December 1995 – Bulletin 116
Local Archaeology: Morden Lodge and Morden Hall – W J Rudd
Oseney Abbey,a Sister House to Merton Priory – R A M Scott
and much more
PRESIDENT: The Viscountess Hanworth. F.S.A
VICE PRESIDENTS: Arthur Turner and Lionel Green
BULLETIN NO. 116 DECEMBER 1995
FORTHCOMING PROGRAMME 1996
Saturday 13th January 2.30 p.m. Snuff Mill Environmental Centre
Fulham Palace. An illustrated lecture by Mrs Miranda Poliakoff, Curator of
the Museum of Fulham Palace.
Saturday 17th February 2.30 p.m. Merton Heritage Centre, The Canons
The Huguenots of Wandsworth. An illustrated talk by Anthony Shaw, Local
History Librarian, Wandsworth.
Friday 15th March 8.00 p.m. Snuff Mill Environmental Centre
Australia and Some Merton Connections. A talk by Marjorie Ledgerton.
Friday 12th April 8.00 p.m. Snuff Mill Environmental Centre
The Crystal Palace. A slide talk by Ian Bevan of Crystal Palace Foundation.
(Park in Morden Hall National Trust Garden Centre Car Park
and follow the path across the bridge and through the gateway)
MERTON & MORDEN – A Pictorial History by Judith Goodman
Starting with a brief description of the area in earliest times the book has sections covering
every aspect of life in Merton and in Morden – the old villages, the growth of the suburbs,
churches, transport, work, leisure, etc.
Each of the 183 illustrations has an informative caption in which the author’s enthusiasm for
her subject comes through in the small additional details which bring the past alive.
The book jacket has pictures of the Wheelhouse at Merton Abbey Mills, and Morden Cottage
– truly a pictorial delight from cover to cover.
The book is for sale at meetings for £12.95, or can be mailed at an extra cost of £1.20 from
the Publications Officer, Peter Harris.
REPORT ON ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 1995
The AGM, held this year on 4th November, was rather poorly attended, with only 20 members
present. The usual formal business was transacted with the previous year’s minutes being
and the Chairman’s report (which is printed below) being delivered and accepted.
The Treasurer’s report (on page 3) was presented by David Luff who explained that a slight
increase in membership coupled with a tighter control over expenditure had turned a deficit of
£74.54 last year into a surplus of £301.43. Put simply, we have been selling publications this
which we paid to print last year. Clearly, re-printing will soon be needed and this, coupled
the increasing trend for lecturers to require a fee, justifies this year’s increase in the
annual subscriptions. After discussion the Treasurer’s report was accepted.
A list of those elected to the Committee is printed on the back page of this Bulletin.
Members also accepted with acclamation the Committee’s proposal that Lionel Green become a
Vice President of the Society.
At the end of the meeting the Chairman reminded members that he is conducting a survey to find
out whether Friday evenings or Saturday afternoons are preferred as times of meetings. If you
have strong views, please say so at the next meeting or contact the Chairman by letter or
After the AGM was concluded members formed into small teams to take part in a historical quiz
which was enjoyed by all present.
The Chairman’s Report for 1994-1995
It is good to take this opportunity to look back on the past year and to remember some of its
highlights. Can we ever forget the visit of the English Civil War Society to the Canons in
or tuning in to one of Peter Brunning’s Vintage Wireless Collection? Our visit to Painshill
was as fascinating as Maina Teltscher had told us it would be, in spite of pouring rain. Monty
continued to feed our curiosity for local knowledge, with his talk in Mitcham Parish Church,
the walk through the Watermeads. We had a slide tour of West Norwood Cemetery, and of the
Surrey Record Office, and the faithful few enjoyed our fifth Evelyn Jowett lecture, by Gerald
Smith, on 100 Years of the National Trust. (These last two lectures are reported elsewhere in
bulletin.) We also visited Lumley Chapel and Whitehall in Cheam, Richmond Museum and town
centre, and the Society’s store at Lower Morden Library.
The indexing of back numbers of the Bulletin, begun by Audrey Thomas, has been completed by
Eric Trim (Many thanks, Eric). We are still hoping for volunteers to help with cataloguing the
artifacts in the Store. Please see Marjorie Ledgerton if you can help.
