04 Lower Mitcham

Mitcham Histories 4

by Eric Montague

Although seemingly never defined precisely, Lower Mitcham can be considered as occupying the area north of the former Wimbledon to Croydon railway line (now the Tramlink) and between Baron Walk in the west and Jeppo’s Lane to the east.

It formed part of the Domesday ‘vill’ of Whitford, which lay between the Lower Green and the river Wandle. However, little definite is known of the history of this locality before the mid-16th century when two large houses, each the country seat of a prosperous London merchant, emerge in the records. The early Stuart period saw the division of one of these estates and the erection of two further substantial houses, but the area was to retain its essentially rural character until the closing years of the 19th century.

The dramatic transformation of Mitcham from Surrey village to London suburb gathered momentum in the late Victorian period, and the development of part of the grounds of Mitcham Hall as a select residential estate before the turn of the century heralded far more extensive changes to come.


  • The Crown Inn
  • Baron Place
  • The Congregational Church
  • The Broadway



Manor House, London Road, Mitcham. Photograph by Tom Francis c.1900, courtesy of Merton Library Service






Published by

© E N Montague 2003

ISBN 1 903899 41 9

Printed by intypelibra

Cover Illustration: Baron House Academy, seen in an engraving of c.1814,
courtesy of Merton Library Service


Although seemingly never defined precisely, Lower Mitcham – the
Domesday ‘vill’ of Whitford – came to be regarded as that part of the
ancient parish and later Borough of Mitcham lying between the Lower
Green and the river Wandle. For the purposes of this volume, however, it
is considered as occupying a somewhat more restricted area north of the
former Wimbledon to Croydon railway line (now the Tramlink) and
between Baron Walk in the west and Jeppo’s Lane to the east.

Little definite is known of the history of this locality before the mid-16th
century when two large houses, each the country seat of a prosperous
London merchant, emerge in the records. The early Stuart period saw the
division of one of these estates and the erection of two further substantial
houses, but the area was to retain its essentially rural character until the
closing years of the 19th century.

The dramatic transformation of Mitcham from Surrey village to London
suburb gathered momentum in the late Victorian period, and the
development of part of the grounds of Mitcham Hall as a select residential
estate before the turn of the century heralded far more extensive changes
to come.

Extraction of the sands and gravels which underly much of Lower Mitcham
also commenced before the outbreak of war in 1914, and destroyed what
remained of the former grounds of Baron House, to the west of London
Road. Haphazard back-filling of the resultant pits left the site largely
unsuitable for building, and it now survives as public open space, albeit
fringed with medium-rise private and municipal housing. Mitcham Hall
opposite was demolished in the 1920s, and the remnants of its surrounding
parkland quickly disappeared under suburban shops and housing.

Destruction of any character retained by the area was achieved by ruthless
road widening in the mid-20th century, compounded by the demolition of
the few surviving Georgian buildings and their replacement with a
singularly graceless and ill-assorted collection of shops and small office



Material for this book was gathered over a period of almost 40
years in a quest which was both fascinating and challenging, and
proved a pleasurable exercise with help and encouragement from
numerous archivists and librarians. As always, staff of the old
Surrey Record Office and Merton Central Reference Library (my
main sources) were particularly helpful – a tradition now followed
in exemplary manner by the Surrey History Centre and Merton Local
Studies Centre. To them I owe many thanks, and trust they will
forgive my not mentioning them by name. One person, however,
deserves special mention, and that is my old friend, W A Turner
who, as librarian-in-charge of the reference library at Mitcham,
‘knew his way about the records’ when the local collection was
largely inaccessible due to prolonged refurbishment of the building.
The results of our collaborative effort were published in Surrey
Archaeological Collections LXVII (1970) and, with minor updating,
are reproduced in this volume as chapter 3. Finally, I would also
like, once again, to express my sincere gratitude to the editorial
subcommittee of Merton Historical Society, Judith Goodman, Peter
Hopkins and Tony Scott, for their meticulous checking and tactful
corrections of early drafts without which some embarrassing slips
might well have become enshrined in print.


Detail from a modern street
map, showing the area
covered by this book
outlined with a dotted line.
Reproduced by permission
of Merton Design Unit,
London Borough of Merton



1 LOWER MITCHAM, OR WHITFORD …………………………………………… 1
2 THE WILFORD FAMILY OF MITCHAM……………………………………….. 9
Decline and Fall (1654–1803) …………………………………………………22Berkeley Cottage, Berkeley House and Berkeley Place (1803–c.1930) 28
4 MITCHAM HALL ………………………………………………………………………..33
Introduction …………………………………………………………………………..33
The Wyche Family in Mitcham………………………………………………..34The Hampsons (1649–1703) …………………………………………………..35Eighteenth-century Owners and Occupiers ……………………………….40Mitcham Hall and Henry Hoare (1796–1828)……………………………43The Bidder Family (1846–1864) ……………………………………………..46Sidney Gedge and Mitcham Hall (1864–1923)………………………….49Epilogue ……………………………………………………………………………….53
5 MANOR HOUSE………………………………………………………………………….57
Introduction …………………………………………………………………………..57
Origins. …………………………………………………………………………………59The Myers Family (c.1715–1775) ……………………………………………621776–1851: A London Merchant, a Maiden Lady and a Surgeon ….67The ‘Manor House’ of Mitcham: (1860–1876) William Simpson II…71Manor House in the occupation of George Pitt (1876–c.1882) ……75Harry G Dorrett and others. …………………………………………………….78The End of Manor House………………………………………………………..83
6 BARON HOUSE…………………………………………………………………………..85
The Blankes (1562–1595) ………………………………………………………85The Farrants (1593–1666) ………………………………………………………88The Highlords and the Glovers (1666–1716)…………………………….92The Mendes da Costa family and the Tates (1721–1767)……………94Remains of the 18th-century Gardens……………………………………….98Baron House (1768–1826) ………………………………………………….. 100Baron House (1826–1954) ………………………………………………….. 105The London Road Playing Fields …………………………………………. 108The Baron Grove Houses………………………………………………………110
7 MITCHAM STATION ………………………………………………………………… 115
8 AND FINALLY ………………………………………………………………………… 121
The Crown Inn …………………………………………………………………… 121
Baron Place ……………………………………………………………………….. 122
The Congregational Church …………………………………………………. 124The Broadway ……………………………………………………………………. 126
NOTES AND REFERENCES ……………………………………………………….. 135
INDEX………………………………………………………………………………………… 161



Baron House Academy, Mitcham, c.1814 ……………………………………… Cover
Manor House, London Road, Mitcham ……………………………………………….. ii
Detail from a modern street map, showing the area covered by this book …vi
The suggested location of James Wylford’s ‘great messuage’…………………..8
View of Mitcham Park from Gedge Court, 1952…………………………………..15
Sir Julius Caesar ………………………………………………………………………………16
Berkeley Cottage and Berkeley House, London Road …………………………..27
Plan of Berkeley Cottage, Berkeley House and cottages in 1924 ……………32
North View of Mitcham Hall ……………………………………………………………..45
London Road, Lower Mitcham, at corner of Mitcham Park, c.1910 ………..55
View of London Road, with lodge of Mitcham Hall on the right, c.1910 …55
Detail from the Mitcham Tithe Apportionment map of 1846………………….56
‘Mr. Tipple’s House, Mitcham’ (Manor House) ……………………………………70
Manor House – rear elevation after being destroyed by fire in 1961 ……….82
The probable extent of the grounds of the Farrants’ house …………………….90
The surviving Baron Grove houses, July 1993 …………………………………… 111
Mitcham station and the Crown inn, London Road, in 1968 ………………… 118
Mitcham station and the Crown inn, London Road, in 1868 …………………120
The Broadway, looking north, c.1910 ……………………………………………….131
The Broadway, looking south, c.1910 ……………………………………………….131

Imperial Measures are used throughout this book
1 acre = 4 roods = 160 square rods, poles or perches = 0.4047 hectares
1 yard = 3 feet = 0.9144 metres
1 ton = 2240 lb (pounds) = 1.016 tonnes
£1 = 20s (shillings) = 240d (pence)

Chapter 1


What is known today as Lower Mitcham can be identified with the
‘vill’ or hamlet of Whitford – the spelling varies considerably1 –
recognised as a distinct locality by the compilers of Domesday Book in
1086. It was to retain this separate identity within the hundred of
Wallington until the end of the Middle Ages, but gradually the place
name disappears from the documentary record, and now survives only
in the name Whitford Gardens, given to a road of early 20th century
houses lying midway between Mitcham’s Upper and Lower Greens.

The value and extent of the two estates which together comprised the
vill of Whitford in 1086 were summarised in the Domesday Survey as

“The Canons” [of Bayeux] “hold Whitford themselves from the
Bishop” [of Bayeux]. “Edmer held it from King Edward. Then and
now it answered for 3 hides. Land for 2 ploughs. In lordship 1 plough;
2 villagers, 6 cottagers with 2 ploughs. Meadow, 4 acres. Value
before 1066 and now 30s; when acquired 10s.

“William son of Ansculf holds Whitford, and William the
Chamberlain from him. Lank held it from King Edward. Then it
answered for 2 hides, now for 1 hide. Land for … In lordship 1
plough. 2 villagers and with 1 plough. 1 mill at 20s; meadow, 24
acres. Value before 1066, 50s; later 22s; now 60s.”2

If the mill (a lucrative asset) is excluded, the valuations of both these
holdings remain comparatively high for Mitcham, although perhaps
no more so than might be expected for farmlands situated on the rich
alluvial soils of the Wandle flood plain. In total they comprised some
600 acres, or very roughly one fifth the area of medieval Mitcham. Not
surprisingly, much of the land was arable, but there was also an extensive
acreage of permanent grass, which can be envisaged bordering the river.
Subject to flooding and most likely managed in later years as water
meadows, this stood to be enriched by the periodic deposition of silt
when the Wandle overflowed its banks, and would have provided rich
grazing after the annual fodder crop had been gathered.


Of Edmer and Lank themselves we can say relatively little. Holding
their lands directly from the king, they were freeholders, possibly
retaining their modest estates by title deed, and enjoying exemption
from most duties other than the three public charges of military service,
bridge repair and the building of fortifications. Lank’s name occurs
in the Surrey folios of Domesday Book only in relation to the holding
in Whitford, whereas Edmer also had an estate in Tolworth. Although
only minor landowners, both would have been expected to join the
fyrd – the Saxon militia – when the Normans invaded in 1066. Each
suffered the fate of the majority of thegns after Harold’s defeat at
Hastings, and on the evidence of Domesday were evicted from their

From the record we can estimate that 20 years after the Conquest the
population of Whitford amounted to about 50 adults, four of the
families enjoying villein or small-holder status, whilst the remainder
were largely landless peasantry. Of the two estates, one was in the
possession of Bishop Odo, the Conqueror’s half-brother, whilst the
other was held by William the Chamberlain, a tenant of William Fitz-
Ansculf of Dudley, another of the great Norman landlords, whose
father was appointed sheriff of Surrey in about 1071.

Without archaeological evidence, to locate the two principal
homesteads precisely is now difficult, if not impossible, but tentatively
a case could be made out for one, that held by Lank, to have been to
the south of the Cricket Green in the general vicinity of today’s
Mitcham Park, whilst the other might conceivably have lain more
towards what is now Willow Lane. Excavations conducted by the
Museum of London Archaeology Service in 1997 to the rear of 42
Tramway Path, south of Mitcham station, exposed a back-filled pit
of Saxon date from which a fragment of early to mid-Saxon pottery
and bones from domesticated food animals were recovered. The
evidence is tantalisingly slight, and a feature in another trench
produced several finds of Roman origin.3 All we have to date,
therefore, are hints that this part of Mitcham has been inhabited
intermittently, if not continuously, since, perhaps, the fifth century


The mill on Fitz-Ansculf’s Whitford estate can be seen with reasonable
certainty as a precursor of the “Micham, alias Wickford Mill”, which
finds mention in a deed dating to the mid-17th century.4 The precise
site of the Domesday mill remains to be identified, but it seems likely
to have stood on the north bank of the river upstream from Mitcham
bridge, in the vicinity of the present Grove Mill building. Three water
mills were operating here at the peak of activity reached early in the
19th century, and the long history of building and rebuilding on the site
means that the chance of evidence surviving from the late Saxon corn
mill owned by Lank is now remote. The area is, however, within an
archaeologically sensitive zone defined by the London Borough of
Merton, and the possibility remains that something might emerge should
excavations ever become feasible

Bishop Odo’s tenants, the canons of Bayeux, apparently lost their
‘Witford’ estate following the final disgrace of their landlord in 1088,
and the holding reverted to the Crown.5 To whom the property was
granted subsequently is not clear, but by the 12th century we find
references to the de Fraxineto family and others holding land in Mitcham
of the honour, i.e. lordship, of Gloucester.6 The Ansculf holding seems
to have found its way into the hands of the de Whitford family (as with
the place name, the spelling of their surname varies) who, early in the
12th century, emerge as major landed proprietors in Lower Mitcham.

Eventually much of Ansculf’s extensive property in England, and many
of his titles, were inherited by a descendant, Roger de Sumery or
Sumeri.7 Thus, early in the 12th century, we find Alexander de Witford,
or Wykford, holding land in Mitcham for a knight’s fee of the honour
of Dudley and the barony of de Sumery.8 Like many of their
contemporaries, the de Witfords were important benefactors of the
Church, showing particular favour to the new Augustinian priory of St
Mary at Southwark. Several bequests were made by the de Witfords
within a few years of the priory’s foundation in 1106, and there survives
a charter dated sometime between 1150 and 1170 by which Robert de
Whitford confirmed in the following words the grant of Wihtrichescrofte
and other land in Mitcham made by his grandfather and great-


(To) “… the church of St Mary of Southwark and the canons thereof,
servants of God for love … my entire possessions of that land called
Wihtrichescrofte, which lies … where the aforesaid dwelling is built
by the canons, and one acre of commonfield and one acre of demesne;
for the provision of wax candles for the church of St Peter in
Mitcham. And two acres of meadow at la Holme, and two acres of
seed land at la Haie, and one acre at Lestfurlang, and one acre where
Galfridus lives beside the cross; which lands are of course my fee”

[i.e. feudal benefice] “Having and occupying in complete freedom
and perpetual alms. All these lands had indeed been owned and
held by the aforesaid canons, and occupied for 40 years and more
as a complete alms from the gift of Arthur my grandfather and
Richard his father, since I Robert have enquired the testimony of
ancient men and men learned in the law. Whereby I wish that the
aforesaid canons shall have and possess all the aforesaid lands in
perpetuity free from all secular taxes and service.”9
Wihtrichescrofte, on which the canons had evidently erected
accommodation for themselves and their lay workers, is now impossible
to identify with certainty, but was probably part of the freehold lands
either sold during the Middle Ages, or confiscated with the remainder
of the priory’s Mitcham estate at the Dissolution in 1538.

In a separate charter, of the same date as the first, John de Whitford
confirmed the gift to Southwark priory of “the new garden and land of
Medewine and an acre of la Stane”, and

“all my tithes of Wichford in cornfields and meadows and mill and
garden and lamb and calves and fleeces and milk and cheese and
foals and in all things from which tithes are bound to be given in
free and perpetual alms for the love of God and the salvation of my
soul and of my ancestors and descendants.”10

Between 1200 and 1230 Alexander de Whitford, representing another
generation of the family, acknowledged that the tithes of his corn and
mill were the right of the prior, and granted the canons and their teams
free access over his land in perpetuity.11 It was undoubtedly the same
Alexander (styled ‘de Wickford’) who, during the reign of Henry III


(i.e. sometime after 1216), was recorded as holding ‘a fee’ (i.e. land
which could be inherited) in Mitcham of the honour of Dudley, and
who in 1218–19 conveyed to Henry Cresby and his wife Alice land
carrying the obligation to find one third of a knight’s dues. Yet another
member of the family is mentioned in the Victoria County History,
which adds that “later [i.e. after 1218–19] William Mareys granted
Arnold de Wickford the feudal tenancy of a messuage in Mitcham and
17 acres of land”.12 The de Wickfords’ estate, tenure of which we can
see passing from one generation to another, must presumably have been
in Lower Mitcham and by the early 13th century part of it was evidently
within the manor of Ravensbury. Since this embraced land extending
from what is now the Willow Lane industrial estate north-westwards
along the banks of the Wandle, it also seems reasonable to conclude
that we ought to be able to locate Arnold de Wickford’s house and land
somewhere nearby.
In the studies which follow, dealing with the histories of several large
houses in Lower Mitcham, we shall see that in the grounds of one of
them, Mitcham Hall, there survived until the 1920s an L-shaped lake
with the appearance of having formed part of a rectangular moat.13 It is
very tempting to believe that this might once have surrounded the
medieval ‘messuage’ of Alexander de Wickford. Unfortunately, without
any supportive evidence, such an idea has to remain pure speculation,
and the Wickford family disappears from local records by the mid13th

In 1348/9 the country was ravaged by the Black Death, and over the
ensuing quarter of a century, during which there were further outbreaks
of the plague, there was a dramatic reduction in the population. The
consequent decline in the labour force hastened radical changes then
occurring both in land use and the pattern of rural settlement throughout
the kingdom, and there are many examples of villages becoming
deserted. To what extent Mitcham as a whole was affected we have
little means of telling, but Whitford does seem to have undergone change
at about this time. It is noticeable, for instance, that whereas
documentary references to land in ‘Wic(k)ford’ abound until the close
of the 14th century, thereafter they become much less common and


virtually cease after the mid-17th century. The Lower Green did,
however, continue to be spoken of as Whitford Green until well into
the Victorian period, and we find properties fronting the Green being
described in deeds as overlooking Wicford (sic) Green until the close
of the 19th century.

Throughout the country the later Middle Ages were a period of great
social upheaval and economic disruption, exacerbated not only by the
plague but also dynastic strife. It is within this context that we can see
William Mareys’ conveyance to the Church of an extensive estate
comprising land in Lower Mitcham, the actual transfer being effected
by deed dated 1361/2.14 The property was described as including his
“capital messuage with houses over” – a phrase conveying the
impression that in his principal dwelling the living quarters were mainly
on the upper floor. For reasons of security, or merely to provide
somewhat superior accommodation, an arrangement such as this, with
a hall, solar and other private quarters above an undercroft, was a
common feature of the more important houses of the period. With the
dwellinghouse granted to the Church went gardens, crofts, meadows,
pastures, woods, hedges, ‘hays’ and, significantly, two watermills and
adjoining waste land bordering the Wandle.

Since ‘Mareysland’ extended either side of the river, which at this point
defined the parish boundary, the assignees were Sir Robert Porter and
Sir John de Scaldewell, respectively ‘perpetual vicars’ of West Mitcham
and Morden. (‘Sir’ in such instances was a courtesy title, and both men
would have been clerics, most likely ‘obedientaries’ who, lacking
pastoral duties, were given responsibility for administering properties
in the hands of the ecclesiastical authorities.) Mareys’ precise objectives
in arranging the transfer of interest are not clear, but the compilers of
the Victoria County History suggested the estate may have been held in
trust for Merton Priory.15 In 1380 the prior of Merton was said to be in
possession of what was described as the ‘manor’ of Wickford,16 but
there is no evidence that it ever functioned as a conventional manor,
and the term is best regarded as synonymous with a holding over which
the prior and convent exercised the powers of a landlord. The property,
or parts of it, certainly remained in the hands of the Church until the


close of the Middle Ages, for enclosures off Willow Lane known as
‘Mareysland’ or ‘Marsh Fee Lands’, leased or ‘farmed’ to produce an
income, were in the tenure of Merton priory at the Dissolution.17

Since the beginning of the 14th century the trend had been for many
estates under the control of the great religious houses and other major
landowners to be reorganised in response to the demand for wool, and
ancient field systems and the boundaries of old land holdings were
modified or swept away to facilitate the keeping of sheep. There are
hints of such changes having taken place in Whitford, where the overall
pattern of enclosures to the south-east of the Lower Green, shown on
19th-century Ordnance Survey maps, seems to have preserved elements
of an earlier openfield system of land division based on unfenced strips
or selions grouped in furlongs. An old bridle way that could well have
originated as a headland in such a field system remains today in the
guise of Tramway Path. The South Field or South Mead in the Willow
Lane area, where the land was probably once managed as meadow
with common grazing (as in the case of the Hay Furlongs adjoining
Mitcham’s West Field), had been enclosed by the early 17th century,
although it persisted in name for another 200 years.18

When and under whose overlordship these changes began to occur it is
of course impossible to say. From the little evidence we have, it would
seem reasonable, however, to see in Whitford an example, whatever
the underlying factors and time scale, not so much of an actual deserted
medieval settlement as of a locality reflecting the changes in farming
practices and population distribution which typified the 13th and 14th
centuries. A cluster of dwellings and small house plots where the
highway from the south met Whitford Green is evident on the earliest
18th-century maps, and was an obvious focal point, but we have no
evidence that this emerged during the later Middle Ages, or that it should
be seen as an example of the nucleation which had become a common
trend. Thus without being completely depopulated, and never
developing an identifiable village centre, Whitford was eventually
absorbed into the evolving parish of Mitcham.


James Wilford’s
house is believed to
have been close to
the site of the later
Mitcham Hall

ornamental water –
believed to be the last
vestiges of a moat

Detail from the 1895 OS 25-inch map, annotated to show the
suggested location of James Wylford’s ‘great messuage’.

Chapter 2


One of the major land-owning families in Mitcham throughout much
of the Tudor period, the Wilfords (their name was also spelt as Wylforde
or Wylford) are familiar to local historians from numerous documentary
sources. First to appear in the records was James Wilford, alderman of
the City of London and in 1494 Master of the Worshipful Company of
Merchant Taylors, who is credited with having financed the construction
(or, more likely, the repair) of the road from Streatham to Mitcham.1
James’s residence was to the south of Whitford Green, and one imagines
his business interests in London would have necessitated frequent
journeys to and from the City. It is likely therefore that, public-spirited
as James’s gesture may sound, his motives were not entirely altruistic.

By his will, dated 20 September 1525, James “did give and devise” to
his son Robert all of what he called his “great messuage, land and
tenement with appurtenances in Micham”, but excluded two tenements

(i.e. plots of land) on which his sons John and William had recently
built houses for themselves.2 Our knowledge of early 16th-century
Mitcham is somewhat sketchy, but the most likely site of James’s
residence is occupied today by the commercial premises fronting the
east side of London Road, and the houses in Baron Grove nearest the
main road. The Wilfords’ house may actually have been surrounded by
the moat we have identified in the previous chapter, and its grounds
seem originally to have included virtually the whole of the area now
lying between the rear boundary of properties fronting the Cricket Green
southwards as far as Tramway Path, and extended eastwards from
London Road to Jeppo’s Lane. Although the history of this estate during
the Middle Ages remains conjectural, there are grounds for believing
it to have comprised part of the property held by the de Wickfords
during the 12th and 13th centuries as tenants of the de Sumery family
and of the honour of Dudley.3
The two plots of land on which James Wilford’s sons John and William
had built houses by 1525 can be identified on the 25-inch OS maps of
the latter half of the 19th century. They are of equal size, and from
what is known of their later history it is clear that William’s plot was
destined to become the site of the so-called ‘Manor House’, whilst that


of his brother John lay to the south. Demolition of William Wilford’s
house seems to have preceded erection of Manor House, which was
substantially of 17th- or 18th-century date and survived into the mid20th
century. What remained of his brother’s house had also disappeared
by the early 19th century, to be replaced by various smaller dwellings
and outbuildings. Their site is now covered by the houses on the northern
side of Baron Grove, and the railway itself.

John Wilford, who was Master of the Merchant Taylors’ Company in
1542, in memory of his late father bequeathed an annual sum of £13,
derived from rents, to be held in trust by the Company and applied to
the repair of the road from Streatham through Mitcham to Sutton.4 In
his will, which is dated 1550/1, he left his house to his widow Mary for
her life, with the reversionary interest passing to their son James and
daughter-in-law Agnes. In May 1560 James, described as a “citizen
and merchant taylor of London” and acting in conjunction with Agnes,
sold “their reversion of and in the messuage or tenement and
appurtenances in Mytcham … built by John Wilford”.5 The purchaser
was John Swifte who, as far as one can tell, was not a local man and
was probably a land agent, for the following year he disposed of the
property to a John Carpenter of ‘Westbarnes’ in Merton.6

Ten years later, in July 1570, Carpenter, styled a ‘yeoman’ and evidently
also dabbling in real estate, sold for £80 the interest in John Wilford’s
former home to Thomas Pynner, to whom we will return later. The
house, already occupied by Pynner, presumably as a leaseholder, was
described as a “messuage or tenement”, and with it went “the buildings,
houses, edifices, barns, stables, courtyards, orchards, backsides,
easements etc”. A note on the back of the deed, written perhaps 150
years later, states that the premises were those “in which the
schoolmaster John Muscat resided”, and that it was formerly the
property of Sir Julius Caesar.7 It will be seen later that this evidence is
crucial when we come to reconstruct the subsequent history of the

Not much is known about William Wilford. Since part of the land he
occupied was held of the manor of Vauxhall, which embraced much of
central Mitcham including Whitford Green and land on its southern


margin, we have confirmation that William’s house stood to the north
of that built by his brother John. In 1574 a Thomas Wilford, who could
have been William’s son, sold a freehold messuage, garden and orchard
in Mitcham to Thomas Smythe,8 and this provides a link with the later
history of the site which, as we have noted above, in years to come was
occupied by Manor House. Smythe held a senior appointment on
Elizabeth I’s Board of the Greencloth, the department of the royal
household having control of various matters of expenditure, besides
exercising legal and judicial authority within the sovereign’s court royal.
His “choice house and landes” overlooked the Wandle downstream
from Mitcham bridge (the site is now occupied by the Watermeads
housing estate) and, as well as land in Lower Mitcham, he owned a
large estate in Wandsworth. A year after buying the Wilford house
Thomas Smythe died, in “debt, daunger and bonde of twoe thousand
poundes”. The prospects for his eldest son and heir George were bleak,
but the family’s fortunes took a turn for the better with his mother’s
marriage to Dr Bartholomew Clerke of Clapham, dean of the arches,
who redeemed much of the Smythe estate (to which we are told he had
no title in law) and made it over to the boy.9

Thus it transpired that in March 1604/5 George Smythe was able to
grant a John Bowssar (or Bowser), “citizen and vintner of London”, a
20-year tenure of what we can assume to have been William Wilford’s
former property, described as a “messuage or tenement, garden, orchard,
barns, stables, yards, grounds and outrooms in Mitcham, alias
Wickford”.10 It was occupied at the time by “Thomas Cesar esq.”, and
fronted “the King’s Highway”, i.e. London Road south of the Lower
Green. George Smythe, like William Wilford before him, also held
land as a copyholder of the manor of Vauxhall, lordship of which was
in the hands of the dean and chapter of Canterbury.11 The precise location
of this land is not known, but from later records it would appear that it
probably lay to the north of Church Path, on the opposite side of the
highway from Smythe’s house.

We now turn to the third brother, Robert Wilford. In 1544, following
the dissolution of Merton priory and on payment of £486 14s, lordship
of the ‘manor’ of Biggin and Tamworth and much of north Mitcham
was granted by Henry VIII to Robert and his wife Joan for life.12 Robert,


a citizen of the City of London and, like his father and brother John, a
member of the Merchant Taylors’ Company, was already a man of
standing in Mitcham. He was obviously well regarded by those in
authority and, most importantly, could meet the purchase price.

As well as the former Merton priory estates, he had long been in
possession of other properties in Mitcham, including the 15th-century
mansion in Lower Mitcham that he had inherited from his father James
in 1525. According to an inquistion post mortem of November 1545,
one of these properties consisted of two ‘messuages’ with 60 acres
pasture and six acres meadow, held of the manor of Vauxhall. The
other was described as a tenement and garden, called Combiscente,
plus four acres of arable strips in the Blacklands (the West Field) and
two acres meadow in South Mede, held of the manor of Biggin and

The grant of the manor of Biggin and Tamworth by Henry VIII increased
Robert Wilford’s estate very considerably, adding lands formerly
belonging to Merton priory. In all, the new holding comprised 640 acres
(including 200 of woodland), and extended not only across north
Mitcham but also beyond the parish boundary into Tooting Graveney
and Streatham. Within Mitcham itself Robert’s estate now took in Biggin
Farm and Fenny Mead (or ‘Flemymead’) on the borders with Tooting,
the priory’s Amery lands and Bygrave Hill (both in the Colliers Wood
area), and Pollards Hill. As we have seen above, he was already in
possession of two acres of meadow in the ‘South Mede’ in Lower
Mitcham, which he held under a tenancy granted by the priory before
the Dissolution,12 and to these were now added the enclosures off Willow
Lane known as ‘The Marsh Fee Lands’. These had once formed part of
the more extensive ‘Mareshfee’ or ‘Mareslondes’ held by William
Mareys in the 14th century to which we have referred earlier, and
extended beyond the Wandle southwards into the neighbouring parish
of Carshalton.

Robert Wilford had not long to enjoy his new status as lord of one of
the most extensive of the Mitcham manors, for he died in September
1545. He left to his wife ‘Johane’ (sic) “All that manner of Biggin with
appurtenances in Mitcham and all the capital messuage or tenement


with appurtenances and all my other messuages, lands and tenements
in Mitcham and elsewhere in the county of Surrey to have and to howld
for life, and after her death to William Wilford my son and heir apparent
[who was only 13 years of age at the time of his father’s death]. In
default of issue, to Anne Wilford, Johan Wilford and Auderey (sic)
Wilford my daughters. In default of issue to Nicholas Wilford my

Exactly what happened to Robert Wilford’s estate, and who occupied
his late father’s “great messuage” in the years that followed is not clear.
Joan and her four children may have remained there for a while, but
since it presumably dated from the 15th century the family home would
have been outmoded and showing its age. The so-called “mansion
house” of Biggin and land in north Mitcham had been leased to Henry
Pike, a yeoman farmer, either shortly before or after Robert Wilford’s
death, but ownership was retained by Robert’s widow and children
until the close of the century. By the mid-1550s Joan Wilford had
remarried, her new husband being Sir John Mordant (or Maudaunt) of
Drayton, later Lord Mordant, and in May 1556 the property of her late
husband Robert was discharged to her out of the Court of Wards. She
and her family were probably no longer living at Mitcham when, in
1568, John Mordant leased what seems to have been James Wilford’s
“great messuage” in Lower Mitcham to Thomas Pynner for 21 years.15

In later life Pynner held office as chief clerk comptroller to Queen
Elizabeth, and in the 1560s, when he was obviously an up-and-coming
man, we find him busily assembling an estate in Mitcham commensurate
with his social aspirations. His lands already extended to include much
of what is now the Willow Lane industrial estate when, in 1569, as the
occupier of ‘Southfyld Mead’, he was required to carry out maintenance
work to the banks of the Wandle abutting his property.16 Seeking to
enlarge his holding in Lower Mitcham still further, in 1570 he purchased
from John Carpenter the house he was already occupying, described in
the indenture of bargain and sale as “a messuage or tenement in Mitcham
late the inheritance or part of the possession of John Wilford”.17 Pynner
further extended his estate in 1576 by the acquisition from Richard
Hopkins of 47½ acres of copyhold land in the South Field lying within
the manor of Ravensbury.18 These we can identify from an estate map


of 1717 as “The Three Copyhold Closes” lying on the south-east side
of Willow Lane.19

Thomas Pynner was resident in Mitcham for some 15 years. Amongst
the monuments in the chancel of Mitcham church recorded by John
Aubrey is one to his memory, proclaiming him to have been

“at the tyme of his deathe justice of peace in this County of Surry; a
man of good place & worthe in his lyfe tyme, and much lamented
for his losse at the tyme of his deathe; who dyed the 6th daye of
Julye … 1583.” 20

The tablet can still be seen, high on the south wall of the chancel.21

The property Pynner left to his widow Joanna included “a mansion
house in Mitcham, valued at 13s 4d a year, held of the dean and chapter
of Christ Church, Canterbury, by military service in capite [i.e. by direct
grant from the Crown], and 18 acres of land in Mitcham”.22 Joanna
Pynner did not remain long at Mitcham after her husband’s death, and
an inquisition post mortem held at Croydon in July 1587 confirmed the
sale of the Pynners’ Lower Mitcham estate to Arthur Langworth of
Ringmer in Sussex. The latter’s interest was evidently that of an
intermediary, probably as an attorney acting for the beneficiaries. In
February 1587/8 the house built by John Wilford – the “capital
Messuage and appurtenances late in the occupation of Thomas Pynner
deceased, including buildings, barn, stables, orchards, gardens etc.” –
was sold by Langworth of Ringmer, Sussex, to John Dent, a London

In the same year, 1588, Dent bought another freehold property in
Mitcham from Henry Whitney, lord of the manor of Biggin and
Tamworth, and sergeant to Sir Thomas Bromley the lord chancellor.24
Whitney was a son-in-law of Lady (Joan) Mordant, having married Ann,
her daughter by her first husband, Robert Wilford. The agreement of
release makes it clear this included the “great messuage” in which James
Wilford once resided, and which he had bequeathed to his eldest son
and heir Robert over half a century before. With the adjoining property
he had bought from Langworth, Dent, like Pynner, had now reassembled
what must have amounted to the major part of the original Wilford


estate. Clearly a man of wealth, he was soon able to contemplate inviting
the Queen and her customary entourage to stay at his Mitcham house,
an honour he was to secure on two separate occasions, in 1592 and

With the sale in 1588 the connection of the Wilford family with Lower
Mitcham seems to have ended. In the early 17th century redevelopment
of the estate began again, and within 50 years or so two new houses
had arisen to the north and south of where the early Tudor house had
stood. Their history is the subject of separate studies to follow. How
long James Wilford’s mansion survived after its purchase by Dent in
1588, and whether or not Dent carried out alterations or rebuilding is
unknown. As we shall see in the next chapter, there is reason to believe
that parts of John Wilford’s house, quite possibly enlarged during
Pynner’s ownership, remained standing throughout the 18th century,
although by then divided into several tenements and, one imagines,
becoming increasingly dilapidated. The last fragments, perhaps mainly
former stables and outbuildings rather than part of the house itself,
were demolished around 1820. The remaining vestiges of the supposed
moat around the old Wilford mansion disappeared during the early years
of the 20th century, when the Mitcham Park estate was developed.

View of Mitcham Park from Gedge Court, 1952


Sir Julius Caesar (1558–1636)
Chancellor of the Exchequer 1606, Master of the Rolls 1614,
resident of Mitcham c.1596–1613
Engraving by Renold Elstrack

Chapter 3



One of several noteworthy personalities who made their homes in
the little Surrey village of Mitcham during the reign of Elizabeth I,
Sir Julius Caesar (1558–1636) was described by Fuller as “A person
of prodigious bounty to all of worth or want”1and, although not
enjoying a high reputation for legal acumen, he possessed what in
his day was the rare merit of being superior to corruption. He claimed
descent from Italian aristocracy through the distaff side of the family
of the duke of Caesarini,2 and at the time he settled in Mitcham was
judge of the court of admiralty, and master of requests.3 Perpetually
short of money, he assiduously pursued patrons in the hope of more
lucrative appointments and, like many other prominent men of the
time, coveted the expensive honour of a visit from the Queen, five
previous disappointments serving only to increase his desire to
secure so glittering a prize. His fortunes improved considerably after
his marriage to John Dent’s wealthy young widow Alice (Dent having
died in 1595), and his ambition to play host to his sovereign was
achieved in 1598 at his wife’s house in Mitcham. Julius Caesar was
knighted by James I in 1603, became chancellor of the exchequer in
1606, and master of the rolls in 1614. His mortal remains were
interred in the church of Great St Helen, Bishopsgate, where his
unusual monument, designed by himself and erected before his death,
bears an “inscription in the form of an enrolled deed, in the proper
diplomatic style, and with seal affixed:

‘by this my act and deed I confirm with my

full consent that by the Divine aid I will

willingly pay the debt of Nature as soon as

it may please God.’
At the bottom, the deed is enrolled in Heaven:

Irrotulatur Caelo.”4


Julius Caesar’s account of his hospitality to the Queen, preserved in a
manuscript in the British Museum, has often been quoted, but bears

“Tuesday, Sept.12, the Queen visited my house at Micham, and
supped and lodged there, and dined the next day. I presented her
with a gown of cloth of silver richly embroidered; a black net-work
mantle with pure gold; a taffeta hat, white, with several flowers,
and a jewel of gold set therein with rubies and diamonds. Her
Majesty removed from my house after dinner the 13th. of September
to Nonsuch, with exceeding good contentment; which entertainment
of her Majesty, with the former disappointment, amounted to £700
sterling, besides mine own provisions, and what was sent by my

The pageantry and splendour which accompanied the progresses of
Queen Elizabeth are of course well-known; purely through the chance
survival of the manuscript, the impact of this particular short visit on a
single household has never been forgotten, and generations of Mitcham
people have heard repeated the account of what was undeniably a great
event in the life of the village. However, as we have seen in Chapter 2,
the Queen’s visit in 1598, although unique in Julius Caesar’s experience,
was not the first she had paid to the Mitcham home of his young wife.
Furthermore, the Dents’ was certainly not the only house in the village
at which the Queen had stayed, for in 1591 and again in 1594 she had
been the guest of Lady Blanke, also in Lower Mitcham.6

The urge to identify the house at which the Queen stayed in 1598 has
been a stimulus to local historians since the early 19th century, but
unfortunately until recently, due mainly to restricted access to primary
sources, their assumptions have for the most part been wildly
inaccurate.7 Research conducted some 40 years ago finally removed
all doubt as to the whereabouts of Julius Caesar’s house,8 and more
recent work has established the essential details of its history both before
and after the royal visits.

