March 2000 – Bulletin 133
Chronology of Merton Priory buildings – L E Green
Thomas Vernon of Mitcham (1781-1846) – E N Montague
George Frederick Hall (1811-93) – R Reid
Mitcham Vicarage – E N Montague
and much more
Chairman: Lionel Green Hon. Secretary: Chairman: Lionel Green Hon. Secretary:
PRESIDENT: J Scott McCracken BA FSA MIFA
VICE PRESIDENTS: Viscountess Hanworth, Arthur Turner, Lionel Green and William Rudd
BULLETIN NO. 133 MARCH 2000
Saturday 18 March 2.30 pm Snuff Mill Environmental Centre
Barbara Webb .Millais and the Hogsmill River.
It was known that Pre-Raphaelite artist John Millais painted his .Ophelia. (now in the Tate)
the Hogsmill as its setting, but where exactly on the river? In 1995 Barbara Webb determined to
find out. In an illustrated talk she will describe her detective work and the solution of the
(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 archway and turn right towards Morden Cottage.
Friday 14 April 8.00 pm Snuff Mill Environmental Centre
Jim Davison .Croydon: an Archaeological Update.
Our neighbouring borough has some important ancient sites. Mr Davison, a member both of
Croydon Natural History & Scientific Society and the South-West London Archaeological Liaison
Committee, will give us the latest news and ideas about early Croydon.
Saturday 20 May 2.30 pm David Harrison
.Mysterious Wimbledon: a walk of History and Mystery.
Meet 2.15 at the Dog & Fox in the High Street for a Wimbledon walk with a difference. Mr
Harrison is an experienced local history lecturer and guide. Cost £3.
Wednesday 14 June 11 am Old Battersea House
Meet 10.45 at 30 Vicarage Crescent SW11 to see ceramics by William De Morgan, paintings by
his wife Evelyn De Morgan, and much more.
Maximum number for group is 20.
The cost will be £2.50.
Old Battersea House is a 15-20 minute walk from Clapham Junction, or take bus 239.
The Society’s events are open to the general public, unless otherwise stated.
LOCAL HISTORY WORKSHOPS
Friday 10th December 1999 – Stephen Turner in the Chair – 8 members present
Lionel Green opened with an outline history of the telephone service in Merton – obviously
item for a future Bulletin.
Eric Montague mentioned research being undertaken at his suggestion by member Julie Garner on
several puzzles concerning the Hampson family, major figures in Restoration Mitcham. Another
known 17th century family, the Odways (or Otways), is proving of considerable interest, and
merit publication. A correspondent in Australia has supplied details of the life “down under”
Hall, the Mitcham lad deported for seven years in 1829 for stealing two geese. (See Workshop
5.3.99). See also this issue page 12 From Our Postbag 3.
We were pleased to welcome James Vernon, a descendant of Thomas Vernon, John Chart’s master
carpenter, responsible for carving the galleries of Mitcham church in the 1820s. Alas, Thomas’s
and the cottage he lived in no longer survive, but James is hoping to uncover a little more
about his worthy forbear. See also p.11 From our Postbag 2.
Rosemary Turner now has more than enough information for the study she is to submit for her
and awaits guidance from her tutor on presentation.
Stephen Turner, inspired by Peter Hopkins’ work on the tithe surveys of Merton and Morden, is
contemplating an analysis of the Mitcham register. A huge task, but one of great potential
David Luff reported having found a hitherto unknown coloured PC of a Merton footbridge. He also
initiated a brief discussion on tramways, past and present, and the proposed redevelopment on
Bill Rudd is cataloguing his photographic collection of the 100-odd monastic sites which
St. Helier street names. He has also received formal receipt from the Surrey History Centre
unique WWII Air Raid Precaution archive he deposited with them. Surprisingly, so much was
as “rubbish” after the war the records are sparse. Bill’s donation was obviously appreciated.
assistance to the BBC, planning an item on the actor, George Cole, has not been used – a pity!
E N Montague
Friday 27 January 2000 – Eric Montague in the Chair – 8 persons present.
Peter Hopkins spoke about the walled garden at the Morden Hall Garden Centre. There are
to the garden, recently in the occupation of Abraham Goldsmid, in two leases of 1812 but none
It is likely that the garden was created on a plot of meadowland called Horseleys, lying
Hall and Morden Lodge. As Richard Garth had leased Horseleys to Edward and Robert Polhill in
it seems unlikely that the Garths had created the garden for the Hall. It may have been formed
Goldsmid to serve his Morden Lodge. He also occupied other Garth property leased to the
Rosemary Turner reviewed her progress on her project about Merton Priory. A floor plan of the
from an undated leaflet in Merton Local Studies had been produced in connection with a fund to
land at the north end of the Priory church, to be laid out as a public garden.This fund is
referred to in a
SAS report in 1926. On this she had superimposed a plan drawn up by Evelyn Jowett, post 1951,
showing the garden built for the Festival of Britain and the then existing station buildings
A report by Dennis Turner in 1962-3 contains drawings of medieval tiles found during
the Priory, similar in design to some at Westminster Abbey. Rosemary said that the tiles at the
are too badly worn or inaccessible to photograph or draw, but she had photographed some
copies in the entrance to the Chapter House.
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
Merton Priory tiles
from Dennis Turner’s article in Surrey
Archaeological Collections Vol. 64 (1967) p.47.
Another arrangement of four tiles is shown
on p.10 of this Bulletin.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 133 – MARCH 2000 – PAGE 2
Stephen Turner had copied part of the first draft of the 1838 Survey of Mitcham, containing the
controlled by the Trustees and Heirs of Cranmer, and similar extracts from the 1846 Tithe
for comparison. One of the plots in the 1838 Survey, No. 874, to the north-west of Lower
Green, and now the site of the Methodist Church, was occupied by Gosling, Chesterman, Scott and
Plumley who appear in the 1841 census. These characters are also in the List of Parishioners of
dated 1838, which gives details of their circumstances. These properties, like a number of
the names of the owners and occupiers detailed in the Survey whereas in the Apportionment they
listed under Sundry Owners – Sundry Occupiers.
The .Best of British. programme about
George Cole had been shown some
three weeks after the previous ones.
Bill Rudd said that the material which
he had sent to the BBC had not been
used; in fact there was not much
mention of Morden during the
programme. Bill passed round
photographs which showed the
St Helier Estate at the time George was
living there, and pictures of No.1
(Willows) and No. 2 (Canterbury)
schools which George would have
attended. Bill also went to No.2 but
was a year or two behind him.
Bill also had magazine cuttings with
pictures of George Cole as a young
man, and newspaper reports of trips
to the coast for the school children of
Morden. One bath bun and one banana
was allowed to each child.
Sheila Harris reported that three Wandle Walks were planned for the coming months.
