Bulletin 128

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December 1998 – Bulletin 128
Richard Simpson, Vicar of Mitcham 1844-46 – R A M Scott
Buildings at risk in Merton – R A M Scott
Abbeys and or Priories – L E Green
Blake’s Folly, Long Thornton, Mitcham – E N Montague

and many more

VICE PRESIDENTS: Viscountess Hanworth, Arthur Turner, Lionel Green and William Rudd



Saturday 5 December 2.30 pm Snuff Mill Environmental Centre
.The Archaeological History of Carshalton House and Water Tower’
Andrew Skelton

Archaeology continues to shed light on the history of two of the most distinguished
buildings in our near neighbourhood.

Saturday 23 January 2.30 pm Snuff Mill Environmental Centre
.Great Houses of Sutton. John Phillips

Mr Phillips is Heritage Officer of the London Borough of Sutton. His illustrated lecture
promises to be an enlightening look at an unfamiliar aspect of Sutton’s history.

(For the Snuff Mill Centre drivers should park in the Morden Hall Garden Centre
car-park and take the path across the bridge, go through the gateway and
turn right towards Morden Cottage. Buses 118, 154, 157, 164.)

Thursday 18 February 8pm
Morden Hall Medical Centre, 256 Morden Road
SW19 (the old Morden Library premises)

.The Roman Soldier’
John Eagle

The venue for this exciting hands-on event is appropriately close to Stane Street,
probably a familiar route to many a Roman soldier.
(The medical centre is near Morden station and on or close to many bus routes.)

Saturday 13 March 2.30 pm The Canons House
.The Canons House and its Setting. Eric Montague

Our chairman needs no introduction as the historian of Mitcham, and his audience can
expect an authoritative and absorbing account of the Canons story.
(The Canons is in Madeira Road, Mitcham, close to bus routes 118, 152, 200.
There is a car-park.)

The Society’s events are open to the general public, unless otherwise stated.


FRIDAY 25 September 1998

Three members only were present.

!!!!!Judy Goodman had two short tales to tell. She had visited All Saints church, Tudeley, in

Kent, famous
for its superb set of modern glass by Marc Chagall. These windows were installed in memory of a

girl, Sarah Venetia d.Avigdor-Goldsmid, who was tragically drowned in a boating accident in

1963. And
this is the local connection – because Sarah was a great-great-great-great-granddaughter of

Goldsmid of Morden Lodge. Abraham’s daughter Isabel married her cousin Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, who
later became the first Jew to be made a baronet. Their daughter Rachel married Count Solomon

d.Avigdor, and a grandson of that marriage, Osmund, the first baronet d.Avigdor Goldsmid, was

grandfather. The Tudeley church, outside Tonbridge, is open every day from 9am to 6pm.

Who would have thought there could be even a tenuous link between Merton’s two most celebrated
figures – Nelson and William Morris? Well there really is. A frequent visitor/resident at

Nelson’s Merton
Place was his young niece Charlotte Nelson, who was otherwise at the well-known Whitelands

school for young ladies in Chelsea. Forty years later Whitelands was taken over by the National

as a training college for schoolmistresses, and from the 1870s John Ruskin took a special

interest in it.
In particular he transformed the chapel, sending William Morris and Burne-Jones there in 1883

to plan
new windows and decoration scheme. Though Whitelands moved to Putney in 1931, and is now part

the Roehampton Institute, the windows survive as one of the finest sets of late Burne-Jones

anywhere. (The Chelsea site in Kings Road, next to the barracks, is occupied by Whitelands

House, a
handsome block of flats.)

Bill Rudd was still on the trail of Rev John White, schoolmaster at Morden Hall in the 19th

century, and
his family. Mr White does not appear among the Alumni of Oxford or Cambridge and his personal
details continue to elude Bill.

Following up his recollections of Sir Alan Cobham’s Great Air Display off Stonecot Hill in

1934 (see Bulletin 123) Bill had written to Flight Magazine. Though they had not been able to

more information they did have a photo of the .Flying Flea., a well remembered feature of the

Bill is tempted to order a copy.

The Kennels Farm, which once stood in Lower Morden Lane, had taken the interest of Peter

Views of it in the Local Studies Centre show a weatherboarded building with a jettied upper

storey and
the appearance of possibly having been one limb of a larger structure. Peter’s account will

appear in the
next Bulletin.


For future workshop dates please telephone Sheila on 540 6656 or Judy on 543 8908


Our sales stall featured again on Sunday 13 September at the Green Fair at the London Road

Playing Fields

in Mitcham. The day was not too warm, but even with the remains of the American hurricane which


drifted over the pond blowing its hardest all day we were nicely sheltered, and wind was not

the problem it

had been in past years.

The Green Fair is for local societies and does not attract the large crowds it deserves, as

there is always

plenty to entertain one and all throughout the afternoon. In fact the birds of prey display,

which we were told

was not one of falconry, kept those watching spellbound. I would assume that the large vulture

that landed

on adults. and children’s heads and ungloved hands had had the talons clipped. It even walked

in and out of

the spectators looking for any tasty titbits.

Unfortunately, due to the wind the sound from the area drifted everywhere, drowning out other


such as the Merton Concert Band. It is a pity the playing fields do not have a purpose-built

bandstand like

I remember from the 1950s. I can remember bands playing in some of them. All fell into

disrepair and were

pulled down – something they would not get away with today.

Our publications attracted a number of purchases and we also had a visit from our lady mayor.

On the

whole a successful day, and many many thanks to Margaret Carr and Eric Trim who took turns to

staff the

stand throughout the day.



Work onTramlink is progressing steadily. All the footbridges at the Merton end have now come

down. At
Kingston Road level crossing a length of new rails is in place, even while the big job of re-

aligning the
services at this point, especially the water mains, continues. The rolling-stock has now

arrived in this
country from Austria, having been landed, we are told, at Dartford.

The 1998 Year Book of the 1805 Club has an interesting article about Nelson’s arms (in the

sense!). The author, David White, has examined the records of the College of Arms. He quotes

from an
Officer of Arms who was horrified at Nelson’s wish to incorporate the Spanish king’s ensign in

his arms an
intention described as .indelicate. from a gallant victor to .a subdued enemy which may …

become a
friendly power.. More happily, Nelson’s use of an ordinary seaman as one ‘supporter. in his

arms (the
other was a lion shredding the aforementioned Spanish flag) apparently set a new fashion among

men. The arms can be studied on Nelson’s hatchment in St Mary the Virgin, Merton Park.

