Bulletin 137

Download Bulletin 137

March 2001 – Bulletin 137
The Swan Inn – E N Montague
Mitcham in AD 1000 – E N Montague
The Mitcham Home Guard Memorial Plaque – R Turner
Saxon Merton, or ‘Battles Long Ago’ – J Pile
Merton Priory: Some 13th Century Episodes – L E Green
The Artists of Queensland Avenue – J A Goodman

and much more

VICE PRESIDENTS: Viscountess Hanworth, Lionel Green and William Rudd



Saturday 17 March 2.30pm Mill House Ecology Centre, Mitcham
Martin Boyle: .The Wildlife of Mitcham Common.

Martin Boyle is Warden of Mitcham Common. This 185ha (460 acre) site is of particular interest
for natural history conservation, as it supports a number of different habitats. An illustrated

(The Mill House Ecology Centre is in Windmill Road, Mitcham, next to the Mill House pub. It is

close to bus
routes 118 and 264, and to the Tramlink stop at Beddington Lane. There is a car-park.)

Saturday 21 April 2.30pm Snuff Mill Environmental Centre
David Saxby: .Recent Work on the site of Merton Priory.

The speaker is an archaeologist with MoLAS, the Museum of London Archaeological Service. He

will bring us up to date with interpretation of this important medieval site. An illustrated

(The Snuff Mill Centre, in Morden Hall Park, is on bus routes 118, 157 and 164. Drivers use the

garden centre
car-park. Take the path across the bridge; go through the gateway and turn right. The Snuff

Mill is straight

Saturday 12 May 10.45am Barbara Webb: .A Millais Walk.
Barbara Webb is kindly offering us this guided walk as a sequel to her lecture in March 2000.

details see page 16.

Saturday 26 May 2.00pm Visit to Southwark Cathedral
John and Jo Brewster

Following on from their talk about the Cathedral on 17 February, the Brewsters offer us a

tour. Meet at the Cathedral entrance.
(Southwark Cathedral is off Borough High Street, opposite London Bridge station.)

Saturday 16 June 2.30pm Martin Boyle: Mitcham Common walk

This guided walk, led by the Warden of Mitcham Common, is a sequel to March’s lecture. Meet at
the Mill House Ecology Centre, Windmill Road (see above).

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

To mark the departure from the scene of a local landmark ERIC MONTAGUE has composed this

for a Mitcham pub: THE SWAN INN

A Swan inn at Mitcham is said to have been mentioned in the court rolls of the manor of Biggin

and Tamworth
in 1695,1 but its location is uncertain and its subsequent history is unknown. Another Swan,

occupying the site
of the present Cricketers on Lower Green, and therefore within the jurisdiction of the manor of

Vauxhall, was
described in a guide published around 1800.2 John Rocque indicated an unnamed building in the

position of the
present Swan near Figges Marsh in his map of 1741-5, but this was most likely a private house,

demolished by the time the inn (an early 19th-century building) was built.3

The last Swan inn appears by name in the land tax records for 1817, but 1808 is the first year

in which the books
carry an assessment which can be identified without question as the building demolished in

1999/2000.4 The
inn’s first landlord of note was George Smith, who presided over the establishment for a

quarter of a century.5

The building of the Swan at Figges Marsh could well have been an enterprise encouraged by the

profit to be
made from the phenomenal increase in road traffic which was a feature of the late 18th and

early 19th centuries.
Mitcham lay on one of the main turnpikes from London to Epsom and Brighton, and the site of the

new inn, at
the junction of roads from Streatham and Tooting, was well chosen, for it ensured that the

hostelry became the
first to be encountered by travellers approaching the village from the north.

From the time it was erected, i.e around 1807, the owner of the Swan was James Moore, lord of

the manor of
Biggin and Tamworth, but by 1846 he had evidently relinquished part of his interest to Anthony

Harman, who
also owned, or held on lease, the Six Bells at Colliers Wood.6 Moore lived at the manor house,

immediately to
the north of the inn, and was a major landowner in the village. On the far side of the house

were the farm
buildings and herbal distillery which, by this time, had won for the firm of Potter and Moore

world-wide acclaim
for the excellence of its essences of peppermint and lavender, as well as for a dozen or more

other herbs grown
for use in medicaments and toilet preparations. Summer visitors to Mitcham seldom failed to be

impressed by
the sight and scents of whole fields of roses, lavender and camomile, and the constant activity

to be witnessed in
Potter and Moore’s yard was a source of fascination to travellers breaking journey at the Swan.

The end of the great era of coaching came with the development of the railway network in the

1840s and 1850s,
and the steady decline in regular through traffic during the latter part of the 19th century

would certainly have
resulted in a gradual change in the Swan’s clientele. An old photograph,7 probably taken in the

late 1860s when
the licensee was a Francis Foster,8 shows the Swan to have been a stopping place for carriers.

waggons – a far cry
from the stagecoaches half a century before, with their affluent passengers. On a few days each

year, however,
the inn was once more the scene of great activity, and for countless London families on their

annual outing to the
Epsom races the Swan was a familiar landmark and place of refreshment. For much of the year,

however, it must
have been what was, until recently, a .local., patronised mainly by working people living close


James Moore died in 1851 and the bulk of his property was inherited by James Bridger, his

illegitimate son.
During Bridger’s time much of the estate was sold, and it was probably in the 1860s or 1870s

that the Swan was
acquired by Nalder and Collyer, the Croydon brewers. One of their boundary markers, a limestone

block with
.N.&C.. inscribed on one side and .1890. on the other, was incorporated in the wall on the

northern side of the
Swan, separating the forecourt from the adjoining alleyway.

Not unexpectedly, the structure of the Swan was much altered over the years, although the

original 190-year-old
building which formed the heart of the house could still be identified quite easily from the

outside. Around 1890
Henry Vickers became the landlord, and it is almost certainly to his time that
the ground floor extension of the bars might be dated. This necessitated
abolition of the flight of stone steps which originally led up to the front door
(and no doubt for some could prove very tricky to negotiate on the way down).

The inn was closed for a short period in the early 1990s following the temporary
suspension of the licence occasioned by its having become the haunt of drug-
dealers, but after refurbishment it was re-opened within a few years, under
new management. Few patrons were now arriving by horse-drawn transport,
and the old water trough by the inn sign had long since disappeared. The beer,
moreover, was no longer from a local brewery, and it was many years since
the floors were strewn with fresh sawdust before each opening time.
Nevertheless the inn still contrived to retain something of its old atmosphere,
and, as its second centenary approached, began to enjoy the loyalty of a growing
band of .regulars..

The Swan Inn – from an old postcard


Sadly, the inevitability of change could not be withstood, and early in 1998 application was

received by Merton
Borough Council for planning consent to change of use. Demolition was proposed, followed by

of the site, in plans submitted in May 1996, and, with approval being given, the inn soon

disappeared from view
behind the contractor’s hoarding. An archaeological assessment concluded that, in view of what

was known of
the history of the site, little of significance was likely to be disturbed within the

.footprint. of the proposed new
buildings, and all signs of the Swan above ground have now disappeared.