27 February 2000 by the London Borough of Wandsworth, meet at Waddon Ponds, 9.30.
10 March 2000 by Wandle Heritage, meet at Earlsfield Station 10.00. Telephone 020 8545 3074.
1 April 2000 by London Borough of Merton Environmental Forum, meet at Watermeads 020 8545 3457.
Do not forget Eric Montague’s walk in September.
Judith Goodman spoke about how William Morris voted in Merton. On 15 January 1889 there were
elections for Surrey County Council. In the Wallington Division there were two candidates,
Smee of Wallington and John Innes of Merton. Smee was returned, and was probably the one
There was a vote in 1894 to form a District Council, for which John Innes was the returning
he also called the ballot. At this time William Morris had four votes as a ratepayer but did
not vote. Innes
had twelve votes, six as a ratepayer and six as an owner.
Eric Montague had long speculated on the straight length of the Wandle through Morden Hall
After talking to Professor Crocker he concluded that it was cut to clear the water away from
the mill as
quickly as possible. A Nicholas Davison had leased a mill in Merton from George Garth
1630, and Eric had already identified an island in the present park as the likely site.
He then spoke briefly on the research being done on the Hampsons by Julie Garner. Eric showed a
of Michael Reid’s .Notes of a Childhood in Mitcham. which it is hoped will be a future
Thomas Vernon was buried by the Revd.Richard Simpson in 1846. James Vernon had visited Downside
Abbey, who hold some Simpson papers, to look at his diary to try to find out why .Saint.
Thomas in the Register. But the first entry was three weeks after the burial. Mention was made
Simpson papers in boxes now in the Local Studies Centre and of some in tin trunks formerly in
Library of which the current location is not known. See also p.11 From our Postbag 2.
NEXT WORKSHOPS: Fridays 10th March and 5th May at 7.30pm at Wandle Industrial Museum
Canterbury Road Secondary School – 1957 – W J Rudd(formerly SCC No. 2 Central Boys’ School,
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 133 – MARCH 2000 – PAGE 3
FROM DOWNE TO GALAPAGOS
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
Charles Darwin in 1858
In spite of our January meeting clashing with a conference organised by our President, both
were well attended.
Only a few seats in the front row were left at the Snuff Mill Environmental Centre as Ray and
Pat Kilsby led us
in the wake of Charles Darwin.
Darwin was born in Shrewsbury in 1809, and was educated at Edinburgh
and Cambridge. At the age of 22 he volunteered to join HMS Beagle as
unpaid naturalist on a voyage to survey the coast of South America. The
voyage took almost five years, and by the time he returned to England his
name was already well-known in scientific circles. This was partly due to
the specimens he had sent home, but also because some of his letters had
been published. Once home, he continued his researches, and published
his Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle.
In 1839 he married his first cousin, Emma Wedgwood, and in 1842 the
couple moved to Down House in the village of Downe in Kent, with their
two young children, and for the next 40 years, until his death in 1882, he
continued to write about his theories from the seclusion of Down House.
In 1855 Darwin discovered that a young
biologist, Alfred Russel Wallace, was
working along similar lines to his own, and
correspondence between them showed that
they had arrived independently at the same
conclusions about the process of evolution.
In 1858 they presented a joint paper to a
meeting of the Linnean Society, but it was
not well-received. Darwin decided it was
time to make public a summary of his
research, and On the Origin of Species by
Natural Selection was published the
following year. Darwin continued to
collaborate with Wallace, who had a slightly
more local connection, moving to Croydon
in the 1880s.
Pat and Ray showed several views of Down House, which is now open to the public as a memorial
Then they went on to show us slides of their holiday to Galapagos, via Havana, Cuba, and Quito,
Their trip took somewhat less time than Darwin’s, having been undertaken by plane rather than
ship, but was no
less interesting for that.
Thank you, Ray and Pat, for an entertaining and
If you would like to join Pat and Ray on an even
shorter journey, with a closer link with our local
history, they are planning a coach trip to Merton
College, Oxford next year. More details later.
Giant tortoises seen by Darwin at the
Galapagos Islands. Darwin discovered that
they were well worth eating as well as studying.
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
Down House from the rear
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 133 – MARCH 2000 – PAGE 4
AROUND THE CRICKET GREEN
A packed audience at The Canons on February 12th heard Eric
Montague demonstrate that the varied buildings around the Cricket
Green, built for a wide variety of purposes, showed changing tastes
in architecture from Tudor times to the present day.
The first was the Burn Bullock public house (originally the King’s
Head), with its 18th-century frontage and two false windows to keep
the symmetry, but avoid window tax. The addition of the cornice,
and changes to the eaves, have not altered its appearance very greatly.
However, at the side of the building, nearest the Green, can be seen
Irene Burroughs 1976
the earlier 16th-century building. The Mitcham Vestry met here for many years, and King Edward
for refreshment on the way to Epsom.
The Mitcham Cricket Clubhouse was rebuilt in the early 1900s after a fire, in the days when
crossing the road
to the Green through traffic was not a problem!
The next two houses were built for the master and mistress of Mitcham’s first infants. school,
behind them. As the school population increased the school was moved, and the houses became
offices of a
printing works, and the school the printing works.
The Tate almshouses were built in 1829 on the site of the Tate family’s house, with money given
by Miss Mary
Tate. They were for 12 poor women, over 55 years old, members of the Church of England, who had
on parish relief, living in the village. The almshouses have recently been modernised, and as
Mary Tate Cottages
are owned by a housing association.
The next house, built in the 18th century, was from 1830 the Britannia public house, and had
its own cricket
club, .The Old Buffers., which played on another part of the Green.
The next house was built as a small Wesleyan chapel, and John Wesley preached there. When the
Methodist church across the Green was built this became a private house.
The police station, replacing one from 1885, contributes a 20th-century architectural style.
On the other side of the Cricket Green, Elm Lodge, built 1808, listed Grade II, has been for
most of its life the
home of the local doctor.
Mitcham Court has been the home of more than one Mitcham benefactor, who helped to preserve the
from development, and later actively supported the golf club.
The Birches was built in the 1920s for Sir Isaac Wilson, a successful builder, who founded
among other local benefactions.
The White House, listed Grade II, built in the late 18th century, became the residence of a Dr
daughter wrote one of the first histories of the area.
Chestnut Cottage was originally a weatherboarded cottage with a thatched roof. It has been much
the years, and was at one time split into two halves with two staircases.
With the Methodist church we are back with 20th-century architecture.
.The Quiet Before the Storm. is the current exhibition at Merton Heritage Centre, which looks
at life between
the two World Wars. The Centre is open between 10am and 5pm on Fridays and Saturdays at The
Madeira Road, Mitcham. Admission free.
From 13 May to 9 July at Wandsworth Museum there will be an exhibition on the early watermills
windmills of Battersea and Wandsworth, called .Turning Points.. Admission free. There are three
evening lectures in May – on Young’s brewery; Price’s candle factory; and the Surrey Iron
020 8871 7074 for details and tickets (£2.00). The museum is in the old courthouse in Garratt
Lane, just off
the High Street; open Tues-Sat 10-5, Sun 2-5.
