10 Ravensbury

Mitcham Histories   10

by Eric Montague

Although the manor of Ravensbury included scattered holdings across Mitcham, the centre of the estate was that part of Lower Mitcham lying on the north bank of the river Wandle between Mitcham Bridge and Morden Hall Park, and bounded on the north by Morden Road, together with a large area south of the river, stretching as far as Central Road, Morden.

Within this area is the site of one of the largest Anglo-Saxon cemeteries known in southern England.

In the Middle Ages two large houses occupied sites by the waterside. Over a period of six centuries a succession of houses here were to be the country residences of government officials and city merchants, bankers and industrialists, each of whom made their own contribution to the life of the village outside their gates.

The grand houses have now vanished, and with them the textile printing industry and snuff and tobacco manufactory for which the area was once renowned, but the Wandle still provides a visually attractive feature through Ravensbury Park.



1 Extracts from wills
2 Trees in Ravensbury Park
3 Memories of the Ravensbury Factory in the 1930s
4 Excavation Reports: The Grange, Morden (1972); Ravensbury Manor House (1973); Mitcham Grove (1974-5)



Detail from John Rocque’s Map of Surrey 1768






Published by


© E N Montague 2008

ISBN 978 1 903899 56 4

Printed by intypelibra

Cover Illustration: Sepia sketch of Ravensbury House (artist and date not
given) in Extra-Illustrated copy of E W Brayley’s History of Surrey (Vol. III pt.

III) (1841-48) reproduced by courtesy of Merton Library Service


For historical reasons, to be explored in Chapter I, the manor of
Ravensbury extended, albeit in a piecemeal fashion, to various parts of
the ancient ecclesiastical parishes of Mitcham and Morden. For the
purposes of this study, however, ‘Ravensbury’ is considered in the main
as that part of Lower Mitcham lying on the north or right bank of the
river Wandle between Mitcham Bridge and Morden Hall Park, and
bounded on the north by Morden Road, but also includes a large area to
the south extending as far as Central Road.

Within this area is the site of one of the largest ‘Dark Age’ cemeteries
known in southern England, the early collective burial place of the
community to whose descendants by 1086 this part of Surrey had become
known as Michelham.

In the Middle Ages two large houses occupied choice sites by the
waterside, one the manor house of Ravensbury itself, and the other the
‘messuage’ of one of the premier families in Surrey. Over a period of
six centuries a succession of houses here were to be the country
residences of government officials and city merchants, bankers and
industrialists, each of whom made his own contribution to the life of the
village outside their gates.

The houses have now vanished, and with them the textile printing industry
and snuff and tobacco manufactory for which the area was once
renowned. Although pollution of its water has rendered the Wandle
unable to sustain the trout for which it was at one time famous, the
river still provides a visually attractive feature through Ravensbury Park,
linking the National Trust’s Watermeads property with the extensive
grounds of Morden Hall.

Much of the history of Ravensbury has already appeared in print, though
in a variety of forms. Thus in 1959 Surrey Archaeological Society, in
volume LVI of its Collections, published the definite study of the Anglo-
Saxon Cemetery at Mitcham by Lt.-Col. H. F. Bidder and John Morris.
In 1973 far smaller excavations than those conducted by Bidder
prompted the publication of The Ravensbury Story by the London
Borough of Merton Parks, Cemeteries and Allotments Department,


for which I supplied the text – and in 1981 an improved version was the
subject of a booklet, Ravensbury Manor House and Park, published
by Merton Historical Society. In April and May 1974 The Merton
Borough News serialised over a period of six weeks the history of
Mitcham Grove, a collaborative study for which biographical work on
the Hoare and Lubbock families was undertaken by a fellow member
of Merton Historical Society, the late Doris E. Dawes. Five years later
Ravensbury was the subject of Merton Town Trails leaflet number 6,
published by the Merton Town Trails Association in 1979. A general
absence of anything readily available for the student on one of the most
important of the Wandle-based industries prompted me to write Textile
Bleaching and Printing in Mitcham and Merton 1590-1870, which
was published by the Libraries Department of the London Borough of
Merton in 1992. This contains a chapter expressly devoted to the
pioneering Ravensbury printing works, which functioned from the late
17th century until collapse of the industry locally in the 1860s. Also in
1992 The Wandle Trail was published by The Wandle Industrial
Museum, containing as Walk 2 a revised version of two unfortunately
inaccurate booklets the Museum produced a few years previously. Finally,
in 1995 Merton Historical Society published, in the same format as its
earlier booklet, the history of The Ravensbury Mills.

None of the foregoing, however, dealt with the history of Ravensbury as a
coherent whole, although the material was available in typescript. For several
years it had been obvious that constant updating and revision of much of
my original texts, quite apart from the fact that they were not indexed, had
rendered them virtually useless for reference purposes. It therefore seemed
pressing, having completed in 1994 a comprehensive updating of my material
on Lower Mitcham, to continue the process by bringing together the notes
on Ravensbury in one volume. What follows is the result.

The maps and illustrations chosen are by no means all that are available.
They have been selected partly because they were readily to hand, but
mainly to add some interest to the text and, above all, to assist the reader
unfamiliar with the locality. In a few instances, such as detailed accounts
of the various premises, including the Ravensbury print works, offered for
sale in 1855, abridgement has been necessary in the interest of producing
a balanced and, it is hoped, readable account.

Given the unevenness of the source material, and the pitfalls of
inadequate understanding and inadvertent bias, the compilation of a
history such as this has, perforce, to be a compromise. There is certainly
a considerable amount of biographical data available on some of the
personalities mentioned – Doris Dawes, for instance, found herself
embarrassed by a surfeit of riches – and yet of others we have so little
information. The archives of Hoare’s Bank will, no doubt, contain much
information on ‘Henry of Mitcham’ which could be fascinating, and the
family records of the Bidder family are another source, although here
E F Clark’s biography of his great-grandfather George Parker Bidder,
The Calculating Boy, has done much to place this in the public domain.

The result of research conducted over a period of some 40 years, this
study inevitably derives much from the scholarship of others, which I
acknowledge with gratitude. Doris Dawes has been mentioned already,
and I am also much indebted to the late Winifred Mould, another member
of Merton Historical Society, and to William Prentis for information on
the snuff milling industry. Where I have drawn from published sources
these have been quoted as a matter of course, but regrettably I am
unable to mention by name the archivists and librarians whose assistance
over the years proved invaluable. To them collectively I say “thank
you”. I am also indebted to friends like Lionel Green, whose information
about the Norman landowners was so useful, and to Judith Goodman
without whose help the agriculturist John Arbuthnot would have received
only the briefest of mention. The sections by Bill Rudd, David Bird and
Peter Hopkins have added immeasurably to the value of this study,
which has evolved very much as collaborative effort. I thank most
sincerely those members of our ‘editorial sub-committee’ who read
through my earlier text and gently drew attention to those stupid mistakes,
be they in spelling or syntax, which might otherwise have slipped through
unnoticed until it was too late to alter them. Finally I thank Peter Hopkins
for his expertise in preparing this tenth volume in the Society’s ‘Mitcham
Histories’ ready for the printers.

E N Montague October 2008


Moreton Green
1 White Cottage 2 Morden Lodge (Growtes)
3 Little Steelhaws 4 Ravensbury Print Works (site)
5 ‘Dark Age’ Cemetery 6 Ravensbury Mills
7 Grove House (site) 8 The Grange (Steelhawes)
9 Old Ravensbury Manor House (site) 10 Ravensbury Barn (site)
11 Mitcham Grove (site) 12 Morden Farm (site)
13 ‘Ravensbury Manor’ (site’
Detail from a modern street map, showing the area covered by this book.
Reproduced by permission of Merton Design Unit, London Borough of Merton


1 THE MANOR OF RAVENSBURY …………………………………………….. 1-22
Origins………………………………………………………………………………………… 1
The de Mara Dynasty …………………………………………………………………… 7
Ravensbury – Medieval Real Estate ……………………………………………… 13
Ravensbury and the Carews ………………………………………………………… 16
The End of the Manor…………………………………………………………………. 19
2 RAVENSBURY MANOR HOUSE …………………………………………… 23-48
The Ruins………………………………………………………………………………….. 23
Early Years – The Carews and the Garths. ……………………………………… 24
The Arbuthnots of Ravensbury …………………………………………………… 27
The Last Years of the Old Manor House: 1800–c.1860. ……………………. 33
Ravensbury and the Bidders ……………………………………………………….. 38
3 RAVENSBURY FARM …………………………………………………………… 49-60
4 THE RAVENSBURY PRINT WORKS …………………………………….. 61-82
5 THE RAVENSBURY SNUFF MILLS ……………………………………….. 83-94
7 MITCHAM GROVE…………………………………………………………….. 99-138
An Introduction …………………………………………………………………………. 99
The Smythe Dynasty (1564–1725) ………………………………………………. 100
The Myers Family (1715–1742) …………………………………………………… 109
Scots at Mitcham Grove (1755–1786): Stewart and Wedderburn ……. 112
Henry Hoare of Mitcham (1786–1828) …………………………………………. 119
Mitcham Grove – a Description ………………………………………………….. 130
Mitcham Grove and the Lubbocks………………………………………………. 132
Finis………………………………………………………………………………………… 136
8 GROVE HOUSE ……………………………………………………………….. 139-142
Appendix 1 Extracts from Wills ………………………………………………………… 157
Appendix 2 Trees in Ravensbury Park ……………………………………………… 161
Appendix 3 Memories of the Ravensbury Factory in the 1930s……………. 164
Appendix 4 Excavation reports ………………………………………………………… 167
NOTES AND REFERENCES ……………………………………………………. 179-198
INDEX …………………………………………………………………………………… 199-208



Ravensbury House – sepia sketch (artist and date not given)………………cover
Detail from John Rocque’s Map of Surrey 1768 ……………………………………… ii
Detail from a modern street map, showing the area covered by this book. …. viii
The Ravensbury estate in 1855, from the sales particulars …………………….. xii
The Wandle at Ravensbury, watercolour by William Wood Fenning ………… 4
The Grove Mill above Mitcham Bridge ……………………………………………….. 17
The first page of the Sales Particulars of 1855 ………………………………… 20–21
Ravensbury Manor House from the Sales Particulars of 1855 ……………….. 23
Ravensbury House, watercolour by William Wood Fenning ………………….. 32
Rear view of Ravensbury Manor House – watercolour by Yates 1825 …….. 34
Annotated detail from the Mitcham Tithe Map of 1846 …………………………. 37
Bidder’s Ravensbury Park House – postcard c.1910 …………………………….. 40
Catherine Gladstone Home – The Garden – early 20th-century postcard …. 42
Harold Bidder’s ‘Ravensbury Manor’ c.1925 ……………………………………….. 44
The Gardens, Ravensbury Park – postcardc.1960 ………………………………… 46
One of the new metal bridges in Ravensbury Park 2005 ………………………… 47
River Wandle, Ravensbury Park – postcard postmarked 1950 ………………… 48
Detail from 1855 sales particulars, showing Ravensbury lands in Morden … 50
The Grange, Morden, before reconstruction ……………………………………….. 51
Morden Grange – WWII postcard ……………………………………………………… 53
Farm buildings in Wandle Road, Morden, c.1952 ………………………………….. 56
Extract from an 1872 tracing of the 1838 Morden Tithe map …………………… 59
Engraving of a mid-18th-century calico printing workshop ……………………. 62
Ravensbury Printworks, watercolour by William Wood Fenning ……………. 69
Detail from 1855 sales particulars ……………………………………………………….. 74
Postcard of The Surrey Arms, Morden Road, c.1910 …………………………….. 76
The Ravensbury Printworks in 1890 …………………………………………………… 79
The Bailiff’s Cottage with Mr & Mrs Williams in 1959 …………………………… 80
The plaque in Hengelo Gardens in 1980 ………………………………………………. 81
‘A Plan of Parts of the River Wandel In the Parish of Morden … 1750’ ……. 82
Ink &blue wash sketch of rear of Ravensbury mill by James Bourne c.1800 .. 85
Ravensbury Mill from Morden Hall Road 1968 …………………………………….. 88
The rear of Ravensbury Mills 1994 …………………………………………………….. 91
The overflow from the mill pond 1992 …………………………………………………. 92

Ravensbury Mills. Water wheel assembly 1970 ……………………………………. 93
The water wheels at Ravensbury Mills ……………………………………………….. 94
White Cottage, Morden Road 1995…………………………………………………….. 97
‘South West View of Mitcham Grove’ by J Buckler dated 1818 ………………. 98
‘South East View of Mitcham Grove’ by J Buckler dated 1818 ………………… 98
Mitcham Grove – southern elevation – watercolour c.1830 …………………. 110
1st Baron Clive, 1725-74 ………………………………………………………………….. 114
Copy of Robert Adam’s Plan of Mitcham Grove in 1774 ………………………. 115
Henry Hoare ………………………………………………………………………………….. 121
The Cricket Pitch, ‘Hovis’ Sportsground, London Road, Mitcham ……….. 137
The Watermeads estate 1990 …………………………………………………………… 138
Grove House c.1910 ……………………………………………………………………….. 140
Detail from the Six Inch to One Mile Ordnance Survey Map of 1867 ……… 141
Green glass beaker from Mitcham …………………………………………………….. 143
Detail from modern street map showing location of ‘Dark Age’ cemetery … 147
Saxon brooches from Mitcham ………………………………………………………… 155
Plan of Henry Hoare’s estate in 1828, from the sales particulars ……………. 156
River Wandle at Ravensbury Park – postcard c.1930 ………………………….. 162
Ravensbury Park – postcard postmarked 1954 …………………………………… 163
A fragment of boundary wall of the Ravensbury Print Works 1991……….. 164
Two of the Sales children playing in the Wandle ………………………………… 166
Drawings of the brick drain discovered during the excavation ……………… 167
Plan of The Grange, alias Steel Hawes, Morden …………………………………. 169
Plan of Ravensbury Manor House from Mitcham Tithe Map of 1846 ……. 172
Ruins at Ravensbury Manor House on banks of river 1967 …………………. 174
Mitcham Grove, plan of medieval walls excavated in 1974 ……………………. 177
Mitcham Grove excavations 1974 – entrance portico from southeast …….. 178

Imperial Measures are used in most sections of this book
1 acre = 4 roods = 160 square rods, poles or perches = 0.4047 hectares
1 yard = 3 feet = 0.9144 metres
1 mile = 1.61 kilometres
1 ton = 20 cwt = 80 quarters = 2240 lb (pounds) = 1.016 tonnes
£1 = 20s (shillings) = 240d (pence)
1 gallon = 4.5 litres
1 (British) horse power = 0.746 Kw


The Ravensbury estate in 1855, from the sales particulars
reproduced by courtesy of Surrey History Service
The Grange (Steelhawes) is depicted at the bottom left hand corner and a
sketch of old Ravensbury manor house is on the right.

Chapter 1



The origins of the manor of Ravensbury appear to lie in two small
estates within what later became the ecclesiastical parish of Mitcham.1
One, which included a water-mill, was in Lower Mitcham, or Whitford,
probably on the right or north bank of the Wandle in the vicinity of the
ford by which the river was crossed. At the time of Edward the
Confessor this was held by a Saxon named Lank or Lang. Until the
Norman Conquest the other holding was in the possession of another
Saxon, Ledmer or Lemar, and seems to have been located downstream
from the ford. This second estate can best be identified with the area
now known as Ravensbury, centred on Ravensbury Park, and lying
between the Wimbledon to Croydon tramway and the Wandle.

At the time of the Domesday survey in 1086 Whitford – the spelling
varies considerably2 – was recognised as a separate ‘vill’ or settlement
within the hundred of Wallington, but as a distinct locality it virtually
disappears from the documentary record sometime in the later Middle
Ages. Wickford mill, immediately upstream from the ford and
presumably the successor to a watermill owned by Lank, finds mention
as late as 1654.3To the north the ‘vill’, or hamlet, probably extended as
far as the Lower Green, the eastern half of which was still referred to
as ‘Whitford Green’ in the 19th century although, paradoxically, it
actually fell within the jurisdiction of the manor of Vauxhall.

Prior to the Conquest Lank’s holding had been assessed for tax purposes
on the basis of two hides, indicating an area of perhaps 240 acres, and
the whole estate was worth 50 shillings, a substantial proportion of
which was probably attributable to the mill. Even if one makes allowance
for the income from milling, however, this valuation was comparatively
high, and suggests that Lank’s land was in the main on the rich alluvial
soil to be found overlying the terrace gravels of the Wandle flood plain.
As one might expect in these circumstances, much of Lank’s holding
was arable, and in 1086, when he was no longer in possession, it was
worked by one plough shared between the two villeins or smallholders
on the estate, whilst another was kept on the demesne, or home farm.


Lank also held 24 acres of meadow, which is likely to have comprised
permanent grassland on the banks of the river, where it was vulnerable
to seasonal flooding.4

Of Lank himself we can say relatively little. A tenant-in-chief of the
King, he would have been a freeholder, perhaps holding his land by title
deed and exempt from most duties other than the three public charges
of military service, bridge repair and the building of fortifications. He is
mentioned in the Surrey folios of Domesday Book only in relation to his
holding in Whitford and, presumably suffering the fate of many Saxon
thegns with Harold’s defeat at Hastings, lost his land, if not his life.

