 9.30–5.00)
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 190 – JUNE 2014 – PAGE 2
JOHN SARGEANT kindly found time, during his year as Deputy Mayor of Merton, to contribute this
article, which is based on his short address at the Wandle Industrial Museum in June 2013.
THE BRITISH ROTOTHERM COMPANY LTD – A LIFE IN THEIR TIMES
When I was growing up my family felt we were just getting on with life. But it seems we were all caught up in
some version of Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time, whether we liked it or not. We were, along with
generations of other families near the River Wandle, living through successive waves of energy, technology,
and economic change. Businesses came and went, as they exploited new opportunities, and then faded as they
were overtaken by superior technology, changing fashion, or
simply cheaper competition. Local people were caught up in
the ‘music’ for a while until, if you like, the band moved on.
Those waves of change around the stretch of the Wandle near
Merton Abbey famously included waterpower for hundreds of
years. In the late 19th century, while still a largely rural area,
it was the workplace of William Morris and a wide range
of craftsmen inspired by libertarian socialism and the Arts
companies came together in the area to establish factories
exploiting new technologies, materials and processes. And into
In late 1929, at the age of 14, Elsie Bolter joined The British
Rototherm Co Ltd, in Station Road. Still known exclusively
as Miss Bolter, she was to retire from the company in 1975.
The factory was located where Sainsbury’s supermarket
well-known to households for their Crown Merton range of
pots and pans, and to the aviation industry for their metal
pressings and assemblies. Across the road stretched the
marshalling yards alongside the line from Wimbledon to
Elsie learned of the opening at the company through her sister.
Eight years her senior, Doldie was the secretary of Len Edwards,
the founder and managing director. Edwards was an energetic,
charismatic individual, with an impressive house in Worple Road
in Wimbledon. In the mid-1920s he had taken out a patent on
technology exploiting the properties of the bimetallic strip. This
simple device used the properties of two strips of different metals
which, when heated, would of course bend towards the side which
expanded less. It is perhaps remarkable that there was still an aspect
of this property, which had been known for centuries and had been
incorporated in measuring devices since at least the 19th century,
On the strength of the patent, British Rototherm grew to become a
manufacturer of dial thermometers and other instruments to measure
and control temperature and pressure. Its reputation with industry and
consumers meant that by the late 1940s there were over a million in daily use – rising to four million by the early
1960s. The company sold to aircraft manufacturers, shipbuilders, and industrial equipment manufacturers of all
kinds. For domestic users there was an impressive choice of designs and materials. Rototherm was founded at
much the same time that Bakelite began its UK operations; its domestic products used the material extensively,
as well as a range of metals, for their decorative casings. (There were so many to choose from: in our house in
Morden different designs would tell us the temperature in each room to the nearest degree.) Though basic by
of their type, with sales throughout the UK and overseas, and a long-standing apprenticeship scheme that aimed
to develop boys and give them permanent and progressive careers.
Miss Bolter in the Office 1938
Merton Abbey Factory (the Union Flag was flown every day)
Pre-war display case, Factory Office Entrance
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 190 – JUNE 2014 – PAGE 3
There was, to be sure, a family feel to the company. When Doldie left in the
mid-1930s to start a family, Elsie replaced her as Edwards’s secretary, but
Doldie returned to the company for the duration of the war. In the late 1940s
Doldie’s husband Bill came to work for the company as a sales manager.
(Before moving into the role he spent several months working at the factory
bench, so that by the time he was selling the products he knew them inside
out.) Many staff began and ended their careers at the factory. Some found
it hard to leave: working in the packing department one summer holiday in
the 1960s my sister Jane and I befriended many characters. One of them, an
older man, with long service, and Arthur Askey to a tee, was asked to leave
when it was discovered that he was in his mid-70s.
My mother’s devotion to Len Edwards was complete, but she also wanted
a family. By the mid-1940s she had worked full-time for Rototherm for 15
years, and had become a director of the company. Family legend has it that
she decided that she would never start a family if she continued to work, so
she took leave of absence. It may just have been coincidence, but my sister
Jane arrived just in time to experience the terrible winter of 1946/7. But not
long after I appeared in 1950, Mum was prevailed upon to start work again
Even during the successful post-war years, life
for UK light industry was never plain sailing.
But as a child in the 50s and 60s my third-hand
perception of British Rototherm was a place
where crisis was never far away. As well as her
formal role as the MD’s secretary, it seemed
would be a permanent position, such as Human
Resources. Frequently it seemed that it was all
hands to the pump, as suppliers failed to deliver,
equipment broke down, or shipment dates were
missed. She would find herself phoning customers
to pacify them, or giving a severe dressing-down
to delinquent suppliers. Then there were the
occasional hurried trips to the warehouse in De
Burgh Road, Wimbledon, following break-ins.
In retrospect Miss Bolter, and of course thousands
like her, might seem passive riders of those waves of
industrial change along the Wandle. However, for the
individuals concerned, the day-to-day reality could be
far more exciting: being part of Rototherm as it grew
to be a market leader; working crazy hours and in scary
conditions to complete orders and support the war effort
with people you admire – there was no feeling to match
it. The company expanded, with additional factories
Glasgow, Australia and South Africa. A sister company
opened in Victoria’s Lower Belgrave Street.
Len Edwards, Company Founder and
Factory Staff excursion on the River Thames
Office Party December 1960, The Crown Pub, Morden, soon
to be demolished. Miss Bolter & husband standing on left
Conversely, as the business gradually began to fall behind, the effect could be quite demoralising. From the
could have moved to other jobs, with better pay and far less stress. But loyalty to the company was strong, and,
in her case, loyalty to a much admired boss, and, in later years, his memory, was perhaps paramount. This was
a generation of people that on the whole did not spend time polishing their CVs. With her deep sense of duty,
Mum would work increasingly crazy hours through the 1960s, to the bemusement of our father, whose role in
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 190 – JUNE 2014 – PAGE 4
staff. Dedicated and busy as she was, her nickname became ‘Mother Superior’.
