March 2003 – Bulletin 145
‘A Philological Discipline’ – J Pile & E N Montague
Town and City Wards (2) – D Fleming
Henry III and Merton Priory 1216-72 (2) – L E Green
Mitcham Windmill Base and Timbers – R A M Scott
Time Team Comes to Merton – L E Green
A Job to Dye For – W J Rudd
and much more
PRESIDENT: J Scott McCracken BA FSA MIFA PRESIDENT: J Scott McCracken BA FSA MIFA
VICE PRESIDENTS: Viscountess Hanworth, Lionel Green and William Rudd
BULLETIN NO. 145CHAIRMAN: Peter Hopkins MARCH 2003
Saturday 15 March 2.30pm Snuff Mill Environmental Centre
.Worcester Park, Cuddington and Nonsuch.
Historian David Rymill is a native of Worcester Park and is fascinated by its history. Three
ago he published Worcester Park & Cuddington: a walk through the centuries.
An illustrated lecture.
Saturday 12 April 2.30pm The Canons, Madeira Road, Mitcham
.A Demonstration of Anglo-Saxon Arms and Armour.
David McDermott is an experienced re-enactor who has contributed to historical television
programmes (including one of Simon Schama’s) and has done demonstrations at the Museum of
London and elsewhere.
Saturday 17 May 11.00am Day visit to Dorking
Meet at Dorking North station for a walking tour of the town, famous in the Middle Ages for its
poultry market, and now a commuter town, but with much to see from the past. Lionel Green,
who has been chairman of both Dorking Museum and the local history group, and is a vice-
president of Dorking Preservation Society, will be our guide. Pub (or café) lunch.
Friday 6 June 11.00am
Day visit to see Westminster Abbey Vestments, Library and Muniment Room
Rosemary Turner, who gave us a fascinating talk on the Abbey vestments last year, will be our
guide on this part of the visit. There will be a charge of £5 a head for the day.
Numbers are limited.
Saturday 5 July Coach trip to William Morris Gallery and Audley End
See enclosed information sheet/booking form
(The Snuff Mill Centre, in Morden Hall Park, is on bus routes 93,118,157 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
The Canons is walking distance from bus routes to Mitcham, and from the Mitcham Tramlink stop.)
The Society’s events are open to the general public, unless otherwise stated.
Non-members are invited to make a small donation to help with the Society’s running costs.
In Bulletin No.144 the Merton Priory Chapter House excavation in 1976/78 should not have been
included in the
list of archaeological investigations by MHS. It was of course directed by Scott McCracken for
Society and the Department of the Environment. The finds are with LAARC. The mistake arose when
I was trying
to reconcile, and select from, different lists of projects from the past, and I apologise to
Scott and to readers.
Please add to the list TQ 2618 6815 (1972) The Grange, Morden (19th century)
and TQ 250 675 (1988) St Lawrence churchyard (early 19th century)
.A PHILOLOGICAL DISCIPLINE.
The study of English place-names, as Margaret Gelling points out (Signposts to the Past Dent,
London 1978), is
based mainly on written material. This ranges all the way from the earliest Greek and Latin
texts that refer to this
country to the first .modern. maps, in the 19th century. It is not surprising that disputes are
JOHN PILE spent his formative years in Morden, and though he has lived for many years in
Hampshire, where he
is a well-known local historian, he retains a special interest in Merton history. He writes:
I feel that I must take issue with Eric Montague over some of the statements he makes in his
Evidence of Place-Names. in MHS Bulletin No.143 (September 2002). Despite quite properly
reader that .the study of place-names is a minefield for the unwary., Eric goes on to tell us
that burh means .a
barrow. when, in fact, it is an Old English word for .a fortified place.. During the period in
which the word was
used in the formation of place-names, its sense seems to have gradually changed. These changes
and defined by A H Smith in English Place-Name Elements, English Place-Name Society Vol.XXV
more recently by D N Parsons and T Styles in The Vocabulary of English Place-Names fasc.2
Centre for English Name-Studies, Nottingham, 2000, where the following general definition is
offered: .burh . ‘stronghold. is applied to a range of defended sites, including Iron-Age
hill-forts, Roman stations, and
Anglo-Saxon and medieval fortifications, towns and manor-houses … The place-name Ravensbury
by Eric was considered by J E B Gover et al. The Place-Names of Surrey, English Place-Name
p.53 to be a late burh name and to have the later sense of .manor-house..
As for ‘sundridge Ground., a formerly enclosed area on Mitcham Common, I would suggest that we
example of OE sundor .asunder or apart. in the sense of land or property detached from an
estate, rather than
merely enclosed within an earthwork. My suggestion is that Sundridge Ground originated in the
as an .illegal. enclosure of part of the waste of the manor of Ravensbury by the manor of
Bandon and Beddington.
There was continual friction between the various manors which claimed rights of common on
and in the court roll of the manor of Bandon and Beddington for 18 March 1521 we read that
of Mitcham .wrongfully entered a parcel of land on land of the lord called Sundriche and there
branches of an oak and also cut down various thornbushes and brambles therein growing, to the
prejudice of the
lord., Courts of the Manors of Bandon and Beddington 1498-1552 ed. M Wilks and J Bray, Sutton
Although the offence appears slight, this was probably a test case to establish the ownership
of the enclosure.
Fleming Mead and Flemyng Gate in Mitcham probably incorporate personal names, but I cannot
Eric that .gate. in this instance could be the Old Norse gata, a way or street, as this is
almost entirely restricted
to the north of England and the Danelaw. I would suggest that our Flemyng Gate (unlike
Flemingate in Beverley,
Humberside) is the OE geat .a gap or gate..
And here is ERIC MONTAGUE’s response to John Pile’s comments:
John is quite correct in reminding us that the place-name element burh can be interpreted in a
number of ways.
Gover et al. in Place-Names of Surrey also suggested that Ravensbury, or .Ravesbury., might
have a corruption
of Raf or Ralph as its first element. Who this character might have been is of course anyone’s
guess, but Ralph
FitzRobert of Rouen and Ralph the Chamberlain of Tankerville, both of whom held land in Mitcham
in the 12th
century, are possibilities. Recent research by Peter Hopkins has disclosed that the 1250 date
usually given for
the first documentary mention of the name Ravensbury is due to a misreading by late 18th-
repeated without question by subsequent .authorities.. .Ravesbury. occurs as a note in a late
14th- or early 15thcentury
hand at the foot of a document, itself a 13th-century copy of an agreement of 1225, now in the
Library. This .first appearance. is therefore of similar date to the 1377-8 use of .Rasebury.,
for the previously
unnamed estate in Mitcham and Morden, in Surrey Fines, as published by Surrey Archaeological
1894. So, with a gap of two centuries, the case for the name of a Norman landowner being
enshrined in the
name Ravensbury becomes a little difficult to sustain. As I said in my article, the study of
place-names may be
fascinating, but contains many traps for the unwary!
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 145 . MARCH 2003 . PAGE 2
The origin of the ‘sundridge Ground. on Mitcham Common has also stirred John to comment, and he
interesting example of efforts to curb illicit wood-gathering early in the 16th century. A
detached portion of the
manor of Beddington and Bandon, the Sundridge Ground was described as enclosed by an .ancient
ditch., which prompted me to suggest that it might have been prehistoric. This theory has yet
to be tested
archaeologically, but there is already ample evidence of settlement and agriculture in the Iron
Age and earlier
from excavations on the Beddington farmlands immediately south of the Common. The exchange of
1535, which I mentioned in my Mitcham Common (2001), may have been partly intended to resolve
question of trespass. I would certainly not agree with John’s idea that the Sundridge ground
was created by a
medieval .illegal enclosure. without further evidence.