The earliest clue to the identity of the house, which a few years after
the Queen’s visit Julius Caesar was to describe as “a little property at


Mitcham”,9 is supplied by the endorsement on the back of the indenture
of bargain and sale dated 24 July 1570.10

Dent, to whom Langworth sold the Pynners’ mansion in Lower Mitcham
in 1587/8, was a native of Leicester. As a young man he had moved
south to seek his fortune, and eventually became a citizen, merchant
and salter of the city of London. A Margaret Dent, who was probably
his first wife, was buried at St Bartholomew by the Exchange on 10
October 1582, and in 1586, or a little earlier, John Dent married Alice,
the young daughter of Christopher Green of Manchester and his wife
Elizabeth Strangwais. The couple had two daughters, Mary, born on
18 July 1587 and Elizabeth on 9 October 1590.11

According to E K Chambers, in 1592 Queen Elizabeth travelled from
Greenwich to Nonsuch, staying at John Dent’s house in Mitcham from
29 July until 31July, when the remove to Nonsuch was completed.6
This visit is confirmed by an entry in the register of Mitcham parish
church which reveals, however, that the Queen spent four days, not
three, in Mitcham, arriving at Dent’s house a day earlier than Chambers

“1592. Edward Whitney, the sonne of Henry Whitney Esquier, was
borne uppon friday, July 28, the same day yt her matie Came to Mr.
Dent his howse, and was baptized monday 31, the same day her
matie went from hence, to Nonesuche …”12

The Queen visited Dent’s house again three years later, on the remove
to Nonsuch from Greenwich via Whitehall and Mitcham. The period
given by Chambers for the journey is 18–22 August, but the length of
the stay at Mitcham on this occasion is uncertain.13 Chambers gives the
host as “John ? Dent”, but there seems no reason to doubt that Dent
was the host, for he did not die until 9 December 1595. He was buried
in the church of St Bartholomew, and by his will dated 8 April 1595,
proved 18 December 1595, left to his wife Alice, and on her death to
their daughters Mary and Elizabeth Dent, all his property and lands in
Mitcham purchased from Arthur Langworth, Henry Whitney and his
son Henry. Dent reminded his wife in a codicil to the will “that I have
geeven to her during her Life my howse at Mitcham for the better
comforte of her and her children”, and in view of future events it may


be that, perhaps already an ailing man, he wished to safeguard his
daughters’ inheritance. The following April, just four months after her
husband’s death, Alice Dent was married to Dr Julius Caesar at her
Mitcham house.12

Thus it transpired that, barely having reached her 30th year, Alice was
hostess to the Queen for a third time when Elizabeth stayed overnight
on the 12–13 September during her progress to Nonsuch in 1598. Hotson
reproduces the “Supplication to the Queen” made on this occasion, in
which the words “As for your ould hostesse” appear – clearly a reference
to Alice’s not unfamiliar rôle as hostess to Elizabeth at Mitcham.14

Many are the parties and receptions that must have been held in the
great hall at the Caesars’ mansion during their residence in Mitcham,
and it requires little imagination to visualise the revelries and feasting
that took place on such occasions. Seldom can the festivities have
excelled those which accompanied the marriages of Mary and Elizabeth
Dent at Mitcham on 26 October 1607. Both found wealthy husbands,
Mary, aged 20, marrying Henry Savile of Methley, in Yorkshire, and
Elizabeth, aged 17, Sir Francis Vere.15 Henry Savile, who was born in
1579, was the son of Sir John Savile of Methley, baron of the exchequer,
and Jane his first wife, only daughter of Richard Garth esq. of Morden.
A close friend of the Throckmortons and Sir Walter Raleigh, Henry
received his knighthood at the coronation of James I, was created a
baronet in 1611, and died on 23 June 1632.15 One also imagines that
near neighbours of the Caesars such as the Farrants, who lived in a
large house on the opposite side of the Sutton road, Dr Clerke and the
Smythes of Mitcham Grove, William Rutland of Colliers Wood and
his friend Sir Gregory Lovell of Merton ‘Abbey’ were often visitors,
and we are told that the Caesars’ house was the “frequent resort” of the
poet John Donne during his residence in the village from 1605 to 1611.16

Lady Caesar died on 23 May 1614 and the following month was buried
with great pomp at St Helen’s, Bishopsgate.17 Sir Julius Caesar had left
his “rural abode” in Mitcham by 1613, and it seems unlikely that the
Saviles ever lived there. In 1623 Sir Henry was styled as “of Methley,
Yorks”, which certainly suggests he had by then inherited the family
seat and moved north. There is record of the formal surrender in May


1619 by Sir Patrick Murray and his wife Elizabeth (she having remarried
after the death of Sir Francis, her first husband) and the admission of
Sir Henry to the customary tenancy of the four closes of land called
Southfields within the manor of Ravensbury,18 but it is clear that when
the Saviles sold the Mitcham estate four years later the Dents’ former
house had been let to tenants for some time previously. The indenture
of sale, dated 20 March 1623/4, is preserved in the Lambeth Archives
and records the conveyance, by Sir Henry and “Lady Marie his wife”
to Richard Broughton of London in consideration of £930, of a capital
messuage wherein “the right honorable Sir Julius Caesar Knight lately
did dwell and is now or late” in the occupation of Milcah Hare, a

Adjoining the house was “an orchard or garden thereunto appertaining”
with buildings, a close of two acres with barn and stable standing
between a house occupied by a Mrs Bowser and another, belonging to
Thomas Wood. All were, or had been until a short time before, occupied
by Milcah Hare. Mrs Bowser was, presumably, the widow of “John
Bowssar”, citizen and vintner of London, to whom in March 1604/5
George Smyth(e) had granted a 20-year lease of what was described as
a messuage or tenement abutting south and west on the dwelling house
of Sir Julius Caesar.20 The house thus leased (we have noted earlier
that it was probably the precursor of what later was known as Manor
House) was at the time in the occupation of a Thomas “Cesar”. Further
to the north lay a farmhouse owned by Sir Julius Caesar.

The release of the rest of the Savile estate to Richard Broughton
followed in November 1624,21 by which time he was in occupation of
Caesar’s former “rural abode”, Milcah Hare having departed. When in
1628/9 Broughton was admitted to the copyhold tenure of Cold Blows
and Chaff Hawes, five closes of land totalling 22 acres held of the
manor of Ravensbury, he was described as “of Mitcham”, which implies
he was then resident in the parish.22 The reign of Charles I seems to
have witnessed some sub-division and redevelopment of the old Wilford
estate with its three Tudor houses, but to what extent this involved the
house and land bought from the Saviles is not clear. Richard Broughton’s
grant of a 2l-year lease of Cold Blows and Chaff Hawes to a William
Berefoote in 1628 suggests he may have acquired the land merely as an


investment.23 Nothing more is known about him, and it was a Peter
Broughton of Lowdham, Nottinghamshire, presumably a son, who in
1654 actually sold the former Savile house (then occupied by Robert
Tichborne) to Thomas Hopkins of London.24

Decline and Fall (1654–1803)

In the early years of Cromwell’s Protectorate what was described as the
“Capital messuage or mansion house in Mitcham in which Sir Julius
Caesar lately dwelt, now Robert Tichborne, alderman”, was sold to
Robert Cranmer, a London merchant, for £1600. The transfer was effected
through the usual device of the bargain and sale, the indenture being
dated 27 February 1654/5 and naming as the vendor Thomas Hopkins.24
Included in the sale was an adjoining close of meadow or pasture totalling
two acres, and various outbuildings, and parcels of land amounting to
some 45 acres amongst which were Firsey Close and Long Close in the
South Field, then used as bleaching grounds. Hopkins, described as “of
London”, was acting, one assumes, as an agent or trustee for Peter
Broughton. The purchase procedure was somewhat complex, involving
the conveyance of the reversionary interest on 10 October 1654 and a
final agreement in the Court of Common Bench the following Easter.25
The militia levy assessments for the early part of 1655 accordingly still
recorded Broughton as the recipient of Tichborne’s rent.26

Tichborne, who early in life had been a linen draper in London, was a
member of the Skinners’ Company. He rose to the rank of colonel in the
yellow regiment of the London trained bands (a sort of militia), and
under Fairfax was made Lieutenant of the Tower. An extreme
independent in his theological views, he was author of several religious
works, and was lampooned in Rump songs as having a “beardless chin”
and able to “preach, pray and prate by the Spirit”. In politics Tichborne
held radically advanced views, and was one of the signatories of the
death warrant of Charles I. He became an alderman of the ward of
Farringdon Within in 1649, and was elected as Lord Mayor in 1656–57.
Cromwell knighted Tichborne in 1655, and in December 1657 appointed
him to his ‘other house’ or upper chamber as ‘Lord’ Tichborne. Tichborne
and Sir John Ireton, described in a Royalist pamphlet as “the two City


Jugglers”, were arrested in 1660. After being sentenced to death,
Tichborne’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and he died
in the Tower in 1682.27

The last record of Tichborne in Mitcham is in the militia assessment for
June 1658, after which the house apparently stood empty for a year.
Then, in the following June, a Mr Vannam, later described as ‘Mr.
Alderman Vannam’, was named as the tenant. This was, one imagines,
the same person who appears as ‘Alexander Vanciam’ in the hearth tax
records of 1664, assessed on the basis of ten hearths in what, on this
evidence, was a house of respectable size and one of the largest in the
village.28 Vannam’s name is interesting, and suggests his forebears may
well have been amongst the many Protestant families who migrated to
England from the Spanish Netherlands in the 16th century to escape
religious persecution.

Richard Norton, who married Anne Hampson,29 was the next occupant
of the house, but moved to a neighbouring, and as yet unidentified,
property in 1668. There follow references in the militia tax books to
“Mr. Norton’s old house” which, by 1673, had been down-rated,
indicative of its increasing dilapidation and hence falling value. Manning
and Bray mention a monument in old Mitcham church to Dorothy, wife
of Richard Lawrence and daughter of Richard Norton Esq., “formerly
of this parish”, who died 9 December 1701.30 From the 1670s the history
of the property is difficult to follow, and it appears to have been either
vacant, or only partly occupied (the reduced assessment makes it hard
to identify amongst other low-rated houses nearby) until at least 1680,
when the series of militia assessment books preserved at Surrey History
Centre ceases.

At the time of the sale in 1654/5 Robert Cranmer was busy acquiring a
large estate in Mitcham, finally buying lordship of the manor of Mitcham,
the rectory and the advowson in 1656.31 As a young man he had spent a
number of years abroad in the service of the East India Company and
now, on his return to England, he obviously aspired to the status of a
country gentleman. Unfortunately both Cranmer and his young wife
Mary died in 1665/6, leaving the estate to their sons, with whose
descendants it was to remain for over 250 years.32


A note dated 1681 among the various abstracts of title and deeds of the
house held with the Cranmer papers at the Surrey History Centre, asserts
that the house was “now or late in the tenure or occupation of Thomas
Hinchman,” about whom nothing is known at the present time.33 The
“Mansion House heretofore inhabited by Sir Julius Caesar, then by
Thomas Hinchman and now by John Muscatt” is referred to in an article
of agreement to common recovery signed by Anne Cranmer on 11
February 1716,34 and the “Messuage, stable, coachhouse, orchard,
formerly occupied by Julius Caesar, let to Edward Lansdown” is listed
amongst the property of James Cranmer in 1737, as producing a rental
income of £16 clear of taxes.35

Although in his account and estate book for the period 1740–1752 James
Cranmer, who was Robert Cranmer’s grandson, fails to describe the
house as formerly belonging to Sir Julius Caesar, he does supply some
useful details from which one can begin to form an idea of what it
might have been like. It appears that in October 1734 Edward Lansdown,
a stage coach proprietor, had leased the property complete with its
courtyard, coach house and stabling from Cranmer for 11 years. He
parted with “his stage” to a Mr Eastling in 1742, who paid £4 a year for
the coachhouse and stable to midsummer 1745. James Mitchell rented
the coachhouse for a short period until Ladyday 1748, and Ephraim
Potter paid rent for the hay loft for five months up to Christmas the
same year.36

In 1749 the house itself was let to two tenants, a Henry Napton taking

“the Parlour, Withdrawing Room, Kitchen thereunto adjoyning, The
ffour Chambers over them, the Great Stair Case, the Chamber over
the Hall passages & Clossetts to ye same belonging with a Beaufett
and the use of ye Pump in the paved Kitchen in comon (or of some
other pump) with ye Court Yard, Coach-house, Stables, Little Yard
and Necessary House wth ye Greatest part of the Orchard being
parcell of ye premises late in ye occupacon of Mr. Edwd. Lansdown
situate at Mitcham for Three Years from Ye 25th. of March next”
(1749) “at the Yearly Rent of £12.12s.0d. payable quarterly and the
Tenant to keep ye same in repair during ye sd Term (Danger of ffire


and a Mrs Susanna Walker took the other part

“of the Messuage & premises …… with ye use of the Great Kitchen,
Washhouse, Ovens & Pump thereunto belonging in comon and a
yard wth part of ye Orchard for Three Years from 25th March next at
a Yearly rental of £7.7s.0d., payable quarterly and the Tenant to

In May 1750, perhaps for the sake of legal clarity once again described
as the “Capital messuage formerly occupied by Sir Julius Caesar”, the
house was confirmed in an indenture of bargain and sale for one year
as being in the tenure of Napton and Susanna Walker, but in August
1769, in a similar document, it is shown as occupied by John Twyne of
London.37 Twyne’s family owned land in Suffolk, Sussex, Walton-on-
Thames and Chertsey, of which he inherited a share in 1761. He had
moved to Mitcham by 1764, and died intestate in August 1783. A
memorial to Twyne and his wife Elizabeth could be seen at one time in
the churchyard on the northern side of Mitcham church but has now

The land tax records39 show that after John Twyne’s death tenure of the
property, the reversionary interest in which was by then owned by
Cranmer’s son, passed to Elizabeth Twyne, who died in March 1786.
From 1787 until about 1791 there is no entry which can be matched to
the house, although the adjoining large properties are listed each year,
their relative positions unaltered on the relevant pages of the assessment
books. It is from our ability to identify these neighbouring houses –
Mitcham Hall owned by Henry Hoare to the south, and the house to the
north, owned by Charles Everingham – that we can locate what remained
of Sir Julius Caesar’s former mansion with confidence. James Edwards,
conducting the initial research for his Companion from London to
Brighthelmston in 1788 or 89, noted “a large white house” between
Everingham’s property and the next house, then occupied by Andrew
French. Although he did not acknowledge it as such, this “large white
house” must have incorporated what survived of the Caesars’ mansion,
and Edwards’ description of it provides the only hint we have of its
external appearance towards the end of its life. The building belonged
to James Potter, Edwards informed his readers (we know that Potter


was actually only the leaseholder) and was “kept as a Boarding School
for young ladies, by Mrs. Hollamby”.40 Edwards is usually a reliable
authority, and although no other sources mention Mrs Hollamby’s
school, there is no reason to doubt him.

In the land tax book for 1792 a “house and land” and a “house”, occupied
by Andrew Black and John Greet respectively – the taxpayers – but
owned by James Cranmer appear between the entries for Mitcham Hall
and Charles Everingham’s house. For the three following years the
latter are separated only by an entry for “land”, let to William Fry and
Ann Pipps. The annual tax assessment for Mitcham Hall was as high
as £133, and for Everingham’s house £45. In each case the valuation,
like assessments for local rates, was based on an estimated rental value.
In comparison with these two figures, the assessment for the premises
until recently occupied by the Twynes was very low, a mere £16. This,
clearly, was no longer a grand mansion, capable of commanding a high
rent, and the low annual value confirms it was becoming increasingly
ruinous and probably only partly occupied. When tenancies are indicated
in the records, they were only of short duration. The reason for this
rapid decline is, admittedly, a little puzzling. Danger from fire seems
to have been a recognised hazard when the house was let in 1749, and
with the likelihood of substantial quantities of timber being used in its
construction in the 16th century, and outbuildings used for the storage
of hay and fodder, it could well be that the house had suffered damage
in this way.

In May 1797 James Cranmer granted a 99-year lease of what the lawyers
were still describing as “the Messuage with appurtenances where Sir
Julius Caesar lived” to James Potter.41 However, from 1797 until 1802
there is no entry in the land tax records for property lying between
Mitcham Hall and Everingham’s house. Then, in 1803, entries start
again, but this time in respect of three small dwelling-houses, two newly-
built and rated at £14, and the other at £8. The “proprietor”, in this case
the leaseholder, is given as James Moore,42 nephew and heir of James
Potter who had died in 1799. The implication, clearly, is that although
Potter’s death may have delayed matters, shortly after settlement of
the estate Moore proceeded to redevelop the site. The old Tudor house
seems not to have been demolished completely, however, for Manning


and Bray, compiling the third volume of their History of Surrey, to be
published in 1814, observed

“Part of Sir Julius Caesar’s house still remains, … but part has been
lately taken down, and some new houses built on the ground.”43

Precisely what part of the old house was left we cannot tell, but from
the proximity of the new buildings to the high road it is unlikely that
what had been demolished before redevelopment could have been
anything other than outbuildings and perhaps a small gatehouse or lodge.
The new houses, known later in the century as Berkeley Cottage and
Berkeley House, can be seen in a photograph taken in about 1870.44

Berkeley Cottage and Berkeley House, London Road.
These would appear to have been the “new houses” built shortly before
1814 on part of the site of Sir Julius Caesar’s house.
Photograph by Tom Francis, reproduced by courtesy of Merton Library Service


As far as one can tell, both dated to around the beginning of the century,
and they have nothing about them to suggest they incorporated any
part of the Tudor mansion. The third “dwelling”, for which entries
continue in the tax books until the late 1820s, although it seems by then
to be insignificant, ended its life as a builder’s store before being finally
demolished perhaps ten years later. This, it would seem, was the “part
of Sir Julius Caesar’s house” to which Manning and Bray referred.

Berkeley Cottage, Berkeley House and Berkeley Place (1803–c.1930)

Still relying mainly on the land tax records, the history of the two small
houses and their more imposing neighbours can be followed until 1831.
In 1806 Mrs Cranmer, James’s widow, is given as the “proprietor”, i.e.
the ground landlord, and entries for the next three years are similar, but
with various changes in the tenants.

With the exception of Thomas Bucknell, whom we know from the 1841
census to have been an engraver, probably of copper plates used in the
local textile printing works, and Thomas Pratt (the first occupant of
Berkeley Cottage) there is nothing much of interest one can say about
the other tenants, for they have left little mark in local records.

Thomas Pratt was regarded by his contemporaries as “a man of rare
character”. In his early years he is said to have worked as a calico
printer and also as a silk weaver, and then, when the industry went into
decline locally, he turned his hand to selling boots and shoes from a
small shop in Phipps Bridge Road. Pratt must have succeeded in
accumulating a little capital, for he built a terrace of six cottages known
as ‘Pratt’s Folly’ off Phipps Bridge Road, which he rented out. Pratt’s
main claim to a place in local history, however, is as one of the founding
fathers of the Zion Chapel in Western Road. Dissenting Protestantism
had seen a revival in Mitcham in about 1770, encouraged by the
preaching of a group of ministers inspired by the evangelism of the
Revd George Whitfield, and there had been a small meeting house off
Commonside East, but support fell away after a few years.45 The nucleus
of a congregation survived, however, and another place of public
worship was fitted out by a group of Nonconformists in Lower Mitcham
and opened by the Revd Rowland Hill on 17 April 1816.46 This, it is


said, owed its inception to Thomas Pratt. The little chapel, perhaps
more correctly described as a meeting room, was above Thomas
Bennett’s workshops in a yard between the King’s Head (now the Burn
Bullock) and Manor House.47 Pratt’s signature is among the four
appended to the application for a certificate for the meeting house,
granted by Surrey Quarter Sessions in November 1816. It was in part
due to Pratt’s zeal that membership of the local Society of Independent
Calvinists, as they were designated, increased considerably towards
the end of the Napoleonic wars, and a fine new chapel in Mitcham, to
hold 500 people, was soon planned. Since it was anticipated that the
congregation would be composed largely of “the laborous poor”, a
public appeal for funds was launched. Not unexpectedly, prominent
amongst those who donated and collected money for the new building
was Thomas Pratt. It was fitting, therefore, that Pratt himself should
lay the foundation stone on 9 September 1818, and that when he died
in June 1854 at the age of 80 ‘Deacon Pratt’, as he was then known,
should be interred in the little burial ground alongside the chapel.48

Thomas Pratt lived at Berkeley Cottage as a yearly tenant until the
early 1840s, when he moved to Prospect House on Commonside East,
overlooking the Three Kings Pond. Over the 40 years he and his wife
lived at Berkeley Cottage they experienced several changes of landlord.
By 1810 James Moore’s name had appeared again in the land tax books
as the “proprietor” (in fact he was merely a leaseholder) and continued
to appear thus until 1819, when his name was replaced by “The
executors of Mrs. Cranmer”. They in turn give way to James Cranmer’s
grandson, the Revd Richard Cranmer who, with his sister, had inherited
the family estate, and his name continues in the tax books until his
death in 1829.

Throughout this time the assessments remain unaltered, as does the
position of the entries relative to Mitcham Hall and the Manor House.
None of the properties is named (it is not known when, and by whom
the tag ‘Berkeley’ was adopted), but their identification is quite certain
by virtue of their unchanging annual values. In September 1823 there
is a hint of a mortgage being raised in the assignment of the lease by
William Hood Henmans to Henry Hoare the banker,49 and it was
auctioned in 1828 following Hoare’s death the previous year.


As might be expected the occupancy of Bennett’s yard and the two
houses also changed over the years, and in 1827 the first mention of
Samuel Killick occurs, the particular property he occupied being
described as “Storehouse and land”. His sub-lease had, in fact, been
agreed in September 1825 and was for 21 years. The land tax book for
1829 shows Killick occupying the adjacent Berkeley House, and in
July Henry Hoare’s executors assigned the lease to him, whereupon
Killick promptly re-mortgaged to Campbell Russell.50 Killick was a
local building contractor (his father had won the contract for building
the Mitcham workhouse on the Common in 1782) and the business
seems to have flourished into the 1860s. The tithe survey of 1846 shows
him occupying both Berkeley House and the adjacent yard and
buildings, together with a meadow at the rear, and the land owners as
“the Heirs of Cranmer”. Still resident at the house in 1851, Samuel
Killick was described in the census return that year as a widower of 58,
and as a builder employing six men.

William Simpson, the great-grandson of James Cranmer II who died in
1801, inherited the family estate following the death of his father in
1860. A draft marriage settlement and a copy of counsel’s opinions,
dated July 1857 but drawn up presumably around the time of William’s
wedding to Winifred Mostyn in 1853,50 effectively removes any doubt
as to the impressive ancestry of Killick’s yard and the land on which
the two houses stood, for it refers to

” … two houses, formerly a Capital messuage or tenement in Mitcham
wherein the Rt. Hon. Sir Julius Caesar, Knt., formerly dwelt and
afterwards in the tenure or occupation of Wm. Simpson and
Susannah Walker, widow, afterwards of John Twyne and then Samuel
Killick, with the coachhouse, stable, orchard, yards and gardens
thereunto, containing altogether 1 acre, 1 rood, and 26 perches.”

The document has to be seen as a draft, produced no doubt by a lawyer
or his clerk working from the family papers without actually seeing the
property. Had he done so, he would hardly have conveyed the impression
that the two relatively new (and modest) houses were formerly the
residence of Sir Julius Caesar. Nevertheless, the document is useful in
confirming the identity and tenure of the land in question and, although


local folklore was beginning to locate it elsewhere, shows that the site
of the Tudor mansion had not been forgotten entirely.

The census of 1861 shows that Berkeley Place had by then ceased to
be used as a builder’s yard, and contained a row of nine very small
cottages, probably erected by Killick, let to labourers. From 1862
until 1878, local editions of the Post Office Directories list Walter
John Fry, grandson of the famous Quaker prison reformer, Elizabeth
Fry, as the occupant of Berkeley Cottage. He would appear to have
been the former partner of William Hooper, of the firm Hooper and
Fry, telegraph cable and rubber manufacturers (who occupied the old
workhouse on Mitcham Common) from shortly before the Crimean
War until about 1862, when the partnership seems to have been

In 1868 the mortgage debt and interest accruing on the property
originally leased to Potter in 1797 was assigned to George Pitt by the
Revd Joshua Russell and Miss Sarah Killick.51 The following year
Pitt, who was the proprietor of London House, a village hardware
and drapery store near the Fair Green, moved with his wife Priscilla
to Berkeley Cottage, recently vacated by Fry. As one might expect,
their names occur in the census return for 1871, George being
described as a “retired draper” (he had made over the stores to his
chief assistants, Thomas Francis and Eliza Cooper, in 1870) and his
household is listed as including his mother, Elizabeth – an “annuitant”

– and a Jane Pitt who was described as a “domestic servant”. In 1876
the Pitts moved to Manor House next door, but in the early ’80s, the
smaller Berkeley House having fallen vacant, it was taken by George
and Priscilla whose need for accommodation had been reduced by
the death of their aged parents. Here the Pitts remained until George’s
own death in March 1908. The story of George and Priscilla, who
were both staunch Quakers, was immortalised for Mitcham people
by Thomas Francis junior, in his lantern slides and lecture notes.52
Dubbed ‘Quakers’ Corner’ by local wags, Berkeley House and Berkeley
Cottage survived until the 1920s, together with two small houses, Lorne
Villa and Hall Villa, erected late in the 19th century at the entrance to
Berkeley Place. Following the death in 1923 of Sydney Gedge, the last


resident owner of Mitcham Hall, the house was demolished and what
remained of its grounds was laid out as building plots. In the general
development of the area that ensued in the late 1920s and early 1930s
the buildings at ‘Quakers’ Corner’ were cleared to provide a site for
the small terrace of shops and flats numbered 343 to 355 London Road.
The site of Killick’s former building yard, and what seems the most
likely position for Sir Julius Caesar’s house,53 is now covered by shops
and houses built in the inter-war period.

Plan of the property in 1924. Copyright Surrey History Service

No illustrations of Sir Julius Caesar’s house at Mitcham are known, and
its site is unlikely to provide any opportunity for the recovery of details
of its ground plan by excavation in the foreseeable future. It is thus left
to the resources of the reader’s imagination to contrast the splendours
of the Elizabethan mansion with the debased ‘Tudor’ half-timbering
and leaded-light windows of its 20th century successors, and to reflect
on the immense cultural, social and economic changes that have occurred
in Mitcham during the four centuries separating them in time.

Chapter 4



Mitcham Hall, a house which, as far as one can tell from its appearance,
was mainly late 17th century in date, with some early 19th-century
additions, stood a little back from the London Road south of the Cricket
Green, between Baron Grove and Mitcham Park.1 It was demolished
shortly after the death in 1923 of its last owner, Sydney Gedge, and
today can be remembered only faintly by a handful of the very oldest
residents of Mitcham. In the mid-Victorian period Mitcham Hall stood
in grounds which amounted to a small park and included a meadow
with a barn, elaborately planted gardens, shrubberies, ornamental water,
kitchen gardens and greenhouses, the whole totalling almost 20 acres.2
To the north the estate partly abutted Berkeley Place and its “garden
ground” of a little under one and a half acres, and extended along the
back of properties fronting what was then known as The Causeway,
overlooking the Cricket Green. The south-eastern boundary was formed
by Jeppo’s Lane, the ancient bridleway which still survives as the rear
accessway to houses numbered 2–32 Mitcham Park, erected in the last
decade of the 19th century.3 Until the 1920s the grounds of Mitcham
Hall terminated to the south at the cutting excavated for the Wimbledon
to Croydon railway, opened in 1855. Before the advent of the railway
they had extended a little further south to include another four acres of
meadow, and reached as far as the Surrey Brewery and the wooded
gardens surrounding Wandle Grove, an early 19th-century villa.

Redevelopment of the ‘Mitcham Park Estate’ for suburban housing
was completed before the outbreak of war in 1939, and apart from the
East Lodge all trace of the old house and its outbuildings had then
vanished. This final phase in the history of the property commenced
with the sale of building plots on the main road frontage in 1894.4
Although Mitcham Hall had seen many changes of ownership, the extent
of its grounds had probably remained relatively unchanged over the
preceding two and a half centuries. What can be deduced of the early
history of the estate from surviving documents suggests it may have
come into being during the late 16th or early 17th century when what


remained of the extensive grounds surrounding the Wilfords’ mansion
was broken up and sold. A conspicuous feature remaining into the inter-
war period was the L-shaped ornamental water we have suggested might
perhaps have been the remnant of a moat enclosing a medieval
homestead. It disappeared during redevelopment in the 1920s, and the
hypothesis has never been tested by excavation.

The Wyche Family in Mitcham

In his will, dated May 1609, a James Wyche bequeathed his house and
lands at Mitcham to his wife Jane, his sister, his brother Richard, and
nephew Thomas. Richard Wyche married Elizabeth, one of the
daughters of Thomas Smyth(e) of Mitcham, and died in November
1621, leaving Elizabeth and 18 children, one of whom, Nathaniel, is
understood to have become president of the East India Company.5 In
1658 Nathaniel married Anne, sister of Robert Cranmer of Mitcham.5
Another of the Wyche children, who became Sir Peter Wyche, was
comptroller of the house of Charles I.6

Accompanying a bill of sale dated 30 March 1627 is an inventory of
the “goods, chattels, plate etc.” sold by Elizabeth, Richard’s widow, to
William Smythe, her nephew. The circumstances behind the sale are
not given, but it may have been connected with settlement of a debt of
£104 she owed William.7 Following William’s death in 1640 his brother
Thomas appears to have assumed management of family affairs and to
have taken William’s young son, George into his care.

In January 1649 Henry Hampson, citizen and Merchant Taylor of
London, bought “all that mansion house or tenement with all barns,
stables, orchards, gardens, courtyards etc. late in the occupation of
Richard Wyche”.8 The vendors were Thomas Smyth, his wife Sarah
and “George Smith his son and heir”. The house was probably the
same “messuage and 18 acres of land” mentioned in an indenture dated
September 1619 between George Smith (Thomas’s father), Humphrey
Handford, Sarah’s father, and Sarah herself.9 The purchase in 1649
also included some 50 acres of land, much of it meadow, lying between
the Lower Green and the Wandle. With ownership of this land went a
“liberty of fishing” on the north bank of the river.


Although the precise location of Richard Wyche’s mansion and much
of the estate has not been established, it is reasonable to assume that
the property lay in Lower Mitcham. It is probable, however, from what
we know of the history of Mitcham Hall, that the 18 acres of land
mentioned in the deed of sale of 1649 were substantially the same as
what was to become the Mitcham Park estate, details of which were set
out in a conveyance of 1864.10

It is also quite conceivable that the land on which Richard Wyche’s
house stood, together with its adjoining orchards, gardens etc., had at
one time comprised the southern part of the earlier Wylford estate. If
so, the property would most likely have been acquired during the late
16th century, when the estate the late Robert Wylford had inherited in
1525 from his father James was being sold or leased by his widow
Joan and her second husband, John Mordant. No documentation
survives to support this assumption, but Thomas Smythe, who was
busily expanding his estate in Lower Mitcham in the years immediately
prior to his death in 1575, could well have been the purchaser. The
property thereafter passed into the hands of his daughter Elizabeth and
her husband Richard Wyche.

The Hampsons (1649–1703)

Henry Hampson emerges in local records as one of a number of city
merchants and Parliamentary supporters who settled in and around
London in the mid-17th century. Robert Cranmer was typical of these
self-made men and, having returned to England during the
Commonwealth, following service with the East India Company,
assembled an extensive estate in Mitcham in a series of property
transactions between 1652 and 1659.11 These included, for Cranmer’s
own occupation, the “capital messuage or mansion house” newly built
by Ralph Trattle, another London merchant,12 the lordship of the manor
of Mitcham Canons and the rectory and advowson of the parish church.
Sadly, Cranmer and his young wife Mary died during the plague year
of 1665, leaving their newly acquired country estate to their seven young
sons, who were to remain in the care of Hampson and his fellow trustees
until they came of age.


According to J R Woodhead,13 Henry Hampson was the son of Thomas
Hampson of London and his wife Sarah, a daughter of Alice and Thomas
Dudson of Berkshire and the parish of St George, Southwark.14 Henry
was apprenticed to William Rice of Newgate Market in 1627 and
became a member of the Merchant Taylors’ Company. The year 1649
saw the execution of Charles I and the commencement of the
Commonwealth, and many families who for one reason or another had
incurred heavy debts during the Civil War now found themselves in
financial difficulties, and were obliged to sell or mortgage houses and
land. Whether or not the need to extricate himself lay behind the
Smythes’ sale of the old Wyche property we have no evidence, but it is
obvious that Hampson, like Cranmer, was in a position to take advantage
of the situation. In October 1653, four years after his initial purchase,
we find Hampson busily enlarging his Mitcham estate, buying from
William Pitchford, citizen and haberdasher of London, five messuages
or tenements and 38 acres or so of land, mostly in relatively small plots
scattered about Mitcham.15 More activity in the property market
followed between 1654 and 1657, with Hampson involved in the transfer
of mortgage and subsequent sale of the White Hart inn in Mitcham to

Henry and Ann(e), his wife, had two sons, Thomas and Henry. When
Thomas who, like his father, was a member of the Merchant Taylors’
Company, became formally engaged to his cousin Elizabeth, daughter
of Edward Dudson, the mansion house “late in the occupation of Robert
Wyche” was described as being in the occupation of Hampson senior.
The marriage settlement, dated 1 March 1663, mentions £2000 being
paid by Edward Dudson, “citizen and draper” to his nephew Thomas
“in consideration of the marriage” and gives details of the large estate
in Mitcham owned by Henry Hampson senior.17 Although Hampson
was evidently still in possession of the old Wyche house in 1663, and
was described as an alderman of London, he was also styled as “of
Oundle” where, presumably, he had his principal seat.

The militia levy books for 1655–168018 confirm that Hampson’s house
in Mitcham was substantial, for with its grounds it was valued at £40

p.a. for the whole of the period. Further testimony to the building’s


size is provided by the hearth tax return of 1664, which shows that
with 12 hearths it was amongst the ten largest houses in the parish.19
We know nothing of its appearance, but from the position of the entry
for Hampson in the militia books it seems clear that the house was to
be found to the south of another property bought in 1654 by Robert
Cranmer. This stood on the eastern side of the highway leading south
from Lower Mitcham Green to the river Wandle and, as we have seen
in the previous chapter, in 1664 was occupied by Alexander Vanciam
or Vannam. We thus have a clear indication that Hampson’s residence

– we can assume it was the former Wyche mansion – was on, or very
close to, the site we know to have been occupied by Mitcham Hall
until it was demolished in the 1920s.
From the evidence of the militia levy returns it can be argued that the
Hampson house not only survived until at least 1680, but remained
substantially unaltered. A slight element of confusion arises, however,
in that the deed recording the bargain and sale of land to Robert Cranmer
refers to another house to the south, occupied by Thomas Wood and
subsequently Thomas and Henry Parr.20 This had been mentioned in
the sale of property by Sir Henry Savile to Richard Broughton in 1623/

4.21 In the Quarter Sessions records for 1662 Thomas Parr is described
as a ‘yeoman’ and the 1664 hearth tax assessment on his dwelling also
makes it obvious that the house was modest in size, with only two
taxable hearths. The order of entries places it beyond Hampson’s, i.e.
further to the south, in other words, in the vicinity of the site of today’s
Crown Inn.
In 1662 Henry Hampson had been elected to represent the ward of
Farringdon Within on the Court of Common Council of the City of
London, and became an alderman in January 1663/4.13 The same year
he was appointed master of the Merchant Taylors’ Company. For reasons
which are not fully understood, Henry Hampson only served six months
on the bench of aldermen before being discharged in June 1664. There
is mention of his being ‘fined’ £420, but this was probably merely the
customary penalty imposed following resignation from office
prematurely.13 His action prompts speculation, for a record of 1668
notes that Hampson was the landlord of the Quakers’ Meeting House,


the former Bull and Mouth tavern, in Aldersgate Street. The burial
records in the library of the Society of Friends also contain mention
of the death of Anne Hampson, wife of Henry Hampson, in 1684.22
If he was a member of the Society of Friends Hampson might well
have failed to attend regularly for worship at his parish church, for
which misdemeanour he would certainly have been liable to
prosecution under the Act of Uniformity. Non-observance of the
statute was commonly held to show contempt for the King, or even
disaffection towards the restored monarchy, and was considered to
be ‘against the peace’. A man guilty of such offences could hardly
have continued to serve on the aldermanic bench, and discharge (or
resignation) would have followed. Precisely what, in fact, happened
we may never know, but Henry Hampson senior obviously retained
the trust of his Mitcham neighbour Robert Cranmer and, acting as
patron of the living in the years following Cranmer’s death in 1665,
he presented John Berrow MA to the vicarage of Mitcham in 1669.23

Henry, the Hampsons’ other son, became a member of the Merchant
Taylors’ Company in 1663, joined the East India Company, and had
an address in Aldersgate, in 1677.13 During the late 1680s he seems
to have held the tenancy of Ravensbury manor house, a property
owned by Sir Nicholas Carew of Beddington and attractively situated
on the banks of the river Wandle. The evidence comes from an
undated but late 17th-century rental of the manor which lists “Henry
Hampson Esq” as being in possession of the “Mansion howse called
Ravensbury, One Dovehouse, One great Barne, a Storehouse, a
Stable, Two gardens, two Orchards” and some 90 acres of land in
Mitcham.24 Henry Hampson junior died on 25 March 1691, aged
48, and lies interred in a vault beneath the floor of the north aisle of
Mitcham parish church, where a black marble ledger stone to his
memory could still be seen until a new raised floor was installed in
1991.25 In the absence of any information to the contrary, it would
seem that this Henry Hampson did not marry. There is, however, a
record of yet another Henry Hampson, who in a deed dated April
169026 is described as the godson of the Henry Hampson who bought
from George Smythe and William Pitchford the property listed in
the marriage settlement of 1663/4.


Henry Hampson senior’s Mitcham house was leased or let to various
tenants after 1668.18 The implication is that he had ceased to reside
in the parish, and he is said to have died in 1688 in “Throckmorton
Street”22 where, presumably, he had a town house.14 As we have
noted, his widow Anne, died in 1684. The Mitcham militia tax books
only survive until 1680, which hampers further research, but
ownership of what was destined to become the site of Mitcham Hall
evidently passed to Henry junior sometime after his brother
Thomas’s death in 1676. (The latter is described in the index of
Peterborough Consistory Court wills at Northampton Record Office
as “of Uppingham”.) The parish register of Oundle shows that Henry
Hamson (sic) – the godson? – married Jemima Marsh of Oundle in
August 1688, and in 1703 property comprising a “messuage/
tenement with barn, backside and pightle adjoining … which ground
[half an acre] is now planted with trees for an orchard” plus 31
acres of land – recognisably much the same as that described in
documents half a century earlier – was sold by Jemima (“widow
and relict of Henry Hampson gent. deceased”) and Robert Marsh,
‘gentleman’, also of Oundle, Northants. The buyer was William
Browne, another London merchant.27 Jemima Hampson “of Oundle”
had died by November 1729, when an administrative bond was
entered at the Peterborough court.

In 1706 17 acres of the former Hampson farmlands were sold by
William Browne to Peter Batt, ‘yeoman’ of Morden, together with
ways, waters, watercourses, easements etc.28 A “messuage, barn,
garden, 22 acres of land, two acres of meadow, 12 acres of pasture
with appurtenances in Mitcham or however they wish to describe
it”, mentioned in the same deed of sale, were the subject of an
application to the Court of Common Pleas, the outcome of which
was pending.

One further enigmatic reference to what may have been a member
of the Hampson family has been noted in Mitcham records. The
rent and memorandum book kept from 1717 until 1749 by Robert
Cranmer’s grandson, James, amongst other family details, has the
following entry:


“Robert Cranmer, eldest son of Robert Cranmer, who died a bachelor
before coming of age in September 1672 supposed to be poisoned
by H ……….n’s means.”29

Tantalisingly, James provides no further details, but it is clear that in
the opinion of the Cranmer family the circumstances surrounding the
death of James’s uncle Robert, who had been on the point of inheriting
his late father’s estate, was considered highly suspicious. Whether James
intended “H ……….n” to be construed as Henry Hampson senior, his
son, or the godson, we shall never know.