Well-known local historian Richard Milward is to give two (different) illustrated talks on West
Grand Drive: on Saturday 18 March at 8pm at the Paddock Allotment Garden Site clubhouse off
Drive, for the Friends of Cannon Hill Common; and on Thursday 6 April at 8 pm at Holy Cross
Motspur Park, to raise funds for work in Africa. All welcome.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 133 – MARCH 2000 – PAGE 5
DAUGHTER HOUSES OF MERTON PRIORY
Lecture on Saturday 4 December 1999 by LIONEL GREEN, Chairman and a Vice President of the
It is no secret that for many years now Lionel has been steeping himself in the history of
Merton Priory. He
began his lecture by recalling how, nearly 50 years ago, as a very young man, he had been
invited by Evelyn
Jowett to contribute some chapters to A History of Merton and Morden, which she was producing
at the request
of the local Festival of Britain Committee. (He remembered that, in those more formal days, it
.Miss Jowett. and .Mr Green.!) His contribution included a description of the priory. Now, at
the end of the
Millennium, he believed it was an appropriate moment to survey the daughter houses of the
After briefly outlining the state of the late Saxon church in England and the separate
development of the
minsters and the secular (i.e. not monastic) colleges, Lionel described the changes brought
about by the Norman
invasion. With so much redistribution of land, the new lords were soon setting up churches on
churches that were recorded in the Domesday survey of 1086 as æcclesiae. These, as well as
those given to the
secular colleges, were served by priests – that is, clergy who had not taken monastic vows.
This rôle was soon taken on also by the Augustinian (or .regular.) canons, who were priests,
and who arrived
at this opportune time. Lionel pointed out, in passing, that one effect of their success would
be that some church
leaders began to be contemptuous of the canons of the secular colleges.
The order, established in France and northern Italy around 1060, took the name of St Augustine
of Hippo, not
because he was the founder (he died in AD 430), but because it followed the rules and advice he
for religious communities.
Early daughter houses did not depend on the sending house, but were self-supporting from the
start (in contrast
to the Benedictine practice). In each case the initiative came from a local lord or bishop, who
would apply to the
mother foundation to send a few canons to establish themselves in the new house, which he would
Merton claimed to have founded six, but seven are listed in their records: Tantona, Bothmsme,
Ednesburch, Cirecestrensem, St Gregory of Canterbury, St Laud, Holy Trinity Thwinham. Lionel
went on to deal with the
daughter houses of Merton in date order of foundation.
Taunton Priory was the subject of his article in
Bulletin No.132 (December 1999), to which readers
By 1121 William Warelwast, bishop of Exeter, had
become displeased with the prebendaries and ministers
of the secular college at Plympton, near Plymouth.
The reason for his anger was that .they would not leave
their concubines.. He transferred them all to a new
college at Bosham and invited canons from Aldgate
and Merton to take over the buildings at Plympton.
The new priory was given the same dedication as
Taunton – St Peter and St Paul. Ralph of Aldgate was
the first prior, and he was succeeded by Geoffrey of
Merton, prior from 1128 to 1160. The bishop, when
old and frail, joined the community, where he died and
was buried. Geoffrey, after his own death, was
remembered as a prior .of holy memory..
St Gregory’s Canterbury had been founded in 1087
by Archbishop Lanfranc. As a house of secular canons
it served the hospital of St John the Baptist, which
survives today as an almshouse. When in 1123 William
Corbeil of the Augustinian priory of St Osyth, Essex,
was chosen as Archbishop, he reorganised St Gregory’s
and invited canons from Merton to join the foundation.
Map showing sites of Merton
Priory’s daughter houses
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 133 – MARCH 2000 – PAGE 6
There had been a Christian presence at Bodmin for 600 years before Merton priory was founded.
But the Celtic
tradition ended with the Saxon conquest of Cornwall in the tenth century, when King Athelstone
refounded a monastery, established by St Petroc, as a Benedictine house. By 1113 it had become
college, whose dean was Algar of Laon in France. Through Bishop William Warelwast Algar was
later able to
persuade Guy of Merton, who had been at Taunton, to come to Bodmin as prior. Guy was at once
strengthen the religious life of the house. But not long after arriving at Bodmin, he died,
from injuries received
in a fall from his horse. Guy’s funeral, which took place in Exeter cathedral, at the bishop’s
attended by a multitude.
In 1128 King David of Scotland invited the canons of Merton to found Holyrood Abbey. The name
the fragment of the cross that his mother, St Margaret, had brought back from the Holy Land,
presented the relic in its casket to the new foundation. Alwin of Merton, who had been his
chaplain since 1120,
and later his confessor, was appointed as the first abbot and began the Holyrood Chronicle. He
remained for 22
years, returning to Merton towards the end of his life. Holyrood was to become one of the most
Merton’s foundations. As at the mother house, there were royal lodgings within its fabric, and
the new wing
that replaced them in 1535 was the beginning of the royal palace of Holyrood.
The richest and greatest of all Augustinian foundations was Cirencester Abbey, founded by Henry
who was consecrated in 1130/1 as the first abbot, had been a canon of Merton and dean of
although the abbey functioned from this date, the church was not dedicated until 1176.
Cirencester went on to
establish c.1139 a daughter house of its own, at Bradenstoke in Wiltshire.
The ancient abbey of Sainte Croix at St Lô, Normandy, is traditionally said to have been
founded by St Helena,
who was the mother of Emperor Constantine, and who, according to medieval legend, was the
finder of the
True Cross. Damaged in repeated Viking raids, the abbey was rebuilt in 805 by Charlemagne,
in 888, and then replaced by a monastery for secular canons. In 1128, in order to stop the
of the then canons, William of Evreux decided to make it a house of regular canons. In 1132
Algar, prior of
Bodmin, became bishop of Coutances (once Constantiensis), and he brought in some canons from
first abbot is recorded as Theodoric or Thiery, .formerly prior of Meretonia.. Although there
was never a prior
of that name, there was a Sir Teoldus, sub-prior of Merton, who died in 1173.
An early foundation existed within Dover Castle, attributed to Eadbald, king of Kent (614-40),
to St Mary. By 1086 there was also, within the castle, the church of St Martin, held by canons.
In 1130 Archbishop
Corbeil decided to remove the secular priests, whose corrupt life was .but typical of their
class. and to choose
a new site, well away from the distractions of town life. Using stone from a quarry at Caen,
granted to him by
Henry I, the Archbishop began an imposing new building, to be dedicated to both St Mary and St
Corbeil, though already ill, asked the bishops of Rochester and St David to introduce some
Merton canons to
the new church. But the sub-prior of Canterbury objected, and the canons had to return to
Merton. With Corbeil’s
death, they lost the support they needed; and the appointment of Theobald as archbishop saw
monks in occupation at Dover. However, Henry of Blois, bishop of Winchester, as papal legate,
archbishop, and ordered the monks back to Canterbury. Dramatic times indeed!