Finally, I think John is wrong when he sees a personal name in Fleming Mead and Flemyng Gate.
It seems far
more likely that this enshrines the memory of a person or persons from the Low Countries, as I
suggested in my
article. I would also draw his attention to the street names Tungate and Swangate in Guildford
. both pointed
out to me as likely examples of Norse influence, and far to the south of the Danelaw and
northern England, to
where John states the gata place-name element .is almost entirely restricted.. In the Mitcham
it may merely have referred to a gate of some sort, as John suggests. On the other hand
.Flemyng Gate. was a
field name, and did not, as far as one can tell, apply only to the entrance.
The LAMAS programme includes a lecture on Recent Discoveries at Saxon Lundenwic on 16 April and
one on the Museum of London’s conservation department called From Flints to Fire Engines, on 14
Lectures are at 6.30pm in the Interpretation Unit of the Museum of London.
At Merton Heritage Centre at The Canons the main exhibition space downstairs houses a display
Camera Club, Life Through the Lens, from 11 March to 6 April, followed by Merton Heroines from
April to 1 June. Upstairs you can see Planes, Trains and Automobiles until 11 March, followed
by a repeat
showing of The Flickering Screen, from 8 to 24 April. (tel:020 8640 9387)
Look out for Tooting on the Move by Jeff Brooks, a history of Tooting and Mitcham United
at Sandy Lane, and an account of their recent move. Available at £5.95 at the club shop, or for
£1.45 p&p) from Jeff Brooks.
Graham Gower’s article in London Archaeologist Winter 2002 Vol.10 No.3 on A suggested Anglo-
signalling system between Chichester and London is an interesting discussion on the possible
of the OE tot in place-names near Stane Street, and has a mention of Morden Park’s mysterious
Excellent news that the National Trust have been able to acquire William Morris’s Red House at
They hope to open it in the summer, and there is to be a study area . and a holiday flat!
We welcome the following new members, and hope they enjoy their membership:
Mrs P Adcock of Morden Mrs D Boalem of Morden
Mrs S A Brown of Mitcham Mr and Mrs T Fripp of Merton Park
Mrs M A Hammad of Wallington Mr T Miles of Raynes Park
www. [=we would welcome. internet enthusiasts]
In the December Bulletin we asked for volunteers to help set up and manage a website for the
Society. We are
glad to report that a professional web designer has offered to set this up for us without
charge. However, we still
need help from enthusiastic surfers.
We would like to have an e-mail address, but we would need someone willing to monitor messages
regular basis, and to pass on enquiries to the appropriate person.
English Heritage are planning a website where archaeological and local history societies will
be able to keep
up to date with archaeological investigations in the local area. Again, we would need someone
the site on behalf of our society.
If you can help, please contact Peter Hopkins.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 145 . MARCH 2003 . PAGE 3
THE UPPER OR FAIR GREEN, MITCHAM
There was a full house at The Canons, on 7 December, as was to be expected for one of Eric
on Mitcham. Perhaps with a seasonal nod in the direction of the Lord of Misrule, the first
slide shown was of a
Mitcham with eucalyptus trees! It was quickly admitted that that particular Mitcham was near
Australia, but, beyond the merely nominal, Monty mentioned another local connection in the form
of a Morris
& Co church window in that Mitcham.
Any notions of intrepid settlers arriving in the Antipodes with fond memories of their native
might have been encouraged by some of the slides of watercolours, early photographs and picture
that Monty used to present the image of a past environment. More recent developments were
maps and by later photographs recording the transformation of the Fair Green in the 20th
century, and showing
just what survives of the historic village green and its surroundings today, in the midst of
the modern suburb.
The 1895 Ordnance Survey map shows the
roads that still converge on the Fair Green,
and these probably originated as Saxon lanes
leading to and from the settlements that
became Merton, Morden, Croydon,
Streatham and Tooting. This map also clearly
shows how the northern and eastern sides of
the Green were occupied by small, closely
packed, properties. By contrast, the southern
side had relatively few, and larger, properties,
some in spacious grounds and gardens.
Evidently the north side of the Green is two
feet higher than the south. Excavation has
revealed a layer of sand underlying the latter,
and this area was named the Washway on
older maps. Until means of draining could
be applied, building was confined to the
north and east sides, where excavation has
recovered medieval pottery, while sites on
the south side have yielded only indications
of post-medieval habitation.
The old inns were also on the north side: to the west the Nag’s Head (its site now under
Holborn Way), and the
King’s Arms and the Buck’s Head (now the White Lion of Mortimer), still on either side of the
where it leaves the Green. A later arrival, the Napier’s Head, was established where McDonalds
Medieval Mitcham was a polynucleated village (having several centres), and this older pattern
can be easily appreciated from the presence of the Lower or Cricket Green to the south. But
today the greatest
concentration of shops is here, round this more northern open space of 0.6ha (1.5 acres), and
it was here that the
annual fair was held each August until 1923. This part of the parish of Mitcham was in the
manor of Biggin and
Tamworth, which had the right to claim tolls and stall rents associated with the holding of the
fair. In 1923
responsibility for controlling the conduct of the fair was taken over by Mitcham Urban District
new regulations regarding the movement of traffic resulted in the removal of the fair to Three
Kings Piece on
Mitcham Common, just beyond the pond to the south-east. Some lively photographs were shown of
when still held on the Upper Green.
National developments in technology and social progress were of course reflected in the ever-
scene. A tramway had been extended from Tooting to Croydon via the Fair green by 1906, and the
rolling-stock are seen crossing the Green in a number of pre-1914 postcards. Later, a
trolleybus route once
connected Mitcham with Croydon and Hammersmith. The effect of change in building regulations
availability of materials was pointed out in the details of certain structures. The Education
Act of 1870 was
intended to ensure the provision of universal elementary education and as a result, in 1884,
the rather attractive
red-brick and stone-dressed St Mark’s School was erected just a few metres to the east of where
now is. This school stands in what was formerly known as Killick’s Lane (now St Mark’s Road),
and this leads
to St Mark’s church (built c.1900). St Mark’s parish was one of several taken out of the
ancient parish of St
Peter and St Paul to meet the challenge of an ever-increasing local population during the
The church stands near the point where a gate once led into the East Field. This open field was
still worked in
Extract from 1:2500 OS map of 1895, (80% reduction)
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 145 . MARCH 2003 . PAGE 4
strips until the 1850s, and here was the .lammas land. (where manorial tenants were allowed to
graze their livestock
from August till the next sowing time). Mizen’s market gardens later covered much of this area
(but it might be
thought that the open field system of agriculture is still today represented by the use of
allotments on the south side
of Eastfields Road).
Three Kings Pond still has a somewhat rustic air, and indications of a ford by the roadside. It
is also still overlooked
by one or two old houses. On the north-east side of Upper Green East a branch of Barclays Bank
is the successor
to a more picturesque structure that probably dated to the 17th century, and excavation of the
site yielded pottery of
the 13th and 14th centuries.
The corner of London Road and Langdale Parade is the site of Elmwood (or The Firs). The main
block of the
house had a flat five-bay front. Perhaps the greatest loss when this property was sold and
developed was the
grounds, which contained renowned botanical specimens and had been established by Charles du
Bois early in the
One of the larger houses on the south side of Fair Green was Durham House, built c.1702.
