Bulletin 180

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December 2011 Bulletin 180
Making a Meal of a Really Quite Simple Question (1943) D Haunton
Transports of Delight G Wilson
Merton High Street and Nelson’s Merton Place C Maidment
The Domesday Settlement in Morden P J Hopkins
Merton and Morden in 1951 – the year of the Festival of Britain D Roe
and much more

VICE PRESIDENTS: Viscountess Hanworth, Eric Montague and William Rudd
CHAIR: David Haunton


‘North’s Cottages’ 23-37 Crown Lane, Morden, photographed by Bill Rudd in 1981. Thomas North, who built them, lived at North
Lodge, London Road. The cottages still stand, but all have now been stripped of their corrugated iron roofs and cladding. See page 2.

Programme: December – March 2
Bill Rudd’s Morden 1, 2
Reports: Wandsworth Museum 3

West Norwood Cemetery 3

New Wimbledon Theatre 5
Local History Workshops:
5 August: post office memories; Stane Street; Wandle bitter; Ravensbury trail;
archaeology in Sutton; a lost archaeology opportunity?; a surveyor’s report from 1897

30 September: Nelson; a local novelist; Merton priory wall; a huge collection of photographs;
WW2 memories; Motspur Park; Queen Eleanor’s coronation; LAARC tours 7
Making a Meal of a Really Quite Simple Question (1943) – David Haunton 8
Transports of Delight – Geoffrey Wilson 10
Merton High Street and Nelson’s Merton Place – Cyril Maidment 10
The Domesday Settlement in Morden – Peter Hopkins 12
Merton and Morden in 1951 – the year of the Festival of Britain – David Roe 14

Saturday 10 December 2.30pm Raynes Park Library Hall
‘Violette Szabo’
Daphne and Richard Marchant will present an illustrated talk
about the World War II heroine and her local connections.
Saturday 21 January 2.30pm Christ Church Hall, Colliers Wood
‘Merton’s Railways’
An illustrated talk by our member David Luff
Saturday 18 February 2.30pm Christ Church Hall, Colliers Wood
‘The Crown Jewels’
An illustrated talk by Garry Wykes
Tuesday 21 February at 12.30 for 1pm The Restaurant in the Park
ANNUAL LUNCH (booking form enclosed)
Saturday 17 March 2.30pm Christ Church Hall, Colliers Wood
‘The National Archives’
An illustrated talk by Melinda Haunton.
Raynes Park Library Hall is in Aston Road, off Approach Road, on or close to several bus routes,
including the 152, and near to Raynes Park station. Some parking possible in side streets.
Please use the hall entrance in Aston Road, not the library entrance.
Christ Church Hall is next to the church, in Christchurch Road, 250m from Colliers Wood
Underground station. Limited parking at the hall, but plenty in nearby streets or at the
Tandem Centre, 200m south. Buses 152, 200 and 470 pass the door.
Visitors are welcome to attend our talks. Entry £2.
Saturday 10 December 2.30pm Raynes Park Library Hall
‘Violette Szabo’
Daphne and Richard Marchant will present an illustrated talk
about the World War II heroine and her local connections.
Saturday 21 January 2.30pm Christ Church Hall, Colliers Wood
‘Merton’s Railways’
An illustrated talk by our member David Luff
Saturday 18 February 2.30pm Christ Church Hall, Colliers Wood
‘The Crown Jewels’
An illustrated talk by Garry Wykes
Tuesday 21 February at 12.30 for 1pm The Restaurant in the Park
ANNUAL LUNCH (booking form enclosed)
Saturday 17 March 2.30pm Christ Church Hall, Colliers Wood
‘The National Archives’
An illustrated talk by Melinda Haunton.
Raynes Park Library Hall is in Aston Road, off Approach Road, on or close to several bus routes,
including the 152, and near to Raynes Park station. Some parking possible in side streets.
Please use the hall entrance in Aston Road, not the library entrance.
Christ Church Hall is next to the church, in Christchurch Road, 250m from Colliers Wood
Underground station. Limited parking at the hall, but plenty in nearby streets or at the
Tandem Centre, 200m south. Buses 152, 200 and 470 pass the door.
Visitors are welcome to attend our talks. Entry £2.
THOMAS NORTH OF MORDEN (see picture on page 1)

Mr North’s entry in the commercial section of the 1892 directory reads:
NORTH & SON, iron church & house builders & roofing merchants,
to Fisheries, Indian, Colonial, Irish, Italian, Paris, Military & Naval
Exhibitions. Many thousand feet supplied also to Her Majesty’s Government
& to railways, hospitals &c. Special low quotations, some secondhand.
Chief offices, 121 & 122 London road, Southwark SE; additional works
& stores, Morden, Surrey. Telegraphic address, “Northwards, London”


Congratulations to Merton Council and Merton Priory Trust in finally arranging the transfer of the Chapter
House site and adjoining land into public ownership. The transfer was promised many years ago under a Section
106 agreement with the developers, together with a payment of some £400,000. This money is earmarked to
finance the appropriate display of the site, which will be leased by the Council to the Trust.

Merton Priory Trust have been taking care of the site since 2003, and in recent months have been clearing away
the low-grade sand that was installed to protect the remains but has instead been gradually destroying it. If
you haven’t visited lately, you will be amazed at the improvements that have already been achieved. The new

funding will enable much more to be done to open up this historic space to the community and to the wider

world. Keep up to date by visiting www.mertonpriory.org

Peter Hopkins



Thanks to an enthusiastic and hard-working team, mostly volunteers, and generous start-up funding from a
family trust, Wandsworth’s new museum is now up and running in an attractive building that was previously
a library. On 16 August a group of our members was given a guided tour by the director Neil Couzens, who,
despite having only just taken up the post, was impressively up to speed with his brief.