The ancient name of Christchurch was Betweonan, later Twynam Burna (.between two waters.),
Twynham. A collegiate minster existed here before the time of Edward the Confessor. It was
a curial cleric, and a great builder, who c.1096 began the great cruciform church, much of
which still stands.
However Flambard was committed to the Tower by Henry I. The foundation then went through
until 1150, when the bishops of Chichester and Winchester asked the patrons of Christchurch to
college into an Augustinian priory. Canons from Merton arrived; and the secular canons were
allowed to retain
their prebends for life, with the income then reverting to the priory. The church stands now as
one of the most
complete of the Augustinian order.
So, in total, Merton set up nine daughter houses, all within 33 years of its own foundation.
These were established
in important towns. At Taunton and Canterbury there were also hospitals – with St Bartholomew’s
they were the earliest under Augustinian rule. Education played an important part at most of
the houses. And
extensive ranges of buildings were a striking feature, not forgetting the great new or re-built
churches. All in all,
an impressive achievement.
By way of illustration, Lionel used an overhead projector to show some detailed tables,
drawings, plans and
maps. As he led his large audience through the story of these foundations, with their
complicated and interlocking
histories, he shared with us the breadth and depth of knowledge that made this an outstanding
event in the
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 133 – MARCH 2000 – PAGE 7
LIONEL GREEN has drawn up a table of
CHRONOLOGICAL EVENTS CONCERNING THE BUILDINGS OF THE
PRIORY AND THEIR USE BY THE CROWN.
Chapel and claustral buildings constructed of wood on new site. (M&B. I. 245; Colker p 242)
Founder’s mother buried in priory church. (Colker p.244)
Founder Gilbert provides a second wooden chapel much larger than the former one. (Colker p.243)
Queen Matilda and Prince William visit the new Priory. (H.4)
New church given royal protection. (M&B.I 243; H.12) Now 23 canons. (Colker p.243)
.Beautiful & sturdy church begun.. (Colker p 245). Founder Gilbert dies and buried in priory.
Now 36 canons. (Colker p.245) Building work ceased.
Completion of church in stone (took 15 years to build). (H.3/4)
Claustral and other buildings completed. (Decem. Script. Col.1664; VCH Vol.ii p.95)
Becket persuades Henry II to complete east end and transepts rebuilt further east (SAC 71
p.95; D Knowles Thomas Becket 1970 p.41)
Infirmary chapel dedicated. (H.21)
King assists .works of the church.. (Pipe Roll- 6/62)
King completes and endows the priory. (SAC 71 (1977) p 98)
Altar of St John the Baptist dedicated. (H.26)
?Guest house built. Norman entrance arch now at parish church.
Altar of St Stephen and St Nicholas dedicated. (H.49)
Enlarged priory completed.
Altar of the Holy Cross dedicated. (H.50 with date corrected)
King John visits priory.
King staying at Merton June 14-18. (H.60)
England under Interdict.
King at Merton (June 8) issuing safe conduct to barons for meeting at Runnymede.
Priory providing accommodation and used for confirmation of Peace Conference at Kingston.
(SAC 36 (1925) p.53)
Storm destroys tower of church. (Ann. Monas.- Dunstable III 76)
King gives priory 6 oaks from Windsor Forest .for the work of their church.. (H.86)
King gives priory 10 oaks from Windsor Forest (H.90) (?major repairs to tower and presbytery
constructed. See also next entry).
King at Merton – May/June. Lodgings for king and chancery provided (see 1258/9)
King at Merton. (Cal. Lib. Rolls I (1226-40) p 153)
Hubert de Burgh claiming sanctuary at High Altar.
King at Merton. (Cal. Pat. Rolls III (1232-47) p 14)
Parliament held at Merton. King and nobles accommodated Jan 20-27. (Cal. Pat. R. III (1232-47)
King at Merton at Easter. (Cal. Lib. Rolls I (1226-40) p.262; Close Rolls No.526)
King at Merton. (Cal. Lib. Rolls I (1226-40) p.379)
Stone memorial erected outside precincts to mark death of John Warenne, Earl of Surrey.
The priory possesses its own quarry. (H.106)
1230×1260 Lady chapel built in the reign of Henry III. (Lambard Topographical Dictionary 1730 p
New silver seal depicts gothic style building.
Severe tempest in June, .as had not been seen at Merton for many years before.. (H.112)
King at Merton. Christmas and Easter. (Cal. Pat. Roll Vol. III (1232-47) p 468/9)
King at Merton (Cal. Pat. R. IV (1247-58) p )
Major rebuilding of infirmary. (Monas. Res. Bul. 4 (1998) p.3). See 1161 above.
King at Merton. (H.124)
King at Merton. (H.125). Silver statue of Blessed Virgin Mary ordered by King for Merton.
1255 April King at Merton. Gives cope of red samite to the priory. (H.130)
600 marks bequeathed to buy land to build chantry chapel in priory church. (H. 130)
King at Merton. (H.131)
King at Merton. (H.131)
King at Merton (Christmas and Easter each year) (Close Roll Vol.X p 287 & 470/1)
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 133 – MARCH 2000 – PAGE 8
King’s chamber and chimney and chambers for chancery and wardrobe repaired. (H.136)
King at Merton. (H.136)
Murderer seeks sanctuary in church and thief in infirmary chapel. (H.139)
Armed militia from London intent on destroying Chancellor’s property at Merton.
Chamber built in precinct juxta Beaulieu by Prior Gilbert. (H.193)
Members of the Hansard family buried in priory church. (H.120)
Archbishop Kilwardby of Canterbury consecrated at Merton. (H.154)
Pippes Mill bought from Crown for £23-6s-8d. (H.157)
Site near sacristy bounded by ditches granted to build house . (H.168)
Prior forced to resign but given place of residence in the precincts. (H.195)
Merton pleads that it is .manifestly oppressed with poverty.. (H. 202)
Windows inserted in Decorated style. (see 1867 below)
King attends a play at Merton. (Archæologia xxxi p.43)
Road access to area south of kitchen. (SAC 64 (1967) p 40 & 44)
Faculty granted to dedicate three altars and two smaller altars in church. (H.264)
.Some dwellings.in deficient repair.. (H.270)
Lady Chapel and nave of church needing repairs. (H.284)
Dormitories and old houses require repairs. (H.287)
Henry IV holds Privy Council at Merton. (H.296)
Henry VI crowned at Merton. (H.298)
Cellarer occupying an upper chamber near the dormitory. (H. 305)
.Great Chapel of Blessed Virgin Mary. within the priory church referred to. (H.306)
Lower chamber of the infirmary referred to. (H.331)
Commissioner Leigh at Merton.
Merton Priory dissolved.
