Bulletin 177

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March 2011 Bulletin 177
Messages over Merton G Wilson
In Search of a Lacemaker R Turner
V-1s on Merton and Morden : the details D Haunton
and much more

VICE PRESIDENTS: Viscountess Hanworth, Eric Montague and William Rudd

Engraving of Mitcham Common showing The Cranmers, The Canons and Park Place,
reproduced by courtesy of Merton Library & Heritage Service – see page 10

Programme: March – May 2
Reports: ‘The Princess and the Brewer; their Duel for Richmond Park’ 3
‘The Spas of Surrey’ 4
Local History Workshop:
14 January: Napoleonic age Volunteers; a Saxon landowner; Sunday School medals; an early
achievement by Evelyn Jowett; Morden 40 years ago; a proof-reader’s musings 6
Messages over Merton – Geoffrey Wilson 8
In Search of a Lacemaker – Rosemary Turner 9
Book review: The Cranmers, The Canons and Park Place 10
V-1s on Merton and Morden: the Details – David Haunton 11

Saturday 12 March 2.30pm Raynes Park Library Hall
‘Here Yesterday -Gone Tomorrow’
A talk by David Roe with photos from the Society’s Photographic Record Project that capture
the historical significance and changing nature of Merton, Morden and Mitcham today.
David is the project’s leader.
Saturday 16th April 2.30pm Raynes Park Library Hall
‘The Croydon Canal at Croydon and east Surrey’s integrated transport system’
Paul Sowan will be our knowledgeable speaker about this waterway which once linked Croydon to
the Grand Surrey Canal and hence to the Thames.
[Paul will be leading a walk relating to this talk on Sunday 27 March, organised by Croydon
Natural History & Scientific Society. Called ‘The Pitlake central interchange’, it will celebrate the
200th anniversary of the completion of the Croydon Canal in 1811 and its links with the horse-
drawn tramways. If you would like to go, meet at 2.00pm at the Waddon Marsh tramstop.]
Raynes Park Library Hall is in Aston Road, off Approach Road, on or close to several bus
routes, and near to Raynes Park station. Very limited parking.
Please use the hall entrance in Aston Road.
Saturday 14 May
Coach trip to Knole and Chartwell kindly arranged by Pat and Ray Kilsby.
For the details please see the enclosed sheet.
Visitors are welcome to attend our talks. Entry £2.

We used to hold all our talks in the Snuff Mill – excellent central location, free parking, nearby café –
normally achieving audiences of 50 – 60 people. However, poor physical access via the steep staircase
(difficult for the disabled) and the unsatisfactory emergency exit route were always worries for your
Committee. The new limit of only 50 people allowed upstairs in the building is monitored by the National
Trust, and must include those Committee members present to organise the event. This has given rise to
unpleasant arguments with some later-arriving members, when they were denied entry because 50 persons
had already been admitted. These considerations led your Committee to look elsewhere.

We have tried various halls over the past few years, located throughout Merton, Morden and Mitcham, but
since we left the Snuff Mill, the number of people attending our talks has declined noticeably – only
occasionally achieving an audience of 40 out of our total membership of over 150. Note that all the venues
have drawbacks, some because of their non-central location and difficulty of access, and some because
of the poor provision of the blackout required for showing slides. Our current favouring of Raynes Park
Library Hall is partly for its reasonable cost, but mainly because it has very good disabled access and
excellent light blackout, and because it is the only venue that has digital projection facilities for hire – a
feature increasingly required by speakers.

We would like to find out why so few people come to our talks. Is it the venue? The subjects? The day?
A clash with other events? Or some other consideration entirely?

Please help us by completing the enclosed (anonymous) survey about last year’s talks, and sending it to
David Haunton, using the enclosed SAE, by the end of March.

It’s your Society, please let us know what you want.



Our December lecture was given by Max Lankester, who is the Secretary of the Friends of Richmond
Park. To introduce us to his main topic he explained the origin of the Park. Though the whole area of
what is now the Park had been a royal hunting-ground for hundreds of years, it was Charles I who
decided to stock it with red and fallow deer and enclose it with a brick wall. The land included estates
of the gentry and prosperous farms, and their owners were reluctant to sell. However they were leaned
on and ‘persuaded’, and by 1635 Charles had acquired land from the manors of Petersham, Ham,
Richmond, Wimbledon, Mortlake and Putney. In most cases he paid at least a fair price, but some
Mortlake land he seems never to have paid for. There had been no chance to put the matter to Parliament
because there had been no Parliament since 1629.

The wall went up. In order to retain communications among the neighbouring towns gates were installed
at Richmond Hill, East Shene, Roehampton, Wimbledon (Robin Hood Gate), Coombe and Ham
Common. There were also stepladders for pedestrians, and two rights of way across the Park were kept
open. The poor were allowed to come in and collect firewood. But there was general resentment at what
had happened and the way it had been done. At first Charles made frequent use of the New Park, as
he called it, but as his problems grew he came less often, his last hunt being in 1647.

In the next century Robert Walpole, when Prime Minister, secured the lucrative post of Ranger for
his son from George II, and he himself spent a lot of time at the Old Lodge, often holding cabinet
meetings there. He and the King enjoyed hunting together there. But Walpole felt himself entitled to
privacy and took steps to secure it. He removed the ladder-stile gates from the wall and built lodges
at the gates, with keepers whose job was to admit only ‘respectable persons’ on foot and carriages
with pass-tickets.