There are two main exhibition areas. The permanent display uses three time-lines to explore different aspects of
(what is now the Borough of) Wandsworth’s history. They are labelled ‘The Natural Landscape’; ‘The Cultural
Landscape’, which tells how local people have modified, and re-modified, the landscape; and ‘The Human
Story’, which highlights historic events, local and national, that have made an impact on life in Wandsworth.
On display here is a fine replica of the famous Bronze Age ‘Battersea shield’. Neil dreams of being able one
day to borrow and display the real shield, which belongs to the British Museum. Meanwhile he and his team
receive a great deal of support from the Museum of London in the way of advice and loans of exhibits. Display
stands in this area contain artefacts relating to aspects of everyday life in Wandsworth. And local industries too
are not overlooked: Morgan Crucible, Young’s Ram Brewery and Price’s Candles and others are represented.

The temporary exhibition space at the time of our visit was given over to The History of Wandsworth in 100
Objects. Most of the ‘objects’ were in fact drawings, watercolours and prints selected from what is a large and
rather fine collection. Many were topographical, and included views of the Wandle and a drawing of the town
hall when just built. I was charmed by a painting from 1923 of the thronged junction of Northcote Road and
Battersea Rise by Leonora K Green RA. Among other subjects were a dramatic engraving of John Burns, the
first working-class member of the cabinet, and a portrait of another local man, William Brodrick, the King’s
Embroiderer under James I, whose descendants have been lords of the manor until the present day. More solid
‘objects’ included a Wandgas cooker, a baker’s handcart and two handsome banners once carried in procession.

We were then taken to the lower level of the building and introduced to Niamh Keating, the Education Officer,
in her fascinating workspace. All kinds of props for many different periods are stored here, so that groups can
dress up to learn about and recreate life in the past. We particularly enjoyed the large strip maps of south-west
London at different periods, which could be unrolled and walked about on and explored.

Our thanks to Neil and Niamh, and also to Sheila Harris for arranging an interesting visit.
The museum is at 38 West Hill SW18 1RZ, and is open every day except Monday, from 10am to 5pm. Buses
37, 170 and 337 pass the door. It is a 15-minute walk from East Putney station or Wandsworth town centre. A
single admission costs £4 / £3 concession, but annual membership of the Friends of Wandsworth Museum, with

free admission, a newsletter, and discount in the very good café and the shop, costs £10. The current temporary
exhibition is called Separation and Silence: Wandsworth Prison and is on until 31 December.
In the same building the De Morgan Centre, which is the home of the largest collection of ceramics by William

De Morgan (Merton conections) and paintings by his wife Evelyn, has now reopened. Its hours from Tuesday
to Friday are 1pm to 5pm and on Saturday 10am to 5pm. Ordinary adult admission (children are free) is £4, but
it is only £3 for Friends of Wandsworth Museum, and is free for Art Fund members.

Judith Goodman


Ten members were given a guided tour by Jill Dudman, one of the Friends of West Norwood Cemetery, on 8
September. The cemetery was opened in 1837 by the South Metropolitan Cemetery Company and is one of the
‘magnificent seven’ cemeteries opened in the then outskirts of London in the 1830s and 1840s, to compensate
for the filling up of graveyards in inner London. The total area is 40 acres, and this was divided into four-fifths
Church of England and one-fifth Dissenters (Methodists, Baptists etc). Each part had a separate chapel built in
the gothic style by the architect Sir William Tite, the larger (Anglican) one being a reduced version of King’s
College chapel in Cambridge.

The cemetery has 65 Grade II or II* listed monuments, commemorating many notable or rich people from the
19th and early 20th centuries. It was full by the middle of the 20th century and, following the bankruptcy of the
cemetery company, it was bought in 1965 by Lambeth Council, who then undertook a process of clearing parts
of the cemetery of gravestones, and reselling some graves with spare space for new burials, despite this being
illegal. The management was then changed, and, thanks to help from English Heritage and the Friends of West
Norwood Cemetery, much has been done to improve the state of the cemetery and monuments, including a
new memorial garden.


The tour visited the graves and mausoleums of more than 30 individuals, of whom only a selection can be
listed here. The largest mausoleum is that of Dr Edmund Distin Maddick (1857-1939) who was a surgeon with
Italian royal connections. He built London’s Scala Theatre and was later involved in films. Nearby is the grave
of Sir Hiram Maxim (1840-1916) of machine-gun fame, who was also involved in early flying experiments,
succeeding in getting his steam-powered octagonal-winged aeroplane off the ground briefly in 1894.

Another large mausoleum is that of J W Gilbart (1794-1863) who was general manager of the London &
Westminster Bank (forerunner of NatWest). His tall Gothic monument (possibly by Tite) has a small carving of
a squirrel gathering nuts, in reference to his profession. In contrast, John Britton (1771-1857), an antiquarian,
has an unusual rough-hewn monument of millstone grit, which is listed Grade II*. Dr Gideon Mantell (17901852)
was an early palaeontologist, who found the first iguanodon fossils in Sussex. His original grave site
included a swamp cypress tree, which by 1987 had grown to an enormous girth and fell in the hurricane of that
year. The grave was then reconstructed, with help from the Geologists’ Association, and has been replanted,
this time with a ginkgo, another ‘fossil’ tree.

We saw the graves of Sir Henry Bessemer (1813-98), inventor of the Bessemer converter for making steel; Sir
Horace Jones (1819-87), architect to the Corporation of London and responsible for Leadenhall, Smithfield and
Billingsgate Markets, the Guildhall School of Music and Tower Bridge; and Alexander Muirhead (1848-1920),
an electrical engineer involved in early wireless telegraphy.