Eighteenth-Century Owners and Occupiers

Nothing seems to have been recorded, and no documentation has
survived, to show what happened to the Hampsons’ house in Mitcham.
William Browne may well have demolished the old mansion, which
we assume to have been built by the Wyche family, and erected the
new house known in later years as Mitcham Hall, but this has to be
conjecture. The architectural style of the Hall, however, is
unquestionably of the late 17th or very early 18th century,30 and we
know that Lt General Daniel Harvey was its occupier during the early
years of George I’s reign. That much can be deduced from a note dated
1730, included with deeds recording Hampson’s purchase in 1649,
which refers to the counterpart of the conveyance of “a messuage and
18 acres of land to ‘Mr. Hampson’ (sic) (now General Harvey)”.8 The
vicar, William Hatsell, in his reply to the bishop of Winchester’s
visitation of 1725 recorded the general “and his lady” as residents of
Mitcham,31 and it is as ” Lt. Gen. Daniel Harvey, Governor of the States
of Guernsey” that he is commemorated on a tomb slab in the floor of
the north aisle of Mitcham church, where he was laid to rest in 1732,
aged 69.32

We next turn to Rocque’s map of the Environs of London in the early
1740s. This shows distinctly a building on the site of the Hall, with
grounds which included a kitchen garden and formal avenues of trees,
but fails to give it a name, or to indicate the owner or occupier. The
earliest surviving poor rate books for the parish,33 from the mid-1750s,


are not continuous and therefore not very helpful, but the appearance
of an entry between 1761 and 1764 where one had not been before
suggests that for a period the Hall stood empty, and on that account
was not assessed for the poor rate. The house may have been changing
hands at this time, and a possible clue to ownership of the estate a little
later on may lie in the sale by William Myers in 1770 of six acres of
meadow known as Crown Field.34 Myers inherited the Mitcham Grove
estate from his father, an attorney, who died in 1742, and for nearly 30
years had been resident at a house (to which we will return later)
previously occupied by a Mr Garland, lying to the north of Mitcham
Hall. Crown Field lay to the south of Mitcham Hall, and extended behind
the Crown inn. Later it had again become part of the Mitcham Hall
estate but was subsequently severed by the construction of the
Wimbledon to Croydon railway in 1855. The two and a half acres north
of the railway remained part of the Mitcham Hall estate until the closing
years of the 19th century.

The first occupant of Mitcham Hall of whom we have indisputable
record was a Mr Lidderdale. The rate books show him resident for six
years or so prior to 1769, when the house was taken by a Mr Gellicoe.35
In 1770 a new lease of 99 years was negotiated36 and Gellicoe was
succeeded by a Mr Staples as the ratepayer from 1771 until 1779.
Occupancy then changed again, Thomas Cheap, who is known to have
been a clerk in the Navy Pay Office, being recorded both as the
‘proprietor’ and the occupier in the land tax books.37

Without further research it cannot be said how Cheap’s predecessors
earned their livelihood, but it is highly likely that all three gentlemen
were merchants or professional men with business in the City of London.
Improvements in the high road through Mitcham had proceeded apace
since its maintenance had become the responsibility of a turnpike trust
in the middle of the century, and in the 1770s the City was barely an
hour’s drive away. It should not, of course, be inferred from the
frequency with which the house passed from one occupier to another
during the latter part of the 18th century that it was in some way
inconvenient, or lacked the refinements of the time. Mitcham had much
to offer those seeking a country seat within easy reach of town, and


several of the larger houses in the village have a similar history, being
let fully furnished on leases of varying length to comparatively affluent
tenants, many of whom were merchants or army and navy officers
returning from service in the colonies. Moreover, the village enjoyed a
reputation for its healthy atmosphere, and its popularity amongst the
middle classes was demonstrated by the number of elegant houses and
villas to be seen around its two greens and overlooking the Common.
There was also the added attraction of being within easy reach of the
fashionable spa and racing town of Epsom, and not too far from the
fast developing seaside resort of Brighthelmston.

Thomas Cheap left Mitcham in 1782, sub-leasing the Hall first to Dr
Vanhagan and then, in 1783, to Lady Diana Beauclerk, the eldest
daughter of Charles Spencer, the second duke of Marlborough. Lady
Diana’s first husband was Frederick St John, the second Viscount
Bolingbroke, whom she married after a short engagement in 1757. The
marriage was far from happy, Bolingbroke proving cruel and unfaithful
to his beautiful young wife, and she secured a divorce by private Act of
Parliament in 1768. Lady ‘Di’, as she was known, was already infatuated
with Topham Beauclerk, a fascinating and wealthy individual, great-
grandson of Charles II and Nell Gwynn, friend of Samuel Johnson, and
a notable man about town. Within two days of the divorce bill receiving
Royal Assent, they were married at St George’s, Hanover Square.
Beauclerk died in 1780, and it seems possible that Lady Diana took a
short sub-lease of Mitcham Hall, perhaps to be near her relative Lord
Spencer, whose Wimbledon Manor House was a bare half-hour drive
away. Lady Diana was an admired amateur artist, and supplied sketches
to Wedgwood for modelling.38 She spent the latter part of her life at
Marble Hill Cottage (also known as Spencer Grove), Twickenham,
which she is said to have fitted out with great delicacy of taste, and
died there in 1808.39

In 1784, on the expiration of Lady Diana’s tenure, Thomas Cheap
evidently re-assigned the unexpired portion of his lease to Andrew
French.40 The earliest description of the house to have survived is to be
found in Edwards’ Companion from London to Brighthelmston,
compiled in about 1789.41 Here Mitcham Hall, described as the seat of


Andrew French Esq., is said to have stood about 50 yards back from
the turnpike road. We are told the piers of the front entrance gates were
surmounted by the figures of a lion and a dog, and that the drive led to
a “large square white house” behind which were “good gardens,
plantations etc.”. French, who was almost certainly the principal of the
firm of “Andrew French & Co., merchants, Copthall Court, off Lombard
Street” listed in a London directory for 1791,42 obviously found Mitcham
to his liking, for he remained at the Hall for 11 years. Whether his
business suffered during the stagnation of trade following the outbreak
of war with France we cannot say, but by 1796 Andrew French had left
the village, and for the purposes of the land tax Henry Hoare the banker
had become the ‘proprietor’ of Mitcham Hall.

Mitcham Hall and Henry Hoare (1796–1828)

Henry Hoare, wealthy and generous, a member of the evangelical
Clapham sect and friend of social reformers such as Wilberforce and
Hannah More, was active in parish affairs for nearly 40 years. Senior
partner in the City bank founded by his great-grandfather in 1672, Henry
Hoare made Mitcham his home, buying from Lord Loughborough
Mitcham Grove, an imposing house on the north bank of the Wandle,
in 1786. Although Henry Hoare retained possession of Mitcham Hall
for many years neither he, nor any members of his large family, ever
lived there. His first tenant, James Portis, a London stockbroker, was
no newcomer to Mitcham, having for a number of years held a tenancy
of The Cranmers, then known as Mitcham Villa, from James Cranmer.
Portis left Mitcham Hall in 1804, and until 1810 the house was occupied
by L de Simons (or Symons) about whom nothing is yet known.

The following year Mitcham Hall was leased to Colonel Oakes (later
Lt General Sir Henry Oakes) of the East India Company. Sir Henry
took part in many campaigns in India during the latter part of the 18th
century, and finally settled in England a sick man, his constitution
undermined by years spent in the tropics. Sad to relate, he was also
subject to fits of insanity, and eventually committed suicide at Mitcham
Hall on November 1 1827, at the age of 71.43 Dorothea, his wife, died
ten years later. Under the terms of Henry Hoare’s will (proved London


31 March 1828 – Prob. 11 1738 151) Lady Oakes was allowed to reside
at Mitcham Hall until Christmas 1828 “free of all rent and taxes”.
Thereafter she appears to have moved away from the village. The Oakes
had three children, a son George William, who had served in the Bombay
army with the rank of captain, and two daughters, the elder of whom,
Sarah Lydia, married Sir William Seymour. She was buried in Mitcham
churchyard, having died aged 70. George married Elizabeth Searles
Fisher, daughter of Robert Fisher, barrister-at-law, of The Cedars,
Commonside East, Mitcham. She died in 1851 and lies buried with
other members of the Oakes family in the Fisher vault at Mitcham.

Sir Henry was evidently a kindly man, for in her little book, Mitcham
in Days Gone By, Emma Jane Bartley, who was born in 1837, recalled
hearing that before his death Sir Henry had made provision for the
welfare of his African servant, Thomas Matthews.44 ‘Black Tom’, as
he was known by many of the villagers, had been born a slave in the
East Indies in 1783,45 and was bought by Sir Henry and given his
freedom. Tom lived over the stables at Mitcham Hall, where he was
employed as an indoor servant, and for 25 years after Sir Henry’s death
Tom was a familiar figure about the village. He regularly attended
services at the parish church, always carrying his prayer book, gay
with some dozen book-markers of the brightest colours, and Emma
Bartley, then a small child, noted with evident fascination that he
invariably took a lantern with him to evening services, even on the
brightest of moonlight nights, “for Mitcham was very dimly lighted in
those days, if at all”.

Yates’s water-colour of Mitcham Hall in 182517 shows the north-western
elevation of the house as it appeared in Sir Henry’s time, amply
justifying the Greenwoods’ description of the property as “an elegant
residence”.46 The house is depicted as a symmetrically fenestrated
building of five bays, comprising two main floors, basements and attics.
Its style and detailing are reminiscent of many Restoration houses, with
accentuated quoins seemingly of dressed stone, a modillioned eaves
cornice, and a shallow-pitched tiled roof terminating in a lead flat above
attic dormer windows. The main entrance doorway, which is not seen
in the painting, was on the garden side of the house and was reached
via a gravel drive leading from the gates on the London Road.


In June 1828, following the death of Henry Hoare, his extensive freehold
and leasehold estates in Mitcham and the adjoining parishes were
offered for sale by auction. Among the freehold properties listed in the
sale particulars was Mitcham Hall – “A Handsome Residence, with all
Requisite Offices, Lawn, Pleasure Grounds. ornamented with a Stream
of Water, Garden and Lands, about Thirty Acres: In the occupation of
Lady Oakes”.47 Illustrations of the house early in the 20th century show
it to have been altered considerably after Yates’s visit, to accord with
changing architectural taste and the requirements of new occupants.48
A more imposing entrance had been created on the Sutton road frontage
by the insertion of a door in the central bay, and this was surmounted
by a heavy portico carried on Tuscan columns, approached by a shallow
flight of steps. The eaves and cornice on this elevation had been removed
and replaced with a parapet wall interspersed with sections of turned
stone balustrading in the Palladian fashion. In this respect the house
was made to resemble a smaller version of Henry Hoare’s Mitcham
Grove, and also Wandle Grove, which still stands in Riverside Drive.
To the rear, the appearance of Mitcham Hall had been altered even
more drastically, probably in the mid-19th century, by the addition of

North View of Mitcham Hall. The Residence of Genl. Sir Henry Oakes, Bart.
Watercolour by Yates dated 1825. Courtesy of Surrey Archaeological Society


large two-storeyed semi-circular bow windows on each side of the
garden entrance. This elevation, however, retained its neat pedimented
18th-century doorcase. The result was to transform Mitcham Hall as
seen from the south-east into a late Regency villa in the style popularised
by Nash. The precise date of these various alterations is now difficult
to assess, but they seem more likely to have followed, rather than
preceded, the departure of Lady Oakes.

When the census was conducted in 1841 Ann Robinson, an elderly
lady of independent means, was living at Mitcham Hall with a large
household, but she had left by 1845, for in that year the local directory49
records the house as occupied by a William Goldsmith, who held the
property on the residue of the 99-year lease granted in 1770.36 How
long he remained at the Hall is not known, but his tenure was
comparatively short, for in 1846 the house, together with some 30 acres
of land in Lower Mitcham, became the residence of George Parker
Bidder, a civil engineer of growing international repute.

The Bidder Family (1846–1864)

In June 1846 George Parker Bidder reached an agreement with William
Goldsmith to purchase the residue of the lease of Mitcham Hall granted
in 1770, and the old house with its surrounding parkland became the
home of the Bidder family. Over the course of the next few years Bidder
increased the extent of his estate very considerably with the purchase
of some 160 acres on both sides of the Wandle below Mitcham bridge.
Precisely when he acquired the reversionary interest of the Hall itself
is not clear, but it must have been sometime before 1864, for when the
house and its immediate grounds passed to its next owner, Sydney
Gedge, the property was freehold.

George Parker Bidder was born in Devon in 1806, the son of a
Moretonhampstead building contractor and stonemason. He soon
demonstrated an extraordinary ability for mental calculations and, such
were his talents and the ease with which he could provide answers to
the most complex mathematical problems, his father found it profitable
to tour the country with the boy, exhibiting him as “a calculating
phenomenon” before royalty and parties of the nobility and gentry.


Fortunately young George’s talent attracted the attention of certain
eminent men who secured him an education, first briefly at Wilson’s
school, Camberwell, and later at Edinburgh University.50 He did not
proceed to a degree (many students in those days did not consider it
worth while, and relied on certificates of attendance as the necessary
verification of having studied their subjects) and in 1825 Bidder secured
a junior post with the Ordnance Survey. The following year he was
recruited as a surveyor by the civil engineer H R Palmer, an associate
of Telford and a prime mover in the foundation of the Institution of
Civil Engineers – of which many years later George Bidder was to
become President.

Bidder had the good fortune to have reached maturity during the great
period of Victorian civil engineering, and formed a close association
with Robert Stephenson, who became a personal friend and a constant
visitor to Mitcham. Bidder’s appointment as a member of the
engineering staff on the London and Birmingham Railway in 1834 was
the first step in a career which took him to many parts of the world, and
included involvement in what became the Great Eastern Railway, and
also railways in Denmark and Norway and the Sind, Punjab and Delhi
railway in India. The construction of the Victoria Docks was perhaps
his greatest work, but much nearer to home he is still remembered for
his association with Morton Peto in the local Wimbledon and Croydon
Joint Railway Company and the link line through Mitcham (one of
many being built or planned in South London) which opened in 1855.51

In 1851 the Bidder household comprised George Parker Bidder, his
wife Georgina, their sons, George Parker Bidder junior, aged 14, and
Henry Jardine Bidder aged 3, their four daughters, and a domestic staff
which included Thomas Matthews (then a widower), a governess, nurse,
under-nurse, needlewoman, dairymaid, footman, housemaid and cook.45
Thomas Matthews left Mitcham in the ’50s to live with his married
son and grandson in Ahern, County Cork. There he died in 1860, leaving
his money to trustees, Captain George Oakes “late of the Bombay
Company’s service” and the Revd Thomas Ramsden.52 Both the Bidder
sons inherited much of their father’s brilliance. George was ‘seventh
wrangler’ at Cambridge when he took his degree, and followed a career
in law, becoming a bencher of Lincoln’s Inn and a Queen’s Counsel,


practising principally at the Parliamentary Bar. Henry became a fellow
of St John’s Oxford, and took holy orders.53

The Bidder family continued to live at Mitcham Hall until 1864. George
Parker Bidder senior had purchased Mitcham Grove and the Ravensbury
Estate some years earlier, and on completion of Ravensbury Park House,
a large but rather graceless house he had built half a mile to the south,
off the Bishopsford Road, the family left Mitcham Hall.54 A farewell
ball was held one evening in June to mark the occasion. On Bidder
senior’s retirement to Devon his son George bought Ravensbury Park
House and the estate, which lay on both banks of the Wandle, and was
living there when his father died in 1878. The house remained George
Parker Bidder II’s home for the rest of his life.

In the 1850s, after Mitcham parish workhouse had become redundant,
Bidder senior had been the instigator of an attempt to persuade the
vestry to take action to secure the restoration of the site to the Common.
Failing to carry a majority of parishioners with him, he was obliged to
take action himself, but lost the case. In the 1880s his son was in the
forefront of the fight to save common land at Beddington Corner from
enclosure for building. After several hearings in the lower courts he carried
the case to the High Court, but lost, and heavy costs were awarded. The
Bidders’ efforts to save the Common were not in vain, however, and
culminated in the enactment of the Mitcham Common (Supplemental)
Act of 1891 under which management passed to a newly formed Board of
Conservators. George Parker Bidder QC became the Board’s first chairman,
but was tragically killed in a traffic accident in February 1896. He is
commemorated by a monument erected on the Common near the Croydon
Road the same year.55

November 1864 saw the completion of the conveyance in fee, with
agreement to produce deeds, of “all that Capital Messuage or Tenement
called Mitcham Hall” now or late in the occupation of George Parker
Bidder with “coachhouses, stables, hot houses and outbuildings,
orchards, plantations and pleasure grounds … and also several pipes
used for conveying water to the messuage and premises from a brook
or branch of the river Wandle”.56 The agreed price was £6,980, and the
purchaser was Sydney Gedge of 33 Cambridge Square, Hyde Park.57


Sydney Gedge and Mitcham Hall (1864–1923)

Sydney Gedge, the new owner of Mitcham Hall, was a solicitor. He
and George Parker Bidder were old acquaintances, having met several
years before, in 1856, in connection with the North Woolwich Land
Company (with which Bidder was involved), and Gedge had discussed
the sale of land in Mitcham with him as early as 1857.58

Gedge was born in October 1829 at the Rectory, North Runcton, near
King’s Lynn, where his father, the Revd Sydney Gedge MA, was curate.
Gedge junior was educated at King Edward’s School, Birmingham, his
father having been elected second master, and entered Corpus Christi
College, Cambridge, in 1849. Here in 1853 he obtained a bachelor of arts
degree, and first class honours as a middle bachelor in the newly established
Moral Science Tripos in 1854. He elected for a career in law and, after a
period of partnership with W Meyrick at 16 Parliament Street, became the
head of the firm of Gedge, Fisk and Gedge at 1 Old Palace Yard.59

Young Gedge’s classmates at King Edward’s School had included one
lad who was destined to become Bishop of Durham and another who
was the future Doctor Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury. His father,
the Revd Sydney Gedge, became vicar of All Saints, Northampton,
and rural dean, and had young Gedge not chosen the legal profession it
seems likely he too would have entered the Church. As it was, he became
a prominent churchman, holding a licence to preach in the dioceses of
London and Southwark. Gedge’s arrival in Mitcham coincided with a
period during which changes were occurring in the parish church,
including rearrangement of the interior and the introduction of new
forms of service which many of the older parishioners thought “too
modern”.44 The vicar of Mitcham, the Revd Daniel F Wilson MA of
Wadham College, had been instituted only in 1859, at the age of 28,
and he and Gedge were soon close friends. Many of the innovations
being introduced in the parish churches at this time reflected the growth
in Ritualism urged by the Cambridge Camden Society, and one suspects
that Gedge, who was a churchwarden at Mitcham for many years, played
no small part in bringing about the transformation which took place in
the 1870s and 1880s.59


Both Sydney Gedge and his wife Augusta, whom he married in 1857,
find frequent mention in the Revd Wilson’s annual pastoral letters and
reports. They both took a particular interest in the work of overseas
missions, and regularly made the grounds of Mitcham Hall available
for garden parties to raise funds for the missions’ support and
expansion.59 In these days when the death of a child through illness is
mercifully rare, it is difficult to appreciate fully the trauma suffered by
the Gedges, who lost five of their children over the space of nine years.
A son, Herbert, died at the age of 18 months in 1864, and seven years
later they experienced further bereavement when three more of their
eight children, Francis aged 3¼ years, Augusta (6½), and Arthur (9¾),
died of diphtheria in March 1871. Sydney, their eldest son, died the
following year.60 Gedge himself had suffered a severe attack of typhoid
fever whilst an undergraduate, and one can, perhaps, detect a link
between the sinking of a well at Mitcham Hall in 1874, tapping
uncontaminated water 130 feet deep in the chalk of the London basin,
and advances in preventive medicine, which brought a growing
awareness of the necessity of securing a pure water supply for domestic
uses.61 The font presented by Sydney and Augusta to Mitcham parish
church in 1877 in memory of their five children can still be seen in the
baptistry created during extensive alterations to the church in 1875. A
fifth son, Walter, died in 1885, but Augusta lived to the ripe old age of
84, and was buried in the family grave in Mitcham churchyard in 1912.
The Gedge children seemed fated, however, and three years later Cecil
Gedge BA who, at the age of 49, one would have thought beyond the
age for military service, was killed in action at Loos, in France, on 25
September 1915.

From its inception in 1870 Sydney Gedge was solicitor to the School
Board of London, retiring when that body was superseded by the
Education Committee of the London County Council under the Balfour
Education Act of 1904. Locally, his interest in the welfare of children
found expression in the Sydney Nursing Home for convalescent children,
established at The Elms in Upper Mitcham in the 1880s. The home was
named in recognition of Gedge’s role in its foundation, and he was
principal of the committee of management for many years. The house
was destroyed by fire on Christmas Eve 1891, shortly after it had been


vacated by the Sydney Home, and the building, a substantial 18th-century
house in part dating back to the Middle Ages, was soon demolished. In
his public life Sydney Gedge gained a reputation as a speaker of great
fluency and persuasion, seeming at times to carry determination and
conviction to the point of obstinacy. He became Conservative member
of Parliament for Stockport in 1886, and in December 1888 it was
announced in the local press that he was shortly to leave Mitcham Hall
for residence in town. After a break of three years he was re-elected as
member for Walsall in 1895, and served that constituency for five years.

When it became public knowledge that Sydney Gedge was leaving
Mitcham, ‘Cyclops’, the columnist in the local paper, described the
Mitcham Hall estate as “one of the prettiest residential properties in
Surrey”.62 On two sides of the lawn at the rear of the house was a moat
of running water supplied from the Wandle – “a capital swimming place”,
thought ‘Cyclops’, ignoring the dubious quality of the river water. There
was also an Italian flower garden, old vineries, melon and tomato houses
and kitchen gardens which he told his readers were “long famed for
their Morello cherries, apricots and nectarines”. Around 1890 Mitcham
Hall was opened as “a select residential school for young gentlewomen”
by Mrs Ethelred Millington and her daughter. The change obviously
followed closely on Sydney Gedge’s election to Parliament and his
departure for London, but the precise date cannot be ascertained from
the local directories, which surprisingly fail to mention the school. The
reason is possibly that the school was not a lasting success. It was Mrs
Millington’s aim to “combine a High Class Modern Education with a
Healthy Country Life” and the attractions of the Hall and the surrounding
countryside were emphasised in a prospectus which was illustrated by
Miss Millington herself.63 The house was described as “a well-built
country mansion, containing large, lofty and well-ventilated class and
reception rooms and dormitories”. The drainage, it was stressed, was
good, and the well-laid-out private grounds contained extensive glass
houses and a ‘farmery’ for the supply of fresh butter and pure milk for
the use of the school. Miss Millington was listed in the local directories
as a private resident at Mitcham Hall in 1899, but seems to have left the
district by 1903, and nothing more is known of her or her mother.


The suburbanisation of North Mitcham dates from the construction of
the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway Company’s lines
through the parish and the opening of Mitcham and Tooting junction
stations in 1868, but it was not really until the extension of the electric
tramway network to the Upper Green and the King’s Head (now the
Burn Bullock) during the early years of the 20th century that the
speculative builder turned his attention to Lower Mitcham. The process
can, however, be seen starting in the late 1880s, by which time the
intended sale by Sydney Gedge of at least part of the grounds of Mitcham
Hall had become public knowledge. The initial stage in the
redevelopment of what came to be known as the ‘Mitcham Park Estate’
occurred with the disposal of building plots fronting the London to
Sutton road. First, a pair of large semi-detached houses was erected on
what was to become a corner site. Next, a plot of freehold building
land with a 64’6″ frontage immediately to the south of the Hall lodge
was sold to H S Coldicott, a solicitor of The Cottage, Upper Mitcham,
and Dr H Love of 3 Glebe Villas.64 Two detached houses had been erected
here by the time of the Ordnance Survey revision in 1894. In November
the same year the sale to Dr Love of a second 64’6″ plot adjoining the
one he already owned completed the disposal of land fronting the main
road.65 This was also built on, and all five houses and a detached coach
house erected by the end of the century are still standing.

The development of the eastern part of the estate was well under way
by 1898 when Sydney Gedge negotiated a substantial mortgage on the
rest of the property.66 A private road, with massive red brick piers and
wooden gates at either end, had been laid out from the Sutton Road to
just south of the police station fronting the Cricket Green, and six houses
were already completed. Smaller and decidedly less imaginative in style
than the houses on the main road frontage, these were still large
compared with the terrace villas being built elsewhere in Mitcham at
this time, and were designed by W Mapp Thompson, a local architect,
with the more affluent purchaser in mind.67 Mortgage agreements and
assignment of leases between 1899 and 1901 show that by this time
numbers 1 to 55 and 2 to 32 Mitcham Park had been completed.68 The
houses were offered at £500 each, but the enterprise proved somewhat
over-ambitious, for Mitcham seems never to have achieved popularity


amongst the Edwardian middle classes migrating from London, and
the builder was obliged first to modify, and then abandon the
development before the estate was finished. The extent of this first
phase is shown very clearly in the 1910 edition of the OS map.

Sydney Gedge seems to have returned to live at Mitcham Hall sometime
before the outbreak of war in 1914. He would have then been well into
his seventies, but had not yet retired. Although he had been a sickly
child, Gedge in his later years was certainly possessed of a remarkable
vitality, even as an old man delighting in a swim in the grounds of his
house. Mounted on his bicycle, and later a tricycle, he was a familiar
figure in Mitcham and the neighbourhood, and until his eighties
regularly cycled to Tooting Junction to catch the train to his office,
leaving the machine to be collected by his manservant. His return
journey from town was made on the top of a bus, “regardless of the

Gedge died at Mitcham Hall on 6 April 1923 in his 94th year, leaving
property valued at £18,450. With his passing, an era of Mitcham history
came to an end, and Mitcham Hall was soon demolished. Conveyance
of Sydney Gedge’s freehold and leasehold premises in Mitcham – the
Mitcham Park Estate – to Sir Edward Smith for £23,975 was effected
in January 1924, Sydney Lathom Gedge and Montague Lathom Gedge
of 35 Moscow Court Bayswater acting for the beneficiaries.70 Plans
confirm the sale included the East Lodge at the end of Jeppo’s Lane,
and some of the houses numbered 2–32, 1–19 and 33–52, that is, the
older pre-1914 houses. The Hall and lodge on the main road were still
intact, and the grounds of the rest of the estate remained much as they
had been 30 years previously.


The second and final stage in the development of the Mitcham Park
Estate began soon after Sydney Gedge’s death, and by 1937 or so
building was complete and the grounds of Mitcham Hall had
disappeared under suburban houses and gardens. The site of the Hall
itself provided land for a detached house, white cement-rendered and
with metal-framed windows in the fashion popular in the late 1930s,


plus a petrol filling station and adjacent motor vehicle showrooms. A
fine cedar of Lebanon, a relic from the front gardens of the Hall,
remained at the corner of Baron Grove and London Road until October
1938, but was then felled on the grounds of safety.71 To the south of the
motor showrooms a neo-Queen Anne building accommodated the
offices of Baker Freeman & Co., solicitors, for some 40 years or so
following the end of World War II. By the depression of the early 1990s
it was standing vacant, renamed ‘Grange Cloisters’ by some hopeful
estate agent hoping to attract buyers.

The lodge, standing by the gates through which visitors gained access
to the Hall from the London Road, seems to have been demolished in
the late 1920s. With it went the greenhouses and kitchen gardens to the
rear. The cleared land was acquired under the Church Expansion Scheme
of the London Congregational Union, and in November 1931 the
foundation stones were laid of a new church, designed by architects
Murrell and Pigot. The formal opening ceremony was performed the
following June. Extensions became possible as post-war building
restrictions were gradually relaxed, and in 1950 a new vestry, school
room and kitchen facilities were opened. Optimism attended the
celebration in 1955 of the 140th anniversary of the Congregational
Church in Mitcham, but the ’70s and ’80s saw a steady decline in church
membership, and by the early 1990s the church stood empty and derelict,
and the site was for sale. Plans for redevelopment of the site for housing
having been approved by Merton Borough Council, the church was
demolished in the autumn of 1993. The houses in Linden Place now
occupy the site.

Behind the church site a row of lock-up garages and a rear accessway
to houses fronting Mitcham Park mark the position of the southern arm
of the ‘moat’ in the grounds of Mitcham Hall. The only other visible
links with the house and the estate were the East Lodge, dwarfed by
the Bramcote Court flats, and a line of old hedgerow trees along the
former boundary of the park abutting Jeppo’s Lane. Sydney Gedge’s
long association with Mitcham is commemorated in Gedge Court, the
name bestowed on a block of maisonettes in London Road overlooking
the site of Mitcham Hall, erected by Mitcham Corporation in 1954.


London Road, Lower Mitcham, at corner of Mitcham Park
(Postcard c.1910)

View of London Road, with lodge of Mitcham Hall on the right, and the Lower
Green in distance. In the far distance one can just see Berkeley Cottage. Baron
Lodge, which was owned by Sydney Gedge, stands on the left. (Postcard c.1910)





Everingham House)
Detail from the Mitcham Tithe Apportionment map of 1846,
with main estate owners’ names and boundaries added.
Copyright Surrey History Service. Reproduced by permission.

Chapter 5



The story of what, by the middle of the 19th century, had become known
as ‘Manor House’,1 is one best started from the end rather than the
beginning. A rambling red-brick residence standing back from the
highway leading south from the Lower Green, it had been home to
several of the village’s more influential families. Its exterior was
predominantly ‘Georgian’ in style, and it was commonly believed to be
nearly 300 years old2 when demolished in 1963, although parts of the
building may have dated to the early 16th century.

Architecturally Manor House had been of sufficient quality to merit
Grade II in the listing proposed by Mitcham Borough Council soon
after the end of World War II, and this was confirmed by the Government
under the Town and Country Planning Act.3 Although at that time little
was known of its history, the character and appeal of the house had
certainly been appreciated by its owners in the inter-war years, and
several of the rooms were kept furnished in period and shown with
pride to visitors. All this proved of little avail when, ultimately, the
future of the house and the land on which it stood came to be measured
against the prospect of financial gain. The crux of the matter was that
by the middle of the 20th century the property had the misfortune to
have acquired a redevelopment potential, and by 1962 it was obvious
that very considerable profits stood to be made by exploitation of the
site. The maintenance of any old house is, of course, a liability, and if
one adds to the normal hazards of dry rot and perishing fabric the havoc
caused by a somewhat mysterious, if not suspiciously convenient fire,
such as that which devastated Manor House in 1961, the arguments in
favour of demolition are difficult indeed to counter. Sentiment and
nostalgia are all very well, but rarely do they have a place in a company’s
balance sheet, particularly one engaged in speculative building. In the
end circumstances contrived to ensure that restoration and rehabilitation
of Manor House did not take place.


For many Mitcham people, the demolition of Manor House seemed a
tragedy. Preservationists were naturally saddened at the loss of one of
the few remaining examples of a more gracious way of life to survive
from a village once noted for the excellence and number of its larger
houses. Those who had endeavoured to adopt a constructive stance in
the defence of Manor House, and who argued that with adaptation it
might still play a useful rôle in the community, were to be disheartened
by an increasing awareness both of their own impotence and the lack
of effective support from the Borough and County Councils. Even local
councillors nursing private hopes of securing part, if not all, of the site
to meet social or educational needs found themselves fighting a losing

By reporting and commenting on the steadily deteriorating condition
of Manor House the local press strove to keep the general public aware
of the situation. No fewer than eleven times in the last crucial months
of its history Manor House made front page news, but ordinary residents
appeared largely unmoved by events, seeming to accept with resignation
that demolition of the old house was probably inevitable. Press coverage
of the final stages in the life of the building ceased in 1963 with the
granting of town planning consent for the erection of a two-storey office
block on the site, and the last days of Manor House at the hands of the
demolition contractors seem to have been ignored by the media and,
no longer newsworthy, passed unrecorded.

The office block which was erected on the site was given the name
Justin Manor. Later, an additional storey was added and it was renamed
Justin Plaza, the name it bears today.

As far as one can tell from the records, the term ‘Manor House’ was
not applied to the house until around 1851 when, as can be seen by the
census return, it was occupied by Samuel Harrison Armitage and his
wife. For a brief period in the early1860s the house actually became
the residence of the lord of the manor of Mitcham in the person of
William Simpson II,4 but, this interlude apart, it is difficult to find any
justification for the house being so dignified a decade or so earlier. An
explanation could be that the house had become the property of William
Simpson around the turn of the half century, but so far the evidence is


lacking. Whatever the explanation, the name conveyed that cachet of
superiority which satisfied the Victorians’ need to establish social status,
and it was as Manor House that the old building continued to be known
in Mitcham for over a century.


So far, the earliest document traced which demonstrates the existence
of a house on the Manor House site is the will of James Wilford, who
died in 1525, which mentions land on which his son William had erected
a house for himself. The history of this house has already been examined
in Chapter 2. We have also seen that in a lease, dated 20 March 1604/
5,5 George Smyth of Mitcham granted John Bowssar (in later documents
spelt Bowser), a “citizen and vintner of London”, a 20-year tenure of a
“messuage or tenement, garden, orchard, barns, stables, yards, grounds
and outrooms in Mitcham, alias Wickford” occupied by Thomas Cesar
esq. The abuttals given – “south and west on the dwelling house of Sir
Julius Cesar, north on the farmhouse of Sir Julius Cesar and west on
the King’s Highway” – enable the property to be identified with
reasonable assurance.

Thomas Smyth, George’s son, had land settled on him by his father on
his marriage in 1618 to Sarah, daughter of Sir Humphrey Handford,
alderman of the city of London and a member of the Merchant Taylors’
Company.6 In 1645, for reasons which could well have been connected
with the need to raise capital during the Civil War, Thomas was obliged
to mortgage much of his extensive estate to John Handford of Essex, a
fellow Merchant Taylor.7 It is not known for certain if any of the houses
and land involved were in Mitcham (the Smyths also had property in
Wandsworth), and since the arrangement was, we assume, for financial
purposes, it would not necessarily have affected legal possession of
land offered as security. In 1649 Thomas was listed amongst the
copyholders of Vauxhall in the ‘Lybertie’ of Mitcham paying a quit
rent of five shillings in respect of land which seems to have lain to the
west of the house, on the opposite side of the main road.8 The thread of
continuity of ownership is tenuous, but it is reinforced by the records
of a little over a century later, when the house was in the possession of


Smyth’s descendants, the Myers, who were not only paying land tax
and local rates in respect of the freehold house and its grounds, but
were still being charged an annual quit rent for land they held of the
manor of Vauxhall.

The use of the term “Wickford” in the lease of 1604/5 is worth noting
and, if we are right to believe that the house had been built by William
Wilford on part of his father’s estate, we have the possibility that the
land on which Manor House stood had formed the most northerly part
of the de Wickford holding in the 13th century. To the north of the
house the Lower Green and property in a broad swathe across Mitcham
from Commonside West to Phipps Bridge fell within the jurisdiction
of the manor of Vauxhall. In the 17th and 18th centuries many of the
houses facing the Cricket Green (the eastern half of the Lower Green),
were either regarded as customary tenancies, or held on copyhold tenure
of the manor, lordship of which was in the possession of the dean and
chapter of Christ Church, Canterbury. Some, if not all, of these plots
may have originated as enclosures of former waste bordering the Green,
made with or without manorial consent. It seems clear that the manorial
boundary lay somewhat to the south of today’s Cricket Green, and
continued in a roughly north-westerly direction towards the parish
church, following the line of Church Path (to the south of which land
lay in the manor of Ravensbury). Hints of such a boundary can, in fact,
be detected in the tithe map and the first edition large-scale OS map of
1865, and many plots from the vicinity of Cranmer Green westwards
seem to have been determined by a common feature, perhaps a ditch,
largely forgotten and piped underground by the time the maps were

The next reference we have to the future Manor House, although not
by that name, is an indirect one. It occurs in an indenture of bargain
and sale of 27 February 1654, by which Thomas Hopkins of London
sold for £1,600 to Robert Cranmer, a London merchant, the “Mansion
House heretofore inhabited by Sir Julius Caesar” and subsequently by
Robert Tichborne.9 To one side – the north – lay “the house lately
occupied by Mr. Bowser and now by William Garland”. Evidently
Garland’s house was substantial – it was assessed for 12 hearths in the


tax imposed in 166410 – but by whom it had been built, and when, we
can only speculate. The ground landlords remained the Smyths, for
whom the property was essentially a source of investment income.
Garland’s name, and that of Thomas Smyth, who later served as a
churchwarden, occurs in various local records, including a notebook
kept by James Cranmer, Robert Cranmer’s grandson, in which he
recorded the decision by a group of the more influential Mitcham
residents in 1652 to proceed with urgently needed structural repairs to
the parish church.

F J Price, examining Manor House in 1951 when preparing his RIBA
thesis on 18th-century architecture in Mitcham, believed he detected
evidence that it stood on the foundations of an earlier building:

“… That the present house was built to replace an earlier building is
apparent, as both the asymmetrical planning, and the interior
detailing of two first floor rooms, bear adequate witness.

“Sequestered behind a high brick garden wall, this house, with its
own coach-house and stables adjoining, stands near the heart of
lower Mitcham on the London Road. Its character is set by a
congenial [sic] ivy-covered facade of stock brick and broad-framed
windows which faces the highway. The heavy eaves cornice
fashionable at the beginning of the century has given way to a single
parapet and coping stone, but the windows have not yet succumbed
to the recession of later years. Behind the parapet rises the first
short stage of a typical steep-pitched roof of old red tiles, crowning
an elevation which can be safely allotted to the second quarter of
the period. The entrance doorway, however, cannot be ascribed to
this date. Its refined proportions and delicate mouldings ornamented
with a triglyph and medallion treatment culled from a Roman Doric
order assign it to the years 1760–80, the period of eclectic neoclassicism
inaugurated by Chambers and influenced by Adam.

“Once inside, we return chiefly to the earlier style. The entrance
hall, which occupies the whole of the south-west corner of the ground
floor, is lined with large-fielded panelling, and paved with squares
of white stone inset with slate. Opposite a fireplace of later date


stands a finely worked staircase, whose balusters, arranged three to
each tread, are turned alternately plain and in tight spirals, in the
early Georgian manner. Occupying a dominant position in the east
side of the house is the principal living room, finished entirely in
wood. Here the detailing is bold; the panelling and coffering display
the same broad, decisive profiling, while even the ornamental carving
of the fireplace and door-head is confidently handled. In the room
immediately above, the joinery has an entirely different character.
The panelling owes nothing to Renaissance influences; it is compiled
in a network of small rectangles separated by broad, shallow bands
incised with subdued mouldings, showing well the type of pinned
oak panelling which was customary at an earlier date. Probably only
the fireplace and cornice date from the eighteenth century. Similar
panelling may be seen in the dado of an adjacent room.

“The influence of former times is also seen in the rambling plan-
shape of the whole house, for although the external work appears to
be approximately contemporary with that of the major part of the
interior, few concessions to the rules of practicality and symmetry
have been made, a fact that suggests that existing foundations, of
perhaps comparable date to the above-mentioned oak panelling, were
largely followed in the erection of the present building …”11

Price’s opinion was shared by Harry Dorrett, the last resident owner of
Manor House, who believed that it was built in the late 17th century. He
was also convinced that it had been a farmhouse. Whether or not this
was correct we cannot say, but it does seem possible that what they
detected were the remains of William Wilford’s house, built shortly before

The Myers Family (c.1715–1775)

Parish poor rate assessment books (a most valuable source of information
on the ownership and occupation of domestic properties) do not survive
for Mitcham from before the mid-18th century. It is therefore often
difficult for the local historian, in the absence of other records, to trace
the history of any particular property prior to the 1750s. The names of
several of the village’s more important families are known from the


Restoration onwards, and on occasion biographical details can be
unearthed, which naturally add considerably to the interest of any account
of the houses they inhabited. Unfortunately only rarely can individuals
be linked to properties known to have existed during their lifetimes. As a
result, the story of Mitcham during this important period of its
development can be tantalisingly vague.