When the younger Walpole died George II gave the Rangership to his daughter Princess Amelia, who
proved to be even more high-handed than Walpole senior. The people admitted to the Park were now
restricted to a named few, her guests in fact. Pedestrians were kept out entirely. Even the beaters of
the parish bounds who had had to climb as best they could over the wall and back again were in 1751
denied admittance. It is said that part of the wall was knocked down, or it may be that a section had fallen

The bounds-beating party effects an entry into Richmond Park in May 1751 (frontispiece to Two Historical Accounts of … New
Forest … and Richmond New Park) (taken from John Cloake Richmond Past 1991 p.116)


A long memorial was drafted to the princess referring to ladder-stiles, historic rights to dig gravel, ‘restraint
of trade’ and so on, with flattering tributes to the princess, and signed ‘The Committee’. To no avail. The
princess’s secretary sent snubbing replies to further letters.

A hearing in front of the Lord Chief Justice and two other judges, despite copious evidence of historic rights
of access, found in favour of the deputy Ranger.

Finally in 1755 John Lewis, a brewer of Richmond, determined to take up the fight for ancient rights, and
with a friend attempted to walk in at Sheen Gate behind a carriage that was admitted with a ticket. The
gatekeeper, Martha Gray, refused them entry and they allowed themselves to be ejected. Whereupon Lewis
brought an action. Despite various delaying tactics by the princess and her supporters which held up the
hearing for three years the case was finally heard at Kingston Assizes in front of Sir Michael Foster, a judge
who, fortunately for the cause, was of a radical way of thinking. The trial took a day and the judge found
in favour of Lewis. Access was to be reinstated. Did Lewis favour doors or ladder-stiles? He chose the
latter – doors could be bolted. Princess Amelia was ordered to reinstate the ladder-stiles. She did so, but
three years later she gave up the Rangership. John Lewis later lost his business in a fire and was supported
in his last years by an annuity from his fellow-residents in Richmond. He died in 1792 aged 79.

Today happily anyone can enjoy Richmond Park. We were told that there are 630-650 deer, about half red
deer and half fallow. A pair of Highland cattle and a pair of Dexters have been introduced. The Park is a
SSSI and supports about 1300 species of beetle as well 20 pairs of skylarks.

Max Lankester’s well-illustrated talk was very much enjoyed. I am sure we will all remember John Lewis
the brewer next time we are in Richmond Park, and not take our rights of access for granted.

Judith Goodman


Our programme for 2011 started on 8 January at Raynes Park Library Hall with a very well illustrated talk
on the spas of Surrey by our immediate past Chair, Judith Goodman.

Judith said that ‘Surrey’ in the title was the historic (pre-1889) county, which extended to the banks of the
Thames in central London. ‘Spa’ comes from the town of that name near Liège in Belgium that was a
popular bathing place in Roman times and then revived in the Middle Ages.

The popularity of spas in England peaked in the 18th century and declined during the 19th century. Some spas
produce clear pure water and Malvern is an example of this; some are sulphurous, and some contain salts.
The spas of Surrey were all saline, containing mainly magnesium and sodium sulphates. These waters were
used as laxatives and diuretics and were normally not used for bathing, since they, like most English waters,
produced cold waters.

Judith described nine Surrey spas in detail.

Epsom Wells. In the early 1600s a Henry Wicker noticed that cattle refused to drink from a certain spring
on Epsom Common, and he found that the water had a strong purgative effect. A well was dug and a shelter
provided, and by 1653 it was recorded that the place was so popular that the water was scarce and muddy
during the day, and abstraction was best in the early morning.

More substantial buildings were put up round the well, and by the mid-1660s the town could offer 300 beds
for visitors, with grander people staying in local country houses. Charles II visited twice. In 1692 assembly
rooms were built in the town, and they are still there today, as a Wetherspoon’s pub.

Epsom salts (hydrated magnesium sulphate) were sold all over Europe by the early 18th century. People
came to Epsom as much for entertainment as for their health, and a new well opened in the town, which
was more convenient. This well has now gone, but the old one, now capped, is located in the middle of the
Wells housing estate.

Streatham Spa I. There were two spas in Streatham, the earlier being at the upper end of Streatham
Common in an area known later as The Rookery. The presence of saline water there was first recorded
in 1629, but it was not marketed commercially until 1659. A well house was built later. The water was said
to be stronger than that at Epsom. By the 1790s all facilities had closed.


Streatham Spa II. This opened c.1790 on a site just off the modern Valley Road and it closed in the
1860s. In the 1870s the Curtis family took over the site as a dairy and also bottled and sold the water.
As Curtis and Dumbrill they continued to deliver the water with the milk until the last war. The site was
later taken over by United Dairies, and now the main part of the site is a Dairy Crest distribution depot,
while the well house survives in a sheltered housing development.

Richmond Wells. In the 1670s a purging spring on the hillside at Richmond, overlooking the Thames,
was opened as a spa, and assembly rooms were built. Many of the visitors came by boat. Soon gambling
and raucous behaviour became commonplace, and in 1763 Susanna Houblon, who lived opposite, bought
the spa and its buildings and closed it down.

Lambeth Wells. A spa in what is now Lambeth Walk, then Three Coney Walk, opened in the early 1690s.
It is recorded that St Thomas’s Hospital bought water from it for medicinal purposes at one penny a quart.
By 1755 the spa had closed.

The Dog & Duck. Over the parish border, in Southwark, a spa which took its name from a local inn in
St George’s Fields was operating at least by 1730. Trade increased with the opening of Westminster
bridge in 1750 and there was soon a breakfast room, bowling-green and swimming-pool. The name was
changed to St George’s Spa, but, like many other spas, it attracted some disreputable characters. In 1780
it was the headquarters of the Gordon rioters, and it was closed down in 1799. The site was later occupied
by the Bethlem Hospital, part of which survives as the Imperial War Museum.

