March 1999 – Bulletin 129
Adrian IV – L E Green
The Rudd monument in Morden churchyard – W J Rudd
Francis Merritt of Mitcham, victualler – E N Montague
Policing Old Mitcham – B Brown
Flt Lt R S Cumming – R Potter
‘The Kennels’ Lower Morden – P J Hopkins
A Peninsular War veteran – E N Montague
and much more
PRESIDENT: J Scott McCracken BA FSA MIFA
VICE PRESIDENTS: Viscountess Hanworth, Arthur Turner, Lionel Green and William Rudd
BULLETIN NO. 129 MARCH 1999
Saturday 13 March 2.30 pm The Canons House
.The Canons House and its Setting’
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.)
Thursday 15 April 7.30 pm Morden Library
.Nelson at Merton.
An illustrated account of life at Nelson’s Merton Place, and what happened to the
estate after his death.
Saturday 15 May 2 pm Whitgift Almshouses, Croydon
A visit to Archbishop Whitgift’s Hospital of the Holy Trinity has been arranged.
Meet outside the almshouses, at the corner of North End and George Street at 1.45
for 2 o.clock. The guided tour lasts about an hour and costs £1 per head. Please
telephone Sheila Harris if you intend to come, as numbers are limited to 20.
Afterwards members may wish to visit Croydon’s Clocktower Museum
(admission £2/£1), which is in Katharine Street.
Saturday 26 June 2 pm Carshalton House, Water Tower and grounds
Following his December lecture to the Society Andrew Skelton has kindly agreed to
take us on a guided tour of these outstanding buildings and their setting. The cost is
£3 for the tour with teas available at £2 per head. All proceeds go to Carshalton
Water Tower Trust. Please let Sheila Harris know at least a week ahead of
time if you are coming, and if you will be having tea.
Meet outside the Water Tower in West Street at 1.45 for 2.
The Society’s events are open to the general public, unless otherwise stated.
THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL HISTORY OF CARSHALTON HOUSE AND
THE WATER TOWER; a lecture by ANDREW SKELTON
If there is a site steeped deeply in the past, it is that of Carshalton
House estate, now occupied by St Philomena’s High School. In
his talk on its archaeological history Andrew Skelton took us back
into the distant past.
The house was built by Edward Carleton, a London merchant, in
the very early 18th century, later passing through the hands of Dr
John Radcliffe and Sir John Fellowes. Many others followed,
including Sir Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke. The full story
of Carshalton House estate is to be found in the excellent book by
A E Jones, from Sutton Libraries and Heritage Centre.
The early occupation of the site is a fascinating archaeological study. Twice in the 19th
quantities of human bones were found, and as recently as 1974 more were found, after a tree was
down in a gale. The theory of a local battle has been discounted. Such a vast quantity of bones
cemetery, but dating is uncertain – ranging from Anglo-Saxon to pre-Roman, perhaps pagan or
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Recent excavations have suggested a settlement in the later Bronze Age. This
may have been within a field system. An excavated part of a midden produced
over 600 small shards of pottery, as well as burnt flint and bone. Excavations
have also recovered fragments of a Saxon loom-weight and pottery, but in a
In the surviving foundations of two garden buildings, the hothouse and the
succession house, which have been demolished since the war, fragments of
medieval romanesque and gothic stonework have been found, which may
have originated from Merton Priory, via the demolished Nonsuch Palace. All
in all, the site produces evidence of occupation through many centuries. Farms
existed long before Carshalton House was built, and the house itself has
undergone a number of changes, brought about by some of the occupants.
W J Rudd
(Illustrations from a Carshalton Water Tower Trust leaflet)
MARGARET CARR briefly reviews some recent Society publications:
Railways of Merton by Lionel Green sorts out the tangle of the Borough of Merton’s railways.
names of companies, and which later amalgamated with what. Includes a very clear map and
39pp £1.75, members’ price £1.40 – Large print edition available at the same price.
A History of Lord Nelson’s Merton Place by Peter Hopkins – NOT a re-run of the Nelson/Lady
affair, but a thoroughly researched history of the house and estate before, and after, Nelson
bought it; with
estate maps, floor plans, room dimensions and contemporary comments. Illustrated. 47pp
£2, members £1.60 – Large print edition available at the same price.
The Patent Steam Washing Factory by Eric Montague. If it didn’t concern people’s livelihoods,
narrative would border on farce. New research by Mr Peter McGow adds to Mr Montague’s study of
of the local bleaching and textile printing industry. Map. 11pp 50p, members 40p.
Morden Hall by W J Rudd. 2nd edition. Deals with the people who owned or leased it rather than
building itself. Contains maps of the estate and a very good family tree of the Garth family.
50p, members 40p. – Large print edition available at the same price.
The .Amery Mills. of Merton Priory, the Copper Mills and the Board Mills by Eric Montague. An
to follow account of the mills at .Merton Abbey. from Domesday to the New Merton Board Mills.
Maps. 11pp 50p, members 40p.
EVEN MORE NEW PUBLICATIONS!
The Canons, Mitcham by Eric Montague £2, members £1.60
Phipps Bridge, Phipps Mill and Bunce’s Meadow by Eric Montague £1.25, members £1.
Copper Milling on the Wandle, with particular reference to Merton and Mitcham, by Eric Montague
£1, members 80p.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 129 – MARCH 1999 – PAGE 2
GREAT HOUSES OF SUTTON
a lecture by JOHN PHILLIPS, London Borough of Sutton Heritage Manager
The Borough of Sutton is made up of four old parishes, Sutton itself, Beddington, Carshalton
Their earliest known mention is in the Chertsey Abbey Cartulary. Wallington was a hamlet within
Landowners in 1086, the date of the Domesday survey, included Canterbury Cathedral.
Little that is medieval now remains. Wallington House
(now demolished) had a medieval crypt. The old post office
at Beddington (also demolished) was not, despite its
appearance, an adapted hall house. What is now called
Carew Manor was built late in the 14th century, and its
Great Hall, with a hammerbeam roof, dates from c.1500.
The early Tudor Nonsuch Palace, which Mr Phillips called
.the last great Gothic building., lay just outside the area.
Carshalton House, as it stands, dates from the end of the
17th century. This important house has fine 18th-century
fireplaces and an unusual and beautiful .painted room.
whose walls are covered with paintings on panels. In the
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Crypt between Wallington House
grounds are a .hermitage. and a fine water tower, with a
saloon and tiled sunken bath.