Len Edwards died in the mid-1960s, and Mum continued to be, on paper, the secretary of the new managing
director. Around this time Rototherm became part of the Melbray Group of companies, a conglomerate
comprising several disparate businesses, including hotels and foods. It is hard today to see the industrial logic
behind this ploy. But for Rototherm, as with much of British industry at the time, the driving forces were its
waning competitiveness, and short-term management thinking.
manager based in Wimbledon Broadway, opposite Holy Trinity church, until she retired in 1975. Being perhaps
Secondly, Melbray was acquired by Tremletts for £5m in 1972. This company was an
offshoot from, and in the same mould as, Slater Walker, the notorious ‘asset-stripping’
moving on, leaving the debris behind. Imagine the feelings of Rototherm staff on
hearing that Tremletts were moving in, and reading in the Tremletts brochure: ‘
“Take-over” is one of those expressions guaranteed to send a shiver down the spine’.
For all the talk of ‘family feeling’ the direction of travel was clear. Ex-Slater Walker
wunderkind Jeffrey Pike appeared, and invited all the staff to read Robert Townsend’s
Up The Organisation. This iconoclastic business book of the age urged companies to
sweep away all their ‘sacred organisational routines and focus on the bottom line’.
It must have been a horrible time for an insecure Rototherm, struggling to establish
itself in Wales, and aware that, for all the management-speak, cash generation was
the only objective.
Having acquired, but necessarily digested, Melbray, in 1974 Tremletts bought Tower Assets, a timber and
furniture group run by a (surprise!) ex-Slater Walker man, also for £5m. This time the deal quickly went sour.
It soon transpired that Tower was worth nowhere near as much as it cost. Tremletts lost £12m in 1974. As part
of the elaborate compensation arrangements, Pike and others left the company.
British Rototherm continued, but for Merton Abbey the story was over – the music, such as it was, had moved
on. While it was here, the company had evolved from humble beginnings to become something of a beacon of
progress and excitement. But well before it received the attentions of Melbray and Tremletts it had slowly lost
its way. In fact Rototherm was in many ways the exact opposite of Tremletts. It stuck to its core business, with
long-serving employees, and maintained a very cautious approach to investment and debt. But, in all honesty,
how successful could a single British manufacturing company be when its customers were all falling by the
But our story has two happy postscripts. Firstly, British Rototherm is again
does it now export to 90 countries, it has exciting expansion plans, including
acquisitions to add to the others it has undertaken in recent years. Its technical
reputation is higher than ever.
Secondly, I have spotted a pleasing indication of Rototherm’s reputation
(now run by the National Trust), be sure to examine the workbench that Lord
metal-working tools late into the night. There, in pride of place, are no fewer
than two Rototherms. The 20th-century William Morris understood their value.
For her part, my mother lived on until 2004 to become a proud grandmother.
I suspect there always remained a British Rototherm-shaped gap in her
life. Her appetite for paperwork never left her, and she would spend long
of her prized possessions, a photo of the young Princesses Elizabeth and
Margaret, addressing the nation by radio, and of course there on the desk is,
unmistakeably, a Rototherm.
Tremletts brochure for
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 190 – JUNE 2014 – PAGE 5
LOCAL HISTORY WORKSHOPS
Friday 14 March – three present. David Haunton in the chair
David Luff has been investigating the state of the Pickle. He has produced this
interesting sketch-map of its course, tracing the various conduits that mostly hide
it from view. The waterway is now silting up. He has measured the considerable
height difference between the two waterways at the point the Pickle leaves the
course of the Wandle and the point where they join. He believes the silting is due
from the Wandle
at Merton bridge.
David Haunton showed before-and-after photos of 482/484 London Road,
Mitcham, inspected on the Ravensbury walk. These premises, by Thomas Finden
in 1828, have recently emerged from scaffolding.
Judy Goodman had mentioned at the last workshop the odd area-name ‘Hoppinges’
in a tenth-century charter. A lease of 1536 mentioned in Evelyn Jowett’s Raynes Park
showed the name persisting 600 years later as ‘Hoppyng Mede, a close with wood of
45 acres’ and ‘Hoppyng, a close of 55 acres’. (Peter Hopkins has subsequently pointed
out to me that the name still survives, in Hoppingwood Avenue in New Malden, on
the west bank of the Beverley Brook, on the site of Hoppingwood Farm.)
David had been researching the life of the
American artist Dewey Bates, whose 1888
article in The English Illustrated Magazine
contained several contemporary drawings of
not to scale and all measurements are approximate.
Keith Penny confirmed
on page 26 of Eric Montague’s Pollards Hill
Commonside East and Lonesome was indeed
Charles Blake. His address, The Rookery (formerly
The Laurels) at Motspur Park, appears in the
records of Fulford’s, builders in the late 1920s,
when land was sold for housing by the Blake estate
Keith had brought photographs of the case of the pipe organ in St Olave, Mitcham, on
which is a coat of arms, with a motto ‘audaxat que fidelis’ (‘brave and also faithful’)
(above). The organ was bought for the new church in 1930, when it was said to have been previously in a
mansion in Essex owned by a family named Barclay. According to the College of Arms the arms had been
granted in 1738 to Mary Goodhugh, eldest daughter of Richard
Hills of Seale in Kent, and were to descend through the female
motto in any reference book, but an internet search found it on
a ceremonial axe presented in 1897 to the wife of Arnold Hills
by the Thames Ironworks Federated Clubs of Canning Town.
Mr Hills resided at Monkhams, in Woodford, Essex, an estate
that he had bought from the executors of a Henry Ford Barclay.