By 1086 Lank’s former holding in Whitford was in the hands of William
Fitz Ansculf or fitzAnsculf, son of Ansculf de Picquigny, to whom it had
been granted by the Conqueror. De Picquigny was one of the great
Norman landowners, and had been appointed sheriff of Surrey by about
1071.5 Of his very considerable possessions in the gift of the king (he
held 86 English manors), the principal was the castle at Dudley, in the
Midlands.6 He was also the sheriff of Buckinghamshire, where the
majority of his holdings were to be found. By the time Domesday was
compiled, Ansculf de Picquigny was dead, but most, if not all, of his
Surrey estates, amongst which were Wandsworth, and his holdings in
Mitcham and Whitford, had passed to his son William. Shortly before
the survey of 1086 tenure of the Whitford estate had been granted by
Fitz Ansculf to another of the king’s Norman followers, William the
Chamberlain, a Frenchman from Tancarville, a small town at the mouth
of the Seine near Le Havre.

Soon after 1066 the value of the Whitford holding fell from 50 to 22
shillings, and by 1086 the basis for assessment had been halved to one
hide. Within these 20 years, however, the estate as a whole had more
than recovered its former value, perhaps under the direct management
of William the Chamberlain or a new, responsible, tenant living at the
home farm, for when the Domesday survey was conducted it was worth
60 shillings. These changes are difficult to explain, but the halving of the
assessment (“then it answered for 2 hides, now for 1 hide”) does imply
that the holding may have been reduced in size over the intervening
years. To speculate further, an explanation for the sharp drop in value


soon after the Conquest could lie in the fortunes of Lank’s watermill.
Neglect of essential maintenance, fire or even malicious damage during
the immediate post-1066 upheaval could have left the mill temporarily
out of action, and therefore of little or no value. Two decades later,
apparently once more in full working order and proving an asset, it was
valued by the king’s commissioners at 20 shillings.

Downstream from the mill, Ledmer’s land which, like that of Lank, was
held directly from King Edward, was assessed for taxation purposes on
the basis of two and a quarter hides. It was deemed to be worth 40
shillings, and included a half share in a second mill valued at 20 shillings.
Ledmer would also have ranked as a minor thegn and, like Lank, is likely
to have been a franklin or freeholder, able to demonstrate his title by
formal deed.

Ledmer is not recorded in Domesday as owning land in any other part of
Surrey, but he may have had estates elsewhere in the kingdom, for there
is no indication that demesne lands were included in his Mitcham holding.
On the other hand, since the survey was conducted 20 years after the
Conquest, it is possible that his Mitcham homestead had been ‘wasted’
and left derelict, the holding losing its identity in the intervening years and
being absorbed into the larger estate held by Fitz Ansculf or William the
Chamberlain. The fact that Ledmer had a half interest in another mill
points to his lands having extended downstream as far as Phipps Bridge,
where a second watermill, ‘Pippesmulle’, was working in the mid-13th
century. With the estate’s relatively high valuation, even after a deduction
is made for the mill, it seems a reasonable assumption that Ledmer’s
land, like that owned by Lank upstream, was on the deep loams overlying
the terrace gravels. In Ledmer’s case this could well have included a
substantial area of the ‘Blacklands’, the west common field of Mitcham,
which extended as far as Phipps Bridge and included a substantial portion
of what many years later became the Morden Hall estate.

As we have seen, William Fitz Ansculf’s Whitford property included
the home farm on Lank’s former holding. Here, we might expect, his
bailiff lived. With its productive arable land and 24 acres of waterside
meadow – a valuable source of winter fodder as well as being used for
summer grazing – the farm should have been productive and profitable.


One of the estate tenants would most likely have been the miller, and
the little community of peasants should have been largely self-sufficient.

The 1086 survey shows Fitz Ansculf had not sub-let the adjoining
Ravensbury holding, which may by this time have been run as part of a
larger estate extending beyond the river to the south. The hidal assessment
of the Mitcham property had remained unchanged since the reign of
King Edward but, like Lank’s former holding, it had evidently suffered
neglect, for it was only worth 13 shillings and four pence when Fitz
Ansculf’s father received it from the Conqueror. The tenantry in 1086
included two villeins, who would each have had their smallholdings,
probably including strips in the common field, and six ‘cottars’ or
cottagers. If we are correct in the belief that the estate lay downstream
from Whitford, we can visualise the tenantry living in a cluster of
dwellings, perhaps alongside Ravensbury Lane, the bridleway leading
from Mitcham to Morden, and close by the point where the lane crossed
the river in what is now Ravensbury Park. It was here that medieval
pottery sherds were recovered during excavations in 1973,7 and where

The Wandle at Ravensbury – undated watercolour by William Wood Fenning
(1799-1872), whose grandfather and father were proprietors of the printworks,
possibly during an 1850 visit, reproduced by courtesy of Sue Wilmott


the manor house of Ravensbury stood during the Tudor period. The
archaeological evidence certainly points to the site having been a focus
of settlement for a very long time. However, it is most unlikely that
Ansculf or his son would have maintained lodgings here or, indeed,
anywhere else on their small Mitcham estates, although the riverside
setting was pleasant enough. Far better accommodation would have
been available in London and elsewhere on their more substantial
properties when business brought them to England.

Eventually much of Fitz Ansculf’s extensive property, and many of his
titles, were inherited by a descendant, Roger de Sumery8 (or ‘Sumeri’)
and, 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.9 Clearly, on this evidence, some
subdivision of Ansculf’s Lower Mitcham estate had taken place, and
before he died in 1129 William the Chamberlain had been allowed to
grant a sub-tenancy of his Whitford holding to another Norman noble,
Laurence de Sancto Sepulchro of Rouen, who held the manor of

If the picture locally is a little confusing, nationally the situation was
certainly fluid, if not verging on the chaotic. Henry I had defeated his
brother Robert and the rebellious Norman barons at the battle of
Tenchebrai in 1106, and with his nephew Henry de Blois, a Cluniac
monk and papal legate, installed as bishop of Winchester, he eventually
established control of the Church by insisting on oaths of fealty and
homage from newly invested prelates. By dint of his strong personality
and his undertaking to uphold the laws of Edward the Confessor (as
modified by William I) Henry gained the support of the English. Following
the death of his son in the White Ship disaster, Henry’s efforts to secure
the succession of his family through his daughter Matilda did not meet
with immediate success, although the Crown did eventually pass to his
grandson. On Henry’s death in 1135 the throne was seized by his nephew
and protégé Stephen de Blois, and for the next 19 years the country
was plunged into civil war whilst the barons, divided by their loyalties,
fought for one side or the other. Order unfortunately did not return with
the death of Stephen and the accession in 1154 of Henry II. The new
king soon found himself embroiled in renewed conflict with his turbulent


barons, and his efforts to assert his authority over the Church resulted
in the murder at Canterbury of his former companion Thomas Becket,
the London merchant’s son who had received his early education at
Merton priory.

Laurence of Rouen had considerable interests in London and the Home
Counties, much of which would eventually have passed to his son Robert.
The latter, however, seems to have died childless sometime before 1183,
and his sister Mary therefore inherited the Mitcham property, which
she and her husband Ralph Fitz Robert of Rouen continued to hold
under William the Chamberlain’s son. Mary also inherited the manor of
Ashtead. William Chamberlain of Tancarville (grandson of Fitz Ansculf’s
tenant, the first William the Chamberlain) in his turn granted the
Ravensbury property to William de Mara and Lettice (or ‘Lecia’) his
wife, who was the daughter and heiress of Ralph and Mary.11 Tenure
was subject to the same conditions and feudal services observed by
their predecessors under William of Tancarville’s father and grandfather.
A charter of Henry II, datable to between 1180 and 1183, confirmed
the transfer of title and also the granting of Ashtead (or ‘Esteda’) by
William Chamberlain of Tancarville to William de Mara for £6 p.a. “for
all services”. By a deed of between c.1191 and 1200, perhaps in 1197,
Ralf the Chamberlain of Tancarville confirmed the transfer of the land
at Mitcham, Ashtead, Harlaxton and Londonthorpe, Lincs, to Lecia’s
son, William de Mara or ‘de la Mare’ to hold at a rent of four marks.12

The place-name Ravensbury was seen by Gover et al as a late burh-
name with Raf or Ralph as the first element.13 In this case, they submitted,
‘bury’ may have been used in the later manorial sense rather than that
of a fortified place. The Raf or Ralph who might have given his name to
the emerging manor has not been identified. The name was not
uncommon, but it is tempting to suggest either Ralph FitzRobert of Rouen
or Ralph the Chamberlain of Tancarville as a candidate, but this must
remain pure speculation.

The de Whitford family meantime were proving themselves benefactors
of the Church. In addition to the property granted by de Sumery early in
the 12th century, they were in possession of other land in Lower Mitcham,
and Richard de Whitford granted “the land which is called


Wihtrichescrofte”, plus an acre of common land and an acre of demesne,
together with other plots totalling six acres, to the priory of St Mary at
Southwark some time between 1110 and 1130. As it transpired, these
would form the nucleus of an estate the priory was to hold in Mitcham
until the Dissolution.14 (Interestingly, part of the land which John de
Whitford confirmed having given to the priory sometime before 1170
was intended specifically to secure an income for the provision of candles
for the church of St Peter at Mitcham – the first hint we have of the
existence of a church in the village).15 During the reign of Henry III

(i.e. sometime after 1216) another Alexander de Wickford, probably
representing the third generation, is recorded as holding ‘a fee’ (i.e.
land which could be inherited and carried no manorial obligations) in
Mitcham of the honour of Dudley,16 and in 1218-19 he conveyed to
Henry Cresby and his wife Alice land carrying the obligation to find one
third of a knight’s fee.17 This, surely, was the same Alexander de Whitford
who, in a deed dated to between 1200 and 1230, acknowledged the
tithes of his corn and mill to be the right of Southwark priory.18 Another
member of the family is mentioned in the Victoria County History,
which adds that “later” (i.e. after 1218-19) “William Mareys enfeoffed
Arnold de Wickford of a messuage in Mitcham and 17 acres of land”.19
This would appear to be the estate in Lower Mitcham within the manor
of Ravensbury which was still owned by the Mareys, Mareis, de Mara or
de la Mare family (the variations in spelling are legion) in the 14th century.
Rouen, the principal town of Normandy, had close ties with England
since the Conquest, and was a stronghold of loyalty to King John in his
struggle with Phillip II of France to retain the Angevin inheritance. After
their initial success at Mirabeaux in 1202 the English suffered continuous
defeats, and with resistance in the rest of the duchy having collapsed by
1203, the citizens of Rouen surrendered. The severance of England
from Normandy was complete.

The de Mara Dynasty

Throughout the 13th, and for part of the 14th, centuries the powerful de
Mara family, lords of the manor of Ashtead, were in possession of not
only the lordship of Ravensbury and the original Domesday holdings,1


but also a large estate extending from Lower Mitcham into Morden and
as far as Colliers Wood. They are said to have had an interest in a corn
mill on the Wandle at Merton, belonging to the archbishop of Canterbury
as part of his manor of Mortlake.2 Early 19th-century deeds and sale
particulars disclose that numerous properties in Mitcham, notably to the
east of both Upper and Lower Greens, were also copyholds of the manor
of Ravensbury, although it seems unlikely they had been part of the original
manor. Between 1217 and 1226 William ‘de la Mare’ was deputy sheriff
of Surrey to William de Warenne, earl of Surrey,3 and was appointed an
assize commissioner in 1223. A most experienced local government
official – the Exchequer dealt with him as if he was in fact sheriff – in
1225 Sir William was party to a ‘convention’ with the abbot of
Westminster and the prior of Merton concerning the closure of an ancient
highway in Morden. It was agreed that a new 12-feet-wide diversion
should be constructed, described as a “common way for men on horse
or on foot and for carts leading from the corner of the abbot’s court at
Morden north-west to the south corner of the tenement next to the
house of William, son of Sweyn”.4 The location of the manor house of
de Mara’s estate has not been established, but a site to the south of
today’s Morden Hall Park, in which what could have been a moat has
been identified,5 is a possibility.

Sir William died in 1235.6 Another William de Mara, or de la Mare, is
said to have been holding the lordship of the manor of Ravensbury in
1250,7 but this is based on a mistake by Lysons, followed blindly by later
writers. The document he quotes is that of 1225 above. There is no
reference to Ravensbury in the original document, but a late 14th- or
early 15th-century scribe has added a marginal note: “The same William
de Mara was lord of Ravesbury”. The name ‘Rasebury’ is otherwise
first found in a Feet of Fines for 1377, and ‘Ravesbury’ in a document
of 1488.8 The estate seems to have undergone division, for Heales noted
in his Records of Merton Priory that c.1242, a “Sir Matthew de la
Mare” made a gift to Merton priory of nine acres of land which he
owned in Mitcham, together with buildings and appurtenances.9 By 1283
tenure had passed to a John “De la Mar” who, with his wife Petronill(a),
in that year received a coveted grant of free warren, i.e. the right to
take and preserve game, including fish, on their demesne lands in


Mitcham.10 As was customary upon the demise of one of the king’s
tenants-in-chief, when John died in 1314 an inquisition post mortem
was held not only to establish formally the identity and age of the heir,
but also the extent of the lands making up the estate. The enquiry
confirmed John to be in possession of the manor in the right of his
daughter Florence, who held the manor “peaceably”, i.e. free from
disturbance, for six years during the life of her mother, Petronilla. On
Florence’s behalf, as a token of fealty, John had rendered annually a
pair of gilt spurs worth sixpence to Peter de Montfort, lord of Ashtead
and a cousin by marriage.11 To the manor itself belonged the home farm
and demesne lands, comprising 110 acres of arable, 23 acres of meadow,
a watermill, and other property bringing in rents totalling 8 marcs. In
addition, de la Mare held 60 acres of arable and 12 of meadow “outside
the manor” – possibly in Colliers Wood – as a tenant of Henry Pas,
Lord of Barnack,12 successor in title to William Fitz Ansculf, plus another
parcel of land for which he paid homage to the prior of Merton.13
Following the death of John de la Mare (Manning and Bray describe
him as “de Bradewell”) lordship of the manor and tenure of the estates
passed to Florence, his heiress.12

The broad similarity of the demesne lands of Ravensbury and the
Domesday holding of William the Chamberlain in 1086 suggests that in
extent it had probably remained substantially the same property. Further
acquisitions of land over the passage of the next 200 years were to
enlarge the estate very considerably, and with it the jurisdiction claimed
and exercised by successive lords of the manor. Eventually copyholds
were enfranchised and the manor declined in importance and value
until the final extinguishing of feudal dues early in the 20th century.

Although of course one cannot be certain, it does seem likely that the
site of the de la Mares’ mill, mentioned in the enquiry of 1314, was a
little upstream from the point where the Wandle is crossed today by the
road to Sutton. Once a river had been brought under control and a mill
pond constructed, it would be logical for mills to stand on the same site
for generations and we may therefore assume that the 14th-century
mill was occupying virtually the same site as the corn mill owned by
Lank before the Conquest. The mill standing here in the mid-17th century


was known as “Micham Mill alias Wickford Mill alias Marrish Mill”14
and can thereafter be identified with Mitcham Mill and subsequently
the 19th-century Grove Mill, much of which still survives, although
recently converted into flats. During the tithe commutation survey of
1846 the Grove Mill was recorded as ‘tithe free’, which can usually be
taken as a sign that the property had once been in the possession of the
Church. In the case of the Grove Mill its freedom from tithes can be
attributed directly to John de Whitford having granted the tithe of the
mill to the newly established priory of St Mary at Southwark in the mid12th

By the 14th century much of the de la Mares’ extensive estate was
probably leased out to tenants like Thomas de Lodelowe, who died in
around 1314 holding 32 acres and 5shillings rent of assize in Mitcham
by the service of one-twentieth of a knight’s fee. Following his death
the land seems to have passed to de Lodelowe’s son and heir Thomas,
then aged 14.15

The circumstances of the deaths of Thomas de Lodelowe senior and
John de la Mare, his landlord are not recorded, but the Victoria County
History comments that “Peter de Montfort only became lord of Ashtead
in 1314 on the death of his elder brother, 24 June, at Bannockburn”.16
As one of de Montfort senior’s liege men, as well as being related by
marriage,17 John de la Mare would have been expected to follow de
Montfort into battle, and it seems highly likely that his tenant Thomas de
Lodelowe accompanied them. Certainly men of de Montfort and de la
Mare’s status would have been mounted, and probably all three were
amongst the glittering array of between 2,000 and 3,000 heavily armoured
cavalry forming the striking force of Edward II’s army. The vain attempt
to relieve Stirling Castle before St John’s Day 1314 ended in the massacre
in the bogs of the Bannock burn – a defeat of the English which is still
remembered by the Scots. The deaths of de Montfort, de la Mare and
his man de Lodelowe in that year seem more than mere coincidence,
and probably all three were slain at the hands of the jubilant clansmen,
led to victory by Robert the Bruce.

Florence, who as we have seen was heiress to the estate, was soon
involved, together with her husband Philip de Orreby, in a series of land


transactions. In 1317, during a cycle of wet summers and failed harvests,
she and Philip acquired certain unspecified parcels of land,18 which were
added to the estate, and then, in 1321, Florence and Philip conveyed,
presumably by lease, or possibly security for a loan, “two parts of a
messuage, a mill, a carucate [about 120 acres of arable] 55 acres of land,
30 of meadow, 10 of pasture and 100s in rent in Mitcham and Morden to
William de Herle for life”.19 Florence and Philip may have had a daughter
named after her mother (the alternative explanation, offered by the
Victoria County History, is that Florence had been widowed and
remarried) for in 1328 “a settlement was made on Nicholas le Fraunceys
and his wife Florence of 9 messuages, 3 tofts, 2 carucates and 56 acres
of land, 46 acres of meadow and 60 shillings rent which William de Herle
held for life”.20 This would, one imagines, have been intended to secure
for Nicholas and Florence an income from the property, but in 1338 they
decided to relinquish by quit claim all rights in these lands to de Herle.21
Lordship of the manor also passed to de Herle at the same time. The
reasons for the disposal of these assets are not recorded, and one can
only speculate. It is, however, worth noting that by the early part of the
century it was becoming increasingly common for landlords, both
ecclesiastical and lay, to grant leases of their manors.