One of the most interesting tombs, and another one to
be listed Grade II* is that of sea captain John Wimble
(c.1797-1851). It has large panels depicting sailing
ships, on one side in full sail on a calm sea, on another

under shortened sail on a storm-tossed ocean. The top

of the tomb also has a ship resting on it, although it has

now lost its masts. The ‘star’ tomb of the cemetery is
probably the Grade II* mausoleum of Otto Alexander
Berens (c.1797-1860), originally a linen-draper, but
later dealing in imported fancy goods. This has an

enormous granite plinth with marble columns, statues

and decorated capitals, and was designed by E M

Barry, son and successor to Sir Charles Barry.
Near the present crematorium chapel, which in 1957 replaced the
Dissenters’ chapel, is the tomb of Sir Henry Doulton (1820-97), who
made his fortune by providing the pipes for London’s new sewers
designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, and later produced decorative
pottery now known as Royal Doulton. His mausoleum is naturally
of terracotta and it is inscribed ‘He discovereth the deep things dug
of darkness’. Another, similar, terracotta mausoleum is dedicated to
Sir Henry Tate (1819-99), whose business later became Tate & Lyle.
He invented sugar cubes and went on to donate his art collection to
the nation. Next to the chapel is the classical portico which is all that
remains of the war-damaged mausoleum of John Lawson Johnston
(1839-1900) who made his fortune supplying the Army with ‘Johnston’s
Fluid Beef’, subsequently made famous as Bovril.

One of the most remarkable parts of the cemetery is that area dedicated
to expatriate Greeks, whose ‘cemetery within a cemetery’alone contains
18 Grade II listed items, including a large Doric chapel, a mausoleum
for the Ralli family by G E Street, a striking female figure under a
baldacchino, a mosaic icon, and many other elaborate memorials.

Other notable figures buried at West Norwood include Mrs Beeton, Baron Reuter of Reuter’s News Agency,
Thomas Cubitt the building contractor, William Wyon, engraver and medallist at the Royal Mint, Charles
Spurgeon the preacher, Thomas Letts the stationer and Dr William Marsden, founder of the Royal Free and
Royal Marsden Hospitals.

Our thanks are due to Jill Dudman for an excellent tour displaying a wide knowledge of the backgrounds of the
many people buried at West Norwood.

Desmond Bazley

photo: D Bazley

photo: R Ninnis



The guide for our visit on 23 September was Sam Bain, now General Manager of the theatre, who had talked
to us about its history in February (see June Bulletin). She reminded us that the theatre had opened on 26
December 1910 and is therefore now 100 years old. It was built by J B Mulholland, a travelling actor turned
theatre proprietor (Wimbledon was his third – after Nottingham and Camberwell). In the 1960s it was bought
by the local council and it remains council property. However since 2004 it has been run by the Ambassador
Theatre Group. To mark this change, and the improvements they made to the building, they renamed it the New
Wimbledon Theatre.

The New Wimbledon Theatre is a ‘receiving house’. It does not mount its own productions but hosts touring
companies and one-off shows. Sometimes the turn-around requires everyone to work all night, packing and

In the auditorium Sam told us that though once it could hold nearly 3000 people, today the limit is 1600. The

front three rows in the stalls can be lowered to accommodate a small orchestra, but when the Glyndebourne

Touring Company come, with a full-size orchestra, three more rows have to go. From the stage we could see
at the back of the stalls the control box and the sound desk, and right at the top of the gallery were the ‘follow
spots’ – the lighting that follows performers around the stage.

Above us where we stood was the heavy safety curtain – required by law to take no more than 26 seconds
to be completely lowered. Just off stage on the left (auditorium right) is the prompt desk, occupied during a
performance by the deputy stage manager, who not only has the script in front of him/her but also the complete
technical directions for the show. At either side of the stage, out of sight of the audience, hang the vertical ropes
which, with the aid of counterweights, are used to raise and lower scenery.

Much of the backstage area has been rebuilt in
the 1990s and more recently, in functional but
not glamorous breezeblock. Dressing-rooms
are arranged on three floors – stars at ground
level, minor roles above, and the chorus up
another flight of steps. We were shown a star’s

room, with its illuminated mirrors, spacious

shower-room, and all-important fridge. High

up in the building is the newish green room, a

very pleasant, sunny, relaxing space with hot
and cold drinks machines. No chance of your

missing your entrance though, with a public

address system throughout the backstage area.
In part of the roof space here is a new storage

area, especially for the Glyndebourne company,
so they can mount two productions during their

Finally we were taken, as the very first visitors,
to the new Education and Archive Room. Here,
overlooked by a portrait of Mulholland, are filing
cabinets stocked with programmes, cuttings,

photographs etc (though not many posters,

because of their size). Sam demonstrated how
to enter, for instance, a star’s name (she chose
Marlene Dietrich) on the computer and come up
with a location in the files. A most useful facility
for theatrical research, school projects and so on.

Our thanks to Sam Bain and her colleague
Keith Munro (the Building Services Manager)
for an enjoyable tour, and to Audrey King for
arranging it.

Judith Goodman

From a 1952 programme (JG). The production of Cinderella
came from the London Palladium.



Friday 5 August 2011 – 4 present. Peter Hopkins in the chair

Bill Rudd has had no further communication from the lady who asked him about possible contents for a
Time Capsule to be buried on the Willows School site.
He recalled that, when he left the Army and applied to join the Sutton Post Office, he had to supply no fewer
than four references (from the Army, his school, and two neighbours ‘who knew him well’) as this was
for a Civil Service post. He was of course taken on, and shortly afterwards moved to the Morden office in
Central Road (which had opened in 1934). This office received its mail from Mitcham Sorting Office, until
the Morden South Sorting Office opened.