Surrey History Centre. Court rolls of the manor of Biggin and Tamworth.
Merton Local Studies Centre. F.G.Price (ms) Eagle House and Georgian Architecture in Mitcham
J.Edwards Companion from London to Brighthelmston II (c.1789) 17
J.Rocque Environs of London 1741-45. This map is not accurate to the degree of detail needed to

identify smaller properties.
Surrey History Centre. Land Tax records. Mitcham.
Merton Local Studies Centre. Copies of local directories (Pigot etc) 1823-55
Tithe commutation register and map 1846-7. Reference 80.
Merton Local Studies Centre. Tom Francis collection of local illustrations.
Numerous licensees can be identified from local records, e.g. William Puddick, recorded as a

licensed victualler in the 1851 census; Francis Foster
(1862-78); Samuel R.Bishop (1878-90); Henry A.Vickery (1890- ); Mrs Alice Vickery (1895- );

Frank C.Whittle (1918- ); etc. All from the Post
Office and Kelly’s Directories.

The British Library stands next to St Pancras station – two very different buildings. The

Entrance Hall of the
Library is full of light and space, something few libraries can boast. Although a British

Library Reader’s Ticket
is needed for the 11 Reading Rooms, there is much of interest that needs no ticket.

Off the Entrance Hall are the Bookshop, the Ritblat Gallery showing treasures such as the Magna

Carta and the
Gutenberg Bible, other exhibitions, and – for me, the glory of the British Library – the King’s

Library. This is a
hollow tower, glass-fronted on all four sides, containing George III’s books, donated by George

IV, for public use
forever. The tower contains a loft and a stair for staff to retrieve any book; and is artfully

lit to display the
bindings and gold lettering on the books. The whole is 17 metres tall.

Our guide provided many statistics. The Library receives over 8000
items per day, and holds over 150,000,000 separate items. There is
also a sound archive and a large stamp collection. We were shown a
terminal of the trackway which delivers items from the basements
to the reader – all done by barcodes.

To end we were shown .Turning the Pages.. The room contains VDU
screens, each with images of four .treasures.. I chose the Lindisfarne
Gospels. By stroking a finger across the screen from right to left one
opens the book; stroke again and the first page turns. A .zoom. square
in the corner enlarges a piece of text or an illustration. To close the
book, stroke from left to right. My childish mind was enchanted …

Margaret Carr

The current exhibition, Chalkdust and Satchels, continues until 21 April, and will be followed

Cat and Mouse, the story of Women’s Suffrage in Merton, which runs from May until late July.
The Heritage Centre is at The Canons, Madeira Road, Mitcham (020 8640 9387).


Surrey History Centre, Woking, is holding an exhibition on tracing your house history until 28

Admission free. For further information telephone 01483 594594.

The Wandsworth Museum has an exhibition of William De Morgan ceramics from 7 April to 3 June.
Admission free. For further information telephone 020 8871 7074


As ERIC MONTAGUE was unfortunately prevented by illness from speaking at our meeting in

last year (last millennium!), the text he had prepared appears below: A guest speaker from 1086



For my brief offering today I am adopting as my viewpoint the winter of 1086, and will tell

what I have heard tell

of my village 86 years ago, and what it is like today.
Early this year (1086) William of Normandy’s commissioners came to Mitcham, having summoned the

and six elders (I was one of them) to a meeting. We had to give evidence as to who held the

land in the time of
King Edward, and who holds it now. They wanted to know how many heads of households there were,

into villeins (farmers and craftsmen), and cottars (cottagers and smallholders). We had to give

the hidal assessments
and value of the holdings, then and now, the number of ploughs (an indication of the amount of

arable), how
much meadow and woodland there was, and how many mills. Talk about bureaucracy, but I suppose

it’ll get
worse now we’re in Europe!!

Of course, we didn’t exactly volunteer the information, and kept our answers to the questions

put. None of us,
except the inevitable crawler, saw why we should tell these busybodies all our business,

despite the presence of
some men-at-arms. (The oafs probably couldn’t understand what we were saying, but did look a

bit menacing.)
The French clerics wrote it all down. Of course, they made mistakes (they couldn’t even spell

the names of our
vills properly, but then I must admit our Surrey accent is a bit difficult to understand). The

draft was checked later
by a separate group, so there can’t have been any obvious errors. The whole lot has been sent

to William at
Winchester. All in one year! Of course, they couldn’t have done it so quickly if the country

hadn’t been organised
into our English system of counties, hundreds and tithings. The final account – .Domesday Book.

we are calling
it – presumably meets the Conqueror’s requirements. It had to be a summary – it’ll be called

The Exchequer
Domesday, but I bet it stands as a record for all time – folks are already saying it’s the only

one of its kind in the

But I must now go back to the year 1000. It was beyond my time (I believe I was born in 1010).

I do remember
when we had a Danish king – Cnut was his name – and for 25 years under him and his son England

was one
kingdom with Denmark and Norway. Danish merchants have long been familiar in London, and in

those days
there was a lot of shipping passing between us and the Scandinavians. Some Danish families were

living in parts
of Surrey, and on the whole we got on well enough. I think the Sweyne family, who are big

landowners in
Tooting, came from across the North Sea.

Perhaps I should also ask if there are any Frenchies in the audience? Individually they are all

right, but they take

some understanding, in more ways than one. No? Then I can speak freely.
My people claimed to be ENGLISH through and through, although I must admit when I used to ask

my old
grandfather, he said his people were Middle Saxons from north of the Thames, and my mother’s

folk were from
Wessex – near Athelney where Alfred sheltered from the Vikings. There was certainly some

British and Irish
blood further back. Mongrels, I suppose you might call us – the French do, but who are they to


But I am still digressing.
My grandfather could of course remember the year of Our Lord 1000, when the World was to come

to an end.
Folks had been told Christ the Saviour would return to claim his own, but it didn’t happen.

Instead we suffered
from weak kings, squabbling between Wessex and Mercia, and with the Scots causing trouble, not

to mention
fresh Viking raids. Being near the Thames we saw more than our share of looting – mostly by big

blond louts out

for anything they could lay their hands on. Hopefully things will now settle down under William

and his Normans,
who are partly Viking anyway. I must say they are a brutal crowd, but efficient for all that.
In the year 1000, as now, Mitcham and the adjoining vill of Wicford (as we call your Lower

Mitcham) lay in the

Hundred of Wallington. The hundreds are divisions of the county for various government and

fiscal purposes,
and were, I.ve heard tell, set up by Alfred the Great (but they may go back before that).

Wallington hundred
includes 13 townships and villages, including Cheam, Sutton, Beddington, Carshalton and Morden

(but not
Merton, which is in Brixton Hundred). Our meeting-place is at Wallington, and here trials and

other legal matters
are settled, and the tithing men from the vills around are accustomed to assemble and debate.

Place-names tell something of our beginnings. Literally, Mitcham, Michelham or Mic Ham is Old

English for .a
big place., but here probably refers to the large area of fertile land to the west, within the

bend of the Wandle.
Wicford (or Whitford, as the Norman scribes wrote it) means the ford serving the place, the Wic

element coming
from the Latin Vicus. Sutton is the south farm, and Wallington comes from the farm of the

.Welsh., as the early
Saxon settlers called the British already living here. .Ing. is an early place-name element, so

I reckon Wallington
must go back a long way.


We have no village centre in Mitcham that you would recognise, and the various homesteads and

farms are
scattered over the whole area from north to south and westwards to Merton (the .farm by the

pool.). The
boundary between Mitcham and Merton – the .Michamingemerke. – is marked by the Hlidaburnan (you

call it
the Wandle) and has been recognised for hundreds of years.

For local matters we elders of Mitcham and Wicford still meet at the old folkmoot site in

Mitcham. Many paths
lead to this spot, and it is said that this is the burial place of one of the leaders long ago,

who rallied the people,
British and Saxon alike, to defend themselves in times of danger. Overlooking the moot site,

which is surrounded
by a low bank and ditch, stands the cross erected, I think, by the Holy Fathers from Chertsey

Abbey. They have
held lands in North Mitcham and in Tooting, either side of the Graveney, for well over 300

years. There is also
a church at Tooting.