A new venture this year has been the Local History Workshops, held every six weeks or so at the
Wandle Industrial Museum, where members are able to share and discuss their current researches.
More information later in this bulletin. Thanks to Monty for suggesting the idea. The timing
been ideal, as it should provide an excellent forum for members to share in the Millennium
being organised by Surrey Archaeological Society in the near future. I certainly hope that many
members will be willing to become involved in this Project, which is aiming to build up a
maps and indexes to the history of our ancient villages. More details as soon as they become
The Society has continued to be represented on a number of local organisations, and took part
both Mitcham Carnival and the Green Fair, the Treasure Hunt and book sales covering our costs.
Marjorie Ledgerton organised a display of herbs for the Green Fair, and Judy Goodman and Eric
Trim provided a display of some of the artifacts rescued from the dig at the Morden Hall Farm
Dairy which she and Stephen Day told us about at last year’s AGM. Marjorie and Judy also
displayed some of our publications at the Local History Book Fair at Vauxhall.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 116 – DECEMBER 1995 – PAGE 2
The publishing event of the year was Judy’sMerton & Morden: A Pictorial History, published by
Phillimore. But the Society has been busy also, publishing two more titles in the Local History
9 Memories of Service with the LDV/Home Guard, Mitcham 1940-42
10 The Story of the Long Thornton and District Improvement Society
as well as Monty’s booklet, The Ravensbury Mills. More publications are in preparation.
I would like to thank all the Committee members who, once again, have worked so hard this year,
and for their longsuffering support during my Chairmanship. A special thanks to Sheila Harris,
our Hon. Secretary, Marjorie Ledgerton, our Bulletin Editor and David Luff, our Treasurer.
Three very hardworking Committee members have completed their three years on the Committee
– Eric Trim, who has already been mentioned above, Bill Sole, our Membership Secretary, and
Madeline Healey, who opens up and prepares the Snuff Mill for our lectures each month. We all
thank them for everything that they have done, and hopefully will continue to do, on our
Many thanks also to Sheila and Peter Harris for their hospitality at the Wandle Industrial
both for Workshops and Committee meetings.
Finally, may I thank every member of the Society for your support at meetings and other events
throughout the year. I hope you will agree that it has again been a good year for the Society.
Please let us know if you have any suggestions for improvements, or ideas for future speakers,
topics or events.
Membership Secretary’s Report
Membership for 1994-95 totalled 108. To date membership totals 88. Payment can now be made
by Standing Order. Membership fees are now overdue and renewal forms are enclosed for those
who may have not yet rejoined.
C E Sole
It was unfortunate that we had to put up our subscriptions this year by £1. This had come about
due to increased costs. Hopefully the last for the foreseeable future.
Your Committee has been working hard over the past twelve months to reduce expenditure
where possible. Our Bulletin is now printed privately, but we must keep in mind that at some
in the future we might have to return to a commercial printer. We cut back on the number of new
publications and, as you can see from the balance sheet (printed overleaf), we have benefited
from sales of our existing titles.
No sooner do we reduce expenditure in one place than it creeps in somewhere else. It seems to
be becoming the norm for guest speakers at our meetings to require a donation, as well as
usually around £15 to £20, and so long as this does not occur at every meeting it is well
our yearly budget.
On a lighter note, we drank less tea last year than the previous, and I’m not sure if this just
that we are seeing less of you at the monthly meetings or if there is something you want to say
our very hardworking tea ladies.
For the really observant, you will have noticed that I an now no longer the ‘acting’ Treasurer
the ‘Hon’ Treasurer. Our Chairman has allowed me to use the full title after serving a year’s
apprenticeship, but to give full credit where it is due, Miss Mould is still the Treasurer
Treasurer, always ready to help and advise. Long may she continue to do so. This does not mean
that if there is someone out there just dying to become Treasurer that I would not step aside!