I visited Crossness, near Erith, during the Open
House weekend in September. The very direct local
connection is that all our waste water goes via the
Southern Intercepting Sewer and the Southern
Outfall to Crossness Pumping Station. The whole
scheme was the work of Sir Joseph Bazalgette (a
Morden resident for many years before moving to
Wimbledon) and was opened in 1865. The four
identical rotative beam engines (possibly the largest
in the world) were last used in 1953 and are being
restored by volunteers. Both they and the romanesque
engine house are spectacular monuments of the
Victorian age. In contrast, but perhaps equally fine,
is the brand-new gleaming incinerator building at
the other end of the huge site. For information about
open days telephone (Sun and Tues only) 0181 311 3711.

Recorded in Surrey Archaeological Society Bulletin for September:Minutes and Bulletins of this

from 1962-1996 are to be found at Surrey History Centre under Accession Number 4583. The

recently decided that this was the proper place to lodge our records.

An article onMitcham Parish Church in the latest edition of Surrey History (Vol.V No.4 @£2 to

of MHS – contact Peter Harris) is by MHS member, Ray Ninnis. The article is a study of the

criticism of the architecture of the “New Church at Mitcham, Surrey” published inThe

Gentleman’s Magazine
for July 1821, and includes some excellent new photographs of the church.

!!!!!From New Troy to Londinium: The Rediscovery of Roman London is the title of a LAMAS

and Middlesex Archaeological Society) lecture by John Clark at the Museum of London on Thursday

January 1999 at 6.30pm.

The illuminated clock on the Prince of Wales at the top of Hartfield Road in Wimbledon is 100

years old
this year. It would be good if, to mark the occasion, the brewers would get it working again!

On Monday 4 January at 8pm at Woodlawns, 16 Leigham Court Road SW16,Brian Bloice will be

to the Streatham Society Local History Group on .Researching Building History.. Visitors


I recently acquired at an antiques fair the
photograph shown here. It seems to be a
wartime shot of two Merton and Morden
auxiliary ambulances and their crew
outside a large corrugated iron building possibly
the depot? Can any reader locate
the building, identify the vehicles
(? American make) or provide any other
information? (Please ring Judy Goodman)

(Rectangle comment XPMUser
24/05/2017 18:26:52
Crossness Beam Engine House 1865

TONY SCOTT writes:

I read with interest Eric Montague’s account of RICHARD SIMPSON, Vicar of Mitcham 1844-46, in
the last Bulletin (No 127), as I have made a particular study of the Simpsons in connection

with their
establishment and support of SS Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Mitcham.

I can enlarge on some of the facts presented by Mr Montague and take him to task on some


Richard Simpson chaired the meeting of Mitcham parish vestry on Easter Tuesday, 14 April 1846,

vicar, but does not appear thereafter in the vestry minutes, even though the next meeting was

only two days
later1. Throughout the spring and summer the meetings were chaired by James Bridger. On 22

October the
minutes recorded that .Edwin Chart laid before the Vestry his appointment by Mr R Simpson to

the office
of Parish Clerk and Sexton, dated 2nd May last.. Up to this time Richard Simpson had been given

the title
Rev.d whenever his name appeared in the minutes. The Easter Tuesday meeting re-appointed Rev

Hurnall as vicar’s warden, and it seems likely that Richard Simpson subsequently retired from

life, although his formal resignation from the living did not take place until 6 July 18462.

On 1 August of the same year Richard Simpson and his wife Elizabeth Mary were received into the
Catholic Church by Father Brownbull SJ2. He then travelled to the Continent, doing the .Grand

Tour. and
acquiring a wide spread of languages3. In his periods of residence in England he worked as a

translator and
a tutor4. In 1850 he embarked upon a literary career with a series of articles in The Rambler,

a journal
founded two years earlier as an organ for lay converts to Catholicism. Some years later he

became assistant
editor, then editor, and finally part-owner of the journal with Lord Acton, before it ceased

publication in
1862. By 1858 he was living at 1 Nelson Terrace, Clapham Common (now part of Clapham Common
North Side)4, and I believe remained there for the rest of his life, apart from occasional

visits abroad. He
continued various publishing activities, with Lord Acton, for most of the rest of his life. He

became a
zealous Shakespearean scholar and also a prolific composer; but for some eccentricities of

style he might
have acquired fame as a musician3. In his final years Richard Simpson suffered from cancer, and

he died
on 5 April 1876 at the Villa Sciarra, residence of his friend the Count of Heritz, just outside


William Simpson, the eldest of the three brothers, was educated at Cambridge and had been

converted to
Catholicism in 1843. Robert, the youngest, was, like Richard, educated at Merchant Taylors.

School and
Oxford, where at 17, in 1842, he entered St John’s College. He, similarly, became influenced by

Oxford Movement and joined the Catholic Church in 1845, the same year as Newman’s conversion.

left Oxford without obtaining a degree and decided to enter Oscott Seminary in Sutton Coldfield

to commence
studies for the priesthood. These were completed in Rome where he was ordained on 22 December


Initially he served missions in the Birmingham diocese, but in 1855 he was transferred to the

diocese, and led the missions at Deal and Canterbury before becoming the first resident priest

in the
Mitcham mission (founded the previous year by his eldest brother William) in May 1862. On 8

1861 in a letter to the Catholic Bishop of Southwark, his address is given as 4 Victoria Road,

Common5, but by 17 April 1862 his address is .Mitcham S. (probably S for Surrey)5. He left

Mitcham in
October 1863 to become the chaplain to the military prison at Southwark.

Although poor health followed Robert Simpson for most of his life2, I have failed to find any

evidence of
mental derangement caused by the death of his mother at the age of 75 in 1858. There is in the

archives a very clear and lucid letter from Robert Simpson, then living at Dartford, to Bishop

Danell of Southwark, dated 9 August 1879, in which he relates his recollections of being told

as a boy
about Mass being said in Mr Langdale’s house in Mitcham. Robert died on 24 March 1887 aged 622,

I have also failed to find mention of him dying as a lunatic.


Minutes of Mitcham vestry
McElrath, D Richard Simpson 1820-1876, Publications Universitaires de Louvain 1972
Dictionary of National Biography (Richard Simpson)
Altholtz, J L, McElrath, D, and Holland, J C (editors) The Correspondence of Lord Acton and

Richard Simpson vol i
Cambridge 1971
Two letters to Bishop Thomas Grant by Robert Simpson: in Roman Catholic Diocese of Southwark


TONY SCOTT represents this Society on the London Borough of Merton Conservation Areas
Advisory Committee. Following a recent CAAC meeting he has produced this report for our



Each year since 1991 English Heritage has produced, as part of a broader national survey, a

Register of
Buildings at Risk in Greater London. This register comprises a schedule of vacant or partially

listed buildings .at risk. from neglect and the ravages of time.