A very helpful archivist at Redbridge Local Studies then
revealed that there were pictures of the interior of Monkhams
on the English Heritage Archives website (right). And there it
was – at the top of a grand staircase, as mentioned in a 1903
notice of sale for the house, a two-manual pipe organ, its case
recognisable as the one now in St Olave’s, and complete with
arms and motto. Monkhams was demolished in 1930 and
(presumably) the organ was purchased then by Rest Cartwright,
a suitable present for the company owner’s wife, as full-sized
ones were used to launch ships, especially in Japan, and Thames
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 190 – JUNE 2014 – PAGE 6
Ironworks had built warships for the Japanese Navy. Genealogical research suggests that Arnold Hills was a
collateral descendant of the 18th-century
Hills turned out to
but not connected with Merton! Keith would welcome any advice on the motto.)
Correspondent (1): David Haunton had asked Eric Montague about an odd monument in Mitcham parish
churchyard, the subject of a recent proposal for local listing. It comprises a low stone plinth supporting a
horizontal cross-shape, the ends of which are inscribed: ‘The Ancient Churchyard/was enlarged AD1855/
The new Burial Ground added/AD1880[?] and Extended 1909’. Monty told him that it had once supported
a short column with a sundial on top. Has anyone a photo of the sundial?
Monty also pointed out that David had misled the Ravensbury walkers about the ‘ornamental water’ beside the
Watermeads Estate in the north-east corner of the Park. This was not part of the Mitcham Grove grounds, but
was dug by the local authority c.1975asareservoiroroverflowincasetheriverflooded.(Mea culpa – DH)
Correspondent (2): Our thanks to David Golder, one of the Parish Players at our AGM, who asked fellow
Players if any could recall Merton Historical Society Players in the mid-1950s (see March Bulletin). Sadly,
none could, but David’s brother-in-law Mike lived in Morden at the time and although he doesn’t remember
there being such a group, he does remember three names from the cast-list of the play reading reproduced
in the last Bulletin. Mike sent us this, but he cannot guarantee its authenticity, as it is just from his memory:
and grandson of Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree and was the right sort of age … Harold Carty to my knowledge
went to Rutlish School and was about 3 or 4 years older than me (so would have been about 80 now) …
After leaving Rutlish he became an airline pilot, married, and settled down in Banstead. He died relatively
young … Derek Wright was of a similar age … and lived on Cannon Hill Lane opposite the Common and
was a regular at St James’s church.’
Friday 25 April – Seven present. David Haunton in the chair
David Luff, ever vigilant on behalf of the (remains of) the priory precinct wall, reported the possibility of
some pointing being done to part of the stretch beside Sainsbury’s, though what was needed was structural
work. He also showed us 100-year old photos of the wall to compare with his recent ones. Archaeologist
Dave Saxby had been contacted by those responsible for the wall. David has also been taking photographs
along the Pickle. He repeated concerns about the wall fragment, covered in ivy, in the garden of the Windsor
Judith Goodman had noticed an article in the local free newspaper about a chapel in Wilton Road, Colliers
Wood, by local architect H P Burke Downing (1865-1947), and hoped to learn more about him. Among other
Mitcham, and the Merton war memorial.
Keith Penny had brought along an account of a Sunday walk in 1922 from Streatham through Lonesome
extraordinary number (more than 40) of sports grounds in Streatham/Mitcham at that time.
Peter Hopkins had been looking at Spital Farm, held in 1538 by John Clerk (various spellings). Clerk’s
will, dated 1573, was an interesting document, and we speculated about his relationship with his wife. While
he kindly allowed her to keep all the possessions she had brought to the marriage, the constraints his will
placed on her ensured that very little otherwise would come to her. There must be a story there.
Peter reported that Sutton Archives have recently acquired an original copy of the Sutton Enclosure award
of 1808-14 and map of 1815, a photographed copy of which he had brought to the meeting. He had also
been allowed to photocopy the Cheam Enclosure map of 1806, which he, John Pile and David Rymill were
investigating in an attempt to identify ancient manorial boundaries.
Rosemary Turner isinvestigatingtheMitchambrewery,whichstoodonthesitewherethenewfirestation
is to be built. Both brewery and house (The Beeches) are recorded in the 1910 Valuation.
David and Katharina Haunton have been researching two artists. They have now found that George
Augustus Wallis (1770-1847), born in Merton, married his Scottish wife at St James’s church, Piccadilly.
American Dewey Bates, son of a stockbroker, lived in Antwerp and Paris, as well as London. He drew scenes
on the Wandle (see last Workshop report above).
Dates of next Workshops: Fridays 20 June, 8 August and 26 September at 2.30pm
At Wandle Industrial Museum. All are welcome.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 190 – JUNE 2014 – PAGE 7
The following article is from the Streatham News of 10 February 1922, and was passed to Keith Penny
by John W Brown of the Streatham Society (and of this Society), to whom we are very grateful.
My Sunday morning walk took me through the byways
round Lonesome, a descriptive name to an off-shoot
of Streatham, lying towards Mitcham. The sun shone
Down Greyhound-lane then – a road not so long ago
an avenue of stately elms, traces of which are seen in a
single row of stumps in a shabby hedge, past cottages and
Humble to a degree, these homes, yet not without
pride to the dwellers, many of whom were out furbishing
frontages. Toddling youngsters made their way to the iron
mission hall for Sunday school.
The itinerant vendor of vinegar (of all things) vied
in crying his wares with him who sold news. A man in
collarless ease was exhorting a terrier to go indoors when
the sight of footballers turned me to their direction, and
I was soon ploughing my way across turf to a forest of
goal posts, for the targets of many clubs are hereabouts.
SMOKE FROM A FACTORY
Not caring to wait till a match began, I wended my way
to a chemical factory, whose shaft belched forth smoke in
a work-a-day fashion. So far the serenity of an old-time
Sunday had been absent, nor was it lessened when a little
later a steam exhaust hissed in unison to pulsating engine.
Further on were the remains of that derelict enterprise
stand imposing columns supporting stone lintels to
ambitious porches, which, in their broken state, remotely
remind of ruined Pompeii.
Nearby was Streatham Park Cemetery, comparatively
new, but already much begraved. Truly the population of
London is great, and with each “God’s Acre” attached to
her churches closed, nothing remains but to dot the fringe
of her domain with capacious burial grounds.