David Haunton read part of a letter from Ken Gibbons, retailing his
experiences while making the film The Battle of Britain, after which he
joined Morden Post Office and met Bill, who ‘put him onto’ MHS. He
then returned to working on Wimbledon Common, where his first job was
‘up a ladder, painting the outside of the windmill’.
David had read of three 12th-century towns – Dunstable, Baldock and
Royston – planted at Roman crossroads on otherwise open land, confirming
the view that the Roman roads were still in active use at that date, and
wondered if Stane Street was similarly in use. Peter’s view was that the
course of the road was well preserved from Colliers Wood into London
in the modern A24. However, Stane Street in Surrey had been subject to
many local diversions, such as are known or suspected at Merton Priory,
Morden, and Ewell, and thus the direct course of the road was no longer
clearly evident.

We noted a report in The Times about Sambrook’s, a micro-brewery in
Battersea, who now brew a Wandle bitter, named for the ‘romantically
meandering Wandle’. Does this count as literature?

It had been David’s turn to look critically at the recently-published Town Trails booklet, in which he got lost
trying to follow Trail 7 ‘Ravensbury’ on the map. After walking the ground, he proposed a revised route
for the Trail, which he discussed with the meeting.

Rosemary Turner has been doing some archaeology.
She attended the Sutton ‘Time Cheam’ study days, sorting
medieval pottery from the Whitehall dig – was the pottery
made on site or was it the work of the Cheam potters?
She then joined the dig run by Carshalton Archaeological
Society and the Friends of Honeywood at The Oaks,
looking for a cockpit rumoured to have been in the dining
room. A number of clues were found, but no definite
indication of the cockpit. However, Rosemary had the
satisfaction of finding the earliest dateable item – part of a
clay pipe of 1730.
Peter Hopkins has been dismayed by the planning inspector’s failure to impose any effective archaeological
conditions on the developer’s proposal to extend the so-called ‘Manor House’ care home between the
George inn and St Lawrence’s church. This lies in one of the key areas in Morden, the likely site of the
main Domesday settlement (see page 12). Peter has contacted English Heritage and will raise his concerns
with the Committee to see if we can find ways to avoid such situations arising in future.
On a more congenial topic, in Surrey History Centre Peter has found a surveyor’s report of 1897 on Lower
Morden Farm and Hobald’s Farm, advising on their re-letting after the termination of a lease. After
commenting favourably on transport links, it noted the soil is ‘somewhat difficult of cultivation’, with some
of the land in a ‘rather foul state from weeds: docks especially … and couch grass’, and that most of the farm
buildings are ‘very old … [and] will require constant reparation’. The report recommended that the land
be used for building purposes. Peter comments that had the owner, Gilliat Hatfeild senior, acted on these
recommendations, much of Lower Morden would have been developed 40 years earlier than it was, and in
a style very different from the 1930s housing.

David Haunton


Friday 30 September – six present. David Haunton in the chair

Judith Goodman had been reading a Nelson biography, which is generally accepted as the lowest in esteem.
The author was James Harrison, a ‘hack’, but as it appeared (in two volumes) within a year of Nelson’s death,
and includes material supplied by Emma Hamilton, it has value, and is the source of many quoted anecdotes.
Judith also brought along modern reprints of two novels by (Alice) Coralie Glyn, who lived at Merton
Cottage in the 1890s, entitled A Drama in Dregs: a life study and The Idyll of the Star Flower: an allegory
of life. They were available through the ‘print on demand’ system – the former from www.kessinger.net and
the latter from the British Library at www.bl.uk. Clive Whichelow was thanked for tracking them down.

Cyril Maidment showed a photograph of a section of Merton priory wall, together with a marked-up section
of the 1950 OS map. A large part of the wall still extends from the junction of the Wandle and Pickle, near
the Wandle bridge in Merton High Street, to the point where the Pickle goes under Merantun Way. Part of
it was examined on pp14-5 in Bulletin 172 (September 2009) with the aid of photographs taken by Evelyn
Jowett in 1973. Most of the wall is hidden, and it is protected
on National Trust land on the west bank of the Pickle. The
wall roughly follows the course of the meandering Pickle.
Indeed, 1000 years ago, the main course of the Wandle was
on the east side of the priory. Part of the last 50 metres at the

southern end of the wall, including a right-angle bend, can be

seen from the footpath beside PC World (as shown). Sadly, a
two-metre break is also visible. This is not shown on the OS
maps from the 1950s, and must have happened since.

Peter Hopkins had been corresponding with Jeremy Harte, curator of Bourne Hall Museum, about Motspur
Park, where four parishes and three hundreds meet at a group of square fields. He had wondered whether
the name could derive from a form of the word ‘moot’, or meeting-place, but Mr Harte suggested intercommoning
as a more likely origin of the land layout.
Peter was pleased to have found an official document that confirms the date of the Westminster coronation of
Henry III’s wife Eleanor of Provence in 1236. Contemporary sources have variant dates, but this document
shows that it took place the Saturday before the Council meeting at Merton which approved the so-called
Statute of Merton. Peter has promised future Bulletin articles on both these topics.

David Haunton had had further dialogue about wartime days with Ken Gibbons and with Sheila Gallagher,
whose recollections tie in with some of Ken’s. A future Bulletin article …
RosemaryTurnerreportedthatLAARC (London ArchaeologicalArchiveand Research Centre), atSir Mortimer
Wheeler House, Eagle Wharf Road N1 is offering tours every Friday and the first and third Saturdays, 11.00 to
12.30 and 2.00 to 3.30. Book in advance: £5. www.museumoflondon.org.uk/archaeologyevents 020 7001 9844
Cyril Maidment
Dates of next Workshops: Fridays 9 December, 27 January and 16 March at 2.30pm
At Wandle Industrial Museum. All are welcome.



