March 1995 – Bulletin 113
Coles Shop, Liberty’s – W J Rudd
Our First Local History Workshop – E N Montague
The ‘Hay Furlongs’, Western Road, Mitcham – E N Montague
The Sewer Press!! (Morden extracts from the 16th century Minutes of the Surrey and Kent Sewer Commission) – W J Rudd
A Mitcham Man: Ben Slater – M Ledgerton
and much more
PRESIDENT: The Viscountess Hanworth. F.S.A
VICE PRESIDENT: Mr. Arthur Turner
BULLETIN NO. 113 MARCH 1995
FORTHCOMING PROGRAMME 1995
Thursday 16th March 7.30 p.m. at Mitcham Parish Church
A talk by Eric Montague on the monuments of its people 1750-1900.
Collection in aid of the Restoration Fund.
Friday 7th April 8.00 p.m. at Snuff Mill Environmental Centre
The Story of West Norwood Cemetery. A slide lecture by Gill Dudman,
Secretary of the Friends of West Norwood Cemetery
(The lecture on the Huguenots has been postponed).
Saturday 29th April 2.30 p.m. at Lower Morden Lane Library
A display of archive material held in the store here.
Commentary by Eric Montague & Bill Rudd.
Saturday 13th May 12 noon – 4.30 p.m. MITCHAM CARNIVAL
The Society has a display stand and sells its publications.
HELP REQUIRED!!!!! Please contact Marjorie Ledgerton
no later than 5th May as help is urgently needed.
Friday 26th May 7.15 p.m. for 7.30 p.m.
Visit to Watermeads led by Paul Rutter & Eric Montague.
Meet at the locked gates to the Watermeads.
Saturday 17th June 2.00 p.m. Guided Tour of Painshill Park
See booking form enclosed.
Saturday 15th July 2.00 p.m. Visit to Cheam.
Lumley Chapel and Whitehall. See booking form.
Saturday 12th August Visit to Richmond on Thames
Details to follow. Book this date now!
What do you think of the new format for the Bulletin? It is now printed by our own ‘in house’
printer at half the cost of the commercial printer’s charge, so that must be good for our
The programme for 1995 has more or less been finalised and the Committee feel we are offering
you a varied selection. Please inform the Committee if there is any subject you are interested
for a talk or a place to visit.
The membership has now increased to 107. This is the first time we have achieved over a
century for a number of years now. Congratulations to our hard-working Membership Secretary.
In an endeavour to publicise our meetings we are now appearing in ‘The Pump’ (Streatham) and
K.U.T.A.S (Kingston) journals and in turn you will find their meeting details in the Bulletin.
Also Judy Goodman has been asked by Streatham Society to give a talk on the artistic side of
William Morris. Dates will be available later, and in return one of their speakers will come to
I am visiting Australia for 6 weeks so I leave the distribution of this bulletin in the capable
of Eric Trim and other members who do this so willingly. I do not know whether I will come
back with any news of other Mitcham connections as did Eric Montague when he was there last,
or even Merton or Morden ties. My destinations are Albany (near Perth) Western Australia and
near Sydney, New South Wales.
I am pleased to say that all the bulletins have been indexed and here again Eric Trim did this
single handedly, although there were two other offers. A copy can now be obtained on request of
any of the previous numbers from 1 upwards. The first bulletin appeared in July 1965. I am
always in need of fresh material for the bulletin and have now got to the stage where my stock
running out. No matter whether it be a paragraph, a page, or more, I am always happy to hear
from members and the wider the subject range makes the choice easier. Do seriously think about
what you can offer. If you need any advice I am always available.
SURREY LOCAL HISTORY COUNCIL
The Spring Meeting of the Surrey Local History Council will be held at the Soper Memorial
Hall, Caterham on Saturday, 25th March 1995, on the subject of SURREY ELECTIONS.