Adjacent lay a last resting place for those of the Jewish
faith. Here one observes the head stones bear sculptured
hands where a Christian would engrave a cross.
Soon I came to piggeries, market gardens and an isolated
Reading the warning to trespassers that a penalty of
£50 would be incurred by a breach of this prohibition, I
kept strictly to the outer fencing, and was rewarded by
coming on a veritable sanctuary for birds.
Here rose a riot of trills from feathered songsters,
particularly that of the thrush.
Through the clear air came pleasing tones of distant
chimes. For the moment I thought St. Leonard’s or
Immanuel of Streatham was calling, but it proved to be the
old church of Mitcham, to which, in delight of listening,
I turned my steps.
dwellings whose gardens received that weekly attention
which the leisure of Sunday affords and so on I crossed
the highway for Sutton.
The bustling contrast could not fail to be arresting.
Here motors in all varieties were southward bound. “Who
will o’er the downs with me?” was writ large on the face
of each happy traveller.
Cyclists in goodly numbers could not resist the call of
so fine a day. Walkers with set stride found the joy of life
in every step; they knew they might journey far, for the
ubiquitous omnibus would bring them back.
Stopping merely to glance at this familiar sight, my
way lay beyond an old mansion – Mitcham House – now
up for disposal (a sure sign of its giving way to the onrush
of London’s myriads, for, I dare swear, serried rows of
houses will rise in its stead) – and on past small shops till
the Parish Church stood stately and alone.
Service was well advanced when I seated myself in one
of the spacious galleries, the seventh person only in those
many pews. Opposite was evidently the Sunday school
of three dozen children and a few seniors. So struck was
I by the small attendance, that I counted the congregation
instead of chanting the psalm.
A liberal estimate was three hundred, and “it gives one
to think furiously”, as the French say, as to what has come
over our church that its hold has so weakened.
Here was a beautiful edifice, its stained glass, chancel,
altar, and vaulted roof all breathing that atmosphere of
higher things. The rich toned bells, competent choir and
melodious organ, added their influence, and there was an
excellent rendering of the service by its clergy – yet all
combined could attract but a fourth of its seating capacity.
Are we gardeners, footballers, motorists and pedestrians
so obsessed by hobbies that we cannot spare an hour or so
for reflection in quietude remote from our world?
Service over, I paused to verify my watch by the
century-and-a-half old sundial near by. Then I plunged into
a poorish neighbourhood, where, oh irony, a shop blared
forth a gramophone. That was enough! My rambling and
ruminating were at an end.
I sprang on an omnibus and was quickly back in
Streatham, after a morning of unusual pleasure in an
exploration of Lonesome and beyond.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 190 – JUNE 2014 – PAGE 8
And KEITH PENNY adds:
NOTES ON ‘DOWN LONESOME WAY’
crops’1 ‘A Cottage Tenant’ remembered
The chemical works belonged to Messrs Forster and Gregory. Established in 1852, it lasted to the mid-1930s,
after which the six-acre site was used to complete Rowan Crescent. The 50 or so employees made pigments and
solvents, some of which were hazardous and obnoxious, for the India rubber industry.3 With urbanisation and
owner-occupation came complaints: one made in May 1928 to the Urban District Council led to an inspection
which concluded that procedures would be in place by June to limit the chances of [ammonia] fumes escaping
from the ‘red antimony and arsenic sulphur plant’.4
Lonesome had been home to commercial activities that would no longer be welcome in a residential area: into
the 20th century bricks were being made with clay from the north of Meopham Road; nuisance from piggeries
to the north-east of that road was reported as late as 1939; in 1923 there was still a slaughterhouse in Grove
Terrace.5 Less distasteful perhaps, by 1910 there was a gas-mantle factory between Meopham and Lilian Roads.6
After the chemical factory
Mr Gough passed the
remains of ‘Blake’s Folly’,
ten villas started in the
1860s, structurally complete
but never finished inside.
Built for ‘Squire’ Blake of
Malden, they were never
occupied. According to
R M Chart, Blake was a
‘fine looking man and a
shrewd man generally, but
he chose the wrong site at
Lonesome’.7 The local and
national press ‘discovered’
this ruined place at various
times before the 1914-18
war. In the Daily Chronicle’s
article ‘Deserted Village
– Lonesome in Name and
the ‘village’ after enquiring
from a cycling police-
sergeant. ‘Right on the edge
of Lonesome Wood is a
double row of big houses,
has never been lit, and
over whose thresholds
no footsteps has[sic] ever
passed.’8 In 1913 the Daily
Mirror published pictures,
including one of pigs leaving
through a house doorway
(right). 9 Demolition
development in 1927-8,
although the carriageway
retained a width not found
elsewhere in the new streets.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 190 – JUNE 2014 – PAGE 9
The cemetery, owned by the Great Southern Cemetery and Land Company, began burials in January 1909.10 In
March 1915 four acres of the land were sold for the Jewish Cemetery.11
school board in 1903 opened Lonesome School, at a cost of £4,430, to the designs of R M Chart.12
The ‘iron mission hut’ for Sunday school is probably the Mission Hall at the junction of Lilian and Marian
Roads, founded by Streatham Baptist Church in 1887.13 (The Church of England had the Good Shepherd
Mission, then in the parish of St Mark, Mitcham, but always in the direct charge of Captains of the Church
Army.) The building, on land off Lilian Road and to the south of Marian Road, was opened in 1906; it could
accommodate 200 people.14
The ‘humble cottages’ seen by Gough were presumably the terraces in Leonard, Lilian and Marian Roads, whilst
c.1870), and with
rats in the same road in 1931.15
Gough’s walk in 1922 describes Lonesome as it was before the great urbanisation of about four years later. He
workers’ housing; he disdainfully italicises ‘flats’. The only adult inhabitant individually mentioned is in
‘collarless ease’ (not Sunday best, but it is his day off); he is ‘exhorting a terrier to go inside’ – a polite version
of the actual words?