In the spring of 1943, after recently renewed German bombing raids, the District Engineer of Merton and Morden1
raised a very sensible question in one of his areas of responsibility. Some subsequent official correspondence
is preserved in file HO 207/760 at The National Archives, a little of which is presented in this note.

16 March 1943: The Clerk of the Council (and Air Raid Precautions Controller) wrote to the Chief Administration
Officer, London Civil Defence (CD) Region, Regional HQ, Exhibition Road SW7: ‘Our Borough Engineer
notes that during enemy air attacks in 1940 and 1941 large numbers of people – at times as many as 1600 –
took shelter at South Wimbledon station. During the latest raids about 200 persons gathered at the top of the
escalators. Concerned [about what might happen] if those 200 people made a dash for the escalators and stairs,
I have asked for police assistance at such times.

The depth of the Tube railway at South Wimbledon is 27 feet from ground level to the top of the tunnel. The
accompanying drawing shows four 30-inch water-mains in Merton High Street / Kingston Road, close to the
entrance. About 180 yards to the south of the station entrance at the junction of Morden Road and High Path
there are two others of 42 and 48 inches. It is a cause for concern that these are nearby, just under the road
surface and the station is liable to flooding if these are broken. It is somewhat exceptional for so many large
pumping mains to be so close to an underground shelter. Should [South Wimbledon station] continue as an air
raid shelter for large numbers of people?’

The accompanying map shows the four 30-inch mains pipes down Kingston Road – Merton High Street, plus

a surface water sewer. Another, larger, sewer pipe runs down Merton Road – Morden Road.
There is a forwarding note in ink on the Clerk’s letter: ‘Mr Medhurst, From the plan the Council’s fears seem
well-founded – the 30-inch mains being only three feet below the surface of the road. It is presumed we will
obtain LPTB (London Passenger Transport Board) observations in the first place…’

Letters go back and forth between J P Thomas, LPTB, 55 Broadway, Westminster SW1 and L W Medhurst,
Secretary, New Tube Shelter Committee, HQ, London CD Region, the important one on 2 April containing ‘This
question is considered by the [LPTB] Engineer-in-Chief V A M Robertson to be a matter of general principle as
there are other stations in the same category. Mr Robertson has already mentioned it to Sir Alexander Rouse,2
and further meetings will be called by the Engineers….’

On 7 May, Thomas writes ‘The LPTB Engineer-in-Chief has drawn the attention of the Chief Engineer to the
Ministry of Home Security and the Chief Inspecting Officer of the Ministry of War Transport to the matter…
[LPTB] has nothing further to say…’

On 8 July, nine weeks later, Medhurst of CD writes to the Clerk of Merton Council ‘…advise you that in stations
fitted with floodgates, people are allowed to shelter in non-traffic hours. The following stations are available
at all times for shelter purposes, but the Local Authority may limit the hours during which the public may be
admitted ..’ The list includes South Wimbledon, while the letter tells our Clerk something he knew already.

The Whitehall process grinds on, so on 23 July we have Home Security to CD: ‘… Similar questions are raised
in regards to other Tube stations. The cases can only be dealt with as a whole, and Professor Webster3 is now
working on the subject generally. The delay is due to the necessity of having drawings made by LPTB … a
slow business these days..’

Overall, the file crawls a total of 22 times from desk to desk, but eventually the following missive is sent, some
six and a half months after the original enquiry (for the best effect this should be read aloud in a Sir Humphrey

6 October 1943: T Woodisse, London CD Region, to Clerk of Merton & Morden Council ‘… Your question
was considered most carefully by the Regional Commissioners and the Minister of Home Security … While the
Minister does not claim that Tube stations … confer absolute protection, he does not consider that the continued
use of South Wimbledon station exposes shelterers to undue risk such as would justify its closure for shelter
purposes. At the same time, the measures necessary to remove the possibility of flooding would involve a
greater expenditure of resources than would be consistent with a due regard for more important aspects of the
war effort. I am Sir, Your obedient servant …’

So having cogitated for half a year, the bureaucratic mountain has laboured and brought forth a mouse.

1 Ronald W North, MIMCE, who worked from the council offices in Kingston Road
2 Chief Engineer, Air Raid Precautions, Home Office
3 Of Imperial College, London University



The London Archaeologist in its fieldwork roundup for 2010 lists several Merton sites, including the former
Alliance sports ground at Fairway, Raynes Park, where Bronze Age ditches and artefacts were found, and a
site in Somerset Road, Wimbledon, where a large amount of 1st- and 2nd-century building material suggests a
substantial Roman-period structure.



I can just remember when the London General buses passing my birthplace and early home in Kingston Road
began to shed their solid tyres for pneumatic, and gain a roof to the upper deck. The year, if memory serves,
was 1925.

Riding on the open upper deck of a bus could be pleasant enough in fine weather (the experience may still be
enjoyed in some seaside towns and major tourist destinations). Not so in bad weather. Not that there was any
option if you were a smoker, and most men then smoked a pipe or a cigarette. A working man’s income might
just run to a packet of ‘shag’, which gave off a none too agreeable reek! Your only protection on the upper
deck if the heavens opened was a mackintosh sheet fixed to the back of the forward seat, which at least covered
one’s lower regions.

The buses served routes 32 from Acton Green, and 77 from King’s Cross, both terminating at the Junction

Tavern, Raynes Park.
The London United trams
on the Wimbledon-Hampton

Court route at that time still
included some cars with
open tops, while others
had carried rather inelegant

covered upper decks since
1912. The London County
Council trams (Embankment-
Wimbledon via Clapham and
Merton) were, to my young

mind something superior,

having been built from the

outset with all enclosed upper

decks and stairs, and well
meriting their nickname of

The added attraction of the LCC trams for me was the shilling ticket which allowed you to ride them all day,
and on holidays I did just that, venturing to such far-flung places as Abbey Wood, Barking and Ponders End.