Some 18th-century houses which survive include the old rectories at Cheam and Carshalton,
in Wallington, and Wandle Bank, also in Wallington, though this house may incorporate an
Unfortunately the Earl of Derby’s grand house The Oaks was demolished after the last war. We
shown a slide of the proposed façade of Thomas Scawen’s Carshalton Park House, designed by
which was never completed. The grotto and canal, which survive, date from this time. Within the
walls were decorated with coral and glass in the fashion of the day.
At Carew Manor the house was remodelled, the Great Hall panelled, and the grounds re-
a canal and a planted avenue. At Carshalton House the lake and its setting were altered and a
in flint constructed.
In the 19th century it seems to have been the district’s proximity to London that encouraged
of many rather grand houses on small estates. Examples include Cheam Park House; The Grove, in
Carshalton, whose gardens sloped down to the Wandle; The Culvers, built on textile bleaching
and Brandries Hill House (now Camden House) in Beddington. Alfred Smee, surgeon to the Bank of
England, laid out a garden beside the mill-pond at Wallington, and his son built a house called
there late in the century (since burnt down). Others include Queenswood and Sandhills in south
(demolished) and Stowford in Brighton Road, south Sutton. Carew Manor was altered again, when
became an orphan .asylum..
Mr Phillips told us that he could have discussed as many as 80 houses. Most have now gone,
having passed, and, sadly, little is known about many of them. The slides shown were most
varied, and the large audience thoroughly enjoyed the lecture, asked many questions afterwards,
thanked the speaker with warm applause.
This report was written by JG, based on notes taken by Sheila Harris, whom circumstances
unfortunately prevented from writing the report herself.
Beddington Hall, now called Carew Manor (both illustrations from Alfred Smee’s My Garden, 1872)
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 129 – MARCH 1999 – PAGE 3
LIONEL GREEN on a great alumnus of Merton Priory:
THE ONLY ENGLISH POPE – ADRIAN IV
To be born in England at the beginning of the 12th century was to be born at an exciting time.
generation had passed since the Normans had arrived. Henry was secure on the throne, especially
defeat of his elder brother in Normandy in 1106. The king began to reorganise the finances of
the country, with
an Exchequer to oversee the correct collection of the king’s revenue. To this Exchequer, all
the sheriffs of
England had to attend twice each year to give an account of their stewardship. The sheriff for
the counties of
Surrey, Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire was Gilbert the Norman, and he soon made a name for
in answering without fear all the searching questions when his accounts were examined at the
audit. By 1116,
Gilbert, founder of Merton Priory, had become the senior sheriff in England i, and well known to
those in power.
The famous persons of the new generation, as well as the only English pope, included Guy of
John of Escures, bishop of Rochester, Ailwin, first abbot of Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh; Thomas
Robert of Merton, his confessor; and John of Salisbury, later bishop of Chartres. All these
persons had close
connections with Merton Priory, and the last three were present in Canterbury Cathedral on the
fateful day in
One of the clerks in the king’s chamber early in the 12th century was a man named Robert de
lived at Bedmond near Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire, and had a son named Nicholas, born about
Robert gave up his position in the king’s chamber and became a monk at St Albans Abbey, with
the consent of
Nicholas’s mother. It was probably at this time that Nicholas was sent to Merton Priory for his
The priory attracted scholars from its beginning, for among the first canons was a famous
Master Guy, of great
reputation for his direction of schools ii.
Later Nicholas desired to follow his father and become a monk at St Albans, but the abbot,
(d.1119), is said to have told him, .Wait, my son, and go to school a little longer till you
are better qualified. iii.
William de Newburgh says that Nicholas left England when he was growing up iv, probably around
Nicholas distinguished himself at Paris v. He then served at the church of St James, Melgeil
Maguelonne), in northern France. This church belonged to the Augustinian abbey of St Rufus,
Nicholas took holy orders and became a canon, adopting the Latin name Hastifragus or
In 1125 Gilbert the Sheriff died, and a friend, John of Escures, bishop of Rochester, came to
Merton to officiate
at the founder’s funeral. In 1134 Robert Pulleyn was made archdeacon of Rochester. Pulleyn had
Paris and knew Nicholas when he became a canon of St Rufus. It may have been at the
these dignitaries at Rochester that Nicholas soon became prior, and finally, in 1137, abbot of
St Rufus vi.
Robert Pulleyn was elected to be the first English cardinal and chancellor of the Holy Roman
In September 1146 Pope Eugenius III journeyed to France and met Nicholas. In the following year
pope addressed a bull to the abbot of St Rufus conferring a privilege on his monastery vii. In
Nicholas was invited by the pope to take up residence in Rome and nominated bishop of Albano on
making him the second English cardinal.
From 1152 to 1154 he acted as papal legate in Scandinavia to great esteem. On 3 December 1154
Anastasius IV died, and on the following day Nicholas was unanimously elected Pope. On Sunday 5
he was enthroned and crowned at St Peter’s as Adrian IV – Pontifex natione Anglicus. Adrian was
not only the
first English pope, but he was an Augustinian canon, and not a Benedictine monk as were most of
as pope. Pope Adrian was tough, fearless, clear-sighted, full of energy, with an iron will.
In England in 1154 Henry II was newly crowned. He immediately sent John of Salisbury to Rome as
ambassador, and sought permission .to civilise the Irish people and bring them to Rome. viii.
John and the pope
became firm friends, with John becoming virtually the pope’s confessor. About 1157 John wrote
to the pope on
behalf of the canons of Merton, and concluded, .May it profit the brethren of Merton that, when
you were in
the church of St Rufus, their odour of sweetness reached even to you, as your highness used to
tell me, your
servant, when we talked together. ix.
i Following the death of Hugh de Buckland who had been sheriff from Rufus’s time, and sheriff
of eight counties. In 1116 Gilbert had been sheriff for
ii M L Colker .The Life of Guy of Merton. in Mediaeval Studies XXXI (1969) p252 iii A Kippis
Biographica Britannica 1778 vol 1
iv Chron. & Memorials Historia Rerum Anglicarum of William de Newburgh vol 1 .adolescentiam
v D Knowles in an article in The Month vol 21 (1959) p89 vi ibid
vii R L Poole .The Early Lives of Robert Pullen and Nicholas Breakspeare. in Essays in Medieval
History to T F Tout (ed. A G Little and F M Powicke)
1925 p67 viii John of Salisbury Polycraticus Lib. vi and viii
ix W J Millor, H E Butler and C N L Brooke (eds) Letters of John of Salisbury vol 1 (1986) No
50 pp87-8. When they .talked together. may have been
in the winter of 1150/1 when John and Nicholas (then a cardinal) were together at the Curia at
Ferentino. The canons of Merton .illumine our island
by the light of their good works … and serve the welfare of their neighbours with all their
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 129 – MARCH 1999 – PAGE 4
BILL RUDD takes an interest, but not a personal one, in:
THE RUDD MONUMENT IN ST. LAWRENCE CHURCHYARD.