At least until the 1890s the area, and the lane to Streatham, had a reputation as a place to avoid, even in daylight,
by unaccompanied women or children.16 Gypsies used the route, and some Streatham people thought Mitcham
people ‘rough’.17 Visitors were uncomplimentary. The Daily Chronicle in1906 noted disparagingly that in the
‘village’ there was one butcher’s shop ‘where meat is sold only in the form of sausages’.18 In 1926 a Morning
Post writer came to the ‘grimy mid-Victorian barracks, which is Lonesome.’19 The writer of ‘Mitcham Notes’
visited ‘the jungle and swamp which is Lonesome’.20
Lonesome was reached by the motor-bus by 1913,21 and London General began a local service from the Greyhound
to Lonesome in 1921. The area stopped being lonesome when rows of houses were built along, and to the sides
of, the thoroughfare renamed ‘Streatham Vale’ in 1924,22 and over the clay-soil fields to the east and south-east,
National newspapers quoted are from cuttings books at Wandsworth Heritage Service. Images courtesy of
Wandsworth Heritage Service.
See also E N Montague Mitcham Histories 4: Pollards Hill, Commonside East and Lonesome (2002) Merton
Historical Society in association with Commonside Community Development Trust pp20-32.
1. Article produced by St Andrew’s parish (Wandsworth Heritage Service)
2. Balham, Tooting and Mitcham News and Mercury [News] 13.03.1931
3. Red Book of Commerce 1929 and Kelly’s Directory of the Chemical Industries 1930
4. News 29.06.1928
5. Transactions of Mitcham Urban District Council [UDC], various dates
6. OS map, 1910 update. Gerald Morris in Flashback on Mitcham (Surrey History Centre) gives 1918 as the date.
7. Sutton Advertiser [Advertiser] 11.11.1926
8. Daily Chronicle 06.10.1906
9. Daily Mirror 28.11.1913
11. Meller and Parsons London Cemeteries: An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer
12. Mitcham School Board Minute Book 1900-1903 (Surrey History Centre)
13. Streatham in Old Photographs
14. Advertiser 26.05.27 and Ecclesiastical Commissioners NB 37/ 170
16. I C A Isaac Vale Vistas Streatham Society 1982
17. Comment from John W Brown, quoting his father
18. Daily Chronicle 06.10.1906
19. Morning Post 03.12.1926
20. Advertiser 08.01.1925
21. Daily Mirror 28.11.1913 and Isaac op. cit.
22. UDC 08.04.1924
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 190 – JUNE 2014 – PAGE 10
‘THIRTY YEARS CARING FOR THE VESTMENTS AT
Rosemary Turner’s talk on 15 February began in 1984 with her recalling dropping in on some friends who were
at Westminster Abbey, to see what they were doing. She has been going there every Wednesday ever since. The
membership has changed over the years, and now only one other member of the group has served as long as
Rosemary. Members have different levels of ability, and their task is to make and repair the Abbey’s vestments
and other textiles.
The team, all volunteers, is called the Guild of St Faith, and it was formed at the beginning of 1981. They
take their name from the only chapel within the precincts to be dedicated to a female saint, other than Mary.
Previously the work had been done by one woman, who was employed by the Abbey. When she gave up, for
health reasons, the Guild was formed.
Rosemary’s group was originally led by Hilary Cooper, who used to teach embroidery for Merton Adult
Education. The leader now is Maureen Jupp, who was formerly a verger responsible for the vestments and
the Guild. There used to be groups meeting on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, but there is no
longer a Tuesday group.
The Guild meets in Infirmary Hall in the Little Cloister, which is where once the monks too frail to attend their
stained-glass windows and a vaulted ceiling with a hole for smoke to escape, once upon a time. Heating has
improved since waxworks, once stored there, were found to be cracking, but there are still medieval draughts.
The work is varied. It might be sewing on buttons; attaching the regalia of King Olaf of Norway to cushions
to be carried at his memorial service; doing the same with Bobby Moore’s caps; sometimes repairing modern
cassocks; sometimes conserving vestments made in the reign of Charles II; sometimes repairing pockets and
linings; sometimes stitching with gold thread; and so on. A Union Jack was made into a curtain for the Queen
Mother to unveil a plaque in memory of the people who worked in the secret service during the war. One of the
Guild’s members and her husband had worked in that department.
When items can be spared long term a complete
conservation can be undertaken, but more often it
is a case of short notice and a quick repair. A few
years ago all the groups collaborated in restoring
the pall, given by the Artists’ Guild, which was
used to cover the grave of the Unknown Soldier
(detail right, showing part of a shield on the pall
before repair, and the restored pall below).
Rosemary described herself as the ‘Bagpuss’ of
the group, noticing items that are looking sad
and bringing them back to life. Sometimes such
things, because of their frailty, are destined to
go into the Abbey’s museum, rather than back
All sorts of things have been
donated over the years, such
as gold work from military
uniforms. She was once asked
to make a set of apparel using
parts of an18th-century sword
Over the years the Guild has
done repairs on all the sets of
vestments, and more recently
they have been making new sets, each of which consists of a huge number of items. So there is plenty of work
for the foreseeable future. Rosemary and friends appeared in the BBC programme about the Abbey while they
were working on one of these sets.
Rosemary’s well illustrated talk was warmly received by an enthusiastic audience.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 190 – JUNE 2014 – PAGE 11
‘WORCESTER PARK, OLD MALDEN AND NORTH CHEAM:
HISTORY AT OUR FEET’
Christ Church Hall was comfortably packed on Saturday 15 March to enjoy a return visit from David Rymill,
resident and historian of Worcester Park, an area which lies at the junction of three ancient parishes and three
modern local authorities. Assisted by his parents Margaret and Bob operating two projectors, David took us
through the history of the area from the earliest discoveries to the present time, illustrated with a wide range of
‘then and now’ photographs.