Geoffrey Wilson

CYRIL MAIDMENT has been exploring

The illustration opposite shows a section of Merton High Street between Abbey Road and Pincott Road from
the 1894 Ordnance Survey. The properties, all shops, are numbered and the shop keepers are listed for 1892
and 1905. In many cases there was no change of shop keeper in these thirteen years.

Superimposed is Nelson’s “Nile”, and the “stone bridge” as shown in the 1823 plan, as is Main Gate that is
indicated in the 1806 indenture, Nelson’s will. Since this drawing shows Merton Place much smaller than it
was in 1806, it is probable that it is the one used for the 1801 sale of Merton Place.

Merton High Street was a turnpike for more than a hundred years. Half of the estate was on the Wimbledon
side of the turnpike. Access was by means of a tunnel, which in 1805 had become an improved “spacious brick
tunnel”. It is not known if the improved tunnel was in the same location as the former one.

There are two recorded accounts of the location of this tunnel, marked as “???” on the drawing. On page 27 of
Reminiscences of Old Merton by W H Chamberlain, 1925, it states “Near Mr Lee’s drapery stores a tunnel ran
under the road—”. This is at number 39 Merton High Street, some distance from the stone bridge. The reliability
of some of these reminiscences may be questioned. For example on page 26 the stone bridge is thought to be
an “iron” bridge. Also the entrance to the carriage drive is said to be on the corner of Abbey Road. Were this
the case, because the “Nile” does not extend this far, there would be no need for a bridge.

The other reported tunnel was in a Supplement to Merton Church Monthly in May 1889, where it was said to
be between numbers 49 and 61, that is, close to the main entrance. Elsewhere, Mr Corke at number 61 is said
to have often been through it. It is thought this location is more likely.

A Hampton Court tram in West Barnes Lane, Merton. Postcard: JG.



PETER HOPKINS is trying to identify

In 1312 an ‘extent’ or valuation of Westminster Abbey’s estate in Morden was undertaken, which is now in
Cambridge University Library.1
As well as detailing the demesne land – the land worked directly on behalf of
the Abbey – it also lists the names of the tenants who owed rents and services for individual holdings of land in
the manor. Later records, especially the manorial court rolls, enable us to trace these tenant holdings across the
Seventeen tenants listed in 1312 each held more than 10 acres, of whom all but two had farmsteads
in Lower Morden, grouped around Morden Green. The other two were in the road now known as Central Road.

Most of the Lower Morden tenants held a ‘virgate’, which in Morden was a holding of 20 acres [8 hectares] of
arable land, though three had ½-virgates, and a couple had larger holdings. It is clear from later records that these
holdings consisted of 1-acre and ½-acre strips scattered throughout the open arable fields in the Lower Morden
area. These tenant holdings also included allotments of meadow. But, surprisingly, several of them also included
a croft of one or two acres along the present Epsom Road, between the East Pyl Brook and the parish church.

One of these 10-acre holdings based in Lower Morden acquired the name Bexwells from a mid-15th-century
tenant. In 1312 the tenant had been Thomas ate Cherche. John Bexwell and his wife Agnes passed ‘Chyrcher’s
cottage, curtilage and 10 acres’ to their daughter Johanne and her husband Robert Hardyng in September 1466,
by the usual method of surrendering it at the manorial court.3
In 1488 the Hardyngs surrendered the property
to John and Margerie Williams, but it was now only nine acres.4
However, in April 1466 Margaret Drayton had
been admitted to a 1-acre holding which she passed to her daughter in 1486, when it was described as ‘one acre
of land lying on the west of the church of Morden next to land of John Spyke on the east’.5
Later records name
this 1-acre croft as Bexwells.6
It seems likely that Margaret Drayton had obtained this croft from John Bexwell
in 1466, but the record has not survived. The croft eventually passed to John Smith, who surrendered it and some
other properties in 1587 to Richard Garth, who had purchased the manor in 1554.7
It disappears from the record
until 1745, when ‘a half acre in a certain close called Boxwells, continguous with the churchyard in Morden’
is listed among the lord of the manor’s properties.8 No
doubt the rest of the former croft had been swallowed up

by its neighbours, a process continued in 1782, when a
later Richard Garth exchanged this remnant for another
½-acre plot adjoining.9
By this date Bexwells ½-acre had
been built upon, being described as ‘all that messuage or

tenement with buildings, garden or orchard containing in

whole half an acre formerly part of Boxwells contiguous
with the Churchyard’. That 18th-century house now forms
part of a care home next door to the church, which is for
some unknown reason called Manor House (right).

Adjoining the care home is the George inn (left). The oldest
part of the building, fronting the road, was built on a strip
of land enclosed from roadside waste in the 1290s,10 and
a building here was occupied as an alehouse in the 1460s
if not earlier.11
The land behind this roadside strip, now
occupied by extensions to the inn, the Travelodge and the
car park, was the land mentioned in 1469 as being owned
by John Spyke. Spyke had bought this 2-acre croft of
freehold land some time before 1400,12
and the evidence

suggests that it had formerly been part of one of the 20

acre holdings in Central Road, which was broken up in
the 1380s.13
In 1522 it was described as ‘one croft containing 2 acres, upon which was lately built one barn’,14
and by 1621 it was occupied by the tenant of the adjoining inn.15