From time to time I am asked if I am related to the Rudd family in the grave in Morden Parish
answer is, simply, NO! Yet the grave is not without interest.
The curious thing about it is that there are four interments in a single grave ten feet deep.
Unusual to say the
least. One wonders how it was arranged with the Rector, Revd. George Preston Kelsall Winlaw,
as the people all lived outside the parish.
In sequence, the burials took place in May 1909, January 1929, March 1929 and March 1974. The
third is the
main subject of this article.
Austin Rudd died on 24 March 1929 aged 60 in Lancaster Place, London. At the time of the first
of Elizabeth Ann Rudd, he was living with her at Robinson Road, Mitcham, though it is unclear
relationship was. On the monument she is the wife of Arthur Rudd. In the parish register Austin
entered as Arthur (Austin Rudd, not Edwin Austin as appears on page 2 of the September 1998
I am profoundly grateful to Dick Playle of the Music Hall Society for the following
“Austin Rudd was not
a ‘star. of the first
rank, but was
sufficiently good to
appear on the same
programme with the
best known artistes,
and at the best music
“None of his songs is
well remembered, or
passed into the popular
public repertoire. On
the other hand, he
was of sufficient
importance to have
his name and picture
on a few song covers.
I believe that Austin
Rudd made no
After giving up as a
performer he became
a variety theatrical
The monument, at the
west end of the
numbered 116, then
re-numbered 164 after
the 1959 churchyard
survey. It is a broken
column (life broken
off) on a large block,
the kerb being taken
away after a recent
restoration. It was
originally erected by
Joseph Evans of
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 129 – MARCH 1999 – PAGE 5
LOCAL HISTORY WORKSHOPS
Friday 13th November 1998 – Lionel Green in the chair.
Judy Goodman has been looking through John Wallace’s notes to see whether the Charles Blake who
was responsible for the original Longthornton development in Mitcham (see last Bulletin) was
owner of Blue House Farm and other properties in Motspur Park, Merton. The latter was certainly
responsible for other building development in Malden, Norwood and elsewhere in London, but Judy
has yet to find evidence linking him to Longthornton. Watch this space.
Sheila Harris has been looking at the deeds of her house in Cannon Hill Lane. The house was
1913, long before the rest of the area had been built up. Sheila hopes to investigate the
history of the
land on which it stands, the boundary of which follows a brook. However, she discovered that an
exchange of land with a neighbour in 1982 has been wrongly recorded, and needs to correct this,
future historians will be totally confused!
Bill Rudd brought us up to date with the developments with Tramlink, and has collected various
publications for our archives. Staying with transport, he has recently obtained a photograph of
“Flying Flea”, an aeroplane that he and Lionel both remember at an air display in 1934 at
It could be built and flown by amateur aviators, costing just £70, and could be dismantled, and
reassembled in 15 minutes. A brilliant idea, but the plane was apparently very unstable!
Bill Sole had three more nominations for his list of famous Merton women:- former MP Angela
Iris Bentley, whose campaign to clear the name of her brother, Derek Bentley, only succeeded
death; and the much maligned Emma Hamilton.
Peter Harris showed three recent acquisitions:- a press photo from the front of the local
showing the brass plaque from outside the office of Robert Masters Chart, discovered in a local
garden, and recently presented to the Wandle Industrial Museum; a book presented to
Portsmouth to commemorate George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1935, which included a section on
ship, Victory; and a copy of a book called Surrey at Work, printed in 1992 and reprinted 1997,
acknowledged Peter’s contribution.
Peter Hopkins has collected together several references to mills in Morden over the last 900
asked for help from fellow members to identify them. There was a mill in Domesday, and the
Morden was awarded the tithes of the mill in 1331, but the mill does not appear in an extent of
manor of Morden in 1312, though Thomas the miller leased a yard and 6 acres from Westminster
Abbey. There seems to have been at least two mills in the 16th century, one belonging to the
other a freehold property, but their locations are not yet clear. The inclusion in Morden of
the area now
known as the Watermeads suggests an early mill site here.
Lionel Green has been researching local landlubbers, and is submitting an article on the
subject for a
future Bulletin. Suffice it to say here that he has discovered a family connection between the
family of Merton, and the Caesars of Mitcham.
Eric Montague had traced the possible origins of sparkling wine to Mitcham! In 1662, 40 years
the first reference to champagne in France, a Christopher Merret was producing a sparkling
Francis and Richard Merret were licensed victuallers in the mid-18th century, with three
Mitcham, so perhaps Christopher was a Mitcham ancestor? See opposite page.
Eric also referred to the steelworks of the industrialist, Sir Ambrose Crowley, whose memorial
Mitcham Parish Church. He will be submitting an article for a future Bulletin. He had also been
touch with the Editor of the Metropolitan Police Magazine, Bernard Brown, about the history of
in Merton. Bernard had offered to write something for the Bulletin. See page 8
Finally Eric showed us photographs, postcards and memorabilia belonging to his father and
charting their wartime experiences. He has made this excellent collection available to Sarah
exhibition at the Heritage Centre, “Keep the Home Fires Burning”.
Next workshop dates: Friday 5 March and Friday 7 May at 7.30 pm at the Wandle
Industrial Museum. All are welcome.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 129 – MARCH 1999 – PAGE 6
Friday 15 January 1999
Lionel Green had been on the trail of glass from Merton Priory. His account will appear in the
Peter Hopkins had brought along some publications produced by the West Surrey Family History
Society, and likely to be extremely useful to local historians as well as family historians.
indexes to wills 1650-1858, Feet of Fines 1558-1760, and lawsuits 1497-1835, relating to ‘old’
parishes including our own. Lists of publications, research aids and microfiches can be
Mrs Rosemary Cleaver, 17 Lane End Drive, Knaphill, Woking, Surrey GU21 2QQ (enclose SAE).
The history of copper working on the Wandle had been exercising Eric Montague, and his booklet
the subject comes out soon. The final touches still had to be put to the history of one mill
where Mitcham, Morden and Carshalton meet, and about which Peter Hopkins had some helpful
Monty also reported a letter from someone born in the old Ravensbury mill house who now lives
Spain. He had been able to send all the information requested.
The St Mary’s Beddington History Group had produced a most professional audio cassette
in words and music the winter scene in Beddington in 1846. It was an inspiring example of what
be done by a local society.