As well as giving the address and Grade of Listing of each building, the list also gives the

degree of risk on
a scale of A-F. There are currently 11 entries on the Register located within Merton. They are

as follows:

Listing Grade Degree of Risk
II 66 Church Road, Mitcham A
II Memorials in St Peter and St Paul’s churchyard, Church Road, Mitcham C
II Cottenham House, Atkinson Morley’s Hospital, 27 Copse Hill, SW20 C
II Former stables, 27 Copse Hill, SW20 C
II Wall and gateways to Sacred Heart Church, Edge Hill, SW20 C
II 475 London Road, Mitcham C
II* The Canons, Madeira Road, Mitcham C
II Section of Merton Priory wall, Station Road, SW19 C
II Section of Merton Priory wall, rear of 27-33 Windsor Avenue, SW19 C
II* Morden Park House, London Road, Morden D
II 346/348 London Road, Mitcham D
An explanation of the various degrees of risk is as follows:
A Immediate risk of further rapid deterioration; no solution agreed

B Immediate risk of further rapid deterioration; solution agreed but not yet implemented
C Steady decay; no solution agreed
D Steady decay; solution agreed but not yet implemented

There are two buildings on the Register which are owned by Merton Council. The Canons is

because of the serious fire there in 1996. However essential repairs have been carried out and

the building
is back in use. Morden Park House has been the subject of a successful application for Heritage

Funding for renovation of the building to accommodate the Register Office. Tenders are being

invited and
work should commence in November 1998.


The Society has brought out several new publications recently. These are:

Title: Author: Full Members’
Price: Price:

The Railways of Merton Lionel Green £1.75 £1.40
A History of Lord Nelson’s Merton Place Peter Hopkins £2.00 £1.60
The Patent Steam Washing Factory at Phipps Bridge Eric Montague 50p 40p
The Parish of Merton in 1844 – The Tithe Apportionment Map Peter Hopkins 75p 60p
Morden in 1838 – The Tithe Apportionment Map Peter Hopkins £1.00 80p
Life at The Cranmers, Mitcham, before the 1914-18 War Ethel Smith 50p 40p

Available at meetings or order from Peter Harris.
See Publications List/ Order Form enclosed. Excellent stocking-fillers, or to keep for


Richard Milward, who is a member of this Society as well as, of course, the Wimbledon Society,

has just
brought out another new title. This is Wimbledon Past, a handsomely produced and lavishly

chronological account of Wimbledon’s history from the Bronze Age to the 1990s. Published by

Publications Ltd it costs £14.95 from bookshops and the Wimbledon Society Museum. It would make

excellent Christmas present.

The John Innes Society has brought out a new edition of Merton Park, the Quiet Suburb 1904-

First published in 1984 it has now been thoroughly revised, and provided with new

illustrations, a better
map, and an updated bibliography. It costs £2 from Merton Local Studies Centre, the Wimbledon

Museum, or John Innes Society events. Or order from David Roe, 105 Poplar Road South, SW19 3JZ,
with a stamped (19p) envelope (9″x6″) and a cheque to the John Innes Society.


LIONEL GREEN tackles the question .What really is the difference between a priory and an



When is a priory not an abbey? This depends on the superior, for an abbot governed an abbey but

a prior
governed a priory. The full answer is more involved because abbeys also had a prior.

Benedictine houses

Most pre-Conquest monasteries were important foundations whose superior was an abbot or abbess

by a prior or prioress. From AD 664 all religious followed the Rule of St Benedict, although

following the
Norse invasions which began after AD 787 regular monastic life ceased to exist in most parts

until the
tenth century.

Daughter houses of monasteries began as cells (with fewer than four religious), but many grew

in importance
to have a prior in charge (a priory), and a few secured independence. Most autonomous houses

abbeys, and all dependent monasteries were priories. There were few abbesses in post-Conquest


All monastic cathedrals were priories, because the monastery was governed by the prior. The

bishop was

the titular abbot, but not necessarily a member of the community.
Many foundations (of all orders) were termed .alien priories., because their mother house was

than in England. Most of these were only cells, and the monks were mainly Frenchmen. Boxgrove

Sussex was alien until it became denizen as a Benedictine priory in 1339.

Cluniac houses

All Cluniac houses were priories, because they were under the Abbot of Cluny. Daughter houses

of Cluny
and La Charité were alien priories, but only Bermondsey of the Cluniac houses achieved the

status of an
abbey, in 1399, having become denizen in 1381. Even the senior Cluniac monastery in England,

(founded in 1077), remained a priory.

Cistercian houses

All Cistercian houses, regardless of size, were abbeys.

Carthusian monks

All Carthusian monasteries were priories.

Augustinian canons

Most Augustinian convents began as priories. Only about 18 (of over 200) achieved abbatial

rank, and
four of these were in royal patronage from their foundation.

Premonstratensian canons

Most establishments were abbeys, with a few cells and priories. The abbots were expressly

forbidden to
wear the mitre, ring and gloves properly pertaining to bishops1. (See Mitred abbeys below)
Gilbertine canons

All Gilbertine canons lived in priories, but the superior was the Master.

Arrouaisian and Victorine canons

These 12th-century foundations of St Nicholas of Arrouaise and St Victor of Paris followed the

of Citeaux (Cistercian) and were thus abbeys. When the houses were subsumed and followed the

Rule, they retained their titles as abbeys.

Benedictine nuns

Amesbury was an abbey from 980 until 1177, when it was refounded as a priory, following the

of all the nuns. Farewell was reduced to a priory in the mid-13th century because of a lack of


Augustinian canonesses

Canonsleigh was a priory of canons until 1282 when it became an abbey of canonesses. Burnham

Lacock were the only other Augustinian abbeys for canonesses.

Mitred abbeys

Many important monasteries applied to the Pope for enhanced status, which when granted enabled

abbot and his successors to wear episcopal insignia. The procurement was costly and grounds for

this status would include the size of the community, historic importance, competence of the

abbot or prior,
adequacy of buildings, sufficiency of endowments for the future, and the backing of the Pope.

The Pope
would licence the prelate to wear some or all of the episcopal insignia, which consisted of

sandals, tunicle,


dalmatic, gloves, staff or crosier, ring and mitre. A mitred abbot was exempt from any

episcopal visitation
or control. The monastery henceforth was termed a .mitred abbey.. The insignia were only worn

within the
monastery on special occasions and in state pageants and processions.

During the Great Schism (1378-1417) Boniface IX had financial problems and began selling papal


on a large scale. Many monasteries used the opportunity to raise their status.
The successful applicants within the Augustinian Order were Bridlington2 (1409), Bristol

(1398), Bruton
(1511), Butley (1398), Cirencester (1416), Kenilworth (c.1410), London Aldgate (1452), Norton

Oseney (1481), St Osyth (1397), Taunton (1499), Thornton (1518) and Waltham (1184). Although
Bridlington, Butley and Norton were granted the status of mitred abbeys they chose to retain

the title of
.Priories.. Bodmin was unsuccessful in 1206, when the Pope’s legate’s report was unfavourable,

Walsingham’s application in 1384 was refused when the bishop accused the prior of dissipating

in trying to procure such a privilege. Prior Snoring was deposed in 1387. The foundation

charter of
Cartmel (1190) stipulated that .the priory shall never be made an abbey..