Claustral buildings demolished and 3050 loads of stone taken to Cuddington to build Nonsuch
John Whytokers of Merton paid 13s.4d. for .uncovering the body of the church of Merton Abbey.
Amery mills leased to William Moraunt. (H.338)
Labourers on site sorting Caen stone for Nonsuch. (Dent p.49 &80)
Derelict site granted to the reformed convent of Sheen.
Amery mills and gardens leased to John Benson.
Three loads of stone supplied to St Mary, Battersea. (Churchwardens. Accounts)
Abbey House and estate leased to Gregory Lovell. (Lysons Environs.I 1792 p 347n)
Queen Elizabeth visits Abbey House.
Merton Abbey and estate leased to Gregory Lovell for 21 years.
Priory mill sold to Edward Ferrars.
Priory mill bought by George Cow.
Priory mill purchased by Rowland Wilson for £800.
Heavy flooding and attendant collapse of water management in 16th and 17th centuries. (MoLAS
Report CCC 97 (1998) p.6)
Priory buildings still existing. Parliament makes them secure against roving royalists.
Precinct used as bleaching grounds.
Merton Abbey for sale, containing ‘several large rooms and a fine chapel.. (Domestic
Flint walls contain 65 acres. Stream runs through and passes kitchen and drives a mill. .Here
seven rings of bells and several chapels. (J Aubrey The Natural History.of Surrey 1718/9 Vol.I
Calico printing works set up in precincts. Chapel utilised as print room. (Thorne Handbook to
Environs of London 1876 p.247)
G.Vertue visits site and reports .chapel entire.. (BL Addtl. MS. 23086)
Second calico printing works opened nearer the High Street, Merton.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 133 – MARCH 2000 – PAGE 9
1774 Stone coffins discovered and used as drinking troughs for horses used at Abbey Works.
PS 895 (821) COX 1844)
Sculptured stone head with gilded head band found in precinct wall in grounds of Mr Halfhide.
(Announcement by Society of Antiquaries 23 April 1803)
Merton Abbey House empty.
Western section of Abbey House demolished. (E Walford in Gentleman’s Magazine June 1884
The last of seven chapels pulled down. (Jowett p.130. See c1690 above.)
Merton Abbey railway built across priory site.
Abbey House demolished. House breaker discovers Norman arch, ashlar walls, heavy timbers,
encaustic tiles and coins.
Two stone coffins found during the laying of gas pipes along north side of Station Road.
Skeleton found in grounds of Trafalgar Works (bones not coffined), and 14th century spur.
Bidder’s excavation. Church, cloisters and chapter house found. (SAC 38 (1929) p.49-66).
Corbel with sculptured head found in precinct wall. (SAC 38 (1929) p.53).
Many pieces of worked stone found in river. (west of Savacentre)
M. Biddle excavation at Nonsuch. Carved, painted and gilded keystone roof boss weighing 4½
cwt found. (Dent p.101, plate III. now on public display at Museum of London).
Cobbled roadway beside ditch. See c1380-90 above. Tiles discovered. (Turner, SAC 64 (1967)
Building stone and tiles from river. (Brooks, SAC 69 (1973) p.212/3).
M & MUDC and MHS arrange dedication of garden beside site of high altar.
McCracken excavations. Chapter house site revealing two building phases.
McCracken excavations. Infirmary site.
Planning enquiry for projected Savacentre on priory site.
MoLAS excavations (Bruce & Mason). North transept and nave.
MoLAS excavations (Bruce & Mason). Infirmary and reredorter sites
MoLAS excavations (Saxby). Reigate stone footings of 16th century buildings along High Street
with one aligned N-S. Tiles and medieval ditch found near High Street.
Colker M L Colker, Studia Monastica Vol.12 (1970)
Decem. Script. R Twysden, Decem. Scriptores 1652
Dent J Dent, The Quest for Nonesuch 1970
H A Heales, Records of Merton Priory 1898
Lysons D Lysons, Environs of London 1792
M&B Manning and Bray, History of Surrey 1807-12
MoLAS Museum of London Archaeological Service.
Monas. Res. Bul. Monastic Research Bulletin, York University.
SAC Surrey Archaeological Society Collections
SUGGESTED BUILDING DATES
Work involved Dates Style
Wooden church and buildings. 1117-24
Rebuilding in stone. 1125-36 Norman
Reconstructed church, central tower and claustral buildings including
chapter house and infirmary. c1156-96 Late Norman
Restoration of tower. Presbytery, lady chapel, reredorter and great drain. c1225-50 Early
Building improvements including larger windows, floors repaved and
additional buttresses. 1320-50 Decorated
Serious lack of maintenance but some floors repaved. 1385-1400
Restoration. 1400-1410 ?Perpendicular
Dormitory rebuilt. 15th cent.
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 133 – MARCH 2000 – PAGE 10
FROM OUR POSTBAG 1:
BENNINGA & Co. LTD
Margarine Manufacturers, Mortimer Road, Mitcham
Members may recall seeing in the final issue of the Merton Messenger in December 1998 an item
headline .Benno’s goal – a piece of cake?., which recounted the quest of .Benno. Benninga of
who is seeking information about his family’s former margarine factory in Mitcham. The firm is
said to have
been widely praised in the 1930s for its model working conditions. Mr Benninga, who understands
uncle Jacob Benninga was a prominent member of Mitcham’s now defunct Chamber of Commerce, is
make contact with anyone who may have known, or worked in, the factory, and might be able to
details of its final years.
I was able to provide Mr Benninga with details of the factory’s early history (it had been
built in the 1880s as
the private gas works supplying the Holborn Union workhouse in what is now Western Road), but
throw much light on its more recent history.
In his letter of thanks Mr Benninga asks if it could be
publicised that he is still hoping to make contact with
someone who either worked at the factory (it did not
close down till the mid-1960s), or has a relative or friend
who was employed there. He is especially interested in
the .inside management details, politics and
personalities of the firm..
If anyone cares to write to him direct, his address is:
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
5305 Umbrella Pool Road
FROM OUR POST BAG 2:
THOMAS VERNON OF MITCHAM (1781-1846)
We have recently had an enquiry from Mr James Vernon of Croydon, asking if we could help solve
which has arisen during research into his family.
One of his forbears, Thomas Vernon, who was born towards the close of 1781, died at Mitcham on
3 June 1846
aged 64½. He was buried a week later in the cemetery adjoining the parish church of St Peter
and St Paul in
Church Road. The cause of his death is given on the death certificate as .decay of Nature..
In the census return of 1841 Thomas Vernon was described as a .joiner., and we know from John R
account of the rebuilding of the church by his grandfather (John Chart) between 1819 and 1822
that Vernon was
in fact employed as head carpenter. He would have been in his late 30s at the time, and was
responsible for the
carving which embellished the front of the galleries. The timber was solid oak, and the task
took Vernon 12
months to complete. Unfortunately his handiwork no longer survives, having been removed when
repairs were carried out around 1950, but part of the gallery above the north aisle can be seen
in Plate 155 in
Mitcham: A Pictorial History.