In 1347 William de Herle, who had now acquired control of what must
have comprised a sizeable portion of the de Mara estate, conveyed the
manor to Henry de Strete, a vintner and nouveau riche citizen of
London. It was intended that lordship would be held by de Strete for
life, passing to Thomas de Strete of London, son of Katherine of the
Temple.22 Two years later, when the Black Death had ravaged the
population and caused a catastrophic slump in land values, we are told
that William Mareys “granted lands and tenements in Mitcham, Wickford,
Wandsworth and Carshalton for twenty-one years to Henry de Strete,23
who had previously purchased land of him”.24

We thus have an interesting example of the fundamental changes that
were taking place in rural society as many old land-owning families
were obliged by conditions of economic and demographic stress to
relinquish their hold on estates which often had been in their possession
since the Conquest. By the early 14th century trading links between


London and the merchants of Bordeaux and Bayonne were strong, and
wine from Gascony was a major element in commerce. London vintners
prospered, and de Strete typifies the growing number of successful city
merchants who, having made their fortunes in trade, began to seek the
social status which came with the acquisition of land.

These transactions notwithstanding, it is clear that title to the family’s
substantial ancestral estate in Mitcham did not pass out of de Mara
hands. The taxation records of 1332 had shown William ‘Mareys’25 to
be one of the wealthiest men in the parish,26 and when in 1357 he formally
witnessed the mortgaging of Henry de Strete’s property in Mitcham, he
was still one of the principal landowners in the neighbourhood, with
interests in a considerable area of land bordering the Wandle in Lower
Mitcham.27 Five years later, at a time when the country was still under
severe strain, he conveyed “his capital messuage with houses over,
gardens, crofts, meadows, pastures, woods, trees, hedges, hays and
ditches as enclosed, together with two water mills and a piece of moor

[i.e. marsh] adjoining as enclosed by the water towards Beneytesfeld
and all appurtenances in Wykeford” at 200 shillings per annum to Sir
Richard Porter, perpetual vicar of Mitcham and Sir John de Scaldewell,
perpetual vicar of “Westmorden”.28
The acreage is not stated, but the property involved was evidently
extensive and, under normal conditions, of considerable value. The mills
alone would have brought in a useful income, and mention of enclosed
land, crofts and gardens, as well as pasture and woodland, conveys the
impression of an estate of appreciable worth to whoever had possession.

Richard Porter had been admitted as vicar of Mitcham 26 June 1361, at
the presentation of Southwark priory,29 but the date of John de
Scaldewell’s appointment to Morden is not known. (The term ‘perpetual
vicar’ referred to one instituted by the bishop and thus secure from
arbitrary removal by the monastic patron of the parish.)

The precise purpose and significance of the conveyance in 1362 is not
clear, but it could have been a consequence of depopulation and the
decline in the labour force caused by recurrences of the plague. On the
other hand, we might see Mareys’ action simply as an expression of
piety typical of his time, motivated by a desire to show favour to the


Church. Malden suggested the grant may have been in trust for Merton
priory, which is plausible, for at an inquisition post mortem held in
1380 the prior of Merton was stated to be holding the ‘manor’ of
“Wickford”.30 This is the only reference in local records to such a manor,
however, and as employed here the term was probably intended merely
to signify an estate or fee over which the prior and convent exercised
seigneurial jurisdiction, rather than a conventional manor. Part of the
land in Whitford known variously as ‘The Marsh Fee Lands’, or
‘Marrish’, remained the freehold of Merton priory until 1538, from the
‘farm’, or lease, of which the priory was receiving £3 1s 8d at the time
of the Dissolution.31 A further substantial portion of the priory’s
‘Mareshland’ lay to the south, in Morden and Carshalton parishes.

Although it is tempting to see the name Mareshland as derived from the
surname Mares, its origin could be descriptive, indicating marsh or
marginal land – ‘terra marisca’. Such land, often recently reclaimed or
‘inned’, was commonly rented rather than held in demesne since its
cultivation was inherently risky and the yield could not be relied upon.32
In Mitcham the Marsh Fee Lands were prone to flooding, and seem to
have been kept as pasture or managed as watermeadow – enclosures
off Willow Lane were known as the ‘Horse Meads’ – until the mid18th
century, after which they were used as crofting grounds for the
bleaching of calicos. Before the surface level was raised by tipping
after the extraction of gravel in the 20th century the land was cultivated
as watercress beds. Today these Marsh Fee Lands form part of the
Willow Lane industrial estate. Only a fragment bordering the Wandle
remains undeveloped, and was set aside in 1993 as the Bennetts Hole
nature reserve.

Ravensbury – Medieval Real Estate

As it transpired, the fortunes of the de Stretes were not to prosper, for
the campaigns of Edward III and the Black Prince in France, culminating
in the victory at Poitiers in 1356 and the depredation by bands of English
mercenaries – ‘free companies’ – in 1357-8, devastated the vineyards
and towns of northern France and severely disrupted the wine trade.
As if this was not enough, whilst Edward marched from Calais to Reims


across an already ravaged countryside, the autumn of 1359 was wet
and the vineyards of northern France produced nothing of value.
Mortgaging their estates to the prior of Merton evidently failed to enable
the de Stretes’ business to weather the storm. The wine trade with
Gascony was also ruined by 1373, following the failure of John of Gaunt
to stem the French re-conquest of south-western France, and we are
told by Malden that in 1377-8 “James de Strete conveyed the manor to
trustees to himself for life and remainder to John Lord Nevill [sic] of
Raby, kt., and his heirs.”1

Neville was a member of one of the old aristocratic families of the
North, on whom the kings of England relied to act as a bulwark against
the Scots. He had been amongst the great army assembled by Edward
III at Calais in 1359 for what in the end was the unsuccessful attempt
to capture Reims. Although he enjoyed royal favour (he was one of
Edward’s councillors) Neville was obliged to resign in 1376 after the
impeachment by the Commons of Lord Latimer the Chamberlain and
others for mismanagement and corruption. Four years after acquiring
the lordship of Ravensbury Neville sold the manor to Sir Robert de
Plesyngton,2 Chief Baron of the Exchequer to Richard II. De Plesyngton
promptly resold to Sir John Burghersh,3 a member of another of the
great land-owning warrior families surrounding the Plantagenet throne.
These transactions were symptomatic of the breakdown of the feudal
system which followed the Black Death, and increasingly from now on
we see lordships of manors, having lost much of their original
significance, passing from one owner to another as readily disposable
assets, much as any other items of real estate.

Sir John Burghersh, whose family were lords of the Carshalton manor
of Stone Court,4 held the lordship of the manor of Ravensbury for ten
years, leaving it on his death in 1391 to his two daughters, Margaret,
aged 15, and Matilda, who was a little over 12 years of age.5 We are
informed rather quaintly by Manning and Bray that Margaret “married
herself to John Grenevylle knt. then living”.6 Lordship of the manor was
at this time worth £10 p.a, and was held of Sir Baldwin de Freville as of
his manor of Ashtead. The land itself was worth 20shillings. As in the
past, six pence or a pair of gilt spurs, were rendered annually in token


discharge of all feudal services. After Sir John’s death Lady Grenville
remarried, taking as her second husband John Arundel of Bideford,7 by
whom she had a son, John. In 1424 John Arundel was recorded as
holding the manor of Ravensbury, the inheritance of his late wife, with
the reversion belonging to their son, then aged three. The “Manor and
parcel thereof” comprised 572 acres of arable worth 4pence an acre,
68 acres of meadow worth 12pence, and 48 shillings was received as
rent.8 The manor itself (i.e. the manorial dues) was valued at £17.9 As
an example of the way in which manorial holdings were becoming
intermingled, it is interesting to note that although he was lord of the
manor of Ravensbury, Sir John was also a customary tenant of the prior
and convent of Christchurch, Canterbury, paying 6shillings a year in
discharge of his feudal services for a parcel of land in Mitcham called
‘Allmannesland’, which lay within the priory’s manor of Vauxhall or
‘Faukeshall’.10 According to the Victoria County History, the manor
went ultimately to the family of Burghersh’s other daughter, Matilda.
She married Thomas Chaucer, son of the poet, it is believed; their
daughter Alice married William de la Pole, duke of Suffolk, whose
grandson was John de la Pole, earl of Lincoln, amongst whose
possessions the manor was included at his death in 1486/7.11

When, late in the 17th century, it became necessary to produce a
summary of title to the copyhold estate of Colliers Wood, at the centre
of which was a substantial house on what appears to have been a moated
site, references were found in the Ravensbury court rolls to
‘Jenkingranger’. This house, with its attendant farm buildings, could be
traced back to 1486/7.12 The use of the diminutive ‘Jenkin’ is interesting,
and hints that the property may once have been dubbed ‘little John’s
farm’. Whether this John was the future earl of Lincoln or the three-
year old John Arundel we cannot say, although both certainly seem
candidates worthy of consideration.

John de la Pole, Richard III’s nephew and heir, had been president of
the Council of the North. A Yorkist, he unwisely gave support to the
impostor, Lambert Simnel, and was slain at the battle of Stoke in 1487
challenging Henry VII’s right to the throne. As a consequence of his
attainder, the manor of Ravensbury was granted to Simon Digby, whose


family was of proven loyalty, to hold ‘in tail-male’.13 It subsequently
passed to Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk,14 a close friend of Sir
Nicholas Carew of Beddington, to whom he sold the manor for £800 in
1531.15 An extract copy of the court roll shows that with this acquisition
Sir Nicholas added to his already extensive estates “200 acres of land,
100 acres of meadow, 200 acres of pasture and 20 acres of wood in the
two parishes” (i.e. of Mitcham and Morden).5 Sir Nicholas later fell
from Henry VIII’s favour, and was executed in 1539. Lordship of the
manor of Ravensbury reverted to the Crown as a result of Carew’s
attainder, and it was granted, with his other estates, to Thomas Lord
Darcy of Chiche. Happily, in January 1554, following the accession of
Mary I, Sir Francis Carew, Sir Nicholas’s son, was ‘restored in the
blood’, and the family estates, including lordship of Ravensbury, were
returned to him.14

Ravensbury and the Carews

The ‘Marrish’, or ‘Mareslonde’, which prior to the Dissolution had been
in the tenure of Merton priory (see p13) and included a messuage, two
water mills and 30 acres of land, was granted by Henry VIII in 1544 to
Robert Wilford, the new lord of Biggin and Tamworth, a manor which
incorporated most of the priory’s former estate in north and north-east
Mitcham.1 In 1584, when the 30 acres of ‘Marrish’ was in the tenure of
Bartholomew Clerk, the property was the subject of a dispute between
Sir Francis Carew and Charles Howard, a most exalted personage,
who was Baron Howard of Effingham, Earl of Nottingham and Lord
High Admiral at the time of the Armada. Carew, the defendant,
maintained that, together with the house and water mills, the land fell
within his manor of Ravensbury, whereas Howard asserted that it was
within the jurisdiction of the manor of Reigate. The outcome of the
dispute seems not to have been recorded2 but, given what is known of
the tenure of the de Mara estate and the manor of Ravensbury in the
13th and 14th centuries, Carew would seem to have had the better
case. As late as 1940 a quit rent was demanded of one of the mills
above Mitcham bridge by the steward of Reigate manor, but it was


Ownership of the house, mills and land passed to Bartholomew Clerk’s
step-son, George Smythe who, in 1594/5, added to the holding by purchase
from Henry Whitney and his wife Anne (née Wilford) of four acres
adjoining a mill in Carshalton and described as parcel of Mareshlande
or Marshfee.3 Three freehold enclosures totalling 30 acres lying on the
north-western side of Willow Lane and captioned “The Marsh Fee
Lands” are shown on an estate map drawn by James Cranmer in 1717.4
Land on the southern side of the lane, comprising part of the South
Field, remained copyhold of Ravensbury as late as 1825.5

Until early last century, the manor of Ravensbury embraced land on
both sides of the Wandle, in the parishes of Mitcham and Morden, as it
seems to have done since at least the 14th century. Northwards, it
stetched towards Mitcham church as far as Church Path, and a fragment,

The Grove Mill above Mitcham Bridge (c.1906)
This mill seems to have occupied the site of one of the 16th-century mills


Ravensbury Park, survives today as public open space, mainly on the
north bank of the river. Until the former Carew estate was broken up
and sold for housing purposes early in the 20th century it extended as
farmland for a considerable distance to the south, and probably included
much of the land held by John de la Mare and his daughter Florence in
the 14th century. Also on the Morden side of the Wandle, we may
imagine, lies the site of the house and demesne farmstead once belonging
to John and Petronilla de la Mare.

For a brief period in the late 16th and early 17th centuries a house on
the north bank of the Wandle, and therefore within the parish of Mitcham,
was occupied by Nicholas, the son of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton and
Anne Carew.6 On being adopted by his childless uncle Sir Francis Carew,
who died unmarried in 1611, Nicholas Thockmorton (who was himself
knighted in 1603) took the surname of Carew and succeeded to the
family estates in Surrey, which included lordship of the manor.7 His first
wife was Mary, daughter of Sir George More of Loseley, and sister-in-
law of John Donne, who was resident in Mitcham for a short period in
the early years of the 17th century.

Having inherited the family estates Nicholas Throckmorton Carew was
a wealthy man, and no doubt made his late uncle’s great house at
Beddington his home. Francis Carew, his eldest son, is usually described
as ‘of Ravensbury’, but is likely to have used the manor house at Mitcham
only rarely. Elected member of Parliament for Haslemere in 1624 and
Guildford in 1627, Francis married Susan, daughter of Sir William
Romney, and received a knighthood sometime before 1639. He was
defeated as the candidate for Bletchingly in the election to the short
Parliament of 1640, and seems to have continued to reside at Court. In
1642 he joined King Charles I at Oxford but was not in the army and,
although fined heavily by Parliament, had his estates returned to him in
1644. The Carews, however, were to be in financial difficulty throughout
the Commonwealth, and eventually their estates were mortgaged.8

The records of the manor of Ravensbury survive from around the time
of Simon Digby’s tenure, and various documents from 1488 until 1642
are in the Manuscript Department of the British Library.9 Another
collection, including, amongst other items, numerous memoranda


concerning waste and common land in the manor, notes of admissions
to and surrenders of tenancy from the reign of Henry VII to the 17th
century, and the court rolls from 1650 to 1921, was transferrred to the
care of the Surrey Record Office in 1969, and are now in Surrey History
Centre.10 Records from the 18th century onwards are copious and well
kept. They include many references to copyhold property in Mitcham
as far apart as Willow Lane and Colliers Wood, and are a valuable
source for local studies, recording the tenure of copyhold properties
and casting light on the more mundane aspects of manorial administration
in the 18th and 19th centuries. The histories of Tamworth Farm (opposite
Figges Marsh), Eagle House, houses around the Upper Green, Prospect
House and The Cedars on Commonside East, plus various dwellings
and parcels of land overlooking the Three Kings Pond are thus quite
easily traced.

An explanation has already been offered of the inclusion of Colliers
Wood in the manor of Ravensbury, and Tamworth Farm may have
become part of the manor in the same way. Properties in the vicinity of
the Upper Green and the Three Kings Piece held copyhold of Ravensbury
in the 19th century are also strangely detached from the rest of the
manor, and are unlikely to have been included within the original estate
held by Sir William de la Mare in the Middle Ages. The site of Eagle
House, and probably that of ‘Old Bedlam’ (a large house that once
overlooked the Upper Green), were at one time the property of Elizabeth
Throckmorton, wife of Sir Walter Raleigh, and the best explanation that
can be offered is that they, and a number of houses nearby, accrued to
the manor as part of the Carews’ Mitcham estate. Whether or not their
predecessors had originally been subject to feudal tenure one cannot
say, but copyholders in the 18th and 19th centuries were required to pay
annual quit rents, and were charged a substantial fee by the Carew
estate if they wished to enter into a deed of enfranchisement to convert
their property to freehold.

The End of the Manor

Through various vicissitudes lordship of the manor of Ravensbury and
ownership of various properties in Mitcham were to remain in the hands



The first page of the Sales Particulars of 1855, reproduced by courtesy of Surrey History Service


of the Carew family for some 350 years. The quarter sessions records
show Sir Nicholas Carew acting as a leading justice for the division of
the county covering Beddington, Carshalton, Croydon and Mitcham for
much of the early 17th century, and for many years the family held a
distinguished position in local society. The break-up of the Carew estates
commenced after the succession of young Charles Hallowell Hallowell
Carew to the property on the death of his father, Captain Charles
Hallowell Carew, in 1849. Already heavily in debt to moneylenders,
‘Charlie’ Carew gambled all on a horse and lost. Proceedings for
bankruptcy were instituted in 1857, and an Act of Parliament was
necessary “to execute the disentailing of the estate and its mortgages,
and to settle a legal wrangle”.1

Lordship of the manor remained with the Carews for another half century
nevertheless, and manorial rights continued to be exercised. They were
still a source of income, as is evidenced by a deed of enfranchisement
granted in September 1890 by Frank Murrey Maxwell Hallowell Carew
to Emma Jane Bartley, owner of Chestnut Cottage, which overlooks
the Cricket Green, or ‘Wickford Green’, as it was referred to in the
court rolls. The indenture describes Miss Bartley as “one of the
copyholders or customary tenants” of the manor, holding the property
“at the will of the lord”. For the sum of £90 paid to Carew’s steward
she was released from observance of the customs of the manor and the
liability to meet the fines, heriots, quit rents, suits and services demanded
of the customary tenantry. The rights over Mitcham Common and, in
particular, the right “to the opening and working of gravel pits thereon”
(a potentially valuable asset) were retained by the lord of the manor.2

In 1907 the remaining manorial rights of Ravensbury were sold by Frank
Carew to the Prince’s Golf Club, but with the newly created Board of
Conservators of Mitcham Common being given the option to purchase
at the original price after a certain period of years.3 By this time there
were only a few copyholds unenfranchised, and the main incentive to
purchase was to strengthen further the Conservators’ powers designed
to save the Common from destruction at the hands of those wishing to
dig sand and gravel, and to preserve its natural features. The manor
effectively came to an end in 1926 when, by Act of Parliament, copyhold
tenure was abolished.