Mitred (Parliamentary) Abbeys

Certain prelates were summoned by the king to attend Parliament, and they held the rank of a

baron in the
Upper House. Numbers were increased as monasteries flourished, until in 1300 a total of 80

abbots and
priors were summoned. In 1327 Edward III reduced the number to 25 abbots and 2 priors. From

1265 until
1327 the Prior of Merton attended Parliament as did the abbots of Chertsey and Waverley. The

Augustinian mitred abbot attending Parliament from 1327 represented Cirencester and Waltham.

Merton Priory or Merton Abbey?

A few priories were of such importance that it is difficult to understand why they remained

such. Merton
was never governed by an abbot, but there are odd references to Merton .Abbey. from the 15th

(1409, 1410, 1497, 1521, 1525, 1535)4. In 1537 a book on surveying was published, and the title

states that it was .compiled by Sir Richard Benese Channon of Merton Abbey beside London.. The
building accounts of the proposed Nonsuch Palace at Cuddington refer to .uncovering the body of

church at Merton Abbey.5. The antiquary John Leland visited Kingston when compiling his

Itinerary at
the time of the Dissolution and makes reference to Merton Abbey6.

The early misuse of the name of Merton Abbey was probably due to ignorance of the term. Its use

then begin to be adopted as acceptable or even desirable. Canon Richard Benese thought so.

There may
also have been an element of local snobbery.

The ruins of many dissolved monasteries were used to construct, or adapted into, desirable

residences. At
Merton were two buildings adopting names like Abbey House. One may have been the former Guest
House and the other the Gate House of the priory.

Other post-Dissolution .Abbeys.

There were similar occurrences at other priories. .Abbey Houses. were built at Barnwell,

Calke, Calwich, Upholland, Walsingham (east range) and Wroxten. At Calwich the buildings were

by Merton Priory in its last years (1537-38). The priory church was converted into a residence

Bulletin No126) and became Calwich Abbey. Similar conversions took place at Anglesey (chapter

and dormitory), Bolton (gate house), Ixworth (east range), Launde (south chapel), Llanthony

(west range),
Mottisfont (church and west cellarage), Much Wenlock7 (prior’s lodgings) and Newstead

(claustral complex).
All these priories were promoted to .abbeys. where no abbot ever existed, and all, except Much

(Cluniac) and Upholland (Benedictine), were Augustinian foundations. But this is understandable

of the preponderance of Augustinian priories.

The .promotion. by the new house owners may have been influenced by the thought that there was

point in being a .priory. when it could be an .abbey.. Strangely, the majority are now tourist

Anglesey (NT), Bolton, Calke (NT), Hexham, Llanthony (EH), Mottisfont (NT), Much Wenlock (EH/
NT), Newstead and Walsingham.


1. W H St John Hope in Archaeologia Cantiana XV 1883 (p59 for Premonstratensian Abbots)
2. Although granted the status of mitred abbeys, Bridlington, Butley and Norton all retained

the title of Priory.
3. J C Dickinson, The Land of Cartmel 1980 p11
4. A Heales, Records of Merton Priory 1898
5. PRO E101/477/12 April 22 to May 20 1538
6. J Leland, Itinerary 1710 Pt viii fol.25
7. In 1522 the prior secured the personal right to use the mitre, but resigned in 1526, and the

right lapsed.

ERIC MONTAGUE offers another tale from Mitcham. The following is an extract from the section
on Long Thornton in his unpublished magnum opus. The text has been slightly shortened, with
permission, for inclusion here.


Two parcels of land described as .in Long Thornton. and containing a little over 1.5 acres and

3 acres
respectively are shown on the Mitcham tithe map of 1847 to the east of what we now know as

Road. Long and narrow in plan, they might have originated in medieval strip holdings, and if so

with the whimsically named Meopham, some of the most northerly extensions of the common east

fields of
the parish. The tithe register of 1846 records parcel 749 (the northern and smaller of the two)

to have been
owned by Captain Charles Hallowell Carew of Beddington and occupied by James Moore, whilst 748

both owned and occupied by Moore1. The sub-soil would have been London Clay, overlain with

loam, and
both holdings were under grass.

James Moore, principal of the firm of Potter and Moore, famous growers of medicinal herbs, and

of essential oils, had a large estate in Mitcham, its constituent parts scattered throughout

the parish. Moore
died in 1851 and his estate was offered for sale by auction in August 1853. The Long Thornton

(Lot 73 in the sale particulars) is shown on the plan prepared by the auctioneers, Crawters, as

abutting on
the north a parcel of land owned by .C H Carew Esq..2. The outcome of the sale is not known,

but it would
appear from its subsequent history that Lot 73 was soon to pass into the ownership of a man

called Blake.
Captain Charles Hallowell Carew had died in 1849, and was succeeded by his son, Charles

Hallowell Carew, a spendthrift and gambler against whom bankruptcy proceedings were instituted

18573. The family estate was in the course of being broken up and sold throughout the 1850s,

and in all
probability the Carew portion of Long Thornton came on the market at this time, to be acquired

by Blake.

Blake’s Longthornton Housing Scheme as shown on the 25″ 1893-94 Revision of the Ordnance Survey



Blake, referred to derisively in the press some 50 years later as .Squire Blake.4, was not a

Mitcham man.
Although he has not been identified with certainty, there are good grounds for believing he was

Blake, a landowner and gentleman farmer in the West Barnes area of what is now Raynes Park.

This Blake
was resident at Blue House Farm from the early 1850s until about 1887 (the farm was managed by

bailiff), and also at Motspur Park. By profession a solicitor (possibly connected with the

Croydon firm of
that name), he was actively, but not always successfully, involved in railway promotion in

association with
his friend Richard Garth of Morden, and to a minor degree in land development in West Barnes in

1860s. He must have been well aware of the prospect of a substantial increase in the value of

the Long
Thornton land, once the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway Company’s Greyhound Lane station
was opened on their Balham to Croydon line, only half a mile away, in 18625. Known as .Squire.

Blake in
the Raynes Park area, Charles Blake was master of the local stag hounds, and very much the

gentleman. He seems to have died without issue, and the estate at Raynes Park was administered

trustees, of whom there is still mention only shortly before the 1914 War6.