This brings me to the land-holdings in Mitcham. I cannot remember the names of any of the

owners from
around 1000, but it is recorded that in the time of the saintly King Edward of blessed memory

there were some
half a dozen men holding land direct of the King. None of these estates was particularly large,

and there was no
manor as such. You can work out roughly where these were from the hidal assessments and values,

regard to the good and bad land.

Brictric, with the biggest holding, ranked as a minor thegn and held his land direct of the

King. It included most
of north Mitcham to the Streatham and Croydon borders. Aelmer held much of central Mitcham, but

for some
reason the scribes merely put it down as in Wallington hundred. He also held the land direct

from the King, and
had other estates in Surrey. Edmer and Lank held estates in Wicford, along the banks of the

Wandle. These were
less extensive, but more valuable, because they were on rich alluvial soils. The other lesser

landowners included
Alfward (Colliers Wood), Wolfward (Biggin), Ledmer and some other men whose names I have


In all, our two communities were made up of ten villeins, 16 or so cottagers and five ‘slaves.

or bonded men.

With their families we totalled perhaps 150 – men, women and children.
What befell Britric, Aelmer and the other landowners, I do not know, but they are no longer

with us. Several of
them, I suspect, took up arms and joined the fyrd when Harold Godwinson and his Anglo-Danish

army returned
south from defeating Tostig and Hardrada at Stamford Bridge. The new threat that autumn of 1066

was from
William of Normandy – the Bastard, we call him, when there are no French around. They had

landed on the
beach at Pevensey with hundreds of heavily armed horsemen and swarms of hangers-on, all hoping

for a share
of the spoils. Harold’s troops were tired out, and I imagine our lords with a few others from

hereabouts fell with
Harold and his housecarls on the slopes of Senlac Hill.

Except for Odbert, who held a mortgage on part of Britric’s land, and was free .to go where he

pleased., none
of our English landlords are with us now, and we have Normans in charge. Mostly they are

absentees, having
been granted extensive estates all over the kingdom by William, and we only know of them by

name. Their
holdings in Mitcham are either managed by bailiffs, or sub-let to other Frenchmen.

Life goes on, however, very much as it did in my grandfather’s time, and with good arable and

pasture we are
kept busy. There are two large commonfields, east and west, and the south field near Beddington

Corner, which
is mostly meadow. The demesne farms of the landlords have enclosures and also strips in the

which we, the villeins and cottars, are required to work as part of our .rent.. Other dues and

taxes are paid in
produce and livestock from the small garden plots or tofts we have attached to our houses, as

well as strips
scattered amongst the various furlongs in the open fields. Some of the villeins also have small

assarts or enclosures.

Cottars are the poorest in the vill, having no lands of their own worth speaking of, and are

hired labourers.
Some are little better off than slaves. Villeins, even, can no longer go where they wish, as

was the case in King
Edward’s time. Those who can, make a bit on the side part-time, following trades like

shoemaking, smithying
or rough potting. Many of our womenfolk, apart from household chores and helping out in the

fields, can spin
and weave. We all rally round to help with building new dwellings, and in re-thatching.

In the time of King Edward, and presumably in the year 1000, there were water-powered corn

mills, one at
Wicford and the other on the Pipp brook, near the bridge you call Phipps Bridge. Both belong to

the lords. They
fell into disrepair after the Conquest, but have since been put back into working order, and

are valuable assets
to their owners.

Finally, a great boon to those of us with common rights, is the vast amount of rough grazing we

share and
jealously guard against trespassers. Situated mainly on the poorer land to the east, this

provides fodder for our
cattle, geese and other livestock. Turf and brushwood are our main fuels, gathered from the

waste by those with
rights of turbary, plus what we may take .by hook or by crook. from the lords. woodland, when

permission is
granted by the reeves.


THE KINGSTON PROJECT -a talk by PETER TILLEY on 20 January 2001

Peter Tilley came to the Snuff Mill to tell us about the Kingston Project. The aims of the

Project are to build a
comprehensive database containing information about people and buildings of Kingston between

1850 and
1900, to re-create the life-cycles of the residents of the town, disseminate the data to the

community, schools
and colleges and to publish the results to reach a wider audience.

The Project came about from a feasibility study Peter carried out as part of his degree course.

Kingston University
then offered to provide accommodation and computing facilities. Volunteers had to be found to

do the work.
Peter, having owned a software company before retiring, wrote the software for input and to

produce the reports
from the data.

At this stage the information from the available censuses has been entered and work is

progressing with the
parish registers. Eventually extractions from directories, newspapers, cemeteries, and other

records will be

One of the first slides Peter showed us was of a map of 1863 which was mainly open fields with

some development
in Kingston, Surbiton and New Malden. The census indicated the growth in the population over

the period
being researched: 12,144 in 1851 to 44,237 in 1891. Examples of the Enumerators Books showed

where the
data came from. One of the problems was the 19th century handwriting; confusion between the

long ‘s. and an
.f., also between double .l. and double .t. where the later were not crossed.

Peter talked about the information that could be obtained by analysing the data in different

ways. Amongst the
examples of occupations is an .Ankle Beater.. This was a young boy who helped drive cattle to

market. The
main occupation of single women was domestic service, over 70% in 1851, which figure rose

steadily over the
period. An interesting point came from some graphs showing the numbers of men and women against

ages. Whilst there were roughly the same number of both sexes there were many more females than

males in the
15 . 30 age group in the years 1861 . 1891, this was caused by the number in service. Some of

the large houses
had 8, 10 or more servants, Peter gave examples of the Duke de Charteris and Charlotte Finch.

Many of these
were not born in the area. Looking at contemporary advertisements for domestic staff general

requirement was
for .country girls..

There were a number of lodging houses in Kingston recorded in the census, many in relatively

small buildings.
Peter showed us pictures of Water Lane (1895) and Harrow Passage (1897) illustrating the areas.

In 1851 and
1861 20 or more lodgers were recorded in one dwelling, in one case 53. The numbers were over 40

during 1871
and 1881. Interesting happenings occurred in 1891, “26 men, 9 women and 10 children went and

information”, at 44 Thames Street and buildings at the back 76 single men also went away

refusing information.

In the earlier years of the census many of the children in the 7 to 11 age group had

occupations, but in 1891 the
lower age was then 10 years old. Peter suggested that this was probably due to the Education

Act. He felt that
younger children were still being employed but the parents were not declaring it to the

Enumerator. The
occupations seen included errand boy, farmer’s boy, apprentice, page boy, servant and one

occurrence of Drummer
for 3rd Surrey Militia. In 1851 the most popular names were William, then John, for males and

Mary, then
Elizabeth, for females. This continued during the period to 1891 although the percentages

reduced each time.

Peter then talked about the Benson family showing the changes in the household.
1851 Head, wife and 4 children
1861 Head, (no wife) and 5 children

Sarah Fisher (housekeeper) and 2 children
1871 Head, housekeeper (Sarah Fisher) and 5 children
1881 Head, wife (Sarah) and now all children have the name of Benson

Peter suggested that the wife originally went away between 1851 and 1861 and a housekeeper was

taken on.