Dulwich Wells. This spa originated from a well dug in 1739 by Francis Cox, landlord of theGreen Man,
and was located in the grounds of the present Grove Tavernat the junction of Lordship Lane and Dulwich
Common. It closed in the 1780s.

Bermondsey Spa. Thomas Keyse, a flamboyant self-taught artist, bought a beer-house in Bermondsey
in 1766 and ‘found’ spa water in the garden. He opened the attraction as Bermondsey Spa c.1770, with
three acres of pleasure gardens. By 1795 its popularity was fading and it eventually closed in 1804, four
years after Keyse’s death. The spa gave its name to Spa Road, Bermondsey, and to a railway station that
opened in 1836 and is now closed.

Beulah Spa. This opened in
Upper Norwood in 1831 and was
the last spa to be opened in this
country. The proprietor, John
Davidson, employed the famous
architect Decimus Burton to
design several buildings for the
site, and one of them, the
entrance lodge, still remains.
Beulah Spa was never a great
success and it is probably no
coincidence that it closed in
1854, the year that the Crystal
Palace opened within a mile or
so. The spa is still perpetuated
in the road name Spa Hill close
to its location.

Not only did Judith give us all
this information about each spa,
but also she enlivened it in many
places with contemporary
quotations concerning life in the
spas and the effects of their

Tony Scott



Friday 14 January 2011 – seven present – David Haunton in the chair

¨¨¨¨¨ Sheila Gallagher had noticed the article in the SeptemberBulletinabout the Merton Abbey Volunteers.
She has been researching the Volunteers in general for some time and has gathered much information.
They were active between 1792 and 1808, being formed to defend their parishes in the event of invasion,
and were distinct from the county yeomanries. She had come across references to Merton, Wimbledon
and Mitcham Volunteers. Mitcham’s were set up in 1798. She had been unable to find references to
Morden Volunteers, and she thought that as Morden was very small at that time they may have linked
to Merton or Mitcham.

¨¨¨¨¨ Judith Goodman. Peter Hopkins had passed her a discussion document from a Surrey Medieval Forum
meeting, in which there was a reference to the Saxon ealdorman Ælfheah who was granted ownership
of Merton in 967. The paper gave details of his ownership and disposal of estates at Send and Sunbury.
He had much other land elsewhere. His father was an ealdorman of Mercia, and the family claimed
kinship with royalty, and also with Bryhtnoth, ealdorman of Essex, commander of the English force at
the battle of Maldon in 991. Ælfheah himself died in 971/2 and was buried at Glastonbury.

¨¨¨¨¨ Peter Hopkins had more information about the Sunday
School medal mentioned at the last workshop. It
turned out to be from Marden in Kent, not Morden.
However, his sister had a similar one presented to her
by Martin Way Methodist church for collecting money
for overseas missions. And another medal had been
found by his niece in her garden in South Nutfield.

Peter showed the group some drawings Rosemary

had done for Lionel Green’s book on Turgot of Durham.

He had found help with some of the words in the
document in medieval French about Cheam Common.
He had been surprised to discover A Dictionary of
the Norman or Old French Language (1779) on
Internet Archive, which explained several obscure
words! Members of the meeting also had some ideas.

He had also found there The Illustrated Companion
to the Latin Dictionary and Greek Lexicon (1849),
so he now knows what some of the household utensils
listed in the manorial accounts would have looked like!

Judith had passed a CD of the 1841 Census for Surrey

to him. It gives a facsimile only – no index.

¨¨¨¨¨ Rosemary Turner had continued her research about a local lacemaker (see page 9). She had found that
the Lady Palmer at whose house Blanche Goad had held classes was the wife of a man who may have
been knighted for his work in local government. He was listed as ‘Sir’ from 1952. The Palmers were
living in Wimbledon in 1915, then moved to Mitcham, and finally arrived in Grand Drive, Raynes Park,
in the 1940s. Rosemary will try to do some more research about them.

Rosemary had watched a BBC programme called Britain by Bike, and heard the name Evelyn Jowett
mentioned. The programme, set in the Bronte country, mentioned an abandoned village called Wycoller,
whose ruined buildings had featured in Jane Eyre. It and the surrounding area had been bought by the
water board, which was going to turn it into a reservoir. The village was saved when Evelyn Jowett, a
local librarian, set up the Friends of Wycoller in 1948. Rosemary had discovered that it was indeed our
Evelyn Jowett, who was then librarian at Colne, very near to Wycoller.

(Evelyn Jowett became Librarian of Merton and Morden, and in 1951 published An Illustrated History
of Merton and Morden on behalf of the Merton and Morden Festival of Britain Committee. She was
the first Hon. Secretary of this Society.)

Peter’s sister’s medal from Martin Way MethodistChurch Sunday School 1948-57


¨¨¨¨¨Cyril Maidment had been asked to write an article about Merton Priory as a World Heritage Site
candidate for the Wimbledon Society Newsletter.

He had used his computer skills to reproduce John Harding’s 1723 survey and plan of West Barnes; in
one version he had overlaid a modern map.

He had also been working on maps for the new Town Trails publication. An extra trail had been added.

¨¨¨¨¨Bill Rudd had brought some more of his old photographs (see below). One of them showed Morden town
centre in 1970, with scarcely any traffic or street furniture.