Next to the George was an 8-acre croft, known as Gyrmans by 1536, when John Holt surrendered to Thomas
Toller four tenements in Lower Morden – Rydons half-virgate, and Adams, Cokeseys and Swans virgates.16
Holt retained for himself ‘one close containing by estimation 8 acres of land called Gyrmans and another close
called Netherlotkyns containing 2 acres by estimation’. The whereabouts of Netherlotkyns is not known, though
it had once belonged to a tenement in Lower Morden known as Lotkyns. In 1570 Gyrmans was described as a
‘tenement commonly called Girmans containing 8 acres land lying between the queen’s highway on the south and
demesne land on the north’,17
and in 1579 and 1624 was said to have adjoined Stonebridge Close, named from


east pyl
epsom road
east pyl
epsom road
the adjoining bridge that carried the Epsom road
over the East Pyl Brook.18
In 1587 Gyrmans was
said to be of only 7 acres, and similarly in a 1594
The 1536 acreage was ‘by estimation’ and
had perhaps since been measured more accurately.
By 1745 ‘Garmans’ had been extended to 8½ acres
by exchanges made in the 17th century, probably at
the same time that Bexwells was reduced by half
an acre.20
It is now part of the golf course within
Morden Park, but its former boundary hedge is

probably represented by the row of trees shown on

this extract from the 1865 Ordnance Survey map.
It seems clear that these 7 or 8 acres had been

amalgamated from the 2-acre crofts belonging to

the three virgate tenements and the 1-acre croft of
the ½-virgate tenement based in Lower Morden.
Netherlotkyns similarly represented a croft
belonging to a virgate tenement in Lower Morden,
and Bexwells had belonged to a ½-virgate there. In
addition to these six tenements in Lower Morden,
one of the Central Road tenements also had a croft,
later annexed to the George.
Why did so many of these tenements have detached crofts in this area along the Epsom road? Perhaps a clue is in
the 1312 valuation, where four of the Lower Morden tenants had the surname ate Cherche and another ate Rythe.
It seems likely that their ancestors had once lived on these crofts between the church and the brook or rythe.

It is not known when the Lower Morden settlement was established, but a ‘custumal’, or list of tenants showing
the rents and services they owed, dating from around 1225, names 17 tenants of ½-virgate, virgate and 1½
-virgate holdings, which would appear to match the situation in 1312. However, Domesday Book lists a mere
eight villein tenants, plus five cottars and one slave on the Abbey’s estate at Morden in 1086. It is tempting to
imagine the eight villein households occupying tofts and crofts fronting the Epsom road, or perhaps fronting
the old Roman road we know as Stane Street, which ran across the present park, roughly parallel to the tree-line
suggested above as the boundary hedge of Gyrmans. (No church is mentioned in Domesday Book, though that
is not proof that no church existed here, as known pre-Conquest churches are often omitted.)

Probably the only way to test this theory is by excavation. Surrey Archaeological Society is planning a programme
of test-pitting across the historic county, and Morden has been suggested as a possible location. The plan is
to obtain permission from landowners to dig a number of small test-pits, a metre square and a metre deep, in
private gardens, and to record any pottery or other finds which would give an indication of the periods that these
sites were occupied. For Morden we would like to have a number of sites in the three known areas of medieval
settlement – the Lower Morden area around the former green in Lower Morden Lane, Cardinal Avenue and
Cranmer Close; in Central Road between Abbotsbury, Blanchland and Hazelwood Roads; and if possible in the
area along Epsom Road described above, though it is unlikely that we would be allowed to dig up the golf course!

During building work on the care home site in 1991 a single sherd of South Hertfordshire-type flint-tempered
greyware, which has a date range of 1170–1350, was recovered from the fill of a shallow-cut feature.21 Further
extensions to the building are planned, but the planning inspector failed to impose the usual archaeological
conditions for a site within an Archaeological Priority Zone!

If any readers would like to get involved in this test-pitting project, please let me know. My contact details are
shown on the list of Committee members on the back page of this Bulletin.

BL = British LibraryAdd Rolls; CUL = Cambridge University Library; GLHER = Greater London Historic Environment Record;
LAARC = London Archaeological Archive & Research Centre; SHC = Surrey History Centre; WAM = Westminster Abbey Muniments

1 CUL Kk 5.29 39v-43v 6 BL 56045 2r, 4r, 56046 3r; 11 BL 6043 21r, 20r; 19r, 16r 17 SHC K85/2/17
2 WAM 27384-90; SHC K85/2/17 12 BL 56040 1v 18 SHC 2575 box 2 bundles H & C
BL 56038-46, 19407 7 SHC K85/4/69 13 BL 56038 14r 19 SHC K85/4/69; 2575 box 2 bundle H
3 BL 56043 17r 8 SHC K85/2/51-52 14 BL 56046 3v 20 SHC K85/2/51-52
4 BL 19407 15r 9 SHC K85/2/170 15 SHC K85/1/1 6r 21 GLHER SMR 021396/00/00; LAARC
5 BL 19407 18r 10 WAM 27387, 27389, 16 BL 56046 1v Sitecode MNH91 and email 20.9.2011
CUL Kk5.29 43r


DAVID ROE celebrates
Local Life

Local life 60 years ago was covered in the Merton & Morden News, and also in the Wimbledon News. The first
edition of the year reported that nearly 700 children had attended a party at Lines Brothers Tri-Ang works,
consuming 150 loaves cut into sandwiches, 1800 cakes, and 100 gallons of lemon squash. This was said to be
the largest children’s party anywhere held in a works canteen. Over Christmas there had been many dances,
and shows, and a page of each newspaper issue was taken up with adverts for films showing in the then many
cinemas, such as the Morden and Shannon Corner Odeons. Emphasis was often on romance and drama, such
as in My Kind of Woman, with Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell. In June a crowd of 25000 came to a ‘Film
Garden Party’ in Morden Hall Park, promoted by the Sunday Pictorial, which was attended by 120 film stars.