Monty’s final contribution was to tell the workshop the outline of the piece published in this
entitled .A Story Worth Telling..
Bill Rudd had done some research on Austin Rudd, the music hall artist (see page 5).
Following up Eric Montague’s account of .Blake’s Folly. in the December Bulletin, Judy Goodman
had been to Surrey History Centre to consult the late John Wallace’s dossier on the West Barnes
district. However, while John had identified the West Barnes Charles Blake as a London
carried out development at Norwood and probably elsewhere, there still seems no proof that the
Charles Blakes were the same man.
John Pile, a member in Hampshire, had directed her to further references to Edward Thomas in
(see Bulletin for September 1998) in Under Storm’s Wing by Helen Thomas and The Childhood of
RAISE YOUR GLASSES TO THE MEMORY OF FRANCIS MERRITT
OF MITCHAM, LICENSED VICTUALLER!
In his World Encyclopedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wine, published in October 1998, Tom
(author of the best-selling World Wine Encyclopedia) throws new light on the history of
traditionally attributed to the blind French monk Dom Pérignon.
According to Stevenson, in a paper presented to the newly-formed Royal Society in December
Christopher Merret described how, by the addition of sugar to a finished wine, a second
be induced, producing a sparkling wine. This was over 40 years before the appearance of the
document to mention sparkling Champagne, and leads to the conclusion that London, and not Reims
Epernay, should lay claim to being its birthplace.
Merret, Merett or Merritt – the spelling varies a little – was a name familiar in Mitcham in
century, a hostelry belonging to .Mr Merrett. first finding mention in 1732, whilst Francis
appears in the freeholders. list for 1764-5, was a licensed victualler occupying the Old Nag’s
Head at Fair
Green. This was held on copyhold tenure from the manor of Biggin and Tamworth, and court rolls
references to both Francis and his wife Ann. The manor court rolls of Ravensbury show that
Merritt also had an inn on the site of the Ravensbury Arms on Mitcham Common until his death in
when the business passed to his son Richard. The name Francis Merritt, again described as
occurs in the mid-1760s in the deeds of property in the vicinity of Figges Marsh, but the use
to which these
premises were put is not clear.
Is it possible that Francis Merritt was related to Christopher Merret, and that .bubbly. was
over the bars of Mitcham inns nearly 200 years before Moët et Chandon first marketed their
luxe cuvée, named after its (claimed) discoverer Dom Pérignon?
E N Montague
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 129 – MARCH 1999 – PAGE 7
Ex-Sergeant BERNARD BROWN, editor of the Metropolitan Police History Magazine, has kindly
contributed the following article:
POLICING OLD MITCHAM
When Robert Peel’s .New Police. force was formed in April 1830 the Metropolitan Police District
extended only as far as the boundary of the parish of St Peter and St Paul, Mitcham,
with Tooting and Streatham, and it was to be another decade before the parish was placed under
jurisdiction of the .New Police..
The road through Mitcham had been turnpiked under the Act of 1718 (4th Geo 1. CAP 4) between
and Sutton to secure repairs to the highway, which was often impassable in inclement weather
haunt of highwaymen, especially on lonely Figges Marsh, where a turnpike gate and tollhouse was
subsequently erected. These early toll-keepers were, in fact, sworn in as parish constables,
detain felons within the toll-house, or else the parish .cage. or .lock-up., which was situated
Cricketers public house in the London Road.
Despite the passing of the Watching and Lighting Acts, it was found necessary in 1805 for a
the Bow Street Horse Patrols to be established at Colliers Wood, where the station survived,
Wandle Park, until it was demolished in the early 1980s. A replica now stands in its place. The
Patrols were absorbed into the Metropolitan Police in 1839.
As the Surrey Constabulary did not exist until 1851 the parish of Mitcham was included in the
January 1840, as part of the vast .P. or Camberwell Division. Two sergeants (one mounted) and
constables were deployed in the 2,893 acre parish from Streatham police station. However
1841 onwards record the presence of a station-house in Mitcham.
Development was already taking place, with the opening in May 1838 of the London & Southampton
Railway, with a station in nearby Wimbledon. Mitcham finally got its own railway station in
when a branch opened from Wimbledon to Croydon.
The population now stood at 4,641, while the police station on the Causeway (overlooking the
Green) was under the charge of sergeants John Thorpe and Francis Bates and ten p.c’s, within
Sub-Division. The Figges Marsh toll-gate was finally swept away in late October 1865 amidst
The gate had always attracted much criticism, especially during Derby Week when police
had to be called in to preserve order. At the same time Mitcham ceased to be part of .P.
Division, and the
two sergeants and 14 p.c’s were transferred to the newly created .W. or Clapham Division with
at Brixton (then still in Surrey).
The freehold having been acquired in 1877 for £650, a new police station consisting of two
cells and a one-
stall stable was built on the Causeway at a cost of £994 18s 8d (£994.84) and opened on 1
Provision was made to house one married sergeant and his family at 4s (20p) per week and six
at just 1s (5p) per week. The new station was equipped with the latest thing in communications
telegraph – and was identified by the station-code letters .MC..
A new County of London was formed in April 1889 which included the neighbouring parishes of
and Streatham. Mitcham thereby became the new boundary between Surrey and .The Smoke., and the
aforesaid parishes became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth a decade later, in
1900. As a
result of the London Government Act 1899 a detached part of the civil parish of Mitcham was
Tooting Graveney parish as part of London, the population (1901) now having reached 14,904. At
of the century the Causeway (by now known as Lower Green East) police-station was complemented
Station Sergeant John Jenkins (who had four stripes), four sergeants and 19 p.c’s, the
districts of Upper
and Lower Mitcham being bounded by Wykford Lane. By the outbreak of war in 1914 the constable
strength had risen to over 30. Mitcham became an Urban District the following year, having been
the vast Croydon Rural District since 1894. In April 1894 there was a reciprocal exchange of
Tooting (County of London) and Mitcham (Surrey) parishes.
The inter-war years saw many boundary changes, both police and civil, as a result of which
Tooting police-stations became part of the Streatham Sub-Division. However, in October 1931 the
was transferred from .W. Division to .Z. (Croydon) Division, and as a result Tooting was
sub-divisional status, with poor old Mitcham maintaining its usual role, as a mere sectional
present station at Tooting dates from July 1939.