The history of the house on the Manor House site illustrates the situation
very well. Assessments for militia taxes exist for the Commonwealth
and Restoration periods, but no addresses are given, and except in a few
instances it has proved impossible to match a particular taxpayer and a
property with any certainty. We thus are completely ignorant of when
William Garland left Mitcham. We have seen that he was resident in
1654, and was assessed for hearth tax ten years later, but of those who
succeeded him over the next half century or so we know nothing. It may
be, however, that they were members of the Smyth family, for a Thomas
Smith (sic) and his son Thomas were appointed in 1699 to the newly-
formed select vestry, and entries in the minute book show that the father,
and later the son, continued to be active in vestry affairs until 1736. No
other house in the village has been identified as their residence. The
court rolls of the manor of Vauxhall contain a possible, albeit indirect,
clue to the ownership of the property at this time. Here we find “George
Smith Esq.”, included in a list of 1718 as liable for payment of a quit rent
of 7s.11d. – high compared with the rentals demanded of other Mitcham
tenants of the manor, and a clear indication that something substantial,
be it a house or merely land, was involved.12 George Smith died in October
1714, aged 79, and lies buried beneath the floor of the chancel of the
parish church. A black marble slab to his memory still exists, now beneath
the floor of the south aisle, where it was placed when the church was
rebuilt in 1819/22. George is believed to have lived at Mitcham Grove,
and since burial in the chancel, rather than within the body of the church,
is often an indication of the social standing of the deceased, he was
evidently a person of some importance in the community. His relationship
to the two Thomas Smiths has not been established, but it would seem
possible that they were a son and grandson, and that George Smith was
the owner of the future Manor House.


Payment of a quit rent discharged manorial tenants from performing
customary services, and whereas by the 18th century the latter had become
largely anachronistic, the quit rents remained a not inconsiderable source
of income to the manor. The name of William Myers (spelt Meares by
the bailiff’s clerk, uncertain of the spelling of what, to him, was evidently
an unfamiliar name) occurs as a tenant of the manor in the roll of 1726,
paying the same rent of 7s.11d. to Vauxhall in respect of a now freehold
property in Mitcham.13 Similar entries, with the name spelt as Meeres,
Myow or Myers, show the situation was unchanged between 1740 and
1772, by which time a large house, un-named but owned by “William
Myers Esq.”, occurs in a position relative to other known properties in
the rate books, and its identity becomes clear.14 Any uncertainty which
might have remained as to the location of Myers’ residence is finally
removed by the manorial rent roll of 1799,15 which shows that by that
time the quit rent was being paid by Charles Everingham, whom the
parish rate and land tax assessments both record as the ‘proprietor’.

As we have already noted, the Myers were close relatives of the Smyths
of Mitcham Grove. We have also seen that in the mid-17th century the
Smyths’ estate had embraced a substantial acreage in Lower Mitcham.
How much of this ultimately passed into the ownership of the Myers one
cannot say, but we learn from the court rolls of another Mitcham manor,
that of Biggin and Tamworth, that William Myers, described as an attorney
of Watling Street, and later of King Street in the parish of St Lawrence
Jewry, London, was admitted in 1715 to the customary tenancy of that
manor in respect of land he had inherited on the death of George Smyth
the previous year.16 A much earlier George Smyth had been in possession
of land and a house which we assume was Manor House, and it is a
reasonable assumption that this property had passed into Myers’ hands
as part of his inheritance in 1715 or shortly before. William Myers came
into the possession of further houses and land in Mitcham on the death
of his “kinswoman”, George Smyth’s unmarried daughter Sussannah (or
“Sussana”), in 1725.17 He also inherited from her the rectory and
advowson of Witley in Surrey (near Godalming), which had come to her
in turn from George Smyth and to him from his great grandfather Thomas,
who purchased the rectoral manor of Witley in 1571.18 A Mrs Smith and
“Mr. Miers and his wife” were listed amongst the ‘Gentry etc’ of the


parish by the vicar, William Hatsell, in his answers to the questionnaire
from the bishop of Winchester in 1725. Hatsell also listed “Mr. Myers
the Quaker”, but whether he was referring to the same gentleman, or
another, is not clear.19

It has not been discovered precisely where Myers and his wife Mary
lived in Mitcham, or when they married, but in view of their social
standing one would imagine their house to have been of some pretentions.
In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we may assume that after the
death of Sussannah Smyth it was the old family mansion Mitcham Grove,
and William is described as “of Mitcham” in his will dated 1739.20 William
and Mary’s eldest son, also named William, matriculated at Lincoln
College, Oxford, in June 1731 at the age of 18, and obtained his bachelor
of arts degree in 1735.21

Like his father, William is described as “of King Street, St. Lawrence
Jewry”, and it would seem that he, too, followed a career in law. William
Myers senior died in 1742, the year before his son married Elizabeth
Cranmer, the 22-year-old daughter of James Cranmer, the squire of
Mitcham. On the wall of the south aisle of the parish church one can still
see the marble monument, depicting a large urn in a niche, erected by
William to his father’s memory.22 William’s brother Skinner Myers and
his wife Anne are also commemorated in the church, and lie beneath the
central aisle of the nave.23 Skinner, who matriculated at Oriel College in
1746, is given an address in St Lawrence Jewry in theAlumni Oxonienses,
and was presumably in partnership with his father and brother.

The marriage of William to Elizabeth in 1743 must have been an important
event for the village, uniting as it did two major land-owning families in
the parish. William Myers II was rendering the quit rent to Vauxhall
throughout the 1750s and ’60s, and we can be reasonably confident that
after their marriage he and Elizabeth had made their home at Manor
House. In Price’s view11 much of the house could be ascribed to the
second quarter of the 18th century, and it would seem perfectly feasible
for the enlargement and ‘modernisation’ of the old house to have taken
place at, or shortly before, the marriage. The Alumni Oxonienses,
recording the matriculation of William and Elizabeth’s eldest son, a third
William, at Pembroke in 1763, describes his father as “of Mitcham”,


which, again, supports the idea that Manor House might have been their
residence. It also adds that Myers was entitled to an armorial bearing.

By 1755 Mitcham Grove was occupied by Archibald Stewart,24 the former
provost of Edinburgh,25 and it seems likely that the old family home had
been leased to tenants after William Myers senior’s death in 1742, and
had not been occupied again by the family. After Stewart left, Mitcham
Grove is said to have been sold by Myers to Lord Clive,26 but in any case
it passed out of the family’s hands. The rectory, advowson and tithes of
Witley were sold at about the same time.27

In his will, dated February 1774,28 William Myers II bequeathed much of
his property, including freehold and copyhold messuages, lands and
tenements in Mitcham, Wandsworth and Croydon to his eldest son, and
at the courts baron of Vauxhall held in November 1775 and November
1776 William Myers III was admitted to the customary tenancy of the
manor in place of his late father.29 William was born in 1744, but little
else is known about him, apart from the bare details of his academic
career outlined above, and the fact that he resided in later life at Banstead.

John Myers, William and Elizabeth’s second son, married a niece of
Warren Hastings. Like his older brother, John entered Pembroke at the
age of 18, but showed more academic prowess, obtaining his bachelor of
arts degree in 1769. Breaking with the immediate family tradition, he
elected for a career in the Church, becoming vicar of Whitley-cum-
Thursley and rector of Walton-on-the-Hill. He lived at the Red House at
Ewell (subsequently rebuilt and re-named the White House) and died
there in August 1815 at the age of 68.30

Archibald Stewart’s son John had been an aide in India to Robert Clive,
whom Warren Hastings succeeded as administrator of the emerging
British colony in 1773.31 The connection of the Myers and Mitcham
with the Indian sub-continent is therefore strong and, as we shall see,
two members of a later generation of the family were to serve and die in
the cause of Empire.

Elizabeth Myers died in 1765 at the relatively young age of 44, and was
buried beneath the south aisle of the parish church where a black tomb
slab, bearing the Cranmer arms, could be seen until it was covered by a


raised wooden floor installed in 1991. Her third son, Streynsham
Derbyshire, yet another Oxford graduate, matriculated as a boy of 16 at
Pembroke in 1768, was a ‘demy’ at Magdalen from 1770–77, obtained
his bachelor’s degree in 1771 and a master’s in 1774. He also chose a
career in the Church, and in 1779 secured the vicarage at Mitcham, then
in the gift of his uncle, the rector, James Cranmer. The Revd Streynsham
Derbyshire Myers MA held the living at Mitcham for 45 years, one of
the longest periods of incumbency in the parish’s history, dying in 1824
at the age of 73. He and his wife Elizabeth lived with their family at the
old vicarage opposite the parish church in Church Road. Two of their
sons, William Sibthorpe Myers of the 20th Regiment of Native Infantry
of Madras, and Captain James Myers of the 7th Regiment of Native
Infantry, also of Madras, died in India and are commemorated by tablets
high above the pulpit where their father preached.

1776–1851: A London Merchant, a Maiden Lady and a Surgeon

In November 1775 the “valuable freehold and copyhold estate” of the
late William Myers II was sold in accordance with his will. Manor House
was described in the sale particulars as “a convenient dwelling house
with ten bedchambers, study, dining room, parlour and hall; kitchen,
brewhouse, laundry, dry cellaring, two stables for four horses, coach
house for two carriages etc.”. In the grounds was a garden and greenhouse,
a “drying yard” (no doubt for the laundry), a forecourt and coachyard,
and the whole was enclosed from the High Street (the Sutton Road) by a
high brick wall. On the opposite side of the highway there were two
fields – providing pasturage for the horses – a tool house, shed, stable
and yard. Also included in the freehold estate, stated to be in the possession
of William Myers, i.e. William Myers III, and valued at £50 p.a., was the
right to a pew in the south aisle of the parish church.32

Early in 1776 the house was still standing empty, and from the absence
of entries in the poor rate books it apparently remained so until 1778, by
which time a Mr Wakelyn had taken up residence. We can assume he
held the property on a lease, and by 1780 (the first year for which they
have survived) the land tax records disclose that ownership of the house
had passed to Charles Everingham, a linen draper and shopkeeper.33


There is nothing to suggest that the Everinghams ever lived in the Myers’
old residence themselves (they had, in fact, been renting a house and two
shops in the High Street from William Myers for a number of years), and
Manor House was probably acquired by Charles Everingham as an
investment. On his death in 1815 ownership passed to his widow Mary.34
Tax records confirm that, like many of the larger houses in the village at
this time, the old mansion was let or leased to a succession of people all of
whom, one would imagine, were relatively wealthy. Tantalisingly, as is so
often the case, the more interesting biographical details of these newcomers
are lacking, or have yet to be discovered. We do know, however, that
between 1780 and 1790 the house was occupied by no fewer than four
different tenants each of whom, so it would seem, took the property on
very short leases.35 Of two, Edward Evanson (1780/1) and a “Mr. Groves”
(1787/8) we can say nothing, apart from speculating that Evanson might
have been related to the late vicar of Mitcham, the Revd John Evanson,
who died in August 1778. “Madam Milton” who, according to the tax
records, was the occupier in 1784 and 1785, gave her name temporarily to
the house,36 for Edwards refers to it as “Milton House, a good brick building
… with a high wall against the road.” After commenting that the house was
the property of “Mr. Effingham”, he added that it was occupied by “John
Marlar Esq.”.37

Marlar was a London merchant with an address in King Street, Cheapside.
He had leased the Mitcham house in 1782-83, and again from 1789 until
1790, when he died. Marlar is a little better known to us than his predecessors
through the medium of his will, in which he left to his daughter, Amelia
Ann Stewart, his “bed, window curtains and chairs with covers in the bow-
window chamber of Mr. Jones’s printing”.38 A room with a bow window
can be seen in photographs of the house to have been on the first floor,
with a pleasant outlook to the south-east over the secluded back garden.39
Robert Jones had a calico printing works at Old Ford, and his work was
very highly regarded towards the end of the 18th century. Much of his
output was of fabric printed by the use of engraved copper plates, a method
first brought to perfection by Francis Nixon at the Phipps Bridge Works,
Merton Abbey, in the 1760s. The designs, typically of oriental fruits and
exotic vegetation, or of theatrical scenes, were executed with great delicacy
in blue or red on previously bleached linen or calico.


The Marlar family came from Wallington, where they had long been
associated with the calico printing industry. Their name is a familiar one in
Huguenot records, and there can be little doubt that the Marlars’ ancestors
had been amongst the hundreds of French and Walloon Protestants who
migrated to England to escape persecution in the late 17th century. John’s
father, Thomas Marlar, died in 1748 at the age of 66, and was buried at
Beddington. In 1719 he had been among the calico printers who petitioned
Parliament against the restrictions imposed at the behest of the woollen
lobby on what was rapidly becoming one of the most important industries
in the London region. When he died, Thomas Marlar was described as a
citizen and haberdasher of London, and John, who was styled “of
Beddington, Cheapside and Mitcham”, was almost certainly following in
the family business. Besides the lease of Everingham’s house, he had for
some time past had other property interests in Mitcham, and in 1765, acting
with Robert Cochran, a local apothecary, was involved in the leasing of
mills and other premises near the Wandle to Edward Nash, a miller.40

In the year following John Marlar’s death a lease of Milton House was
taken by Elizabeth Tate, who was to make it her home for 30 years. Miss
Tate was the eldest daughter of William Tate, a London attorney who,
until his death in September 1781, had lived in another large Georgian
house, overlooking the Cricket Green, on a site now occupied by the Tate
almshouses, now Mary Tate cottages. Elizabeth Tate, who did not marry,
died in 1821, after which the house in London Road became the home of
Edwin Tipple, a surgeon, and his family for close on another 30 years.41
The 1841 census records Tipple and his wife, with their family of six
children and a domestic staff, which included three female servants living
in. The record also shows that Tipple, then in his early 50s, had taken a
young surgeon, Charles Blair, into his household, presumably as a junior
partner in the practice. Shortly before Edwin Tipple’s death the survey
conducted for the Tithe Redemption Commissioners disclosed that in
addition to the house and garden he rented two meadows, each of 1 acre 3
roods in extent, from his landladies, Margaret Everingham and Charlotte
Annon.42 The meadows lay opposite the house, on the other side of the
London road, and extended westwards in the direction of the parish church.
Both had been part of the Myers’ estate when it was offered for sale in


1775. To its rear the house looked out over its own extensive gardens and,
beyond, the grounds of Mitcham Hall, stretching as far as Jeppo’s Lane.

Edwin Tipple’s son Frederick, who was also a surgeon, practised in
partnership with his father43 and remained at the family home in Lower
Mitcham for a few years following Edwin’s death. In 1850 the local post
office directory listed Frederick A Tipple and, at the same address, a
newcomer to Mitcham – Samuel Harrison Armitage, a 52-year-old retired
corn factor from Yorkshire. Tipple presumably retained part of the house
for a surgery, but he was not recorded in the census the following year
when, for the first time, the house was formally styled the ‘Manor House’.4
The pattern of occupancy of the house in the ’70s and ’80s of the previous
century was now to be repeated, and for 30 years it saw a succession of
residents, none of whom stayed long.

‘Mr. Tipple’s House, Mitcham’ (Manor House)
Watercolour by Yates, dated 1825. Courtesy of Surrey Archaeological Society


The ‘Manor House’ of Mitcham (1860–1876):William Simpson II

It has not been established precisely when Samuel Armitage and his
wife left Manor House, but by the early 1860s it had become the residence
of William Simpson II, eldest son of William Simpson of Lichfield and
Emily née Cranmer. With her brother Richard Cranmer, Emily Simpson
was joint heiress to the estate of their grandfather, James Cranmer.44 Emily
died in December 1858, and on his father’s death two years later William
inherited, inter alia, lordship of the manor of Mitcham and the advowson
of the parish church, both of which had devolved to his parents via his
maternal grandmother, Esther Maria Cranmer.

William Simpson II was born in January 1819, and was educated at
Winchester, and Trinity College, Cambridge.45 His mother’s family were
devout Anglicans, proud of their claim to descent from a brother of the
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer who was martyred in the cause of the
reformed Church of England in 1556. In 1824 the Revd Streynsham
Derbyshire Myers, one of Emily Simpson’s cousins, was succeeded as
vicar of Mitcham by William’s uncle the Revd Richard Cranmer, who
had been ordained in 1808 and, after assisting Myers for several years,
held the living until his death in 1828. In correspondence with his son’s
master at Winchester William Simpson emphasised his wish that young
William should receive an education fitting him for a career in the Church
of England, and that ultimately he would be ordained and secure a suitable
benefice.46 It was therefore quite extraordinary, and also understandably
a source both of dismay to their parents and bewilderment locally, that
first William, then his two brothers, and finally the Simpsons’ only
daughter (who entered a convent) should all convert to Roman
Catholicism. William graduated in 1842, and the following year was
received into the Roman Catholic Church at Oscott Seminary, Sutton
Coldfield, Warwickshire.47 His brother, Richard, a graduate of Oriel
College, having become vicar of Mitcham in 1844 on the presentation of
his father, William Simpson senior, resigned the living two years later on
deciding to become a Catholic. However, as amarried man he was barred
from entering the priesthood. Robert, the youngest of the Simpsons’ sons,
did not suffer the same disqualification, and was ordained a priest in the
Catholic Church in 1848.48


On reaching adulthood William Simpson II quickly assumed an active role
in local affairs, and was making his mark as a member of Mitcham vestry
as early as 1842, the same year that he was appointed Commissioner to the
Court of Requests at Croydon. In Mitcham the mid-century was a period
marked by growing concern amongst various members of the local gentry,
including William’s father, at the loss of amenity arising from the piecemeal
enclosure of Mitcham Common, uncontrolled gravel digging, and the harm
being caused to the Wandle by increasing pollution with industrial and
other effluents. William, for instance, took a particular interest in efforts
made by the vestry to secure improvements to the Common.46 Since
boyhood he had probably enjoyed fishing on the river, and as a riparian
owner himself, following his father’s death in 1860, he had an added interest
in safeguarding the Wandle fishery, which could still offer good sport and
produced some excellent trout. In this William Simpson had aninterest in
common with his distinguished neighbour, George Parker Bidder who,
when president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, actually addressed a
meeting convened by the Institution in 1861 to consider the deteriorating
condition of the river.

William Simpson junior’s name does not occur in the local directories
until 1855, when his address is given merely as Lower Mitcham Green. In
October 1839 his father had entered into an agreement with Mary Tate to
purchase a plot of freehold land in Mitcham between the almshouses and
the Britannia public house, a transaction which was concluded the following
year.49 The land passed subsequently into William Simpson junior’s
possession, and now forms an entrance to the Catholic school of SS Peter
and Paul. In the 1850s Simpson was still living at Elm Lodge on the far
side of the Cricket Green.49 (The directory for 1859 repeats the earlier
entry, but is no more specific as to the precise location of his residence.) In
or about 1853, William Simpson II married Winifred, daughter of Sir
Edward Mostyn of Talacre, the seventh baronet.50 The marriage settlement
gives details of the Cranmer/Simpson estate, but does not include a property
identifiable with Manor House, which implies it was not then in the
possession of the Simpsons.51 The couple’s first child, James Roger Joseph,
was born in April 1854,52 to be followed a year later by a girl, Mary Margaret,
and, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, it is reasonable to
assume the family was still at Elm Lodge at this time.


Ownership of Manor House during the 1850s is not clear, but there is
a hint in an undated plan (of around 1860) in the Southwark diocesan
archives that it might have belonged to Bidder.53 This shows land
which then comprised part of the back garden of the house to be in
the tenure of “G. P. Bidder”, whilst a plot of land to the north, lying
behind the Tate Almshouses, was leased by William Simpson the elder
to “Boys”. There is no uncertainty, however, as to the occupancy of
Manor House itself by 1861, for when the census was conducted the
enumerator recorded 30-year-old Mary Winifred Simpson, “wife of
landed proprietor”, in residence with her four children, James, aged
6, Mary Margaret, Mary Ursula and Mary Elizabeth aged 5, 2 and 1
respectively, and a staff of four female domestic servants and one
manservant. Presumably William Simpson was away from home at
the time, and for this reason was not recorded, but a visitor was noted

– a J Maillard, described as a “Catholic priest officiating at Mitcham”,
and born at Calvados in France. This was most likely the priest who,
in 1861, had succeeded the Revd F F Daniel Morel of the Norwood
Mission in whose hands the Mitcham Mission had been placed by
the bishop of Southwark in 1853.54
It has been claimed that Mass was held privately in a drawing-room
of Elm Lodge as early as 1851. Whether this is true or not (and there
is no reason to question the tradition), from this small beginning the
congregation grew, and in 1853, for the first time since the
Reformation, the Catholic Mass was officially celebrated again in
Mitcham,48 and continued thereafter on a regular basis. By 1857 the
number of communicants was such that plans were under
consideration for the building of a proper chapel on land which had
been presented to the diocese of Southwark by William Simpson.55
This was located on what was then usually known as the Causeway,
on the southern side of the Cricket Green, and comprised the property
his father had purchased from Mary Tate, together with an adjoining
plot purchased by William’s father from William Goldsmith in August

Erection of the small brick chapel and an adjoining wooden building
which was to serve as a temporary school-room duly proceeded, and


the total cost of £409 was met by William Simpson who, as might be
expected, received the support and encouragement of his brothers. The
registration of the chapel as a “place intended to be used for worship”
was effected in October 1861, the certificate being signed by William
Simpson as the ‘proprietor’.57 When ill-health obliged the Revd Maillard
to resign the following year, William’s younger brother, Robert, was
appointed to the Mission, becoming its first resident priest. The Revd
Ferdinand Whyte followed in 1863 when Robert Simpson was appointed
to the chaplaincy of the military prison at Southwark. William Simpson
provided a stipend of £10 p.a. for the priest at Mitcham, but for many
years to come the mission was to struggle against poverty, and the
growing Catholic community continued to remain heavily dependent
on the support given by William and his wife.54

William and Winifred’s second son, William Francis Joseph, was born
in September 1863, presumably while the family was living at the Manor
House.52 James, his brother, died unmarried in February 1879, as a
consequence of which William Francis Joseph inherited the Cranmer-
Simpson estate, partly through his parents, and partly under the terms
of the will of his second cousin, Elizabeth Mary Simpson.44 It has not
been ascertained exactly when the Simpson family left Manor House,
but there is mention in reports of the Ladies’ Visiting Society in the
vicar of Mitcham’s parochial news letters of a Mr R Fry living there in
1866 and 1869. It is also evident that towards the end of the 1860s the
house was leased to a Charles Henry Stagland,58 about whom little
seems to have been recorded locally. Stagland’s residence in Mitcham
must have been of short duration, for in the summer of 1869 Simpson
granted fresh leases of Manor House and its grounds to John George
Dahll, a shipping broker of Norwegian birth.59 The leases included one
for “freehold and leasehold property”, another for “land behind the
Manor House, with hot house and piggery”, and a third for “Manor
House with appurtenances, two closes of meadow (4 acres) late occupied
by Charles Henry Stagland”. Each lease ran for 11½ years.60 The census
entry for Manor House in 1871 shows Dahll, aged 32, his wife Louisa
aged 27, and four young sons as the occupants. A nursemaid and cook
were the only resident domestic staff. In May 1876, we find the lease


again being relinquished before expiry, this time apparently prematurely
because of the death of Dahll, whose executors surrendered to Simpson
on his behalf.61

William Simpson II seems to have left Mitcham in the 1860s, and he
and Winifred spent the rest of their lives in retirement in Devon.
Correspondence with him in August 1887 indicates that he was then
living with his widowed cousin, Elizabeth Mary Simpson, at
Werrington, Torquay,47 and he died at Dartmouth in June the following

Manor House in the occupation of George Pitt (1876–c.1882)

George Pitt, to whom William Simpson granted a lease of Manor House
in 1876, had until 1870 been the proprietor of the London House
hardware, drapery and general stores in Mitcham, founded by his late
father in 1830.

George, a fascinating character who in later years developed into
something of an eccentric – as he himself readily acknowledged – was
born at London House in 1830. He went to school for the first time at
the age of 12, but left after 15 months, deciding that he had learned
enough! His only other schooling was of a bare six months’ duration.
He shone at mental arithmetic, an ability which no doubt proved
invaluable to his father, for whom he worked. Feeling frustrated, he
threatened to emigrate to America when he reached 21, but changed
his mind, and stayed on at London House, although he was to receive
no wages until he was 30. For solace he studied astrology, but gave it
up when he felt it was developing a hold on him, and in 1853 joined the
Society of Friends.

George Pitt was known by his contemporaries as an extremely generous
man, “with a genuine love of God and his fellow beings”, well-informed
on most practical subjects, and having sound business judgement.62 It
was through the Friends that he met Priscilla, daughter of John Finch
Marsh and his wife Hannah of Park Lane, Croydon, both prominent
members of the Quaker community at Croydon, and they married in
1860. George Pitt was left with the London House business when his


father moved away from Mitcham, and by dint of hard work and self-
denial he and Priscilla were able over ten years trading to put aside
sufficient for their modest needs. This was not at the expense of those
less fortunate than themselves, and during the period of distress
prevailing in 1866–7 George, in a typical gesture, bought two tons of
rice which he packed in 2lb bags and distributed free amongst the poor.

After nine years at London House, during which time Priscilla bore
five children, all of whom died young, the Pitts vacated the living
quarters above the shop and moved to Berkeley Cottage, next door to
Manor House. Still a comparatively young man, George now decided
to pursue other interests in life. In 1870 he gave the London House
business to his two chief assistants, Thomas Francis and Eliza Cooper,
who subsequently married. George Pitt was regarded by the Francis
family, and no doubt many of his contemporaries, as ‘a bit of a
character’.62 Much of his money was invested in property, and George
either built or bought a large number of cottages, which he rented out
unfurnished to weekly tenants. The story is told that to his new tenants
George was in the habit of presenting packets of flower seeds for the
front gardens, and vegetables for the back, to encourage pride in their
new homes.

In his later years George was active in local politics, describing himself
as “a Liberal Star in a very dark place”. He took particular exception to
any public expenditure which in his opinion was unnecessary, going so
far in 1881 as to have the roads watered at his own expense as a protest
against a proposed increase in the highway rates to cover the cost of
the service.

John Marsh Pitt – George and Priscilla’s only son to reach maturity –
was born at Berkeley Cottage in 1871. George invited his mother,
Elizabeth Pitt, and his mother-in-law, Hannah Marsh, both of whom
were recently widowed, to join his household, and when the opportunity
presented itself, they all moved into Manor House next door. Here the
two elderly ladies were able to have their separate apartments, and
George could devote one room to the growing stock of books and
pamphlets he had written, and also the books he published for the Society
of Friends.


At the age of 50 George had decided with Priscilla, who spoke French
and German, to ‘see the World’ and, despite the fact that by this time
he was profoundly deaf, the couple visited America, Europe and the
Near East, including Palestine and Persia, and finally encompassed the
globe. On returning to Mitcham George published an account of their
Remarkable Travels over and Round the World in a book which achieved
a large sale locally and ran to three editions. “If for no other reason”
observed Tom Francis junior many years later, “these travels were
remarkable for the distance covered at an insignificant cost”.62

Many tales have been told of George Pitt’s eccentricities, including
one recounted by Tom Francis in his memories of old Mitcham.63
George, it appears, kept a horse called Jack, which he insisted on
bringing into Manor House kitchen. The reason for the hospitality
afforded to the animal is not explained, but fortunately the kitchen was
a large one, and we are assured that the horse was well-behaved. In
wintry weather, when there was sufficient depth of snow, the old horse
“to his astonishment” was harnessed to a cumbersome wooden sledge,
which in Tom’s opinion resembled the framework of an ancient four-
post bedstead. At one time two horses were kept in the stables, the
animals being required to draw the Pitts’ several conveyances, which
included a wagonette, preferred for use in bad weather as it could be
covered, a dog-cart and a brougham. Occasionally these were used to
carry Mitcham Friends to the Croydon meetings, with Joseph Rose,
who lived in one of the cottages in the nearby Berkeley Place, acting as
the family’s coachman. Priscilla also drove the wagonette, to the smiles
of onlookers and rude calls from the village boys, for she dressed in the
old Quaker style, complete with ‘coal scuttle’ bonnet.

A Friends’ Meeting took place every Sunday morning in the drawing-
room of Manor House, and an additional ‘reading’ meeting was usually
held on Sunday evenings. One particularly severe winter George and
Priscilla, with typical concern for the poor, provided at their own
expense no fewer than 100 dinners a day for nine days running in the
large dining-room of Manor House, besides teas, and parcels of
groceries, with oranges and toys for the children. The Pitts frequently
had visiting Friends staying with them, and figures in Quaker garb
were a common sight in Mitcham in the 1870s. One visitor, a prominent


member of the Friends by the name of Joshua Jacob, attracted more than
usual incredulity (and probably some hostility from less well-disposed
villagers) by holding meetings for gypsies camped on the Common.

Priscilla was a staunch teetotaller, and held temperance meetings at
Manor House. Between them the Pitts formed a local Band of Hope,
which attained a membership of some 300 children and was eventually
to develop into an adult society known as the Mitcham Teetotal Society.
They also founded a thrift club and the Berkeley Mutual Improvement
Society, members of which held debates and poetry readings, and also
had use of a gymnasium which had been equipped by George Pitt.

Sometime in the early 1880s, after death had reduced the size of the
Manor House family and the lease was near expiry, the Pitts moved to
Berkeley House, which adjoined Berkeley Cottage. Here meetings and
lectures continued to be held until the growing numbers of the Friends
and members of the various societies necessitated erection of a hall –
Liberty Hall – in the garden. When George himself passed on Liberty
Hall was re-built in Berkeley Place, and was registered as a Friends’
Meeting House.

Harry G Dorrett and others.

In the early 1880s Manor House became the residence of John Owen
Lewis, a gentleman whose name appears regularly in every edition of
Kelly’s Directory from 1882 until 1918.64 He seems to have moved
soon after the end of the Great War, for the directory for 1922 shows
him living at 47 Mitcham Park, and a map produced in 1924 in
connection with the sale of Mitcham Hall (to the south) indicates that
Manor House had by then become the property of a Mrs Nancy
Freeman.65 The writer has to admit having failed to discover John
Lewis’s occupation and indeed any part he may have played in the
affairs of the village, which is a pity, for he made Mitcham his home
for over 40 years.

During the 1920s the old Manor House – hitherto essentially a family
residence – was occupied as apartments or flats. Then, around 1930, it
was sold by its owner, who is understood to have been a Dr Sugden.
The buyer was Harry Gordon Dorrett who, with his wife Nell, was


joint owner of an expanding firm of commercial photographers, H G
Dorrett and Co.66 The large house was well able to provide the studio,
office and residential accommodation the Dorretts required, and at its
peak the company had a staff of up to 30 workers mainly employed in
the multiple printing of cinematograph stills for Wardour Street
agencies. They, in their turn, distributed the photographs for display
outside cinemas. Ross, Harry Dorrett’s brother, who had previously
owned Hopton’s Garage at Streatham (the site was later used for the
erection of the Streatham Ice Rink), found a new use for the coach
house and stables, adapting the detached outbuildings, which had
separate access to the main road, into motor vehicle repair workshops.

Harry Dorrett was also well known in the realm of artistic photography,
and, according to the local press, had pioneered many new processes.
Some of his finest work was carried out in Manor House, parts of which
he took pleasure in furnishing with pieces in keeping with the period
of the house. When in July 1942 members of the Mitcham Civic Society
visited the old building they were conducted on a tour by Dorrett himself.
Discovering the house to be crammed with modern as well as ancient
features, the visitors found themselves torn between two interests, for
against the somewhat sombre background of old oak panelling, beamed
ceilings and a grand staircase, there appeared portraits of American
and British film actresses, some of them life-size and full length. Even
then the house was suffering from neglect, exacerbated no doubt by
war damage, for a “ruinous leak” was noted by the reporter from the
Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser who accompanied the party.

In June 1956 the local Advertiser reported demolition of the high brick
wall which, interrupted only by an ornate wrought-iron gate, had for at
least 200 years assured privacy for Manor House and its occupants.
The justification for this action was the widening by the Borough
Council of the pavement alongside the busy London Road, an
improvement for which the South Mitcham Residents’ Association had
long campaigned, submitting (with justification) that the existing three-
foot width pavement was hazardous to pedestrians in general and
particularly to women wheeling prams. A new wall replaced the old,
set back on the building line already established by the shops near
Baron Grove. The following week the Advertiser’s columnist, ‘The


Commoner’, regretted the demise of the old wall, which in days gone
by he had often seen “decorated with scores of men and maids, not to
mention urchins and brats” determined not to miss the annual show
afforded by passing Derby racegoers. “When the Manor House was
vacant during the War”, he recalled, its ghost (reputedly a grey lady
occasionally to be encountered sitting on a chest on the stairs) “had the
time of its life and even got into the Fleet Street newspapers. The only
thing it was afraid of was the caretaker, a real old Mitcham character,
whom its hauntings did not scare a bit”.

On a hot August day two years later Wendy Scott of the Mitcham News
felt herself enveloped by an air of calm, evocative of centuries past,
when she passed through the Doric-columned doorway and stepped inside
the cool stone-flagged hall. Manor House was then still occupied by H G
Dorrett Ltd., and Nettie Moon, the company’s managing director,67
contrived to keep most of the beautifully proportioned rooms furnished,
but on this particular occasion the effect could not be appreciated fully,
for dustcovers protected elegant couches and chairs covered in delicate
silks, and window shutters were closed against the glare of the sun.

In common with most old houses, Manor House had been much altered
and extended by successive owners and occupiers, and exhibited a variety
of styles of workmanship. Harry Dorrett was of the opinion the oldest part
of the house had been built in the late 17th century, and that it was used as
a farmhouse. When it was enlarged in the mid-18th century, he said, the
remnants of the original building became a servants’ wing. In 1958 mellow
wood panelling was still much in evidence not only in the hall, but up the
staircase, and in the drawing-room. Some, in the upstairs rooms, was thought
to be Jacobean and to have come from a house of an earlier period.

Leading off the simply-furnished entrance hall was the main drawing-
room. This was the focal point of the house, with its fine 18th-century
woodwork, a marble chimneypiece with two-tier overmantel, and high
decorated ceiling. This was divided into panels by several heavy beams
of possible 17th-century date, edged with wood carved in a running
Greek-key pattern. Shaped wooden modillions and a baroque floral
moulding graced the pediment above the doorway. The staircase to the
first floor was particularly impressive, with early 18th-century carved


newel posts and brackets, a ramped handrail and spiral balusters, three
to a tread. At the head of the stairs a 17th-century hand-painted window
with Biblical inscriptions written in ‘Dutch’ (probably Flemish) caught
the eye. Its origin was unknown, but it probably dated back to the
occupancy of the Marlar family who, as we have seen, were amongst
several wealthy families in Mitcham whose ancestors had fled from
religious persecution in the Low Countries during the late 17th century.

Wendy Scott noted that in all the rooms the Georgian window shutters
were intact, and was pleased to find that when fastened back they allowed
uninterrupted views of lawns and sprawling shrubberies beyond. Like other
houses of character in the locality, Manor House once had extensive grounds,
with ornamental gardens and stabling, but since the turn of the century
piecemeal sales had gradually reduced the acreage to a comparatively small
area. Wendy Scott concluded her visit having gained the impression that
the house, with its imposing frontage and sanded path leading to the wrought-
iron gate, hid many secrets … “secrets that will probably remain hidden for
a long time, as the building is protected by the Ancient Monuments
agreement”. Regrettably events were to prove her optimism sadly misplaced
and, as we have seen, within six years the house had vanished completely.

In 1949, following the death of his wife, Harry Dorrett had moved to a
house in Baron Grove. He died in a nursing home in Worcester Park in
1958, and in accordance with his wishes his ashes were scattered in the
garden of Manor House.68 In the hope that the business might continue to
provide employment for his loyal workers, Dorrett left his shares in the
company to Nettie Moon. Unfortunately, having insufficient capital at her
disposal, she found it impossible to carry on, and Manor House was offered
for sale. In late January 1960 the Advertiser reported that the property had
been purchased by Charles Sayers & Son Ltd, a Mitcham building firm,
for a “five-figure sum”. Ken Sayers, speaking for the company, said that as
far back as 1905 his grandfather had tried to buy Manor House, but thought
the figure of £900 then asked was too high. It was the company’s intention,
he said, to knock down the high wall in front of the house, and to replace it
with railings so that it could be seen by passers-by. The house was to be
used as offices but, he assured the reporter, “we shall preserve it and make
a show place of it. We are going to keep up the front and back gardens and
will be developing the spare land at the back”.


Manor House – rear elevation after being badly damaged by fire in 1961


The End of Manor House

By November 1960 widespread rumours that the company’s intentions
were less laudable forced a spokesman for Charles Sayers & Son to
deny that the firm had any plans for demolition. Admitting that his
company had done nothing to the house since completion of purchase
the previous January, it was the intention, he assured the Mitcham News
and Mercury, to gradually turn it into offices for the use of the firm,
whose building yard was nearby.

Manor House now assumed a new, and what proved to be its final,
rôle, as a warehouse used by Indesit Refrigerators of Mitcham Lane,
Streatham. For seven more months it remained out of the news, and
then, in June 1961, the house returned dramatically to the front pages
of the local press when 350 refrigerators worth £8,000 were destroyed
or damaged in a fire which swept through the building. Although the
alarm was given at 6 pm, the fire was not completely doused until 3.30
the next morning, and at the height of the blaze five appliances and
their crews were in attendance, causing a monumental traffic jam among
the home-going traffic. The drawing-room, with its fine ceiling and
chimney piece, was badly damaged, but the wooden staircase was only
slightly affected, and the painted window escaped intact.

The future of the house was now even more in doubt, and in January
1962 application for planning consent was submitted by a firm of
developers wishing to build offices on the site. It was their intention,
they said, to retain the front of Manor House, including the entrance
hall and staircase, and to build offices at the rear. Although the building
had a Grade II listing, and many still hoped for its restoration and
preservation, other voices began to make themselves heard. Borough
Councillor Joyce Vowles pointed to the pressing needs of the social
and welfare services, and Councillor E E Field, chairman of the town
planning committee, saw an opportunity for the county council to buy
up the whole site for an extension to SS Peter and Paul’s school. The
only obstacle to this much needed extension was the listing of the
building – justifiable in Field’s opinion when Manor House was in its
original state, but indefensible now that it had been partly destroyed by


In June 1962, a year after the fire, the News and Mercury again featured
the house in an article, commenting that the old Manor House was a
sad sight – “especially for local people who love old houses and knew
the building in its former glory”. “Today,” readers were told, “the well-
proportioned windows are mostly boarded against intruders, the ivy
over the brickwork grows unchecked and the lawns, once carefully
mown, run wild. The ‘For Sale’ board provides the immediate answer
to the air of desolation, for Manor House has reached an important
milestone in its life – it is awaiting a buyer and its future is in the
balance.” The article concluded with the naive observation that “it would
be a good day for the Borough if the purchaser appreciated its
architectural qualities, and had the money necessary to carry out a full-
scale restoration”.