The wife then died between 1871 and 1881 which made a new marriage possible to the housekeeper.
A pilot study of Bletchingley was carried out which incorporated extracts from the parish

registers with the
census. The life cycles generated from the data detail all the known events, from baptism to

burial, in chronological
order. Peter displayed some examples. Elizabeth Fielder, who had 4 different birth-places from

1851 to 1891.
John Walter, aged 77, who re-married after his first wife died to a 20 year old girl. Two

Collisters who only aged
just over 30 years during the 50 years between 1841 and 1891, Mary giving ages of 9, 19, 25,

30, 35, 44 and
Sarah 2, 11, 19, 26, 34, 39. Indented family trees may also be produced, at this time only for

the male line as
female change their name on marriage.

At the completion of the talk a number of the audience asked questions to which Peter


Steve Turner


A lecture by John and Jo Brewster at The Canons on Saturday 17 February

This was a most professional presentation, packed with information, but lively, amusing and

brisk. By the end

we felt we couldn’t wait to go on the Brewsters. guided tour in May!
In contrast to the serenity of Winchester or Salisbury, Southwark Cathedral is in the very

midst of noise and
bustle, with commercial London right at its doors. And it has been so for many centuries.

There was a nunnery on the site in the 9th century, built with the proceeds of a ferry across

the river. The story
of the founding of the nunnery as told to John Stow by the last prior is somewhat macabre and

grotesque. John
Overs, who made a fortune from running the ferry, was extremely mean. He thought that if he

pretended to be
dead, his servants would fast until after his funeral, so saving money. He laid himself out,

but the servants
decided to celebrate instead. When he rose in his wrath they were terrified; one promptly hit

him over the head,
and killed him. His grieving daughter retired to a nunnery and used his money to found the

church of St Mary,
later renamed St Mary Overy (over the water), and bequeathed to it the income from the ferry.

Later it was a priory of Augustinian canons, as well as the parish church. Rebuilt after a fire

in 1206, it was
London’s first Gothic church. By the 19th century the nave was in ruins and open to the sky.

Much however
remains from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries and the nave was rebuilt 100 years ago. With the

creation of the
new diocese it became a cathedral in 1905, and is dedicated to St Mary and St Saviour.

(Previously it had been
in Winchester diocese, and then briefly in that of Rochester.)

After the Dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII the priory buildings and surroundings

were used for
many purposes, such as a Delft pottery, linen starching and monumental masonry. Southwark was

outside the
control of the City, and hence was also the site of bear-baiting, brothels and theatres.

There are many marvels to be seen inside. As you look down the long nave you see at the

crossing the magnificent
brass chandelier of 1680. Behind the high altar is the screen installed by Bishop Fox in 1520.

The statues are
much later.

The 13th-century retrochoir is the oldest complete part of the cathedral. Here several

Protestant martyrs were
tried in the reign of Mary Tudor. Of the four chapels, one is a Lady chapel; the others are

dedicated to St
Christopher, St Frances of Assisi with St Elizabeth of Hungary, and St Andrew. This latter

chapel is now
dedicated to prayer for those with HIV and AIDS. Another focus of modern thought is the

memorial at the back
of the nave to the victims of the Marchioness disaster in 1989.

Most tourists probably head for the Shakespeare memorial and the Harvard chapel. With the Globe

and Rose
theatres nearby, St Saviour’s was the actors. church. Shakespeare’s brother Edmond was buried

here, as were
John Fletcher and Philip Massinger. The Shakespeare memorial, by Henry McCarthy, dates from

1912. The
Harvard chapel (Blomfield 1907) commemorates John Harvard, founder of the university, who was

here in 1607.

We were told about the windows by C.E.Kempe, a later follower of the pre-Raphaelites, who

always put his

trademark of a wheatsheaf in a corner. His fondness for borders of .ecclesiastical seaweed. was

also mentioned!
When we visit the cathedral we shall see many other interesting things, such as the .Nonsuch.

chest, and
memorials to a diversity of people, including Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, who

helped translate
the King James Bible, Wenceslas Hollar, who did a prospect of the Thames from the tower, Lionel

Lockyer, a
.quack., and Abraham Newland of the Bank of England.

This lecture was given at The Canons, which stands on land given to the priory of St Mary Overy

by the
parishioners of Mitcham, and was farmed to provide revenue – so another connection with the

canons in the present Borough of Merton. This meeting was very well attended, and we all had an

and informative afternoon.

Lorna Cowell

Service of Nones on Sunday 6 May at 3pm to celebrate the foundation of the Priory by the Wandle

in May 1117.
All are welcome.
and “Music, Minstrels & Instruments in the age of St Thomas a Becket”
lecture recital by MARY REMNANT, on Monday 7 May at 7.30pm – £10 (£5 concessions)


Friday 8 December 2000: Ten members attended.

!!!!!Lionel Green began, with some events in the history of Merton Priory 1200-1240. When, in

1221, the
bishop of London tried to conduct a visitation at Westminster Abbey the matter went to

arbitration. One of
the panel was the prior of Merton, and another had been a deacon here. St Edmund Rich (d.1240)

had spent
time at the priory. (see Lionel’s text on page 13)

Merton: The Twentieth Century has a picture of a bus in Hartfield Road on page 49.Bill Rudd

speculated on
the actual date that the photograph would have been taken. He referred to the make and model of

the vehicle,

but particularly to the advert for Wild Justice, a play at the Haymarket Theatre, and had

written for information.
This came from the Theatre Museum, who were able to say when the play had been presented.
Bill then mentioned the LAMAS item on page 4 of December’s Bulletin about painted

advertisements on

buildings. By standing on the steps of Wimbledon Theatre one for Sears could be seen across the

There was one for a cinema on the William Morris Hall in the Broadway. Members would keep a

for more.

!!!!!Rosemary Turner showed her Merton Priory project to the meeting, which included many

illustrations and
maps. She was asked to consider depositing a copy with Merton Local Studies Centre.

!!!!!Tony Scott wondered why Sir Arthur Bliss Court in Mitcham was so named, as there did not

seem to be any
connection between him and this area. A plaque in the entrance had been unveiled by Lady Bliss,

his widow.
Investigations would be made. This led on to the renaming of the White Hart, a few yards from

here, as the
Hooden on the Green. A hooden is evidently a Kentish hobby-horse. Displays relating to the

history of the
building have been retained in a back room.

!!!!!Don Fleming had attended a talk in Sutton given by a policeman, who referred to people

living in Wards. He
wondered when the usage for the term for an area of a town came about. Don will research this.

There was
discussion on the police usage of .manor. and .patch.. [Ward: a division of the four northern

counties of
England and in some of the southern counties of Scotland. The Oxford Companion to Local and

History 1996. Ward: district of a town. Nuttall’s Pronouncing Dictionary c1900]

Continuing on a previous theme (Bulletins 134 p.12, 135 p.15)
Judith Goodman showed us copies of pictures by Harry Bush
and his wife (see p.14). She then read an extract from the
Merton & Morden News (1943) about pictures by John Piper
for the British Restaurant in the Congregational Chapel,
Morden Road, Merton (illustrated right). The pictures are
believed to have been destroyed when the chapel was
demolished to make way for a block of flats.

Eric Montague showed an architectural report on the Canons,
and said he hoped there would be an archaeological survey
carried out on the grounds. There was a picture in the Local
Studies Centre showing a number of outbuildings. Could this
be done in conjunction with the Archaeology Weekend in July next? Eric then said that deeds

that Peter
Hopkins was working on gave details of the Mitcham Park Estate area, which enabled the history

to be
traced from medieval times. Following an enquiry Eric had discovered that the iron gate to

Hadfield’s works
had been rescued by Jim Berry, one-time Director of Parks, and was now at Cannizaro. He showed

a picture
of it. Jim Berry’s slides and notes have been deposited at Surrey History Centre.