The Surrey Review Order 1933 extended the Urban District of Mitcham to include parts of
Borough and Beddington Urban District, and in exchange part of Mitcham was ceded to Croydon and
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 129 – MARCH 1999 – PAGE 8
Wimbledon Boroughs, together with parts of Merton and Wallington parishes. (The author has in
possession a road sign for London Road, Mitcham Junction, bearing Wallington & Beddington UDC
Although Mitcham became a borough in 1934, one final change took place, under the County of
and County Borough of Croydon (Alterations to Boundaries) Order 1936, with an equal exchange of
between Mitcham civil parish and the County Borough of Croydon. In December 1936 it was
purchase the adjoining premises, known as Causeway Cottages for £1,750 to extend the police-
plans were suspended at the outbreak of war in 1939. The old 19th-century telegraphic station
changed at this time from .MC. to .WM., ie .W. Division, station: Mitcham.
Unfortunately Mitcham ceased to be part of the administrative County of Surrey and became part
new Greater London Borough of Merton on April Fools Day 1965. The new sub-divisional HQ for
(now coded VM) was changed from Tooting to Wimbledon at the same time, where it has remained
since. Mitcham had been part of .W. Division for a century (1865-1965), but was now part of .V.
The present .modern. police-station will itself be 35 years old in the Millennium, having
opened on 6
December 1965. The station address was altered from Lower Green East to Cricket Green in
The GLC, along with .V. Division, was abolished in September 1985, and Mitcham re-designated at
a sub-divisional station, albeit still an outpost of Wimbledon, which was temporarily
administered by .Z.
Up until 1985 all Mitcham officers had worn the single .V. District letter on their uniforms,
together with a
number first introduced in 1830, but officers now wear the 2-letter Wimbledon Divisional code
brief temporary change to this system took place between March 1992 and April 1996, when
the letters .ZM. instead of .VW.. Mitcham at this time had the temporary station-code letters
Sector policing was introduced in March 1992, when the Wimbledon Division .VW. was renamed
Division, .ZM.. Under this system a new sector office at Morden, .ZE., was taken into use, with
status than Mitcham.
By the arrival of the Millennium the Metropolitan Police will have patrolled Mitcham for 160
years, and if
we include the Horse Patrols, for nearly 200 years! There are plans afoot for some Metropolitan
stations in Surrey to be ceded to the County police. Mitcham, however, will remain under the
the Metropolitan Police for the foreseeable future.
Pigot’s Directory of Surrey 1839
Kelly’s Post Office Directories of Surrey 1850-1933
Metropolitan Police Orders and Notices 1830-1996
Turnpike notes and plans in the author’s collection
.A-Z of Metropolitan Police Divisions 1829-1989., articles by the author published 1987-1989 in
The Job, house
A Mitcham centenary. In March 1899, the first phase in the building of the new Anglican church
Mark, Mitcham, having been completed, the church was dedicated by Edward Stuart Talbot, Bishop
Rochester. The land on which it stands had been given by Mr E Mizen; the design was by Robert
Masters Chart, and the builders were Stewart & Sons of Croydon. The chancel, north transept and
chapel were added in 1910.
On Sunday 2 May at 3pm a short service will be held in the remains of the chapter house of
Priory. All are welcome to attend.
As part of Merton Local Studies Centre spring programme Steve Griffin talks about .People
places. on Wednesday 28 April, and our own Bill Rudd looks at Morden .From village shop to
on Wednesday 26 May. Both events take place at Morden Library at 7.30 pm.
The National Trust is putting on a series of .Ecology for Everyone. lectures at the Snuff Mill
Environmental Centre, Morden Hall Park. These are on Saturdays 6, 13, 20 and 27 March from 10
12. Each costs £1 per person, including refreshments, and booking is essential, on 0181 542
The John Innes Society is putting on an exhibition of drawings by John Wallace of places in the
Borough of Merton, made between 1968 and 1995, the year in which he died. Artist, architect and
historian, John liked to draw all types of buildings. His local views will be on display at
from 13-31 March.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 129 – MARCH 1999 – PAGE 9
The following article is a précis of a booklet written by Richard Binns. RON POTTER calls his
A STORY WORTH TELLING
At the end of the 1939-45 war many young children who had lost their fathers in action/active
up knowing little or nothing about them. Mothers found the subject too painful to discuss and
drew a veil
over that period of their lives. Where was father born? Where did he go to school? What job did
he do, and
where was he posted during the war? All these questions and more remained unanswered, or were
asked, for fear of upsetting .mum..
A few years after her mother died, Carol Cumming, in July 1998, was encouraged to seek
about her father Flt/Lt Raymond Stanley Cumming, who was killed in action on 14/15 February
whilst carrying out mine-laying operations in the Baltic Sea area.
Requests for information in Air Mail and Intercom brought forth a good response, both from
squadron members and others, pointing Carol in the right direction as to where to obtain
information, ie the Public Record Office at Kew, and the Squadron Association. Over the next
much activity took place. Records were checked, Carol met a number of former members of
squadron – a great highlight – and, after all the facts were assembled, the following picture
Raymond was born in Middlesbrough on 21 July 1916, and we know that his father was employed as
grocer’s manager. Our next point of reference finds him, at the age of 12 years, a pupil at
School, Mitcham, Surrey, which he leaves in 1930 aged 14 years. (One disappointment here was
neither Surrey County Council nor the London Borough of Merton was able to trace admission
Raymond. These would of course have shown his home address at that time.)
Upon leaving school Raymond finds employment with an old-established firm of estate agents – G
Hodges & Sons, 281 London Road, Mitcham, where over the next ten years he rises from office
becoming the firm’s managing clerk.
During the late 1930s Raymond meets, and courts, a local girl, Marjorie Beacock, who works at
United Dairies Depot in Kenley Road, Merton Park. Marjorie lives above the premises with her
and by 1939 had become manageress of the dairy.
Having volunteered for the RAF early on in the war Raymond is .called to the colours. on 30
Unusually for the armed forces, he becomes a round peg in a round hole, in that he is employed
as a .clerk
– general duties. for the next two years, rising to the rank of corporal, with a proficiency
rating of ‘superior..
Some time during those two years Raymond must have volunteered for Aircrew, as on 4 March 1942
attended an Aircrew Selection Board, when he passed the standard needed, and was recommended
During all this time the young couple’s romance was continuing to blossom, resulting in their
6 June 1942 at the church of St Mary the Virgin, Merton Park. They set up home at 16 The Park,
perhaps with the help of G T Hodges in finding them accommodation. RAF records show that for
3½ months of their marriage Raymond was posted close to home, in Brighton and London; so
was able to .get away from it all. for a few brief periods.
On 29 August 1942 Raymond reports to the Aircrew Receiving Centre situated at St John’s Wood,
to start his training as a pilot. A long haul lies ahead, before he is awarded his Pilot’s
(.Wings.) on 22 December 1943.