By July 1962 the fate of Manor House was sealed finally by its sale for
redevelopment to Davis Investments Ltd. Some uncertainty remained
at the time as to whether or not the whole building would have to be
demolished, but structural surveys were said to have disclosed that the
building, by then strutted with steel supports, was so unstable that razing
to the ground offered the only viable proposition. Ken Sayers, managing
director of its former owners, told the News that he still felt part could
be salvaged, This had always been his firm’s intention, he claimed, but
Surrey County Council’s compulsory purchase of the land at the rear
had ruined the prospects of implementing former plans, and sale became
the only course open to his company.

Thus ends the story of Manor House, Lower Mitcham. An unimaginative
office block, three storeys of glass and concrete with the appearance of
having been inspired by a child’s building kit, was given the grandiose
name of ‘The Manor House’ when completed in 1970, but failed to
attract permanent tenants. Later the height of the box-like structure
was increased by the addition of a fourth floor and re-named ‘Justin
Manor’, but before long agents’ boards announcing that it was ‘To
Let’ had reappeared. For much of the 1990s, it remained largely empty,
and with yet another new name – ‘Justin Plaza’ – awaited interest from
commercial owners or leaseholders who proved as elusive as ever.

Chapter 6


The London Road Playing Fields, re-opened in 1992 by the London
Borough of Merton as a small public park after lying neglected and
with an uncertain future for a number of years, occupy part of what
were once the grounds of another of Mitcham’s larger houses, and have
a history which can be traced back to the 16th century.

Unfortunately we know nothing of the appearance of the Tudor house
which once stood on the site. Parts of it may well have survived into
the early 19th century, incorporated within the structure of what had
become known as Baron House, a substantial residence erected during
the 18th century. Alternatively, the 16th century house could have been
demolished completely when the new house was built. The latter, we
are told in a contemporary account, was a large brick mansion, standing
on slightly elevated ground on the western side of the highway leading
to Sutton from the Lower Green.1 With clearance and redevelopment
evidently in mind, Baron House and its extensive grounds were
purchased around 1826 by Thomas Finden, a builder-architect, and
within the space of a few years what might have been a most interesting
old building had vanished completely.

The known history of the site, and quite possibly of old Baron House
itself, thus stretches back some 450 years. Queen Elizabeth I was a
guest here on two occasions, and over the ensuing three and a half
centuries the mansion and its 18th- and 19th-century successors were
to play their modest roles in the steady evolution of Mitcham from a
Surrey village into a London suburb.

The Blankes (1562–1595)

By the mid-16th century Mitcham had already developed into a large
village and, if one is to be guided by the names of those whom we
know to have been residents, was regarded by London merchants,
lawyers and minor court officials as a healthy country retreat. Typical
of the emerging middle class was London merchant Thomas Blanke, a
member of the Haberdashers’ Company who, with his wife Mary,
purchased an estate in Mitcham from William and Katherine Gryce of


London in 1562.2 The transaction involved a ‘capital house’, plus land
and other buildings which, from what is known of the subsequent history
of the estate, one can deduce was situated between Morden Road and
Church Path – i.e. on the site occupied by Baron House and its grounds
in the latter half of the 18th century.

Under the terms of Thomas Blanke’s will, dated 1563, the property
passed to his son Thomas, also of London and, like his father, a member
of the Haberdashers’ Company.3 Thomas Blanke junior married
Margaret Traves, daughter of Richard Traves, a Merchant Taylor of
London, and Alice his wife. They evidently prospered, and in 1582,
having been elected lord mayor of the City of London, Thomas Blanke
II was honoured with a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth. Like many
leading members of the City administration, Blanke strongly
disapproved of playhouses, which were seen as a corrupting influence,
and likely to distract apprentices from their work. When in 1583 a
structure in the Bear Garden collapsed one Sunday during his mayoralty,
Blanke is said to have proclaimed the resulting deaths and injuries as
evidence of divine retribution for abuse of the sabbath.4 Sir Thomas
died in 1588, whilst serving as an alderman of the City, leaving land,
houses and leases in Mitcham to his wife.5

In January 1588, shortly before Sir Thomas’s death, he and Lady Blanke
had concluded the preliminaries to selling their ‘capital messuage’,
two cottages and land in Mitcham to Lady Blanke’s father and her
nephew James Traves (or Travis).6 This suggests the Blankes may have
been on the point of leaving Mitcham, but the sale was evidently
cancelled, for Lady Blanke remained in Mitcham until her own death
in 1597. No children are mentioned in either of the Blankes’ wills, but
Sir Thomas remembered “Joane ffarrant”, his wife’s widowed sister,
his two nephews Edmund and William (of whom more later) and “the
poorest people of Mitcham”, to whom he left a bequest of 40 shillings,
“to be given amonge them”. He also mentioned land, houses and leases
in Mitcham, which he left to his wife, and small legacies for a number
of people in Mitcham, whom he mentioned by name.5

As we have seen in an earlier chapter, the visit of Queen Elizabeth in
1598 to the house of Dr Julius Caesar has for many years enjoyed a


secure niche in local history through the chance survival of Caesar’s
account of the visit, ruefully recording the cost of entertaining Her
Majesty.7 Less well known are four earlier visits by the queen to
Mitcham, which included two occasions, in 1591 and 1594, when she
stayed briefly with the widowed Lady Blanke.

The first of these visits occurred during a royal progress through Surrey,
Sussex and Hampshire in 1591, the queen pausing in Mitcham
immediately before proceeding to her palace at Nonsuch. The progress
is believed to have begun between 29 July and 1 August, and ended on
27 September.8 Since Elizabeth was at Nonsuch on 1– 2 August, the
Mitcham visit must have taken place at some time during the period 29
July to 31 July. Three years later, Elizabeth and the court removed
from Greenwich Palace for Nonsuch on 1 or 2 October, breaking journey
first at Bartholomew Scott’s house at Camberwell, and again at Lady
Blanke’s at Mitcham.8 On both occasions the visits to Mitcham seem
likely to have been of very short duration. We know from Julius Caesar’s
account that the cost of entertaining the queen and her entourage could
be very heavy, especially when the hospitality was lavish and was
provided to impress and flatter the royal guest in the hope of future
preferment. Lady Blanke is hardly likely to have been seeking favours
for herself, but she may well have spoken for her nephew William
Farrant, a doctor of civil law.9 Whether this was so or not, the two royal
visits must have drained her purse considerably.

The will of Lady Blanke, dated 24 November 1595 and proved 26
October 1597, directed that she be buried “in the parish church of Sainte
Maryhill, London, by Billingesgate, in the same vaulte or tombe wherein
the saied Sir Thomas Blanke lyeth buryed”. She appointed “three score
women” to accompany her corpse to the church, “whereof ten shall be
of the parishe of Micham, in the Countie of Surrey, of the poorest
Inhabitantes there, and every one of them to have given them a blacke
gowne according to the usual manner …” and to 12 of the poorest people
of Mitcham “beying householders there” she gave “twoe shillings a
weeke to be distributed at the discretion of ye minister, and
Churchwardens there, during the space of tooe yeres”. To her “good
friend”, Richard Hopkyns, a yeoman farmer occupying land bordering


the Wandle to the south of her house, Lady Blanke left “one ring of
gould, of the value of fiftie shillinges”. She bequeathed three pounds
towards repairing Mitcham church, and directed that a sermon be
preached there every quarter, for one year following her death, the
preacher to have ten shillings each sermon. Twenty pounds was left to
the Company of Haberdashers for a dinner for the livery of the Company
at the day of her burial. Of considerable importance in our study of the
history of Baron House, is Lady Blanke’s mention of her “capitall
messuage, mansion or dwelling house, in Mitcham”, with a close of
six acres, nine acres of copyhold land called Labox, and “one little
Close of Land lyinge and beying over against my saied Capital Messuage
in Micham aforesayed. on the other side of the highe way yt leadeth to
the River of Micham”, containing one acre and a half. She requested
all those who received her Mitcham property to “pay unto the sexton
of the parishe Churche of Saint Mary Hill, in London, for the tyme
beying, the some of ffower shillinges yerely, by twelve pence a quarter,
to the intent the same sexton shall … from tyme to tyme, sweepe, brushe,
and make cleane a Tombe wherein the said Sr Thomas Blanke lieth
buryed, and which I made for him and myself, in the same parishe
churche”. Finally, she mentioned, among others, her sister “Johane
fferrand” and her sons, Richard, Edmund and Charles, brother John
Travis and his son James.10

The Farrants (1593–1666)

Although the lay subsidy assessments for 1593 make no mention of
Lady Blanke, the names of her elder nephews are included in the subsidy
rolls, William Farrant being assessed in respect of ‘lands’, and Edmonde
(sic) Farrant for goods.9 The subsidies, a form of wealth tax, were levied
on the better-off, and we need to find a reason for the exclusion of
Lady Blanke, whom we assume to have been living in Mitcham at the
time, and know to have still been in possession of an estate there. An
explanation may be that she and her sister’s family were living together
under one roof, with William and Edmund, who were heirs to the estate,
already recognised as assuming responsibility for much of the financial


The Farrants, Ferrants, or Farrands of Mitcham (the name was spelt in
various ways) were a family entitled to bear arms, and returned their
pedigree in the herald’s visitation of 1623.11 They were resident in the
village for many years – a Joan Farrant had purchased a freehold
property in Mitcham from Henry Whitney in 1588,12 and, as might be
expected, the parish registers contain numerous references to them.
William Farrand, “Doctor of the Civill Lawe”, the eldest son of Richard
Farrand and Joan (née Traves), married Mary Orrell, a widow, at
Mitcham church in 1592, and was buried there in 1615. His will, a
delightful and illuminating document, is worth quoting in some detail:
“I, William ffarrande Doctor of lawe … My bodye I commit to the
earth, from whence it came, to be christianly and religiously buryed …
I require her” (his executrix) “to avoyde all vayne pompe and
unnecessary solemnitye as of using of heralds or anye greate number
of mourners and such like considering that whatsoever shall be expended
that waye must needs deminishe the finale estate, that I am able to
leave to mayntayne her and my sonne wth all … Item I give to each of
my Clarkes that shall remayne wth me at my death three poundes” (to
his other servants he left 40s each) ” … Item I give to the Right
Worshippfull the Doctors of the Arches tenn poundes to be bestowed
upon a Repast, or in naperye or plate as Mr. Deane and Mr. Tresurer
shall thinke moste Convenient.” The rest of his goods and chattels he
left to his “Most loving and kinde wife Mary ffarande and to Richard
ffarrand my sonne”, whom he exhorted to be dutiful to his mother. He
left to Mary for life and then to his son Richard and his heirs “my
Capitall messuage mansion or dwellinge house, in Micham in the
Countye of Surrey, sometymes the Lady Blanckes, with all barnes
stables outehouses, and all other edifices thereto belonging or now used
with the same, and all yardes, orchyardes gardens, and hoppgroundes
there unto appertayninge”. He also mentioned six acres in Mitcham
called ‘Walnutree Closse’, five acres in Carshalton and other property
which after the death of his wife he left to Richard and his heirs.13 In
his directions concerning the obsequies he considered appropriate, as
well as an obvious financial prudence, William Farrand’s will
demonstrates a dislike of ceremony and, quite possibly, a disposition
towards Puritanism.


Lady Blanke’s former home continued to be the residence of the Farrant
family long after William’s death in 1615. Richard Farrant married
Elizabeth, daughter of George Garth I, lord of the manor of Morden,
and although two of their sons died early in life, a third, christened
Richard after his father, and daughters Mary and Elizabeth, survived
into adult life. Describing the taxation imposed by Parliament between
1643 and 1644, and some of the hazards encountered locally by the
property-owning classes during the Civil War, Richard Milward
comments ” … But the hardest case was that of Richard Farrand, a
landowner of Mitcham. He was taxed by both sides at the same time.
Parliament took three of his best horses, quartered troops in his house
and commandeered his team of cart horses in the time of the bean season
upon pretence they were to return again next day”. They were not in
fact given back for six weeks. Then the Royalists had their turn, for he
“was enforced to be resident with his wife and family under the power
of the Cavaliers near Oxenford, where his sufferings were far greater
and heavier than all the charges and taxes could amount to here”.14

Tree Close

Reduced detail from the 25-inch OS map of 1895, showing the probable
extent of the grounds of the Farrants’ house in the 17th century


In Evelyn Jowett’s view15 Farrant’s in-laws, the Garths, weathered the
storm relatively unscathed, despite the proximity of a garrison of
Parliamentary troops in the buildings still standing within the precincts
of Merton priory. Much remains to be known of the two families’
involvement in the struggle, and whereas some of the younger members
may have played a more active role, it would seem that both Richard
Farrant and George Garth’s grandson, who had succeeded to the Morden
estate on the death of his father in 1639, were amongst the moderates,
siding with Parliament, but maintaining as low a profile as possible.
Certainly, despite their tribulations, the Farrant family contrived to come
through the war still in possession of one of the major houses in
Mitcham. To the north of the house the grounds evidently extended
beyond Church Path (the boundary between the manors of Ravensbury
and Vauxhall), for in 1649 Richard Farrant was included in a list of
copyholders in the ‘Mitcham Lybertie’ of Vauxhall.16 Richard may well
have been cast in the same Puritan mould as his father, for in November
1651 “Richard Farrand of Mitcham” was appointed sheriff of Surrey
by the House of Commons.17 It has to be said, however, that whereas
many of the Surrey sheriffs chosen during the Interregnum were former
Parliamentarians, by no means all were fanatical Puritans, or even ardent
supporters of the Parliamentary party during the Civil War. As was to
be expected given his social position, Richard Farrant took an active
part in parochial administration, acting, for instance, as local assessor
for the quarterly levy for the maintenance of the army and navy on
various occasions during the Commonwealth, and performing the same
office after the Restoration.18 He also held the office of churchwarden
at Mitcham for the year 1652–53.

When, in 1664, assessments were made for the hearth tax “Richard
Farrant Esq” was taxed on 16 hearths in his house in Mitcham, which
confirms that it was one of the largest in the village.19 Two years later,
occupation of the house , so long the home of the Farrant family, changed.
Whether Richard Farrant had died, or had merely moved away, one
cannot at present say, but by the autumn of 1666 the house had become
the seat of John Highlord, a distant cousin of the Farrants through the
marriages of the Garth sisters, Elizabeth and Frances.


The Highlords and the Glovers (1666–1716)

The Highlord family hailed from Woodbury in Devon,20 and John
Highlord was one of several children of Zachary Highlord (c.1584–1653),
an alderman and merchant of the City of London, who married Frances,
daughter of George Garth I of Morden. John, his son, and Richard Farrant
(son of Garth’s daughter Elizabeth) were thus first cousins. Zachary
Highlord and his brother John, who was described as “Trustee for the
City of London”,21 jointly received a grant of arms in 1630.22

John Highlord’s name first appears in the Mitcham militia assessment
books – in 1666 – as if he were merely the tenant of Richard Farrant’s
property, but certainly by April 1674 he would seem to have been
regarded as the owner, for the assessment reads “Jo. Highlord Esq. for
his own land”.18 In June 1658 John married Elizabeth Style23 and their
son John (baptised January 1671/2) and daughters Elizabeth (b. March
1674/5, d. Feb. 1748) and Susan (d. April 1731) are among several
members of the Highlord family whose baptisms and burials are
recorded in the Mitcham and Morden registers. John Highlord senior
died in August 1678, and was buried at Morden parish church, where
several Highlord monuments can still be seen. Members of his family
certainly continued to reside in the house at Mitcham until 1680, when
the militia tax assessment records cease, the last taxpayer of whom we
have knowledge being a Mrs Highlord, presumably John’s widow
Elizabeth. Theophilus Highlord “late of Mitcham” died in 1683, aged
25, and was buried at Morden, but John and Elizabeth’s daughters,
Susan and Elizabeth, survived until well into the next century, being
buried at Morden in 1731 and 1748 respectively. We do not know where
they lived, but it would seem that they moved away from their old
family home in Mitcham within a few years of their father’s death.

After a short interlude during which its history is not known, the
Highlords’ former residence next passed into the ownership of Gabriel
Glover, who was to make it his home for a period of some 15 years or
so. The purchase may have taken place in 1701, when

“a mansion heretofore of John Highlord … with gardens and hop
gardens appertaining, and one close of pasture, 6 acres and messuage
near adjoining the said capital messuage and a little close of 1½


acres lying over against the last-mentioned messuage on the side of
the way leading to [the] river of Mitcham”24

were sold to Thomas Gratwick, Thomas Carr and Richard Edmondson,
who were probably acting as intermediaries or land agents for, as we
shall see, Gratwick and Carr are also cited when the property was sold
again 15 years later.

Four Glover children and their parents are buried at Mitcham, where a
large marble memorial, originally mounted in the old parish church
against a pillar on the north side of the middle aisle, but re-fixed on the
south wall during the rebuilding of 1819/22, bears the inscription:

“Near this place, under a black marble stone, lieth the body of Bridget
late wife of Gabriel Glover Esq. in hopes of a joyfull resurrection,
who departed this life on the 25th day of November, in the year of
our Lord 1709, and in the 37th year of her age, with her children
Sarah and Gabriel. Also Ann Glover. who departed this life the
first day of June 1751, aged 50 years, daughter of the above
mentioned Gabriel and Bridget Glover. Sarah died on the 29th of
July 1703; Gabriel died on the 25th November 1706.”

The ledger stone referred to, set in the floor of the central aisle of the
nave where it had presumably remained unmoved during the rebuilding
of the church, could be seen until 1991, when it was covered by raised
wooden flooring. Its inscription read:

“Here lieth the body of Bridget late wife of Gabriel Glover Esq.,
who died ye 25th day of November 1709 aged 37 years also Sarah
and Gabriel, son and daughter. Also Gabriel Glover Esq., who
departed this life April ye 23rd. 1723, aged 61 and also Mary another
daughter, died April ye 11th 1717, aged 18 years.”

In July 1716 Gabriel Glover, widowed seven years previously and
described as “of London, linendraper”, sold the mansion to Edward
Frowd, citizen and haberdasher of London. The other parties to the
indenture of sale were Thomas Gratwick “of Leatherhead, Esq.” and
Thomas Carr “of Chichester, Gent.” and, for the second part, William
Bates “of London, merchant” and his wife Bridget. Frowd paid £1,585
for the property, which included a 1½ acre close “late in possession of


James Taylor of London, linendraper” and a “Cherry Ground” in the
occupation of ” … Beach”.24 It seems quite likely that Taylor was
related to the “Joseph Taylor of London, a merchant who departed this
life Mar. y 12th 1722 aged … years” who lies buried beneath a floor
slab in the north aisle of Mitcham church.

The Mendes da Costa family and the Tates (1721–1767)

John Mendes da Costa junior, who in 1721 came into possession of the
Highlords’ former home following the death of Edward Frowd, was of
a wealthy Jewish family, members of which had been in the entourage
of Catherine of Braganza, consort of Charles II, on her journey from
Portugal. The tripartite indenture of sale dated 19 December 1721 was
between George Ellis, citizen and haberdasher of London, and Henry
Popay, another London merchant, executors of Edward Frowd “late of
the parish of St. Bartholomew, London, late merchant and also
Mitcham”, on the first part; Timothy Guest, a citizen of London and
grocer, and his wife Lydia only sister and heir-at-law of Edward Frowd;
and on the third part John Mendes da Costa junior, “merchant of
London”. The transaction was effected by the sum of £4,000 being
paid into Chancery by John (otherwise Joseph) Mendes da Costa (who
died in 1726)25 for the absolute purchase of the old Highlord mansion
and its associated land

“heretofore … of Gabriel Glover & late of Edw. Frowd” together
with “the messuage or cottage house and land adjoining known as
the Cherry Ground., 1½ acres late in the tenure or occupation of
Felix Fletcher”.26

The considerable difference between the £1,585 purchase price paid by
Frowd and the £4,000 put up by da Costa is very strange. It could be that
the house had been enlarged, or even rebuilt by Frowd in the intervening
five years, but there is no evidence to support the idea. The indenture of
sale in 1721 shows that on this occasion the “cottage house” adjacent to
Cherry Ground and its 1½ acres were included in the transaction, but
their value must have been modest. Neither, therefore, offers a satisfactory
explanation, and one feels that the £4,000 must in part have been a bond
or expression of good faith demanded by the vendors.


John (Jewish name Abraham) Mendes da Costa junior was born at Rouen
in 1683, and in 1702 married Esther (alias Joanna), daughter of Alvaro
da Costa who is said to have been the first Jew to own landed property in
this country after the Resettlement (he bought the copyhold of Cromwell
House on Highgate Hill in 1675). Until an Act was passed in 1723
granting native-born Jews (and, by implication, those who had become
naturalised), the right to purchase houses and land the legal position was
far from certain.27 John Mendes da Costa junior was most likely
endenizened by 1721 and might therefore become a landowner, although
his right to pass an estate to his heirs was by no means established in
English law. John’s elderly father was probably even less favourably
placed, and for this reason, although he was well able to meet the purchase
price, it was prudent for the transaction to be completed in his son’s
name. Several members of the family had begun to settle in London
once it became clear that Jews were to be re-admitted to England, and as
their confidence grew they bought houses and invested in land. Thus it
came about that John’s brother-in-law, a wealthy stockbroker named
James Mendez who, in 1708, had married Esther’s sister Hannah, became
a near neighbour at Mitcham, taking up residence at Eagle House (or
‘Turret House’ as it was then known) in Upper Mitcham in about 1723.28

Two gentlemen by the name of Mendez, both Jewish, were noted as living
in Mitcham at the time of the bishop of Winchester’s visitation of 1724–
529 and these were obviously John and James. In time we may know more
about these close-knit families. For the moment all we can add is that John
Mendes da Costa’s son Philip, whose rejection by his cousin Kitty da Costa
Villareal led to a breach of promise action heard in the Court of Arches,
was the subject of a scurrilous volume (briefly entitled Proceedings)
published in 1734.30

It is from the court rolls of the manor of Ravensbury31 that we have
evidence to support the assumption that John Mendes da Costa junior
retained formal customary tenancy of the house in Lower Mitcham
until about 1742 (he died in 1763) although the property had been
‘transferred’ – probably leased – to Anthony da Costa in 1737.32 From
the court rolls we are also able to confirm by deduction the location of
the house and grounds, and to see that this was the property which,
later in the 18th century, comprised the Baron House estate. Through


the same medium one can trace quite easily the tenure of the six acres
enclosure – Farrant’s ‘Walnutree Closse’ – from 1722 until 1825. The
close, held on a copyhold tenancy of the manor, seems always to have
been part and parcel of the Baron House estate, occupancy of which
can be followed from 1768 onwards, using the usual sources.33 Further
examination of the earlier court rolls, which are in Latin, ought to clarify
the tenurial history of the close prior to 1722, and perhaps throw a little
more light on the occupation of the house.

Although it is not known precisely when the da Costa connection with
Mitcham ceased, as we have seen, customary tenure of Walnut Tree
Close was surrendered by John Mendes da Costa the younger at a court
baron in June 1742. Benjamin Goodison was admitted in his stead, and
on Goodison’s death in 1767 tenancy of the close passed to Oliver
Baron.31 The house itself, which was not copyhold, had come into the
hands of Benjamin Tate some time before 1761 – quite possibly in
1742 – and the rate books show that it had passed into the ownership of
Oliver Baron six years later.

Walnut Tree Close, described as “late Wm. Baron”, is marked on a
plan of 182534 extending northwards from the Morden Road and
including part of what was the track of the Wimbledon-to-Croydon
railway line (now Tramlink). It also embraced the southern half of the
playing field lying between Baron Walk and the back gardens of 6–11
Taplow Court, built behind 470–484 London Road in 1991. The
Ordnance Survey maps of 1865 and 1895 show a remnant of the close,35
then comprising a meadow of some five and a half acres in extent. The
nine acres of copyhold land called Labox, also mentioned in Lady
Blanke’s will of 1595, seems to have abutted the London Road and
Church Path and can also be identified, if tentatively, on the same maps.
The messuage, or site of the house with its gardens, yards and
outbuildings, occupied the rest of the London Road frontage south to
Morden Road, and is now covered by the three maisonette blocks of
Fenning, Gedge and Baron Courts, and the two pairs of large semidetached
houses numbered 470–472 and 482–484 London Road. All
three parcels of land combined formed the area today bounded by
Morden Road, Baron Walk, Church Path and the London Road, and
equating with the Baron House estate in the late 18th century.


The grounds of the Elizabethan house are likely to have been somewhat
larger, possibly extending further westwards as far as Ravensbury Path.
The court rolls mention two other parcels of land, each of an acre and a
half, which were in the same tenure as ‘Walnutree Closse’ from 1732
until 1767. One, in three parts, was described as being at Tomson’s
corner, in the common field (presumably the West Field, which adjoined
the Blankes’ property) and the other was in Deadman’s Close, another
enclosure to the west, abutting Morden Road and, until the Tramlink
was created in the 1990s, occupied by the railway sidings of Mitcham
goods yard. Closes of one and a half acres appear in the indentures of
sale of the early 18th century, and it will be recalled that Lady Blanke’s
will also mentioned a ‘little Close of land’ comprising one and a half
acres ‘lyinge and beying … on the other side of the highwaye leading to
Mitcham river’. This was the land described in a deed of 1770 as
‘Sheppards Wast’, lying on the opposite side of the road from Baron
House and owned by Oliver Baron.36 It is now occupied by a small
terrace of shops, the Crown Inn, and the former Mitcham station building.

Unfortunately we know nothing at present of Benjamin Goodison, apart
from the fact that he was a furniture manufacturer,29 or of his son (also
named Benjamin) who surrendered the copyhold tenancy of Walnut
Tree Close in 1767. At about the same time Oliver Baron, to whom the
tenancy was transferred in formal session of the manor court, was in
the process of acquiring either the old Blanke mansion or its successor
from Benjamin Tate.37

Benjamin Tate, of whom we first have record paying the poor rate for
the property in 1761, was the son of William Tate, a Chancery lawyer,
and Ann (née Hammond) his wife, who had settled in Mitcham
following their marriage in 1705 and occupied a house overlooking the
Lower Green.38 In 1742 Benjamin married Martha Allcraft, sister of
Henry Allcraft, who lived briefly at a large house overlooking Upper
Green East until his death in 1779. From the coincidence of dates, and
what we can deduce of the later ownership of the house, Benjamin and
Martha seem to have taken over occupancy following the departure of
the Mendes da Costa family. This idea is supported by an entry in the
notebook kept by James Cranmer between 1740–52, in which he refers
to the wall and “the house where Mr. Benjamin Tate lives” near the


way leading to Morden.39 Here the Tates’ seven children, Henry, Martha,
George, Sophia, Benjamin, Dulcibella and Susanna would have been
born. We are ignorant at the present time of the profession followed by
Benjamin Tate (his brother William was an attorney-at-law, with offices
in London) but as befitted their status in local society, the brothers
both took an active part in parish affairs. Benjamin served as overseer
of the poor in 1761–2, and was on a special workhouse committee set
up in 1758.40 A year later both brothers were members of a seven-man
deputation appointed by Mitcham vestry to meet Sir Nicholas Carew
and Elizabeth Manship, in whom lordship of two of the Mitcham manors
was vested, to discuss the proposition that a new workhouse be erected
on waste (i.e. common) land of the parish.

Martha Tate died in 1762, and in due course Benjamin remarried, taking
as his second wife Mary, daughter of Edward Butler of Magdalen
College, Oxford. Benjamin’s involvement in local affairs ceased at about
this time, and it seems that he moved away from Mitcham after the
marriage. He died in 1790 at the family seat at Burleigh, near
Loughborough, but was buried in Mitcham, where his memorial can
still be seen in the north aisle of the parish church.

Several drawings of Baron House have survived, all from the early
19th century,41 They show it then to have been a typical 18th-century
residence of two storeys with attics, and having two forward-projecting
wings giving it a U-shaped plan. Whereas it is, of course, not uncommon
to find a house of this period to have incorporated elements of an older
structure, Baron House was demolished in about 1830 and the evidence
has been lost. Stylistically, however, it could well have been newly
built or substantially remodelled in the mid-1700s. The precise date
must remain conjectural, but the assessments for poor rate in 1767
show a marked increase in value, which would certainly indicate that,
if nothing else, some enlargement had taken place at about this time.42
One is led to conclude that the work was carried out by Oliver Baron.

Remains of the 18th-Century Gardens

In June 1990 pre-redevelopment excavations conducted by the
Department of Greater London Archaeology of the Museum of London


at the rear of Nos 470–472 London Road provided an opportunity to
examine the wall at the far (north-western) end of the gardens.43 This is
a quite massive construction in red brick on lower courses of chalk
blocks, and has the appearance of having been erected in the earlier
part of the 18th century. It follows, therefore, that the wall could have
served some purpose connected with da Costa’s house, and it might
well have enclosed the formal garden or parterre which is indicated on
Rocque’s map of 1741–1745. Two blocked window openings, cut
through the brickwork of the wall and therefore of later date, presumably
gave light to outbuildings erected against the wall, perhaps potting sheds
or hothouses. This implies the formal garden had given way to a fruit
or kitchen garden, perhaps towards the end of the 18th century.

As one might expect, a wall of this size shows up clearly on the tithe
map of 1847 and the 25-inch OS maps of 1865 and 1895. The latter
also mark a linear feature to the north-west of, and immediately adjacent
to, the wall, and continuing to the north-east. This feature can still be
found, in the form of a deep dry ditch alongside the wall at the rear of
Taplow Court. It has every appearance of being the remains of a ‘ha-
ha’ – the ingenious combination of brick retaining wall and hidden
ditch commonly used by 18th-century landscape gardeners.

As we have shown, the six acres or so of copyhold land known as
Walnut Tree Close to the west of the wall once formed part of the
grounds of Baron House. Both Rocque’s and Edwards’ maps, although
not of the highest accuracy, show the mansion occupying a site further
to the east, i.e. closer to the main London Road. It would be quite in
keeping to find a ha-ha in the grounds of an 18th-century property of
the status of Baron House, separating the lawns and formal bedding in
the immediate vicinity of the house from the rest of the grounds without
interrupting the owner’s view over his estate or creating a feeling of

Equally intriguing, the 1865 OS map marks a substantial avenue of
trees leading from ‘Baron Walk’ across the former Walnut Tree Close
directly towards the site of the old house. Furthermore, even at this late
date there remained in the meadow either side of the avenue a number
of trees which, from their arrangement in what could once have been


rows, have every appearance of being survivors of the formalised
planting so common in gardens of the late 17th and early 18th centuries.
Significantly the Victorian cartographer employed the symbol for
deciduous trees, leaving one to assume, as indeed one might on the
documentary evidence, that they were in fact walnuts!

Baron House (1768–1826)

Oliver Baron (or “Barron”), who is said to have been of Cornish stock,
his ancestors coming from Egloskerry near Launceston, was a barrister
of the Inner Temple.44 He was one of His Majesty’s Justices of the
Peace for the county of Surrey, and a member of the committee which
met at the King’s Head in Mitcham in the early 1770s to enforce an
order for the suppression of unlawful fairs which “encouraged vice
and immorality and the ruining and debauching of servants, apprentices
and others”, made at the quarter sessions at Kingston in January 1770.
Baron was usually present at these meetings, at which the headboroughs
and constables of Mitcham were charged with the duty of putting down
riots and disturbances, apprehending “Players of Interludes, plays or
Drolls”, and of stopping the gambling and illegal tippling which were
the invariable accompaniment of the annual Mitcham fair. On the
committee’s instructions warning notices were posted, the co-operation
of publicans was requested, and a number of applications for stalls and
performances were refused. The justices subsequently reported that
the worst excesses had been abated, the “nuisance and terror was less
than for many years past” and that they had received the thanks of the
“Gentlemen of the Town”. Unfortunately the congratulations were
premature, and the following year a serious riot occurred during which
two constables were injured. The ringleaders were arrested, one was
committed to the county gaol and an order was made for the fair to be
stopped. There is no record of any justices’ meetings after 1775, which
suggests the authorities were satisfied the situation had been brought
under control, and the order for the suppression of the fair was rescinded
at the Easter Sessions in 1780.45

Following Baron’s death in 1786 his wife and family seem to have moved
away from Mitcham, leasing Baron House to a Mrs Elizabeth Carter.46


Three years later, after apparently having experienced some difficulty
in tracing the heirs, the general court baron of Ravensbury admitted
Jasper Baron to the customary tenancy of the manor, to hold Walnut
Tree Close as his father before him. Jasper, born c.1769, matriculated at
Pembroke College, Oxford, in March 1787, but did not proceed to a
degree.47 Nothing is known of his later career. For a year or so after
1789 Baron House continued to be assessed for the land tax in the name
of Mrs Baron, but thereafter the tax books merely record “Baron” as the
proprietor until Thomas Finden appears for the first time as the owner-
occupier in 1826. A mere hint of the family’s history is disclosed by the
court rolls, which record the surrender of Walnut Tree Close by or on
behalf of Jasper in 1791, and the admission of his son and heir William
in 1802. William, a minor at the time and in the guardianship of
Christopher Lethbury, inherited the estate on his coming of age. Jasper
Baron, it can be concluded, had died while still a young man.

A reference to Baron House in a guide book published in 1801, but
compiled several years previously, describes it as large, built of red
brick, and with “a handsome area of pleasure ground betwixt it and the
road, enclosed with a high wall”.1 Such spaciousness and seclusion
were probably very much to Elizabeth Carter’s liking, for she used the
house as a boarding school for young ladies. We are told it was “of
much estimation”, and education was evidently the family’s forte, for
her brother-in-law, the Revd Richard Roberts, was the proprietor of an
equally well-regarded preparatory boarding school for the sons of
gentlemen at Glebelands, Mitcham. Elizabeth Carter’s seminary
flourished at Baron House for ten years, and then, around 1797, she
vacated the premises. She did not leave the village, however, for ten
years later she was to be found running a girls’ school at a Mitcham
House, overlooking the Upper Green.48

For the last 30 years of its life Baron House was sub-divided. The
larger part, consisting of about two-thirds of the premises if we are to
be guided by the land tax assessments, continued as a school, but now
for boys, under James Dempster. Dempster was no stranger to Mitcham
when he moved to Baron House in 1798, for he had been the master
and proprietor of Raleigh House Academy, Whitford Lane, since 1789
and it was from here that he transferred his pupils and staff to the more


commodious premises vacated by Mrs Carter. Born c.1738, Dempster
had married in about 1760, and his wife Elizabeth is understood to
have been a former schoolmistress.49

James and Elizabeth’s occupation of Baron House spanned a dramatic
period in the country’s history, for these were times of war between
Britain and France. It takes little imagination to picture the boys’ thrilled
reaction when the news broke in the village that Lord Nelson, victor of
the battles of the Nile and Copenhagen, had purchased a country house
and a small estate nearby at Merton. Nelson joined the Hamiltons at
Merton Place in October 1801, and the following December their guests
included Doctor and Mrs Nelson, the Admiral’s brother and sister-in-
law, and their children Charlotte and Horace. On 15 December
excitement at Baron House Academy reached fever pitch, for that
evening Britain’s great naval hero and a party from Merton Place visited
the school, and were entertained by the young gentlemen performing
The Siege of Damascus and No Song No Supper in their honour.50

James Dempster died in December 1803 at the age of 65, and was
succeeded as master of Baron House by his son, also named James,
who was then aged about 40. James Dempster the younger and his
first wife Sarah, whom he married in about 1785, also had a son –
another James – born in 1788 and baptised at Mitcham in November
that year. It was he who was to continue the family tradition of teaching
in Mitcham into the early 1830s. Sarah died in 1800, aged 39, and was
buried in the parish churchyard.51

James Dempster the second was a visiting master at the Revd Richard
Roberts’ academy, and it is to William John Monson, a pupil at the
Glebelands Academy from 1804 to 1809, that we are indebted for a
revealing pen-portrait:

“Our Writing Master was a most extraordinary person, a Mr.
Dempster, who was the most remarkably fat man except Daniel
Lambert I ever saw. He kept a boys school himself at Mitcham, a
Commercial Academy, and of course Penmanship was a principal
part of the education. He used to come twice a week in the afternoon.
We used to watch him cross the meadow in front [of Glebelands]


and sidle with difficulty through the white swing gate, and the state
of heat and exhaustion, especially in summer, in which he arrived
surpassed description. He wore powder, and streams of liquid whiting
used to pour over his enormously broad face. He always, regardless
of the proverb, took two of our stools to sit upon and great was the
manoeuvring among the boys to save their own from this
appropriation, for without exaggeration that unfortunate brace of
stools did not get cool or sweet for the rest of the evening. Mr.
Dempster however was an extremely good-natured man, and not at
all strict towards us in this or in everything else. The reverse of one
of his Ushers whom he used to bring to assist him, a Mr. Begin, a
thin cross little man who was our detestation, he would never mend
our pens for us as Dempster did, used to rap our fingers with the
ruler, and was most spiteful about blots. They both however wrote
like copper plate, and the flourishes of pens and Swans round our
names in the Arithmetic book used to excite our intense

By 1812 Dempster seems to have been joined by his son James, and
together they conducted the Baron House Academy for a further nine
years. The school was visited in 1817 by John Hassell, the watercolour
artist and topographical writer, who described it as

” … a celebrated classical academy kept by Mr. Dempster; which
qualifies young gentlemen for either of the universities, for the army
or the navy, or for commercial pursuits, and has the reputation of
having produced some of the finest scholars of the present day. The
air of Mitcham is considered very salubrious which aids the health of
youth while attending to their studies; nor is the arrangement of Baron
House inferior to any scholastic establishment in the kingdom.”53

The parish registers of Mitcham record the burial of James Dempster
of Baron House in March 1821, in his 57th year, and there is a tablet to
his memory in the north chancel of the parish church. Thereafter the
academy continued in the hands of his son54 until, in around 1825, at
the time of the sale of the property to Thomas Finden, he transferred
the school to Eagle House.55


Upon the sub-division of Baron House in 1798 the smaller portion
became a private residence, the home of William Fenning, whose father
was proprietor of a large calico printing works on the banks of the river
Wandle at Ravensbury.56 The flurry of arming and drilling which
followed the renewal of hostilities with France in 1803 saw the
formation of ‘The Loyal Mitcham Volunteer Infantry’ and, like many
of his contemporaries, William Fenning was moved by patriotism to
offer his services, becoming captain of the first company under the
command of Major James Moore.57

For 20 years under William Fenning senior the Ravensbury print works
had been successful enough, and when he died in August 1812, aged 74,
the business was inherited by his son.58 By this time the textile printing
industry which had flourished in Mitcham and Merton throughout the
18th century was gradually dwindling in importance as the centres of
manufacturing became concentrated in the industrial towns of the north
of England. Although he obviously maintained connections with
Mitcham, William Fenning junior had moved from Baron House in 1807,
and was living in Southwark. Whether he lacked his father’s enthusiasm
for the business, or began to encounter financial difficulties we cannot
tell, but the fact remains that Fenning relinquished his interest in the
business shortly after the end of the Napoleonic wars. He died in February
1837 at Southwark, but was buried in the family vault at Mitcham.