Thomas Vernon was obviously an active member of the church. In the 1820s the church had no
singing was led by a string band in which Thomas played the violin. (Chart describes him as
being .a good
player..) Thomas had a large family – there seem to have been four sons and four daughters –
and lived with his
wife Elizabeth, three years his junior, in a small cottage in Fieldgate Lane off Western Road.
So much seems to
be clear, and is supported by the records.
The mystery which is puzzling our enquirer is why, having apparently been merely Thomas Vernon
all his life
(as far as is known), his worthy ancestor should be styled .Saint Thomas Vernon. both on his
and in the parish burial register. (Coincidentally, the burial was one of the last at which the
Rev. Richard Simpson
officiated before he resigned the living at Mitcham on being converted to Roman Catholicism.)
We have been unable to offer an explanation – can any of our readers suggest an answer?
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
Benninga’s Mitcham margerine factory in 1932
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 133 – MARCH 2000 – PAGE 11
FROM OUR POSTBAG 3:
On a brief visit to the Local Studies Centre early last year, Eric Montague was introduced to a
Australia. The Revd R.J. Reid was hoping to discover a little more about a Mitcham ancestor who,
as a youth
of 19, was sentenced in 1829 to seven years transportation for stealing geese.
As a result of this encounter, further research, and a brisk correspondence between here and
New South Wales,
ROGER REID, of North Epping NSW, Australia, is now able to relate the story he calls:
A NATIVE OF MITCHAM
This is the story of a young man of Mitcham who survived many hardships to become a founder of
A happy event took place in Mitcham, Surrey, in July 1811. The arrival of an innocent child was
at his baptism, in the words:
.Hall, George Frederick, (born) 21 July 1811 Mitcham Surrey (Father) Nicholas Hall (Mother)
Twelve years later, a family named Hall is recorded as the late occupiers of .a cottage valued
at 8 pounds per
annum, owned by a man called Woodyer..2 This cottage appears to have been located in Upper
Mitcham on the
main London road, close to the Swan public house. Nicholas (and Elizabeth) Hall may have been
James Moore, whose farmstead was a large provider of medicinal and aromatic herbs for the
The next official record is of a not so happy event. Eighteen years after the baptism, George
Hall, .late of
Mitcham., appeared before the Surrey Quarter Sessions at Kingston, indicted, in the company of
also of Mitcham, for having, on the 17th October 1829, stolen .two live tame geese of the value
shillings belonging to Francis Howard..3
A handwritten note on the foot of the form stated that James Warren was a convicted felon,
before the same court on 27 December 1828. While this suggests that the young George may have
astray by an older, more hardened, thief, we shall see that his later history tends to support
the thought that,
rather than easily led, he may have been a willing if unsuccessful participant. When Case 310,
that of George
Hall, late of Mitcham, labourer, came before the bench on 20 October charged with larceny, the
court found him
guilty and sentenced him to be transported for seven years.4
The scene now shifts to Sydney in New South Wales. The Shipping Intelligence column of the
announced the arrival of a fresh cargo of convicts:
.From London direct on Thursday last, the ship Lady Faversham[sic], Captain Ellerby, with 178
She sailed from Portsmouth on the 8th April, Surgeon Superintendent A.D. Wilson Esq. The guard
of 2 serjeants, 2 corporals, and 25 privates of the 17th Regiment, under the command of
Harvey of the 29th..5
They disembarked the following Tuesday. The Sydney Gazette welcomed their arrival in these
.The prisoners of the Lady Faversham are generally a fine, able-bodied set of men, and among
many farm labourers. These will no doubt be an acquisition to our friends up the country, who
their great need of this class of individuals..6
Among these convicts was:
.30.1191 Indent No 122 Geo Hall 19 r&w Prot single Surrey Gardeners Boy Stealing geese Surrey
20 Oct 1829 7 years no former convictions 5.2″ dark ruddy complexion Brown to grey hair Hazel
small perpendicular scar on left side lower lip.7
After disembarkation, the convicts were assigned to various forms of service, and some to .our
friends up the
.4552 Hall George 19 Lady Feversham 1830 7 years assigned to Geo Galbraith at St Vincents.8
This George Galbraith was at that time a mere 25 years old. He had come from Scotland with
to be granted 2000 acres of virgin bush at what became known as Nerriga, on the Endrick River,
(120 miles) south of Sydney and 120km (70 miles) north-east of what is now Canberra. This is
still a very
isolated locality, whose poor soils are suitable only for rough grazing of sheep. In those days
would have been even greater, with no more than scattered groups of convicts and overseers on
grants. The lack of people and the unworked wildness of the bush would have been enhanced by
with Mitcham. From time to time there would have been skirmishes with the local aboriginal
band, hostile at
the takeover of their waterholes and hunting grounds, and at the abuse of their womenfolk.
George Hall, with
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 133 – MARCH 2000 – PAGE 12
some other convicts, would have helped clear the land, dig, sow and harvest a small area of
grain, and mind the
sheep and cattle.
The next mention of George Hall occurs about two years later. He had apparently fallen foul of
which is not difficult to imagine happening between two young men, especially if one is
smarting under a
felon’s reputation and conditions, and the other conscious of his superiority and wealth.
George had been
sentenced to work in chains with a road-making gang, and had escaped. His recapture was
.List of runaways apprehended up to 3 Dec 1832 … George Hall, Lady Feversham, from the No 16
He was returned to another road gang, this time the No 9 Party. Had he belonged to a Sydney
might well have been punished with ten days on the treadmill, or seven days severe labour. As
he was a country
escapee, where there were no such conveniences, he probably received 25 lashes! Within ten
months he had
.Absentees … George Hall No 30.1191.22 Lady Feversham from Ditto [No 9 Road Party] since 11
Apparently he was recaptured, and finally served out his term. No mention of the granting of
Leave has been found. His Certificate of Freedom was granted on 7 September 1837, and announced
Government Gazette of 11 October 1837. He did not pick it up until 20 March 1839, perhaps
because he could
not afford the fee of 5/-.
He travelled down to Adelaide, we know, because in the following year his Certificate was
to the authorities in Sydney, overwritten with the words:
.Transported for seven years from Adelaide 7 July 1840 by the Brig Christiana..
From the Chronological List of Convict Ships arrived Port Jackson 1788-1849 appears .the brig
Lancaster Master arrived from Port Adelaide on 29 Aug 1840.. On board were four male convicts,
.40.1645 4 Hall George 28 R&W Prot single Mitcham Laborer House Robbery Tried Adelaide 7 July
1840 7 years 5.2″ … [description as before but with the addition of]… .mark of ulcer under
Once again he escaped, this time from Pinchgut Island. This is now the stone-walled fortress,
Fort Denison, in
Sydney Harbour, which it became, late in the 19th century, in order to guard against a Russian
attack. But the
island was then no more than a rocky outcrop. There was no shelter from the weather, and water
and food had
to be brought from the shore. Hence its name and reputation.