Please send your CV to our Chairman.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 116 – DECEMBER 1995 – PAGE 3
Statement of Accounts for the year ending 30th September 1995
Balance brought forward from 1-10-94 Bulletin 133.45
Midland Bank 63.80 Affiliation fees 73.00
Nationwide Anglia Building Society 1030.18 Lecturers’ Expenses 43.36
Petty Cash 1.44 1095.42 Hire of Halls, etc. 68.00
Subscriptions 320.00 Painshill Park visit 73.80
Donations 22.56 Painshill Park (refunds) 9.60
Teas at Meetings 28.40 Mitcham Carnival stall 15.00
Bank and Building Society Interest 34.19 Green Fair stall 10.00
Miscellaneous 220.50 725.65 Wandle Industrial
Museum (books, etc.) 64.60
Petty Cash 94.80
Publications 395.74 395.74 Publications 234.35 234.35
We are affiliated to: London
& Middlesex Archaeological Society Balance 30-9-95
Surrey Local History Council Midland Bank 337.04
Surrey Archaeological Society Nationwide Anglia Town Trails
SCOLA (Standing Council on London Building Society 1059.79
Archaeology) Petty Cash 00.02 1396.85
Merton Arts Council 2216.81
It is well-known in archaeology that a long spell of hot dry weather often produces parch marks
in the grass that might indicate buried foundations. Thus four members of the Society, having
obtained permission of the resident of Morden Lodge, set out to find the possible site of
the Tudor manor house built in 1553. But this was not to be. Perhaps too much to expect some
200 years after its demolition and the site changed out of all recognition.
However, it was a useful exercise and a chance to examine the grounds not normally accessible.
What was found was a well, a large ice house, and the remains of a greenhouse as well as an
outbuilding. There was a slightly raised area which might justify a resistivity survey.
were taken and a letter of thanks sent to the resident.
A week later a small team from the Oxford Archaeological Unit, at the behest of The National
Trust and English Heritage, carried out a brief exploratory excavation in the grounds of Morden
Hall, the site being proposed as a car parking area for the development of Morden Hall into a
restaurant. Two trenches exposed the footings of a wall in alignment with the east elevation of
Morden Hall. One comprised of red bricks, the other of chalk and greensand stone. There is no
indication of a wall on any of the available maps. It is likely further examination will be
when development takes place.
LOCAL HISTORY WORKSHOPS
The Workshops meetings have flourished. Reports for the past two sessions will be published in
the March issue, together with the subjects discussed at the next meeting which will be on
26th January. There will also be one on Friday 29th March from 7.30 to 9.30 pm at the Wandle
Industrial Museum. All are welcome.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 116 – DECEMBER 1995 – PAGE 4
VISIT TO RICHMOND MUSEUM & GUIDED TOWN TOUR
On an extremely hot Saturday afternoon 8 members met for a Tour of Richmond Museum. We
had an Introductory Talk by the Curator, Simon Lace, who told us the Museum was opened 7
years ago. It was an Independent Museum supported by Richmond Council. It is housed in the
Old Town Hall complex which includes the Tourist Office and Riverside Tea Rooms. Simon
Lace explained that the exhibits showed a chronological display of the history of Richmond,
Kew, Petersham and Ham. He devoted a fair proportion of display space to changing exhibitions
on local themes with a wide appeal i.e. local famous personalities who had lived in Richmond
such as Virginia Woolf. The present temporary exhibition was about “A Century of Shopping”
and concentrated on the life histories of various Richmond shops.
There were some excellent models of Richmond Palace 1501-1603 built by Henry VII and Shere
Palace destroyed by fire in 1497.
After spending time in the Museum we met Norman Radley of the Richmond Voluntary Guides
who took us on an hour’s tour of Richmond.
After leaving the Museum and the Old Town Hall once the site of the Whittaker Hotel, we visited
Heron Square which was re-designed in the original style and opened in 1988 by the Queen. The
whole complex is owned by an American Company and is used as offices. Here there were
Merton connections as Emma Hamilton lived in the original Heron House in 1806 while trying to
get money from the Admiralty for her daughter Horatia after Nelson’s death. Hotham House
nearby is named after the former owner of Merton Place before Nelson and the Hamiltons lived
Leaving Heron Square we passed under Richmond Bridge and up to the site of Richmond Palace
once the largest Palace in England before Hampton Court was built. It is now occupied by
Passing onto Richmond Green containing the homes of the rich and famous, we saw Maids of
Honour Row built in 1724 for the Maids of Honour to the Prince of Wales before he became
King George II.