Chapter 2


The Ruins

On the north bank of the Wandle in Ravensbury Park, partially hidden
from view by a thick growth of trees and shrubs, three fragments of
neatly pointed yellow brick walling can be found, all that remains visible
above ground of Ravensbury Manor House.1 Until the 1970s the ruins
were effectively protected from the attention of marauding children by
a rectangle of substantial chain-link fencing, but this barrier became
increasingly dilapidated, and the failure of the Parks Department of the
London Borough of Merton to effect satisfactory repairs resulted in
the remaining brickwork becoming vandalised. In 1994, in an effort to
salvage the situation and funded by a grant from the Council’s
Conservation Areas Advisory Committee, the brickwork was stabilised
and consolidated in lime mortar by contractors working under the
direction of the Leisure Services Department. Regrettably the Parks
Department considered reinstatement of the fencing low in their
priorities, and still did nothing to protect the wall. By the end of the year

Ravensbury Manor House from the Sales Particulars of 1855
reproduced by courtesy of Surrey History Service


the rebedded bricks had been largely dislodged, and the destruction of
what survived of the original walling was continuing.

The ruins are, in fact, from the last phase of the house, when a stylish
late 18th-century wing was added to the riverside elevation of a far
older building of which no visible trace survives. Known simply as
Ravensbury House, the property was last occupied in the mid-19th
century, but its precise fate thereafter seems not to have been recorded.
Many years later “old Ravensbury Manor House” was remembered by
one old resident of Mitcham as a “striking landmark” to be seen from
the river in the 1880s, but was said to have fallen into decay and is
believed to have been largely demolished in about 1882.2 Parts were
obviously left standing, however, probably to lend an air of mystery and
romance to what had then become part of the grounds surrounding the
house called ‘Ravensbury Park’ erected in 1864 on a site off Bishopsford

Early Years – The Carews and the Garths

Very little is known of the early history of the site, the original house or,
indeed, the role it or its successors played in the history of the manor.
The ruins have engendered mild curiosity ever since the park was opened
to the public in 1929, and their antiquarian interest was not ignored by
the cartographers of the Ordnance Survey, for in the inter-war years
the site was customarily marked on the maps as ‘Manor House’, in the
Gothic script reserved for antiquities. When a small exploratory
excavation was conducted near the site of the house by the writer and
other members of Merton Historical Society in 1973 a few sherds of
typical coarse pottery of the 13th and 14th centuries were found,
indicative of occupation in the vicinity during the Middle Ages, but little
of significance was added to what had already been suspected.3 At one
time a house nearby may have been a residence of the lord of the
manor, but the documentary evidence surviving from the 17th century
seems to indicate that it was not a particularly large building, and more
suited to occupation by a junior member of the family, or the manor
steward. As we have seen in the previous chapter, throughout the Middle
Ages there are references to houses and ‘messuages’ owned by the de


Mara or de la Mare family, one of which, quite possibly, occupied a site
by the waterside at Ravensbury. Old Ravensbury Lane, leading from
Mitcham to Morden, passed close by and, until recently, on the opposite
bank of the river stood ‘Ravensbury Farm’. This building, however,
was barely a century old, and was on the site chosen in the mid-18th
century by John Arbuthnot of Ravensbury Manor House for a new
farmstead, all trace of which has now gone. It remains a reasonable
assumption that a manor house stood nearby in the 13th century, and
that archaeological work in the future will demonstrate not only its site,
but that its origins predated the Conquest.

The picture begins to clear during the reign of Elizabeth I, and between
1569 and 1579 there are several documentary references to lands
bordering the Wandle in Mitcham owned by Sir Francis Carew of
Beddington and leased to Richard Hopkin, his ‘fermor’ or tenant. One
such document, of 1572, mentions the “oulde orchard of one Rasberie”4
and “long poole Lane”, which might, conceivably, be a reference to
Ravensbury Lane, now reduced to a cul-de-sac leading to a service
gate into Ravensbury Park, beyond which the old way is followed by an
arcade of mature plane trees surrounding a path leading to the riverside.
It is believed that towards the close of the 16th century Ravensbury
House, or its predecessor, was occupied by Nicholas, son of Sir Nicholas
Throckmorton and Anne Carew.5 As we have seen, in 1611 Nicholas
took the surname Carew and succeeded to the family estates, which
included a substantial part of Lower Mitcham. He was knighted in 1603
and, on being widowed, he had remarried in 1616.6

During the reign of James I the manor house of Ravensbury became
the residence of Alexander Garth, styled “of Ravensbury” in the bishop’s
visitation of Surrey in 1623. A younger son of Richard Garth, lord of the
manor of Morden, and his second wife, Joan Wells, Alexander had
married Alice Ward or Worde, daughter of the rector of Beddington, on
29 May 1609,7 and the Mitcham parish register records the baptisms of
nine Garth children, four boys and five girls, between 1613 and 1626.

The Mitcham hearth tax assessments of 1664 include a house belonging
to Sir Nicholas Carew, which then had six hearths, and clearly was only
of modest size. No other property in Mitcham is listed on which Carew


was taxed, and there seems no reason to believe the house was other
than at Ravensbury. The occupier at this time was a lady by the name
of Elizabeth Watts, about whom we have no other information, other
than her succeeding her husband in the tenancy.8

A rent roll of the manor, undated but ascribed to the latter part of the
17th century, describes the “Mansion howse called Ravensbury”, with
its “One Dovehouse, One great Barne, a Storehouse, a Stable, Two
gardens, two Orchards” and some 90 acres of land in Mitcham, as
being in the tenure of “Henry Hampson Esq”.9 A member of the
Merchant Taylors’ Company since 1663, Hampson was also a member
of the East India Company, and is known to have had an address in Bull
and Mouth Street, Aldersgate, in 1677.10 His parents had been resident
in Mitcham since the early 1650s, occupying a large house in Lower
Mitcham later to become known as Mitcham Hall, but had moved away
by 1668. The father died in 1677, shortly after which, having probably
inherited part of the family estate, Henry Hampson took up residence in
the parish. He died in March 1691, 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 be seen, until a new raised
floor was installed in 1991.11

Occupancy of the house at Ravensbury after Henry Hampson’s death
has not been traced, but could possibly be ascertained from the rent
rolls. It is tempting to wonder whether another generation of Garths
may have made their home here, for Richard, son of Richard Garth IV
of Morden, was baptised at Mitcham in June 1724, and Boevey, his
brother, in June 1725. The younger Richard was responsible for the
building of the present Morden Hall around 1750, but the family’s previous
home in the area has not been identified. Other branches of the family
had maintained links with Mitcham over the years, for a Richard Garth
was buried in Mitcham church in 1664, and George in 1673. When in
1686 a Mrs Anne Garth died in London, it was to Mitcham that she was
brought for burial. The death of Richard Garth III is recorded in the
Mitcham parish register, although it is noted that in his case the burial
took place at Morden.12


The Arbuthnots of Ravensbury

Mitcham vestry minutes show that in about 175313 John Arbuthnott
(sic), described as the proprietor of “a most extensive manufactory” at
Ravensbury, was living at ‘Ravensbury House’. Two years later, by a
lease dated November 1755, Sir Nicholas Hackett Carew granted land
and appurtenances in Mitcham and “Moredon”, including Ravensbury
Manor House, to Arbuthnot for 99 years. This was confirmed by an
indenture dated September 1764, between Arbuthnot and Carew’s
trustee, William Pellat of Croydon (Carew having died in 1762), assigning
“all that capital messuage called ‘Ravensbury Manor House’ with the
barns, outhouses and buildings thereunto belonging,” together with “Fields
arable and pasture in Mitcham and Morden”.14

Arbuthnot was involved in calico printing, an industry which, from the
early 18th century until the middle of the Victorian period, flourished in the
Wandle valley. Arbuthnot had been in partnership with John Cecil of Merton
Abbey, whose daughter, Sally Margaret, he married in 1753, and was also
related by marriage to the Mauvillains, a wealthy and successful Huguenot
family, who had established a printing works at Ravensbury on land
immediately downstream from the manor house in about 1700. Fortunes
were to be made at this time from the printing of the enormously popular
chintzes and calicoes, and the Ravensbury works continued in production,
albeit in different hands and with declining profitability, until the 1860s.
The full history of printing at Ravensbury is dealt with in a following chapter.

The Mitcham poor rate books make it clear from a doubling of the
rateable value that soon after negotiating the lease of the Ravensbury
property Arbuthnot set about enlarging the house very considerably. At
the same time (1753) he obtained the consent of Mitcham vestry to the
diversion of the road to Morden, which passed close by his residence,
and to the removal of the old bridge which crossed the river at this
point. In this he had the support of his landlord, Sir Nicholas Hacket
Carew 14 Obviously the diversion was aimed at securing greater privacy
for the house, and for his part Arbuthnot accepted liability for the repair
of the new bridge and road he had constructed past Ravensbury mill, a
few hundred yards downstream. The vestry minutes acknowledge that
he had faithfully discharged this liability.


Sixty years later, over the question of responsibility for repair of the
new bridge, which had fallen into decay, the vestry found itself in dispute
with Colonel Hugh Arbuthnot, a distant relative who had inherited tenure
of the estate. The vestry sought counsel’s opinion, asking if they had
any power to enforce the repair of the bridge by Arbuthnot and, if not,
whether they would be entitled to “open the ancient Highway leading
close by Ravensbury House”, which would “ruin it as a Gentleman’s
Residence which it is now.” If neither course were open to them, the
vestry asked if the parish was liable for the cost of the repair of the new
bridge. In giving his opinion William Draper Best of Norwood, their
counsel, held that as the landowner, that is, Carew, had not been a party
to the original agreement, the old road had not been closed formally. It
could therefore be repaired and reinstated as a common way, and either
the old or new bridge should be repaired by the county.

On hearing this decision the vestry, through their solicitor, informed the
colonel that they hoped the controversy could be settled without the
vestry having to open the old road, and that he would repair the new
one. The question of works to the bridge was not raised again, and the
matter was presumably left to the county. The final outcome is not
recorded in the vestry minutes, from which one may conclude that the
dispute was settled without further recourse to law. As we have seen,
part of the old road survives to the present day, but is no longer a public
highway, whilst the Morden Road continues to make a detour around
what were formerly the Ravensbury bleaching grounds before crossing
the Wandle by the bridge adjoining Ravensbury mills.

John Arbuthnot’s seal is heraldic, and he seems to have been related
through a cadet branch to the great Scottish family of the same name.
Sally Arbuthnot née Cecil died in February 1759, and her father a year
later. Both were buried at Morden.15 John remained the ratepayer at
Ravensbury until about 1780, having remarried in 1761, his second wife
being Ursula Fitzgerald of Taplow. In 1762 Arbuthnot married again
(Ursula having died the previous year), his third wife being Anne Stone,
daughter of Richard Stone, a London banker, whose seat was Rockfleet
Castle, Co. Mayo.16 In the late 18th century large quantities of Irish
linen were being imported into England for finishing, and there is record
of Arbuthnot holding office under the Irish Linen Board.


We know that John Arbuthnot was resident in Mitcham in 1763 and 1764,
for in March each year his name was put forward to the justices for
selection as surveyor of highways for the parish during the ensuing years.
He also signed the vestry minutes in March 1765. There are, furthermore,
the baptisms of seven Arbuthnot children, three boys and four girls, recorded
in the Mitcham registers betwen 1764 and 1773. Three Arbuthnots find a
place in the Dictionary of National Biography: The Right Honourable
Charles Arbuthnot, born in 1767, became a close friend of the Duke of
Wellington after a career as a diplomat and politician, and his brothers
Robert and Thomas both received knighthoods and attained the rank of
lieutenant-general during the course of distinguished careers in the army.17
A Charles Arbuthnot, son of John Arbuthnot of Ravensbury, was baptised
privately at Mitcham in April 1767, but there is no record of Robert or
Thomas. Robert was born in 1773, and it is therefore quite possible that he
was baptised in Ireland.

Like many of his contemporaries John Arbuthnot’s interests were very
much wider than the production and embellishment of textiles.18 The
‘agrarian revolution’ of the late 18th century was led by innovators like
Coke of Norfolk and ‘Turnip’ Townsend, who introduced new methods
of farming, including the marling of soils to improve fertility and the
growing of root crops as fodder, thus facilitating the over-wintering of
livestock. Another was Robert Bakewell of Leicester, whose selective
breeding of cattle and sheep greatly improved English blood lines. New
ideas such as these were taken up with enthusiasm all over the country.

In a letter to Edmund Burke in June 1774 the Marquis of Rockingham,
who rented a house at Wimbledon between 1771 and 1782 and was
actively applying the new practices on farms on his estates, observed
that “I have passed a pleasant day at Duckets Farm with some
gentlemen farmers who afterwards dined there. Arbuthnot met us and
dined here – he seems so right in his ideas.” Duckets Farm, I understand
from Dr Veale, was at Petersham. According to Sutherland “John
Arbuthnot of Mitcham” was “notice as a farmer c.1760”, and Mingay
comments that with Duckett, Arbuthnot was one of the “two leading
experimental farmers whose names are coupled with that of
Bakewell”.18 In November 1768 Arbuthnot leased from Richard Garth


a farm in Lower Morden, later known as Peacock Farm (the Victorian
house of which is now part of Wyevale garden centre). The
reorganisation of the Garth holdings in Lower Morden, from small
farmsteads with lands in scattered closes into four large and fairly
compact farms, dates from this period, perhaps under Arbuthnot’s
influence.19Arbuthnot’s contribution to farming was long remembered,
and in June 1811 Arthur Young delivered a lecture On the Husbandry
of three celebrated British farmers, Messrs. Bakewell. Arbuthnot
and Ducket to the Board of Agriculture.

From the middle of the 18th century local administration became more
efficient, if we may judge from the records that survive. Books containing
the assessments for the poor rate and later the land tax are preserved
at Surrey History Centre, and form an unbroken series from 1770 until
1831. Despite the absence of addresses, it is a relatively easy matter
for the researcher to trace the larger houses, whose higher assessments
make them conspicuous in the records. From John Arbuthnot’s time
onwards the history of Ravensbury House and that of the print works
diverge, the one continuing for nearly a century as a private house,
whilst the other, in separate occupation, remained a centre of industry.

The head lease of the Ravensbury estate stayed in the Arbuthnot family’s
hands for many years, and in 1779, when John Arbuthnot’s business
affairs had placed him in financial difficulties and he was living in France,
Ravensbury House became the seat of Admiral Marriott Arbuthnot.20
This was during a short spell of service in England when Arbuthnot,
having been advanced to flag rank, was recalled in 1778 from Halifax,
Nova Scotia, where he had been commissioner of the navy since 1775.
In the spring of 1779 Arbuthnot sat as a member of Admiral Keppel’s
court marshall, but his residence at Ravensbury was brief, for on 1 May
1779, having been appointed to the command of the North American
station, he left England on the 64-gun Europe.

A contemporary writer, compiling a traveller’s guide in about 1789,
described Ravensbury House as lying about three furlongs from the
Morden Road, in a pleasant rural situation, upon the north banks of the
Wandle. “The walks, which extend a considerable distance on the river
side, are bounded with handsome shrubberies”, he informed his readers,


“which, with the large lawn on the south belonging to the ‘Grove’ [a
long curving stretch of grassland which was a feature of the Ravensbury
estate and is now partly preserved at Moreton Green] add much to the
beauty of the place.”21 Ravensbury was clearly a most desirable haven
for retirement, but for Marriot Arbuthnot its attractions were to be
enjoyed only briefly. As far as one can judge from local records, the
admiral played little part in the affairs of the parish of Mitcham, but had
the intention existed, the opportunities were few.

Described by his detractors as “a coarse, blustering, foul-mouthed bully”,
“ignorant of the discipline of his profession” and “destitute of even a
rudimentary knowledge of naval tactics”, Marriot Arbuthnot’s
nevertheless remarkable career is outlined in the Dictionary of National
Biography.22 He was born in about 1711, a native of Weymouth,but
very little is known of his parentage and early life. Joining the Royal
Navy as a boy, he attained the rank of lieutenant in 1739, became a
commander in 1746 and captain in 1747. In 1759 he commanded the
Portland in the blockade of Quiberon Bay, and a guardship at Portsmouth
from 1771 to 1773. His three year’s posting at Halifax was probably
well suited to a man of his age and service, but Arbuthnot was not
destined for a peaceful retirement. Elevation to flag rank and the new
command was no sinecure, and he is said to have held a blustering but
querulous, active but ineffective, command of the squadron in American
waters until relieved of his duties at his own request in 1781. His
achievements were not insignificant, however, and the assessment seems
unduly harsh, for Arbuthnot was approaching 70 years of age when
called back to active service.