Photographs show the
building in its last years, when a shop or an office had been built over the front garden. It
was demolished in the
1960s, when the MHS took the opportunity to excavate the site, revealing the footings of a
.necessary house. and
a quantity of (informative) 18th-century rubbish. Somewhere near here stood the so-called
Raleigh House. A
watercolour shows a weatherboarded structure, possibly 18th-century, when it was a private
school for girls. It is a
pleasing reminder of the connection between Sir Walter Raleigh and Mitcham, but there is
nothing to indicate this
property was ever his.
What must have been an interesting building once stood near the Nag’s Head. This small house
seems to have
been faced with, or constructed of, Reigate stone and flint . materials possibly taken from the
ruins of Merton
One of the most intriguing structures (and larger than any that survived in this part of the
Green in 1895) formerly
stood in the north-east corner. Known in the 18th century as .Old Bedlam. (a name suggesting
that it may have
been once used to house those regarded as mentally unstable), little is known of it except that
in 1789 it was
described as being let in tenements to poor people. It was demolished c.1850, but wash drawings
of the early 19th
century indicate late medieval or early Tudor additions to an even earlier core. The site was
later used for a
relatively modest house called Ravensbury, and then, in 1934, for the Majestic cinema. When
that was demolished
it was eventually replaced by the present structure, occupied initially by Sainsbury’s, but now
by smaller shops
and a fitness centre.
Among many other images were those of the village pump that preceded the present iron Clock
Tower, and of the
crowd assembled to witness the inauguration of the Clock Tower, which commemorates Queen
Jubilee of 1897. It was pointed out that the clock’s once notoriously bad timekeeping was
almost certainly due to
the peculiar arrangement whereby its weights hung in the old well from which the pump had once
Photographs reveal that the Fair Green itself probably looked prettier in the mid-20th century
than ever before . or
since. Ornamental trees and flower-beds were then planted and well-maintained. Earlier views
show its grass
somewhat eroded, no doubt by the feet of many children, whose games were referred to as a
nuisance by a lady
who lived nearby. Today, if less pretty, the Fair Green is now partly pedestrianised and
possibly has more trees
than since at least the mid-19th century, and the Clock Tower, on its new site, is currently
keeping good time!
These notes refer to just some of the many aspects of Mitcham’s Fair Green, past and present,
that Monty revealed
in his splendid talk.
PS With reference to the report by a member of the audience that a .copy. of the Clock Tower
can be see at far-off Ullapool, I note:
On the iron plinth of the Mitcham example is a rectangular plaque, screwed on and inscribed:
McDOWALL STEVEN & CO./LIMITED/ LONDON & GLASGOW
Presumably this foundry cast the whole .monument., which is evidently made up of several
components. The cast ornament
includes: over each of the four clock faces, a royal crown; and on the column, a shield divided
into four quarters (but evidently not
intended to have proper armorial charges). At the base of the column, and forming a swelling
transition to the more massive,
rectangular, base, are four separate plates, each moulded to form a dolphin at each corner, and
in the four spaces between are
shields bearing V.R./1897.
It seems likely that the foundry cast a number of these clock towers to meet demand to
commemorate the Diamond Jubilee. None
of the ornaments seem peculiar to Mitcham (or any other particular locality). Dolphins might be
thought most suitable for the
seaside, but as water ran into and out of the base with its two drinking fountains such .fishy.
ornament seems reasonably appropriate.
Perhaps alternative components could be supplied (or omitted) according to the client’s wishes.
This might be why the Ullapool
example seems to be without the base that is included at Mitcham. RN
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 145 . MARCH 2003 . PAGE 5
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
ART OF THE SHAMAN? NEW VIEWS ON STONE AGE CAVE ART
The year got off to an excellent start as we welcomed as our January speaker our President,
Cave art has been known for some 140 years, though it is only since the beginning of the 20th
century that its
great age has been recognised. Art seems to have been an invention of Homo Sapiens. There is no
any kind of art from the Neanderthal period, apart from a few incised pebbles. But with the
Homo Sapiens several new practices are found . burial of the dead; personal adornment in the
form of bead
necklaces; the use of musical instruments . drums, flutes and whistles; the creation of
portable art . realistically
carved animals and stylised human female figurines, as well as carved and decorated tools and
stone, ivory and bone; and, of course, painting. These examples of symbolic behaviour
Scott set out to consider the role of cave art, which continues to be discovered at many sites
in Europe, dating
from around 30,000 to 10,000 years ago, the earliest being found in Northern Spain and Southern
horses, reindeer and other animals are clearly and realistically depicted, but few human
figures are found, and
they are very crudely drawn.
First, Scott discussed the locations. The artists were not cavemen . no one lived in a cave, it
would have been
too cold and damp. They lived in rock-shelters and cave-mouths. Some large-scale open-air
survived, but paintings were done in dark places, often a mile underground along narrow
place you put it was as important as the painting itself. The surface might be flat, convex or
an irregular outcrop was chosen as it suggested the shape of an animal head. By torchlight or
painted image seemed to be moving.
The pigments used are easier to identify. Modern spectrum analysis can even provide a date.
Mineral ores were
ground – iron oxide for red, manganese dioxide for black. The colours could be applied by
with a pad, or by spraying from the mouth!
Sometimes a surface held a single image, at other times a complex frieze. Animal figures could
be large or
small. Images often overlapped, but it is not clear whether these were designed as a single
scene or were later
additions. No backgrounds are shown . no ground levels . no environmental clues. But among the
forms can be found various marks . rectangles, dots, straight lines and sinuous shapes.
Why were they done? Although we are members of the same species as the original artists, can we
to understand and interpret their work today?
Two friezes from Lascaux (Dordogne)
from Paul G Bahn & Jean Vertut, Images of the Ice Age (1988)
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 145 . MARCH 2003 . PAGE 6
In the 1940s, when the paintings were first accepted as being very early, it was assumed that
they were produced
as ART FOR ART’s SAKE . our ancestors were too primitive for original thinking! The paintings
Later, especially after the discovery of portable art, the idea of TOTEMISM was put forward, in
American Indians. Fasting and sensory deprivation was deliberately pursued to induce hypnotic
visions of your
‘spiritual animal., on which one could call in times of trouble. In America the ultimate was
the White Buffalo,
but in Prehistoric Europe the desire would be to link oneself and one’s clan to the power of
the aurochs or the
reindeer. The clan would adopt the aurochs or the reindeer as their totem. But this theory met
with a major
obstacle . why would an Aurochs group allow others to draw a reindeer in their special place?
would have separate places for their totems.
The late 1940s and 1950s saw the theories of the abbé Henri Breuil. He interpreted the cave
SYMPATHETIC MAGIC. If you want something to happen you draw an image. You have power over that
can cause something to happen. You can manipulate the image . an image of a pregnant animal
Some paintings have several holes in them, as though stabbed by a spear. Could this be evidence
killing? Attacking an image with arrows or spears . real or pictorial . brings good hunting.
The painting was
strictly functional, to secure a sufficiency of food.
This theory seems to fit many of the paintings, but not all. Many of the paintings show arrows
that have missed
the intended victim. One shows a stick figure that appears to be lying in front of a wounded
bison. The man was
presumably dead, gored by the bison. Sympathetic magic would presumably require a more positive
And what about the geometric and other symbols, unless they are supposed to represent traps?