2.00 pm. Chairman’s Introductory Remarks
2.05 pm. Dr. David Robinson: KNIGHTS OF THE SHIRE & BURGESSES – ELECTIONS & ELECTORS
3.00 pm. Mr. Richard Muir: HASLEMERE – NEITHER ROTTEN OR POCKET.
3.45 pm. Interval for Tea and Biscuits.
4.15 pm. Mrs. Mary Saaler: THE COMMONS & THE COMMON MAN – THE BLECHINGLEY ELECTIONS
4.35 pm. Dr. Gerry Moss: BRIBERY & TREATING IN REIGATE 1858-63.
4.55 pm. Dr. Ron Cox: …AND WHAT HAPPENED ONCE THEY WERE ELECTED …
5.30 pm. Close of Meeting.
The Soper Hall is situated within the District Council Offices in Harestone Valley Road, close
to the Railway
Station in Caterham Valley. (From the Station cross the road at the Traffic Lights, turn right
and turn left almost
immediately. The Council Offices will be found on the left in a few yards). There is only
limited parking at the
Council Offices, the car park to the left belonging to a Supermarket, but the roads beyond the
hall are unrestricted.
TICKETS: For members if ordered in advance : £4.00 including Tea
For visitors and all tickets at the door: £5.00 including Tea
from Mrs. G.M. Crocker, Hon. Secretary,
c/o The Guildford Institute of the University of Surrey, Ward St., Guildford GU1 4LH
Cheques payable to Surrey Local History Council. Please enclose a stamped addressed envelope.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 113 – MARCH 1995 – PAGE 2
A VINTAGE WIRELESS COLLECTION
We had a most interesting and amusing talk on Saturday 10th December from Peter Brunning on
the subject of his vintage wireless collection. There was a good turn out, over 30 members
together with some new visitors, at least one of whom has indicated an intention to join the
Society. Peter brought a half-dozen assorted wireless sets for us to see, and to support his
all of which he assured us were in working order.
The slides which accompanied the talk were varied and of very good quality. Some of them,
Peter tells me, were taken from the television screen. They were not all of wireless sets but
personalities concerned with the development of wireless telegraphy and telephony, and some of
these were of engravings on postage stamps.
The talk began with a sketch of wireless development, and we heard of the contribution made by
James Clerk Maxwell, Heinrich Hertz, Sir Oliver Lodge and, of course, Guglielmo Marconi who
came to England in 1896 to develop his wireless telegraphy and is generally accepted as the
‘inventor’ of wireless. We also heard a passing reference to another contender for this title,
namely A. S. Popov the Russian.
Next we heard about the beginnings of broadcasting and the establishment of the BBC and how
we, in Britain, soon had the finest public broadcast system in the world with programmes like
Promenade Concerts and dance music by the BBC’s own dance band under Jack Payne.
Then it was on to slides of various wireless sets from Peter’s collection, from a 1922
crystal set to a Philips FM table model in bakelite. He has 60 plus sets, none of them very
valuable, he told us, as he collects wirelesses because they represent some development or
he thinks it is a good set or looks nice or sounds nice but not because they are ‘cult’
After the talk ( and one or two slides of Peter’s cat, Patches) the audience asked a number of
questions, some of which caught Peter out, but, as he said, “I don’t know the answer to that
but I know a book that does!” This caused a certain amount of amusement and after an
for us to examine the wireless sets on display, we all parted on a happy note.
As stated in Bulletin No. 110, Cole & Co. Silk works were at Hackbridge. And from 1919
onwards they were Arthur Coles Ltd. Calico printers.
The local Directories in Morden Library show that Arthur Coles Limited, Calico print works
were at Merton Abbey (alias Station Road) from 1909 to 1919. Possibly backing on to the
Morris works who were at 11 Merton High Street. Certainly near the Liberty & Co. Ltd silk
Might I suggest that when Coles at Merton Abbey closed in 1919 and transferred to their former
silk works at Hackbridge, some of their fittings, perhaps including a set of doors with keys,
into the New Shop (1890) at Libertys. The keys are said to have had the Coles label or tag on
them. Thus the New Shop became Coles Shop.