Flint tools from the Stone and Bronze Ages have been found in the area, but the earliest evidence of settlement
was discovered during excavations in Church Road, Malden, between 1941 and 1951 in a field known as Lady
possibly from around 500BC. Settlement spread to the area near Malden Manor station, where excavations prior
to the development of Percy Gardens in 1991 revealed post-holes, pits and pottery from a cluster of huts within
AD settlement had extended to the vicinity of St John’s church and rectory in Old Malden, with evidence for
the cultivation of wheat, barley and oats, the rearing of sheep and cattle, grinding of corn and weaving of cloth,
as well as a possible musical instrument made from a perforated goose bone. The Roman road later known as
Stane Street formed the eastern boundary of what is now Worcester Park, following the route of the present A24
from the border of Cheam with Morden at Pylford Bridge, towards Ewell. Anglo-Saxon place-names abound
on the hill – indicates that Christian worship has continued for more than a millennium on the site of St John’s
Cuddington church was also of Saxon foundation. David is attracted to the suggestion that the name Motspur
Park, from Motts Furze Farm, and the curious interlocking local authority boundaries still found near Green
Lane School, might commemorate a Saxon ‘moot’ or meeting place at the boundaries of the parishes of Cheam,
Malden, Merton and Morden, as well as the Hundreds of Copthorne, Kingston, Brixton and Wallington, though
other interpretations are possible.
The oldest parts of the present Manor House at Malden date from the early 17th century, but it is probably on the
site of earlier buildings. In the 1240s the manor was purchased by Walter de Merton, a lawyer who worked for
Merton priory, where he is likely to have been educated, and who had been rewarded by the priory with the post
of rector of Cuddington. Later he became Chancellor to both Henry III and Edward I, before being appointed
bishop of Rochester.
In the 1260s he founded a ‘House of Scholars’ at Malden to finance his nephews studying
at Oxford, and in 1274 this became Merton College Oxford, the first self-governing residential university college
in England. Merton College still owns the manor and has early maps and other documents in its archives.
Cuddington church, its manor house and its settlement had a less protracted history, falling prey to Henry VIII
who decided to build Nonsuch Palace on the site in 1538, using stone from the recently dissolved Merton priory
for its foundations. It was to be an elaborate hunting lodge, with a Little Park (now Nonsuch Park) surrounding
it, and a Great Park across the old Roman road extending to (and somewhat beyond) the boundaries with Malden
and Cheam. In 1606 Edward Somerset, 4th earl of Worcester, was appointed Keeper of the Great Park by James I,
and he built a new Keeper’s house there, later known as Worcester House, the park becoming Worcester Park. A
plan and survey of the house have survived, but no illustrations, so David showed a painting of a contemporary
mansion, Quenby Hall in Leicestershire, to help us imagine its magnificence. It had probably been demolished
by 1797 when a new mansion known as Worcester Park House stood on a new site near the present Hogsmill
Tavern. Part of the garden wall of Worcester House was used by Millais as the setting for his painting A
Huguenot on St Bartholomew’s Eve. Other large houses in the area were Fullbrooks near Old Malden Library
(which survived into the 1920s, its grounds being used for fêtes), Tolworth Hall, just over the Hogsmill from
the present Hogsmill Tavern, and North Cheam House – the original location of St Anthony’s hospital and later
By the late 18th century the Great Park had been broken up to form several farms, and the area became
indistinguishable from the older farms in the neighbourhood, such as Malden Green Farm, the 17th-century
farmhouse and barn of which still survive. In the early 20th century it housed the Albemarle Shooting School,
which in 1923 welcomed the Duke of York, later George VI. The photograph opposite shows the owner and his
family posing for a promotional picture.
The railway brought development to Worcester Park in 1859 with the building of Worcester Park station. The
Avenue was developed in the 1860s, but the first edition Ordnance Survey map shows that the ancient settlements
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 190 – JUNE 2014 – PAGE 12
photograph Miss D Hacker
When the railway was electrified in 1925 the area
became a centre for suburban expansion, being
advertised as ‘a garden suburb’ and as ‘living in the
country’! The large houses and farms – and Brock’s
firework factory at North Cheam – have now gone,
though some open spaces have survived, including
Shadbolt Park and Auriol Park. But the sub-title
of David’s latest book reminds us that history is
still ‘at our feet’ in Worcester Park, Old Malden
and North Cheam, as we will discover when David
leads our walk on the morning of 14 June.
Many thanks to David and his parents for a most
enjoyable afternoon, and for inviting us to explore
the area further in June.
had otherwise only been supplemented by a few
clusters of brickmakers’ cottages along Cheam
Common Road. But soon villas were being erected
– some with their own lodges, such as The Lodge in
Old Malden Lane (pictured in the 1940s), originally
home to the coachman at the nearby large house
modestly named The Cottage. Houses were followed
by schools, shops and churches. An iron church was
opened in The Avenue in 1867, to be replaced by
the present St Mary’s church in 1895 as the parish
church of Cuddington after an ‘interregnum’ of over
350 years! Even so, the building was not completed
bays as originally intended.
photograph Dailypress Photographic Agency
David Rymill Worcester Park & Cuddington: A Walk through the Centuries (2000, The Buckwheat Press)
£8.95 plus £1 p&p; David Rymill Worcester Park, Old Malden & North Cheam: History at our Feet (2012,
The Buckwheat Press) £10 plus £2 p&p; (both books: £18.95 plus £3 p&p)
Lying across three boroughs and three parishes (in two dioceses), the Worcester Park area has been rather
neglected by local historians. With these two volumes, David Rymill has now splendidly remedied that neglect.
Both books are organised on the same plan: they conduct the reader on circular walks around the area, discussing
the history and associations of each street and open space in turn. On our walks we read of Iron Age and Anglo-
Saxon sites; medieval villages; the sweeping away of a complete village for the establishment of Nonsuch
Park and Palace; the resurgence of farming; the coming of the railways; the subsequent explosion of suburban
housing; wartime experiences; post-war changes and the Joint Computer Centre. All of this is topped by a
splendid poem, The Sabre-Toothed Tigers of Worcester Park by India Russell, at the end of the second book.