¨¨¨¨¨David Haunton had made some notes when proof-reading Monty’s latest book (see page 10). He noted
that there was a dean of Manchester Cathedral before the cathedral was dedicated – a dean was needed
to supervise the building work (p.122). At Ascension Church in Mitcham there was a vicar in place when
building was begun (1939), who supervised the crypt/air raid shelter during the war (see Bulletin 173),
but did not actually have a church in which to hold services until 1953.

He suggested ‘inholder’ might mean ‘tenant’ rather than ‘innkeeper'(p.83).

‘De Fraxineto’ could plausibly be ‘of Ashtead’ (p.12).

The first name of Firman van Fleet, Dutch resident of The Canons, could be ‘Firmin’, a Catholic name
from St Firminus, but van Fleet was a Protestant (his daughter married in Mitcham parish church). The
name might mean a partner in a business (p.87).

Rosemary Turner

Next Workshops: Fridays 25 March, 6 May and 24 June at 2.30pm at Wandle Industrial Museum


Green Lane 1969
Green indeed – these large trees have now gone, but younger ones are growing fast.


GEOFFREY WILSON puts us in touch with

‘How’s the wind?

Such was the prosaic question put by a shareholder on the London and South Western Railway on 31
January 1847 to a recipient at Gosport, who replied, ‘South by west’. This instant response inaugurated the
newly installed electric telegraph laid alongside the railway between its London terminus at Nine Elms and
Gosport, then the terminus for Portsmouth.

At 88 miles (142km) it was the longest electric telegraph so
far installed, its course traversing part of Merton parish,
between the Skew Arch and Beverley Brook, and worked
according to the patents of inventors Sir William Fothergill
Cooke and Sir Charles Wheatstone. The system needed two
wires between sender and receiver. In this instance the
cross-arms affixed to the upright poles fringing the railway
carried four wires – two for the railway and two for the
Admiralty, the partners sharing the cost of £24000 (today’s
equivalent would be over £1m).

Those Mertonians able to read a newspaper may have
understood why the still novel invention had been dubbed ‘the
wires that hanged John Tawill’. Before the line to Gosport
was in hand, shorter sections of electric telegraph had been
laid alongside the South Eastern and the Great Western
Railways. The latter’s telegraph linked London and Slough.
John Tawill had murdered his mistress in Slough. Hoping to
make good his escape, he dressed as a Quaker and boarded
a London train. However, he had reckoned without the swift
action of the telegraphist at Slough, who, suspicious of the
‘kwaker’ (the way the word needed to be rendered by the
encoding machine), wired his colleague at Paddington, with the result that Tawill was arrested on arrival
at the terminus, and subsequently tried, convicted and hanged. The notoriety may have satisfied Cooke and
Wheatstone that the general utility of their invention was now full recognised.

Of greater practical moment was the completion of the Gosport line which gave a fillip to more lengthy lines,
and before too long the establishment of a countrywide system.

Locals who thought that the wires in fact carried the voices of users would have to wait until the late 1870s
before such a refinement was afforded by the invention of the telephone.

The Admiralty’s telegraph was continued into Portsmouth harbour by a marine cable, the first of its kind.
The Illustrated London News is the authority for a statement that during tests on the Gosport line a game
of chess was played by wire.

The new communication enabled the Admiralty to close its visual telegraph between Whitehall and
Portsmouth Dockyard. Its relay stations on high buildings or high ground with tall masts and movable arms
spelled out routine messages letter by letter. The service had functioned remarkably well, considering the
vagaries or our climate: mist and fog were its bane. When this line closed with the introduction of the electric
system, The Times was moved to commiserate with the veteran lieutenants at the stations, whose
occupation was now gone.

Some locals may have watched the movements of the visual (so called) telegraph on Putney Heath and
equally wondered what cabalistic messages its arm movements signified. They may have bidden farewell
to its last officer, Lieutenant Lardner Dennys. The new electric communication gave neither visual nor
audible indication of its working.

Postscript: It is worthy of note that in only a few years’ time the electric telegraph had spread so rapidly
that, not wholly to their liking, the British army commanders in the Crimea were at the beck and telegraphic
call of the war ministers in London and Paris.

Sir Charles Wheatstone drawn by Samuel Lawrence in 1868,
from Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia


ROSEMARY TURNER describes how she went

Some years ago I came across a park bench near the formal gardens of Nonsuch Park, on the border of
Ewell with Cheam. It was outside the mansion house, where adult education classes were held. Carved
along the back was the inscription ‘Remembered with love by her friends H Blanche Goad 1899-1982
Lacemaker’. As a lacemaker myself I was very intrigued, and made enquiries among my lacemaking
friends. Unfortunately no one had heard of her, so I tried to find out more, using my family history resources.
At that time there was hardly anything on the internet, and as I did not know if Goad was her married name
I did not get very far.

At the beginning of last year, while I was putting the new pages in my Filofax, I came across the name again
and decided to have another go at finding out about her. The Friends of Nonsuch were unable to help, but
another lace friend decided to help and began phoning around. She made contact with the man who looks
after the Nonsuch grounds, but he was unable to help as they did not keep any records relating to the
benches. He however had his interest piqued, so decided to try to find her online. I had already tried Google.
He Wikipedia’d the name, and came up with a burial entry in Rushden cemetery, Northamptonshire:

Sleeping H Blanche GOAD née Knowlton (lacemaker)

Remembered with love 1899-1982

William Norman Henry KNOWLTON Born 23rd August 1905.

Died 1st July 1964 Rushden Cemetery.

This made the hunt even more interesting. What was the connection between Ewell and Cheam, Surrey,
and Rushden, Northants?