Fenning’s successor at Baron House was Captain William L Ball, who
is a frustrating character from a local historian’s point of view. The
land tax books record him as the occupier of part of Baron House from
1807 until 1814 and then, for a further four years, refer to him as
“Admiral Ball”. Although one would expect a flag officer to have left
some mark in naval annals, enquiry at the National Maritime Museum
in 1972 and the Maritime Information Centre at Greenwich in 1993
failed to throw any light on his career or his identity.59 One can only
record that he seems to have died in 1818, leaving a widow who
continued to reside at Baron House until it was bought by Thomas
Finden, whose name appears in the land tax records as the proprietor
for the first time in 1826.


Baron House (1826–1954)

Thomas Finden’s name recurs in local records for some 30 years or so
following his acquisition of Baron House in 1825 or 6. The son of John
Finden, a builder, he was born in the parish of St Pancras, Middlesex,60
in 1784.61 Robert Thorne, of the Department of Architecture and Civic
Design of the Greater London Council, kindly supplied the following
information in 1975:

“Finden’s father’s office was at 41, John Street, Fitzroy Square and
he himself set up as a builder a few doors away at 38, John Street in
1815. He continued to be described in directories as a builder until
1831, thereafter as an architect. In 1845 he was joined in partnership
by Thomas Hayter Lewis and together they moved office to 9, John
Street, Adelphi, in 1846. The partnership ceased in 1859, and Finden
died in 1861. A month before his death he was nominated to the
Mastership of the Carpenter’s Company but he died before being
formally elected.

“Finden was surveyor to Hoare’s Brewery, the Craven Estate in
Paddington and other estates. It is probably he who exhibited a design
at the Royal Academy in 1831 for a house at Staplehurst, Kent, for
Henry Hoare, though Grave records it under H. Finden. In the first
year of their partnership Finden and Lewis exhibited three designs
at the Royal Academy. The most notable, for a house in Kensington
Palace Gardens, went unbuilt because of the failure of the developer
involved. Later, they designed St. Mark, South Norwood, 1852
(described by Goodhart-Rendel as “very poor, and hideous and
unambitious”) and the Royal Panopticon of Science and Art in
Leicester Square, 1851–54. The Panopticon was built in a
“Saracenic” style and had a domed central hall ninety-seven feet in
diameter. Its life as a centre for popular education in science and
the useful arts lasted only two years: in 1858 it became the Alhambra
Palace and in 1882 was destroyed by fire.”62

Within ten years of purchasing the Baron House estate Finden had
demolished the old mansion and built a new Baron House for himself
on roughly the same site. He also erected three pairs of large semidetached
houses, two of which, numbered 470/472 and 482/484 London


Road, still stand. Whereas a substantial part of the original London
Road frontage of the estate was thus lost, Finden retained a useful eight
acres for his own use. The new Baron House, with its gardens, stable
yard and outbuildings occupied two acres, and the rest of the land
remained as meadow and orchard.63 A wholesome, if somewhat hard,
water supply for the household was secured by an artesian well sunk
240 feet down into the chalk.64

In 1838, a decision was reached by the trustees of the National Schools
at Mitcham to build a separate infants’ school for the growing numbers
of village children whose parents were eager for them to have an
elementary education, Finden was asked to give an estimate of the cost,
and his opinion was also sought as to the relative suitability of two
potential sites. Accompanied by the squire of Mitcham, William
Simpson, and the curate, Herbert Randolph, Finden inspected both sites
in March 1838, and was presumably instrumental in persuading the
trustees to erect the school building and a pair of semi-detached houses
for the master and mistress on land fronting the Cricket Green between
the Tate Almshouses and the King’s Head.65 The houses, now offices,
are in a restrained gothic style, and there can be little doubt that the
architect was Finden.

The census return for 1851 shows that the household at Baron House
was quite modest, Thomas Finden and Mary, his wife, employing only
three staff – a cook and a housemaid, plus a gardener who lived in the
lodge with his wife. That year saw the death of Finden’s brother-in-law
Ingram Cobbin MA, preacher at the Zion Chapel in Western Road,
Mitcham.66 The post office directory confirms that Thomas Finden was
still resident at Baron House in 1860, but shortly after his death the
following year his widow must have moved away, for we find the house
had been taken by a Paul Joske by 1862.67

Joske’s tenure was of short duration (he had probably taken the house
on a short lease) and by 1865 Baron House had become the home of
two newcomers to Mitcham, Edward and Adelaide Mills. Mills was a
prosperous timber merchant. His wife, then in her mid-thirties, was
soon involved in the pastoral work of the parish church, becoming an
active member of the Ladies’ Visiting Committee which had been


formed to bring succour and comfort to the sick and needy of the
village.68 By the early 1870s there were five Mills children – two boys
and three girls, the youngest only a baby. Edward Mills’ business was
evidently flourishing, for in addition to a nursemaid for the children he
employed no fewer than six female servants.69 The extensive gardens
of Baron House were in the care of a full-time gardener, and in July
1872 Edward Mills opened the grounds for the first annual exhibition
of the Mitcham Floral and Horticultural Society.70 The picture emerging
is one of involvement in the life of the community in which they had
chosen to settle, and had events permitted, the Mills might well have
become pillars of local society. Sadly this was not to be, and by 1884
the business had failed, the servants had been dismissed and the Mills
family was obliged to move away. Years later, Adelaide Mills was
remembered with affection by one of her former staff, who cherished a
brass kettle that had belonged to her.71

A Joseph H Boobbyer was resident at Baron House by 1885, and
remained there until shortly before the outbreak of war in 1914,72 but
beyond this little of note can be said of the remaining years of the
house. It is still shown on the OS maps of the early 1930s, but seems to
have been demolished during the 1940s, and by the 1950s the overgrown
site was hidden behind advertisement hoardings.

During the 1920s the meadow, together with some nine acres of land
lying between Baron Walk and Church Path, became a gigantic gravel
pit operated by Hall and Company. The land to the west of Baron Walk
was already being exploited for its sand and gravel in a small way as
early as the 1880s and 1890s, but the tremendous increase in building
activity during the inter-war period led to an almost insatiable demand
from the industry, and much of the remaining open land in Mitcham
was sacrificed in response. At the Baron House site the pits reached a
depth of about 15 feet before the usable sands and aggregates were
exhausted and the underlying London Clay was reached. Once
abandoned, the pits soon filled with ground water, and local people
still recall the area being largely covered with lakes, one of which can
be seen in contemporary maps to have occupied almost half the former
grounds of Baron House.73 Reinstatement of the land was conducted in


what seems to have been a strangely haphazard fashion, and bodies of
old London omnibuses and trams, together with all manner of refuse,
are alleged to have been used as backfill.

In 1930 the land was purchased by Surrey County Council for
reclamation as playing fields, and after levelling and top dressing it
was resown with grass, and used as a sports ground for Mitcham County
School for Boys. As might have been foreseen, with such a substratum,
settlement continued for many years. The resulting uneven pitches,
made hazardous by sharp stones, broken glass and even metal which
continually worked through the turf, were a constant source of

After years behind the advertisement hoardings, overgrown and derelict,
the sites of Finden’s Baron House, Baron Lodge and two of his Baron
Grove houses were acquired by Mitcham Corporation, and are now
occupied by the blocks of maisonettes known as Fenning Court and
Gedge Court, erected by the Borough Council in 1954. The sports
ground to the rear remained as a pleasant, if somewhat bare, open space,
used occasionally by local schools, such as Melrose and Benedict

The London Road Playing Fields

By 1985 the Council of the London Borough of Merton which, as a
consequence of the reorganisation of London Government in 1965,
had become the local education authority for the Mitcham area, reached
the decision that the whole of the 14.4 acres of the London Road playing
fields was no longer needed by the Education Department. Land prices
were rising steeply, and it was resolved that, provided four and a half
acres were retained for the use of local schools and two for other
purposes, the remaining eight acres should be sold for private residential
redevelopment. Despite the possibility that the nature of the infill of
the former gravel pits might present complications, in March 1987 the
Council formally granted itself deemed planning consent to build
dwellings on part of the site, a procedure intended to secure the
maximum price when the land was offered for sale.


The application provoked strong opposition from community groups
and various local residents who, unswayed by the financial justification
for the sale, wished to see the land retained as an open space and
improved to create a public park. A protest meeting was held, petitions
were organised, and many individuals submitted their own objections,
but the Council remained unmoved.

There was a swing to the left in the local government elections in 1990
and in May the new majority party began a review of many policies of
the previous administration, including that of disposing of open spaces
hitherto considered surplus to the Council’s requirements. Although
assurances had been given before the election, many groups involved in
the original protest remained suspicious and apprehensive of the new
Council’s intentions with regard to the London Road playing fields, and
in January 1991 a new petition, bearing some 200 signatures, was
presented to the Council. This time the councillors proved more
responsive and in July the Council resolved to declare 8.88 acres a park.

Uncertainty, however, still remained over plans affecting the remaining
third of the land, which had been scheduled for a road and industrial
development. Under the transport policy programme of the previous
Conservative administration, construction of a new major road, planned
as a vital ‘strategic route’ connecting Church Road with Morden Road,
was well advanced and due for completion in 1991. It had, however,
been opposed by the Labour party when in opposition and, now finding
themselves in the majority, they halted any further work on the half-
completed road. This had been designed in particular to bypass the
congested A217 London Road near the Lower Green, and would have
diverted much of the increasingly heavy traffic using Church Road
between the parish church and Lower Green West away from this part
of the Cricket Green Conservation Area. With the long-promised
alleviation of their traffic problem thus abandoned, fresh protests arose
from residents in Church Road.

A ‘Church Road Link’, taking land from the London Road Playing
Fields, was next considered as a solution to the Council’s dilemma, but
was rejected. In the words of Paul Harper, chairman of the newly formed
Friends of the London Road Playing Field,


“This led to further pressure being put on the Council and in March
1992 the road plan was dropped and in April 1992 the Council agreed
to keep the whole of the Playing Fields a Green Open space with a
Park covering 12.12 acres and School Playing Fields … and to get
local people involved in their future. The Council has since the
group’s foundation been working in partnership to create Mitcham’s
first truly community park.”74

The formal opening of the London Road Playing Fields by Councillor
Slim Flegg, Mayor of Merton, on 14 June 1992, was marked by the
holding of Merton’s first ‘Green Fair’, arranged by the Council’s
Recreation Division and the Friends of the Playing Fields.

The Baron Grove Houses

By the late 1950s the site of Baron House had been transformed with
the completion of Fenning Court and Gedge Court. (A third block, Baron
Court, was built at the same time on land a little to the north, following
the removal of 17 pre-fabricated dwellings erected by the Council in
the mid-1940s to provide temporary housing.) There still remained,
however, the four large semi-detached houses attributable to Thomas
Finden and dating, as far as one can tell from the surviving records, to
the 1830s. Their quality was acknowledged with statutory listing by
the Secretary of State early in 1973, and all four properties (excluding
a late-19th century addition to No. 484) are classified Grade II in the
current list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest.

A further change in the appearance of this side of London Road was
threatened in July 1973 by the proposal to demolish two of these houses

– No. 484, which was then the headquarters of the Mitcham
Constituency Labour Party, and No. 482 adjoining – to provide a site
for the Church of the Latter Day Saints.75 Consent to demolish the
listed buildings was refused, and eventually Nos. 482 and 484 were
renovated. Unfortunately in the process the Council allowed their
appearance to be altered significantly by the removal of their chimney
stacks with the distinctive square white pots. The new church was built
across the former back garden, town planning approval being given in
1976. This established a precedent for backland development, and a


little over ten years later the South London Family Housing Association
was granted planning consent for building at the rear of 470/472 London
Road. Site evaluation work financed by the association was conducted
by the Department of Greater London Archaeology in 1990, but
produced nothing of significance,76 and the land is now occupied by a
small close of two-storeyed houses known as Taplow Court.

Recent changes may often have been dramatic, but demolition and
redevelopment are nothing new and, as we have seen in an earlier
section, within a few years of Finden having acquired old Baron House
it had been pulled down. With the rubble and debris went all evidence
for its origins in the 16th century, and two subsequent phases of
rebuilding on the site must have diminished seriously the chance of
anything of importance remaining below ground. One fragment survives
which just might, perhaps, provide a link with the Elizabethan period.
This is the southern boundary wall of No. 484, separating the side
accessway and rear garden from the railway cutting beyond. Thin red
bricks reminiscent of those common in the late 16th and early 17th
centuries were used in the wall’s construction, and it would seem a

The surviving Baron Grove houses, built c.1830 to the design of Thomas
Finden of Baron House, photographed July 1993


second wall of stock bricks was built against it when the Wimbledon to
Croydon railway line was constructed in the early 1850s. This suggests
that the red brick wall might be a fragment surviving from the Blanke
estate, or have been built with materials salvaged from the old house.

Although only two now remain, Finden had erected three pairs of similar
substantial houses fronting the main road. The third pair, demolished
early in the 20th century, stood to the north-east of Baron House, roughly
on the site now occupied by the northern wing of Fenning Court. The
name by which the six houses were first known has been forgotten, but
by the mid-19th century they occur in local records as ‘Baron Grove’
and were numbered 1–6.

In architectural style the Baron Grove houses are quite distinctive, and
although the general design is common enough elsewhere in the London
region, locally they are unique examples of the transitional period
between late Georgian and early-Victorian domestic mode. Externally
they display various features common to both periods. The
symmetrically arranged boxed-sash windows, carefully graduated in
size, the main roofs discreetly hidden behind parapet walls, and the
simple moulded cornices could all be late 18th-century. The semicircular
door arches and fanlights, partly stuccoed walls, the cement of
which is channelled to simulate masonry, squat square chimney pots,
and external pelmet boards set in the reveals of window openings on
the hall floors are, in contrast, essentially early 19th-century. A multitude
of chimney pots (now retained only by 470/472) speak of days when
servants to carry the coals from the cellars and to clear the ashes each
day were normal in all larger houses. Basements and attics contained
the domestics’ quarters, whilst the principal rooms were disposed on
the hall and first floors, from which the rear windows provided pleasant
views across parkland and meadows to the heights of Wimbledon in
the distance. Much of the heavier building material, including roofing
slates and the yellow stock bricks for the front elevations, is likely to
have been brought to the site by trucks on the horse-drawn Surrey Iron
Railway, the track of which passed close by the southernmost house.
The proximity of the railway, and the ease with which materials could
be brought from the wharfs at Wandsworth, may well have influenced
Finden in his decision to build here, rather than elsewhere in Mitcham.


By 1980 the Labour Party’s headquarters had been relocated, and No.
484 was standing empty. Its partner, the worse for a fire started by
vandals, was also vacant and derelict. The delay in resolving the future
of the two properties was a cause for concern but, as we have seen, the
houses were not demolished, as many had feared might happen. When
they purchased the premises the leaders of the Church of Latter Day
Saints had no idea of the historic interest of the two houses or of the
site they had acquired. It was largely as a result of a better appreciation
by local church members of the significance of the houses that the
decision was taken to retain and restore them both as far as practicable.

Although little of substance has been collated (or indeed seems to have
survived) from which to produce a detailed history of the Baron Grove
houses, it is obvious that for many years several of them were the homes
of families prominent in the life of Mitcham. No. 6 Baron Grove, for
instance, now numbered 484 London Road, was the residence of
Thomas Parsons, the proprietor of a local varnish company which first
appears in the local directory for 1862. Two of his three sons were
born in the house, and in the hands of the two eldest, Thomas and
George, the firm continued as one of the larger Mitcham paint and
varnish manufacturing companies until well into the mid-20th century.
Following Thomas Parsons senior’s death in 1884 (leaving £34,000 –
in those days a small fortune) the house became the social club of
Thomas Parsons and Sons Ltd. An extension built on the southern side
of the house bears the date 1887.77

In the 1850s another of the Baron Grove houses, Raydon, was the home
of James Rutter, son of Isaac Rutter, the principal of Isaac Rutter & Co.,
snuff and tobacco manufacturers. He was then in his early 30s and no
doubt already enjoying the material benefits of the success of the family’s
flourishing business, but died only a few years later, in 1857, and was
buried at Mitcham. John Rutter, Isaac’s father, had acquired the Ravensbury
mills in 1805, and, for a century or more, various branches of the extensive
Rutter family lived in Church Road and at Glebelands in Mitcham, and
also over the parish borders in Morden and Merton Park. Their wealth
and standing derived from the family firm, established in the City of London
in about 1790 by John Rutter, and they remained prominent members of
the local community throughout the 19th century. Rutters’ ‘Mitcham Shag’


tobacco was one of the firm’s best-known lines, and could still be bought
in local tobacconists’ shops long after the family had moved away from
the neighbourhood and production had ceased at Ravensbury.

Mrs Harby, mother-in-law of George Parker Bidder of Mitcham Hall
(see Chapter 4) moved to another of the Baron Grove houses with her
unmarried daughter following the death of her husband, Thomas Harby,
a shipping owner formerly resident at Poplar.78 A neighbour was Miss
Frances Keys the painter, who exhibited at the Royal Academy
exhibitions in 1856, 1859 and again in 1861.

From directories and census returns one could compile a list of
occupants of the Baron Grove houses for the rest of the century, but the
results of such an exercise tend to be rather uninteresting without
biographical detail. Who, for instance, was Mary Ann Field, an elderly
lady described as ‘an annuitant’ in the census of 1851, who was living
at No. 470 with her family? What about her neighbours, Elizabeth
Andrew Adams at No. 484, 78 years old and “of independent means”,
and Henry Benshall Adams at No. 472 – were they related to each
other, and to another Elizabeth Adams who lived in the first pair of
houses, a few doors away? We may never know the answer … As for
more recent occupants, two perhaps deserve special mention, although
some Mitcham residents of long-standing might recall others.

During World War II No. 482 London Road became the headquarters
of ‘A’ Company of the 57th Surrey (Mitcham) Battalion of the Home
Guard under the command of Major E L Shepard. The Company had
previously been based at the Mitcham Golf Club House on Mitcham
Common, an agreeable arrangement, for the Home Guards became
honorary members of the Club, with access to the bar. Peace brought a
gradual return to normality, albeit slowed by post-war austerity, and
with it a desire for entertainment and romance. Ballroom dancing was
experiencing a boom in popularity, and from small beginnings on the
first floor of the Majestic Cinema at Fair Green, Bob and Elsie Smith’s’
‘Romany Club de Danse’ moved in the late 1940s to a dance hall erected
at the rear of No. 482. Here for nearly a quarter of a century the club
flourished, introducing innumerable Mitcham couples to the intricacies
of modern ballroom dancing and, very often, to each other.

Chapter 7


Writing at the end of the 19th century, C G Harper1 described the building
which in his day formed the entrance to Mitcham station as “a curious
example of what a railway company can do in its rare moments of
economy; it is an early 19th-century villa converted to railway purposes
by the process of cutting a hole through the centre”.

A cursory examination of the front elevation of the building quickly
leads to rejection of Harper’s assertion, for the elliptical arch in finely
gauged yellow stock-bricks over the central passage is matched in quality
by the equally good brickwork of the window heads, and it is most
unlikely that the arch was inserted after the building had been erected.
In other words, it has every appearance of being designed very much as
we see it today, and in fact the building comprised two separate houses,
known at one point in their history as the ‘Archway Houses’, several
years before construction of the railway Harper knew. Although a
relatively unusual feature in domestic architecture, the device of the central
archway is not unknown in the locality, and a second example can be
seen on the Morden Hall estate, in a lodge dating to the early-19th century
and built to serve Abraham Goldsmid’s villa off Morden Hall Road.
(There is nothing to suggest the two buildings had anything else in
common, apart from contemporaneity.)

In its general construction and detailing the station building confirms
that it is, as Harper surmised, of early 19th-century date. It has a shallow-
pitched slate roof with a typically wide front gable carried forward to
give a deep overhang supported by paired soffit brackets, the effect being
of a pediment. Before the advent of the railways slate was an expensive
roof-covering in this part of Surrey, for it had to be brought to London by
sea or canal, and then conveyed by road to the building site. The yellow
bricks are of good quality, and have ‘tuck’ pointing – another ostentation
more usually associated with prestige buildings. The whole structure
shows a nice sense of symmetry, even elegance, and is very much in the
Regency tradition. The question it raises, of course, is at whose expense
it was built, and to that there is no easy answer. The dating is reasonably
secure, however, for until it was demolished in the late 1980s Mitcham’s
Zion chapel, built in 1818 at the western end of the Upper Green, provided


a close parallel, although here the central passage was lacking. Another
example from the same period can still be seen on Commonside East,
where a slate-roofed yellow-brick house overlooking the Three Kings
Pond has a similar gable end, but here the date of erection is unknown.
Much further afield, the same general style is evident in the Town Hall at
Stockbridge in Hampshire, which helpfully bears the date 1810.

The architectural quality and interest of the station building has long
been recognised, and it is currently listed Grade II. Until declared
redundant by British Rail in the 1980s it had served the Wimbledon to
West Croydon line for well over a century, affording passenger access to
the ticket office and the station platforms lying to the rear, whilst one of
the houses had provided accommodation for the station master since the
1870s. The railway itself, constructed as a speculative venture and opened
by the Wimbledon and Croydon Joint Railway Company in October 1855,
was leased to the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway in 1856.
Much later it became part of the Southern Railway network and eventually
was nationalised. Frequently threatened with being ‘axed’ as an economy
measure during the Beeching era, the Wimbledon to Croydon line was
again under consideration for closure in the early 1970s. Following a
public enquiry in July 1972, the line was reprieved, but the station
arrangements were reorganised and new pedestrian access was provided
from the bridge. The former entrance – the old Archway Houses – and
the now disused ticket office and buildings to the rear having been made
redundant, they were placed on the market by British Rail Property Board
and sold by auction in 1989 with a potential for commercial
redevelopment. Not unnaturally alarm was expressed by local residents
and conservation groups, but their fears were assuaged by the knowledge
that any proposals would be scrutinised by English Heritage and the
local planning officers. For a while the station buildings stood empty
and dilapidated, but after demolition of the Victorian ticket and parcels
offices a block of flats was erected to the rear, echoing the design of the
original building. At the same time the old station was sensitively
renovated to become an integral part of what was renamed Station Court.

Whereas the Wimbledon to Croydon railway line was itself of
respectable antiquity, in its course south-eastwards from Mitcham the


track took much the same route as the far older Surrey Iron Railway.
This, the first public railway authorised by Act of Parliament (the Act,
a private measure, received royal assent in 1801), initiated a procedure
that was to be followed again when enabling legislation was needed
for the first steam railways 20 years later. Conceived as an iron tramway
for goods, and relying upon horses and mules for traction, the
Surrey Iron Railway linked the Thames-side wharves at Wandsworth
to the numerous factories and mills on the Wandle as far as Croydon.
Sections of the track near the Thames were in use within 12 months,
and the complete line to Croydon, together with a branch from Mitcham
to Hackbridge, was declared open to traffic on 26 July 1803. A later
extension took the line as far as Merstham. Following the example of
the contemporary, and generally successful, turnpike roads, the Surrey
Iron Railway was financed by tolls levied on the rail users, who provided
their own vehicles and animals. Toll-gates or bars were erected at
intervals along the route, charges being based on the nature of the goods
carried and the distance travelled. At Lower Mitcham the Sutton
turnpike was crossed by the iron railway ‘on the level’, the flanges on
the rails being lower at this point to avoid inconveniencing road users.

Although the Company’s promoters confidently forecast handsome
profits, the railway was never a financial success, returning poor
dividends to investors. With the coming of steam locomotion and the
expansion of the railway network the Surrey Iron Railway was doomed,
and traffic had virtually ceased by the early 1840s. Formal closure came
in 1846, by which time the abandoned track was already being sold to
the owners of adjacent land.2

Little remains today to remind one of this unique pioneering venture.
There is the name Tramway Path, borne by the cul-de-sac to the south
of Station Court and also by the footpath running parallel to the railway
from The Close to Willow Lane and thence alongside what had been
the Hackbridge branch to Mill Green. Until November 1998 there was
a small slate-roofed, weatherboarded building at the corner of London
Road and Tramway Path. Erected after grant of a lease dated 1843, it is
shown on the tithe map of 1847, and seems to have been used in
connection with a coal warehouse situated immediately to the north.


Coal was one of the main commodities carried on the Surrey Iron
Railway, and until the 1960s the little building served as a coal order
office for Hall & Co. Ltd. It then fell into dilapidation, but was reoccupied
as a café, and later provided an office for a minicab firm.

On 31 May 1997, after 142 years, the rail service ended with the passage
of the last two-coach electric multiple unit from Wimbledon to West
Croydon, and Mitcham station was closed. A bus link was provided for
those passengers who had relied upon the railway, and work commenced
immediately on the tracks for the new Tramlink between Wimbledon
and Croydon, due to open in 1999. Throughout 1998 work proceeded,
during the course of which the old platforms and the former coal office
were removed. The summer of 1998 also saw the temporary severance
of an 800-year old right-of-way by the removal of a footbridge between
Mitcham Park and Tramway Path. This had been erected by the railway
company in the 19th century to avoid depriving pedestrians of a centuries-
old accessway from the Lower Green to the mills by Mitcham Bridge via
Jeppo’s Lane. Although little used by the close of the 20th century, the
right-of-way has been perpetuated by a new path from Mitcham Park
to Tramway Path across the tram tracks. Somewhat later than scheduled,
the new Tramlink service finally began on 30 May 2000.

Mitcham station and the Crown inn, London Road, in 1968


The unusual design of the Archway Houses and their proximity to the
Surrey Iron Railway has given rise to speculation that the main track,
or at least a branch leading from the highway, passed through the central
archway of the building. This, it has been suggested, functioned as a
guard or toll house as well as providing accommodation for railway
officials. (A much smaller toll house and gate at Colliers Wood, where
the railway crossed the Epsom turnpike, survived until the late 1940s.)
The idea is not without its attractions, the most beguiling of which is
that, if true, the station at Mitcham would be unique, with a claim to
being closely associated with the oldest public railway in the World.
Certainly the structure is contemporary with the early years of the
railway, and it was obviously conceived as a building of some
significance. Unfortunately for the romantics, corroborative
documentation is lacking.

The possibility that Mitcham station building might have been used in
connection with the Surrey Iron Railway was raised by the writer in
correspondence with the Chief Civil Engineer of British Rail in 1966, but
neither he, nor the Southern Region’s Estate Surveyor, could furnish any
information to support the idea. It was agreed, with some reluctance, that in
the absence of any evidence the local tradition had to be relegated to folklore.

The sites of the two Archway Houses and a predecessor of the coal warehouse
are shown on the earliest detailed map of the area, prepared following survey
by Edwin Chart shortly before the estate of the late Henry Hoare was
auctioned in 1828.3 The houses lay well to the north of the iron railway,
Chart showing their site blank and unnamed since the property was not part
of the estate and therefore not featured in the forthcoming sale. The survey
conducted by Crawter and Smith in 1838 disclosed that the owner was
John Haynes, and that the houses were vacant.4 It is impossible to identify
them in the census return of 1841, so the names of the occupiers at this time
are unknown, and the 1846 tithe commutation register is similarly unhelpful,
merely describing the premises as “houses, and gardens” and the owners
and occupiers as “sundry”. The accompanying tithe map does, however,
mark the houses quite clearly, and shows them separated from the track of
the Surrey Iron Railway by the warehouse. Neither of these two early maps,
therefore, supports the contention that the railway ran beneath the centre


archway. Finally the line of the track is clearly marked passing well to the
south of the houses on the plan of the new steam railway deposited by the
promoters of the Wimbledon and Croydon Joint Railway Company in 1853.5

At the time of the 1851 census the occupiers of the two houses on the “East
Side of the Brighton Road” were, to the north, Aaron Ashby, a master-
miller with interests in the flour mills at Mitcham Bridge and, to the south,
George Searle, the relieving officer and registrar of births, marriages and
deaths who would have been the person directly involved in organising the
census locally and supervising the work of the enumerators. Details submitted
by the railway company in 1853 confirm Ashby and Searle as the occupants
of the Archway Houses, and John Haynes, who owned the Crown inn
and other property nearby, as the landowner.5 The map produced
independently for the auction of James Moore’s estate in August the
same year indicates that the building was already being considered as
the “Proposed Station”.6 The new railway passed beneath the Sutton
road, and necessitated excavation of a cutting, during the course of
which work all signs of the warehouse and the old trackway were

Mitcham station and the Crown inn, London Road, in 1868

Chapter 8


To conclude this study of that part of Lower Mitcham lying between
the Lower Green and Mitcham station it remains to bring together a
number of loosely related scraps of information, mostly culled from
the usual sources available to the student of local history, but augmented
by personal recollections of the neighbourhood in the 1950s. Of most
of the buildings and people mentioned in this chapter comparatively
little of moment has been recorded, and yet each played a part in the
life of the community and many will no doubt be recalled by older
residents of Mitcham to whom they were once familiar.

A convenient starting point for this final round-up is the Crown public
house, the second hostelry known to have stood on the site next to
Mitcham railway station.

The Crown

The present Crown, built close against the former Mitcham station, is
an inter-war building in the mock-Tudor style much favoured in the
1920s and ’30s. It replaced a small 18th-century inn, set slightly forward
of the present building and visible in an old photograph of c.1868.1
The design was a familiar one in north-east Surrey – two storeys of
four or five bays, symmetrically fenestrated on the front elevation with
boxed sash windows. The plainness of the brick façade was alleviated
with string courses at first floor level, whilst what was probably a red-
tiled roof with transverse valley was hidden from sight behind a corniced
parapet wall carried across the width of the building.

We can only guess at its origins, but it is possible that in the mid-17th
century the land on which the inn stands had been occupied by a small
house tenanted by Thomas Wood and subsequently Thomas and Henry
Parr, mentioned in Chapter 4. The inn had been built, we can be
reasonably sure, in response to the increased trade generated by the
construction of the turnpike leading to Sutton and beyond in the mid18th
century. It also stood at the turning leading to Morden, Ewell and
Epsom spa. Its modest size makes it unlikely to have been a stopping
place for stage coaches, but it would undoubtedly have provided a
convenient loading and unloading point for carriers’ wagons,


particularly after the opening of the railways. Nothing more is known
of the inn’s history, although more, perhaps, might be gleaned from the
deeds. Unfortunately there is little hope of finding anything much in
county records, for the proceedings of the licensing justices for this
part of Surrey have not survived, and quarter sessions records are sparse.

From land tax and poor rate books, census returns and trade directories,
it should be possible to discover the names of occupiers and licensees
from the mid-18th century until the present day. In 1871, for instance,
the innkeeper was Frederick Jones, a former ‘job master’ or hirer of
horses, from Clapham, where he was born in 1820. At the time of the
census in 1871 his household included his wife Elizabeth and their
eight children, four boys and four girls.

Proximity to the inn evidently inspired the name of ‘Crown Field’ by
which a six acre enclosure to the rear and south was known by the
1770s2 and until well into the 19th century.3 In the Crown Yard at the
rear of the old inn there had been a row of six very small cottages,
owned in the 1840s by John Haynes, then the innkeeper. Their origins
are unknown, but they would have provided poor accommodation, and
had been cleared by the time of the Ordnance Survey in 1865.

Baron Place

North of the Crown, on the site of the odd assortment of shops numbered
395–401 London Road, there stood ‘Baron Place’, a terrace of six three-
storeyed 18th-century houses in red brick with plain-tiled roofs. Those
nearest the station were demolished in the 1930s and the site was
redeveloped, but two remained, visible as the rear part of F Strowger
and Company’s building supplies and ironmongery shop until
demolished after a fire in November 1970. Stylistically these houses
could be dated to the second half of the 18th century, and they are
obviously linked by name with Oliver Baron, the attorney whose large
house stood on the opposite side of the main road. They appear to have
been built on a field known as ‘Shepperds Wast’ owned by Baron and
mentioned in a deed of 1770.3 Other roughly contemporary examples
in the same style, some of which can be attributed to the local building
firm of Oxtoby, can still be seen in Church Road and at Renshaws


Corner, facing Figges Marsh. Occupants of the Baron Place houses at the
time of the 1851 census included Edmund Goodman, one of the three
village carriers, who operated a daily service to London from the corner
house.4 His immediate neighbour was Sarah Hoskins, of whom nothing
much is known, and their landlord was Samuel Rose.4 Many changes in
occupancy must have taken place over the next century, some of which
could be identified in the later census returns, or traced by combing through
local directories.

Changes in the pattern of retailing are, of course, a study in themselves,
the shops which come and go reflecting the needs and habits of a
community. Thus within the writer’s knowledge, Strowgers has changed
from being mainly orientated towards the local building trade to meeting
the needs of an ever-growing ‘do-it-yourself’ market, expanding to take
over a former wool and knitwear shop, No. 397 London Road. The fruiterer
and greengrocer’s shop next door, No. 399, run by a husband and wife in
the late 1940s and ’50s, failed in the face of growing competition from
the supermarkets, and was also absorbed by Strowgers. Previously the
greengrocers had replaced a grocer and provision merchant trading under
the rather unusual name of Millachips in the 1930s. At the southern end
of the terrace No. 401, a tobacconist and newsagent’s business formerly
trading as F F Webb and until the 1990s as ‘Webbie’s’, survived, as this
category of shop often does, meeting a demand which seemed remarkably
steady. Even so, Sydney Webb, the proprietor’s son who inherited the
business, experienced a sharp fall in custom when road widening in the
1960s caused London Transport to move the bus stop away from outside
his shop to a new position south of the station. The shop is now Mitcham
Foods and Wines, a convenience store.

Beyond Baron Place, the houses numbered 383–393 London Road,
between Mitcham Park and Temple Gate Mews, are of a size rare in
Mitcham. As outlined in the chapter on Mitcham Hall, the earliest of the
five date from the 1880s and mark the first phase of the development of
the Mitcham Park Estate. The detached coachhouse of No. 387, numbered
385, was used for many years during and after World War II as a surgery
by Canadian-born Dr J A Moyse, a general practitioner and, during
hostilities, honorary MO to the Home Guard. Of the occupants of the
other houses the writer has to plead ignorance.


The Congregational Church

The site now occupied by Temple Gate Mews,5 a close of 16 small
houses erected by the developers Linden in 1994, was formerly that of
a Congregational church and, until the late 1920s, of the late-Victorian
gothic lodge which stood by the entrance gates to Mitcham Hall.

The demolition of Mitcham Hall and completion of house-building in
Mitcham Park and Baron Grove took place after the death in 1923 of
Sydney Gedge, the last resident owner of the house (see Chapter 4).
The Congregational Church in Mitcham traced its origins to a group of
‘Independent Dissenters’ formed in the late 18th century who, since
1819, had met for worship in the Zion Chapel in Western Road. A
general decline in numbers attending services had set in during the
latter part of the 19th century, but the fortunes of the Congregationalists
revived after the end of the first World War, and when a suitable site
became available in Lower Mitcham, the decision was taken to erect a
new church.6 By coincidence, the site was only 100 yards to the south
of Bennett’s Yard where, 120 years before, there had been one of the
earliest non-Conformist meeting houses we can trace in Mitcham.7

The new building was provided under the Church Extension Scheme of
the London Congregational Union. To release funds to finance its erection
the old chapel in Western Road was sold and temporarily the congregation
used a redundant Baptist chapel in Clarendon Grove.8 The Zion burial
ground had to be cleared before the land could be redeveloped, and the
remains of those for whom the chapel had meant so much were removed
for re-interment in the new municipal cemetery opposite Figges Marsh.9
Plans produced by the architects H F Murrell and R M Pigot were approved,
and on 25 November 1931 foundation stones dedicated “To the Glory of
God” were laid in the front wall of the new church by John B Gotts OBE,
chairman of the London Congregational Union, and Edgar W Collett
representing the Surrey Union. A third stone, within the entrance vestibule,
was laid by Mr A E Gardner on behalf of the Mitcham Church. Building
proceeded rapidly, and the formal opening ceremony was performed by
Bernard C Smith on 1 June 1932.

The year 1931 had seen the death of the Revd Robert Richman, pastor of
Zion Chapel from 1880 until 1917, to whom the Mitcham


Congregationalists had owed so much for his work in sustaining
membership through a difficult period of decline in the early years of the
century. The pulpit in the new building commemorated Richman, and
also his wife Mary Ann and their children. Robert Richman and his
daughter Jennie Gertrude were further commemorated by two white
marble tablets removed from Zion chapel and placed in the entrance to
the new church building. The one to Robert Richman, “Erected by
members and friends as a token of their love and esteem”, recalled his 37
years in the ministry. The other, to Jennie Gertrude Webster, who died in
1916 at the age of 36, was put up by members of the Church, the
congregation and the Sunday school, acknowledging her service as a
teacher and organist from 1902 to 1915. Many of those who formed the
congregation of the new Church which flourished in the 1930s and ’40s
recalled both father and daughter with affection, and owed their early
instruction and guidance to the Richman family’s dedication to the work
of the Church and their application of the Gospels to everyday life. It is
sad to relate that when the church was demolished in 1993 no effort was
made to save these commemorative tablets, and they disappeared,
removed unceremoniously with the rubble of the building.

The retirement of John Bertram Gotts, OBE ISO MBE, in 1944 after a
long career with His Majesty’s Stationery Office, heralded a new chapter
in the life of the Congregational Church in Mitcham. An active
Congregationalist all his life, he now dedicated himself to the service
of the Church, becoming its pastor in 1945.7 With his wife Ethel Mary,
an active member of the Church and his staunch supporter, he settled
in Wandle Road. His ministry lasted for 11 years, during which time
the organ was rededicated by the Revd Philip Ashton in September
1949, and the Church celebrated its 140th anniversary on 30 April 1955.
John Gotts was largely responsible for making possible the extensions
to the rear of the building in 1950, to provide much-needed vestry
accommodation, a schoolroom, kitchen and toilet facilities. Stones were
laid at the commencement of work in June 1950 by Mrs Gotts on behalf
of the Church, and by John Gayer for the London Congregational Union.

John Gotts died at his home in Wandle Road in 1971, aged 94. During
his ministry the Church had probably reached its zenith. Congregations


were large, there was a lively Sunday school, and the Boys Brigade
was well supported. On special occasions it was not uncommon to see
the first three rows of seats right across the church filled with young
people, backed by a substantial adult congregation. Sadly by the 1970s
the Church was sustained only by the efforts of a handful of ageing but
dedicated workers, and services were attended by barely a dozen regular
members of the congregation on a normal Sunday morning. In the early
’90s the church was closed, and in 1992 boards outside proclaimed
that the site was offered for sale for redevelopment.