Again, excavation of animal bones in the cave-entrance living quarters reveal that not all the
in cave paintings were used as food. Some were good to eat, while others were good to think
One theory of the 1960s . STRUCTURALISM . was short-lived. It was suggested that certain
animals were always
painted in specific areas within a cave complex. But the evidence didn’t support the theory.
The position of the
animals seems more random than structured.
More recently SHAMANISM has been suggested. The word is of Scandinavian origin, and relates to
images in rock
carvings there dating from the Bronze Age, but parallels can also be found in Siberian, African
drawings. Individuals, both male and female, induce hallucinations through the use of drugs,
drumming, hyperventilation, etc. In their trance they move from our world into the spirit
world, bringing back
benefits to society. In this theory the drawings represent these powerful visions.
Modern research into drug-induced hallucination has identified three stages.
Stage 1 is the seeing of geometric markings, both in the mind, but also on walls,
etc. This might explain the markings found in cave paintings. In stage 2, the
markings become things that you are aware of. Thus hunger might transform
the image into something to eat. Cave paintings often show sinuous, moving
images, which are perhaps attempts to depict these changes. Stage 3 involves
personal transformation, often associated with travelling down a long tunnel
into the spirit world. Cave images show figures with both human and animal
features, such as the so-called ‘sorcerer. of Trois Frères in Ariège (right).
Hand and finger prints are common in cave paintings. In Shamanism they
represent a reaching into the tunnel towards the other world. The images are
thus seen as being brought out of the wall, not as being applied to it.
Another modern approach is that the paintings tell a story or MYTHOLOGY about the group. This
theory would be
the most difficult to prove, as symbolic representation only has meaning to those in the know.
What would the
seasonal images found on Christmas cards mean to someone from a different culture? They might
we eat the robins!
Many of the caves still contain remains of lamps used when painting or viewing the images, and
are preserved. Many of these are of children of around six or seven. Were they brought here to
be taught the
history of the group? Were they to be trained as shamans? Did they come for an initiation rite
. a rite of passage
into membership of the group?
No one theory deals with all the evidence. Probably cave paintings served more than one
purpose. But they
show that our so-called primitive ancestors were as capable as we are of thinking in complex
Thank you, Scott, for a most fascinating lecture!
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 145 . MARCH 2003 . PAGE 7
LOCAL HISTORY WORKSHOPS
Friday 29 November . 7 present. Sheila Harris in the chair.
!!!!!Sheila Harris reported that she had had a query about .Merton College. in Church House,
opposite St Mary’s
church in Merton. It was a school for boys between c.1845 and c.1893.
!!!!!Lionel Green is interested in the front chimney at Morden Park. It first appears in an
illustration of 1873, and was
still in existence in 1950. But it was certainly removed by 1964.
He also spoke about a law book as set out by King Cnut in AD 1019. This is the oldest law book
in existence, and
was at Merton priory for 350 years, but is now in Lambeth Palace library.
!!!!!Judith Goodman is .on the trail. of sculptor Richard James Wyatt, who lived and died in
Rome and created the
Smith monument in St Mary’s church, Merton. She failed to find any of his work in Rome
recently, but Chatsworth
has one of his statues . the third nymph from the left in the room that is now the shop!
Judith then spoke about Francis Cribb (not Thomas Cribb), who was Nelson’s gardener. Bill Rudd
he is buried in Morden churchyard. Two descendants of Cribb have recently contacted Judith.
!!!!!Don Fleming reported on the life of Thomas Bodley who founded the Bodleian Library in
Oxford. On 9 November
the University celebrated the 400th anniversary of the library. At the age of 19 Bodley became
a fellow of Merton
College, where he had a distinguished career.
Don had recently been to the .London before London. exhibition at the Museum of London, which
is worth a visit.
!!!!!Peter Hopkins has been following up suggestions made by Vanessa Bunton of English Heritage
when she came
to the October workshop. Vanessa is visiting local archaeological societies in Greater London,
so they work to a
common cause. Bill Rudd has shown her our ‘store.. A lengthy discussion ensued.
!!!!!Bill Rudd collects things. They include local south London newspapers of the 1960s and
.70s, some published by
Merton Council. He had brought some along, and they showed us how times have changed in less
than 40 years.
We were pleased to welcomeSheila Gallagher, from the East Surrey Family History Society, to the
has been in existence 25 years and has a membership of 2300 worldwide. Sheila told us of the
undertake, especially of the late 18th and 19th centuries, appertaining to petty sessions, poor
law and parish records.
Friday 17 January – Peter Hopkins in the chair.
Sheila Harris reported on a meeting with an official of the National Trust in reference to our
use of the Snuff Mill
Environmental Centre in Morden Hall Park. They made it clear that no more than 50 people were
at any one time – not just in the room itself, but the entire upstairs area. Sheila has checked
the fire exits!
Judith Goodman continues her interest in R J Wyatt, the neo-classical sculptor who was active
in the early 18th
century. She has found that there is an unpublished thesis on his life.
Eric Montague has been requested to check the latest Wandle Trail leaflet for errors. Then
followed a short
discussion on (a) Liberty’s and (b) Streatham Race Course, which was in Mitcham.
Don Fleming referred to the visit the Society made a few seasons ago to Old Battersea House,
where we viewed
some of the paintings of Evelyn De Morgan, probably the most talented woman artist of the Pre-
An exhibition of her drawings can be seen at the De Morgan Centre, West Hill, Wandsworth, until
1 April. The
Centre is closed on Thursdays.
Michael Nethersole had sent an extract from the memoirs of artist George A Storey, published in
was a pupil at Morden Hall Academy, remembered in a chapter to be reproduced in a future
Peter Hopkins has been reading back numbers of the Bourne Society’s Local History Records,
where he read of
Charles Langton Lockton, a fine athlete, who lived as a boy at Southey House, .Merton., and of
Crawfords, whose father, a chaplain in Coulsdon, .retired. to become curate of Merton, where he
died in 1935.
Peter then spoke of James Lackington, and was joined by Judith in a discussion of his life. He
took the lease of
Spring House, Merton, from 1790. Born in 1746, he came to London from Somerset and, after years
opened a bookshop and rose to prosperity. The Society hopes to publish an abridged version of
Bill Rudd reported on his experiences during the Time Team dig at Liberty’s. (see p.16)
The above is, of course, only the .bare bones. of a two-hour discussion where I learn so much,
and what makes it a .must.
for me is it is done with wit and humour. Why not come along next time? You will be very
welcome. Don Fleming
Dates of next Workshops: Friday 7 March and Friday 9 May at 7.30pm at Wandle Industrial Museum.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 145 . MARCH 2003 . PAGE 8
DON FLEMING concludes
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TOWN AND CITY WARDS FROM 1066 TO 2001
So far I have stayed with the history of wards in the City of London for the sake of continuity
but there were
wards in other medieval cities. Reports on these wards are usually all too brief and not always
they do reflect what the wards had to deal with.
A good description of working wards, their structure, working methodology and everyday problems
annoyances is contained in The Victoria History of the County of Yorkshire . The City of York..
term probably denotes .divisions. approximating in function to the York wards of later . 11th
and .precincts. are all basically wards. (In America the word .precinct. is used as in .police
precinct. . policing
a given area such as a ward.)
Constables arraying troops in York are mentioned in the early 14th century, and in 1321 it is
clear that these
constables were each in charge of a ward and responsible for levying money in it for the repair
of the walls. The
constables seem to correspond to the six serjeants in charge of the wards later in the century.