Continuing on from Judith’s talk on 2 December, Peter Hopkins wondered if the area near St Mary

Virgin, Merton (tithe plot 80, refer to MHS Local History Notes No.12) may have been the

original priory
site before it moved to the banks of the Wandle. He also speculated that the .circular. area

(tithe plots 83-91)
may have been a very early enclosure, with the church being located nearby. Peter said that

many of the
roads were mentioned in medieval documents, and read out a list of some 30 names.

The Workshop discussed the new building taking place at schools in the Borough, and wondered if

planning permission included the requirement for an archaeological survey to be carried out, as

many of the
sites could have been in occupation for hundreds of years. The Chairman would write to the

Steve Turner

(Rectangle comment XPMUser
24/05/2017 22:22:42

Friday 26 January 2001: Don Fleming in the chair.
!!!!!Peter Hopkins produced a printout, from a microfilm acquired from the British Library, of

the 13th-century

document in the Merton Priory Cartulary referring to the
construction of a new .common way. through Morden in 1225,
to which William de Mara and the prior of Merton had
appended their seals. Peter was having difficulties deciphering
this marginal comment referring to William de Mara.

!!!!!Bill Rudd reported on progress with the forthcoming exhibition, and drew attention to new

offices behind
Morden Underground station, for which the name Garth House had been chosen.

!!!!!ENM, writing up research notes for a thesis on the Civil War and its aftermath, had found

mention of two
.mysteries. in Mitcham – the reported discovery of the body of a .Parliamentary officer., and

the alleged
finding of the ‘swords of Mercy and Grace. in a back garden. Both will be written up for the


In Rosemary Turner’s absence, he also reported that she has located the Home Guard memorial

missing from the former Mitcham Creameries building (about which we had an enquiry). It is now

in safekeeping
at the British Legion headquarters at Mitcham (see below).

!!!!!Judith Goodman has found a reference in a book on Charles Darwin to the Rev. Wharton’s

school at

Mitcham in the 1850s. This will be the subject of a note in a future Bulletin.
At an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery of portraits by the Dighton family she had

learnt more about
Robert Dighton (17?-1814), who painted Abraham Goldsmid of Morden in 1803, and Richard Dighton
(1795-1880), who painted Richard Thornton of Cannon Hill in 1818. Joshua Dighton (1831/2-1908),

one of
three artist sons of Richard, was said to have lived and worked in Wimbledon and Merton in his

later years.
She had found him at various Wimbledon addresses – none in Merton, however – from 1880 to 1902.

paintings of his (mainly equestrian) are known from as late as 1893, he was listed in local

directories not as
an artist, but a photographer. He died in Kingston workhouse.

!!!!!Don Fleming recounted the cautionary tale of a local history society in Wales, entrusted

with a dresser,
which was subsequently found by its owner to be a valuable antique. Sad to relate, when she

asked for it
back, it had been lost. In law, acceptance on temporary loan incurs responsibility, and the

society (which
carried no insurance) is now faced with a claim for compensation it cannot meet.

Don also described the results of recent research into the origins of .wards. and, inter alia,

of their importance
in the provision of public services in 16th-century London. For those interested Don strongly

recommends a
book on London by John Schofield.

Eric Montague
Workshop dates: Fridays 23 March & 18 May at 7.30 pm at Wandle Industrial Museum.
All are welcome


The Society recently received an enquiry about the present whereabouts of the plaque dedicated

to the members
of the Home Guard who were killed by a parachute mine in 1941 at the Tower Creameries, Mitcham

At the January meeting Eric Montague asked if anyone present had any information.

Responses soon came in, and I have been able to confirm that the plaque now hangs in the Royal

British Legion,

St Mark’s Road, Mitcham.
The names on it are:
ANDREWS Frederick Percy LANGBEIN Harold Francis
APLIN William Richard MARRIOTT Aubrey Edgar
BRANCH Charles Albert NEWSTEAD Frederick Albert
HENSON James William Thomas O’BRIEN Frederick Thomas
JONES William PEACEY Walter Joseph
KILBEE Joseph Stanley SHARMAN Richard John
LABRUM Charles James TAVERNER George Stephen

WHITE Arthur Frederick

Rosemary Turner


ARTHUR TURNER, Vice President

We have had to say farewell to another giant of the Merton Historical Society. On 2nd January

2001 Arthur
Turner died aged 92. He was happily involved with the MHS and its activities for over forty

years, and became
the longest serving Chairman, from 1961 to 1977 and again from 1982 to 1985.

Always cheerful, with a great sense of humour and an inexhaustible supply of anecdotes, he

guided the affairs of
the Society along many channels, from walks to talks, and bulletins to books.

Sadly, events relating to old age and infirmity became his lot, first affecting his wife, who

died two years ago.
The Society was represented at his funeral, when he was laid to rest with Madge. The view from

the cemetery on
the hillside at Stroud, Gloucestershire, is stunning. Opposite are the hills known as The



I joined the then Merton and Morden Historical Society at an exhibition .Footpath to Pavement.,

put on by the

Society as their contribution to the Merton and Morden Week, 19-26 May 1962.
At the AGM in November that year I enquired as to who were on the Committee, and found myself

elected! And
have been stuck with it almost ever since.

This was when I met Arthur Turner, who was chairman. From what I remember of him he was

certainly in
authority, but kindly and encouraging. He could be very persuasive to get members involved in

something, like
the architectural survey of the Urban District in 1963, but particularly in getting what he

called .new blood. on
the Committee. He was full of praise for someone who had carried out some research or other

worthwhile activity
which enhanced the Society. Always cheerful and very friendly. He certainly had an influence on

me, and I
gained in confidence as a speaker, to advantage.

Goodbye, Arthur, and thank you.


A Historical Guide to Merton Abbey Mills … but not the former Liberty Print Works.
On purchasing a copy of this guide I was most disappointed in finding the section of the former

Printing Works

here to be historically very inaccurate. This section – and I am only referring to this part of

the guide – contains

numerous mistakes. To list them all would end up as a rewrite, but I will give some examples.
The Long Shop is described as the first workshop built by Liberty’s, in 1906, whereas a Wash

House was built in

The guide states that the Apprentice Shop, or as it was more commonly known, the 1926 Shop, was

the first
workshop converted to screen-printing. Not so, as the Screen Shop was specially built for

screen some 12 years
previously, and planned some ten years before that.

Block-printing was not taking place in the Coles Shop in 1965, having ceased in 1957.

The Showhouse, a name invented to complement a false history in 1983, was in fact built for

block-printing, and
the side external staircase was a fire exit.
The section on screen-printing, on page 14, I am informed was not intended to represent the

former printing

works of Liberty. So just in passing, as I would assume that the vast majority of readers would

never have seen the

printing machine in the works, I would point out that these photographs were not taken at

On the whole the guide is a well laid-out book, but the reader must take into account that the

section on the former
Liberty Printing Works is not historically accurate, contains many mistakes, and is not an

historical guide to the
former Liberty Print Works.

David Luff

[The guide, which is widely available, costs £3.95.
David Luff, our trenchant reviewer, worked for Liberty’s for many years, and has written his

own account of the print works,
which will shortly be published by the Society.]

– No.1 of Mitcham Histories by E N Montague – £5.95 (members £4.80) + p&p £
Lord Monson’s Schooldays: Reminiscences of Mitcham 1804-1809, with notes by E N Montague and


Goodman – £2.95 (members £2.40) + p&p £.
Merton Town Trails 7: The Canons to Eagle House (revised version 2001) – 15p + p&p 25p.
Available at meetings, Libraries or from our Publications Secretary.