Tuesday 4th April Roman Body Armour Richard Watson
Tuesday 2nd May The Work of the Lower Mole Project Team Connor Morrow
Tuesday 6th June Deserted Villages in Surrey Judie English
Tuesday 4th July The Roman Temple Site at Wanborough David Bird
at Friends Meeting House Lower Hall, Eden Street, Kingston, starting at 8.00 pm.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 113 – MARCH 1995 – PAGE 3
On Saturday January 28th Mrs Maina Teltscher from the Painshill Park Trust gave a fascinating
lecture to 32 members and 5 visitors at the Snuff Mill Environmental Centre, for the opening
meeting of the 1995 Spring programme.
Painshill, along with Stourhead and Stowe, was one of Europe’s finest 18th century landscape
gardens and was created by the Hon. Charles Hamilton, plantsman, painter and designer, between
1738 and 1773.
Mrs Teltscher showed us, with a unique collection of slides, the gardens in their original
seen by painters of the period.
Hamilton successfully transformed barren heathland into ornamental pleasure grounds surrounding
a fourteen acre lake fed by the River Mole. The whole Park was enhanced by a variety of
built in strategic positions to give vistas of lakes and woodland, including The Gothic Tower,
Grotto, The Ruined Abbey and The Turkish Tent.
Poverty caused Charles Hamilton to sell his Estate and it passed into many hands, eventually
becoming derelict before being purchased by the Council in 1980. They were able to buy 156
acres out of the original 250.
An independent Trust was then set up with the express purpose of restoring Painshill Park to
Mrs Teltscher then took us on a walk round the Park on slide showing it at different stages of
restoration including clearing fallen trees to improve viewpoints, restoring the Chinese
and rebuilding the follies like the Ruined Abbey and The Grotto.
The Grotto has needed a lot of painstaking restoration. Fortunately, a watercolour of the
exists showing the original construction. It is now being completely restored with man made
stalactites worked by art students under the direction of a Grotto Restorer.
The latest completed project is the restored Turkish Tent which was opened to the Public last
season. About two-thirds of the work of restoration of Painshill Park has been completed, and
the Trust is to be congratulated on their magnificent effort.
The Society has arranged a visit to Painshill Park, near Cobham in Surrey, on June 17th, as
of our Summer Programme of events. Anyone who attended this lecture will be looking forward
with anticipation to seeing one man’s vision of Paradise restored.
If you wish to make up the party, please complete and return the enclosed slip as soon as
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 113 – MARCH 1995 – PAGE 4
OUR FIRST LOCAL HISTORY WORKSHOP
The first meeting of our new Local History Workshop got off to a flying start on the evening of
the 13th January. Ten members attended, and a most useful round table discussion took place.
Lionel Green and Peter Hopkins opened, with comments on a paper postulating the diversion of
Stane Street between an estate in what is now Colliers Wood and Sir William de Mara’s court at
Morden in 1225, copies of which had been circulated. Hopefully, further work will now follow
on the original records, since it transpires that Heales’ translation may be suspect.
This was followed by a fascinating summary of recent researches by Judith Goodman into the
history of the villa which preceded the present Wandle Villa, including descriptions of a grand
party held there in August 1806, its interior decor by Frederick Crace and Son (who transformed
the Prince Regent’s ‘Marine Pavilion’ at Brighton in 1802), and Abraham Goldschmidt’s tragic
suicide in 1810.
Bill Rudd described an ingenious approach to the study of progress in suburban development, in
this case Morden, using early electoral rolls, directories and maps. Eric Trim sought guidance
family history research prior to 1812, while Monty outlined recent work on the copper milling
industry, which appeared in Merton and Mitcham in about 1700, flourished at Mitcham until the
mid 18th century and Merton until the late 19th, and then ceased.
Peter Harris told of work he has undertaken in restoring 13 paintings, by Albert Chevallier
(1862-1925) of the Newlyn school of artists, in the chapel of St. Ignatius in the Sacred Heart
Church at Wimbledon. Tony Scott, who on this occasion chaired the meeting, concluded with a
brief reference to a murder at Figges Marsh in 1883.