The local press published reports on fairs, celebrations, meetings, concerts and so on; numerous accounts of
weddings, with pictures of the happy couples; detailed reports of sporting fixtures; and news of local courts
cases and road accidents. Reports of the most petty crimes and commonplace marital breakdowns were often
spread over three columns, despite continuing paper shortage. Here are some examples of headlines from lengthy
items: ‘Difficulties When Wives Have To Share Same Cooker’; ‘Kept Watch She Found On Pavement’; ‘Must
Pay For Dustbin – Corporation Had Provided It’; ‘Fined For Using Noisy Instrument’ (a hand-bell for a horse
and cart); ‘Husband Twice Divorced – Wife Names The Same Woman’; ‘Intended Paying For Newspaper Later
On – Morden Man’s Plea Succeeds In Self-Service Stall Case’; ‘Colonel In Skirts – Won’t Lose His Army
Pension’; ‘Judge And Gin-Drinking Wife: Took Half-Pint Straight Down’; ‘Stray Dog Arrested’; ‘Mrs. Hare
Won The Mothers’ Race’.

Community Buildings

Merton and Morden’s schools came under Surrey, and in May the North-East Surrey Division Executive of
Surrey Education Committee moved into Merton Cottage in Church Path, Merton Park (below). It later became
the libraries headquarters, and today it is much changed, and privately owned.

Rutlish School was to be moved from its site at Kingston Road/Rutlish Road to land off Mostyn Road vacated
by the John Innes Horticultural Institution. This came to fruition, but other plans did not, such as schemes for
a Civic Centre in one of Morden’s parks and for public halls, a swimming pool and a car-park on the Crown
Road site in Morden.

Local Hardships

Early in the year there was a flu epidemic; heavy rain turned football matches into mud-baths; there was concern
about fuel prices; and the Merton & Morden News had a Government notice in every issue saying ‘Please Be
Extra Careful With Coal, Electricity And Gas’. Meat was still heavily rationed, and housewives complained
about the high prices of fish and rabbit (not rationed). The owner of the Ideal Café in Merton High Street was
taken to court for providing eggs with breakfasts without the necessary permit.


Another concern was the high price of tobacco, and the Council’s Parks Department decided to grow tobacco
plants to pass to pensioners who wished to grow their own. In June 20 pensioners came to a meeting to be issued
with their plants and with typed ‘hints’ on curing the leaves.

There were complaints in the local press about overcrowding and long queues at the bus station at Morden
Underground. A nine-year-old girl in a bus queue was killed when a bus mounted the pavement trying to
manoeuvre round other buses.

The Political Situation

After six years of a Labour government the General Election in October 1951 returned a Conservative government,
under Winston Churchill, with a narrow majority over the Labour Party, under Clement Attlee. In the buildup
to the election an editorial in the Wimbledon News called for the same spirit that had helped win the Battle
of Britain, and suggested that local people were fed up with scarcities and rationing six years after the war,
with ever-increasing taxation. Only ten weeks after the election a reform of the National Health Service was
announced, and the editorial writer was criticising the Government for adding further austerity measures. The
Conservatives said that they had inherited a grave financial situation from the previous Government; the country
was living on credit, because imports exceeded imports … Sounds familiar?

Another similarity with today was that the country in 1951 faced a threat to its security – not from terrorism,
but from Communism and the Soviet Empire. The Korean war continued, and editorials and correspondence
in the local press indicate how seriously the Communist threat was perceived, with some talk of a World War
III, and recruiting notices for Civil Defence volunteers.

The Festival of Britain

To many Londoners over 65 the Festival of Britain is best remembered for the South Bank exhibition in the summer
of 1951, and for the Festival fairground in Battersea Park. However, to quote from the official brochure, ‘The
Festival is nation-wide. All through the summer, and all through the land, its spirit will be finding expression …’.

So how did Merton and Morden contribute? The first local event took place in March at Morden County
Primary School, when Councillor F Grunine (chairman of the school governors) planted a red chestnut tree in
the playground. Is it still there? It was reported in May that master craftsmen at the works of Rayner, Davies
& Co Ltd, glass merchants at 91 Kingston Road (just over the parish boundary in Wimbledon), had designed
and made a stained glass window for the Guildhall at Windsor to commemorate the Festival. It was unveiled
by Princess Elizabeth. (Does any member know if the window is still there?)

There was a civic service at the Sacred Heart, Edge Hill, Wimbledon, to mark the start of the Festival, but
after that it was the youth of the area who played the leading role. At Morden Park there was a service and a
procession, with displays and handicraft exhibitions. There were school open days, and displays of all kinds by
youth groups, and youth concerts at the Morden Odeon.

The local press carried an editorial full of grand words: ‘…[T]he call of the Festival of Britain … should be
one of joyous endeavour, fired with … resolute determination … and summoning to our aid those Powers of
Light against which the forces of evil cannot prevail’. I doubt whether the youngsters of Merton and Morden

saw their innocent activities in the same way.

A key time for local history

In April 1951 the press reported that as part of Festival activities a historical

society had been formed, to foster an interest in the history of the locality.
Miss Evelyn M Jowett, Librarian of Merton
and Morden (right), would be Secretary, and
Councillor V Talbot Chairman. The first meeting
was on 28 February.

On 20 July there appeared a review of A History
of Merton and Morden, edited by Evelyn Jowett
and published by the Festival of Britain Local
Committee. In the preface Miss Jowett noted
that no previous history of the district had been
published, and that the book had had to be
completed within three months – a major achievement. She acknowledged the
help of her collaborators, including the late Lionel Green, our last president,
then a very young man. The book is one of only a few products of Merton and
Morden’s involvement in the Festival of Britain that will last.



The minutes of the AGM are enclosed with this Bulletin.


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