Whether or not .Squire. Blake at Lonesome and Charles Blake of West Barnes were the same

person, the
owner of Long Thornton was certainly dabbling in property speculation, as is demonstrated by

the Ordnance
Survey maps of 1865 and 1867, which show eight houses to have been erected there, either side

of a newly
constructed roadway of generous width, extending eastward from what is the modern Rowan Road to

present-day Northborough Road. The map of 1894 shows a further two houses built on the southern

of the road in the intervening years, making ten in all. Illustrations in The Morning Leader of

22 July
1901, and a roughly contemporary article in the Daily Mirror portray these houses as

substantial, 2storied
6-roomed detached villas, each with a columned entrance porch and a generous garden. The low
pitched roofs were obviously of slate, the brickwork probably yellow stocks, and the window and

openings were framed with stucco architraves. The style is a familiar one in South London and

datable to
1850-1870. The development would appear to have been conceived with middle-class residents in

and the venture was quite likely to have been encouraged by the new railway station. Situated

in what was
still open countryside, with tracts of sheltering woodland and distant views of the North

Downs, the new
houses should have found a ready market.

Remarkably, and for reasons which are by no means clear, though various theories can be

advanced, the
houses were never finished, work on them ceasing after completion of the main structure and

roofing, but
before the carpentry and joinery work had commenced. From the evidence of the maps there seem

to have
been at least two phases of building between 1860 and 1890. It is said that for a time the

unfinished houses
were kept in repair and the site fenced with iron railings to prevent trespass. But as the

years passed the
gardens were increasingly overgrown with weeds and brambles, whilst the tree-lined road

eventually became
completely grassed over. Across the parish border housing development was proceeding steadily.

Lane station was renamed Streatham Common station in 1875, and three years later Norbury

station was
opened5. The first, wooden, station was replaced by the present brick building in 1902, but in

1905, when
building development could be seen proceeding apace on the slopes of Pollards Hill nearby, the

Long Thornton building estate was still empty and derelict, its houses beginning to collapse

through decay
and neglect. A noticeboard proclaimed that the land was offered on long building leases at easy

terms, and
directed enquirers to the estate office at 6 Cheshunt Road, West Norwood7. No-one was

apparently interested
enough to pursue matters to a satisfactory conclusion, and the area acquired a notoriety as a

.ghost town.,
from time to time attracting the curiosity and imagination of columnists in both the national

and the local

Two possible explanations for the failure of the enterprise occur to the writer. In 1853 it was

reported to
Mitcham vestry that a factory, which was to become Thomas Forster’s Lonesome Chemical Works,

been erected at Lonesome Farm9. This was on the opposite side of the road to Long Thornton, and

only a
little over 100 yards from where the nearest of the new villas were to be built. It was Blake’s

misfortune to
have only recently purchased his land with a housing estate in mind. A clash of interests was

The exact sequence of events is not known, but the Ordnance Survey map shows that by 1867 a

.gasometer. had been erected at the works, on the roadside frontage opposite the entrance to

the new estate
road, and with it there must have been the coke ovens and other unsightly structures of what by

this time
amounted to an embryo gas works. The Lonesome Chemical Works prospered, and the premises had
expanded considerably by the time the next edition of the 25″-Ordnance Survey map was published

in the
1890s. Contemporary accounts refer to a smoking chimney; there was often nuisance from smells

as well.
The reaction to the presence of such works in those perhaps considering moving to the rural

delights of
Long Thornton is not hard to imagine.


The arrival of Forster’s chemical works must thus have provided the first serious set-back to

Blake’s operations.
It certainly could not have occurred at a worse time, for a period of financial difficulty was

approaching for
many who speculated in house property. From the late 1870s there was a decade of prolonged

Though profits from industry rose tremendously during these years, Blake’s houses were probably

small, and certainly too close to the chemical factory, to interest prosperous manufacturers;

and for those
whose livelihood depended on retail trade or agriculture times were extremely hard.

Blake’s stubborn refusal to reduce his terms to attract suitable leaseholders or tenants for

his Long Thornton
properties implies a dogged conviction that either circumstances must eventually change for the

better, or
that he might succeed in an action for damages. There could also have been an element of

personal conflict,
with Blake not only refusing to accept defeat as a consequence of Forster’s enterprise, but

holding on in
defiance of what, in retrospect, should have been obvious – the chemical works were destined to

permanently all prospects of developing Lonesome into a desirable residential area. According

to one account
in the local press the matter was finally resolved by an action in Chancery, but with what

result we are not
told10. Had it not been for the outbreak of war in 1914 the steady spread of middle-class

suburban housing
into South Streatham and Norbury might in the end have brought the long awaited change for the

better at
Lonesome. As it was, the development which finally swept away .Blake’s Folly. was quite

different in
character from that of the more affluent Edwardian estates across the parish borders.

By the mid-1920s estates of new terrace houses to rent or buy were rapidly covering the

remaining open land
in South Streatham, and the isolation of Lonesome was coming to an end11. In 1927 plans for an

estate of
small terrace houses in Long Thornton were submitted to Mitcham Urban District Council by Henry

Bannan, architect, and construction proceeded after clearance of what remained of Blake’s

attempt at estate
development half a century before. The following year saw approval of an application by J G

Robinson &
Co, meter manufacturers of Liverpool, to erect factory buildings fronting Rowan Road at the

junction with
Longthornton Road, to be occupied by Smith Meters12. These two applications thus perpetuated

the pattern
of mixed industrial and domestic development which had had its beginnings 60 years previously,

and which
characterises the area today. Now, when compared with other estate roads set out a little later

by speculative
builders in the boom years of the inter-war period, the unusual width of Longthornton Road

still sets it apart.
Few people however are now aware of the strange story behind the first attempt at its

development for


1. Mitcham tithe register &maps – Merton Local Studies Centre 2. Moore estate sale map 1853 –

Merton Local Studies Centre
3. Michell, R The Carews of Beddington 1981 p110 4. Morning Leader 22 July 1901
5. Information from J W Brown of the Streatham Society 6. Jowett, E M Raynes Park 1987 pp102,

7..A Visit to Lonesome., Streatham News 10 June 1905 8. For instance Streatham News 8 October

9. Mitcham vestry minutes for October 1853 – Merton Local Studies Centre
10. .Long Thornton and Lonesome., Streatham News 26 September 1939 p47
11. .Not Lonesome Now!., Streatham News 15 January 1926 12. Information from LBM Planning


Surrey Record Office, Surrey Local Studies Library
and Guildford Muniment Room have all been
combined in purpose-built premises in Woking:

Surrey History Centre

130 Goldsworth Road
GU21 1ND
Tel: 01483 594594
Fax: 01483 594595
e-mail: shs@surreycc.gov.uk

The Centre is 15 minutes walk
from Woking’s railway and bus
Local bus services 24, 34, 38,
44 and 48 pass the door.
You can park at the History
Centre (access from Kingsway)
or buy parking vouchers from
the Centre to park in local

Opening hours:

Monday Closed
Tuesday 9.30-5.00
Wednesday 9.30-5.00
Thursday 9.30-7.30
Friday 9.30-5.00
Saturday 9.30-4.00

The centre is closed on
Sundays and on Bank
Holiday weekends
(including Saturdays).