The next meeting of the Local History Workshop will be at the Wandle Industrial Museum at 7.30
p.m. on Friday 24th March. Anyone is welcome to attend, either merely to listen, to introduce a
pet subject, or to enter into the discussion.
THE RAVENSBURY MILLS
In this new publication, Mr. Montague has brought together research from a number of sources
to clear away any confusion about the beginnings of these mills, their owners, their uses and
developments, until finally around 1925 Whiteley Products Ltd. acquired the buildings for the
manufacture of sports equipment. Now, after standing empty for some years, the mills are once
again to have a new purpose, surrounded by new housing. The attractive illustrations and map
which accompany the text add to our understanding of the mills’ history and development.
For everyone interested in the future – and the past – of the Ravensbury Mills, this booklet
an amazing amount of information.
60p. to members.
Ravensbury Mills from
Morden Hall Road
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 113 – MARCH 1995 – PAGE 5
THE ‘HAY FURLONGS’, WESTERN ROAD, MITCHAM
The map produced in 1853 for the auction of the estate of the late James Moore (principal of
famous firm of Potter and Moore, growers of medicinal and aromatic herbs) shows the area
which later became the King’s College sports ground, and is now partly covered by Lavender
Park, to have been known as the ‘Hay Furlongs’ as late as the mid 19th century.
The ‘Hay Furlongs’ are shown as comprising part of the general area known as the ‘Blacklands’,
which in Mitcham was an alternative name applied to the open west common field.
Whereas most of the west field lying between what is now Western Road and Church Road
remained arable – the soil here was a rich, dark loam – and was still held in unenclosed strips
various freeholders and copyholders, the ‘Hay Furlongs’ would appear to have been permanent
grassland. (This is supported by the memoirs of one old resident who remembered them as
meadow land in the 1860s).
The map shows that, like the west field, the ‘Hay Furlongs’ were also in multiple tenure. The
name implies that they were customarily reserved for the annual haycrop, followed presumably
by controlled grazing. This type of communal farming was of great antiquity, and it is
to see custom in Mitcham perpetuating a system of land management which could well have
dated back to the early middle ages.
The underlying stratum of the former west field, as in much of Mitcham, is composed of sands
and gravels of a post-glacial river system, overlain by a stony subsoil. Exploratory
in 1989 by the Department of Greater London Archaeology of London Museum, in advance of
housing development on two areas of the sports ground, demonstrated that to the north of
Western Road the layer of topsoil was relatively thin. Although the land here may well have
been worked from time to time, it was probably incapable of sustaining cultivation for long
without becoming impoverished. Hence its ultimate role as permanent grassland in the economy
of the village.
Recent archaeological work on the few remaining undisturbed areas of alluvial gravel in the
Thames valley has indicated that settlement on the river terraces has been widespread and
continuous since the early Neolithic period.
Whereas no actual ditches or other features from this period were found at King’s College
sports ground, probably due to disturbance by ploughing, a fragment of pottery was recovered
in the 1989 excavations to indicate settlement here, or in the immediate vicinity, sometime
around 3000/2500 BC.
The truncated remains of later ditches, together with pottery and worked flint, indicated use
the land from c. 1500 BC into the late Bronze or early Iron Age, with signs that stock raising
might have been of increasing importance.
Although of necessity limited in extent, the excavations conducted by the Museum of London
served to demonstrate what had long been expected – that in Mitcham, as on favourable sites
elsewhere in south-eastern England, occupation by farming communities has been more or less
continuous for some 5,000 years. It also confirmed that, even in an urban environment and on
a site not previously regarded as having an archaeological potential, careful work is still
of extending our knowledge of the past.
Editor’s Note: This was passed to me in April 1992 by Eric Montague, and now some houses
have been built on some of the ground.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 113 – MARCH 1995 – PAGE 6
THE SEWER PRESS !!