JOHN PILE replies to Eric Montague’s item in the last Bulletin, and calls his article

My intention in replying at some length (MHS Bulletin No.135 pp10-12) to Eric Montague’s

article on
Scandinavian influences in Surrey (Bulletin No.134 pp13-15) was to show that each item of

evidence presented
by Eric in support of a Scandinavian presence could have an equally probable explanation that

did not rely on
direct Scandinavian intervention.

The only question about which I feel there remains any real uncertainty concerns Edwards.

reference in his
Companion from London to Brighthelmston (1801) to ‘several pieces of spears, swords, human

bones, and
other exuviae of a battle.. Eric is, I acknowledge, correct in locating this discovery in the

vicinity of Merton
Priory, although the exact location is not known. However, I must continue to question Edwards.

of the find as evidence of a battle. Eric stresses the fact that Edwards does not use the term

.graves., and insists
that the remains were .the scattered aftermath of a skirmish.. Having checked the quotation

from Edwards.
book, it is clear that he was describing a discovery made about 20 years earlier, and probably

on the basis of a
second-hand report. Under these circumstances I think we must be allowed some doubt as to the

disposition of
the remains at the time of their disclosure. Edwards also tells us that the relics were

discovered .in removing
the ground to erect some buildings., so there is the added possibility that they were scattered

by the workmen
before they were brought to the attention of someone with sufficient interest to record them.

In view of these
doubts I consider it unwise to conclude that the remains were originally scattered on the field

of battle rather
than deliberately placed in a grave or graves.

It should also be remembered that Edwards was writing during the period of the .Romantic

Revival. in art and
literature, when the chance discovery in the soil of weapons and human bones would be much more

likely to
suggest a glorious battle than a commonplace burial. Considering the evidence – such that it is

– I remain
convinced that Edwards. exuviae of a battle were the remains of a pagan Saxon inhumation,

perhaps in an
isolated grave or in a cemetery.

Far from feeling disappointment at (in Eric’s words) .just another Saxon cemetery., I would be

excited by the
implications of such a discovery for the study both of the origins of Merton and for the siting

of the 12thcentury
Augustinian priory. It is now generally accepted1 that settlement in southern England during

the early
Saxon period was generally dispersed and did not coalesce into the more familiar pattern of

nucleated villages
with their open-field systems until later Saxon times. In Merton this may have meant a movement

from a
number of small sites scattered across the historic parish to form an enlarged settlement,

itself, I would suggest,
of early Saxon origin, in the vicinity of the present parish church of St Mary. The siting of

monastic buildings
is usually assumed to have been determined by purely practical considerations, but if Merton

Priory were built
close to a Saxon burial ground, is it not possible that the early discovery of some human

remains, a memory, or
perhaps a place-name indicative of a cemetery, could have influenced the 12th-century builders?

It is a commonplace that archaeology rarely provides the evidence to support specific events in

the historic
record, and I was therefore pleased to note that Eric is now less inclined to associate the

Merton Priory find
with either the murder of King Cynewulf of Wessex at .Merantun. in 768, or the battle of

.Meretun. in 870/1
than he was in 1969.2 Perhaps our research should now be directed towards the problems of Saxon

settlement in
Merton rather than to romantic visions of

.Old, unhappy, far-off things,

And battles long ago..

Wordsworth, The Solitary Reaper 1806

1. D.Hooke, in D.Hooke and S.Burnell (eds), Landscape and Settlement in Britain AD 400-1066

University of Exeter Press (1995) pp95-114
2. Surrey Arch. Soc. Bulletin No.54, extracted in Surrey Arch. Coll. vol.67 (1970) p108

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Judith Goodman’s help in narrowing down

the site of the
Church Path burials, and to correct the date of the reference to ‘Merantun’ in the Anglo-Saxon

Chronicle. This
should be 786 and not 755 [757], (MHS Bulletin No.135 p10).

[Many thanks to Eric Montague and John Pile for their scholarly and courteously conducted

debate, which
must now however come to an end.
There will be further contributions from Monty on the .peopling of Merton. in future issues.



LIONEL GREEN reports on the first conference devoted to Surrey Archaeological Society’s

A successful conference was held at Leatherhead on 25/26 November last year, organised by the

Archaeological Society and devoted to the presentation of the work of various groups on the

origin of villages
in the county. Our Society was well represented, and Eric Montague launched proceedings with an

account of
early Mitcham. The name suggests an area of rich soil on a bend in the
river. Evidence of Romano-British occupation close to the River Wandle
to the west of the parish has been found, as well as the early Saxon
cemetery. An 1853 estate map reveals a circular feature near the parish
church: a focal point for at least six tracks. Excavations in 1989 uncovered
segments of a possible encircling ditch with fragments of Roman, Saxon
and early medieval pottery. A church existed from the early 12th century,
presumably where the present church stands. Other maps suggest that
the layout of house-plots east of the church overlaid an earlier field system.
This could be part of a planned development which was never completed.

Peter Hopkins then spoke of early Merton and Morden, first describing their locations. The

beginnings of
Merton would seem to have been along the road to Kingston. A large island site between the

church and the
road was never developed, remaining arable land throughout the centuries. Peter wondered if

this freehold site
could have been the manorial centre which Gilbert the Sheriff had assigned to his new religious

when he rebuilt the church in 1115.

In Morden the presence of the abbot of Westminster’s court in the east of the parish may have

settlement by the Wandle. A cluster of properties around Morden church had rectangular

boundaries pre-dating
the modern route of the London Road. The talk was illustrated with an o.h.p., and by the use of

triple overlays
Peter was able to regress a modern map by removing the road, 16th-century farm buildings and

known 18th-century
changes, to reveal early tenement holdings. The open-field system continued until about 1650. A

settlement at Westmorden was established by the 13th century around a green, with a back lane

between the
southern tenements and the Southfield. On the north side a 12-acre croft had presumably once

been divided
between the three tenements there, though by Tudor times it all belonged to the central


Another member, Cyril Maidment, brought us firmly into the 21st century by means of a laptop

computer and
projector, pointing out features of Wimbledon with a magic pen. He was able to ring circles

round the itinerant
manor house and remove them without a squeak from any mouse. He reminded us that Wimbledon

still had a
village, and proceeded to show early maps .computer corrected. to OS 1:5000.

Other villages examined included Nutfield (no village, but three commons taken into farms),

Capel (a capella
of Dorking), Shere (extensive parish between hills and the Weald), Ewhurst (began with a Roman

road and
villa, later small isolated farms1), Hambledon (complex of north-south tracks, suggesting

transhumance) and
Thorpe (settlement restricted by flood-plain).

The second day was equally enlightening. Southwark did not flourish in Saxon times. All the

Roman roads
around the bridgehead fell out of use and were not reconnected until Norman times. At Ewell

also no Saxon
settlement was evident (though burials had been found). Horley consisted of countless parts

owned by other
parishes. The common was enclosed in 1812 and the railway arrived in 1850, fortunately close to

the church
and the Brighton road.

Dennis Turner, former President of the Surrey Archaeological Society and a long-standing member

of this
Society, summarised the findings. Rural settlement took many forms at different times and in

different places.
Dispersed farms often preceded the village and often remained so throughout the medieval

period. Where an
open-field system operated, it was normally associated with a village. Some villages clustered

around a feature,
whilst others were built either side of a main street. Often there were several centres

separated by common
grazing land.