There is no need to book,
though it is wise to do so.
You will need a Surrey
County Libraries ticket or
a CARN card to use the



A large group, including some non-member West Barnes residents, met Pat near Motspur Park

station and
the Earl Beatty in the sunshine on 19 September, for a walk designed to follow on from her 1997

Jowett Memorial Lecture on West Barnes. Both lecture and visit were based on the late John

illustrated booklet of the same title.

On the site of a knitwear factory, then a big local employer, which was replaced in turn by

Dodge City and B
& Q, stands a modern office building. Here too is the building of 1976 to which the library

moved from
corner-shop premises in West Barnes Lane.

In West Barnes Lane itself a discontinuity in its mainly inter-war .Tudor. architecture is the

only indication
that Ivy House, built by Charles Blake of Blue House Farm in the 1860s (see Eric Montague’s

Folly. in this Bulletin) stood here till 1970, ending its days as a British Restaurant and then

a half-way house.
His other house here, Dudley Lodge, and its large garden vanished without trace in the 1920s

beneath the new
houses of West Barnes Lane and Phyllis Avenue. The latter is named after the daughter of Sydney

Parkes, the
developer, who also put up the money for Motspur Park station.

Charles Blake was able to re-align West Barnes Lane for his own benefit, and as we walked along

Avenue Pat pointed out its probable original route. Behind 196 Seaforth Avenue still stands

what Pat believes
to be an old barn, now in use as an upholsterer’s workshop, and possibly the area’s oldest


Past Holy Cross church in Douglas Avenue, begun as a mission from St Saviour’s which first met

over the
post office in Seaforth Avenue, our route then took us to Blake’s West Barnes Terrace of 1884.

From the
footbridge built in 1976 but proposed 40 years earlier we could see Dickson’s Cottages in West

Barnes Lane,
built in 1866 opposite the entrance to the farmyard of West Barnes Farm. Here the Pyl Brook

passes under
the lane on its way to join the Beverley. In earlier years it often overflowed.

The charming little pumping station of 1907 still stands (and functions?) beside the Lane,

where Raynes
Crossing has been replaced by another footbridge. We returned to West Barnes Lane noting

houses of 1908-14, with their distinctive round windows over the porches, and at Crossway the

which mark the now underground course of the Pyl Brook.

The oddly kinked Tennyson Avenue, dating from the mid-1920s, led to Arthur Road, which still

retains some
fine old oak trees. Almost back at our starting point, the last part of the route led towards

the Beverley Brook,
which still forms the local boundary, to glimpse the two surviving Blue House Cottages, tucked

in beside the
railway line.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable walk led by a knowledgeable enthusiast for an insufficiently

appreciated area.


Statement of Accounts 1st October 1997-30th September 1998 (incl)

Income £ Expenditure £
Subscriptions 560.00 Bulletin 102.20
Donations 24.30 Hire of Halls 95.00
Sale of Publications 357.32 Affiliation 77.00
Teas 30.07 Lecturers 10.00
Miscellaneous 49.40 Publications 442.72
Interest from bank 11.40Petty Cash 168.02
Miscellaneous 22.00
Total £ 1,032.49 Total £ 916.74

Excess of Income over Expenditure = £115.75

Midland Bank Abbey National Building Society
Carried from 1996/97 £ 621.43 Carried from 1996/97 £ 1,107.63
Excess Income / Expenditure 115.75 Interest 33.21

Total £ 737.18 Total £1,140.84
Statements at 30.9.98 show £ 737.18 £1,140.84

No uncleared cheques (CR or DR)
Signed: Edna Duke 20.10.98
(Hon. Auditor)



It was fitting that we returned to St Mary’s Church Merton to honour our founding Secretary and

known historian of Merton and Morden, the late Evelyn Jowett, as this was the church at which

worshipped for many years.

It was also fitting that we visited on 21st October, Trafalgar Day, as Nelson regularly

attended this church
during the short time he lived at Merton Place, and was a close friend of the parson at the

time, Rev
Thomas Lancaster, whose 14-year old son was a 1st class volunteer on the Victory at Trafalgar.

The date
is also special to the present vicar, Rev Tom Leary, who welcomed us to the church, it being

the 6th
anniversary of his induction to the parish.

We couldn’t have asked for a better speaker on the subject, as Graham Hawkes has been a member

of St
Mary’s for 55 years, having joined as a choirboy at Easter 1943, and also served for 25 years

as captain of
bell ringers, as well as many years as churchwarden.

However, Graham was the first to admit that there is much about the church that even he doesn’t

know, and

that there are many legends relating to the church which cannot be authenticated.
As we visited at night we were not able to see the stained glass in the east window, the bottom

section of
which traces the history of the church from its earliest days to the 1950s, when it was

installed following
bomb damage in 1944. The left side of the window depicts the Saxon predecessor to the present

mentioned in the Domesday Book, as a thatched wooden building. It was probably on the site of

present building, or adjoining it. The right hand side of the window depicts a 1950s modern

city church,
including the then churchwarden’s car, complete with his actual registration number.

The centre panel recounts two stories from the 12th century, one of which relates to Merton

Priory by the
Wandle, rather than the parish church. The stories appear in a 14th-century copy of a

foundation narrative
of the priory, which now belongs to the College of Arms (Arundel MS 28). It begins with the

building of
the present church by Gilbert the Sheriff:

Henry (I), king of the English, gave the Ville pertaining to the Crown, called Meriton, or

Merton, to
Gilbert the Knight, formerly Sheriff, to possess freely in hereditary right: in which ville the

Gilbert most liberally built a church at his own cost, and handsomely decorated it with

and other images, as was customary, and, magnificently, caused it to be dedicated to the honour

the Most Blessed Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary; … and he ordered the said place with

of religion and erected wooden buildings suitable to the requirements of Religion. He then went

the King and prayed his royal licence for the establishment of the Monastery, which the King
granted as freely as it was asked.

The narrative then tells how Gilbert invited Robert, sub-prior at Huntingdon, to become the

first prior of

Merton. The next section is represented in the east window: Some
persons testified that before the church was built in that place, in the evening hours after
sunset, a light was frequently seen to vanish there, and to descend there from Heaven with a

motion. What this foretold may be easily conjectured.

However, Prior Robert persuaded Gilbert to rebuild the priory on a better site by the

Wandle: Wherefore
the Sheriff, freehandedly, built the said Church, with assistance of his household, and
diligently engaged in the new building; at one moment, with the prior, perambulating the place,

tracing out the site of the church, now measuring the bounds for the cemetery, deciding how the
water was to be drawn from the main body, and now to what point the mill should be removed…
Thus, with the assistance of neighbours on all sides, the appearance of the place day by day

ameliorated, and a wooden chapel was there at the same time constructed.
The next section is also represented in the east window, though it actually refers to the new

priory site: At
the consecration of the cemetery William Giffard, the Bishop of Winchester, was led thither and
received in the sheriff’s house with great hospitality. On his arrival occurred an event which

was a
presage of the future; for while on his way there he met a certain boy, condemned, for theft,

to be
deprived of his eyesight; whereupon the Bishop, with the intervention of his pastoral staff,

him from the imminent peril; by which deed therefore he foreshadowed that in the place which he
came to consecrate many should be rescued from the darkness of vice, and be brought by the

of discipline to the light of justice.