A part of what we have suggested in Chapter 1 might have been a moat
had survived as an ornamental feature in the grounds of Mitcham Hall,
but was back-filled during the development of Baron Grove, and now
forms the rear accessway to a block of lock-up garages. Archaeological
work at the front and rear of the site occupied by the Congregational
church, which was demolished before the new houses of Temple Gate
Mews were built in 1994, exposed foundations of the lodge, which had
stood at the entrance to the carriage drive to Mitcham Hall, and showed
evidence for various outbuildings to the rear, but produced nothing of
significance from the early occupation of the site.10

The Broadway
The Eastern Side

Among several buildings in Lower Mitcham dating to the years
immediately after the demolition of Mitcham Hall is 279 London Road,
a somewhat incongruous detached building in the ‘Queen Anne’ style,
occupied post-war as offices by Baker, Freeman and Co., solicitors.
Renamed Grange Cloisters (for no obvious reason) following Baker
Freeman’s vacation of the premises in the early 1990s, it stood vacant
for some years before being re-occupied as offices. Next door, the former
Modern Service Station of the immediate pre-war and post-war period
became the showrooms of Grouprange Cars, a Ford distributor. The
adjacent petrol station was enlarged considerably over the years and
extended to the corner of Baron Grove. Here stood a white, cement-
rendered Art Deco house dating to the 1930s, in the front garden of
which, until it was felled in the early 1950s, was a cedar of Lebanon,


one of the last survivors from the grounds of Mitcham Hall. All had
been cleared away by early 2003, in preparation for housing

Between Baron Grove and the Cricket Green the appearance of London
Road has changed almost out of recognition since the 1950s, due to the
demolition of venerable buildings such as Manor House and a row of
18th-century shops and houses opposite. This, until road-widening took
place, was the narrowest part of London Road and yet for some reason
it had been known as The Broadway for as long as anyone could
remember. In the early years of the 20th century the Broadway was a
thriving shopping centre, where many of the businesses serving Lower
Mitcham were situated, including the town’s first purpose-built post
office, a local building firm, Stevenson and Rush’s grocery and provision
shop and off-licence and, almost literally, the village butcher, baker
and candlestick-maker. All were cleared away to create a stretch of
dual carriageway to ease the flow of the increasingly heavy through

Beyond Baron Grove the first block, of seven shops with flats above,
was, like the Crown public house, designed in the mock-Tudor style of
the 1930s. It stands partly on the site of Hall Villa and Lorne Villa (two
mid-19th century houses), Berkeley Place (the former Killick’s yard,
in which there was a row of nine squalid little cottages), Berkeley House
and Berkeley Cottage. The history of these properties, and of the large
house which had occupied the site in the 16th century, was covered in
Chapter 3. Standing next to Berkeley Cottage and largely hidden from
view by its high brick wall was Manor House, demolished and replaced
in the 1970s by a box-like office block named Justin Manor, now Justin
Plaza. Beyond, on the same side of the road, now stands Drive House,
an even less inspiring block of shops with offices and residential
accommodation above.

It was on the site of Drive House that a row of quaint old shops, to be
seen in Edwardian postcards and photographs, survived until well after
the last war. First, beyond the end of the Manor House wall, was a boot
and shoe repairer, occupying part of the former Post Office building.
Erected in about 1900, this was a three-storeyed building in dark red


brick, its rather fussy façade including false timber framing to simulate
an Elizabethan structure. It was used before and after the second World
War as offices by Charles Sayer and Son, building contractors, the
yard at the rear (the former Bennett’s Yard) providing storage space for
vehicles and building materials. A combination of dark green paint
and the grime of 50 years produced an unattractive and bizarre building,
the involvement of which in the growth of the new township in the
early part of the century was largely forgotten by the time it was

Before Stevenson and Rush’s stores was reached, i.e. beyond the
entrance to Sayer’s yard, there was a baker’s shop selling confectionery
and soft drinks and, at one time, teas. The building behind, which it
shared with the grocers, had every appearance of being old, dating
certainly to the 17th century if not earlier, although the shop fronts,
much altered over the years, largely obscured the main structure from
the sight of passers-by. At the back, however, the original building,
with its irregular roof line, could be glimpsed above pantiled sheds and
outhouses of mellow brick and weatherboard. Built higgledy-piggledy
as the need arose, these had gradually encroached on the old-world
cottage garden with its brick paths and gnarled fruit trees. A hint of the
main building’s history is contained in the record of a court baron of
Vauxhall in October 1752, at which William Myers was admitted to
the customary tenancy of the manor (see Chapter 5).11 Myers, then the
owner of the future Manor House, had acquired what were described
as two cottages and tenements formerly in the possession of William
Moore, who surrendered his tenancy.

Following William Myers’ death the property was offered for sale in
1775 as a “freehold estate adjoining the High Street”, comprising two
dwelling houses and “sundry offices”, one with five bedrooms let to
Mr Moore senior, a baker, and the second, with four bedrooms and two
shops adjoining Mr Moore’s yard, to Mr Everingham, a linen draper.12
Ownership passed to Moore’s son, also named William, who was
admitted to the manor of Vauxhall at courts baron in November 1775
and 1776.11 Other properties nearby featuring in the sale can be
recognised as shops still surviving into the 1950s.


The interior of Stevenson and Rush’s was old-fashioned even in the
late 1940s, with a bacon-slicing machine on the counter to the right,
and a coffee roaster and grinder in the darker recesses at the rear, from
whence came the most delightful aromas. Solid mahogany counters
separated the customers (who were provided with bentwood chairs on
which to sit whilst discussing their orders) from the overalled assistants.
Biscuits, when available during the prolonged period of post-war
rationing, were to be seen in the depths of glass-topped tin boxes ranged
along the front of the counter, tantalising to small children fretting whilst
mothers pondered over what they could manage to buy on the remaining
‘points’ in the family’s ration books. The off-licence, to the left, was
part of the main shop, but was kept discreetly separate, and could be
closed off outside licensing hours. The floor might then be pressed
into serving its second purpose, that of providing a space to stack boxes
containing customers’ orders. These were delivered by the shop’s errand
boy on his stout black bicycle equipped with a special front rack to
carry heavy loads.

Past Stevenson and Rush’s was a newsagent, stationery and
tobacconist’s shop, run by a husband and wife assisted by their adult
daughter. They shared with Webb near the station the trade of delivering
morning and evening newspapers to households in Lower Mitcham. A
small sideway which, much widened, survives today as the accessway
between Drive House and Boundary House, divided the newsagents
from E & E Hudson, a long-established haberdashery, drapery and
babywear shop whose window (after the fashion of such emporia) strove
to display specimens of every line held in stock. Its age was difficult to
assess, but with a pantiled roof and built with local stock bricks, it was
probably of the early 19th century. Hudsons was one of the last of the
buildings in the group to survive, but had become vacant by the late
1970s. After demolition and clearance the site was redeveloped in
conjunction with the adjoining land, and is now covered by the southern
part of Boundary House.

The next pair of shops, with living accommodation above, stood out
sharply and discordantly from the rest, towering above them and
projecting forward from the adjacent forecourt of the Burn Bullock


public house (then known, as it had been for centuries, as the King’s
Head). The pair dated from the end of the 19th century, when this part
of Mitcham promised to become the commercial and administrative
centre of the emerging township, and may have been conceived as the
beginning of a terrace of similar shops which, in the event, were never
built. Their history is somewhat chequered, No. 319 having served for
many years as the offices of Mitcham Borough Council’s building
inspector and town planning department before being vacated in 1965.
Next door, No. 317, was at one time a butcher’s, with a small abattoir
to the rear, reached by a covered sideway where at Christmas time
prize cattle bought at the Smithfield show were held pending slaughter
and dressing to meet the seasonal demand for prime roast beef. Postwar
the shop was the ice cream parlour of Leo Dimashio, one of the
first manufacturers to reappear with a product which had vanished
during war-time rationing. Leo was a prominent member of the Ice
Cream Alliance in the 1950s, and did much to improve the hygienic
quality of this important product. His factory was in the converted
slaughterhouse, and his vehicles (their chimes introduced a new
dimension to the pre-war salesman’s tricycle bell and the cry of “Wall’s,
they’re lovely!”) were garaged in the yard. The front shop and café
was staffed by Mrs Dimashio, strikingly good-looking in a dark, Italian,
way, aided by a bevy of six daughters.

Both Dimashio’s and the offices next door had shut by the mid-1970s,
and after a period during which they stood vacant, becoming
increasingly dilapidated, it was reported by the local press in February
1977 that planning approval had been given for a three-storeyed office
block to be erected on the site. Objections were raised by the Greater
London Council to the proposed redevelopment since it projected
beyond the safeguarding line for future widening of the London Road.
By May 1980 the matter was resolved, it having been agreed that the
new building should be one metre further back, and the local press
reported demolition was imminent. Redevelopment finally ensued with
the erection of the present red brick block. Named ‘Boundary House’
and numbered 312–317 London Road, this now accommodates various
executive agencies of the Department of Social Security.


The Broadway, looking north, c.1910

The Broadway, looking south, c.1910


The Broadway
The Western Side

On the opposite side of the one-time Broadway, surviving only a
relatively short time after the end of the 1939/45 war and disappearing
in an earlier phase of the road widening process, there stood a semidetached
pair of cement-rendered, two-storey pantile-roofed cottages.
Their ground floor rooms had long been converted to serve as shops,
one a general grocery and hardware merchants, and the other an
electrical supplies shop where, in the 1920s and ’30s one could have
the wet battery of a wireless set re-charged for a few pence. Further to
the south, abutting the pavement and lacking front forecourts, was a
terrace of red brick late 18th- or early 19th-century two-storeyed houses
and shops, their fronts given an air of distinction by classical pedimented

The end house, The Limes – the largest of the group – was five bays
wide and had for much of the middle of the 19th century been the
residence of the Revd Thomas Kennerley, an early pastor of Zion chapel.
From 1892 until 1910 it was listed in the local Kelly’s Directory as the
residence of Robert Masters Chart, a remarkable character who, in his
long career filled many rôles, always at the centre of village
administrative and professional life. A member of an old Mitcham
family which had a record of continuous service as parish and vestry
clerks since the mid-18th century, R M Chart was the son of architect
and surveyor Edwin Chart. He was born in 1850, and after being
educated privately entered his father’s office and subsequently joined
him in partnership. Upon Edwin Chart’s death in 1888 ‘R M’ took over
the business and established himself in offices at Union Bank Chambers
in Croydon, where he was later joined by his own sons, Christopher
and Stephen.13 R M Chart was a fellow of the Surveyors’ Institute, a
member of the Society of Architects and of the Royal Sanitary Institute,
and was architect to the Croydon Rural District Council, the local
authority for Mitcham until the town was granted urban district status
in 1915. The Vestry Hall on Lower Green West, completed in 1887,
was built to his designs, and he was responsible for many private and
public buildings erected in Surrey and other parts of the country. R M


Chart represented Mitcham on Surrey County Council and Surrey
Education Committee, and at the age of 84 became mayor of Mitcham
when the town acquired borough status with the grant of a charter of
incorporation in 1934. He and his wife Florence had six daughters and
seven sons, one of whom, Stephen, continued the family tradition,
holding office as clerk to the urban district council and subsequently as
town clerk of Mitcham until retirement shortly after the end of the war
in 1945.

By 1911 the Chart family had left The Limes for St Marys, a new
house built next to the Methodist church overlooking the Cricket Green.
Their former home in The Broadway was next listed in the local
directory as the residence of the Hon Mrs Butler, about whom nothing
more is known by the writer. The house was acquired by a local medical
practitioner after the war, but was nearing the end of its life and was
demolished in the early 1960s. All the adjoining houses in the Broadway
have now disappeared without trace, and their foundations lie beneath
the north-bound carriageway of the London Road, whilst their former
back gardens are covered by a car showrooms and shops.

One final group of buildings, situated beyond the commencement of
Broadway Gardens and either side of the point where Church Path
joins the London Road, needs to be mentioned in this review. Church
Path is an example of the many ancient tracks which survive in Mitcham,
today afforded the formal status of public footpaths and maintained by
the local authority, although more often than not they are little used.
The original purpose of the path is now obscure, but until the early
20th century it served as an estate boundary, dividing the grounds of
Baron House to the south from the smaller properties to the north.
Perhaps significantly, the path also marked the northern limit of the
manor of Ravensbury, which can be identified with one of the two
Saxon estates which comprised the ‘vill’ of Whitford, recorded at the
time of the Domesday survey in 1086. To the north of the path the land
fell within the manor of Vauxhall. The present small terrace of shops,
388–392 London Road and the houses at the rear in Broadway Gardens
are, quite obviously, of inter-war vintage and none is more than 80
years old. Maps from the mid-19th century show a cluster of cottages


and small houses both here and to the south of the path. Guided by the
sole surviving photograph, which shows pantiling and weatherboarding
much in evidence, we can assume that many of these buildings probably
dated from the 1700s. One of the shops, which abutted the pavement,
was a saddler and harness maker’s, but of the others we have no record.

To the south of the footpath stood a “neat red brick house”, built in
about 1780, which belonged to Mr Moore at the time of the Napoleonic
wars. Behind it he had a small brewery.14 A house certainly remained
until the end of the 19th century, together with a number of the old
cottages, but thereafter the history of the site is obscure. Part of the
land was occupied by a terrace of four small houses and five shops
dating to the inter-war years, but in the 1940s land further to the south
was taken by Mitcham Corporation for the erection of pre-fabricated
dwellings, needed to provide emergency housing for families made
homeless by German bombing. In the early 1950s these were removed
prior to the building of the Baron Court maisonettes.

In the mid-19th century a detached house known as Baron Lodge (just
visible in another early photograph) was built well to the south of the
footpath, at the entrance to Baron House. A directory of 1869 gives the
occupier as Dr T W Hamilton, and Tom Francis, in his lecture notes on
Old Mitcham, describes it as being opposite Mitcham Hall and occupied
by Dr Ferrier Clarke.15 Dr Clarke, a highly regarded local medical
practitioner and surgeon, was a churchwarden, and his name is engraved
on the stone in the Vestry Hall commemorating its opening in May
1887. The house was later to be occupied by “young Doctor Marshall”15
(presumably the son of Dr Marshall of Church House, Church Road),
and subsequently became the property of the Borough Council, who
took some of the front garden for road widening before the outbreak of
war in 1939. By this time Baron House had gone, and the access road
to the south of the lodge (the latter hidden behind a hoarding during the
1940s and not demolished until after World War II), led to the playing
field of Mitcham County Boys School. It survives as the entrance to
the London Road Playing Fields between Baron and Fenning Courts.


Abbreviations Used

BL British Library

DNB Dictionary of National Biography

M & B Manning O and Bray W, The History and Antiquities of the
County of Surrey

ML London Borough of Lambeth Archives: Minet Library
MLSC London Borough of Merton Local Studies Centre
MoLAS Museum of London Archaeology Service
PCC Prerogative Court of Canterbury – now at Family Record Centre
SHC Surrey History Centre

VCH Victoria County History of Surrey

1 “Witford”, i.e. without an “h”, was the spelling used in the original
Domesday folios.
In documents of the 12th to 14th centuries it continued as “Wicford”
(in various spellings indicative of pronunciation with a hard “c”).i By
the late 18th century it appears to have acquired an “h” to become
“Whitford”, and this is the form in which the name usually appears in
various volumes on the history and topography of Surrey published in
the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

The persistence of the “wic(k)” form of the name throughout the middle
ages (and the absence of “Witford” from the documentary record after
1086 until the end of the 18th century) suggests that perhaps the former
was closer to the vernacular, which had been modified by the Norman
clerks when compiling the Domesday record. Whitford, the form current
today, was evidently preferred by the antiquarian literati of the 18th
century, familiar with the “official” Domesday record. On this
assumption it would seem reasonable to proceed on the premise that
the “wic” element predates the Conquest.

Aware of the earlier forms of the place-name, Gover and othersii
suggested Whitford might be interpreted as “ford by the wic”. Whereas
“wic” often denotes a dairy farm, it can also be derived from the Latin
vicus – a variable concept, ranging from a small settlement to a town.


Research has shown that a large proportion of the “wick” names in
England, often occurring in combination with other elements, are either
on, or within no more than a mile from, a Roman road, or less than half
a mile from sites known to have been occupied during the Roman period.
Many are found actually to coincide with Romano-British settlements.iii
This is precisely the situation at Mitcham, where Stane Street skirts the
parish boundary, a well from the early 2nd century is known from
immediately west of the Upper Green,iv burials with 3rd-century pottery
were found off Willow Lane,v and others associated with ditches
containing 1st/2nd century pottery have been excavated in a cemetery
off Church Road. A further ditch system uncovered recently in the
vicinity of the parish church has produced Romano-British pottery and
Samian ware, and there were fragments of Romano-British material,
including glassware, found in the large Anglo-Saxon cemetery in the
Ravensbury area.vi

It is arguable, therefore, that the term “wic-ford” was in use in the Saxon
period to describe the Wandle crossing serving what remained of the
Romano-British vicus on the north bank of the river, and that in common
usage its meaning was extended to apply to the area in the vicinity of
the ford as well as the river crossing itself. The first Anglo-Saxon
presence in Mitcham becomes apparent towards the close of the 4th, or
early in the 5th century, and by the mid-7th century the wider locality,
quite possibly still populated by a substantial British component, was
known as “Micham”, of which there are various possible interpretations.
Eventually Wickford, or Witford was, as we have seen, to become
synonymous with Lower Mitcham – that part of the early medieval
parish bordering the Wandle – but not before the survey of 1086, when
it was still recognised as a distinct ‘vill’ in its own right. The process of
assimilation and loss of identity continued, and by the late 17th century
the name had virtually fallen out of use, except to describe the lane
leading towards the river from the Upper or Fair Green, and in the
alternative name for Lower Mitcham Green.

i. Gover J E B , Mawer M, and Stenton F M, English Place-Name
Society XI The Place-Names of Surrey (1934) 52 list
Wicford 1199 FF(p)
Wikeford(e) 1200 Cur 1219 FF 1241 Ass
Wikford 1229 FF
Wycford 1242 Fees (p)
Wickford 1279 Ass
Wykford c1280 BM


ii. Ekwall E, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names
(1936) 492
iii. Gelling M, Signposts to the Past (1978) 67
iv. Surrey Archaeological Collections XXXIX (1931) 146
v. Surrey Archaeological Collections XXXVIII part 1 (1929) 93
vi. Surrey Archaeological Collections 56 (1959) 51–131
2 Morris J, Domesday Book: Surrey Edit. by Sarah Wood (1975) 5,7.
19,38. and 21,1

3 Hewitt R, MoLAS Evaluation August 1997. NGR TQ 2735 6801

4 There is a mention of Wickford in a Parliamentary Survey of 1650
quoted in EPNS XI (1934) 52, and a reference to a cornmill “called
Micham Mill alias Wickford Mill alias Marris Mill” in documents of
1645/57 SHC 212/113/18.

5 VCH IV (1912) 230

6 BL MS Add 6040 f2 Nos.21 & 22 (quoted by John Blair in a personal

communication Feb. 1992)

7 M & B II (1809) 496 and 499

8 Lysons D, Environs of London I (1792) 351

9 BL MS Add 6040 f1 No.1 transcribed by John Blair (Translation

supplied in a personal communication)

10 ibid., f1 No.2

11 ibid., f2 No.20. Part of the way to the mill appears to survive today in

the guise of Jeppo’s Lane, between Mitcham Park and Bramcote Avenue.

12 VCH IV (1912) 233, quoting Anct.D. (National Archives) A 9189

13 Mitcham Hall occupied the site of a large house lying off London Road

to the south of the Cricket Green and described as being in Wickford.
SHC 212/73/3.

14 VCH IV (1912) 233 quoting Close 35 Edw.III, 3d

15 VCH IV (1912) 233

16 VCH IV (1912) 233 quoting Inq. a.q.d. 395, no. 28

17 SHC 599/219 a–b, three copies of a translation of a grant in fee-farm of
the manors of Biggin and Tamworth and other lands in Mitcham, late
Merton Priory 1544. Pat. Roll 36 Hen VIII pt 27 m22 (29)

(Information supplied by Peter Hopkins in personal communication
Feb. 2000)


18 ML 1140. In 1631 four copyhold closes in the South Field were the
subject of a lease, and in 1712 the “Southfield” was mentioned in the
court rolls for the manor of Biggin and Tamworth at SHC.

1 Brown J W, Roe Bridge Mitcham Lane (1993)

2 SHC 599/221. Will of James Wilford, cited in a translation of an
inquisition post mortem of Robert Welford (sic) gent.,
and 599/231 Agreement of Release 20 November 1588
I am indebted to Peter Hopkins, who supplied notes on these documents

and others at SHC cited below.

3 M & B II (1809) 499, and Lysons D, Environs of London I (1792) 351

4 Hughes A., ‘The Manor of Tooting Bec and its Reputed Priory’ Surrey

Archaeological Collections LIX (1962) 6

5 SHC 599/228. Indenture of Bargain and Sale 20 May 1560

6 SHC 599/417. Swifte sells to Carpenter messuage in Mitcham 8 October


7 SHC 599/230. Indenture of Bargain and Sale 24 July 1570
599/385: John Muscat(t) was in occupation in 1716

8 National Archives Feet of Fines (1574)

9 Rice R G, ‘On the Parish Registers of Ss Peter and Paul, Mitcham’ The

Reliquary XIV (1878) 22/3 Note 49. Harl., I 433 fo. 186b

10 SHC 212/73/3

11 Court rolls of the manor of Vauxhall. Notes compiled by John Brown

of the Streatham Society (Copy in personal communication)
12 SHC 599/219a–b. Three copies of a translation of a grant in fee-farm

of the manors of Biggin and Tamworth and other lands in Mitcham late
Merton Priory 19 May 1544 (Pat. Roll 36 H VIII pt.27 m22 29)
Also M & B II (1809) 498

13 SHC 599/221. Inq. p.m. of Robert “Welford gent.” 3 November 1545.

14 SHC 678/1

15 SHC 599/417

16 Court Minutes of the Surrey and Kent Sewer Commissioners (1569–

79) (1909) 33


17 SHC 599/230 Indenture of Bargain and Sale 24 July 1570

18 SHC 599/425. Richard Hopkins surrendered to Thomas Pynner 47½
acres copyhold of Ravensbury 28 June 1576.

19 SHC 470/1/100. Rent and Memorandum Book of James Cranmer of
Mitcham 1717–1749

20 Aubrey J, The Natural History and Antiquities of the County of Surrey
II (1718) 133

21 The tablet to Thomas Pynner’s memory was placed here at the request
of his daughter, Lady Mary Colepeper (sic) of Aylesford, Kent. [M & B
II (1809) 500]

22 Rice R G, ‘On the Parish Registers of Ss Peter and Paul, Mitcham (From
AD 1563 to 1679)’ The Reliquary XVIII (1877) 143

23 SHC 599/229. Deed of sale by Indenture 17 February 1587/8 and Deed
of Confirmation 19 February 1587/8

24 SHC 599/231. Agreement of Release 20 November 1588

1 Fuller T, The History of the Worthies of England (1662)

2 Brayley E W, History of Surrey IV (1841) 90 Note 7

3 DNB III (1921–22) 658

4 Rowse A L, The England of Elizabeth (1953) 414

5 M & B II (1809) 495, quoting MS of Sir Julius Caesar, Brit. Mus.
No. 4160, Ayscough’s catalogue.
In a footnote commenting on Sir Julius Caesar’s reference to “the former

disappointment”, Manning and Bray observe, quoting Sidney, State
Papers II 5:
“In a Letter from Rowland White to Sir Robert Sidney, dated 30 Sept.

1596, the Queen’s intention to visit Mitcham is mentioned, at which
time probably the disappointment here alluded to happened.”

6 Chambers E K, The Elizabethan Stage IV (1923) 105–6, 109

7 The Cranmers (on the site of the Wilson Hospital) and Old Bedlam (or
Old Bethlehem) at Fair Green (NGR TQ 2780 6810 and TQ 2775 6895
respectively), both now demolished, were two houses often stated (quite
incorrectly) as being, or on the site of, Sir Julius Caesar’s house.


8 In the initial stages of this work I was much assisted by research notes
compiled by W A Turner, former librarian-in-charge at Mitcham Library.

9 DNB III (1886) 207

10 SHC 599/230

11 Rice R G, The Reliquary XIX (1878) 233–34

12 Rice, ibid., 233

13 Chambers E K, The Elizabethan Stage IV (1923) 107

14 Lyly J, supposed author, Queen Elizabeth’s Entertainment at Mitcham
edited by Hotson J (1953) 17

15 Yorkshire Antiquities Journal XV (1900) 420–4

16 Jessop A, John Donne (1897) 51, 27

17 Lodge E, Life of Sir Julius Caesar, Knt. (1827) 20

18 ML Calendar of Surrey Deeds No. 2164. The Southfields lay off Willow
Lane, Mitcham.

19 ibid., deed ref. No. 3112

20 SHC 212/73/3

21 SHC 599/304

22 ML 1138 Extract from court rolls of the manor of Ravensbury

23 SHC 599/306 and ML 2137

24 SHC 599/385 Indenture of Bargain and Sale 27 February 1654/5

Decline and Fall (1654–1803)

25 SHC 599/320 Deed of Release, and 599/389/a–b Final agreement,
Thomas Hopkins to Robert Cranmer

26 SHC LA 5/8/1 Mitcham Militia Assessment Records

27 DNB LVI (1898) 377–78 and
Beaven A B, The Aldermen of the City of London 2 (1908) 182

28 Surrey Record Society Surrey Hearth Tax 1664 XVII (1940).
The style ‘Alderman’ is suspect, for Vannam is not listed by Beaven.

29 Society of Genealogists Mitcham Pedigrees 34

30 M & B II (1809) 500

31 VCH 231 and 234


32 SHC 470/1/100 Rent and Memorandum Book of James Cranmer of
Mitcham 1717–1749 and M & B II (1809) 500

33 SHC 599/425 Abstract of Title etc.

34 SHC 599/230

35 SHC 599/385

36 SHC 2400/– James Cranmer’s Estate and Account Book 1740–1752
Folio 55

37 599/320 and 599/389a–b

38 B F J Pardoe, secretary of the Chertsey History Research Group, in a
personal communication dated 20 February 1972, supplied the following
information on John Twyne:

“Manning and Bray refer to his memorial at Mitcham Church. He d.

28. Aug. 1783 aged 71; his widow Elizabeth (also née Twyne) died 31
March 1786 aged 75. Elizabeth’s divisee and heir-at-law was Susanna
Fashion of Kensington. Both were descendants and heirs-at-law of the
Inwood family who flourished in Weybridge, Walton, Cobham and
Chertsey in the 16 and 17 century. The Twynes were landowners at
Walton-on-Thames in the 17 cent. & owned the Mount Felix estate. On
the death of Caroline Annabella Inwood (dau. of Col. Thos. Inwood by
Annabella Brydges niece of Jas. Duke of Chandos) in 1761 John Twyne
her kinsman inherited a one-third share of her ancestral Inwood
properties in Suffolk, Sussex, Walton-on-Thames and Chertsey. In a
deed of 2 Nov. 1762 he is described as of London, Gent. but was at
Mitcham by 1764. He died intestate. All this from Abstract of Title 15
Southwood Manor Farm Sy. R.O. 183/4/31 & 183/4/27.”
39 SHC Mitcham Land Tax Records
40 Edwards J, Companion from London to Brighthelmston Pt.II (1801)


41 SHC 298/2/7–8

42 Principal of the firm of Potter and Moore, the Mitcham herb and physic


43 M & B III (1814) Appendix clii

44 MLSC Tom Francis slide collection. Reproduced as Plate 16 in Francis

T (Edit. E N Montague) Old Mitcham (1993)


Berkeley Cottage, House and Place (1803–c.1930)

45 SHC Acc. No. 6194 Collection of account books, a baptismal register,
early history of the chapel etc.

46 MLSC Tom Francis Scrapbook – undated cutting from The Surrey

47 The entrance to Bennett’s Yard was where Mitcham’s post office stood
at the beginning of the 20th century. It later became Charles Sayer’s
builders yard.

48 His remains, together with those of other former members of the
congregation, were re-interred in the London Road cemetery opposite
Figges Marsh. Siviour H A, in letter to Mitcham News 24 August 1979

49 SHC 298/2/9

50 SHC 298/2/9–10

51 SHC 298/2/12

52 MLSC Tom Francis lecture notes and collection of slides, published in

1993 as Old Mitcham, edited by Montague E N.
53 NGR TQ 2740 6833

1 National Grid Reference TQ 2740 6825

The site of the house lies to the south and rear of the junction of Baron

Grove with London Road.

The Congregational Church, built 1931–32 and demolished in

November/December 1993, stood on the site of the Mitcham Hall lodge

(a late 19th-century building, now the site of Linden Place) and a range

of glasshouses to the rear.
2 Tithe Map Ref. 1322 Meadow (now arable) 1a. 0r. 2p.
1323 Garden and buildings 2r. 7p.
1324 House, garden, pleasure
grounds and buildings 2a. 3r. 15p.

plus enclosures numbered 1370–1, 1373–5, 1380–1, 1394–6.


3 The five acres or so on which the houses were built were known as The
Park at the time of Gedge’s purchase of Mitcham Hall in 1864, and the
name was adopted for the new estate. The present name of the road,
Mitcham Park, did not come into general use until after the 1939/45 war.

4 SHC 272/1/13

The Wych Family in Mitcham

5 SHC 212/73/26
Richard Wych seems likely to have been a relative (perhaps father) of
the Nathaniel Wych(e), another London merchant, president of the East
India Company who, in 1658, married Anne Cranmer, Robert Cranmer’s
sister “from the Kentish branch of the Cranmer family”. (C J Gordon of
Haddington, E. Lothian, in a personal communication, 12 Jan. 1993)
6 Society of Genealogists, Mitcham Pedigrees 68. Sir Peter Wyche’s son
“Cyrell” was knighted at the Hague in May 1660, and was described in
1696 as “the Secretary in Ireland”. When he died he left land and money
amounting to £100,000. Information researched by Julie Garner in 1999.
7 SHC 212/73/23

The debt had been incurred two years previously.
8 SHC 212/73/26 (Indenture transcribed by Peter Hopkins)
9 SHC 599/384a
10 SHC 272/1/1 Sale in 1864

The Hampsons (1649–1703)

11 SHC 470/1/100 Rent and Memorandum Book of James Cranmer of
Mitcham 1717–1749, and 599/– Collection of Mitcham Deeds

12 SHC 599/390 a–d Bargain and sale 28 April 1652 and deed of feoffment
6 May 1652. The house stood on the site of The Cranmers and the later
Wilson Hospital.

13 Woodhead J R, The Rulers of London 1660–1689 (1965) 83 has the
following entry:
Hampson, Henry. Co Co Farringdon Within, 1662; 1667–9. Ald

Portsoken, 12 Jan 1663/4–23 Jun 1664, disch, F £420 (1)

1st Prec, Christ Church, 1640/1, 1663; Bull and Mouth Street,
Aldersgate, 1677; Mitcham, Surr, 1691 (2)
MT, appr, 1627, to William Rice of Newgate Market; M, 1664 (3)
d: Mar 1690/1 (4)

Will: PCC 54 Vere pr, 28 Mar 1690/1. f: Thomas Hampson, HAB, of
London; mar: Sarah, da of Thomas Dudson of – Berks, and St. George,
Southwark, and Alice Ironmonger (5)
Merchant, EIC stock (6)
Landlord of Quakers’ meeting house, Aldersgate Street, 1668 (7)
Brother-in-law of Edward DUDSON (8).
(1) Beaven, I. p. 184. (2) MT, Appr Bindings, XII, f.112; MT, 1663,
f.14; Directory, 1677; will. (3) Beaven, II, p.96; MT, Appr Bindings,
IX, f.324. (4) Will. (5) MT, Appr Bindings, IX, f.324; LVP, 1664, p.57.
(6) Will; Directory, 1677. (7) Mills and Oliver Surveys, II, p.90. (8)
Will of Edward DUDSON.
N.B. It would appear that in compiling the above synopsis some
difficulty may have occurred in distinguishing between Henry Hampson
senior and his son, also named Henry, who died in 1691 and was buried
at Mitcham. Woodhead’s text has to be seen as a laudable attempt to
bring together sometimes confusing detail.
14 In a personal communication dated 4 January 1990 the principal
reference librarian of the Guildhall Library, City of London commented:
“No reference to his” [i.e. Henry Hampson’s] “marriage to Sarah Dudson
could be found in the International genealogical index for London and
Middlesex (1987/9 edition) or in Boyd’s marriage index for London
and Middlesex, 1626–1675. No reference to his burial could be found
in Boyd’s index to London and Middlesex burials, although the British
Record Society’s index to Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills (Index
library, vol. 77, p.124) indicates that he died in ‘Throckmorton’ street.”
15 SHC 212/73/25–6
The land included parcels in Great, Little and Long Thornton, the West
Field called Blacklands, in Fleming Mead and Long Bolstead.
16 SHC 599/–
17 SHC 212/73/25–6 Marriage settlement dated 1 March 1663/4
18 SHC LA5/8/1 & 2 Militia Levy Assessment Books for Mitcham
19 Surrey Record Society Surrey Hearth Tax Vol. XVII (1940)
20 SHC 599/–
21 ML 3112
22 Research by Julie Garner. Conveyed in personal correspondence, 1999,
quoting Society of Genealogists, Mitcham Pedigrees p 34.


23 M & B II (1809) 505

24 SHC 212/9/2 Rent Roll of (inter alia) the manor of Ravensbury
The date of commencement of Hampson’s tenancy is not known.
Ravensbury house appears in the Hearth Tax records of 1664 as “Sir
Nicholas Carew’s” and was assessed on the basis of six hearths.

25 The inscription reads “Here lyes interred the body of Henry Hampson,

merchant, son of Henry Hampson Esq., and Ann his wife who departed
this life the 15th March 1691 aged 48”.
The entry in the parish register (SHC) describes him as “Henry Hampson

(the 2d)” and adds that he was buried in wool on 28 March 1691.
An earlier entry in the register records the burial of Mary Hampson in
July 1665, but her age is not given, and her relationship with the rest of

the family is not known.

26 ML 3114

27 SHC 172/5/2a–c Lease and release 22 and 23 Nov. 1703

28 SHC 172/5/3a–b

29 SHC 470/1/100 Rent and Memorandum Book of James Cranmer of

Mitcham 1717–1749

Eighteenth-Century Owners and Occupiers

30 Surrey Archaeological Society, Castle Arch, Guildford Ref. 23/4

Watercolour signed “Yates 1825” entitled “North View of Mitcham
Hall. The Residence of Genl. Sir Henry Oakes Bart”.
Reproduced as plate 98 in Montague E N,Mitcham: A Pictorial History

31 Malden H E, ‘Answers made to the Visitation Articles of Dr Willis, the
Bishop of Winchester 1724–25’ Surrey Archaeological Collections

XXXIX (1931) 97 and Ward W R (Edit), Parson and Parish in
Eighteenth Century Surrey Surrey Record Society XXXIV (1996) 46

32 This was covered by a new raised wooden floor in 1991, and can no

longer be seen.

33 SHC Mitcham Poor Rate Books

34 MLSC L2 (347.2) “Release etc. Crown Field Mitcham – 6 acres more
or less. Adj. on the NW on a field called Sheppards Wast now in the
possession of Oliver Baron Esq. – on the N. and E on the land of Gellicoe
and on the SW on the Turnpike Road Mitcham to Sutton. In possession


of William Myers and sold to Rowland ffrye Esq. for £400. 16 June
1770.” Also SHC 303/21/4/6
35 Unlike the later land-tax records, the poor rate books only list occupiers.
36 SHC 272/1/1
37 SHC Mitcham land tax records. ‘Proprietor’ in this context can be taken
to include a leaseholder.

38 Conceivably, her work is among the illustrations which appear in the
huge collection of Wedgwood pottery in the Hermitage Museum at St
Petersburg. If so, some may portray Mitcham scenes.

39 DNB II (1921–2) 35–6
40 Cheap died in 1791. Information from Mr G D Clarke of 31 Critchfield

Lane, Walton-on-Thames, in a personal communication c.1970.
41 Edwards J,Companion from London to Brighthelmston T.P. II (1789) 18
42 Information kindly supplied by the Guildhall Library

Mitcham Hall and Henry Hoare (1796–1828)

43 DNBXIV (1921–2) 733–4 contains a detailed account of Sir Henry’s career.
44 Bartley E J, Mitcham in Days Gone By (1909) 9
45 National Archives Census return, Mitcham, 1851 Book 46 2b
46 Greenwood C & R, Surrey Described (1823) 186
47 MLSC Sale particulars of the estate of Henry Hoare, 19 June 1828
48 MLSC Local Illustrations Collection Photograph by Tom Francis

Also sketches in prospectus for Miss Millington’s school (Ref. 63
below), and
Clark E F, George Parker Bidder The Calculating Boy (1983) Fig 17 p. 63
49 Post Office Directory 1845

The Bidder Family (1846–1864)

50 DNB II (1921–2) 474–5
51 Clark E F, op cit (1983) 3
The Wimbledon to Croydon Railway, authorised by Act of Parliament
in 1853, was built as a speculative venture, and then leased to Bidder.
(Caption to a photograph in a display organised by Merton Library
Service at Merton Civic Centre in April 1992)
52 Information supplied by Hector Carter in May 1977, researching the
ancestry of Mrs Joy Matthews of Brampton, Ontario.


53 Information from E F Clark of Bedford, in a personal communication,
7 February 1978.

54 It was later occupied by the Catherine Gladstone Convalescent Home.
The cleared site was used for the erection of pre-fabricated houses after
World War II.

55 Montague E N, Mitcham Common (2001) 85–6

56 In the mid-19th century the water was conducted via a pipe or culvert
passing under the railway and Grove Farm to the south. The pipe could
very well have been installed by Bidder, and might have caused the
dispute over rights to water which resulted in a plan being produced,
now in MLSC (Ref. RM 276 d/d ?1845).

57 SHC 272/1/–

Sydney Gedge and Mitcham Hall 1864–1923

58 Clark E F, op cit (1983) 258 and also in a personal communication, 7
February 1978.

59 Who was Who 1916–1928 (1929) 398, and inscriptions on the family
tomb in Mitcham parish churchyard.

60 MLSC Tom Francis’s lecture notes, and article filed at L2 (920) GED LP
276 “Men of Mark”. Also obituary from The Advertiser 6 April 1923

61 MLSC Ms. by John Lucas filed at L2 (628.1) LUC LP 994, quoting
London Wells (1913)

62 Sutton & Epsom Advertiser and Surrey County Reporter 8 December 1888

63 Copy given to the writer by E F Clark.

64 SHC 272/1/13

65 SHC 272/1/14

66 SHC 272/1/16

67 The first plans, for Nos. 2 & 4 Mitcham Park Road, (Plan Ref. No.
1185 in the London Borough of Merton’s Building Control Office) were
approved for byelaw purposes on 25 April 1898.
Plans for Nos. 10–12 (Ref. No. 1259) were approved 28 Sept. 1898
and for Nos. 22–32 (Ref. No. 1383) 18 May 1899.

68 SHC 272/1/17–25

69 MLSC Tom Francis lecture notes, No.19 p.8.

70 SHC 272/1/46



71 MLSC Photographic collection

1 National Grid Ref. TQ 2744 6835. Whereas it was commonly known
as the Manor House or even The Manor House, it is shown on the
Ordnance Survey maps merely as “Manor House”. This practice has
been adopted in this book.

2 For instance, by Harry G. Dorrett, a professional photographer and
occupier/owner of the house c.1935–1958.

3 Comments on list: “Grade II c.17 Largely rebuilt mid c.18”

4 MLSC LP 810 L2 (920) SIM and L2 (728) Notes on ‘The Simpson
Family in Mitcham’


5 SHC 212/73/3
6 London Metropolitan Archives E/BER/S/T/II/B/1-15 Copy Marriage

Settlement, and Berry W. Surrey Genealogies (1837)

7 SHC 212/113

8 Guildhall Library MS 6912 Fishmongers’ Company Records transcribed

by Roy Edwards of the Streatham Society 3 Oct 1988

9 SHC Acc 1486 Collection of Deeds etc. Relating to Mitcham

10 Surrey Record SocietySurrey Hearth TaxNos. XLI, XLII, Vol. XVII (1940)

11 MLSC Price F G, ‘Eagle House and 18th Century Architecture in

Mitcham’ (Unpublished typescript)

The Myers Family (c.1715–1775)

12 Canterbury Cathedral Archives MSS 70436. Transcription by Roy
Edwards of the Streatham Society 31 Dec 1983

13 ibid., Item 9.
In the rental of 1718 “George Smith Esq.” is not preceded by a “C”, as
are most of the other, copyhold, tenants. Similarly, in the list of 1726,
the name “Wm. Meares” is not preceded by “Cop”, which appears in
front of most of the names.