There are lots of well-captioned photographs, and the praiseworthy feature of several pairs of Ordnance Survey
maps, ancient and more recent, bringing ‘then and now’ comparisons into sharp focus. An impressive range of
sources is evident: apart from books, David has consulted local publications (newspapers, parish magazines,
societies’ newsletters), many archives (national, newspaper, Surrey and Sutton), the Internet Movie Database,
and other specialist websites. But his chief pride must lie in the staggering numbers of local people he has
consulted – over 250 in the second book – many of whom he quotes directly, lending life and spontaneity to
much of his text. Though the ground covered (literally) by each book overlaps to some extent, items and events
which the earlier volume discusses in some detail are treated in a more summary fashion in the later one. David
Rymill is to be congratulated on a wealth of research and learning, lightly worn and clearly and enthusiastically
expressed. His books are thoroughly recommended. David Haunton
PS The name ‘The Buckwheat Press’ is derived from that of the field where the first house occupied by the Rymill family
in the area had been built.
Cheques payable to D R Rymill can be sent to 77 Cromwell Road, Worcester Park, Surrey KT4 7JR
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 190 – JUNE 2014 – PAGE 13
‘MERTON PRIORY: CELEBRATING 900 YEARS’
Forty-three members, guests and visitors gathered at Christchurch Hall on Saturday 12 April to celebrate 900
years since the founding of Merton priory in the Merton Park area at the end of 1114.
We began with a fascinating presentation by Janette Henderson, an Oxford Geography graduate who in 2012
obtained an MA in Archaeology from the University of Bristol. Janette has lived in Colliers Wood for the past
20 years and chose the granges of Merton priory as the subject for her dissertation. Merton priory was one of
its site by the Wandle following a change in location in 1117. But Janette’s challenge was to discover what if
anything remains of the priory’s granges in the present landscape.
The word ‘grange’ [Latin grangia] originally merely meant a barn, but in the 12th century the Cistercians applied
the term to self-contained and consolidated agricultural units each run by a community of lay brethren, with
domestic and agricultural buildings and a chapel, often within one or more moated enclosures. The idea soon
spread to other monastic orders including the Augustinian canons of Merton, continuing in many places until the
early 14th century when most were let to tenants instead of being managed directly by the community. Not every
monastic manor developed into a grange, but ten sites have been identified as possible granges of Merton priory.
Outside the main gate of Merton priory stood Merton Grange, mentioned in 16th-century documents when
leased to tenant farmers. Its lands covered the eastern section of the parish/manor as far as Merton Park, and
a substantial section became part of Morden Hall Park. At the opposite end of the parish/manor stood West
School in 1935 (now part of Raynes Park High School).
Its lands reached from the Beverley Brook to the western
edge of Cannon Hill Common. It is not known whether
West Barnes was an independent grange or a detached
part of Merton Grange.
Upton, on the outskirts of Slough, is called a grange in
documents relating to the dissolution of Merton priory
in 1538, though it had been let to tenant farmers for
some years. A 14th-century open hall house (right) with
a 15th- or 16th-century solar still stands next to the parish
church, the tower of which includes 12th-century work.
(photographs by Janette Henderson 2012)
The priory’s grange at Tollsworth, in Chaldon, Surrey,
is mentioned in a 13th-century document. Though this
might just refer to a barn, a 14th-century solar and an
early 15th-century hall house survive (left), and an
earthwork to the south of the house is visible on mid20th-
century aerial photographs. We were delighted that
the present owners, Mr and Mrs Gillett, were able to
join us on this occasion, and are grateful to them for
inviting the Society to visit their splendid house in July
(for further details see page 2).
owned this estate from 1208 until its dissolution in 1538, when it was valued at £38 13s 4d.
Merton priory held a hide of land in Milton, near Milton Keynes, during the reign of Henry II (1154-1189), but
in 1247 it leased its lands here to Woburn abbey which was the major landowner in the area. Any grange here
might have belonged to either monastic house.
The priory also held several estates in Kingston from the 12th century, and this has led to the supposition that
its Canbury estate had been run as a grange, though a 16th-century reference to ‘a vacant plot of ground where
the grange had stood’ probably refers to a barn. Until the mid-19th century a large tithe barn stood on the site
now occupied by Kingston railway station.
Similarly, a 1301 reference to a grange at Eton could be to a barn rather than a monastic grange, especially
as it was so near to Upton. In 1443 the priory’s estates at Eton, in their possession since the 12th century, were
granted to Eton College.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 190 – JUNE 2014 – PAGE 14
Two churches in Tregony, in distant Cornwall, came into Merton’s possession in 1267 by exchange with the
abbey of Valle in Normandy. At the Dissolution the priory was still receiving £6 13s 4d a year from Tregony
rectory as the value of the tithes, but it was surely too far away to be run as a grange, and a local man was
appointed to deal with the priory’s affairs there in 1324.
priory grange and is surrounded by earthworks suggestive of a possible moat but it is
questionable whether Merton Priory ever had a grange there since there is no documentary
evidence of this.
Janette has allowed MHS to publish her thesis under the title In Search of Merton Priory’s
Granges. At 70 pages rich in maps and photographs printed in full colour, it sells at £10 a copy,
but is available to members at £8 plus £1.50 postage from Peter Hopkins, 57 Templecombe
Way, Morden, Surrey SM4 4JF, or ring him on 020 8543 8471 to arrange collection.
After a break for refreshments – and a chance to buy Janette’s book – we settled down for another absorbing
presentation, by Richard Chellew on ‘The Merton Priory Manuscripts’. Richard, a Merton councillor, became
intrigued with the priory when investigating the possibility of removing the electricity pylon that blights the
area. Initial hopes to have the priory site recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site proved unrealistic, so
Richard turned his considerable talents to the surviving manuscripts belonging to, or connected with, the priory
for possible inclusion in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. There is a wealth of documents in a
the first two centuries of the priory’s existence. These are being copied by Timothy
Noad, a Herald Painter at the College of Arms in London and a Scribe to the
Crown Office at the House of Lords, using vellum and inks matching the originals.