The landscape had an important bearing on settlements throughout the centuries. An Anglo-Saxon

name might
suggest some settlement of that period, but not necessarily a village. The suffix for Croydon,

Morden and
Wimbledon refers to hills (the landscape), whereas Merton and Carshalton reflect some

settlement (cognate
with .town.). Tooting, Beddington and Wallington may refer to settlements of followers of an

individual leader

This was an interim conference, for the work of the Village Study Project goes on.

There was little early medieval settlement at Ewhurst, but it possessed a church of c.1080, the

advowson of which was granted to Merton Priory in
the 12th century.
From sale plan of James Moore’s estates 1853


LIONEL GREEN has some more episodes to recount from the story of MERTON PRIORY:
Westminster turns to Merton

When Eustace de Fauconberg was made bishop of London in the spring of 1221 he tried to assert

his jurisdiction
over Westminster Abbey. The claim was rejected by Abbot William de Humez (or Hommet) on the

grounds that
the royal palace of Westminster included the abbey and was outside normal diocesan control.

The bishop appealed to the veteran archbishop, Stephan Langton (the first signature on the

Magna Carta), and the
matter went to arbitration. The bishops of Winchester and Salisbury were natural choices, but

in addition two
further prelates were chosen with the agreement of both parties. These were the prior of Merton

and the prior of
Dunstable, who was a former canon of Merton. The selection of two Augustinians to support or

reject a claim
involving the royal foundation of the Benedictine abbey of Westminster suggests great respect

for them.

The result of arbitration was total exemption from the jurisdiction of the bishop of London for

abbey and the parish and church of St Margaret. There was a sop for the bishop in that he was

to have the manor
of Sunbury and its church.1 The success of the arbitration award soon turned to sorrow for

Westminster, for
Abbot William died on 20th April 1222, and Prior Thomas of Merton died in ?August 1222.

The chosen arbitrators were Thomas Wllst who became prior of Merton in 1218, and Richard de

Mores or
Morins who left Merton to become prior of Dunstable in 1202. It says something for the high

standard of education
of Augustinian canons, for de Mores, like Becket, went to Bologna to study canon law. He wrote

and taught
before entering Merton as a deacon in 1201.2 In the following year he was elected prior of

Dunstable and priested
on 21st September 1202.

The Annals of Dunstable

In 1210, Richard de Mores followed the example of Merton, and began writing annals to record a

history of the
times. It is from these annals that we learn that the priory buildings at Dunstable were

completed in October 1213
and that there were severe storms in April and December 1222. The latter destroyed the

presbytery and western
towers at Dunstable, and the annals add further that in the same storm .the tower of Merton was

blown down, and
many buildings throughout England, a large number of persons losing their lives and much harm

being done by
lightning..3 The annals often refer to Merton and to the promotions of canons at Merton.

St Edmund Rich

In 1234 Edmund Rich was appointed archbishop, and it was as if Thomas Becket lived again.

Edmund was born
in the year of the martyrdom of Becket and baptised in St Mary Colechurch, London, the same

church as Becket.
Like Becket he studied at Paris. Edmund Rich also spent time at Merton in retreat for a year

1213/4, .going in and
out as one of the canons themselves.. Here he prepared for his lectures at Oxford. St Edmund

Hall marks the site
of his residence. Like Becket, the appointment to archbishop changed his life. But whilst

Becket was transformed
from a life of enjoyment of riches and hunting to a penitent servant of the Lord, Rich changed

from a frail humble
person into a bold uncompromising leader ready to fight both king and pope, at the same time

being revered for
his austerity and purity. Rich went into voluntary exile and tried to follow the examples of

both Thomas Beckett
and Stephan Langton living at Pontigny. Unfortunately Rich died at Soissy and his body was

carried to Pontigny
for burial. Even before his death, Richard de Mores at Dunstable was writing a Life of Edmund


After his death in 1240 the canons of Merton petitioned the pope for canonisation. Rich was

speedily made a
saint, only six years after his death. At that time he rivalled Beckett as the most popular

saint in England.

John Flete The History of Westminster Abbey 1909 pp.101-2
A charter of Hubert Walter, archbishop, dated 1200/1 was witnessed by .Master Richard de

Mores., with no indication that he was a regular canon.
(Acta S.Langton ed. K.Major, Canterbury and York Soc. 1950 p.50)
Annales Monastici (Rec.Pub.No.36) Rev.H.R.Luard (Ed.) Vol.3 1866. The dates in the annals were

one year out. Luard has corrected them, and in this
article they are corrected.

Bill Rudd, who is in charge of the Society’s collection, has a plea to make. When spring-

cleaning, or sorting your
possessions for a move, or clearing out the house of an elderly friend or relative, don’t rush

to throw away all
those items everyone accumulates that seem of no immediate value or interest. They may not be

rubbish after all!

Photographs, postcards, estate agents. brochures, newspaper cuttings, event programmes, church

school prospectuses, souvenirs, locally manufactured goods … There is a huge range of

material which has local
interest and importance. No matter if it is .recent. – it won’t always be. And if everyone

chucks it out it will soon
be rare. If you don’t want to keep such objects or haven’t the room to house them, please

remember the Society
and also Merton Heritage Centre (Sarah Gould 020 8640 9387). Your .rubbish. could be very




Although these days estate agents irritatingly call the area in SW19 enclosed by Melbourne Road

and Kingston
Road .Old Merton Park. (it actually post-dates Merton Park), it was developed before the first

World War as the
‘station Estate., and mainly by speculative builders. The west side of Queensland Avenue

however, an attractive
terrace of ten houses, was designed by the local Arts-and-Crafts architect J’sydney Brocklesby.

Unusually, the
houses at each end, No.1 and No.19, have an extra storey added, which consists in each case of

a studio floor,
with large windows on the north aspects.

From 1914 until the 1950s No.19 was the home of two very different artists, Harry Bush and his

wife Noel

Laura Nisbet.
Harry Bush was born in 1883 in Kemp Town, Brighton, the seventh child of eight. His parents,

Thomas and
Jane Bush, had been in the service of the Duke of Fife, who had then set Thomas up as a

jobmaster, hiring out
horses and carriages.

Noel Laura Nisbet was the youngest of six children of Hume Nisbet (1849-1923), Scottish artist,

author, poet
and traveller, and his first wife Helen, daughter of a sculptor. The Nisbets left Scotland in

1887 to settle in
Harrow, where Noel was born that year. In 1888 they moved to Clapham. Hume Nisbet had been Art

Master at
the Watt Institute and School of Art, the fore-runner of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. He

encouraged his
daughter, after schooldays at the Convent of Notre Dame, Clapham Common, to go on to the

Clapham School
of Art, where she won many medals and a scholarship.

Harry Bush was educated at York Place, Brighton, probably at what became the Technical College.