In addition, in the
15th century, two aldermen and other wardens (three in the case of Walmgate ward in 1491) were
each ward. The raising of troops and money for the wages, and the inspection of the arms in the
citizens were all organised by wards. In 1482 the ward serjeants were responsible for opening
and closing the
city gates, and the wardens for clearing the walls in their wards of rushes, nettles and
The jurisdiction of the Wardmote Court lay not only in the inter-mural area but also in the
city parishes which
extended outside the walls. The Court of Walmgate Ward in 1491, for example, heard presentments
nuisances perpetrated within the walls; a hosier had emptied urine in the street, a fuller had
kept a dangerous
dog tethered in the street and causeways in Walmgate and Fossgate were broken down. In addition
complaints of encroachments on the highway outside Fishergate Bar. At the end of the middle
ages the main
importance of the wards seems to have been in the military organisation of the city, the
maintenance of its walls
and in the management of the common lands.42
In 1482 prostitutes and .misgoverned. women were banished to the suburbs outside the city
walls. In 1501
stocks were to be provided in every ward for punishing vagabonds. An order of 1495 forbade
anyone to set
earthenware pots, tar barrels and dishes of fruit in the gutter outside his shop or to hang
ropes, halters and other
harness outside his windows. The wardens, who in 1485 were given the oversight of the streets
to see that they
were .cleanly kept and weekly swept., no doubt performed their task only with difficulty.43
Up to the late 15th century, York was divided into six wards: Monk, Walmgate, Bootham, Coney
and Micklegate. They administered petty domestic regulations . street cleaning, cleansing of
ditches and so on
through the Wardmote Courts. By 1530 they were reduced to four: Bootham, Monk, Walmgate and
This continued until 1835.44
In 1501 every ward in York was to have a dungcart and was allotted a place outside the wall for
‘so that husbands of the country may come there to have it away..45 By 1530 master beggars had
in each ward to report the advent of strange mendicants and see that they left within 24 hours
on pain of
scourging.46 The greatest number of paupers – and the least ability to relieve them – were
largely in Monk and
Walmgate wards. Complaints against swarms of beggars were characteristic of Tudor York.47
In November 1580, it was decided that lanterns should be hung every night throughout the winter
house. The next year this was to be done at the discretion of the wardens in each ward.48 In
1585 each of the four
wards was assigned a place for burying carrion.49
Between 1638 and 1688 in each of the four wards, three aldermen exercised general supervision
and held the
Wardmote Courts. These met quarterly to punish such misdemeanours as the illicit keeping of
pigs, failure to
maintain pavements or to scour sewers and the making of dunghills in the street. The numerous
fines levied for
non-appearance suggest that the Courts were seriously weakened by this date.50
It is known that the aldermen of York looked to London to see how they dealt with the emerging
which were similar to those of York. But there was no easy answer. Beggars, paupers, migrants,
foreigners (the Irish were the largest group of .foreigners. who descended on London by several
were an ever increasing strain on the economy of the wards, weakening them to such an extent
that by the
middle of the 18th century they would be seriously flawed.
Wards were run on a participative rather than a democratic basis. Each ward had between 100 and
officials. There were .prickers, benchers, blackbookmen, fewellers, scribes within and scribes
haltercutter, introducers, upperspeakers and underspeakers, butlers, porters, inquestmen,
scavengers (and rakers),
constables, watchmen, a beadle, jurymen and common councilmen, freemen and ratepayers.. The
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 145 . MARCH 2003 . PAGE 9
most of these officials were more than likely to have to take on these jobs, especially the
less desirable ones.
From time to time they were also answerable to the jurisdiction of the December Ward Court
immorality or bad behaviour. The key figure in the ward was the alderman’s deputy, who would be
(unlike the alderman) in his ward, and was slowly taking over the Wardmote’s Inquest’s
jurisdiction in matters
of vagrancy, delinquency, illegitimacy and dispute resolution. As long as citizens felt that
this system of communal
self-government and mutual support protected their interests, the chances of social stability
were high. However,
it is likely that citizens felt a greater loyalty to their parish than to their ward.51
Stephen Inwood makes some important points. The ward system could only work successfully
was mutual support and trust among the citizens of the ward. There was no machinery within the
politics, or for religion, which was the province of the parish. This is one of the main
reasons the ward system
lasted as long as it did. Aldermen were sometimes suspicious of the parish priest fomenting
unrest in the parish.
Henry II’s alleged remark referring to Thomas Becket: .who will rid me of this turbulent
priest?. was sometimes
reflected in the parish. Apart from being a house of religion, the church was used as a place
and news interpretation channelled through the priest, and so could be considered dangerous.
The parish grew
more important as the ward weakened.52
The Court of Wardmote was still held in each ward, presided over by the alderman and open to
the mid-18th century it elected officers, collected for the poor and policed bawdy houses and
duties began to be whittled away however as authority passed from the rank and file to the
common council of
the ward (the alderman, his deputy and the resident common councilmen). With the rise of more
local committees, city wardmotes were in decline. The parish retained its old significance. In
some respects the
city’s writ ranged far beyond its wards and precincts.54
In London as many as 12,000 rate-paying householders voted in their respective wards to elect
the 26 aldermen
and 200 common councillors. These ratepayers of the ward were almost identical with the
liverymen of the 89
guilds and companies. In their double capacity they controlled by their votes the antique and
machinery of London self-government.55
There were continual complaints against the employment of .foreigners. or non-freemen within
the city. In
these debates, the common council had moved from a total ban on .foreigners. (in 1712) to a
commercial freedom (in 1750).56
Throughout the century, the policing of London’s streets was the task of local magistrates,
and constables, supported at street level by the watch and ward of the parishes and precincts
in which, nominally,
all citizens played a part.57
There were, in the 18th century, over 150 official posts or sinecures, most of them purchasable
associated with its multiform activities. But many of these had become obsolete or moribund or
unimportant, so that for simplicity, we may confine our attention to the Lord Mayor and
sheriffs and the four
courts of outstanding importance over which the Lord Mayor, nominally at least, presided: the
Court of Aldermen,
the Court of Common Council, the Court of Common Hall and the Court of Wardmote, held within
each one of
the 26 wards. Between them these discharged all the most important functions of the
The local Court of Wardmote had played an important local role in city affairs. It was held
each of the wards, presided over by the alderman and open to all ward ratepayers, whether they
or not. Its functions were threefold; to elect the ward officers, to nominate the ward’s common
(who, if freemen and unopposed, became automatically elected) and, with the Lord Mayor in
attendance, to fill
aldermanic vacancies as they arose. The ward’s responsibility for paving and lighting was taken
over from the
1760s by the Court of Common Council, while the Court of Aldermen assumed the direction of the
leaving minor delegated powers to the local committees. So the ward motes declined and, by the
end of the
Napoleonic wars, had become little more than poorly attended debating clubs on public
The London Encyclopaedia has additional information. The wards used to have responsibilities
preservation of the peace, supervision of trading, sanitation and local upkeep. The ward
beadles were employed
full time on these duties. Now the beadles are just ceremonial attendants of the aldermen and
the wards are
units of election only. Their meetings are still called Wardmotes and these are held annually
on the first Friday
in September, when they elect a varying number of .good and discreet citizens. to be their
the Court of Common Council for one year. Each ward also meets when a vacancy occurs to elect
alderman (whose election must be approved by the Court of Aldermen). The voters are all those
premises as tenants or owners and those who qualify for the parliamentary franchise by
residence. The wards
vary in size and character and still have such ancient names as Bassishaw, Cordwainer and
Portsoken. Most of
them have their own clubs and there is also a United Wards Club; all of them hold social
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 145 . MARCH 2003 . PAGE 10
The History Today Companion to British History looks at wards from a different angle
altogether. .WARD . a
subdivision supervised by an alderman in the City of London and other early urban centres for
purposes. The urban equivalent of the hundred. It was also the usage for hundreds in
Cumbria under modern local electoral arrangements. It has become a subdivision which elects
the small area of the City of London. The ward system survives today..60 The fact that they
have existed so long
suggests that if not wealthy the wards were at least financially sound.