I contacted the Rushden Local History Group. They had not got any further information, but put me in touch
with a local lacemaker. She was able to find out that Mrs Goad was not buried there; her ashes had been
scattered on her brother’s grave.

Via the internet I was able to find out that her birth was registered in Wellingborough, Northants, as was
her brother’s. She was married in Bedford in 1925 to Reginald L Goad, and they had one son, whose birth
was registered in Epsom. Her death was registered in Sutton.

I also found her, with her family, in the 1901 and 1911 censuses in Podington, Wellingborough. It said that
she had been born in Hinwick, Wellingborough. Both places are in fact just over the border in Bedfordshire.

This told me about events in her life, but I still had not found out about the lace connection.

My friend was telling members of our lace group about my search, and suddenly people started
remembering her. They thought she had taught in Cheam and they gave me the names of a couple of
lacemakers who would have known her. One person used to be a member of my local group, but now lives
in Dorset. I contacted her and she was able to tell me that she had her introduction to lace at Blanche Goad’s
class in The Cedars, which was connected to Epsom Art College. The students started as I did by making
their own pillow. There were organised lace trips, and students were also introduced to Honiton lace classes
in Exmouth. I was told that after her retirement Blanche Goad used to demonstrate lace in Cheam.


I decided to write an article for the Lace Guild’s magazine, and this resulted in me receiving several letters
from former students and other people, including her niece, who confirmed that her aunt never used her first
name, Hilda, but was always known as Blanche. This explained the inscriptions on the bench and on the
Rushden grave.

I learnt that Blanche taught at Wimbledon School of Art in the 1940s, and possibly Reigate, as well as for
the Townswomen’s Guild in Tolworth. The Wimbledon class moved to Lady Palmer’s house in Grand Drive,
Raynes Park. The site of the house would have been next to St Saviour’s church and is now occupied by
flats. Blanche also held classes in Hampton and in her own house.

Everyone refers to Blanche as living in Morden, but the only address I have
found for her was in West Sutton, just over the Morden boundary. Her niece
says that she moved into this address when the houses were built, and lived
there until her death.

I was sent a couple of newspaper articles showing Blanche with her
students. One, dated 1977, shows her still teaching in her 70s at the Epsom
School of Art and Design. The article states that ‘it was the encouragement
of the Women’s Institute to enter their examination in lace making that
started her off on her teaching career.’

It goes on to say that she had taught in Canada and was invited to appear on
television for a current affairs programme there. In 1976 she had taken her
lace samples and collection of bobbins to South Africa and talked on a
Women’s World radio programme. The article refers to Blanche having
been taught lace making as a child by her mother in Podington. Lacemaking
had been in her family for about 200 years. Maybe that is another trail to

A Correction – Admiral Fitzroy

In my report of our Brompton Cemetery visit I mentioned that we had been shown the grave of Admiral
Robert Fitzroy once of the Beagle. This is indeed what we were told. However Ray Kilsby points out that
the Admiral Robert Fitzroy (1805-1865), who in 1831-36 had captained the Beagle with Charles Darwin
on board, is buried in All Saints churchyard, Church Road, Norwood. After a busy and useful life, sadly,
he died by his own hand.

Ray has taken the matter up with the people at Brompton, and they were grateful for the correction, and
suggest that one of their number, in his/her enthusiasm, confused one nautical Fitzroy with another more
celebrated one. No doubt they are amending their records.


The Cranmers, The Canons and Park Place

This, the 11th volume in Eric Montague’s monumental series of Mitcham Histories, sets out the stories of
three large houses, two of which survive and which for 250 years were connected with the Cranmer family
and then with their descendants, the Simpson family. Many other interesting people – East India merchants,
soldiers, and Huguenots among them – came and went in the story of this part of Mitcham, and Monty tells
their tales. He also traces the early histories of the sites through archaeological evidence and medieval
records, as well as bringing his narrative right up to the 21st century. The book concludes with short
accounts of the adjacent area, including Commonside East and West and Three Kings Piece. He has
illustrated the narrative with a splendid selection of maps, early views and his own fine photographs.

This book will be essential, and enjoyable, reading for anyone interested in Mitcham’s history.

It retails at £5.95, but is only £4.80 to members, plus £1.15 postage from our Publications Secretary.

Cheques payable to Merton Historical Society. You can also purchase it at our indoor meetings.



This article complements my previous article on ‘V-1s on Mitcham’ and follows the same format. It aims
to record all the V-1s known to have fallen on the Urban District of Merton and Morden in 1944. In what
follows, [X] refers to V-1 no.X in the accompanying list.


The basic information is taken from files in The National Archives (TNA) (HO 198/79 -HO 198/93) which
contain the original forms completed by the reporting RAF technical officers, usually accompanied by a
small sketch map.1 The Merton and Morden Incident Map, compiled after the war and now held by the
Wimbledon Society Museum, plots all the high explosive bombs and V-1s (‘Fly Bombs’) which fell on the

The numbers of deaths have been compiled from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s List of
Civilian War Dead for Surrey, where they are recorded by name, address and date and place of death and/
or fatal injury.

In the accompanying list, K = number of people killed, DH = Direct Hit, ‘Front’ or ‘Rear’ = Front or rear
of the premises, N,E,S,W = Compass directions, and ‘Nearest Feature’ is a more or less permanent feature
of the landscape from which a measurement was taken – usually a road junction. Damage to dwellings was
recorded in categories: A = completely demolished, B = not repairable, may need attention to make safe,
C = repairable, but possibly not inhabitable at present. These classifications are those made immediately
after the incident, and could be adjusted later, as more rubble was cleared from a site.