The Convent was now transferred to the new building in the year of the Incarnation of the

Eternal from-
the-Beginning, 1117; and many hastened thither. This was two years and almost five months
after the time when the Prior had entered the limits of the place, and on the fifth of the

nones of May
(May 3), being the day on which the Lord’s Ascension was celebrated, the Brethren, who were now


fifteen in number, entered the place of their new habitation, singing Hail Festive Day.
The church that Gilbert built here before starting on the Priory in 1114 still survives in the

nave of the

present church, though his apsidal chancel was replaced by the present one early in the 13th

century. The
south aisle was added in 1856, and the north aisle in 1866.
Although darkness prevented us from seeing the stained glass, it did enable Graham to use the

lights to

effect a mini son et lumière to focus on various parts of the building, most dramatically the

nave roof of
chestnut, dating from the 13th century, but covered with plaster until 1929. The church guide

that the great cross beams were a gift from Henry III in 1125, but this should, of course, be

1225. In July
of that year:

William de Coign’es was ordered to deliver to the Prior the gift of the King of six old oaks in


forest of Windsor, where they could be taken with least harm to the forest, for the works of



Whether this was the parish church or the priory church is not clear. Apparently the tower of

Priory had been blown down in a severe storm in December 1222, necessitating major rebuilding

The medieval church would have been cold and dark, with rushes on the floor, and no seating,

perhaps a few benches against the wall for the infirm – the origin of the phrase “The weak go

to the wall”.

The service, in Latin, would have been led by a chaplain from the Priory. The priest’s door,

which now
leads into the vestry, is some 700 years old, and on the doorframe can still be seen some

scratched symbols,
identified as a bishop’s cross incised many centuries ago.

More recent additions include an impressive, though modest for the period, monument to Sir

Lovell, cofferer to Elizabeth I, who lived at the former priory site. Another monument is to

the Smith
family, later owners of Abbey Gate House. Rear Admiral Isaac Smith is reputed to have been the

Englishman to set foot on Australian soil, having accompanied Captain Cook on his voyages. The

was erected by Cook’s widow, a cousin of Rear Admiral Smith.

One of the six hatchments hanging in the north aisle is Rear Admiral Smith’s, the others being

those of
Nelson, Sir William Hamilton, Sir Robert and Lady Burnett, who lived at Morden Hall, and

Simon, née Masterman, owner of Spring House, and responsible for the building of the almshouse

still stands in Kingston Road, on the corner of Mostyn Road. Judy Goodman has written a series

articles on the hatchments for the Parish Magazine. Perhaps they could be reprinted in future


A memorial in the south aisle is to Edward Rayne, who owned a farm in the east of West Barnes,

whose name is commemorated by Raynes Park. He was buried beneath the floor of the nave in 1847,

Graham told us that, when the nave was refloored recently, he was able to look at Edward

Rayne’s bones!

The furniture includes the bench from the box-pew used by Nelson, and a Victorian chair

containing a

medieval carved panel representing Cain slaying Abel.
The six bells include the oldest bell in regular use in Surrey, dating from c1450, while the

newest was
donated in 1971 by the first mayor of the London Borough of Merton, Alderman Cyril Marsh.

In the churchyard is the tomb of William Rutlish, court embroiderer to Charles II, who left

£400 in trust
from property in Merton for ‘the putting out poor children born in this parish as apprentices’

in 1687. In
1894 the charity paid for the establishing of the Rutlish Science School, now Rutlish School.

benefactor was Richard Thornton, the millionaire owner of Cannon Hill Park, who left stocks in

trust for
the building of the school opposite. When the school closed, the trustees, including both

Graham and the
Vicar, took over Priory Middle School. A third benefactor, also buried in the churchyard, was

John Innes,
who created the present Merton Park estate.

Our Vice President, Lionel Green, himself a former member of St Mary’s, thanked Graham on

behalf of the
Society, parishioners and visitors, some 80 all told. As he said, Graham exudes history! A most

and informative evening.

Peter Hopkins
1 Alfred Heales -The Records of Merton Priory (1898) pp1-8; Marvin Colker – ‘Latin Texts

concerning Gilbert, Founder of

Merton Priory’ in Studia Monastica xii (1970) pp 241-271
2 Alfred Heales -The Records of Merton Priory (1898) pp 85 & 86



Chairman Eric Montague welcomed 35 members and 2 visitors.

Apologies for absence had been received from Viscountess Hanworth, Lionel Green and Mrs J

Minutes of the 47th AGM were distributed before the meeting, and were accepted.
Proposed David Mann, seconded Madeline Healey, accepted nem con
No matters arising, apart from:4.
Duration of Presidential Tenure of office:
That the term of office of the President should be three years, when he/she could stand for

That the maximum period of office should be three terms (nine consecutive years)
Proposed David Mann, seconded Doris Green, accepted nem con
Chairman’s Report: (printed opposite)
Membership Secretary’s Report: C E Sole reported that we had 120 members in 1997/98. Last
year he thought that he would need to recommend a rise in subscriptions in the light of

inflation, but
he now thinks that this can be left for another year.
Proposed Tony Scott, seconded Eric Trim, accepted nem con

Treasurer’s Report: David Luff reminded us that the Society is run on the subscriptions from
members, and this year income exceeded expenditure by £115.75, in spite of the fact that the

cost of
publications, both our own and bought in from elsewhere, was more than the income from sales.
Petty cash for stamps, envelopes, etc., is a major item. The hire of halls has been kept down,

the use of the Snuff Mill at very reasonable rates, and the use of library facilities free of

charge. The
cost of the Bulletin has risen slightly this year, but is still well below normal costs. He

agreed that
there is no need as yet to increase subscriptions. (The Statement of Account is printed on page

No questions were forthcoming.
Proposed David Mann, seconded Tony Scott, accepted nem con

Appointment of President and a Vice-President. Election of Life Members.
The Chairman reminded us that the first President of our Society, Col. Bidder, excavated the

Saxon cemetery at Mitcham, as well as undertaking preliminary excavation at Merton Priory. His
successor, Viscountess Rosamund Hanworth, another distinguished archaeologist, stood down in
1996. The Committee have given a great deal of consideration to the choice of a suitable

and unanimously recommend to the membership J Scott McCracken BA FSA MIFA to be our third
President. Scott is another eminent archaeologist, who has also dug on the Merton Priory site.