Another red letter day arrives shortly after, in that on 17 January 1944 Carol is born at St
As luck would have it, Raymond was some 600 miles away, starting his operational training at
in Morayshire, north-east of Inverness. Here, by process of self-selection, crews were formed
remain together until they had completed their tour of operations.
On 26 May 1944 Raymond and his crew were posted to No.78 Bomber Squadron based at Breighton,
some 12 miles south-east of York. Like the other squadrons in No.4 Group they flew Halifaxes,
although lacking the glamour associated with the Lancaster, were well regarded by those who
flew in them.
Eight days later, on the night of 2/3 June, they carried out the first of their 34 missions. At
this period of the
war Bomber Command was not only continuing its attacks on enemy industrial targets, but also
engaged in strategic bombing, such as daylight attacks on V1 and V2 rocket sites – vital to
keep up morale
at home after five years of war, daylight attacks on enemy ground positions in support of our
armies in France and Belgium, and attacks on oil plants and transport systems.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 129 – MARCH 1999 – PAGE 10
On 26 June 1944 Raymond is granted a commission as Flying Officer, and two months later he is
to Flight Lieutenant. At this time it is noted that his grading as a pilot is marked as
Raymond’s last flight took place on 14/15 February 1945. On that night 54 aircraft (30
Lancasters and 24
Halifaxes) took off from various squadrons for sea-mine laying operations in the Baltic Sea
aircraft, including Raymond’s, failed to return to base. Ack-ack and enemy fighters were very
this occasion, resulting in such high percentage losses.
Mining in the Baltic Sea area did, among other operational measures, interfere greatly in the
training grounds. Such mine-laying was one of the causes of delay in the appearance of the new
running, prefabricated U-boats in operational service. Captured German records also revealed
mine-laying also prevented troop movements from Norwegian ports to assist German troops
Allies in Europe.
Nothwithstanding the fact that wartime promotions could be rapid, there must have been some
strength that enabled Raymond to attain the rank of Flight Lieutenant after leaving school at
the age of 14.
No doubt he continued his education at evening classes to enable him to rise to the position of
clerk, and to pass the necessary academic tests to become a pilot.
In June 1944, when Raymond attended before a RAF Commission Board that Board was mindful of the
A commission is granted in recognition of character, intelligence (as distinct from academic
and capacity to lead, command, and set a worthy example.“
Carol was proud to learn that the Board found these qualities in her father.
Having visited many sites where her father carried out his training, and also the Air Force
Runnymede, where his name is recorded, having no known grave, Carol is now intent on visiting
places associated with her parents in Mitcham and nearby. Although the Odeon, Morden, and the
Mitcham, have been demolished, she will no doubt be pleased to see that the Gaumont, Rose Hill,
standing. Raymond and Marjorie would certainly have spent many happy hours at the .pictures..
Apart from being in the RAF during the war I had lived for a while at Rose Hill, and was able
to act as .the
man on the spot. insofar as Carol’s search was concerned.
One stumbling block I encountered was Raymond and Marjorie’s wartime address – 16 The Park,
Neither the current A-Z nor pre-war directories recorded such an address. I met with no success
Council offices, who were always most helpful with my many enquiries, until an officer in the
Studies Centre suggested it might be Mitcham Park. Mitcham Library referred me to Merton
Society, who referred me to .Eric. as the expert on Mitcham.
You can imagine my surprise when I phoned Eric. Not only was he able to confirm that at one
Mitcham Park residents referred to their address as .The Park., but he also told me that at the
question his wife’s grandmother lived two doors away from Carol’s parents. Other coincidences
in that Eric, in his career as Environmental Health Officer, used to visit the offices of
employer, G T Hodges & Sons, and knew Mr Hodges well. He also used to visit the United Dairies
in Kenley Road, where Marjorie had worked all those years ago.
From MoLAS 98, the Annual Review for 1997 of the Museum of London Archaeological
Service, quoted in Surrey Archaeological Society Bulletin 325 (December 1998):
…. Initial observations from a third of the skeletons from Merton Priory indicate an adult
male bias. Although this may be anticipated on a priory site, such a marked bias is surprising
in a cemetery thought to have also been used for lay burials from the parish. Many interesting
examples of pathology have been recovered, including a high number of cases of diffuse
idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) which may be a condition associated with an opulent
.Environmental analysis has revealed information about the Merton canons. diet with hazel
nuts, plum, cherry, grape, wheat and charred barley seeds recovered. Also, close to the
infirmary, a single sample of over 100 black mustard seeds was found, suggesting the
importation of plants probably to be used in medicines..
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 129 – MARCH 1999 – PAGE 11
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
Peter Hopkins has been attempting to trace the origins of a property in Lower Morden
THE KENNELS, LOWER MORDEN
On the corner of Lower Morden Lane, opposite the Beverley public
house, stands Morden Park Baptist Church and hall, next to the
Assembly Rooms and car park. On this site, until it burned down in
1937, stood a farm known at the time as The Kennels, though actually
a pig farm. Photographs from the 1930s show a weatherboarded
building with a jettied upper storey, and the construction of the house
may suggest a surviving wing of a hall-house.
The Morden Tithe Apportionment Map of 1838 shows this house (TAM
56) to have been leased from the lord of the manor, Rev. Richard Garth,
by James Lucas and William Fullock, while the acre and a half in
which it stood (TAM 55) was leased by William Acres. Acres lived in
Central Road, or Morden Lane as it was then called. The Acres family
owned several copyhold properties in Morden in the early 19th century,
but this was the only property they leased from the Garths. The Morden
Land Tax returns show the Acres family, sometimes spelt as Akers, as
tenants from 1795.
The previous tenant had been Matthew Hawkins, who was already the tenant when the extant run of
Tax returns began in 1780, paying £4 a year in rent. From 1780 to 1783 Hawkins also paid £10 a
for land which became part of the farm known as Lower Morden Farm, then farmed by Richard
In fact, this land had been included in Richard Mills’s lease 1 from 1771, when the farm had
been created as
part of the general reorganisation of the Garth properties in Lower Morden:4
fields late Hawkins: acres
land called Winters 2 2
Paper West Haws, a close 4 2
lower West Haws, a close 3 0
a close lying east upon Cheam Common 2 0
Perhaps Hawkins’s lease was due to expire and his lands were allocated to Mills’s farm from the
though still farmed by Hawkins for the time being. There is no mention of Hawkins’s house
of Lower Morden Farm, so it would seem reasonable to assume that Hawkins continued to live
his death, at the age of 82, in 1795,2 when the Acres family took over the lease.