The Effects

The V-1 inflicted damage and destruction by the power of its explosive blast, but did not by itself cause fires.
In general, buildings within 80 ft (24 m) of an explosion were destroyed, those within 120 ft (36 m) rendered
non-repairable, and those up to 200 ft (60 m) away seriously damaged but repairable. There could be a good
deal of variation in these figures. The phrase ‘general blast damage over a wide area’ (covering the effects
on glass, plaster and roofs) is very common, and in many of the later reports is omitted as understood.

About two-thirds of the houses destroyed or damaged were classed as terraced dwellings, with about a
quarter semi-detached and the remaining one-tenth ‘2 and 3 storey houses’, presumably detached, though
the Gladstone Home, damaged by [9], is dignified as ‘mansion-type’.

Most V-1s fell on residential areas or open spaces. Only four sites affecting the war effort were hit: [5]
damaged a steel-framed timber store, and ‘gutted by fire’ a paint store, shop and house 120 ft (36 m) away;

[16] hit a corner of Merton Board Mills, causing ‘very heavy damage to this and surrounding factory
buildings, production being stopped’; [10] fell near the Council’s No.2 Depot in the south-east corner of
Morden Recreation Ground, and [17] hit the main railway line west of Raynes Park station.
Notes on some individual V-1s

[6] This is the only report for the District that details casualties – three men and four women killed, three
men and five women seriously injured (ie. taken to hospital), and six men and three women lightly injured
(ie. treated at local first-aid stations).
[7] ‘Blast damage to Church buildings up to 60 ft (18 m) away [from the bomb]’. But St John’s is sturdily
built and withstood the blast, though losing a lot of window glass.
[8] The report gives the addresses of the demolished houses as 23 and 25 Cannon Hill Lane and 2 Springfield
[9] This V-1 struck trees so there was no crater to measure. Half the Home was assessed as damage of
B-class, the remainder as C-class.
[10] This bomb fell 100 ft (30 m) east of the main Recreation Pavilion, and rendered unusable two Civil
Defence buildings of Morden Depot. The walls of the Decontamination Building were sucked out and the
roof fell in. The walls of the Sleeping Quarters block were pulled out but the collapse was not total.
Ominously, a ‘lack of reinforcement in the brickwork and the tie with the roof were evident’, indicating
slipshod construction work. The four men who died here were all members of the Rescue Services.

[12] The V-1 hit a tree and a ‘brick surface shelter
(unreinforced) at approximately 40 ft (12 m) [away from
the bomb] cracked. 48 occupants uninjured.’ This was
so surprising – at that distance the shelter should have
been demolished and all the occupants killed – that a
special technical investigation was made (TNA file HO
192/1508), and photographs taken. The investigator
down-graded the damage to houses from B to ‘bad C’,
noted that the shelter was not built to current standards,
and concluded ‘The house damage in this incident is
smaller than usual. … Hence the explanation of the good
performance of the shelter seems to be due to a “dud”
bomb rather than a good shelter.’
The astonishing shelter in Central Road that withstood

[15] The bomb left a crater 14 feet across, demolished
[12]. Note the crack in the left-hand corner, and the
‘repairable’ damage to houses beyond.
two houses and damaged five others so badly they had

Crown copyright The National Archives, ref. HO198/1508

to be pulled down. Certainly 15-18 Church Lane were
rebuilt. Some of my relatives had been re-housed in no.15 after being bombed out in the Blitz of 1940: they
had just made it into the Anderson shelter in the garden when the V-1 exploded, and slammed the door shut
on my cousin so fiercely that it broke some bones in his hand. After inspecting the wreckage of no.15, the
family went back to their original home and camped out in the more or less weather-proofed shell of their
old house at 5 Church Lane for the rest of the war. I suspect that 9, 11 and 13 Dorset Road may have been
further damaged by this V-1 (after previous ‘piloted’ bombs), requiring their demolition. We have no
information about the other obvious rebuild, at 17 Dorset Road. This V-1 also caused “extensive blast
damage over a wide area”, such as destroying the east window and damaging the roof of St. Mary’s Church.

[17] This V-1 blocked all four railway lines – 90 ft (27 m) of the Down lines (ie. for trains going away from
London) were torn up, and 60 ft (18 m) of the Up lines were warped. Damage to HT electrical cables
affected the Motspur Park, Chessington South, Hampton, Feltham, Gunnersbury and Richmond branch
lines. The damaged lines were reopened to trains by 18:35, with a speed restriction until 16:00 the next day.
The technical officer was unable to examine the ‘damages to the lines’ because he arrived after they had
been cleared. One has to admire the Southern Railway engineers. Repair on this scale involved a massive
organizational effort to assess the damage, clear the wreckage, fill in the crater, level the ballast bed, lay
the sleepers, and emplace new rails for both trains and electrical supply. And this job was completed not
for one track, but for four, inside 7½ hours. It was a major logistical exercise just to assemble the workers
The scene after [17] must have looked much like this earlier one outside New Malden station, but with a crater twice the size, and
with four times as many men. From Wartime Southern