Statute Books (detail right), to brief notes recorded in the Patent Rolls and Close
Rolls, such as the safe conduct issued from Merton in 1215 by King John allowing
the barons’ representatives to meet his representatives prior to the meeting at
Runnymede and the granting of Magna Carta; from entries in the priory’s own
Annals to accounts by the eminent 13th-century chronicler Matthew Paris; from
letters from popes and archbishops to a letter from one of the early canons of
Merton. Four of these superb facsimiles were on display at the meeting.
But in addition to getting these documents copied, Richard has been investigating the story they tell. Why was
priory so influential? Richard
piety and as
saints, and also as a centre of learning before the founding of a university at Oxford. The early canons were
men of substance and learning – including a renowned Italian scholar; a chaplain to the earl of Huntingdon,
later King David I of Scotland; and a former dean of Salisbury. These were the men chosen by kings, bishops
completed, two becoming abbots. It had close links with successive archbishops of Canterbury. In 1123 William
Corbeil, archbishop 1123-1136, invited canons from Merton to found a community of Augustinian canons at
St Gregory’s, Canterbury, and in 1135 to set up a daughter house at Dover. Thomas Becket, a former student
here, became a canon of Merton immediately before his consecration in 1162, passing several other important
monastic houses en route! Hubert Walter, archbishop 1193-1205 and justiciar of England 1193-1198, similarly
adopted the habit of a canon of Merton before his consecration. In 1213, following the closure of Oxford in the
‘town versus gown’ dispute, Edmund Rich, who was to be archbishop of Canterbury 1234-1240, spent a year
or more in retreat at Merton preparing for his lectures, until the schools of Oxford reopened in the autumn of
1214. In that same year Stephen Langton, archbishop 1207-1228, stayed at Merton priory with the bishops of
Ely, Lincoln and London on their return from exile; he was later to be the principal architect of Magna Carta.
Robert Kilwardby, archbishop of Canterbury 1273-1278, was consecrated at Merton priory, while in 1282 John
Peckham, archbishop 1279-1292, in a letter to his representatives at the papal court in Rome in 1282, listed
archbishop’s jurisdiction over various abbeys. Both Becket and Rich were to be canonised.
Becket’s quarrel with Henry II led to the recall of students from the continent and the beginnings of university
first regent master there. A later
clerk, Walter de
responsible for the beginnings of collegiate life at Oxford with the founding of Merton College in 1274, and
when Peterhouse was founded at Cambridge in 1284 its scholars were to ‘live together according to the rule of
the scholars at Oxford who are called of Merton’.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 190 – JUNE 2014 – PAGE 15
King John quarrelled with the Pope over the appointment of Stephen Langton as
archbishop, he sent a deputation to Rome, one of whom is named in one document
as Richard de Merton. John was only an occasional visitor but his son Henry
III frequently stayed here, and paid for repairs to apartments that he used. After
John’s death the defeated French dauphin, who had been invited by rebel barons
to take the crown of England, was brought to Merton to meet the papal legate, the
queen mother and Henry’s supporters, before being escorted to Dover. In 1232,
the disgraced Hubert de Burgh sought sanctuary here when Henry III ordered his
arrest (right, marginal illustration after Matthew Paris). In Henry’s later years
priors of Merton were summoned to Parliament.
Merton was also influential in helping to shape the English legal system. Three of
pieces of legislation. Becket’s downfall was due to his support of Canon Law,
which clashed with Henry II’s reorganisation of the English legal system. The 1166
Assize of Clarendon was to play a major part in that reform by defining the role of
the jury and by creating roving judges – the origins of the Eyre and circuit judges.
Langton was the principal architect of Magna Carta which, while confirming ‘that
the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished and its liberties unimpaired’, went on to
enshrine within our constitution the rights of the common man that still reverberate throughout the world to this
very day. Edmund Rich, author of the 1236 Provisions of Merton, followed in Langton’s footsteps by crafting
it in such a way that, whilst fulfilling the barons’ demands, it also attempted to address some of the more unjust
demands that in cases of illegitimacy Canon Law should prevail, yelled with one voice, ‘We are unwilling to
change the laws of England’. Seventy years later, when the Pope attempted to introduce inquisitors into England
to try the Templars accused of heresy, it was declared that such tactics were not allowed under English Law, and
most of the English Templars were instead sent to abbeys and priories to be disciplined, two coming to Merton.
But Richard concluded by pointing out that it was not just the text of the Provisions of Merton that was so
fundamental in the formation of our legal system. The meeting itself was a turning point in English government.
Unlike Runnymede, where an unwilling monarch was forced to submit to his powerful barons, the Provisions
of Merton were the result of debate. Ten months later a case was adjourned by the king so that ‘Parliament’
spirit of debate – of parliamentum – that had been introduced at Merton had become the recognised system of
government in England, a system valued today by over three billion people across the world!
we are grateful to both Janette and Richard for sharing their expertise with us in such an enjoyable way. Both
speakers expressed their gratitude to the Society for the help and support they had received in their researches,
but we are privileged to be involved in such works of scholarship. We are delighted that Richard has also agreed
to the publication of his talk, and we are grateful to him for letting us reproduce two images in the meantime.
CELEBRATING MERTON PRIORY, FOUNDED 900 YEARS AGO
To mark the founding of Merton Priory in 1114 the Wimbledon Society is putting on an exhibition, curated
by Cyril Maidment, to celebrate this important centre of religious life and education, which also played
It will occupy the Norman Plastow Gallery at the Wimbledon Museum of Local History, 22 Ridgway,
from 12 July to 31 August, on Saturdays and Sundays 2.30-5.00pm and Wednesdays 11.30am-2.30pm
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.
website: www.mertonhistoricalsociety.org.uk email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Printed by Peter Hopkins
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 190 – JUNE 2014 – PAGE 16