The lands which had formed Hawkins’s farm to 1771 had previously been farmed by Mary Martin,
to a 1745 list3 of Garth properties: messuage
or tenement with barns, stables, outhouse, yards, backsides, garden, orchards
Pightle adj. orchard 0 2
Winters 2 2
Paper West haws 4 2
Lower West haws 3 0
2a. lying east upon Cheam Common 2 0
Thus it seems that the plot that William Acres leased in 1838, together with the house occupied
and Fullock, was the messuage or tenement with barns, stables, outhouse, yards, backsides,
plus the half-acre pightle adjoining the orchard, which Mary Martin was leasing as part of her
farm in 1745.
The name ‘Winters’ is significant, as a close of that name had been part of a freehold property
Wenterworth farm, owned by Bartholomew Fromond of Cheam Esq., and leased4 by him to David Benet
Morden Gent., son-in-law of George Garth I, lord of the manor of Morden, in 1617:
House called Wenterworth with orchards, gardens and yards 2 0
Close called Winters 3 2
1 acre late enclosed from common field
and 1 rood of coppice at north end 1 1
In Long Shott (Mr Garth both sides) 0 1
more in same shott
(Mr Garth’s enclosure on east, his land in common field on west) 1 2
in the same shott (Mr Garth both sides) 1 0
Hilly Field – 6 acres where Mr Garth has 1 acre on north 6 0
in Garth’s Southwells Close 1 0
in Spotts (Mr Garth both sides) 1 0
in same shott 1 0
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 129 – MARCH 1999 – PAGE 12
Hungrell Close 5 0
4 parcels in the common field 3 2
Close called Bowhill with 1 acre of Mr Garth’s to the south 3 0
in Comstrode (Mr Garth both sides) plus 1 acre in same 1 2
in Parklonds with 3½ acre coppice 8 2
Cobbes Hawe (Mr Garth has 1 acre on the west) 3 0
Mead Close 2 0
This was presumably the freehold property that Richard Garth II bought from Fromond in 1629.5
William Fromond and Thomas Jones had bought .a messuage and lands in Morden.6 in 1602 from
Playstowe. His father, also William Playstowe, had left .all my lands and housings in Morden.
to his son
William in 1596, and the rent of land at Morden and Toddington to his son John, with a life
interest to his
wife Ann and residue to his son Manevell.7
The Playstowe family had held Wynterworthes since 1459, but on the death of Richard Playstowe
it had been divided between two brothers, John and William Pleystowe senior, in 1540. William’s
detailed in a document8 in Surrey Record Office, but information about John Playstowe’s portion
obtainable where it abutted William’s lands. It seems probable that the shares were roughly
John Pleystowe of Mordon, yeoman, .gives, concedes, and by these presents confirm. to William
his brother, 42a.1r. arable land and la. 3r. meadow, lying divided in the fields and closes in
the parish of
Morden, with pertinents, part of a messuage called Wynters, late the devise of Richard
Pleystowe of Ewell,
5 a lying together in a certain close called Bowhyll.
4 a lying together in a certain close called Spottes Close
4 a lying together in a certain close by Suttonheth
6 a lying together in a certain close called Molthawes
3 a lying together in another close called Molthawes
1 a meadow in Gyldonhyll Medow,
3r meadow in Mordon. Mede,
1 a 2r lying together in Longfurlong at le lambpyttes next to 3x½-acres of John Pleystowe on
1 a at Makerelles style
1 a 2r in byttyns next to 3x½-acres of John Pleystowe on east [?]
1r at Hungerhyll
1 a in Shortfurlong between land of John Hiller on west and Thomas Toller on east
1 a in Spotfurlong, next to 1 acre of John Pleystowe on south
1 a at Hungerhyll, by Londonwey,
1 a in Oldemordon.,
1 a in Strutfurlong, on east of ½-acre of John Pleystowe
2r in Tollersnewe Close,
2r in Combstrode, abutting upon close of Thomas Heryngman
1 a below a close of Thomas Toller called Cobbeshawe, next to 2 acres of John Pleystowe on
1 a below a close of John Hyller called Cobbeshawe
1 a in Bowhyll., next to 2 acres of John Pleystowe on south
1 a in Bowhyll., next to land of Thomas Toller on south
1 a in Combstrode, next to 1 acre land of John Pleystowe on east
2r in Combstrode, next to ½-acre of John Pleystowe on south
5 a lying together upon Hungerhyll., on the north of 5 acres land of John Pleystowe
1 a 2r lying together in Bowhyll fyrses, next to 3x½-acres of John Pleystowe on south
John Playstowe and Richard Best, both of Merstham, and John Bristowe junior of Horley, had
properties in Morden for £20 in 1459 from William Lovelace: E
Tenement, with …, cottage, lands, rents, etc., called Wynterworthes in Westmordon, the gift
of Thomas Herst to William
Lovelace, Richard Pulton and Margaret, his wife, John Chynnore and Wm. Andrew now decd.;
lands and tenements in Mordon, gift of Richard Pulton to William Lovelace and John Chynnore;
land called le Parklond (8a.) in Mordon, the gift of Robert Stoke, decd., to William Lovelace
and John Chynnore, decd.
Richard Pulton appears in Westminster Abbey accounts10 as a collector of rents for their manor
in 1441-42. A William Wynteworthe also appears in these accounts 11 in 1391-92 as ‘farmer’, or
the Rectory, or rectorial rights to tithes, in Morden.
The close called Winters was of 3½ acres in 1617, whereas Mary Martin only held 2½ acres of
in 1745. The other acre was part of a farm leased to John Howard: messuage
in Lower Mordon with barns stables yards outhouses edifices gardens orchards
a close called Winters, adj. said messuage or tenement 1 0
parcell of ground lying by Hobalds mead Bridge 2 0
Westhaws, a close 3 0
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 129 – MARCH 1999 – PAGE 13
Reduced extract from the Tithe Apportionment Map of 1838, showing Lower Morden.
Reduced extract from the 25″ Ordnance Survey map of 1933, showing Lower Morden.
(Annotations by WJ Rudd)
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 129 – MARCH 1999 – PAGE 14
Thus John Howard’s and Mary Martin’s farmsteads in 1745 seem to have been formed from a single
farmstead, known as Wenterworth in 1617, with 5½ acres around the house.