In the course of some research Bill Rudd found copies of the 16th century Minutes of the Surrey
and Kent Sewer Commission (published by the LCC in 1909). Below are some extracts relating
Page 34. 1569
(115) ….. Richard hopkyns gent to take vppe a deade Ayshe
fallene into the
ryuer in Murdene ….. lyenge betwyxte busshe close & longe poole ….. Xs
(116) ….. Rychard Garthe Esquyere to Cut vppe a Bancke or Poynte
lyenge in Stele hawes in Murdene ….. betwyxte a parcelle of newe planted wyllowes & the ryuer
there beynge iiijor roodes in length by estymacone to make the poynte Strayghte & take yt vppe
close to the bodyes of the newe planted wyllowes & to Cut downe & avoyde oute of the sayde
Ryver there sundrye wyllowes wythin that parcelle of lande ….. XXs 28 Septembris
(119) ….. Rychard Garth Esquyer to bancke & make vppe that vi
foote in the laste resyted presentment extendynge to hys meadowe called stele hawes meade in
Murdone aforesaid ….. so that no water maye passe oute of the mayne ryuer ther into the
Quenes maiestyes hyghe waye as the presentement proxime precedente ys Xs vltimo Julii
(121) ….. Rychard Garth esquye to cut downe & conveyghe oute of the
water & ryuer alle hys wythyes nowe stondynge lyenge & growynge in or ouer the ryuer throughe
oute alle hys groundes ….. Xs 28 Septembris
Woode (123) ….. Thomas Wood Smyth to take vppe a shelfe lyenge benethe Murdene
brydge welnyghe in the Middeste of the ryuer in Wymbletone in the Countye of Surreye & to laye
yt vppone the mayn bancke ….. Xs 28 Septembris
Page 120. 1572
Carewe(436) Item we present ffraunces Carewe esquier or his fermor John Muschamp
Carewe gent to stake walle or wreath his banke against the riuer of thames in the parishe of
Murden in the countie of Surrey filling it vp & Inhaunsinge it higher then now it is
substancially with claye or other fast earth for the safe kepinge in of the water into the
riuer in sondrye places conteyninge by estimacion xij roddes …..
iijs iiijd eueye rodd 20 septembris
It is quite a puzzle to put these notes into our every day language. How much did you decipher?
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 113 – MARCH 1995 – PAGE 7
A MITCHAM MAN
Did you see in the December Merton Messenger the article headed ‘A MITCHAM MAN’ and
referring to a Ben Slater born in 1924 and still living in Mitcham? He is the grandson of
Slater and son of Ben Slater who were all part of a family growing quality lavender in this
for at least 250 years. He is also the great nephew of William Henry Slater who emigrated to
Victoria from Mitcham in the 1860s. See Bulletin No. 111, September 1994, ‘THE OTHER
MITCHAM’ about Eric Montague’s visit there last year. I have obtained a list of Ben Slater’s
written in 1911 of the plants grown by the herb gardeners of Mitcham in his youth.
Liquorice 50 acres
Peppermint 100 acres Distilled for its oil.
A cure for cholera gripes and pains in the stomach
Camomile 50 acres
Lavender 50+ acres Distilled for its scent
Provence rose 20 acres Distilled for scent and rosewater
(used for “weak eyes”)
Damask rose 20-30 acres Petals dried before sale.
Caraway Seed distilled for oil. Also used in cakes.
Belladonna Several acres Used for plasters and bad backs.
Rosemary Boiled in water, and used as a hairwash, and to
Pennyroyal 1 or 2 acres
Horehound Boiled with liquorice. Liquor a “sure cure for
colds, coughs, asthma and bronchitis”.
Feverfew For the relief of fever.
Wormwood As a bitter, in place of hops.
Rue Used in rue gin, and for croup in fowls.
Poppy 2 or 3 acres Dried before sale.
Monkshood aconite Grown for its root and top
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.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 113 – MARCH 1995 – PAGE 8