V-1 Flying Bombs reported in Merton and Morden 1944
N Date Time Street or Area Nearest Feature K A B
1 18 June 00:28 Morden Hall fields NE of Kenley Road / Morden Road jnctn —
2 “ “ 00:45 16 Northway Rear North Close 3 4 6
3 “ “ 03:15 Allotments (NW corner) NE of Battersea New Cemetery —
4 19 June 18:37 Battersea Sports Ground Tennyson Avenue —
5 22 June 21:13 Burlington Road Road Junction with Belmont Avenue —
6 27 June 02:35 59 Malmesbury Road Rear Middleton Road 7 4 8
7 29 June 06:33 Nelson Gardens High Path —
8 2 July 00:15 23 Cannon Hill Lane Rear Springfield Avenue 1 3 5
9 3 July 01:27 Gladstone Home (SW corner) Bishopsford Road / Seddon Road —
10 “ “ 05:13 Wood in Morden Rec. Ground No.2 Depot, Middleton + Faversham Rds 4 —
11 “ “ 07:56 16 Hazelwood Avenue Rear Beeleigh Road 3 2 11
12 4 July 09:10 Central Road (outside 169) Road Farm Road 1 1 10
13 “ “ 20:18 Office, Middleton Road DH Malmesbury Road 1 6 5
14 5 July 19:21 12 Martin Way DH Links Avenue 2 5 2
15 10 July 19:35 17/18 Church Lane Rear Sheridan Road 6 2 5
16 12 July 15:26 Merton Board Mills (SW corner) Wandle Bank / Kingston Road 4 —
17 16 July 11:10 Southern Railway main line DH West Barnes Lane bridge —
18 18 July 22:08 Sports Ground, Nursery Road Morden Road 2 1 7
19 21 July 05:12 58/60 Morden Hall Road DH Bardney Road 3 5 1
20 “ “ 12:33 59 Shaldon Drive Rear Thurleston Avenue -1 5
21 22 July 05:32 Green beside Middleton Road Junction with Malmesbury Road —
22 23 July 04:36 54 Elm Walk Rear Southway 3 11 3
23 24 July 03:42 Chestnut Road (opposite 81 …. …. on cleared site) / Bushey Road 1 -8
24 27 July 17:58 Spring House, Kingston Road Garden Mayfield Road 4 1 6
25 28 July 21:47 Cemetery, Garth Road Garth Close —
26 29 July 23:09 Science Lab, Rutlish School DH Station Road / Shelton Road —
27 “ “ 23:11 147/153 Seymour Avenue Rear Cleveland Rise 1 4 –
28 3 Aug 00:54 Morden Park Golf Course N of Peacocks Farm —
29 4 Aug 19:05 Claremont Avenue (outside 53) Road Burlington Road 1 6 7
30 9 Aug 17:46 c.71 Whatley Avenue Pavmnt Martin Way 1 2 11
31 14 Aug 07:01 c.17 Vernon Avenue Rear Carlton Park Avenue / Kingston Road 9 9 16
32 20 Aug 14:12 John Innes Horticultural Ground Cannon Hill Lane / Aylward Road —
33 21 Aug 02:36 Joseph Hood Recreation Ground (on tennis court) —
34 24 Aug 18:22 169/171 Kingsbridge Road Front Cleveland Rise 1 4 6
35 29 Aug 21:19 c.53 Adela Avenue Rear Douglas Avenue 1 3 5

and the replacement components. As much of the work was done by manual labour, a large number of men
was required. For example, to move a standard 60 ft (18 m) length of rail weighing about 2.7 tons (or tonnes)
took a team of 25 men, with 12 on each side, and one to call the step.2

[18] This exploded on striking trees in the sports ground west of Nursery Road. Morden Road (rail) Halt
was extensively damaged, and the single (goods) line closed until 23:10, while the signals and phones were
not restored until 07:15 the next day. The house at 28 Nursery Road was demolished, being only 70 ft (21
m) from the explosion. Unfortunately, the family shelter in the back garden was also demolished, where
John (‘Jack’) Wisbey, the stationmaster, died and his wife was severely injured, though their two small
daughters escaped unharmed.3 Other ‘extensive blast damage’ included some as far away as Kendor
Gardens public lavatory.
[20] This almost completely demolished a public shelter (fortunately unoccupied).


V-1s (35)

Sites superimposed on an undated map issued with Merton and Morden: The Official Guide by Ed. J. Burrow & Co. Ltd.,
Publishers (Cheltenham and London) Crown Copyright Reserved


[21] The report laconically notes ‘no damage’. Since this V-1 had fallen in Malmesbury Road within 150
ft (45 m) of the sites of both [6] and [13], presumably this is shorthand for ‘no further damage can possibly
be specifically attributed to this bomb in this already smashed-up area’. The whole area had to be completely
rebuilt post-war.
[22] The local paper named nine people seriously injured here, as well as the three dead. ‘2 storey brick
built houses … not old property but not well built’. This is the only report to make any comment on the
standard of construction. Numbers 48-62 Elm Walk have been completely rebuilt.
[23] The local paper reported that ‘the Rescue Squad extracted three seriously injured men’ from the
wreckage of one house, but ‘toiled for hours in the ruins of another, only to learn that the occupants had been
sleeping elsewhere but had failed to notify the ARP wardens’. Not surprisingly ‘this carelessness is
resented by the men’.
[24] Unusually, this V-1 did not dive to earth immediately its engine stopped, but glided down in a semi-circle
to hit this block of flats from the north, destroying 12 of the 18 flats.4 Four occupants were killed and three
were seriously injured. The Council noted that properties along Kingston Road between Mayfield Road and
The Rush had been severely damaged, including 160, the new terrace at 205a-c and the British Legion
building at 217, which housed one of the Council’s British Restaurants. Obviously there was further damage
north of the District boundary, to property in Wimbledon Borough. This included 43-51 Wilton Grove, which
have all been rebuilt. The unfortunate British Legion building had already been damaged earlier the same
day by a V-1 which had fallen on Wilton Crescent, and had previously suffered from the first ‘Wimbledon’
V-1, which fell on Cliveden Road on 16 June.5
[26] Rutlish School was closed and unoccupied for the holidays, so there were no casualties. However, the
Science Block and part of the Junior School were demolished. Young Maurice Elton, living at 1 Rutlish Road
(then Station Road), recalled the ‘horrifying scream of a dive-bomber’ as the V-1 dived and its deafening
bang: ‘our shelter lurched as if being hit by a large wave of water’. Then as thick dust slowly settled, a
Salvation Army refreshment van arrived on the scene, and neighbours stood around drinking cups of tea,
discussing the near miss.6 Damage extended over the boundary into Wimbledon, up Hartfield and Gladstone
Roads. Debris from the destruction of school buildings was thrown onto both railway lines, the conductor
rails were displaced, and the Merton Park signal box, booking office and station house were all damaged.
Despite the fact it was Saturday night, the lines were clear for steam trains by 02:50, and for electric trains
by 08:30, though the telephone links to Wimbledon were not restored until 11:00.
and after