What sort of people were they who lived in, worked and ran the wards? No observer recorded
them, no writer
wrote a novel based on the rank and file. Today is no different. We expect .our town. to be
policed properly, and
the streets cleaned and kept in good repair. We have no time to consider the people who do
We do, however, have a composite portrait of an Englishman who is still the popular English
hero after well
nigh 300 years and it is that which makes him very interesting. Jeremy Paxman tells us about
him in his book
The English: John Bull was invented in 1712 by a .foreigner., a Scot from Kincardineshire named
His creation John Bull is, as befits a nation of shopkeepers, a tradesman. He is fiercely
independent and proud,
drinks heavily and possesses a truly bovine stolidity. He is also temperamental, whining,
insensitive and sneeringly
disdainful of foreigners. He believes in law and order and is instinctively conservative. He is
reliable, jolly, honest, practical and fiercely attached to his freedoms.61
The most famous portrait of a beadle we have is in Charles Dickens. Oliver Twist or The Parish
which appeared as a serial in 1837-39. Mr Bumble was a parish beadle but could easily be
carrying out the
traditions of the ward beadle. The problems within the parishes in the early 19th century were
much the same as
the wards had suffered in the previous century.
The Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 proposed that towns of more than 12,000 inhabitants
divisible into wards, though the Lords reduced the limit to 6,000.62 This Act had much to
recommend it, but was
flawed by being rushed through Parliament without full and final discussions. It was impossible
to transfer the
powers of independent bodies (gas, water, etc) to the newly established Borough Councils
because of the
opposition and mistrust (of municipal authorities) which then existed.63 The 1835 Act was
superseded by the
Municipal Corporations Act of 1882 which had been clearly defined and ratified.
The Acts had an affect, as we find in, for example, Winchester. Under the Act of 1835 the city
with Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses and it was divided into three wards, each electing six
councillors. In 1904
the city was divided into six wards, each returning three councillors.64
The implementation of the 1835 Act, and more particularly the 1882 Act, meant that local
government was in
a state of change throughout the country. Even small .towns. such as Merton, Wimbledon, Sutton
were adapting to the new methodology; with Croydon becoming a borough in 1883, Sutton an urban
1894, and Wimbledon an urban district in 1895 and a borough ten years later. In 1907 Merton
urban district status and in 1913 Merton and Morden came together when they were granted
amalgamate as Merton and Morden Urban District.65 During the period from 1894 to 1928 the
voting system for
local councillors gradually changed from parish boundaries to wards in much the way we have
In 1945 a white paper established the Local Government Boundary Commission, which has the
of determining the boundaries of local authorities, and for reviewing the electoral districts
within local authorities
(called .divisions. and .wards.). Ward boundaries are variable. The boundaries in place for the
of May 1997 were not necessarily the same for the general election of June 2001. The City of
London has 24
wards; Croydon has 26, Merton 20 and Sutton 25.
(The police also have wards, which are used for other purposes. Their system is different, and
they can change
the boundaries at any time. Council wards usually have geographical names. Police wards are
From 1066 to today, London like most major cities, has been cosmopolitan. In 1066 apart from
Saxony), there were Viking settlements and other groups from various continental countries.
consider that the largest of the groups were Flemings who came from .Burgundy. which is roughly
the area now
called Belgium. The Saxon language was most commonly used and many wards had Saxon names.
Some wards were linked to guilds and their names are informative and interesting:-
Farringdon (Within and Without) . Castle Baynard . Aldersgate . Cripplegate . Bread Street –
. Bassishaw . Cheap . Cordwainer . Vintry . Coleman Street . Walbrook . Dowgate . Broad Street
Cornhill . Langbourn . Candlewick . Bridge . Bishopsgate . Lime Street . Billingsgate . Aldgate
Tower . Portsoken.
Candlewick = candle makers.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 145 . MARCH 2003 . PAGE 11
Cheap, a Saxon word ceap = to sell or barter.
Aldgate, a Saxon word aelgate = .freegate., open to all.
Cordwainer = worker in Spanish leather from Cordoba.
Later became shoemakers.
Cripplegate, a Saxon wordcrepu. = a tunnel-like entrance
Vintry = peculiar to vintners. Preparation or selling of
wine, therefore by the riverside.
There is a great deal about wards for which we have no
information, especially the procedures for financing. The
concept of dividing a town or city into small, self-
administered areas was outstanding in its simplicity.
It required that the beadle and his staff be decent, honest, sober men of the rank and file,
who worked together
for the good of the community in mutual support and trust in the policing, cleansing and
maintenance of the
ward. If this was ever completely realised is not known but the .working wards. system lasted
almost 800 years
and that is its own proud testimony.
I am grateful to Donald W Jennings of St Louis for the following:
Most US cities have wards and precincts which are used mostly for local voting purposes, and
overspending political organisations, e.g. in Chicago. Each ward has a democratic ward .boss.
and each ward
has smaller precincts, headed by a .captain. who is responsible for getting out the vote for
the alderman, who
represents the ward on the Board of Aldermen. There is a similar system in St Louis.
The following is supplied by Michelle Seeberger of Paris, to whom I am very grateful:.
The French Revolution abolished the old feudal system and created a new political system. This
France was divided up into départements, which was the basis of the .modern. voting system,
and additions over the years from the late 18th century, to service population growth. Voting
in France is similar
to voting in Great Britain. Therefore a modern .ward. in France is a constituency which is
based on population.
Its borders are regularly altered by the French Home Office before elections. Large towns such
as Paris, Lyon
and Marseilles have arrondissements. They are geographical divisions and not based on
population and their
boundaries do not alter. Here they vote for the mayor of a municipal town or city council. A
is voted for on a smaller basis called a canton. There are several cantons in a département and
they are smaller
than a constituency. In France local elections are called .List Poll..
41. The Victoria History of the County of York(shire) . The City of York by P M Tillott.
Published for University of London, Institute of Historical
Research by Oxford University Press, London, p.20.
42. Tillott, p.77.
43. Tillott, p.108.
44. Tillott, p.315.
45. Tillott, p.108.
46. Tillott, p.133.
47. Tillott, p.170.
48. Tillott, p.119.
49. Tillott, p.119.
50. Tillott, p.182
51. A History of London by Stephen Inwood. MacMillan, 1998, p.180.
52. London . A Social History by Roy Porter. Hamish Hamilton, 1994. p.148.
53. Porter, pp.148/149.
54. Porter, p.150.
55. English Social History by G M Trevelyan. Longmans, 1944. Quoted in The Faber Book of London
edited by A N Wilson, pp 94/95. Faber and
56. The History of London series . Hanoverian London 1714-1808. George Rude. Secker & Warburg,
57. Rude, p.141.
58. Rude, pp 119/120.
59. Rude, p.124.
60. The History Today companion to British History, Collins and Brown, 1995. Edited by Juliet
Gardiner and Neil Wenborn, pp. 787/788.