Having acting in concert with General Sir Henry Clinton in the successful
expedition to Charlestown, Arbuthnot repositioned his squadron at the
approaches to Long Island, then in enemy hands, to ward off
reinforcement by the French fleet. Here he remained throughout the
summer of 1780 until he was unexpectedly superseded by Sir George
Rodney in a move he strongly resented, and on which he expressed his
feelings with much ill-temper and insolence. The Admiralty supported
Rodney, however, and Arbuthnot, thoroughly annoyed at the implied
censure, applied to be relieved of his command, pleading ill-health. Clinton


and Rodney, with whom Arbuthnot remained at constant odds, both
threatened to resign unless he was promptly withdrawn, the general, it
is said, being kept in terror of losing supremacy at sea due to Arbuthnot
constantly changing his plans. In the event, the admiral was not recalled,
and neither Clinton nor Rodney resigned. In the summer of 1781, after
a furious engagement with the French fleet under Destouches, during
which both squadrons suffered considerable damage, Arbuthnot’s
request for permission to return to England was granted, and he
surrendered his command to Rear-Admiral Graves. On returning home
he seems not to have reoccupied Ravensbury House, but took a year’s
lease of the nearby Growtes.23 Thereafter he appears to have moved
away from the district, although he evidently maintained connections
with Mitcham, for in February 1789 he was appointed to the committee
of gentlemen charged with the task of raising funds for the renovation
of the parish church. Arbuthnot saw no further service at sea, but by
seniority was appointed Admiral of the Blue Squadron in 1793, and was
given the command of the Cerberus, then being built at Buckler’s Hard,
in Hampshire.24 Early the following year, on 31 January, the old sea dog
died in London at the age of 83.22

‘Ravensbury House’ – undated watercolour by William Wood Fenning (17991872),
whose grandfather and father were proprietors of the printworks,
possibly during an 1850 visit, reproduced by courtesy of Sue Wilmott


The Last Years of the Old Manor House: 1800–c.1860

For the six years following Admiral Arbuthnot’s death the old manor
house seems to have lacked a tenant and then, in 1800, after considerable
improvements and extensions had been carried out – these are reflected
in the increased land tax assessments – the house was occupied by
Chamberlain Goodwin. His tenure of Ravensbury House was of short
duration, however, and in 1803 a sub-lease was granted by Colonel
Hugh Arbuthnot to Mrs Frances Barnard.25 Frances Barnard was the
widow of William Barnard (1735-1795), a third-generation member of
a dynasty of shipbuilders at Deptford which built extensively both for
the Navy Board and the Honourable East India Company. William
Barnard was one of the most successful and respected builders on the
Lower Thames, at that time the centre of mercantile shipbuilding in the
United Kingdom. Frances retained an interest in her late husband’s
business until her death in 1825.26 She was buried at Deptford, where
she and her late husband had been members of the Butt Lane (High
Street) Congregational Church.27

Frances Barnard’s landlord, the Hon. Sir Hugh Arbuthnot, KCB, of
Hatton-Bervie, the second son of the 7th Viscount Arbuthnot, joined
the 49th Regiment of Foot as an ensign in 1796. He served with the
rank of captain in the campaign in Holland in 1799, including the battle
of Egmont-op-Zee, and also aboard the Ganges at the battle of
Copenhagen in 1801, for which he was awarded a naval medal. With
the rank of major he served for a short period with the 14th Garrison
Battalion, and was then transferred to the 52nd Foot, which he
commanded at the bombardment of Copenhagen and the action at Kioge
in 1807. He served in the expedition to Sweden under Sir John Moore in
1808, and in Portugal and Spain, being present in the retreat from Sahagun
and at the battle of Corunna, where Sir John was killed. With the Light
Division Arbuthnot saw action on the Coa, and he commanded the 52nd
Foot in the Lines of Torres Vedras and the battle of Busaco. He was
also present at the battle of Fuentes d’Onor. For his service at Busaco
he received a gold medal, and a silver medal with clasps for Corunna and
Fuentes d’Onor. The army remained Arbuthnot’s profession for the whole
of his life. He became a brevet lieutenant-colonel in 1811, colonel of the
38th Foot in 1843, and general in 1854. In 1826 he entered politics, becoming


member of parliament for Kincardineshire, a constituency which he
represented in ten parliaments until 1865. The 79th Regiment of Foot
(later the Cameron Highlanders) accorded him his final honour in 1862
by appointing him colonel of the regiment, a position he was to hold until
his death in 1868.28

Throughout the reign of George IV Ravensbury House continued to
attract the attention of topographical writers and artists, a guide book to
Surrey published in 1823, for instance, describing it as “an extensive
ancient mansion with pleasure-grounds and plantations also of great
extent”.29 James Bourne had been inspired to sketch the house from
the river some 20 years previously,30 and Yates painted it in 1825, choosing
the picturesque rear for a charming watercolour which can be seen in
Merton Local Studies Centre.31 From this viewpoint the house might
well have dated from the late 17th or early 18th century, with sliding
sash windows under a red-tiled roof. An overhanging top storey
supported on a colonnade could indicate an earlier timber-framed house
behind a later façade. The yellow stock brick southern elevation, of two

‘Mitcham – Ravensbury Manor House – Mrs Barnard’
A rear view in a watercolour by Yates, dated 1825, in Extra-Illustrated
copy of E W Brayley’s History of Surrey (Vol.III)
reproduced by courtesy of Merton Library & Heritage Service


storeys and five bays terminating in a parapet above which the tiled roof
was barely visible, is shown in another sketch by an as yet unidentified
artist.27 This façade is clearly later than the rest of the house, and may
be part of the alterations carried out for Chamberlain Goodwin around
1800. It is from the two corner pilasters and the central bowed entrance
porch of the south front that the remaining fragments derive.

Ravensbury House was retained for a few years by Frances Barnard’s
executors, but in 1827 the adjoining land in Morden, that she had held
with the house, was leased for 21 years to Henry Hoare of the
neighbouring Mitcham Grove.32 He died in 1828, and by 1831 the
remaining portion of the lease seems to have passed into the hands of
Sir John Lubbock, the banker, who is listed as the occupier of the house
and lands in the land tax records. Sir John did not actually live in the
house, for in 1828 he had purchased from Henry Hoare’s executors the
far larger Mitcham Grove, the grounds of which adjoined those of
Ravensbury. For the next 16 years the history of the house is a blank,
apart from its being used by the girls from the Mitcham National Schools
whilst some necessary repairs were carried out to the school building
overlooking the Lower Green West.

The census returns of 1841 have no recognisable entry for Ravensbury
House, which would suggest it was then unoccupied, but by 1846, when
the tithe survey was conducted, the property had become a private
residence once more. The new occupant, John Gifford, was described
in the census of 1851 as a ‘Colonial Broker’. His landlord was Captain
Charles Hallowell Carew. Then aged 63, Gifford had probably retired
from active business life and with his wife was enjoying the peace and
beauty of his riverside retreat. If he was an angler, he would have not
lacked for sport, for the Wandle and its backwaters were at this time
highly regarded, both for the size and number of their trout. The estate
embraced 15 acres of garden and meadow lying between the Wandle
and Morden Road, beyond which unspoilt countryside stretched away
towards Sutton. The entrance drive from Morden Road was the ‘ancient
highway’ diverted by John Arbuthnot, separated and screened from the
Ravensbury printworks, once one had passed the park gates, by a
shrubbery, an artificial waterway and a long brick wall. Five servants
were living in when the census was conducted, and other staff lived in


a group of cottages which, with hothouses and kitchen gardens, occupied
a site close to Morden Road.

Some years ago, near the site of these cottages, a length of elm water
pipe was discovered during the course of work on the nearby backwater
of the Wandle.33 Whether the pipe had anything to do with the cottages
or the printworks, it is difficult to say, but in view of the very considerable
use made of the river water in bleaching and dyeing, the latter possibility
is the more likely. As late as 1932, when the Ordnance Survey conducted
a revisionary survey, the evidence for parallel ditches, probably serving
old bleaching grounds, survived in what had then become a public park.
Today, when the sun is low, they can still be detected as depressions
running across the open area in the centre. In Gifford’s time, as
Braithwaite observed in 1853, the stream flowing through the grounds
was purely ornamental, and its trout were “very abundant”.34

During the 1850s George Parker Bidder, who was then resident at
Mitcham House (later known as Mitcham Hall), was engaged in the
process of purchasing an estate which eventually embraced 180 acres
on both sides of the Wandle below Mitcham bridge as far as the
Ravensbury snuff mills. The enforced sale of the Carew estate in 1855
offered the opportunity for him to purchase Ravensbury House and its
grounds, but the print works, lying between Ravensbury Lane, Morden
Road and the river, were not acquired by Bidder and the land passed
eventually into the hands of Gilliat Hatfeild of Morden Hall.35

The Giffords were followed at Ravensbury House by a Mr Hitchcock,
who also held the property on a lease. He was soon in dispute with the
firm of Dempsey and Heard, whose shawl printing at the adjacent works
resulted in the discharge of quantities of chemicals into the Wandle.36 The
pollution ceased with the collapse of the firm in the early 1860s. As far as
we can tell, Hitchcock and his family were the last residents at Ravensbury,
and the house must have fallen into decay soon after their departure,
although the precise date is uncertain. Robert Masters Chart, born in
1850, could recall seeing the old house, or its ruins, remembering it as “an
impressive landmark on the bank of the river.37 It is shown in outline only
on the 25-inch Ordnance Survey map of 1865/6, which suggests that it
was already empty and derelict by the time the survey was in progress.


Annotated detail from the Mitcham Tithe Map of 1846 (70% reduction) reproduced by courtesy of Surrey History Service


Ravensbury and the Bidders38

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. 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 in 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 frequent
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 Scinde, 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 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 1855.39

As we have seen, within a few years of having settled in Mitcham
George Parker Bidder commenced purchasing land in Mitcham and
Morden which was to be transformed into a new park. He was aided in
this by the break-up of the Carew estates, and the auction of the


Ravensbury Estate in 1855, in accordance with a decree of the High
Court of Chancery, provided the opportunity to purchase the then empty
Ravensbury Manor House and its adjacent gardens and parkland lying
in Mitcham and Morden. Ravensbury, or Morden, Farm and 93 acres
of meadow and arable land on the south bank of the Wandle were
offered at the same sale, but were purchased by the sitting tenant, Henry
James Hoare, owner of the adjoining property, The Lodge. Around 1860
Bidder bought farmland opposite his own lying on the south-eastern
side of Bishopsford Road. Part of this land – the so-called ‘Hilly Fields’

– he gave to his brother, Samuel Parker Bidder, who had recently
returned from Canada, as the site for the new house he wished to build.
By 1863, with ‘Hill Field’ as it was known, ready for occupation, Samuel
Bidder was completing the finishing touches by laying out the gardens.
The house has now disappeared, but the name is perpetuated in Hillfield
Avenue, a cul-de-sac estate of houses erected in the early 1930s.
In the summer of 1864, the sale of the freehold of Mitcham Hall to
Sydney Gedge having been agreed, George Parker Bidder moved his
household to ‘Ravensbury Park’, a new house built for him off the
Sutton road, close to the point where Seddon Road now joins Bishopsford
Road. The extensive grounds of the house – the newly created park
which had inspired its name – extended down the hill to the Wandle,
bounded to the south-east by the high road to Rose Hill and Sutton, and
on the west by a drive, now followed by a public road. Amongst the
many trees and shrubs used to embellish and add interest to the gardens
was a Dragon Tree, a botanical freak from the Island of Tenerife, brought
back by friends from a cruise to the Canary Islands. Regrettably the
three-storeyed house, large and decidedly ugly, failed to complement its
setting and, with its red brick and tile, embellished with gothic detailing
(the latter at Mrs Bidder’s insistence), was reminiscent of a Victorian
railway terminus.40It remained Bidder’s property until 1877, when he
transferred title to the whole of the Ravensbury estate to his eldest son,
George Parker Bidder junior, for £40,000. Bidder senior and his wife
moved permanently to another ‘Ravensbury’, on Paradise Point,
Dartmouth, in his native county of Devon, where he died the following
year at the age of 72.


George Parker Bidder ‘the younger’ (b. 1836) was admitted to the
tenancy of the manor of Ravensbury in 1859, when he was 21, but the
address of the property concerned has not been ascertained. He and
his wife Anna (née McClean), whom he married in 1860, were living at
Cedars Road, Clapham, when the decision was made to move to
Ravensbury. He was living there when he inherited the rest of the estate
following his father’s death in 1878 and Ravensbury Park House was
to be his home for the rest of his life. George inherited much of his
father’s brilliance. He obtained his master’s degree at Trinity College,
Cambridge, graduating as 7th Wrangler. Electing to follow a career in
law, he was called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1860. As Queen’s
Counsel he acted for many railway companies and dock boards, and
practised at the Parliamentary Bar. Bidder, however, was a man of
many parts. He was involved in the founding of what became the Girls’
Public Day School Trust, was a justice of the peace and president of
the local Liberal party, the first councillor to be returned to represent
Mitcham on the newly created Surrey County Council at the election
held in 1889, and first chairman of Mitcham parish council in 1895. As
a churchwarden he was also a generous benefactor of the church, raising
with the help of friends the sum of £400 needed to reglaze the east
window in coloured glass of superior quality.

Bidder’s Ravensbury Park House – postcard c.1910


Locally George Parker Bidder II is probably best remembered for his
success in securing the preservation of Mitcham Common as a public
open space, an interest he shared with his late father who, in the 1850s,
had attempted in vain to secure the demolition of the disused parish
workhouse on Commonside East and the return of its site to the Common.
In the 1880s Bidder was in the forefront of the fight to save common
land at Beddington Corner from enclosure for building. Success did not
attend this particular effort, and after several hearings in the lower courts
Bidder carried the case to the High Court but lost, and heavy costs
were awarded to the defendants.

Eventually Bidder’s dogged persistence carried the campaign to save
Mitcham Common to a successful conclusion, securing the enactment
of the Mitcham Common (Supplemental) Act of 1891 under which
management passed to a Board of Conservators. Fittingly, George Parker
Bidder became the newly-formed Board’s first chairman. Tragically he
died in February 1896 of injuries received in a street accident, and is
commemorated by a granite monument erected on the centre of the
Common, close to the Croydon Road. In Mitcham parish church his
memory is kept alive by a tablet mounted to the right of the chancel
arch, and by the brass lectern, presented by Anna Bidder.

Following Bidder’s death discord surfaced in the family over the manner
in which, in his capacity as executor and trustee of his late father’s
estate, he had handled affairs since 1878. There was no question of his
having acted dishonestly, and at the heart of the dispute lay resentment
that he had acted first without consulting his brothers and sisters. As a
consequence, a law suit was brought against the executors of George
Parker Bidder II’s estate by certain of the beneficiaries, but the matter
was settled out of court, and without lasting rancour. A result of the
action, however, was that in what amounted to a forced sale the whole
of the Ravensbury estate, comprising 167 acres of freehold land and
nearly 67 acres of leasehold, was offered at auction. Particulars survive
in the family’s hands, but unfortunately the accompanying plan has been
lost. A second sale by the developers occurred in 1901, of which
particulars also survive together with plans, showing that the break-up
of the park was proceeding, with the lay-out of the present residential
roads to the south of the Wandle already established.


Ravensbury Park House and its immediate grounds remained intact,
and eventually the house became the Catherine Gladstone Convalescent
Home for women and children, the local directory for 1907 recording
the proprietor as Mrs Gladstone and the matron as Miss Clara Bowles.
In the 1930s the home had a complement of 46 beds, but it was badly
damaged during the ‘Blitz’ and closed in 1940. Repaired, the house was
re-opened by the Marie Celeste Samaritan Society as a home for the
aged and infirm, but this, too, closed soon after the end of World War II
and the building was demolished shortly afterwards. The site is now
occupied by an estate of semi-detached prefabricated houses erected
by the London County Council in the late 1940s and let to applicants on
the housing waiting list.

Harold Francis Bidder, the second son of George Parker Bidder II, was
born at Ravensbury Park on Christmas Day 1875. He obtained a degree
at Trinity College, Cambridge, and then read for the Bar, being called at
Lincoln’s Inn. In 1899 he was commissioned in the Royal Sussex
Regiment through the Inns of Court, and served in the Boer War with
the third Battalion. His interests were wide, and included archaeology
and music, as well as soldiering and law. In 1891 he commenced the

The Catherine Gladstone Home – The Garden – early 20th-century postcard


excavation of the Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Ravensbury, concluding
his work in 1922 on his return from the 1914/18 War, in which he attained
the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was awarded the Distinguished
Service Order. Harold Bidder continued his archaeological work in the
district with the re-discovery of Merton Priory, and successfully
campaigned for the site of the high altar of the priory church to be
preserved and marked by a commemorative stone set in a small garden
off Station Road, Merton Abbey. When the Merton and Morden
Historical Society was formed in 1951 it was fitting that he should be
invited to become its first president – a position which he had held for
nearly 20 years when he died in Oxfordshire at the age of 92.

In about 1910 Harold Bidder commissioned the building of a new house,
‘Ravensbury Manor’, to the design of his brother-in-law Horace Porter
and Percy Newton. The site chosen for the house, opposite what today
is the junction of Morton Road and Wandle Road, together with part of
the parkland on the north bank of the river, had been held back from the
auction of his father’s estate, and afforded a beautiful waterside setting.
The house, which was finished in 1912, was conceived in the neo Queen
Anne style popularised by Lutyens, with classical doorcases and a wealth
of interior panelling, and stood on a stone balustraded terrace with steps
descending to the water’s edge. Here the Wandle, impounded by the
mill downstream, formed a sheet of still water, mirroring the tall trees of
the park beyond.41 Regrettably Ravensbury Manor was to last barely
20 years, and in the drastically changed circumstances of the post-war
years what remained of the family estate was soon covered with roads
of suburban housing.

Two acres of land on the south bank of the Wandle downstream from
Mitcham Bridge, known locally as ‘Happy Valley’ and originally part of
the Hoare property, were donated to the National Trust in 1915 by
Richardson Evans in memory of Octavia Hill. Two years before, 12
acres of watermeadow and osier beds on the opposite side of the bridge
had been purchased by the River Wandle Open Spaces Committee and
presented to the Trust. Together these two parcels of land now form
the Trust’s Watermeads property, and have the distinction of being
amongst the earliest of the Trust’s acquisitions.