He is
a well known tutor, and, after some recent work in Sweden, now lectures at Birkbeck and

Proposed Dennis Turner, seconded Lionel Green, accepted with acclamation

The Committee recommended that Viscountess Hanworth be invited to serve as a Vice-President.
Proposed Scott McCracken, seconded David Mann, accepted nem con.
Miss Winifred Mould and Mrs Jess Bailey were unanimously appointed life members.
Vice-President W J Rudd took the chair for the election of Officers for the coming year, and
the election of a Committee for the coming year. (Details on back page).
In spite of an appeal from Tony Scott for additional members for the Committee, no one else

to stand for election this year.

There were no other motions.
12. There being no other business, the meeting closed at 3.15pm.
After a break for tea, Pat Elliott gave a talk on Christmas Customs, tracing many of the

activities that we
now associate with Christmas back to pre-Christian pagan roots. By the 4th century the

Christian church
felt confident and strong enough to combat pagan influences, and Pope Gregory I set the

official birthday
of Christ as 25th December, a date celebrated in the pagan cultures of both southern and

northern Europe.
Over the centuries pagan symbolism was redefined, though by the 1600s the pagan roots were

through, leading to the banning of Christmas by Oliver Cromwell. Reinstated in 1660, the

decline in
religious observance in the 18th century saw Christmas sink into oblivion, except in the

Hanoverian court.
The Victorian Age saw the revival of many old Christmas customs as well as the introduction of

new ones.

Peter Hopkins



Once again, I am able to look back on a year of steady, if not spectacular activity, during

which the Society
has followed a course based on a formula which seems to meet with the wishes of members. Total
membership has remained steady, and we have been pleased to welcome a number of new members. As
you will hear later from the Hon. Treasurer, our financial situation also continues in a

satisfactory state.

Your appreciation of the Committee’s efforts to provide an interesting mix of talks and visits

has been
manifest by the attendances, and looking back over our programme for 1997/98 I think we managed

to get
the balance of subject matter about right. Work is far advanced on producing the programme for

the next
12 months, much of it, as usual, with a local bias.

Here I must again express a special word of thanks on your behalf to our Hon. Secretary, Sheila

Harris, on

whose shoulders much of the work of making the necessary arrangements inevitably falls.
Reports of our meetings and visits have appeared in the quarterly Bulletin, so further comment

from me is
unnecessary. Whilst on the subject of the Bulletin, I am sure you would all support me in an

expression of
appreciation to Judith Goodman, our Editor. As you know, Judith has occupied the editorial

chair since it
was vacated by Margery Ledgerton, who is now living at Horsham. Always a “good read”, the

has gone from strength to strength. Virtually complete sets have now been supplied to Surrey

Office and English Heritage, and a gratifying indication of the standing the Bulletin has

achieved is the
number of requests received from organisations and libraries who wish to be included in the

mailing list.

This brings me to your Committee, without which the Society could not function. We have met on

occasions over the last 12 months, the venue being the Wandle Industrial Museum, to the funds

of which
it was felt appropriate to make a contribution in appreciation.

The Society’s constitution makes provision for up to 10 elected members to the Committee in

addition to
the officers. Elected members may not serve for more then three consecutive years. This year

most of the
existing Committee members are eligible for re-election and willing to serve a third year. This

means that
if they are elected the Committee should remain quorate but, as in recent years, we will have

vacancies. It
is still not too late for any member or members who feel they would like to be a little more

associated with the work of the Society to offer themselves for election at this meeting. You

can be assured
of a welcome.

Possibly one of the most notable activities of the Society over the last twelve months has been

in the field
of publishing. Here, thanks to our Vice-Chairman, Peter Hopkins, it has been possible to

maintain the
flow of booklets and leaflets on local subjects. The latest publications include The Railways

of Merton by
our Vice-President, Lionel Green, and A History of Lord Nelson’s Merton Place by Peter Hopkins,

on the work of the late John Wallace. Copies of both are on sale today. As an experiment, Peter

has also
produced some large-print versions of three of our booklets, which may be appreciated by some

of our
readers. Drafts of several others are circulating amongst our “editorial sub-committee” and

will be released

Here I would like to make a special plea for someone to assist Peter Harris in the distribution

and marketing
of these publications. If anyone would like to know a little more of what is involved before

themselves, please have a word with him.

Over the years we have collected a considerable “library” of local history publications, mainly

and newsletters from other societies. This year Mrs. Bailey kindly presented the Society with

her late
husband Jack’s collection dealing with the history of railways. Miss Gummow MBE, one of our

members, has also most generously placed in our custody an extremely interesting collection of

maps and
other material of local interest. This potentially valuable archive is housed, with our

collection of
archaeological material and other historical items, in our store at Lower Morden Library. This

should be
made more available to members, and the committee will need to give some thought on how this

might be
achieved. Once again, a volunteer would be welcomed (preferably with some library experience),

to catalogue what we hold.

Whilst founder members are in mind, I think I should mention that recently Mr and Mrs Arthur

moved from Churston Drive, Morden, to the Moreton Hill Care Centre, Stonehouse,

Gloucestershire. We
understand that Mr Turner, who is one of our vice-presidents, is keeping well, but that Mrs

Turner is now
rather frail. If any of you would like their full address, I have it with me.


You will have seen from the Bulletin that our local history workshops have continued to be held

the year at the Wandle Industrial Museum. Completely informal, these have proved stimulating

fascinating, and are open to anyone, whether they are following a particular line of research,

or would
merely like to come and listen.

In my report last year I dealt at some length with the contacts maintained with kindred

organisations, with
departments of Merton Council, and other official bodies. These have continued over the year.

In particular
I would mention our close collaboration with the London Ecology Unit in compiling the

historical sections
of their latest volume, Nature Conservation in Merton, which was launched in September.

As in previous years the Society has been happy to assist with projects initiated by Sarah

Gould, the
Borough’s Heritage Officer, supplying items from our collections, and also assisting at the

Heritage Open
Day in September. The Heritage Forum, established by Merton Libraries and Heritage Service in

1996 as
the Heritage Working Group, has now been reinvigorated with the appointment of new staff in the
Department, and promises to become a valuable means of bringing together various bodies in the

sharing a common interest in local history. Merton Historical Society is, of course,

represented on the
Forum, and our co-operation has been promised with a new Oral History project initiated by the

Department which, it is hoped, will be supported by a Millennium Grant.

Finally, I wish to express my personal thanks to the members of the Committee for their support

over the
last twelve months, and to your Vice-Chairman, Peter Hopkins, who has fulfilled his role so

standing in on those occasions when I needed to be in two (or more) places at the same time.

Eric Montague

Letters and contributions for the bulletin should be sent to the Hon. Editor.
The views expressed in this Bulletin are those of the contributors concerned and not

necessarily those of the Society or its Officers.

Printed by Peter Hopkins