This escape was also noted on that Certificate of Freedom.
.A runaway from Pinchgut Island vide letter 44/6700 in which is enclosed his Certificate of
which is now cancelled..
The Government Gazette duly noted his escape under .List of Runaways.:
.Hall George Christina [sic] 29 Mitcham Surry laborer 5 feet 2 inches ruddy and freckled
lost a front upper tooth right side, small perpendicular scar right side of upper lip,
horizontal scar on each
eyebrow, mark of ulceration inside [sic] of left jaw, scar front of left side of head, mole
back of neck, scar
inside of right wrist, mole inside of left elbow, was here before Lady Feversham, 1830 for
from Pinchgut Island since 22 ultimo [22 Jan 1841].12
There are three things we learn from this description. For the first time his native place is
named as Mitcham in
Surrey. He is now described as being freckled. And third, we learn that he had been in some bad
a tooth and gaining scarred eyebrow ridges.
It is possible that, during this new period of freedom, he was the George Hall, bullock-driver,
in the Maitland
District, who got a John Applewhite into trouble.13
After three years on the run he was apprehended, according to the Government Gazette of 15 June
within 18 months he was again on the loose, this time a runaway from the Blackheath Stockade,
(62 miles) west of Sydney, where he had been held, possibly while repairing the road across the
This took place on 29 December 1845.14
No further report of his name appears in the Gazette up to the end of 1851. He had disappeared
community, a successful .bolter. at last. His success was probably due to the rapid growth of
the population, as
thousands of migrants entered the country, lured by finds of gold.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 133 – MARCH 2000 – PAGE 13
Our story now turns to that of a farm labourer who appears in the Morpeth area, inland from the
Wales port of Newcastle, both then within the Maitland District. Morpeth was the centre of a
community of gentleman farmers, some of whom had vast sheep stations further inland. There was
work for farm labourers, most of whom were ex-convicts.
It was in Morpeth that a George Hall met a Jane McMullen. While he claimed to have married Jane
there is no record of that marriage, which in itself would not have been unusual for those
days. Since the first of
their ten children, also a George, was not born until 1848, this appears to have been a
The family tradition is that George was of middling height. He was auburn-haired and fair in
colouring common to many of his descendants. His nickname was .the Red Bullock., supposedly
his colouring, perhaps also because it aptly described his build and personality. There is
nothing that prevents
this George from being George Hall of Mitcham.
Three further children were born before the family moved 50km (30 miles) south of Morpeth to
the southern border of the Hunter Valley. This was more marginal land, whose sandy soils were
grazing horses, cattle and sheep than for crops. As this land began to be developed, there was
which attracted labourers, many of whom were known to have ‘scarred ankles.. Their fifth child,
a son, my
great-grandfather, was born there in 1854.
At that time George was described as a .farmer.. This does not mean he had his own farm, but
that he worked
in that way for other landowners. On occasions he is believed to have driven bullock teams like
his son George
and grandson Henry Roland, but, unlike them, he never owned a team.
In the electoral roll of 1871 George was listed as a .leaseholder. at Quarrybylong, a locality
near Ellalong. This
marked a rise in his fortunes, but perhaps only in that he housed his family in a hut belonging
to someone else.
He was then about 60 years old.
When George was about 70, his son William began to purchase 40 acres of land. When it was
surveyed it had
on it a hut worth only ten pounds. It was a slab hut. William did not have an easy time. The
family memory is
that he grew wheat on this small area, but .gave up, defeated by the rust.!
George and Jane lived with William in these their closing years. Their grandson Tom remembers
being told that
.Grandma Hall was a very big woman from southern Ireland. Grandfather Hall was from Northern
[sic].. When Irish troubles stirred they used to sit on either side of the open fireplace,
‘sucking their pipes,
slanging each other, and not too choosy about the words they used..
My grandmother Rose described her Hall grandparents as being .very poor, very rough, and very
When Grandma Hall died, Rose, then 12 years old, told how she went dancing to her mother
saying, .O good!
Grandma’s burning in hell.. She was promptly silenced before her father heard. Clearly they
were not her
Jane may have had good reason to be ill-tempered. When she died, in 1886, the cause was
recorded as .natural
decay., which her husband said she had been suffering for 20 years.
George died of .old age. on 9 May 1893. He maintained a veil over his background to the last.
in notifying the authorities, knew only his age and occupation, and all else, including Jane’s
former name was
.unknown.! If one and the same person as George Hall of Mitcham, he died less than three months
82nd birthday, bringing to an end the life of a very tough, strong and strong-willed man.
His ten children had large families, one having 18 children! Of those 18 there was one who went
on to have 12.
The next two generations have been less fruitful, but have helped to give George Hall several
We owe a great debt of gratitude to this native of Mitcham, and subsequent migrants. As pioneer
struggled to build a life for themselves and for their children. We have reaped the benefit of
their labours, their
struggles, their tears and their joys.
1. International Genealogical Index
2. Land Tax records for Mitcham, 1823
3. File of Indictments No.310, at Surrey History Centre
4. Surrey Quarter Sessions Process Book QS3/5/14 p.252
5. Sydney Gazette 31 July 1830
6. Sydney Gazette 5 August 1830
7. Convict Indents microfilm reel 906
8. Index to Convicts arrived November 1828 – December 1832
9. Government Gazette 5 December 1832
10. Government Gazette 28 October 1833
11. Chronological List of Convict Ships Arrived Port Jackson 1788-1849
12. Government Gazette 19 February 1841
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 133 – MARCH 2000 – PAGE 14
Maitland Mercury 15 April 1843
Wednesday, April 12: (Before the Chairman, Captain Day, Captain Hungerford, and A.E.Bundock,
John Applewhite was indicted for having in his possession a stolen order for £6 13s. 9d., on
the 14th January last, the property of Thomas
Blakelock. Mr Purefoy appeared for the prisoner. It appeared that on the 13th January the
prosecutor, who resides at Paterson, was returning from
Patrick’s Plains when he was stopped by two armed men and robbed of several orders, some money
in notes and silver, and some goods from his
dray. The prisoner was in Lumley’s public house the night before the robbery at the same time
the prosecutor was there; he is a blind man, and had
a fiddle with him. He afterwards presented the order to Mr H.J.Cohen for payment, and two other
of the cheques he delivered up after having denied
first that he knew anything of them. He refused to say from whom he had received them, as he
did not want to get any person into trouble. Mr
Purefoy wished Mr Cohen’s deposition to be read. This was done, and from it appeared that Mr
Cohen had stated before the police bench that the
prisoner had got the order from a bullock driver named George Hall, but when asked by Mr Cohen
where George Hall lived he said he would get no
other person into trouble. The check was not tendered to Mr Cohen by the prisoner, but by a
young man in Mr Wiseman’s shop, a ticket of leave
holder, who said he had received it from the prisoner. This closed the case for the
Mr Purefoy then addressed the jury for the defence, contending that there was no evidence
whatever to show that the prisoner had any guilty
knowledge of the cheques having been stolen. The jury returned a verdict of guilty.