[30] The house number is my estimate from the report measurements, and the fact that the sole death
occurred at no.71 Whatley Avenue. Nos. 69-71 are the only obviously rebuilt properties, though 52-64 were
also rebuilt by the Council. A few months after the bomb the Council asked for tenders to repair 35 other
houses on the Whatley Estate.
[31] The house number is my estimate from the report measurements, and from noting that numbers 7-27
Vernon Avenue and 14-30 Carlton Park Avenue have been completely rebuilt.
[32] The report states ‘no casualties’, but Hubert Bradbury told me that this was not strictly true. Then
a teenager, he heard the siren and decided to do a dramatic swan-dive into the Morrison shelter in the back
room of the family home in Aylward Road. Alas, his timing was a little slow and he ‘met the French windows
coming the other way’, as he put it. He received a nasty cut on the top of his head, later stitched at the Nelson
Hospital. The following day he was much impressed by the coach-loads (his emphasis) of tilers and
glaziers who descended on the street to effect emergency repairs.7

[34] Four people were seriously injured. It could have been much worse: a Womens Voluntary Service
(WVS) member commented to the local paper ‘had it occurred a quarter of an hour earlier, there would
have been a big crowd of men in the road, who are engaged in repairing damage caused by a previous
incident’ (ie. by [27]).
[35] The house number is my estimate from the report measurements, and from observing that the upper
storeys of 49-55 Adela Road have been rebuilt. This was the last V-1, and probably the last enemy action,
on Merton and Morden – no V-2s or air-launched V-1s struck the District.
The Toll

The V-1 barrage is known to have killed 59 civilians in
Merton and Morden8 – 28 men, 23 women and eight
children. Of the 51 adults, no fewer than 16 were in
public service – three men were in the Home Guard,
five in the Rescue Squads, three were Air Raid
Wardens and one lad was a messenger in the National
Fire Service (NFS). Three women were in the WVS
while a fourth was both in the WVS, and, unusually, a
‘Firewoman, NFS’. (Contemporary reports all give a
total of 60 deaths: this probably includes a man who
was injured in his Wimbledon home and who later died
in the Nelson Hospital.) In Merton and Morden, a total
of some 400 people had been injured by the V-1

By early September just over 200 houses had been
heavily damaged (or destroyed) and some 800 builders
were under contract to the Council, in order to repair
well over 12,000 houses with lesser damage, to a
standard of ‘reasonable comfort’. Walking around
our area nowadays, it is difficult to realise the sheer
scale of the physical damage inflicted on the Urban
District of Merton and Morden as almost all of the
damaged houses have been rebuilt to the original

Emergency Repair Squad, all too common a sight in 1944

plans, or to very sympathetic new plans, such as can

From The Doodlebugs

be seen at 165-175 Kingsbridge Road.

Some details are taken from the meeting minutes of various Merton and Morden Council committees. As always, London Main Line War
Damage by B W L Brooksbank (Capital Transport, 2007) has been invaluable for incidents affecting the railways. I have also used The
Doodlebugs by Norman Longmate (Hutchinson, 1981) and Wartime Southern by Kevin Robertson et al (Noodle Books, 2009). It has
been possible to glean some additional details from the local paper despite the efforts of wartime censors.

2 David Luff, pers. comm., Feb 2008
3 Joan Hall Memories of Morden Road Station – Part 4 in Newsletter 220 (John Innes Society, March 2010)
4 John Wallace Spring House in Merton (John Innes Society, 1996)
5 Norman Plastow Safe as Houses (The Wimbledon Society, 1972, revised 1994)
6 Maurice G A Elton Science at Rutlish in 1944 in The Orbit (Old Rutlishians Magazine, February 2003). Copy of the article kindly supplied

by Hubert Bradbury.
7 Pers. comm., April 2007
8 One lady is recorded in the Civilian War Dead list for Surrey as having died in January 1945 at home in Crowland Walk, Morden. This

normally indicates death due to a bomb, but no such incident is recorded in the District after the last V-1, nor is there any mention in the
local papers, either of incident or funeral. Perhaps the date is wrong.

After the AGM

On 6 November, after the business of the Annual General Meeting, we held a not-too-serious local history
quiz, with questions set by David Roe, Tony Scott and Judith Goodman. The worthy winner of an event
which actually proved quite testing was Bill Rudd, whom we congratulate. Well done, Bill!

Letters and contributions for theBulletin should be sent to the Hon. Editor. The views expressed in this
Bulletinare those of the contributors concerned and not necessarily those of the Society or its Officers.

website: www.mertonhistoricalsociety.org.uk email: mhs@mertonhistoricalsociety.org.uk
Printed by Peter Hopkins