Continuing across the Green past the Richmond Theatre we returned to the Station after a very
pleasant and interesting afternoon.
THE WORK OF THE SURREY RECORD OFFICE
The Surrey Record Office is based at Kingston-upon-Thames and Guildford and has a department
dealing with the preservation of maps, documents, etc. So said Julian Pooley, one of six
who are employed there, in his illustrated talk to the Society on 20th October last.
Plans are well ahead for a new Office to be opened in Woking so that all will be under one
This is not a dream but should be opening in 1997.
After discussing in general terms the activities of the Record Office, a number of slides were
shown of varying materials, ending with Morden records including extracts from the Tithe Map,
Church Wardens Account Books for 1771-1780, the Vestry Minutes book for 1805 and Piggott’s
There are two leaflets in our lending libraries giving details of facilities offered, one being
for Family Historians”.
There was the usual opportunity for questions at the end, and the Chairman thanked Julian for
Similarly the Greater London Record Office had an Exhibition in the summer and issued a booklet
on the plans for the evacuation of children during the Second World War. Brochures for this are
available in the lending library collections.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 116 – DECEMBER 1995 – PAGE 5
THE FIFTH EVELYN JOWETT MEMORIAL LECTURE
On the 15th September a select handful of members heard the fifth Evelyn Jowett Memorial
Lecture which was given by Mr. Gerald Smith, Chairman of the Epsom Centre of the National
Trust. This was a well structured talk on the 100 year old history of the Trust but much was
happening before it was founded. Robert Hunter was campaigning through the Commons
Preservation Society to prevent unreasonable landowners from enclosing common land i.e.
commons. Another founder, Octavia Hill was an astute business woman and fundraiser for good
causes. Whilst the third founder, Canon H.D. Rawnsley was rousing public opinion to prevent
the building of a railway around Derwent Water in the Lake District. Together they agreed to
up a body of private citizens to act as trustees for the nation in the acquisition and
places of historic interest or natural beauty. This was in 1895 and in 1907 Parliament
upon the Trust the unique power to declare its land inalienable so that it can never be sold or
compulsorily purchased without special parliamentary procedure.
Following the First World War, in 1920, Scafell Pike was given to the Trust by the 3rd Lord
Leconfield as a war memorial for the men of the Lake District. Membership of the Trust had
dropped due to the war and a new problem arose in the countryside. The large houses of the
landed gentry had a servant problem. Returning soldiers and munition workers no longer wished
to work all hours with little recreation. Many large houses were being closed up and/or
little maintenance so the Country House Scheme began whereby the buildings were given to the
Trust but the former owners allowed to stay rent free. The scheme required a change in the law.
Later the National Gardens Scheme was started to take care of historic gardens and here this
supported by income from the National Memorial Fund. In 1965 Enterprise Neptune was launched
to save the best of Britain’s 3000 miles of coastline and the Trust now owns 550 miles. It now
works hard supporting nature conservation. In some areas it is recreating mud flats and salt
marshes by allowing high tides to flood reclaimed meadows. New challenges present themselves
each year. At the moment the Trust is fighting government proposals to re-route the A35 near
the Golden Cap estate in Dorset. For over 20 years the Trust has been securing land around the
headland and having reached the culmination of its efforts is now faced with a scarring road
across the valley.
Some of the work of the National Trust is accomplished by 29,000 volunteers and membership is
now over two million.
Mr Smith has a pleasant voice and entertained the audience with brief breaks into recitation.
expected there were many excellent slides. He delivered his illustrated talk without referring
notes and this caused several lapses of accuracy in describing locations. Bill Sole pointed out
that Orford Ness is not in Norfolk. The recently opened gardens at Biddulph Grange are not
“near Birmingham” but in Staffordshire near the border with Cheshire, some 45 miles from
Birmingham. Penrhyn Castle is not in Anglesey but on the mainland near Bangor. Barrington
Court is not near Moreton in the Marsh, but over 100 miles and four counties away from the
SOUTH LONDON BOOK FAIR
Merton Historical Society, with its publications, was in attendance at the above held at the
Peter’s Heritage Centre, Vauxhall, and sales were good. A total amount of £24.95 from the sales
was handed over to The Hon. Treasurer. The actual amount received was £26.95 but a donation
of £2 was made to the Centre towards their costs. Also from this event a new member joined us.