The prisoner said he had received the orders from George Hall, but he had not the slightest
knowledge of their being stolen; he had brought them to
Maitland to get them cashed at the request of George Hall, who had promised to remunerate him
for his trouble. He had been free thirteen years, and
lost his sight in government service; he had never seen anything since he was free, and
obtained a livelihood by playing upon a viola. He had no
knowledge whatever of the notes having been stolen, and threw himself entirely on the mercy of
the court. The chairman said he would allow the
jury to reconsider their verdict after the statement they had heard from the prisoner. The jury
adhered to their verdict, and the prisoner was
sentenced to be imprisoned in Newcastle gaol for three calendar months.
14. Government Gazette 9 January 1846
ERIC MONTAGUE unearths a secret at THE VICARAGE, 21 CHURCH ROAD,
The Rev John Ansell has kindly sent me a sketch showing dry areas which became visible on the
back lawn of
the vicarage during the spell of hot weather we enjoyed last July. They are regular in outline,
elongated rectangle parallel to the vicarage, and, together with what could well be the
footings of old garden
walls, are clearly indicative of a former building on the site.
John asked if I knew of any buildings here prior to
1825, when it is understood the present vicarage was
built, and I replied that I was pretty sure what he had
noticed was the outline of the old parsonage. This is
portrayed in a delightful watercolour by John Hassell,
dated 1823, on which the words .Old Parsonage pulled
down 1826. have been written in pencil.
At the time of the Restoration Mitcham’s .Parsonage
House. stood on the site of The Canons. Its dilapidated
condition (it was probably by then a very old building)
was one of the causes of an acrimonious dispute which
developed between the then vicar, Antony Sadler, and
his patron, Robert Cranmer. By 1680, when Cranmer’s
son John entered into a contract with John Odway to
build the present Canons house, a new vicarage had
almost certainly been provided for the Rev John Payne, whom Cranmer had presented to the living
Where this new vicarage stood is not known, but it was most likely in the vicinity of the
parish church. It was
here that in about 1789 Edwards, compiling his Companion from London to Brighthelmston, noted
described as a .long low building. in the possession of the then incumbent, the Rev .Darbie.
The Rev Streynsham Derbyshire Myers (to give him his full name) died in September 1824, to be
his second cousin, Richard Cranmer. Richard died in November four years later, after which the
occupied by the Rev James Mapleton. On stylistic grounds alone one could hazard a guess that
the central part
of the present house (a typical Regency villa) was built some time during the 1820s. This can
down to between 1824 and 1828, on the assumption that it was constructed specifically for
and his wife and their two daughters. It is, as we have observed, believed to have been erected
in 1825, the
builder being Samuel Killick, a well-established local man. It would now appear, from the
evidence noted by
John Ansell this summer, that the new villa was actually erected on what was the front garden
of the old
vicarage, and that the latter was demolished the following year, as the note on Hassell’s
John Ansell is to be congratulated on his .field work., and thanked for bringing the markings
to our notice.
Perhaps it may prove possible at some time to test with a little judicious excavation the
explanation we have
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
Hassell’s picture of the Old Parsonage
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 133 – MARCH 2000 – PAGE 15
GROUNDWORK MERTON . CHANGING PLACES; CHANGING LIVES
Groundwork Merton is one of a country-wide network of .Groundwork Trusts.. These Trusts are
charitable organisations set up to bring about environmental, social and economic renewal in
areas of industrial
Groundwork Merton has been working in the Borough of Merton for almost five years. We have
carried out a
huge variety of projects, ranging from the creation of children’s play areas on housing estates
educational campaigns covering poetry writing and making bird and bat boxes. The main services
provide are landscape design, community and youth work. Because work is carried out with the
support of the
local community, we find that the projects we implement are genuinely more ‘sustainable. than
have been otherwise.
During the last few years we have been working with the Environment Agency and London Borough
to restore the channel in the park. Originally the line of the River Wandle before it was
diverted to supply
Connolly’s mill, the river channel now once again follows the historic boundary between the
Wimbledon and Mitcham. It has been re-connected to the Wandle (to guarantee a constant flow of
the concrete river walls have been broken out and the banks re-profiled. This channel already
provides a home
to a wide variety of invertebrates including water shrimps, and the larvae of damsel and
We have also created a new reed-bed next to the channel, which treats the pollution entering
the park via the
surface water sewer (which formerly went straight into the channel). This reed-bed is an
feature in its own right, and a heron has recently taken up residence there.
Just upstream and next to the new Priory Retail Park, we are also working either side of Pickle
also marks an historic boundary, this time between the parishes of Merton and Mitcham). This is
a tributary of
the Wandle and is not a .ditch. at all, but a 6-metre wide river! Here we are leaving the
concrete walls . but with
the help of the Environment Agency, planting areas have been created on top of the concrete
base, and then
edged with long bundles of hazel faggots. This edging helps keep the planting in place during
The site is sensitive because it includes the only remaining stretch of Priory precinct wall,
and we have been
negotiating with the National Trust on the proposed improvements. Although there cannot be any
to the wall, we have carefully cleared scrub vegetation in front of the wall, and there are now
very good views
of it from the car park next to the shops. As part of the new development, the former Brook
Path has also been
reinstated alongside the Ditch, and this extends the pleasant route along the river to Merton
This site has a long and rich history and to highlight this, we are installing on site small
hinting at some of the things which have happened there over the last two or three hundred
years. These will be
placed within the new flint walls enclosing seating areas overlooking the channel. When you
visit the site, look
out for these and also for the kingfisher, which is a very regular visitor indeed!
We are always looking for sponsorship, and for practical help with our smaller projects. To
find out more about
Groundwork Merton, or about our other schemes, please write to me at our new offices at Unit
14, The Apprentice
Shop, Merton Abbey Mills, Merantun Way, London SW19 2RD.
Aileen Shackell . Principal Landscape Architect
Peter Hopkins. exhibition on the history of Lower Morden and Morden Park, produced for St
church in September 1999 for a diocesan Open Day, has been on display again – at Hatfeild First
their Millennium week. You can get your copy of the accompanying booklet from the Society for
indoor events, or £3.45 by post, proceeds to St Martin’s.
Until late 2000 there is a special display called Christianity in Roman Britain, at the British
49). Admission free.
The Imperial War Museum has a special exhibition to mark the 60th anniversary of .Spitfire
late November. Harry Bush’s well-known painting A Corner of Merton, 16 August 1940 will be on
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
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 133 – MARCH 2000 – PAGE 16