Harold Bidder’s ‘Ravensbury Manor’ c.1925 – reproduced by courtesy of Merton Library & Heritage Service


Some new housing, of a superior kind, had appeared in the vicinity of
Wandle Road in the Edwardian period, but whilst the grounds of Hillfield
House and the Gladstone Home remained intact, and open countryside
extended to Rosehill and beyond, the setting of Ravensbury Manor must
have seemed secure. A dramatic transformation was in the offing,
however, and following the Armistice, building on this part of the
Ravensbury estate began to gain momentum. The dwellings erected
now were smaller, and many of them were individual self-build properties,
constructed by their owners. The final blow was when, further to the
south, a huge expanse of unspoilt farmland, some 825 acres in all and
extending into Carshalton, was selected by the London County Council
in 1926 for a vast new housing estate for inner London families.

Construction commenced in 1928, and was not completed until 1936.
The architects of the new estate took full advantage of what was a
classic ‘green-field site’, and planned the new cottage homes on the
garden city principle. The name of the new suburb – St Helier –
appropriately commemorated the efforts of Lady St Helier, a former
alderman of the London County Council, who for years had campaigned
for better housing for the poor of London.

Whilst there could be no denying the need for new housing, the rapidity
with which former parkland and open countryside was now disappearing
under the spread of suburbia engendered a reaction amongst those who
remembered the district from their childhood, and wished to see the
preservation of part of Ravensbury as open space and public recreational
areas. In March 1929 the council of Merton and Morden Urban District
was approached by the Urban District Council of Mitcham with the
suggestion that the two authorities should join forces and purchase what
remained of the grounds of Ravensbury Manor as a public park. Authority
to borrow £5,500 had been obtained, and the London County Council had
signified its willingness to contribute. A provisional joint committee was
formed, and Merton and Morden Urban District Council was advised on
30 October 1929 that agreement had been reached with Mitcham, the
purchase price being £5,310 and the expenses to be shared equally.
Purchase was completed in November 1929, and formal opening of the
new 16½ acre public park, 14 acres of which were in Mitcham, took place


on the 10th May 1930, the ceremony being performed by George Lansbury
MP, Commissioner of Works.42 (Appendix 2: Plants in the park)

Shorn of its former grounds, and with its wider setting destroyed forever,
‘Ravensbury Manor’ was advertised in The Times in the early 1930s, but
failed to attract a residential buyer. Demolition soon ensued, and the site
was used for the building of maisonettes. The bellcote from the stable
block was salvaged and installed atop the Cumberland Hospital, then being
built behind Mitcham’s Cricket Green, but this vanished in the redevelopment
which took place in the 1990s. Only the former stable and garage block of
Ravensbury Manor, converted into an attractive house at the corner of
Morton Road and Wandle Road, survives to the present day.43

The 1930s saw the development of Ravensbury Park, the major part of
which lay within the new Borough of Mitcham (the former Urban District
had been granted municipal status in 1934). Formal flower beds became
a much admired feature, a children’s playground and paddling pool were
laid out near the caretaker’s house and adjacent café, and boating on

The Gardens, Ravensbury Park – postcard c.1960


the river became a popular summer facility. From Mitcham Bridge to
Ravensbury Mill the more secluded sections of the Wandle banks
became a haven for wild life, whilst in the vicinity of the rustic bridge
giving access to the Morden side of the river ducks, swans, coots and
moorhens gave pleasure to a generation of children taken with their
parents to ‘feed the ducks’ with stale bread.

Sadly, during the 1939-1945 War and the years that followed priorities
changed, and the park gradually declined. Ravensbury Park, along with
many other parks in London and elsewhere, suffered from funding cuts
during the closing years of the 20th century, resulting in loss of skilled
workers. The proximity of the 1970s development of Octavia Close
and Rawnsley Avenue had, and continues to have, an impact on the
park, which the absence of full-time park keepers has exacerbated.
Efforts are still being made, however, to improve access to the park and
three new metal bridges within the park, of controversial design and
practicality, were a recent project by Sustrans and Groundwork Trust.
Sustrans with the GLA have designated the park as one section of a
European cycle route, but the public conveniences have been closed
due to vandalism.

One of the new metal bridges in Ravensbury Park – photograph D Roe 2005


Recently an area of the park near Morden Road, once occupied by the
café and the children’s playground, has been fenced off for the
development of a medical centre, though construction has yet to start.
A new play area is nearing completion in the ‘bleaching fields’, but
without concern for its history. In 1996 and 1998 the council
commissioned consultants to prepare reports on the park’s character,
conservation, history and restoration, but have failed to follow
recommendations. The park’s London Planes are huge, and it has the
best Californian Laurel in London, the third best in England (confirmed
by the Tree Register of the British Isles), but the latter is within the
medical centre site, and efforts are being made to protect it. Recently
many ornamental species, not suitable for the location or in line with
restoration proposals, were planted as an arboretum.

Today a local amenity group, the Friends of Ravensbury Park, is active
in the interests of the park and its users; the Tree Wardens regularly
manage the woodland; and the Wandle Trust, who clear the river of
rubbish, have helped the Friends remove invasive pennywort from the
lake. Water quality is improving and angling is tolerated, as all sections
of the community wish to see the park being used.

River Wandle, Ravensbury Park – postcard postmarked 1950

Chapter 3


When the Ravensbury estate was offered for sale in 1855 it totalled
326½ acres, of which all but 99¼ acres were in Morden.1 Although this
is a Mitcham History, it would clearly be inappropriate to ignore 70% of
the estate merely because it lies on the other side of the Wandle.

The Ravensbury lands in Morden were in three parts in 1855, the largest
being 120½ acres of park and farm land included with the Manor House
and its 12¾-acre grounds in Mitcham to form Lot One, purchased by
George Parker Bidder I. Lot Two was the 93¾-acre Morden Farm,
purchased by the sitting tenant, Henry J Hoare, who already owned
and occupied the adjoining estate known as The Lodge, formerly Spital
Farm. Lot Three was described as a “Villa Residence and Land”,
totalling 13 acres, purchased by the Revd Robert Tritton, rector of
Morden from May 1835 until his death in November 1877, whose Rectory
in Central Road was occupied by a curate.

Steel Hawes alias The Grange

The sales particulars describe the house that Tritton was to buy as follows:

“THE HOUSE is Stuccoed and Slated, and contains an Entrance
Porch and Hall; Dining Room, 22 ft. by 19 ft. 6 in. and 13 ft. 6
ceiling, with three Bow Windows, fitted, and walls papered;
Breakfast Room, 19 ft. by 13 ft., 13 ft. 6 ceiling, three Bow
Windows, walls papered; Vestibule; Library, 17 ft. by 18 ft. and
10 ft. ceiling, walls papered, with French Windows opening to a
Verandah and Lawn; Drawing Room, 22 feet by 18 feet, and 10
ft. ceiling, walls papered, with same windows as last described
and opening in like manner to the Lawn; Housekeeper’s Room,
Butler’s Pantry with Sleepingroom adjoining, Footman’s Pantry,
Storeroom, Servants’ Hall, Kitchen with water laid on, Dairy,
Scullery, Wine and Beer Cellars, principal and back Staircase
leading to nine Bedrooms, one Dressing Ditto, and two Servants’
Rooms; two Water Closets, detached Coal House, walled in Yard,
Coachhouse with two Bedrooms over, four-stall Stable with Loft
over, Harness Room, Knife House, Wood Yard with Wood House,
Brewhouse, Malthouse, and Toolhouse.”


Detail from the 1855 sales particulars, showing the Ravensbury lands
in Morden, reproduced by courtesy of Surrey History Service
Tritton’s property is Lot 3 at the top right


A drawing of the house is also included, with the caption “Rectory”, as
Tritton had been the tenant for the previous 23 years, paying the poor rate
from July 1832, three years before becoming rector.2 In the documents
finalising the sale, the property was called Steel Hawes, from the name
of the meadow in which it stood.3 The fact that Tritton paid the poor rate
is not proof that he was living at the property. In 1835 he appears for one
year as lessee of another property in ‘Morden Lane’, that later known as
Hazelwood.4 As the poor rate for Steel Hawes increased by £10 in
October 1835 it is possible that the family had found temporary
accommodation while improvements were being made to the building.5

In 1878 Tritton’s heirs sold it to Gilliat Hatfeild, lord of the manor of
Morden since 1872,6 and it was let to a succession of tenants. In 1915
Steel Hawes was opened as a convalescent home for soldiers, and
from 1924 to 1964 it was occupied as The Grange Nursing Home, run
by Edith Lewin until her death in 1941 and then by her daughter, Grace
Minter.7 Hatfeild’s son, Gilliat Edward, sold the property to the London
County Council in 1929 when the St Helier Estate was formed, and
after 1964 it was used by the LCC and its successor, the Greater London
Council, as a store for building materials required for the estate.8 In
1971 Watney Mann Ltd considered turning the house into a two-bar
pub and restaurant, but the costs of converting the building, listed as a
building of special architectural or historic interest,9 proved prohibitive.10

The Grange, Morden, before reconstruction, courtesy of W J Rudd
left: east elevation right: south extension courtyard


In 1980 it was purchased by Courts the furnishing company for use as
their company’s headquarters building but, having suffered years of
neglect and vandalism, the house could not be saved except for the
shell of the north block. Surprisingly, Courts decided to rebuild it in replica,
re-using suitable material from the old building wherever possible, and
retaining the different floor levels of the original buildings. The replica
building still stands on the corner of Central Road and St Helier Avenue,
though at the time of writing it is vacant.

Fortunately an architectural survey of the original house was undertaken
in 1965 by members of Merton Historical Society, who took detailed
measurements of each room.11 The GLC took photographs in 196612
and produced a report, which stated:

“… The Grange is considered as being of three attached blocks,
one to the west facing onto Central Road, one to the east facing
the garden, and one across the north ends of the first two. There
are considerable out-houses to the south.

“The earliest parts of the building are some of the timbers found
in the west block. These timbers are re-used floor joists with
chamfers and stops. Some are of large scantling, about fifteen
inches, and are of medieval or sub-medieval origin. In one case
at least the chamfering is on one of the upper edges, conclusively
demonstrating that the beam has been re-used.13 The west block
was originally a timber-framed structure of three bays with brick-
nogging. From the plan of the bays and the way in which the
timbers were used it would be reasonable to suppose a date of
erection in the late seventeenth century. It is impossible to say
whether the earlier, re-used timbers came from the same site or

“This west block was refaced along its west front at sometime in
the eighteenth century with a two-storey brick wall faced in
cement. This may have occurred at the same time as the second
block, the east block, was built. This second block is of brick
construction, not timber-framed.


“The north block built across the ends of the earlier blocks was
probably constructed in the earlier part of the nineteenth century.

“… From the Tithe Map of the Parish of Morden it is clear that
the Grange, including its out-houses to the south, was substantially
the same in 1837 as it is today. From Rocque’s map of c1768 it
appears that only the west block had been built. It does not seem
likely that the east block had been added, the map is not entirely
specific on this point.”14

Exploratory excavations carried out in the grounds by Merton Historical
Society in 1972 recovered late-17th- and early-18th-century pottery,
roughly contemporary with the first phase of building [see Appendix
4a].15 No evidence of earlier occupation was found.

Morden Grange – WWI postcard


Ravensbury Farm

Until the 1820s this house had been the farmhouse of Ravensbury Farm.
In 1823 C and J Greenwood mention “Ravensbury Farm in Morden, the
residence of Thomas Merle, Esq.”.16 Merle had taken a sub-lease
from Bernard Van Sandau in 1822, and four years later he took over the
42-year main lease.17 Merle occupied the house and meadowland, while
the farmland and farm buildings, together with a cottage “lately erected”,
were sub-let to George Glover.18 In 1830 Mr Merle “became
embarrassed in his circumstances” and went to live abroad. There being
£470 due for rent and arrears, a distress was entered on behalf of Sir
Benjamin Hallowell Carew, but there was not sufficient property on the
premises to cover the rent. It was agreed that Merle (now residing in
France) would give up the key to the mansion house and that Glover
should pay direct to Sir Benjamin Hallowell Carew the rent due to Merle,
and Glover should continue as tenant from year to year.19

Glover left in 1833, his departure giving rise to the following sale notice:

“Glovers Farm Morden

to be sold at auction by Messrs Fuller on the premises on
Tuesday 13 August at 2 for 3 o’clock pm by order of the proprietor
who had quitted the farm and left the county

The whole of the valuable crops of corn, grain and potatoes,
comprising 25 acres of wheat with the straw, 18½ acres of oats
with the straw, 24½ acres beans and the haum, about 1 acre of
potatos [sic].

A very excellent timber-built and slated granary with 6 bins
and standing on 9 stone caps; a few farming implements, and the
fixtures in the house.

May be viewed the week preceding the sale, by application
to Mr Thomas Billinger, the Bailiff, on the premises; and catalogues
obtained at The George, Morden; King’s Head, Mitcham; Nelson,
Cheam; Bull’s Head, Ewell; Bell, Merton; on the premises; and of
Messrs Fuller, Auctioneers and Estate Agents, Croydon, Surrey.

Printed by J S Wright, High Street, Croydon.”20


George Matthew Hoare replaces Glover in the Morden poor rate books
from October 1833,21 and it was his son, Henry James Hoare, who
purchased the farm, then called Morden Farm, as Lot Two in 1855 for

The land held by Glover and then by Hoare and the house held by
Merle and then by Tritton had formed a single holding, Ravensbury
Farm, until 1822. Described as a “mansion house and farm with
appurtenances in Morden, part of Ravensbury manor” when the 42year
lease was granted to Bernard Van Sandau’s predecessor, Edward
White, in 1812,23 its occupants can be traced back through Morden
poor rate records to 1756.

Changes in the quarterly poor rate assessments may reflect structural
changes. With each new tenant the assessment increased at first but,
perhaps following an appeal, dropped a little next time. In 1813 Van
Sandau was assessed at £300, a huge increase on the previous
assessment of £167, though it dropped to £215 in 1814.24 This could
well have been due to structural enlargement, perhaps the northern
extension. Similarly in 1802, White was assessed at £100, rising to £150
in 1804, before settling at £120 later that year, compared with the £75
assessment of his predecessor, Dantony Angell.25 (White’s 1812 lease
was clearly not his first). Angel was assessed at £90 in 1787, though it
fell to £60 before rising to £100 in 1788, dropping again to £80 in 1789,
and settling at £75 in 1801, compared with the £53 of his predecessor,
Christopher Chambers.26 (Angell also held the tenancy of the adjoining
Spital Farm from 1793 to 1803). Chambers, who also held the lease of
the farm later known as Hill House, Morden, from 1778, had held the
lease of Ravensbury Farm from 1768, in succession to Thomas Stacy,
who was also tenant of the adjoining Duckett’s Farm.27 The assessment
for Ravensbury Farm had fallen from £60 in 1768, following the transfer
of some land from Ravensbury Farm to the adjoining Ravensbury Manor
House estate.


John Arbuthnot’s farm

This was the second transfer of land from Ravensbury Farm. The first
had been negotiated in 1755 when, as we have seen in chapter 2, John
Cecil, proprietor of a printworks at Merton Abbey, and his son-in-law
John Arbuthnot, were granted a 99-year lease of Ravensbury Manor
House and its grounds in Mitcham and Morden, including the Ravensbury
printworks, then in the occupation of Thomas Whapham. At this time
the boundary between the lands attached to Ravensbury Manor House
and those of Ravensbury Farm seems to have been the curving tree-
lined green lane known in 1838 as The Grove (Plot 41 on the 1855 sales
particulars, plot 291 in the Morden Tithe Apportionment), which extended
to the Wandle in the 1828 sales particulars map of Henry Hoare’s
estate,28 and which still survives in part as Moreton Green. Arbuthnot’s
enthusiasm for agricultural reform has already been referred to in chapter
2, so it is not surprising that he wanted to extend his lands to take in
some of the adjoining farmland in the occupation of Stacy, as well as
some other Ravensbury land to the north-east of the estate, leased to

Farm buildings in Wandle Road, Morden, c.1952
reproduced by courtesy of Merton Library & Heritage Service


the neighbouring Mitcham Grove estate. In 1755 Cecil and Arbuthnot
had agreed with Sir Nicholas Hackett Carew to lease up to 38 acres to
be released by Thomas Stacy from the adjoining land he held of
Ravensbury manor, and “the Ladyfield and Shaw” after the expiry of
the current 39-year lease to William Myers of Mitcham Grove. However,
Sir Nicholas died in 1762, before these arrangements had been legally
implemented. Although Arbuthnot was paying poor rate “for Stacy land”,
valued at £15, from May 1760,29 it was not until 1764 that the transfer
of 37 acres from Stacy to Arbuthnot was agreed and confirmed by
Carew’s trustee.30 No further mention was made of the land leased to
Myers, but the Morden land tax records show that the owners of Mitcham
Grove held some Carew lands until 1803.31

We have noted that the Ravensbury farm buildings were near Steel
Hawes/The Grange in Central Road, so it is not surprising that there is
no mention of any farm buildings standing on the land transferred from
Ravensbury Farm to Arbuthnot. It is likely that the farm cottage and
buildings included in Lot One of the 1855 sale particulars had been
erected by Arbuthnot, or had replaced those erected by him. These
included a fine timber-framed and weatherboarded barn that survived
in Wandle Road until demolished in the early 1950s. Arbuthnot’s farm
remained part of the Ravensbury Manor House estate until 1827, when
Henry Hoare of Mitcham Grove was granted a 21-year lease of these
Ravensbury lands in Morden.32 Sir John Lubbock bought the Mitcham
Grove estate in 1828 from the heirs of Henry Hoare, together with
Hoare’s lease. Lubbock also leased Ravensbury Manor House. In 1855
Bidder bought all the Ravensbury land previously held by Lubbock, as
part of his purchase of Ravensbury Manor House, and built his new
home on part of it, as we have seen in chapter 2.