61. Jeremy Paxman, The English. Penguin Books 1999, p/b. First published by Michael Joseph
62. The History of Local Government in England by Josef Redlich and Francis W Hirst, edited by
Bryan Keith-Lucas. MacMillan, 1958, pp.131 and 132.
63. A History of Local Government by K B Smellie. George Allen and Unwin Ltd, 1946, p.33.
64. The Victoria History of the Counties of England. A History of Hampshire and the Isle of
Wight, Volume V, pv.25. Constable and Co., 1912. Edited
by Wm Page, FSA, p.25.
65. Merton and Morden. A Pictorial History. Judith Goodman, Phillimore, 1995. No page numbers
(opposite photo 164).
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 145 . MARCH 2003 . PAGE 12
LIONEL GREEN concludes
HENRY III AND MERTON PRIORY 1216-72
[In Bulletin No.144 we learned that England was to be governed by a council of 15 advising the
Oaths were obtained from the justiciar, chancellor and treasurer to act only under the joint
particular, the chancellor was sworn not to use the Great Seal (which authenticated public
contrary to the provisions of the council.]
The King’s Lodgings
At Merton priory both Henry III and his chancellor were accommodated in buildings of stone,
renovations in December 1258. These involved the garderobes of both chambers and repairs to the
including hearth, mantel and flue, suggesting a cosy fireplace.1 This might have been decorated
as at Westminster
in 1239. .Command is given to Edward son of Odo, keeper of our works, that he shall cause the
fireplace in the
queen’s chamber there to be made higher, and . he shall cause to be painted and portrayed on
the said fireplace
a figure of Winter, made more like Winter by its sad countenance and other miserable attitudes
of the body..2
The Great Seal 1259-61
On 6 July 1259 the chancellor Henry de Wengham withdrew from court on being made bishop of
Great Seal was left with Walter de Merton, a clerk in chancery.3 Three weeks later, the king
instructed him to
prepare and seal letters of admission for the papal nuncio, Velascus, to enter England.4 The
letter was written
on 28 July at Westminster and sealed with the Great Seal. Unlike the chancellor, Walter was not
under oath to
act only under the council’s direction. When Velascus arrived, the council expelled him and
demanded to know
on whose authority he had been admitted. The blame was settled on the constable of Dover for
nuncio to proceed.
Henry refused to co-operate with the council and went to Paris on 24 November 1259 so that no
could be called. On 31 March 1260 the chancellor was with the king in France and the justiciar
was at Windsor.
The great seal was with Walter de Merton, now effectively head of the chancery and residing at
house at Malden.5 An order was received from the king on Maundy Thursday, 1 April, to issue
clerks worked all that day, perhaps some at the scriptorium of Merton priory. The following day
Friday and no work was performed, but on the Saturday, immediately after mass and breakfast,
messengers were dispatched to the sheriffs in their shires.6
The king finally returned to Dover on 23 April with 300 mercenary knights and resumed full
control of government
until September, when the council dismissed Walter as chancellor. They appointed their own man,
Ely, but on 12 July 1261 he surrendered the Great Seal to the king. Henry at once handed it to
exercised his office immediately by sealing some letters.7
Simon de Montfort
On 30 October 1261, some of the barons under Richard de Clare negotiated
the Treaty of Kingston, whereby most of the barons agreed to support the
king. Henry left for France in July 1262 and returned on 22 December to
find that the prince of Gwynnedd, Llewelyn, had over-run north and mid-
Wales. The English barons found it easier to fight each other than the
common enemy. When Simon de Montfort learned of the problems he
returned from self-imposed exile. He met a large number of barons at
Oxford in April 1263, including the young Gilbert de Clare.8 All were of
one mind to restore the Provisions of Oxford (see Bulletin No.144
December 2002 pp.12-13) and plan further reforms. Earl Simon asked
the king to support them once more, but he refused.
The barons fought the Welsh, to secure towns in the Severn valley for the
realm, without approval of Henry. They then marched down the Thames
valley to south-east England. Supporters of de Montfort broke into open
revolt, storming the manors of many royalists. On 13 June, men of Ashtead
occupied Walter de Merton’s manor of Malden for three days. From
Malden, Chessington and Cuddington, goods and farm animals were taken.
Farleigh was despoiled from 15 July to 15 August.
Without shedding blood, the barons took Dover castle and the Cinque Ports.
Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester.
From a window in Chartres Cathedral
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 145 . MARCH 2003 . PAGE 13
The Provisions restored
By 24 June the king accepted the triumph of the barons and agreed to restore the Provisions,
but at his suggestion
it was decided to submit them to arbitrators who should correct, explain or expunge whatever
was prejudicial to
royal power and the welfare of the realm. The barons insisted that England was not to be
governed by aliens. On
19 July Simon de Montfort dismissed Walter as chancellor, and the council tried to govern the
proved impossible while the king’s sheriffs were in the shires, and de Montfort appointed
Keepers of the Peace
in each county to supervise the sheriffs.9 In November the king agreed to a truce and
arbitration by Louis of
France on amendments to the Provisions.
Henry then sallied forth to the channel ports, but Dover rejected him. When Earl Simon heard
the news he left
Kenilworth castle, intending to support the constable of Dover. He reached London whilst the
through the Weald and stayed at Croydon to seek assurance of the loyalty of Londoners. Earl
Simon crossed the
Thames into Southwark and royalists in London closed the gate on the bridge and fixed it with
Edward moved to Merton with his mercenary troops,10 so that the king’s forces outnumbered those
of the earl.
These advanced on Southwark on 11 December, but the citizens of London broke open the bridge-
gate to allow
Simon to return into the city.
The Mise of Amiens 1264
On 23 January Louis IX of France went to Amiens and pronounced his award, which accepted
Henry’s case and
annulled the Provisions. Walter de Merton had put the king’s case to the arbitrator and, in
anticipation of a
favourable decision, on 18 January Henry had granted him a warrant of chase in any royal
Louis further rejected the statute that England be governed by native-born men. This was in
contradiction to the
agreements made by Henry in June and July 1263.
The king returned from France in February to find the whole country vexed. London rejected
by agreement) and blamed Walter de Merton, whose Finsbury property was taken over and his
plundered once more. On 12 March Gilbert de Clare seized the manors of Malden and Farleigh.
£42 were taken from Malden and Cuddington and £9 from Farleigh. From March to August 1264
occupied by a mob.
All this led to civil war in April. Simon made London his headquarters and the king kept his
forces at Oxford
where Walter de Merton was present.
Defeat at Lewes 1264
On 14 May the king was defeated in battle at Lewes. Walter secured protection as an
ecclesiastic11 for travelling the country on 26 July, and Farleigh was restored to him on 15
August, with Malden on 8 September.
De Montfort summoned his second .parliament. in December 1264, which met in
Westminster Hall on 20 January. The prior of Merton had been summoned. The earl also
called to it .two of the discreet, loyal and honest citizens and burgesses. of every borough.
They were not invited to take part in the discussions but to observe, and to express widely
plaudits about the new regime. To the disappointment of Simon de Montfort only 23 barons
attended, compared with 120 ecclesiastics. Nevertheless the meeting was memorable and
significant . inching towards a parliamentary democracy.
Triumph at Evesham 1265
Simon de Montfort was killed at Evesham on 3 August, and there was much resentment that
his cause had been lost. This was the signal for renewed attacks on Walter de Merton, a
royalist. On 28 April 1267 the men of Ashtead went once more to Malden and drove oxen
and horses back to Ashtead.