Welcome Mrs Gordon, who spent her childhood in Mitcham.
The Centre is well worth a visit – open daily – and the current display features the Vauxhall
Gardens. Refreshments are available.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 116 – DECEMBER 1995 – PAGE 6
A .SISTER HOUSE. TO MERTON PRIORY
Merton Priory was one of the great religious houses of the Augustinian order in England and
survived from its foundation in 1114 by Gilbert the Norman until its Dissolution on the orders
Henry VIII in 1538. At that time it was known as Merton Abbey not Priory. Soon after its
foundation, a magnificent stone church, chapter house, cloisters and other domestic buildings
were constructed but virtually nothing remains today above ground level. Much of the stone was
taken soon after the Dissolution to construct Nonsuch Palace and the dispossessed Prior, John
Ramsey, was given a pension of about £66 pa by Thomas Cromwell and the use of a house and
garden in Trinity Lane, London, for life.
Merton was not the only great house of the Augustinian order in England and it is interesting
compare its fate with that of another similar establishment about which we in Merton hear
Oseney Abbey, located near the Thames just outside the city wall of Oxford, was founded for the
Augustinians in 1129 by Robert d’Oilly, son of the first Norman Sheriff of Oxford. The abbey
church was by far the largest in Oxford, having a nave 332 feet long (slightly longer than
nave of 307 feet) and a chapter house capable of accommodating the 200 canons who assembled
there for the English Augustinian chapter in July 1443. The western campanile of the church
contained a ring of eight bells which were claimed to be the finest in England.
In 1538 the Abbey was dissolved and the dispossessed abbot (prior?), Robert King, assisted
Thomas Cromwell with the dissolution of the local religious houses and for this he was rewarded
with a pension and the newly created bishopric of Oxford. The Abbey was used as the cathedral
until 1546 when the see was removed from Oseney to the city church of St Frideswide beside
which Cardinal’s College had been founded by Cardinal Wolsey in 1525. The college name was
then thought to be singularly inappropriate and the whole became Christ Church College which it
Soon after 1546 the Abbey was substantially destroyed to provide stone for local construction
and now nothing remains visible. The area is now called Osney (but still pronounced .Owesnee.)
and part of the land is now covered by Oxford railway station and car park and part by late
Victorian housing. Thus the two Augustinian houses, so similar in outward appearance, suffered
a closely similar end.
The fate of Oseney Abbey’s beautiful bells is an interesting story. The largest, .Great Tom.,
given to Christ Church College where it remains today. It is one of the largest bells in
and weighs about 8 tons. It is now housed in Tom Tower, designed for it by Wren in 1682 when
he designed buildings to complete the quadrangle of Christ Church College. Great Tom is still
tolled 101 times each night at 9.05pm to indicate curfew time for the original 101 students at
Henry VIII apparently ordered the other seven bells to be transported to London, possibly to
replace those in Westminster Abbey. They were loaded on a barge and carefully towed down the
Thames, through 20 or more .flash locks., until they passed Windsor whereupon they mysteriously
.disappeared.. It was claimed that the barge capsized and that they were thrown into the river.
Was it an act of God or of man? It is quite unbelievable that not one of them could be located
raised since, even today, the Thames there is only 12 – 15 feet deep and would have been much
shallower before the present locks were constructed. Underwater visibility is poor but a drag
chain could have been used for such a valuable treasure. I think it more likely that the bells
spirited away so as not to arouse public hostility and sent to a foundry for casting into
The loss of the bells is commemorated by the name of the riverside pub and steak-house, .The
Bells of Ouzeley., just up-river from Runnymede. This was rebuilt in the 1930s on the site of a
much older establishment bearing the same name (including spelling!).
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 116 – DECEMBER 1995 – PAGE 7
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 116 – DECEMBER 1995 – PAGE 8
COMMITTEE MEMBERS 1995-1996
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.