Little Steelhawes

The name Steelhaws was also given to a 3¼-acre meadow to the
northeast of The Grange and separated from it by the road to Mitcham.
The tithe map shows it surrounded by channels of the River Wandle,
and containing a large rectangular pond, which survived until the 1960s,
when it was deemed unsafe and filled in. The pond may have had ancient
origins, as the name Steelhawes might refer to Old English stiell, a fish


trap or fishing-pool within a fenced or hedged enclosure.33 In 1838 this
meadow was owned by Richard Garth, lord of the manor of Morden,34
but it had been part of Ravensbury manor until the 16th century. Following
the Dissolution, the manor of Morden was sold in June 1553 to two
merchants, Edward Whitchurch and Lionel Ducket.35 Westminster
Abbey, who had owned the manor of Morden from before the Conquest,
had leased the manor to a ‘farmer’ for a term of 60 years from June
1511, and the Abbey’s manorial centre, known as Munkton farm, was
still occupied by the farmer.36 Whitchurch moved into a “newly-builded
mansion-house” on a copyhold property held from his manor of Morden,
known as Growtes after an earlier tenant, in the grounds of the present
Morden Lodge adjoining the Morden Hall Garden Centre. When he
sold the manor to the first Richard Garth in March 1554, the estate also
included a copyhold property in Morden “commonly called Stelehawes
taken used or lettyn togither wt the said house called Growtes”.37 This
was presumably the “croft of land called Letle Steelehawes containing
3 acres of meadow in the parish of Morden in the manor of Ravensbury”
formerly copyhold of the manor of Ravensbury, that Francis Carew,
lord of the manor of Ravensbury, granted to Garth by indenture in
February 1581 and confirmed by an “inrollment of feofment” at his
manorial court in the following October.38

Duckets Farm

Lionel Ducket had also looked to the manor of Ravensbury for his home
in Morden. In February 1585 Francis Carew sold to William Cowper ‘a
messuage or tenement with 12 acres in Morden, late in the occupation
of Sir Lyonell Duckett, alderman of the city of London, sometime
copyhold land of the manor of Ravensbury’.39 In 1606 this property
was sold to Lazarus Garth, one of the sons of Richard Garth, who in
1614 sold it to his brother, George, lord of the manor of Morden.40 It
was still being called ‘Duckets Farm’ in the 18th and early 19th
centuries.41 Thomas Stacy was the tenant in 1745,42 and in 1770 Richard
Garth leased it for 61 years to John Warrington, who held other leasehold
lands in Morden.43 In 1784 the lease was extended by 14 years and
assigned to John Groves, owner of Growtes,44 who in 1803 sold Growtes
and the lease of Duckets Farm to Abraham Goldsmid the financier.45
Goldsmid’s executors assigned the lease to John Tyrrell in 1824, and he


Lodge Steelhawes
Extract from an 1872 tracing of the 1838 Morden Tithe map, annotated
to show former Ravensbury property owned by Richard Garth
reproduced by courtesy of Merton Library & Heritage Service


sublet it in three parts, the house in 6½ acres then being known as
Poppendicks, after a former occupant.46 Tyrrell assigned the main lease
to William Henry Merle, son of William Merle late of Colliers Wood,47 in
November 1825,48 and in 1831 Merle leased Poppendicks for 13¼ years
to John Rutter, ‘tobacconist’, proprietor of Ravensbury mill.49 In the
Morden tithe apportionment schedule of 1838 a Captain Piper held the
house, orchard and two paddocks totalling 6¾ acres,50 the remaining
land and cottages fronting Central Road being leased individually.51 Three
cottages had been built in the garden of Duckets Farm52 andThe Plough
public house and an adjoining shop were built on a parcel of roadside
waste nearby, enclosed in 1797.53 These were all included in the sale
when the house and orchard were purchased in 1866 by Joseph W
Bazalgette, the engineer responsible for the London sewage system.54
Five other cottages, part of Duckets Farm but adjoining Steel Hawes,
were sold to Tritton at the same time.55 Bazalgette was already resident
in 1851, when the house was named in the Census return as Union
Villa.56 Later it was renamed The Willows, and Willows Avenue and the
former Willows School site now occupy the site of Duckets Farm.


The origin of the Ravensbury estate in Morden is not known. The first
clear indication that the forerunner of Ravensbury manor included lands
in both Mitcham and Morden is found in 1321, when Florence and Philip
de Orreby conveyed a substantial holding “in Mitcham and Morden” to
William de Herle for life.57 The two parishes are mentioned regularly
thereafter in relation to the estate.

One intriguing feature of the estate that appears on the various 19thcentury
maps is a large oval enclosure of around 80 acres, bounded on
its eastern edge by The Grove. The internal field boundaries are on a
completely different orientation to those surrounding it, suggesting that
it is a very early landscape feature, long pre-dating the surrounding field

This chapter is based on a paper given by Peter Hopkins to a
Merton Historical Society workshop in November 2007, with
additional material supplied by W J Rudd.

Chapter 4


For possibly 300 years Ravensbury was one of three centres of the
textile bleaching and printing industry which flourished on the banks of
the river Wandle at Mitcham. The establishment of the bleaching industry
in the London region is usually attributed to refugees from religious
persecution in the Low Countries during the 16th and 17th centuries.
An early Flemish presence in Mitcham is suggested by field names like
‘Fleming Gate’ and ‘Fleming Mead’ in use in the 16th century – the
latter a water meadow on the banks of the river Graveney in the north
of the parish.1 Six ‘strangers’, whose names suggest Dutch or Flemish
origins, were resident in Mitcham in 15922, and Adrian Collant, a
‘whitster’ or bleacher of cloth, who was buried at Mitcham in 1620,
was described as “a Dutchman dwelling a long time in the parish”.3
There is also the enigmatic fragment of what was believed to have
been a Flemish gravestone, discovered in a field near Ravensbury Park,
some time before the 1914/18 War.4

Confirmation that bleaching was being carried on in the vicinity of
Ravensbury in the late 17th century comes from the Quarter Sessions
records, which show that William Wood, a whitster, was ‘presented’,

i.e. summonsed, in 1690 for damaging the ancient common highway
from Morden to Mitcham by making a watercourse.5 Part of this
‘highway’ still exists as Ravensbury Lane, the cul-de-sac leading south
from Morden Road between the park and the adjoining factories. Wood’s
watercourse was probably the forerunner of one of the streams which
in the 18th century took water from the Wandle below Mitcham Grove
and, after making a circuit of the lawns and shrubberies of Ravensbury
House, served the bleaching grounds at the rear of what became the
Ravensbury print works. It can still be seen today, as a stream running
through Ravensbury Park near the Morden Road entrance.6 As we
have already observed, until the last century the remains of the parallel
ditches of a long disused crofting, or bleaching, ground also survived as
sufficiently conspicuous features in Ravensbury Park to attract the
attention of surveyors working for the Ordnance Survey, and are marked
on some of the larger scale editions of the maps until the 1930s.


The earliest records of fast dye cotton printing in England, to produce
prints comparable with those imported from India, date from the late
17th century, a William Sherwin of West Ham, who seems to have
pioneered the technique of madder printing in this country, being granted
a 14-year patent in 1676. By the early 18th century prints in brown,
black, purple and red were extremely popular both in England and abroad,
and a thriving export trade with the North American colonies had
developed. Difficulties experienced with mordants were overcome with
the use of thickeners by the 1740s, and English printers by this time
were able to produce multicolour patterns of great complexity and

The process of block-printing, and the equipment used, was described
by Godfrey Smith in The Laboratory; or, School of Arts published in
London in 1756:

“Here the journeyman printer receives the prepared and
calendered pieces … He spreads it (the cloth) upon an oblong
square table, of a considerable thickness, covered on the surface
with a swan-skin blanket. Then taking the print in his right hand,
and an oval mallet in his left, he dips the print on the colour, that

Engraving of a mid-18th-century calico printing workshop, from John
Barrow, A New Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (London 1754)


is spread by the tearing-boy, or girl, with a brush, upon a fine
worsted cloth, which is strained with a leather under it to a round
hoop-frame, and swims on dissolved gum that is in a shallow tub;
and then having thus furnished his print with the colour, he lays it
on the linen or cotton, and with the mallet gives it two, three, or
more knocks, according to the size of the print; then taking it off,
he repeats it, by observing the joining both at the ends and sides;
one table being done, he removes the printed work from off the
table, and thus proceeds with another, till the whole piece is done
… The pieces thus printed … are from the printing shop conveyed
to the copper or boiling-house, where the copper-man, who has
the boiling of them under his care and management, puts them in
a large copper, and boils them with madder, a reddish drug.”8

Peter Mauvillain, pre-eminent amongst the 12 calico printers known to
have been active in the Greater London area during the first half of the
18th century, claimed to have 205 workpeople employed at his works in
Mitcham and Wandsworth in 1719.9 He had obviously achieved a
position of prominence in the industry some 20 or so years earlier, for
he was a signatory of the “humble petition” submitted to the House of
Lords in 1696, when a bill “for restraining” the wearing of “Callicoes
dyed, printed or stained” was under discussion, and was important enough
to be called to give evidence before the House of Commons in 1697.
The precise location of Mauvillain’s Wandsworth factory has not been
established, but there can be little doubt that his Mitcham works were
at Ravensbury where, in his map of 1741-5, Rocque indicated a complex
of buildings. Moreover, Mauvillain was living nearby early in the 18th
century, having purchased the “mansion house” of Growtes in Morden,
in what is now part of the National Trust’s Morden Hall estate.10 This
was described as ‘newly-builded’ when sold by Edward Whitchurch
1554.11 In October 1726 Peter Mauvillain purchased the Tudor house
from Thomas and Elizabeth Keene, the property being described as 1
messuage, 1 barn, 2 stables, 2 gardens, 2 orchards, 3 acres land, 3 acres
meadow, 3 acres pasture with appurtenances.The house, on the south
bank of the Wandle within Morden parish, is shown as “Mr. Movillians”
on a plan ‘part of the River Wandel in the Parish of Morden’ prepared
after a survey in 1750.12 Ten years prior to the purchase, in October


1716, Peter and his brother Stephen had leased from Richard Garth’s
representatives part of the adjoining estate, later to be the site of the
present Morden Hall. As well as the mansion house and outbuildings,
and responsibility for maintaining “the Great Garden”, the lease included
34 acres of land “and use, liberty, priviledge and benefitt of cutting and
digging trenches, ditches and drains as they can and lawfully may grant
in any part of these above mentioned premises (except the yard, etc.) in
order to bring such part of the River Wandle as they the said Peter and
Stephen Mauvillain shall think necessary or convenient, in, by or through
the said premises for the carrying on of the trade, profession, occupation
or business of staining, dyeing, washing and printing of calicoes or such
other stuffes, goods, wares, commodities, matters and things as now
are or hereafter may or shall be used”.13 Peter Mauvillain II still held
this Garth leasehold property in 1745.14 It is thus in St Lawrence’s
churchyard at Morden that we find the tombs of Peter Mauvillain,
Stephen Mauvillain and his son, another Peter, dated 1739, 1740 and
1755 respectively.15 Peter junior was described as a plate printer in an
indenture of 1738,10 and in 1753, his father and uncle having died, he
sold Growtes to Philip Selby of Carshalton, a whitster, in January 1753.16
All of these gentlemen, we may assume, had close connections with
the family business founded by Peter senior.

The size of Mauvillain’s workforce, and its concentration in factories, is
an interesting feature of the enterprise, for Mauvillain was pioneering
aspects of the industrial revolution normally associated with the latter
part of the 18th century. Unlike the production of woollens, which was
still organised on a domestic basis, the successful importation, processing
and marketing of the finished calicoes called not only for the investment
of considerable capital, but also for organisational skills of high order. In
their evidence before the commissioners of trade and plantations in 1720
the printers emphasised the heavy outlay in buildings, the diversion of
water and laying out of grounds, plus investment in expensive machinery
to which they were committed before production could start. Again, unlike
the traditional cottage-based woollen industry, the printing of linens and
cottons called for a co-ordination of many skills, and Mauvillain is said to
have had 152 hands working in one factory alone, bringing together the
crafts of fieldmen, ‘tierers’, grounders and printers, drawers and cutters.9


As we have seen, there are various references from the mid-18th century
to John Arbuthnot, the first calico printer known for certain to have
been connected with the Ravensbury factory, and it would seem that he
took over the Mauvillains’ business, possibly shortly before the death of
Peter Mauvillain junior. The land leased by Arbuthnot from Carew in
175517 lay in both parishes, on either side of the Wandle, and it seems
highly likely that it had been held previously by Mauvillain, although this
cannot be confirmed. Arbuthnot’s first marriage was to Sally Margaret
Cecil, daughter of John Cecil of Abbey House, Merton, proprietor of
the calico printing works founded in the former priory grounds in 1724.18
The grave of Mrs Hannah Cecil, his mother-in-law, who died at Merton
Abbey in January 1756 aged 58, is marked on a low table tomb in Morden
churchyard, and John, ‘of Ravensbury’, who died in April 1760, was
also buried at Morden. Bequests in various wills show that the Cecils
and Mauvillains were related by marriage, and a more detailed
examination of the partnership of the two families can be found in Peter
McGow’s paper ‘The Ravensbury Printing Works, Mitcham’ deposited
with the Wandle Industrial Museum, and available on their website.

Whereas initially Arbuthnot was involved personally in the production
at the Ravensbury works, after the death of his wife Sally in 1759 and
his father-in-law the following year, his interests had clearly extended
to high farming. By 1761 the works are shown in the Mitcham poor rate
books to have been in the occupation of Thomas Whapham,19 who
undertook various improvements to the Ravensbury factory, and in 1763
created a tumbling bay and dam on the river for which he became
responsible by indenture.20 From this we may deduce that he was acting
in his own right under a sub-lease. It is, of course, possible that Arbuthnot,
as head lessee, retained some interest in the enterprise, but this is
conjectural, and research by McGow shows that by the late 1770s
Arbuthnot was in financial difficulties, probably an outcome of the
American War of Independence and disruption of trade with Britain.

The embellishment of textiles with colours capable of withstanding washing
was achieved by the use of mordants, metallic compounds which react
chemically with dye. The dye most commonly used was obtained from
the root of the madder plant which, although naturally of a reddish hue,


when used with different mordants (from the French mordre, to bite),
would produce a range of colours. The method followed in mordant-
madder printing, which ensured that only the patterned part of the calico
retained the colour, was to print the fabric with the mordant, and then to
uniformly dye the whole of the piece being processed. Subsequent exposure
of the cloth to sun and air bleached out the dye from the untreated portion,
leaving the desired pattern on a white ground. Experienced dyers could
produce a great variety of colours and shades by their choice of mordant
and by manipulating the strengths of the solution applied.21Arbuthnot
experimented with the cultivation of madder at Ravensbury, and there
is a suggestion that a mill on the Morden, or southern, bank of the Wandle,
was being used in the 1760s for the grinding of dyewoods, another source
of colour, but the building had been converted to snuff milling by 1790,
when it was in the hands of William Fenning.22

In 1780 the Mitcham land tax records list a new occupier of the
Ravensbury calico print works – Thomas Hatcher, who held a house
and lands valued at £100 p.a. for tax purposes. The ‘proprietor’ of the
land was Richard Gee Carew, Sir Nicholas’s heir. By 1779 John
Arbuthnot’s relative, Admiral Marriott Arbuthnot, was in residence at
Ravenbury House, and from this point on the histories of the house and
the print works diverge.23 Hatcher’s “neat white house” lay on the same
bank of the Wandle as the old manor house, but about a furlong (200 m)
to the north-west, and downstream. The prints produced by Hatcher
were evidently highly regarded – a contemporary refers to him as “a
gentleman much noted for his manufactory in the callico line”24 – and
he would appear to have taken over at Ravensbury in immediate
succession to Thomas Wapham. Unfortunately Hatcher’s tenure was
to be of short duration, for he died in 1787; his standing was such that
his passing merited a note in the Gentleman’s Magazine.25 The house
overlooking the river remained in the occupation of his widow for a
year or so, but by 1791 it had become the residence of William Fenning.