From an effigy of a
A special eyre (circuit court) was arranged at Bermondsey on 20 January 1268, to deal with
soldier of the time.
He wears chain mail,
trespass committed during the troubles. Walter’s case was heard from 3 February and he
an innovation from
was awarded 20 marks (£13.34). He was a skilled negotiator and bought land from the
Asia, beneath a
defeated rebel barons whose possessions had been mostly confiscated.
Tumult in London 1272
The people of London wished to elect Walter Hervey as mayor, against the wishes of the aldermen
of the city.
One of the aldermen was the soke-reeve12 of the prior of Merton [see Bulletin No.144 December
2002 p.9]. The
dispute resulted in great commotion in the city, ‘so that the noise reached the lord king when
he lay in bed
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 145 . MARCH 2003 . PAGE 14
The king died on 16 November, and magnates of the realm journeyed to London and met in the
earl of Gloucester observed how strong was the feeling of the people and feared for the peace
of the city. He
ignored the entreaty of the aldermen and ordered a folk-moot on the following day to elect a
The folk-moot was an ancient assembly of all citizens of London which normally met three times
Following the folk-moot, the magnates, including Walter de Merton, entered old St Paul’s
chapter house with
the aldermen. They counselled them to elect Walter Hervey, but for one year only, and this was
de Merton then went out to meet the people at St Paul’s Cross, the site of the folk-moot, and
The king was dead and Walter de Merton, once more chancellor, was virtually regent in England
for two years,
until Edward I returned from a crusade in August 1274.
1 Close Roll, 41 Hen.III m12 p.168; A Heales The Records of Merton Priory Henry Frowde, London
2 Liberate Roll, 23 Hen.III 14 m20; M Hennings England under Henry III 1924 p.262
3 Close Rolls, 74,43 Hen.III m8
4 R F Treharne .An unauthorized use of the great seal 1259. English Historical Review 40 (1925)
5 F M Powicke The Thirteenth Century 1216-1307 1962 p.157
6 Close Rolls 1259-61 pp.157-9
7 Cal. Pat. Rolls 1258-66 p.165
8 Richard de Clare had died in July 1262, but the king did not allow the 19-year-old son to
take up his inheritance.
9 W Stubbs Select Charters 9th ed. 1913 p.399
10 G A Williams Medieval London from Commune to Capital 1963 p.223. The king’s son had broken
open the treasure chests of New Temple,
London, in June, in order to pay his mercenary army, then based at Windsor. (Annals of
11 Cal. Pat. Rolls 1258-66 p.328. He also availed himself of a ruling that ecclesiastical
persons might reside safely at their benefices. This order
encouraged royal clerks to leave their positions in government.
12 The London wards were sometimes also the soke, which was a private jurisdiction exempted
from customary obligations.
13 Lib. De Antique. Legis p.153
TONY SCOTT has provided a note on:
MITCHAM WINDMILL BASE AND TIMBERS
Mitcham windmill was built on the
common waste of the parish in 1806,
after permission was given by James
Moore to John Blake Parker, on
condition that the villagers. grain was
ground on two days each week. It was a
hollow post mill, which is fairly unusual,
but was the same form of construction
as the Wimbledon mill.
The windmill was struck by lightning
in the mid-1850s and partly destroyed
but was presumably repaired. It ceased
working in 1860 and in 1878 two sails
were destroyed by lightning.
In 1908 the mill was dismantled leaving only the main post and the roundhouse. The remains have
had no roof
since then and were slowly deteriorating. In 1988 the remains were included on the Statutory
List of buildings
of architectural or historic interested (ie Listed Grade II).
The miller’s house was rebuilt in 1861 and survives today as the Mill House restaurant pub in
When a planning application to alter Mill House was received in May 2001 the Council sought to
scope of the proposals to include consolidation and preservation of the surviving mill
structure. The applicants
agreed to commission a specialist condition survey report, and as a result planning permission
was granted on
15 August 2002 subject to the following conditions:
!!!!!Works on the mill structure are completed before the new extension is occupied.
!!!!!Timber repairs are carried out in accordance with the Society for the Protection of
guidelines, and agreed in advance.
!!!!!Specialist biennial inspection of the mill structure takes place and also regular local
We wait to see how effective will be the preservation work.
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 145 . MARCH 2003 . PAGE 15
TIME TEAM COMES TO MERTON
Tony Robinson came to Merton for three days in late September 2002, to re-discover the layout
of buildings of
the silk printing works of Edmund Littler and Arthur Liberty. The edited version of events was
Channel 4 on 9 February.
A 19th-century brick building was soon revealed north of the wheelhouse, containing a north-
First explanations suggested that it had held a washing-drum, but this was later amended to a
channel for the calendering machine, which smoothed the lengths of material. Local historians
know this early
19th-century building as Joseph Ancell’s print works. Trenches on the west side of the Wandle
yielded parts of
the iron grates of a furnace, and timber piles which must have supported extensive buildings
Perhaps the most instructive scenes were those involving the printing of silks with hand-held
The hatted archaeologist, Phil, was guided by one of your vice-presidents, William Rudd, who
once worked at
Liberty’s, and displayed his skill and knowledge.
There was little mention of the medieval building discovered on the east bank, and the full
excavation report is
eagerly awaited. This may be the chapel depicted in Malcolm’s engraving of 1801.
BILL RUDD joins the top team and does:
A JOB TO DYE FOR!
It had been blowing on the wind for some time that Time Team were interested in Merton Borough.
Montague was wondering what he could suggest in Mitcham. As it turned out what they were really
the former Liberty site.
Nicholas Hart phoned to ask if I minded sending them a copy of my Liberty booklet. I discovered
the TT would
be on site from Wednesday 25 to Friday 27 September, and made a mental note.
On Thursday evening a call from Sheila Harris asked why I wasn’t on site, as I was expected to
attend. So I said
I.d be there the following morning.
I arrived at 11am and straightway went to have a look at the two holes they had opened up on
the west bank; one
was so deep you couldn’t see who was in it. Then a look at the hole next to the Colour House,
and where there
was a large block of stone which looked as though it might have covered a grave; but no
Finally a good look at the foundations that had been exposed next to the wheelhouse, and a
Dave Saxby. Then I had a stroll across the yard.
Suddenly Mary Hart took my arm and said to come and have a look at what was going on in the
Long Shop, and
I found they were setting up a block-printing demonstration. At this point Mary told the camera
crew, .This is
the man you want. He worked here and knows the job.. Someone slapped a form down and asked me
to sign it.
I discovered afterwards it was a release form.
I was to act as tierer to a young lady who had been brought in
specially. I first thought it was ridiculous, a 77-year-old doing
the same job he.d done 62 years ago as a 14-year-old school-
A table had been set up on which a length of silk (yes, it
was!) was taped down round the edges. A swivel chair had
been converted to hold the colour trays, and dishes of dyes
had been prepared. Some old printing-blocks had been
obtained from somewhere. The printer and I were able to
begin. I set to work putting dye on the pads in the trays that
had been made up. The .apprentice. was Phil Harding of Time
Team, who was to take over the printing once he got the idea.
As you can imagine, the final result was not the perfection I was used to all those years ago.
Nevertheless it was
a gallant attempt, and the surprise came when a picture on a flat-screen computer showed a girl
dressed in the
pattern that had just been printed. So it was well worth the effort.
Valerie Bryant, Bill Rudd and Time Team’s Phil Harding
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
Printed by Peter Hopkins
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 145 . MARCH 2003 . PAGE 16