14 SHC Mitcham poor rate books – e.g. for 1771

15 Canterbury Archives MSS 70436 Roy Edwards’ transcription, item 5.
Specifically referred to as a ‘Quit Rent Roll’

16 SHC Court Rolls of the Manor of Biggin and Tamworth.
Until the installation of the raised wooden floor in 1991, a black marble
floor slab to the memory of “George Smyth Gent.” could be seen in the
south aisle of Mitcham parish church. Formerly in the floor of the
chancel, from whence it had been moved during rebuilding of the church
between 1819 and 1822, the slab bore the arms of the Smyth family and
recorded that George had “departed this life the 13th day of October
1714, in the 80th year of his age”.

17 SHC 145/46 Will dated 13 Oct. 1724. Probate 30 July 1725 (Prob.11
604 162)

18 Ward W R (Edit.), Parson and Parish in Eighteenth Century Surrey

Surrey Record Society XXXIV (1994) 46

19 SHC 216/113/19

20 Will dated 13 Oct. 1739. Proved 29 July 1742 (Prob. 11 719 226)

21 Alumni Oxonienses III (1888) I 1003

22 The inscription reads:
“P.M.S. Gulielmi Myers arm. in rebus forensibus procuratores
versatissima, cujus morum probitates, ingenii festivitatem, in negotiis
sui muneris disponendis acuman, imitari stius erit quam laudare. (Obiit
xi die Jul. A.D. MDCCXLII, aetat, suae 67.Gulielmus Myers, filius
ejusdem nata maximumus, hoc monumentum pietatis ergo P.C.”

23 The memorial slab reads:
“Here lie the remains of Anne, wife of Skinner Myers, youngest son of
William and Mary Myers, late of this parish; obiit May 18, 1774, aet.

39. Skinner Myers arm. obiit August 2, 1794, aet 66”.
24 SHC Mitcham poor rate books
25 Pottle F A (ed.) Boswell’s London Journal 1762-1763 (1951 (1950)) 262
Stewart had opposed all plans for arming the city of Edinburgh (of
which he was MP as well as provost), so that the Highland army entered
without opposition. After the collapse of the Rebellion he was arrested
and put in the Tower. At his trial – for neglect of duty and misbehaviour
in the execution of his office – before the High Court he was found not


26 MLSC Note dated Oct. 1942 deposited by Miss Farewell-Jones, a local
historian and member of Surrey Archaeological Society

27 VCH III 69; SHC 212/113/19

28 SHC Dated 28 Feb. 1774. Proved Sept. 1775.

29 Canterbury Archives Vol. 24,455

30 M & B II (1809) clii

John Myers’ memorial is in Ewell parish church. He is described as
“Late Rector of Walton on the Hill”, and died August 25, 1815, aged
68 years. The memorial also commemorates his wife, whose name is
given as “Elizabeth (Plaistow)”, and who died May 4, 1825 aged 54. In
addition to the rectory of Walton on the Hill, which he held from 1776
until 1815, John Myers also held the curacy at Headley until 1810.
Ward W R, (Edit.) Parson and Parish in 18th Century Surrey, Surrey
Record Society XXXIV (1994) xvi and 144

31 Valentine A, The British Establishment II (1970) 826

1776–1851: A London Merchant, a Maiden Lady and a Surgeon

32 SHC 599/254 I am indebted to Peter Hopkins for his transcription of
these details.

33 Everingham is described as such in the Freeholders List held by SHC.

34 The brick and limestone altar tomb of Charles and Mary Everingham is
in Mitcham churchyard. He died in 1815, aged 80, and Mary in 1837,
agedc.81. Also interred with them is their daughter Amelia (1797–1875).

35 SHC Land Tax records, Mitcham

36 Edwards J, Companion from London to Brighthelmston (1801), pt II 17

Her daughter, Miss Milton, kept a school in Mitcham, for which an
advertisement (undated, but on paper watermarked 1820) survives in
the Surrey Archaeological Society’s Mitcham folio Ref. PF/MIT/8 at
Castle Arch, Guildford. It reads

“At Paradise House
Mitcham in SurreyYoung LadiesBoarded
English and French Taught GrammaticallyWith all sorts of Elegant and Useful NeedleworkbyMiss Milton
Every other Accomplishment by approved Masters.”

The location of the academy has not been ascertained.


37 VCH (1912) 371
38 The surname Stewart suggests that Marlar’s daughter married into the family
at Mitcham Grove and that, quite possibly, she was the wife of John Stewart.
39 Several good photographs of the ‘Manor House’ are to be found in the
Lambeth Archives, and the local illustrations collection at Mitcham.
They all seem to have been taken shortly before the house was
demolished. Another excellent collection, taken for the Historic

Buildings Division of Surrey County Council, is now at SHC.
40 SHC 303/21/4/2
41 Greenwood C & J, Surrey Described (1823) 186:

“… elegant residence of … Edwin Tipple Esq., the property of Mrs

A watercolour by Yates, entitled “Mr. Tipple’s House, Mitcham, Surrey”
and dated 1825 is in the possession of Surrey Archaeological Society
at Castle Arch, Guildford, Ref. No. 23/5.

Pigot’s Directory 1826/7: “Edwin Tipple – Surgeon”

Post Office Directory 1845: “Edwin Tipple Esq., Lower Mitcham”
42 Tithe commutation register 1846 and map 1847
43 The Post Office Directory for 1845 lists:

“Edwin Tipple Esq. Lower Mitcham” under “Gentry” and
“Tipple, Edwin and Son, surgeon, Lower Mitcham” under “Traders”

The Manor House of Mitcham (1860 –1876): William Simpson II

44 SHC 298. Cranmer-Simpson Estate in Mitcham and Carshalton
45 Alumni Cantabrigienses Part 2 1752-1900 Vol. V (1953).
He was admitted to Trinity in 1837, but appears not to have graduated.
46 MLSC LP 810 L2 (920) SIM Notes on the Simpson Family in Mitcham.
Main sources: William Simpson’s letter book 1819-1837, local
directories etc.
47 Information kindly supplied by Dr R A M Scott, in a personal
communication, 5 Nov. 1993.

48 McElrath D, Richard Simpson 1820-1876. A Study in XIXth Century
English Liberal Catholicism. (1972) 2, and
Altholz J, and McElrath D, The Correspondence of Lord Acton and

Richard Simpson (1971)
Alumni Oxonienses IV (1888) 1300


49 Scott R A M, unpublished study SS Peter and Paul Roman Catholic
Church, Mitcham (1981), quoting Tom Francis’s Lecture Notes p.67

50 Pike W T, Contemporary Biographies (1906)

51 SHC 599 Copy of Counsel’s opinion on draft of marriage settlement, 8
July 1857

52 SHC 320/3/1/10 Epitome of Title of William F J Simpson to the Manor
of Mitcham

53 Scott op. cit.

54 Scott op. cit., quoting Simpson R, A History of the Mitcham Mission

55 Scott op. cit., quoting letter addressed to Bishop Thomas Grant, dated
19 October 1857 in the archives of the RC Diocese of Southwark

56 SHC 599/407 23 October 1839

57 Scott op. cit. Certificate in the archives of the RC Diocese of Southwark

58 Mitcham Court Guide. Green’s South London Directory (1869)

59 MLSC Photo-copy of Census returns 1871

60 SHC 298/2/24-7

61 SHC 298/2/

Manor House in the Occupation of George Pitt

62 MLSC Tom Francis’s lecture notes
63 Montague E N, (Edit.) Francis T, Old Mitcham (1993)

Harry G Dorret and others

64 Victoria County History of Surrey IV (1912) 231
65 SHC 272/2/3
66 The local directory for 1929 shows a Mr Carr, Mr and Mrs Sugden and

a Miss Rowlands as residents. Harry G Dorrett was listed in 1930,
together with his brother’s family and an uncle, and in 1931 and 1932
John and Celia Nelson, relatives of Mrs Dorrett, together with Edith
Jess Dorrett, aunt of H G Dorrett.

For this, and other information about H G Dorrett and Co., I am indebted
to Dr Ralph W Rimmer of South Croydon.

67 Dr Rimmer informs me that Nettie Moon was one of Dorrett’s assistants
who spent her entire working life with him. Her speciality was
portraiture, and she was very skilled in retouching photographs. In


1954 she became the first woman President of the Institute of
Professional Photographers. She had been a director of H G Dorrett &
Co. from at least 1946, according to a business letterhead.

68 The Revd H Ford performed the funeral service, and officiated at the
scattering of the ashes on May 31st, 1958.

1 Edwards I, Companion from London to Brighthelmston II (1801) 18

The Blankes (1552–1595)

2 Rice R G, ‘The Parish Registers of Ss. Peter and Paul Mitcham A.D.
1563–1679)’ in The Reliquary Quarterly Journal and Review XIX
(1877) 235

In 1542 Thomas Blanke senior was imprisoned for five days in the
house of Sheriff Suckley for refusing to accept the office of Alderman
of the City of London. He was discharged on payment of a 300 mark
fine in February, but apparently served as an Alderman until August,
when he paid a further 400 marks to avoid ever having to serve as
Sheriff or Alderman again. (Information kindly supplied by Catherine
Royce of the Guildhall Library, quoting Beavan’s Aldermen of London)

3 PCC 39 Chayre. Will of Thomas Blanke the Elder, Citizen and
Haberdasher of the City of London. 1563

4 Rowston G, Southwark Cathedral and The Globe (Leaflet from
Southwark Cathedral, 1999)

5 PCC 5 Leicester. Will of Thomas Blanke, Alderman and Haberdasher
of the City of London,
Rice, op. cit., Will dated 30 September 1585, proved 2 November 1588

Stow J, A Survey of London, reprinted from the text of 1603. Edited by
Kingsfold C L, (1908) II 185

6 There seems to be no record in the surviving parish records of Traves
living in Mitcham at this time, or of a house that can be identified with
him. However, a James Traverse (possibly, given the vagaries of 17thcentury
spelling, the son or grandson of nephew James Travis whom
Lady Blanke remembered in her will in 1595 – see note 11 below) is


referred to in the hearth tax return for 1664 as having a large house in

Mitcham with ten hearths, which was then standing empty.

Surrey Record Society Nos. XLI XLII Vol. XVII Surrey Hearth Tax

Returns 1664 (1940) 154

7 M & B II (1809) 495

8 Chambers E K, The Elizabethan Stage IV (1923) 105–6 and 109.
I am indebted to W A Turner, formerly of Mitcham Library, for drawing
my attention to the two visits.

9 Bax A R, ‘Lay Subsidy Assessments for the County of Surrey in 1593
or 94’ Surrey Archaeological Collections XIX (1906) 41. William
Farrant ‘Doctor at Lawe’ was assessed for tax on land at Mitcham valued
at £5.

10 Rice, R G, op. cit. 235–6. 116 Cobham. Will of Lady Margaret Blanke.

The Farrants (1593–1666)

11 Harleian Society The Visitations of Surrey 1623 (1899) 100, and
Howard J J, The Visitations of Surrey 1623

Willm. Farrant = Mary d. of …. Haynes of ….
Doctor of the Civill law widdow of Orrell
| |
Richard Farrant of Mycham = Elizabeth d. of George Garth Margaret
in com. Surrey 1623 of Morden in com. Surrey ob.a mayd.
| | | | |
George Richard William Mary Elizabeth
12 National Archives, Feet of Fines, Surrey

13 Rice R G, op. cit. 234–5 Will d/d 19 Jan. 1612–3 and proved P.C.C. 5
July 1615 (68 Rudd)

14 Milward R J, Wimbledon in the Time of the Civil War (1976) 77

15 Jowett E M, A History of Merton and Morden (1951) 65

16 Guildhall Library MS 6912

17 Burns D, The Sheriffs of Surrey (1992) 24, 65

18 SHC LA 58/8/1 Mitcham Militia Assessment Records

19 Surrey Record Society Nos. XLI XLII Surrey Hearth Tax 1664 Vol.
XVII (1940) 55


The Highlords and the Glovers (1666–1716)

20 Where there is record of William Hellard alias Highlord or Hylot (See
21 below)

21 Information from William J Rudd of Merton Historical Society in a

personal communication, February 1976, quoting
Victoria County History of Bedfordshire III 285, Redbornstoke
Hundred, Parish of Flitwick.

This has to be an assumption, as John was a popular name in the family,
being borne by boys in three consecutive generations

22 “Arms and crest granted jointly to John and Zachary Highlord, 26 May
1630: Sable, a bend flory counterflory argent. Issuent from a wreath of
the colours an escarbuncle sable and argent.” (William Rudd 1976)

23 Probably of the Style family of Morden. Richard Garth II m. Dorothy

d. of Thomas Style of the City of London. Dorothy died 14 June 1628
aet 30. George Style. b. at Morden 10 Feb. 1641 died 1 Oct. 1721, and
was buried in Morden church.
For my information on the Styles I am also indebted to William Rudd.
24 National Archives C.54/5087 part 12 quoted by Malcolm Brown of St
John’s Wood, in a personal communication dated 27 March 1981

The Mende da Costa Family and the Tates (1721–1767)

25 Close Rolls, 8 Geo. 1/5th part, item 10, cited by Malcolm Brown 24
Jan. 1981

26 Close Rolls C.54/5189 entry 10, cited by Malcolm Brown 18 Mar. 1981

27 Brown M, ‘Anglo-Jewish country houses from the Resettlement to 1800’
in Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England Vol. XXVIII
(1984) 23

28 Information from Malcolm Brown in personal communication dated
18 Mar. 1981. See also Montague E N, Eagle House (1974)

29 Malden H E, ‘Answers made to the Visitation Articles of Dr Willis, the
Bishop of Winchester 1724–25’ Surrey Archaeological Collections
XXXIX (1931) 97 and Ward W R, Parson and Parish in Eighteenth
Century Surrey Surrey Record Society XXXIV (1994) 46

30 Information from Malcolm Brown in personal communication dated
18 Mar. 1981

31 SHC 320/1/3 Court rolls of the manor of Ravensbury 1736–89

32 “PRO [now National Archives] C/545669 pt 9. The property was
transferred to Anthony da Costa in 1737: PRO, Feet of Fines, Hilary 10
George II.” [Note 17 in Brown M, ‘Anglo-Jewish country houses from
the Resettlement to 1800’ in Transactions of the Jewish Historical
Society of England Vol. XXVIII (1984) 36]
The Mendez family had left Eagle House by about 1756, but a “Mendes
Da Costa”, who had an interest in natural history, evidently maintained
contact with friends at Mitcham, for he left mention in his MS notes of
a visit to “Mr. Waldo’s, junior” in about 1760.
The Gentleman’s Magazine 82: 205–207 quoted by Jessop L, ‘Notes
on Insects, 1692 & 1695 by Charles du Bois’ in Bulletin of the British
Museum of Natural History (Hist. Ser.) 17(1): (1989) 12 and 22
33 SHC Mitcham poor rate books, land-tax assessments and the records
of the tithe commutation survey
34 SHC 320/2/1–2 Plans of Estates in the manor of Ravensbury 1825
35 Plot reference 164 on the OS 1895 25 inch to one mile edition
36 MLSC L2 (347.2) Release etc. dated 16 June 1770
37 The poor rate assessments show Baron replacing Tate as the new
‘proprietor’ of the only large house in Mitcham which thereafter
continues in the former’s occupation until his death in 1786.
38 SHC Mitcham parish registers, and
Canterbury Cathedral Archives MS 70436 Court rolls of the manor of
39 SHC 2400 James Cranmer’s Estate and Account Book 1740–52
40 MLSC Mitcham Vestry minutes
41 MLSC (Held at Wimbledon Library):
Extra-illustrated copy of Brayley E W, History of Surrey. Drawing by
Henderson, c.1825
MLSC Framed print, formerly in Mitcham vestry hall, Baron House
Academy published in 1814, and
Guildhall Library. Wash-drawing, Old Baron House, 8½” x 13″, undated
and unsigned.
42 The front elevation is remarkably similar, for instance, to that of Denston
Hall, Newmarket, Suffolk, a Grade II listed property dated to 1770 and
attributed to Sir Thomas Calder.


Remains of the Eighteenth Century Gardens

43 Saxby D, An Evaluation of Trial Work at 470 and 472 London Road,
Mitcham by Department of Greater London Archaeology (1990)

Baron House (1768 –1826)

44 MLSC Notes by Miss Farewell-Jones, a local historian in the 1930s

45 SHC QS 2/1/23 27–29, 5/1/1, 5/3/1 and 2/1/22 Quarter Sessions Records

46 SHC Mitcham land tax records
Mitcham vestry minutes make reference in 1793 to a “Mr Carter the
attorney”, but whether or not he was related to Elizabeth Carter, or was
perhaps a professional associate of Baron, we do not know.

47 Foster J, Alumni Oxonienses (1888)

48 SHC Mitcham poor rate and land tax records
In his reminiscences of his school days at Glebelands, Mitcham, between
1804–1809 William Monson, the sixth Baron Monson, recalled that on
occasions six young ladies from Mrs Carter’s seminary, accompanied
by Mrs Carter herself, were dinner guests at Glebelands. He describes
them as being aged between 8 and 13 years. (MS in the possession of
MLSC, published as Local History Note 17Lord Monson’s Schooldays
by Merton Historical Society (2001) 7

49 Information from Mrs Eleanore Dempster of Maple Ridge, British
Columbia, Canada, in a personal communication in March 1987

50 Russell J, Nelson and the Hamiltons (1969) 251–2
Russell refers to “Barn” House Academy, which is obviously a
mistranscription of Baron.

51 She died in 1800. The inscription on her tomb is very worn, but the
date is believed to be correct.

52 MLSC MS Monson W J, Reminiscences of Mitcham 1804–1809

Local History Note 17 Lord Monson’s Schooldays (2001) 18

53 Hassell J, Picturesque Walks and Rides (1817) 115

54 Greenwood C & J, Surrey Described (1823) 11, refer to Baron House

as a “very large house, now occupied as a respectable academy for

gentlemen by Mr. Dempster”.
The name James Dempster does not occur in the published alumni of Oxford,
Cambridge or Dublin.

55 Montague E N, Eagle House MHS (1974)


56 VCH II (1905) 374 and SHC Mitcham land-tax records
57 National Archives W.O.13 4060 Muster Lists
58 William Fenning’s tomb is in Mitcham churchyard, below the east

window of the chancel.

59 Enquiry by correspondence only. There was an Admiral Alexander Ball,
who rose from the rank of captain whilst campaigning in the
Mediterranean under Nelson, and with whom the latter developed a
strong personal friendship. However, quite apart from the difference in
Christian names, the dates do not coincide, and two different men seem
to be involved. Further research is obviously necessary if Mitcham’s
Captain William L Ball is to be identified.

Baron House (1826–1954)

60 MLSC Copy of Mitcham census return, 1851

61 Colvin H, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600–1840,
3rd ed. (1995) 362

62 Quoting The Builder IX 20 Dec. 1851, XIX 16 Feb. 1861, LXXV 17

Dec. 1898 565; Survey of London XXXVII (1973) 158–9, 173;
Carpenters’ Company Records.
The Hoare family was connected with Mitcham for many years. George

M Hoare (1779–1852) of Hoare & Co., the brewers, was born at
Mitcham Grove and retired to The Lodge, Farm Road, Morden. His
father was Henry Hoare of Hoares Bank for whose grandson, another
Henry, Finden designed the house at Staplehurst.

63 Mitcham Tithe Commutation survey and map 1846–7

64 MLSC LP 994 L2 (628.1) MS notes by Lucas J, quotingLondon Wells (1913)

65 MLSC MS notebook of the Revd Herbert Randolph, 1837/8

66 MLSC Local History Collection

67 Post Office London Suburban Directory 1860, and Post Office Directory

of Surrey 1862

68 The parish church was then very much involved in social welfare work.
(Pastoral letters of the Revd Daniel Wilson, 1866)

69 MLSC Copy of Mitcham census returns, 1871

70 MLSC Tom Francis lecture notes
It is understood that in reduced circumstances Mrs Mills later moved to
Mill House, adjoining the Rutters’ Ravensbury mills.


71 Information supplied by Madeline Healey of Merton Historical Society
in a personal communication

72 VCH IV (1912) 229

73 Details are given by Hind in Proceedings of the Croydon Natural History
and Scientific Society IV (1896) 229 of a section exposed in a gravel
pit between Mitcham station and the parish church in about 1889. At
about 60 feet above OD the section showed 1ft. to 1ft.6in. of cultivated
sandy soil, and below this from 7–10 feet of partially stratified gravels
with impersistent layers of shingle and sand 6 in. to 1 ft. in thickness.
These beds were resting on the London Clay. The gravel was chiefly of
blunted sub-angular flints (not large), green coated flints, flint fragments
and Tertiary flint pebbles. The sand was light coloured.

The gravel pit is shown on the 1895 edition of the 25 inch to 1 mile
Ordnance Survey map.

The London Road Playing Fields

74 Harper P, ‘History of the Fields’, printed in the programme of events at
the ‘Green Fair’ held on 14 June 1992

The Baron Grove Houses

75 Uncertainty as to the future of the properties, and the prospect of yet
another drastic change taking place in this short length of London Road
opposite Mitcham Station which, apart from road widening, had
remained substantially unaltered for a century or more, prompted the
writer’s initial research into the history of the site.

76 Saxby D, An Evaluation of Trial Work at 470 and 472 London Road
Mitcham by MoLAS (1990)

77 Information supplied to the writer in 1969 by a former employee of
Thomas Parsons and Sons Ltd

78 Information from E F Clark, a descendant of George Parker Bidder and
author of George Parker Bidder; The Calculating Boy (1983), in
correspondence with the writer in 1977

1 Harper C G, The Brighton Road (1894)

2 Lee C, ‘Early Railways’ in Transactions of the Newcomen Society Vol
XXI 1940-41 (1943) pp 49-79, and Mitcham Tithe Commutation Survey
and map 1846-7


3 MLSC Sale particulars – Estate of Henry Hoare, 19 June 1828
4 SHC 6089/1/47
5 Copy of Railway Map, 1853 and details of property owners etc., supplied

by British Rail in 1966
6 MLSC Sale particulars – Estate of James Moore

The Crown Inn
1 MLSC Local Illustrations Collection.

Montague E N, Mitcham: An Illustrated History (1991) plate 79
2 MLSC L2 (347.2) Release dated 16 June 1770
3 SHC 272/1/1 Map and sale particulars

Baron Place

4 Post Office Directories 1845 and 1851

The Congregational Church

5 The name has no historical justification.
6 SHC Acc. No. 6194
7 MLSC Tom Francis Scrapbook – undated cutting from The Surrey Pulpit
8 Stockwell A H, The Baptist Churches of Surrey (c.1909) 138/9
9 Siviour H A, letter to Mitcham News 24 August 1979
10 Perry J and Skelton A (Sutton Archaeological Services), Evaluation

Report on 381 London Road, Mitcham (1995)

The Broadway
The Eastern Side

11 Canterbury Archives Vol. 24,455 Court Rolls of the manor of Vauxhall
Transcribed by Roy Edwards of the Streatham Society.
12 SHC 599/254

The Western Side

13 Hitchin W E, Surrey at the Opening of the Twentieth Century (1906)
14 Edwards J, Companion from London to Brighthelmston II (1801) 18
15 MLSC Tom Francis lecture notes

Adams, Elizabeth 114
Allcraft, Henry 97
Martha 97
Annon, Charlotte 69
Ansculf, William son of 1–3
Archaeological excavations 2, 3, 98–99
Archway Houses 115–116, 119
Armitage, Samuel Harrison, retired corn factor 58, 70–71
Ashby, Aaron, miller 120
Baker Freeman & Co, solicitors 54, 126
Ball, Capt William L 104, 158
Admiral 104, 158
Baron Court 110, 134
Baron Grove 10, 124
Baron Grove houses 108, 110–114
Baron House 85–114
academy 101–103
description 101
extent of estate 96–7
Baron, Jasper 101
Oliver 96, 97, 98, 100, 122
William 101
Baron Lodge 108, 134
Baron Place 122–123
Batt, Peter 39
Bayeux, canons of 1–3
Beauclerk, Lady Diana 42, 146
Bedlam, Old 139
Bennett’s Yard 30, 128, 142
Berefoote, William 21
Berkeley Cottage 27–32, 76, 78, 127
Berkeley House 27–32, 78, 127
Berkeley Place 28–32, 77, 127
Bidder, George Parker, civil engineer 46–8, 72, 73, 114
family at Mitcham Hall 47–8
Biggin Farm 12
Biggin and Tamworth, manor of 11, 12, 14, 64, 137
Black, Andrew 26
Black Death, effect of 5



Blair, Charles, surgeon 69
Blanke, Lady (Margaret) 18, 86–88
Mary 85
Sir Thomas, member of Haberdashers’ Co 85, 86, 153

Thomas, junior, Lord Mayor of London 86
Boobbyer, Joseph H 107
Boundary House 129, 130
Bowser (or Bowssar), John, vintner 11, 21, 59, 60
Bramcote Court flats 54
Broadway, The 126–134
Broughton, Peter 22
Broughton, Richard 21, 37
Browne, William, of London 39, 40
Bucknell, Thomas, engraver 28
Bygrave Hill 12
Caesar, Lady (Alice) 20

Sir Julius 10, 17–21, 59

Sir Julius’s house 10, 17–32

Thomas 11, 21, 59
Calico printers 68–9, 104
Canterbury – dean and chapter 11, 14, 60
Carew, Sir Nicholas 145
Carpenter, John – of West Barnes, Merton 10, 13
Carr, Mr, resident at Manor House 152
Carr, Thomas 93
Carriers 121, 123
Carter, Mrs Elizabeth 100–101, 157

Mr, “the attorney” 157
Catherine Gladstone Home (See Gladstone Home)
Chaff Hawes 21
Chamberlain, William the 1, 2
Chart, R M 132–3
Cheap, Thomas, clerk in Navy Pay Office 41–2
Church, Mitcham parish 14, 25, 38, 50, 66, 67, 88,

93, 94, 98, 103, 149, 150
Church Path 11, 91, 133
‘Church Road Link’ 109
Civil War, effects of 36, 91
Clarke, Dr Ferrier 134
Clerke, Dr Bartholomew 11
Cobbin, Revd Ingram 106

Cochran, Robert, apothecary


Cold Blows 21
Coldicott, H S, solicitor 52
Combiscente – tenement 12
Common, exploitation of 72

preservation 48, 72
Congregational Church 28–9, 54, 124–6, 142
Cranmer, Anne 24, 143

Elizabeth 65

Emily 71

Esther Maria 29, 71

James 24, 26, 29, 43, 61, 65, 67

Rebecca, second wife of James 28

Rev Richard, vicar 29, 71

Robert, lord of the manor 22, 23, 35–6, 38, 60, 61

Robert, junior, death of 40
Cranmers House 139
Cresby, Alice 5

Henry 5
Crown Field 41, 122, 145
Crown Inn 37, 121–2
Crown Yard 122
Dahll, John George, Norwegian shipping broker 74–5
Deadman’s Close 97
Dempster, James, schoolmaster 101–3

Elizabeth 102
Dent, Alice 17, 19, 20

Elizabeth 19, 20

John, citizen of L, merchant & salter 14, 17, 19

Margaret 19

Mary 19, 20
Dimashio, Leo, ice cream manufacturer 130
Domesday holdings 1–2
Donne, John 20
Dorrett, Harry G, photographer 62, 78–81, 152
Drive House 127
Eagle House 95, 103
East Lodge 33, 53, 54
Eastling, stage coach proprietor 24
Edmer 1–2
Elizabeth I, Queen: visits to Mitcham 15, 17, 18–19, 20, 86, 87, 139

Evanson, Edward


Everingham, Charles, linen draper and shopkeeper 25, 64, 67–8, 150
Margaret 69
Mary 68, 150
Fair, suppression of 100
Fenning Court 110, 134
Fenning, William 104
Fenny Mead 12
Ffarrant(d), family 88–91, 154
Charles 88
Edmund 86, 88
Elizabeth 90
Joane 86
Mary 89
Mary junior 90
Richard 88, 89, 90
Richard junior; sheriff of Surrey 91
William, Doctor of Law 86–90, 154
Ffrye, Rowland 146
Field, Mary Ann 114
Finden, Mary 106
Thomas, architect 85, 101, 104–106, 110
Freeman, Mrs N, owner of Manor House 78
French, Andrew, city merchant 25, 42–3
Frowd, Edward, citizen and haberdasher of London 93
Fry, R 74
Walter John 31
William 26
Galfridus 4
Gardens, evidence of 40, 98–100
Garland, William 41, 60, 61, 63
Garth, Elizabeth, daughter of George Garth I 90, 91, 92
Frances, daughter of George Garth I 91, 92
George I 90
Richard, of Morden 20
Gedge Court 54, 110
Gedge, Sydney 31–2, 33, 46, 48, 49–54, 55
Gellicoe, –– 41
Ghost at the Manor House 80
Gladstone Home 147
Glover family 92–4
Bridget 93
Gabriel, linen-draper of London 92–3


Goldsmith, William

Goodison, Benjamin, furniture maker

Goodman, Edmund, carrier

Gotts, John B

Grange Cloisters

Gravel pits

Green, Christopher, of Manchester

Greet, John

Grove Mill

Groves, Mr

Gryce, Katherine
William of London

Ha-ha, evidence of

Haie, la

Hall Villa

Hamilton, Dr T W

Hampson, family
Henry, merchant taylor, alderman
Henry II, merchant taylor
Thomas, merchant taylor

Handford, Sir Humphrey, Merchant Taylor
John, Merchant Taylor
Sarah, daughter of Sir Humphrey

Harby, Mrs

Hare, Milcah

Harvey, Lt Gen Daniel

Hatsell, Revd William

Haynes, John, inn-keeper

Henmans, William

Highlord, family

Hinchman, Thomas

Hoare, Henry, banker
George M

Hollamby, Mrs

Holme, la

Home Guard

Hooper, William

Hopkins/Hopkyns, Richard, yeoman
Thomas, of London


46, 73
96, 97
54, 126
31, 127
34, 35–39, 143, 145
36, 38
34, 59
40, 65
119, 120, 122
91, 92, 155
25, 29–30, 43–5
13, 87
22, 60


Hudsons, the, shopkeepers
Jeppo’s Lane

ancient boundary
Jews, legal restriction on ownership of land
Jones, Frederick, innkeeper
Joske, Paul
Justin Manor (Plaza)
Kennerley, Revd Thomas, of Zion Chapel
Keys, Frances, artist
Killick, Samuel, builder
Labour Party Headquarters
Langworth, Arthur
Lansdown, Edward, stage coach proprietor
Latter Day Saints, church of
Lewis, John Owen

Thomas H
Lidderdale, ––
Limes, The
Linden Place
London House stores
London Road Playing Fields
Lorne Villa
Love, Dr H
Lower Mitcham or Whitford
Maillard, J, catholic priest
Manor House

Council proposals
descriptions of
site of

Mareis, Mares, de Mara, de la Mare family
Mareys, William – gift to Church
Marlar, John, London merchant

Thomas, calico printer
Marris Mill
Marsh, family of Oundle
Marsh Fee Lands

9, 33, 53, 54, 70, 137
58, 84, 127
88, 90
14, 19
110, 113
54, 142
85, 108–110, 134
31, 127
73, 74
9, 10, 11, 21, 31, 57–84
61–2, 67, 68, 80–1
57, 83–4
6, 7, 12
68–9, 81


Marshall, Dr 134
Matthews, Thomas, servant 44, 47
Medewine 4
Mendes da Costa, family 94–6, 156
James 95
John 94–6
Merton Priory 6, 12, 137
Mill, Whitford (Micham) 1, 3, 137
Millachips 123
Millington, Mrs, school at Mitcham Hall 51
Mills, Adelaide 106–7

Edward, timber merchant 106–7
Milton House 68, 69, 150
Milton, Madam 68, 150
Mitcham Common (see Common)
Mitcham County School for Boys, playing field 108, 134
Mitcham Fair (see Fair)
Mitcham Floral and Horticultural Society 107
Mitcham Grove 43, 63–4, 65
Mitcham Hall 25, 33–55

date of erection 40
demolition 53
descriptions 40, 42–5
development 52–3
lodges 53, 54
moat 5, 51, 54
well at 50
Mitcham Park 2, 15, 33, 35, 52–3, 123, 124, 143
Mitcham Station 115–120
Mitchell, James 24
Moat, possible at Mitcham Hall 15, 34
Monson, William J, schoolboy 102–3, 157
Moon, Miss Nettie, photographer 80, 81, 152–3
Moore, James, landowner 26, 29, 120
William 128
Moore’s Brewery 134
Mordant, John (of Drayton) 13, 35
Mormon church 110, 113
Moyse, Dr J A 123
Murray, Lady (Elizabeth) 21
Muscat[t], John, schoolmaster 10, 24, 135


Myers family 60, 62–7
Anne 65
Elizabeth 65, 66
James 67
John, of Ewell 66, 150
Mary 65
Skinner 65, 149
Streynsham Derbyshire, Revd 67, 71
William, an attorney 41, 64, 65, 128
William II 65, 66, 67, 128
William, of Banstead 66
William Sibthorpe 67

Napton, Henry 24, 25
Nash, Edward, a miller 69
Nelson, John and Celia, residents at the Manor House 152

Lord 102
Norton, Richard 23
Oakes family 43–6

Dorothea 43–5

General Sir Henry, of East India Co 43
Odo, bishop of Bayeux 2, 3
Office development 58, 84
Orrell, Mary 89
Overy, St Mary 4
Oxtoby, builders 122
Paradise House School 150
Parr, Henry, ‘yeoman’ 37, 121

Thomas 37, 121
Parsons, Thomas, paint manufacturer 113
Peter, St, church of 4
Pike, Henry, yeoman farmer 13
Pipps, Ann 26
Pitt, George, storekeeper, Quaker etc 31, 75–8

John Marsh 76

Priscilla 31, 75–8
Porter, Sir Robert 6
Portis, James, stockbroker 43
Potter, Ephraim 24

James 25–6
Pratt, Thomas 28–9
Pynner, Johanna 14

Thomas, chief clerk comptroller to Elizabeth I 10, 13, 15, 19


Quakers 31, 37–8
Quakers at Manor House 75–8
Railways 52, 116–117
Bidder involvement in 47
Surrey Iron 117–118, 119
Wimbledon to Croydon 33, 41, 47, 52, 96, 116, 146
Raleigh House Academy 101
Randolph, Revd H, curate 106
Ravensbury estate, bought by Bidder 48
Ravensbury Manor House (Hampson tenant of) 38
Ravensbury, manor of 5, 13, 21, 60
court rolls 95–6
print works 104
South Field, in 13
Richman, Revd Robert 124–5
Road widening 79
Roberts, Revd Richard 101
Robinson, Mrs Ann 46
Roman Catholicism 71–4
Romany Club de Danse 114
Rose, Joseph 77
Samuel 123
Rowlands, Miss, resident at the Manor House 152
Rutter, James, snuff and tobacco manufacturer 113
St Mary, Southwark 3–4
St Peter, church of at Mitcham 4
Savile,Sir Henry 20, 21, 37
Lady (Jane) 20
Sir John 20
Lady (Marie) 21
Saxon landowners 1–2

settlement 2
Sayers, Charles & Son Ltd 81–3, 128
Scaldewell, Sir Richard 6

Baron House Academy 101–3
Mrs Elizabeth Carter’s 101
James Dempster 101–3
Mrs Hollamby’s boarding 26
Mrs Millington 51
Miss Milton 68, 150
Mitcham County School for Boys 108, 134


Schools (continued)
John Muscat[t], schoolmaster
National Schools
Roman Catholic

Searle, George
Shepard, Major E L
“Sheppards Wast”
Simons, L de
Simpson, Richard, vicar of Mitcham

William II
William F J

Smith, Bob and Elsie, dancing school
Sir Edward

Smith/Smyth[e], George
Thomas, of the Board of the Greencloth

South Field, the
Southfyld mead
South London Family Housing Association
Stage coaches
Stagland, Charles H
Stane, la
Staples, ––
Stevenson and Rush, grocers
Stewart, Amelia Ann

Archibald, provost of Edinburgh

John, aide to Clive
Strowger & Co, ironmongers
Style, family

Sugden, Dr
Mr & Mrs, residents at Manor House
Sumery family

Roger de
Surrey Brewery
Surrey County Council
Surrey Iron Railway

10, 24, 138
73–4, 83
97, 122, 145
30, 58, 70–5
11, 21, 34, 59, 63, 64, 149
64, 65
11, 34
34, 59, 61, 63
7, 13, 21, 22, 138, 140
12, 13
66, 149
117–118, 119

Swifte, John – land agent 10
Taplow Court 96, 99, 111
Tate Almshouses 69
Tate family 97–8
Benjamin 97
Elizabeth 69
Martha née Allcroft 97
Mary 69, 72
William 69
Taylor, Joseph 94
Temple Gate Mews 124, 126
Thompson, W Mapp, architect 52
Tichborne, Sir Robert, regicide, lord mayor of London 22–3
Tipple, Edwin, a surgeon 69, 151
Frederick 70
Tramway Path 7, 117, 118
boundary 9
excavation 2
Tramways, electric 52
Traves, (Travis), James 86, 88, 153
Joan (née Farrant) 88
John 88
Margaret 86
Twyne family 25, 26, 141
Elizabeth 25
John 25, 30
Vanhagan, Dr 42
Vannam, Alexander 23, 37

Vauxhall, manor of 10, 11, 12, 59–60, 63, 64, 138
Vere, Sir Francis 20
Wakelyn, –– 67
Waldo, Peter 156
Walker, Susanna[h] 25, 30
Walnut Tree Close 89, 96, 97, 99, 101
Wandle 1, 5, 6, 48, 72
Wandle Grove 33
Webb, F F 123
Wells, at Baron House 106

at Mitcham Hall 50
West Field 97


speculation on origins
variations in spelling

Whitford Green

Whitford (Wykford/Wickford)
Alexander de
estate of?

Whitney, Edward

Whyte, Revd Ferdinand
Wickford/Wicford (see Whitford)
Wilford family

James, Merchant Taylor
Johane (Joan) (and see Mordant)
John, Merchant Taylor

Willow Lane
Wilson, Revd Daniel F
Wimbledon to Croydon Railway (see railways)
Wood, Thomas
Wych[e] family

Sir Peter

Wylford (see Wilford)

3, 137
6, 7, 10
3, 4, 5
14, 19, 89

3, 4
9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 59
11, 12, 13, 14, 35
9, 10, 12, 13, 14
11, 12, 13, 14, 35
9, 10, 11, 13, 60, 62
2, 5, 7, 12, 13, 14
49, 50

21, 37, 121