John Howard also held the lease of another farm in Lower Morden in 1745:messuage
or tenement with barns, stables, yards, gardens, and orchards with lands: Barn
Close 4 0
Long Close 4 0
Wikefield, a field 7 2
Suthwells, a close 5 2
two slips, a field 4 0
Hillyfield, a field 6 2
Howard also held copyhold property on Morden Common, which his wife, Rosa, had inherited from
father, Nicholas Dollatt, in 1732.12 These passed to Rosa’s relative, Richard Dallett of
with the lease of the two farms, though his lease13 of 1774 only refers to one house, in
conjunction with the
larger property, not Wenterworth:-
Messuage or tenement with barns, stables, yards, gardens, orchards, and lands:
Barn Close, meadow 4
Long Close, meadow 4
Wick Field 7½
Suthwells, a close 5½
The Two Slips 4
Hilly Field 6½
all that close of meadow ground called Winters 1
a parcel of meadow ground lying by Hobalds Mead bridge 2
close of meadow ground called Westhaws 3
Some of the lands leased to Dallett were added to Hobbalds, perhaps explaining the drop in his
in the Morden Land Tax returns, from £43 a year in 1804 to £26 in 1805. By 1807 James Atkinson
appears in the Land Tax returns as tenant in Dallett’s place. In 1804 he had also taken over
the lease of the
farm later known as Peacock Farm, and by 1813 the two properties were taxed as one unit.
The close called Winters had adjoined John Howard’s house, so was presumably part of the larger
two meadows called Skilton’s Meadow, south of the house and east of Hawkins Lane (TAM 61). The
that there were two adjoining meadows called Skilton’s Meadow suggests that they had formerly
of two separate properties. It seems probable that John Howard’s other house and his Barn Close
be located here. Allowing 2 acres for each of the farmsteads (including orchards), and adding
the 3½ acres
for Winters and 4 acres for Barn Close, we match the 11½ acres of TAM 55-61. The other lands
John Howard and Mary Martin were probably west of Hawkins Lane.
Summary of Owners & Occupiers
Wynterworthes The adjoining[?] farmstead
Date Owner Occupiers Owner Occupiers
c.1391 William Wynteworthe?
William Lovelace & others
1459 John Playstowe & others
1540 John & William I Playstowe
1596 William II Playstowe
1602 Bartholomew Fromond
1617 Bartholomew Fromond David Benet
1629 Richard II Garth
c.1745 Richard V Garth Mary Martin John Howard Richard V Garth John Howard
c.1774 Richard V Garth Matthew Hawkins Richard Dallett Richard V Garth Richard Dallett
1795 Owen P Meyrick Akers Richard Dallett Owen P Meyrick Richard Dallett
1807 Owen P Meyrick Jonathan Acres James Atkinson Owen P Meyrick James Atkinson
1838 Rev Richard Garth William Acres &c William York Rev Richard Garth William York
1 Surrey History Centre – SRO 85/2/76 2 F Clayton -Morden Register (1901) p.84
3 Surrey History Centre – SRO 85/2/51-52 4 Surrey History Centre – SRO 2575 – Box 3 Bundle G
5 Surrey Feet of Fines 6 Surrey History Centre – GMR 1/1/49
7 Archdeaconry Court, Herringman Reg., fo. 172 – Surrey Record Society -Surrey Wills I (1915)
8 Surrey History Centre – SRO 85/2/2 [Actually totals 47a 1r] 9 Surrey History Centre – SRO
10 Westminster Abbey Muniments 27373 11 Westminster Abbey Muniments 27345
12 Surrey History Centre – SRO 85/1/2 13 Surrey History Centre – SRO 85/2/83-84
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 129 – MARCH 1999 – PAGE 15
ERIC MONTAGUE has an evocative tale from Mitcham:
A PENINSULAR WAR VETERAN
Between 1990 and 1992 a team of enthusiasts from the East Surrey Family History Society
(including our late
member Jack Bailey) undertook the task of recording the monument inscriptions in the churchyard
of St Peter
and St Paul, Church Road, Mitcham. Their report (a volume of some 300 pages, including plans of
sections of the churchyard) is a valuable source of local history material, and well worth
the Local Studies Centre does not appear to have a copy.
Browsing through my own copy some time ago I came across the following rather moving
inscription on a
headstone to be found north-east of the church, in a corner of the extension to the graveyard
dating to 1855:
to the memory of
of the 3rd Regt. of Footguards
who fought at
Corunna, Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz
Salamanca and Vittoria
who died at Chelsea Hospital
31st. August 1867
aged 80 years
England esteemed his worth a soldier brave
whose hope on earth was peace beyond the grave
redeemed by grace his soul to Heaven will rise
to join the faithful armies of the skies.
In the hope of discovering a little more about this old soldier I turned to the 1851 Census
returns, and there he
was – living in one of the row of cottages on Commonside East set back from the Common, just
Road. John was a native of Suffolk, having been born in the village of Broughton, and in the
1840s and 1850s
was earning a living as an agricultural labourer. His wife Jane, two years his senior, came
from Croydon. They
were recorded in the 1841 Census, and since the cottages would appear to date from the 1830s it
is possible that
John and Jane were among the first tenants. The tithe register of 1846 doesn’t throw any light
on the ownership
of the property, but if anyone reading this note could persuade a present owner to produce the
deeds they might
find the names of the builder and landowner. Both John and Jane had gone from Mitcham by the
time the 1861
Census was conducted. Jane would then have been approaching 80 years of age, had she still been
suspects, however, that with his wife dead, John by this time had been accepted at Chelsea as a
with John is Daniel French, who died in 1859, aged 69. Too old to have been John’s son, he may
have been a
younger brother who came to live at Commonside East in the late 1850s, but we shall probably
I wonder who erected this monument? There are dozens of people named French in the local
– perhaps some of them are John’s descendants. Does anyone know old John’s story, and cherish
the memory of
a veteran of the Peninsular War and Wellington’s victorious army? It seems a pity if, apart
from his tombstone,
he is now forgotten.
MITCHAM COUNTY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS
I was approached last December by Mrs Barbara Pommett (née Smith), a pupil of Mitcham County
Girls from 1938 until 1946, for advice as to a safe repository for a box containing copies of
the school magazines
from 1938 until 1965, plus a fine collection of school photographs from the same period.
Mrs Pommet, who was a teacher at Rowan High School for Girls from 1961 until her retirement
ago, had received the collection from Miss Ball, the headmistress of Rowan, in 1974. The box is
believed to have
been the property of Miss Dunn, who was headmistress of the Girls. County School for many
years, having been
appointed to the post when the new school was opened by Surrey County Council in 1929.
Since the records of Mitcham County School for Girls are now held by the County Archivist at
History Centre at Woking, this seemed the obvious home for them, and their receipt has been
E N 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.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 129 – MARCH 1999 – PAGE 16