Then, in
1898, his family too moved to Clapham. Harry entered the Victualling Department of the

Admiralty in 1900,
but left in 1904 to join the Carlton Studios, which produced posters. A colleague there

encouraged him to enrol
for art classes at the Regent Street Polytechnic. At an exhibition of student work he saw

pictures by Noel and
her elder sister Margaret, and decided to enrol at the Clapham School of Art where both young

women were

then studying.
In 1910 Harry and Noel were married, settling first in Battersea Park Road,
and then in Walham Green. But, in 1914, Hume Nisbet set up both his artist
daughters in Queensland Avenue, Merton, where a row of houses was under
construction. Studio floors were added at an extra cost of £50 each. Apart
from three years during the first World War, when Harry was in the army, and
Noel with daughter Hazel, born in 1916, lived at Speen, near Newbury, the
Bushes stayed at 19 Queensland Avenue for the rest of their lives. Their second

daughter, Janet, was born in 1922. Meanwhile, at No.1, the other studio house,
was Margaret Nisbet, who became quite well known as a portrait painter.
Noel had 25 works hung at the Royal Academy between 1914 and 1938, and

Harry had 27 hung between 1922 and 1954. They both also exhibited regularly
in the provinces and Scotland, and both had works purchased by public
collections. Noel was elected to the Royal Institute of Watercolour Painters
and to the British Watercolour Society, and Harry to the Royal Institute of Oil

Harry was quiet, retiring and thoughtful. Noel was extrovert, energetic and charming. Harry

became known as
.the painter of the suburbs.; Noel’s taste was for legend, myth and fairy tale. But they were

devoted to each
other. As a Catholic family, they worshipped at St Winefride’s, Wimbledon. Their elder daughter

joined the
order of the Teachers of the Holy Cross, taking the name Sister Anthony. Janet, the younger,

married and
moved away.

Many of Noel’s paintings were medieval in atmosphere, with titles such as The Dressing of the

Bride and With
Hound and Spear. Typically frieze-like in composition, they have been described as ambiguous,

fascinating, repellent, obsessive. For a time she turned, successfully, to illustrating books

of fairy and folk tales.
Quite different in mood is an affectionate portrait she did of Harry Bush mending Dolls.

Harry was obviously good with his hands, as he also made models of sailing ships, one of which

is at the
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. He made some paintings of sailing ships as well. Other

included landscapes painted on holiday in Sussex and the west country, a view of a barracks

interior from the
first World War, now at the Imperial War Museum, and some still lifes. But what he is best

known for are his
pictures of suburbia, and the suburbs of south-west London were his area. There were some

scenes at and near
Bracken Avenue, Clapham Common, where his sister Ivy and her husband Ernest Kent lived at

No.23, in an

19 Queensland Avenue


attractive Arts-and-Crafts-type terrace not too unlike Queensland Avenue. And he painted a few

views of
Wimbledon Common and the Beverley Brook. However, most of his pictures are views from, and of,

Queensland Avenue. Intriguingly, however, he is on record as having done a sketch for a mural

of Buckingham
Palace, for the King’s Cinema in Wimbledon Broadway. Did that ever materialise?

What is perhaps his best known image, A Corner of Merton, 16 August, 1940, was included in my

book on Merton and Morden (1995). This picture is in the Imperial War Museum, to whom it was

given by
Janet (Bush) Locke, and is often on display. A large oil painting, it shows a bomb crater in

the back gardens of

houses in Brisbane and Queensland Avenues.
As well as two preliminary sketches for A Corner of Merton
the museum also has another, smaller, oil painting (Catalogue
No. IWM:ART 15662), which shows the back of an end-ofterrace
house which has been bombed – the crater is clearly
visible. Though Bush called it simply Bombed House, Merton,
it is easily identifiable as No.2 The Path, seen from the back,
as it would have been from the artist’s studio. The houses in
the background are early 19th-century ones in Morden Road,
now replaced by the World of Leather warehouse. The distant
trees are those of Nelson Gardens. No.2 The Path was never
rebuilt. The original terrace now begins with No.4, and a postwar
row occupies the site of No.2, together with some garden

space. The view was one which Bush painted several times, at
different seasons, before the war.
The Museum of London has two paintings, December Sunshine

and Laggard Leaves, both probably from 1925 and both views
from Bush’s studio towards Morden Road. He did many views,
painted at different seasons, of Queensland Avenue and of
Bathurst Avenue (Clement and Muriel Newton at No.12 were friends), and some delightful

interiors of his own
house, such as The Workbasket, The Christmas Tree and The Tiled Kitchen. The last-named, which

shows Janet

(Rectangle comment XPMUser
24/05/2017 22:27:39
HARRY BUSH, Bombed House, Merton.

Reproduced courtesy Imperial War Museum.

(Rectangle comment XPMUser
24/05/2017 22:27:55
The Kitchen Garden in October -oil painting by Harry Bush

Bush in the kitchen at No.19, was reproduced in a book
on English domestic architecture, brought out to tie in with
a television series.1 A particularly attractive painting, The
Builders, of c.1933, which was used as an auction
catalogue cover picture in 1993,2 shows the construction
of Nos 23 and 25 Milner Road, as seen from Bush’s studio.
The earlier Milner Road houses form the background; a
tree in spring blossom partly shields the construction site,
where a horse-drawn dray has just brought some more
bricks. This picture, which sold for £23,000 (twice the
estimate) at the auction, has recently been used as an
illustration in a book on London’s suburbs.3 Another
painting, of back gardens, titled The Kitchen Garden in
October, was used in a book called The Englishman’s

Noel suffered a series of strokes from 1947, but struggled
on, teaching herself to paint with her left hand when her
right one failed her. She died in 1956. Harry, who also
painted until almost the end, died of cancer in the autumn
of 1957.

Much of the information in this article came from the Bush and Nisbet files at the Witt Library

of the Cortauld Institute, especially a Christie’s catalogue
of the studio sale on 28 September 1984.5 I am also very grateful to Angela Weight of the

Imperial War Museum, and to Dr Lucy Peltz and Emily Stone
of the Museum of London, for access to the two collections. Bush files and to pictures not on


J.Chambers The English House Thames Methuen, London 1985
Modern British and Irish Paintings, Watercolours, Drawings and Sculpture, Christie’s, London 14

May 1993
A’saint (intr.) London Suburbs Merrell Holberton/English Heritage, London 1999
H.Roberts .English Gardens. in W.J.Turner (ed.) The Englishman’s Country Collins, London 1945
Paintings, Drawings and Watercolours from the Studios of the late Harry Bush ROI (1883-1957)

and the late Noel Laura Nisbet (Mrs Harry Bush)
RI (1887-1956) Christie’s, London 28 September 1984


The next issue of the Bulletin will contain a report on the celebratory dinner on 28 February

at Morden Hall.
Too late for the December Bulletin was the announcement of the Society’s exhibition at The

Canons from 2025
February. Members were sent a separate mailing about this, with the Programme for 2001. The

special subcommittee,
consisting of Ellen Eames, Margaret Groves, Peter Hopkins, Bill Rudd (Chair) and Tony Scott,
worked extremely hard and to brilliant effect. Full report next time.


On Wednesday 28 February 1951 a public meeting was held at the old Merton & Morden Central

Library in

Kingston Road .to consider the foundation of a local history society..
Four councillors attended, together with members of a WEA local history class, their tutor Mrs

J’saynor, and
interested members of the public. Miss E.M.Jowett, District Librarian, proposed that:

A local history society be founded and that it be called the Merton and Morden Historical

This was approved. She then proposed that:
The public meeting constitute itself the inaugural meeting of the newly founded society and

[sic] to adopt a constitution and elect officers for the ensuing year.
This was also approved. The first committee was as follows:

Chairman: Councillor V. Talbot Vice Chairman: Councillor S.H. Reeves
Hon.Treasurer: Mr S.E.C obbett Hon Secretary: Miss E.M. Jowett
Members: Mrs J Saynor Councillor E.W. Warren

and Mr L. Green
By the time of the first AGM, on Friday 2 November 1951, there were 58 paid-up members, whose

of 2/6d a head had yielded an income of £7.5s.0d. Expenses – stationery and postage – came to

£3.8s.2d, leaving

a healthy balance of £3.16s.10d to take forward. Five meetings had been held, and a full

programme was
planned for 1952.
The rest is history …


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