Thus we find the Ravensbury works in the hands of William Fenning
“of Merton Abbey” who had, in fact, paid poor rates for premises
elsewhere in the parish of Mitcham as early as 1769, and whose firm,
Fenning and Company, had been renting land near the Ravensbury
factory in the early ’80s. Like Hatcher, Fenning had previously been


manufacturing at Merton, the first indication of his involvement in the
calico printing industry being in the will of Jonathan Meadows of Merton
Abbey, thread whitster, dated December 1778, in which Fenning is styled
“Mr. William Fenning of Merton in Surrey calico printer”.25 Very wisely,
it transpired, he took out a fire insurance policy with the Royal Exchange
in March 1791 to cover the “utensils and stock” and the timber-built,
tiled-roofed water-mill at Ravensbury for the sum of £100.26 Two years
later the author of Ambulator observed, after noting that Fenning had
grounds for bleaching and printing on the banks of the Wandle at
Ravensbury, “Mr. Fenning has an engine in case of fire, the pumps of
which are worked by the same wheel that is used in the business. He
experienced the benefit of this machine a few months ago, when his
premises took fire, and would have been totally consumed but for this
admirable invention.”27

William Fenning ran the Ravensbury works for over 20 years before his
death in August 1812, at the age of 74. He was buried in Mitcham
churchyard, where the inscription on his tombstone affords him the style
of ‘Esq’.28 His son, also named William, inherited the business but, either
lacking his father’s enterprise, or perhaps finding the returns from block-
printing insufficiently rewarding in the face of competition from the
new roller-printing methods being employed at the Merton Abbey works
and elsewhere, he relinquished his interest shortly after the end of the
Napoleonic War. The flurry of arming and drilling which followed the
renewal of hostilities with France in 1803 had seen the formation of
‘The Loyal Mitcham Volunteer Infantry’ in which William Fenning junior
served as captain of the first company.29 His lieutenant was Robert
Wasley, whose son John was to become manager of the Ravensbury
factory some 40 years later. (Robert Wasley, described as “Drilling
Master 50 years”, died 1 June 1842 aged 82 and lies buried with his
wife Mary and daughter Sarah in Mitcham churchyard.) Fenning resided
at Baron House, a substantial property in Lower Mitcham, until 1807
and then moved to Christ Church (Southwark) where he died in February
1837. He was buried in the family vault at Mitcham.25

Bailey Austin, who followed the Fennings as the proprietor of the business
at Ravensbury, was granted a 21-year lease in 1817. The premises


were described as “that Messuage or tenement with Mill Houses,
Buildings, Stable and Appurtenances at or near Ravensbury” and land
called the “Whitstring alias the Whitening Ground, 10a 1r 10p and 2a
27p abutting”.30 The ivy-covered tomb of Bailey Austin, described in
his will as “calico printer of Ravensbury, Mitcham,” can be seen in the
parish churchyard. He died in 1823, leaving bequests to his parents,
John and Sarah Austin of Oundle. Another new name, that of Frederick
Benjamin King, ‘calico printer’, Austin’s brother-in-law, now appears
as the occupier of the Ravensbury works over the next five years,
following Bailey Austin’s death.31 Bailey Austin had been associated
with the Ravensbury factory for some time, possibly as a partner of
William Fenning the elder, with whom he was of an age. As we shall
see later, the development of partnerships in the calico printing industry,
in contrast to ownership by one person, does seem increasingly to have
been a feature of the structure of those businesses surviving into the
middle of the 19th century. King carried on after Austin’s death, but by
1828 had been succeeded by Edward Walmesley. Further research by
McGow has clarified the situation, which is complex, for these men
were operating in a period of acute post-war depression, and in the
face of growing competition from the steam-powered mills of the
industrial north.

With the appearance of Edward Walmesley on the scene at Ravensbury
around 182732 we enter a new and what seems to have been the last
successful period in the factory’s history, extending over 14 years.33
Walmesley had come to live at Morden in a house in Central Road, later
known as Hazelwood, and was still assessed on it in the land tax records
when they ceased in 1831.34 Perhaps significantly, he seems to have
been the last of the proprietors to have lived close to the works, and
was thus in a position to exercise personal supervision. In August 1831
he was granted a seven-year under-lease of “All those mill houses,
drying houses, sheds and buildings now and for several years past used
by the said Edward Walmesley as a factory for carrying on the business
of a calico printer” by John Jonas Child of Hadley.35 Child was probably
acting on behalf of Hugh Arbuthnot, the head-leaseholder, who was by
now a major-general and member of Parliament for Kincardineshire.36
On the other hand, Child could have represented either Austin’s


Undated watercolour by William Wood Fenning (1799-1872), son of William Fenning junior, showing the RavensburyPrintworks, possibly painted during a visit in 1850, reproduced by courtesy of Sue Wilmott


beneficiaries or King’s creditors. Actual ownership of the land was still
in the hands of the Carew family of Beddington, and a review of mills
on the Wandle in 1834 shows the print works, leased and occupied by
Edward Walmesley, as being in the hands of the late Sir Benjamin
Hallowell Carew’s executors.37 The lease included not merely buildings,
but also fixtures, machinery and utensils, leaving Walmesley to provide
mainly labour and materials.

In August 1836 Edward Walmesley surrendered the uncompleted term
of his under-lease to Arbuthnot and negotiated a fresh lease of the
messuage with mill house and land (the description confirms that this
included the “Whitstring or Whitening Ground” mentioned in previous
deeds).38 On the strength of his extended tenure he obtained fresh
working capital secured by a mortgage for £4,750.39 For four years all
seems to have gone reasonably well, and as ‘Walmesley and Co. –
Ravensbury Factory’ the firm is listed under ‘Calico, Silk etc. Printers’
in a local directory of 1839.40 For a brief period Walmesley enjoyed a
reputation for the manufacture of Paisley-patterned shawls, then an
essential element of fashionable attire for ladies, but fashion is fickle,
and the good times did not last.41

It makes little demand on the imagination to visualise the widespread
social effects of the steady decline in the local textile industry which
had been a feature of the local economy, albeit with brief intermissions,
since the 1820s, leading to closures and often bankruptcies. A notebook
kept in 1837/8 by one of the curates at Mitcham parish church, the
Revd Herbert Randolph, contains several references to Edward
Walmesley and also to Samuel Makepeace (another calico printer who
had a factory in Willow Lane). An elderly block printer, William Hersey,
is said to have been “badly off from the state of trade”, and of Henry
and Charlotte Thompson, Randolph recorded “26 weeks out of work.
Son nearly 21 no work for the last 8 months. Badly off.” The monetary
wages of those parishioners fortunate to remain in work are given in
several instances, and of course appear extremely low in comparison
with modern expectations: “William Upham, widower … son is married
and … works at Walmesleys, receives 10/- or 12/- per week …” and
“Foster Edwards …, works at Mr. Walmesley’s at from 15/-to £1. 5. 0
per week” (presumably a skilled man).42


Edward Walmesley died in about 1840, but the firm continued for a
while. The census of 1841 found Mary Walmesley, then in her mid-
fifties, living at the house adjoining the works, with John Wasley, the
manager of the calico factory and his wife nearby, and in another house
connected with the works, John Berryman the manager of the copper
house and calico ground, also with his wife and family.43

The mortgage raised by her late husband was surrendered and
extinguished by Mary Walmesley in 1842 with, one suspects, money
raised by the sale of her interest in the business.44 From now on the
financial difficulties being encountered by the new lessees of the works
become woefully evident. The precise reasons for their recurring failures
have yet to be ascertained, but changes in fashion, a contraction of demand
for the more expensive English hand-printed fabrics, competition from
the increasingly industrialised manufacturies of the Midlands and north
of England as well as imports from the Far East – all probably contributed
to the hard times experienced by the manufacturers in the Wandle valley.

In 1845 the London Gazette45 gave notice of a fiat in bankruptcy dated
February of that year against Lawrence Daniel Dolbell, a dyer at
Ravensbury Mills, and five years later, in March 1850, came the formal
announcement of the dissolution of the partnership between Edward
Carter and John Downing, “Silk, Woollen, Challi [Challis] and Fancy
Printers at the Willow Mills and Ravensbury Mills”.46 All debts due and
owing were to be addressed to Carter. On 6 December 1850, the
Gazette published notice of the dissolution of the firm of Carter, Bowen
and Co, silk, calico and shawl printers, and the following August the
hearing of the adjudication of bankruptcy filed against Owen Bowen
and Alexander Gibson of the Ravensbury Print Works, both of whom
were described as calico printers, was set for the Court of Bankruptcy
on 13 September 1851.

The records of the tithe survey of 1846/7 give only the name of John
Geary, a dyer, as occupier of the printing factory and its associated
buildings,47 and the census of 1851 lists him as works manager, living on
the premises. As the resident manager, he was presumably endeavouring
to maintain some form of production whilst his employers struggled to
weather the financial storms that beset them.


John Arbuthnot’s original lease expired in 1854, and in July the following
year, when the Carews’ Ravensbury Estate was in the process of being
broken up, the Ravensbury factory came up for sale.

The buyer was Peter Dempsey who, with his partner George Heard,
had actually been in occupation of the works for several years. The
conveyance of the Ravensbury Print Works, described as a “house and
certain premises now used as a shawl and linen printing manufactory
with certain grounds attached thereto and which was formerly used as
a Calico manufactory …” with 14 acres 10 poles of land, is dated
December 1856, and names Charles Hallowell Hallowell Carew of
Beddington and others as the vendors, and Peter Dempsey and his
trustee as purchasers.48 The plan accompanying the conveyance shows
the premises to have comprised all the land lying between the river,
Morden Road and the western boundary of the grounds of Ravensbury

Under the proprietorship of Dempsey and Heard, shawl printers, the
Ravensbury Print Works were now to enjoy a final, albeit brief, period
of activity, if not actual prosperity. Ben Slater, in his memoirs of Mitcham
in the middle of the century, said of “The Ravensbury Factory”:

“… this was noted for calico printing, also silk printing, and the
noted Paisley shawls were made and printed here to a large
extent. There were a great number of hands employed here,
both men and women, French, Scotch and English.”49

Braithwaite, visiting the area in the spring of 1853, had observed that

“Below Mr. Gifford’s grounds [i.e. the grounds of Ravensbury
House, now Ravensbury Park] are the print works of Messrs.
Dempsey and Hind [sic], which employ one wheel of 8 H.P.; the
mill head is 46 feet 7 inches above T.H.W.M.. This firm used
half a carboy of sulphuric acid weekly; [only one sixth the
consumption of the Phipps Bridge Works downstream] a carboy
or about 8 gallons of muriate of tin per month [1/12th the
consumption of the Phipps Bridge Works] 5 cwt. of prussiate of
potash, and 5 cwt. of oxalic acid per annum; also a certain quantity
of sulphate of copper, nitrate of iron, chloride of lime etc, all of


which materials are discharged into the river. Moreover, the works
require, for the washing of goods, all the water that can be
obtained, and four men are constantly employed in rinsing them
in the stream. The deep, colouring matter may be observed for
more than 200 yards.”50

The basic process employed at the Ravensbury works by Dempsey
and Heard probably differed little from that described in 1814 by Edward
Bancroft as being used by the printers in New England. Two or three
pounds of madder for each piece of calico were crumbled in water,
which was then brought to blood heat. The pieces of calico, previously
printed with various mordants and then joined together, were thoroughly
immersed in the dyeing liquor about an hour, care being taken to ensure
the cloth was continuously agitated and completely impregnated with
the dye. The length of material was then quickly removed and thoroughly
washed in a stream of running water to avoid spotting. Next it was
boiled with bran to remove any remaining madder residue, and spread
on the grass of the crofting grounds to bleach in the sun. If necessary
the boiling with bran and exposure to sunlight were repeated until all
trace of the madder dye had disappeared from the parts untreated with
mordant. The metallic mordants used were in themselves colourless,
but were capable of producing fast colours in various shades of rose,
brown, purple and so on in the finished article.8 There can be little wonder
that at Ravensbury, where the washing process was virtually continuous
when the works were in production, the Wandle was highly coloured
below the point at which the effluent was discharged.

As we have seen, below Mitcham Bridge water from the Wandle had,
for perhaps two centuries or more, been diverted into an artifical
watercourse which meandered through the grounds of Mitcham Grove
and Ravenbury House, before ultimately reaching the Ravensbury works.
Within two years of the sale, a dispute had arisen between Dempsey
and a Mr Hitchcock, the new lessee of the house, over the pollution of
the river caused by the works effluent.51 Its effects on the fine trout still
to be caught in the Wandle at this time was certainly a matter of concern
to those with interests in angling, and ‘The rise and fall of the River
Wandle’ was the subject of a paper presented to the Institution of Civil
Engineers by Braithwaite in 1861.50


Detail from 1855 sales particulars, showing the printworks and Ravensbury Housereproduced by courtesy of Surrey History Service


By now, however, the works were again in trouble. The partnership
between Peter Dempsey and George Heard “as shawl printers or
otherwise” at Ravensbury Print Works, had been dissolved in April
1856,52 and whereas the reasons for the split are unknown, it is clear
that in the years that followed Dempsey was continually pressed for
money. It seems likely that it was to finance the business and meet his
debts that £2,500 was raised by mortgage in February 1857, and a further
£500 in December 1858.53

Further loans were arranged with William Simpson of ‘The Manor
House’, Mitcham, between January and May 1861, and a second
mortgage was raised with Simpson in July to enable Dempsey to meet
interest payable,54 but this relief failed to save the business, then obviously
in terminal decline. The end came in August 1862 with the sale to William
Simpson by Sumner and Holt, Dempsey’s mortgagees, of a cottage and
a little over six acres of ground lately occupied with the print works.55
Once again, one glimpses the social stress which was the inevitable
consequence of this collapse of an industry on which many families had
relied for a century or more. The Revd Daniel Wilson, newly instituted
to the vicarage of Mitcham in 1859, was deeply concerned at the distress
and poverty he found in his new parish. He was particularly saddened
by the hardship experienced during the severe winter of 1860/61, writing
in his pastoral letter “… much distress is caused among the poor by the
demand for labour being so small. Before the introduction of steam, the
various factories were in full work, now short time is too often the case.
The printers are, by reason of their employment, unfitted for hard work,
and they live on, buoyed up with hope, too often a delusive one, of
getting work in the factories.”56

The Ravensbury Print Works, the cottage and ground were mortgaged
for £3,400 by Simpson immediately on purchase, and then let to James
Wilkinson of Sydenham for one year at £300.57 Wilkinson, unfortunately,
died within a few months, and the agreement was annulled in February
1863.58 Simpson and his mortgagees next conveyed the old print works
and associated lands to James Terry and James Whitehead of London,
who mortgaged the property for £6,600 for a year.59 By 1874, after further
mortgages had been raised, Henry Hoare of Hoare’s Bank had become
the landlord, and the factory and premises had been let for one year to


Lamprell, Andrews and Emerson, lace merchants.60 A year later, in
February 1875, Hoare granted them a lease for 9 years.61 The following
April, he sold the whole of the property to Gilliat Hatfeild of Morden Hall.
The property by this time comprised a water-mill and manager’s house,
the factory (with the manager’s residence), the Ravensbury Arms, 1-4
Morden Place, some cottages in Ravensbury Grove and Ravensbury Road,
further building land, and Ravensbury Cottage.62

During the inter-war years the present Surrey Arms in Morden Road
replaced an old inn and row of early 19th-century weatherboarded
cottages, part of the former Carew estate, and a small block of shops
was built in the Morden Road adjoining a new Ravensbury Arms (now
replaced by a block of flats) at the corner of Ravensbury Grove, but the
general atmosphere was still essentially rural. The lace manufacturer’s
lease of the Ravensbury works terminated in 1884, and the factory had
almost certainly closed down before the turn of the century. The old
buildings remained, however, gradually becoming more and more derelict
but still sufficiently intact in the 1940s to be used for storage. The millpond
and numerous watercourses also survived, although much overgrown
by rushes and willows and, by operating the valves controlling the flow
of water, the wheel could still be made to turn. (See Appendix 3)

Postcard of The Surrey Arms, Morden Road, c.1910


Under the Hatfeilds’ ownership little material change was to occur in
this part of Mitcham until after the 1939-45 war. Giving a talk on ‘Old
Mitcham’ in 1933, the 83 year-old Walter Hunt, dubbed “One of
Mitcham’s grand old men” by the local press, recalled “Ravensbury,
the most charming part of the whole district” around the time of Hatfeild’s
purchase as:

“… not yet disfigured by the factories now standing in Morden
Lane. Harvey and Knight’s floor cloth factory, which had been but
recently built, was scarcely in sight from the river, upon whose
banks the kingfisher and moorhen used to foregather with a certain
amount of security, and beautiful trout grew to full size in the water.

“For a time we lived in a house beside Rutters’ snuff and tobacco
mills, which were driven by two large waterwheels on the Wandle.
Our fairly large garden at the back extended along the river bank,
and in a punt built by my father my brother and I used to row
upstream under picturesque overhanging trees into what seemed
to us fairyland. The thrills experienced on these occasions were
sometimes called to mind many years later when cruising amongst
even more beautiful surroundings on other parts of the World.”

In the 1980s deeds of the Mitcham Rubber Co’s former factory premises
in Morden Road, covering the period 1856-1916, were deposited at the
then Surrey Record Office by British Telecommunications plc, following
their acquisition of the premises.63 These show that the site, a piece of
freehold land called Finning Field amounting to 3 acres and situated
near Ravensbury House, was once part of the Carew estates. The land
was purchased in 1876 from the auctioneer V J Blake of Croydon by
Daniel Hayward and Sons Ltd, another firm of linoleum and floor cloth
manufacturers. Despite being built of brick, Hayward’s linoleum factory
met with disaster several times through fires. The aftermath of what
was probably the last fire, whilst the premises were still in Hayward’s
ownership, was photographed by Tom Francis, and is reproduced as
plate 156 of Old Mitcham (1993).

Following Hayward’s declaration of bankruptcy in 1887 the site was
bought by the Mitcham Linoleum and Floorcloth Co. Two years later
ownership passed to the British and Foreign Oxolin Co, who in turn sold


the factory and land to Messrs Bigby, paint and varnish manufacturers,
in 1901. The subsequent conveyance of the site to the British Rubber
Co in 1916 includes a plan showing details of the layout of Bigby’s
varnish works at that time. The 1932/35 OS map shows the eastern
corner of the site, abutting Ravensbury Lane, as the ‘Imperial Works’
of Hancock and Corfield, manufacturers of enamelled signs, etc. The
rubber works continued to occupy the adjoining site until the 1940s,
when they were destroyed during an air raid. In 1965 the corner site
was still occupied by Hancock’s, then known as Hancock, Corfield and
Waller, whilst the former rubber works was used as a pipe store by the
GPO telephone department.

The Hatfeild estate in Mitcham and Morden was offered for sale by
auction in May 1946. Damage caused by flying bombs towards the end
of World War II had left the buildings of the Ravensbury print works in
a ruinous condition, and the site was purchased for housing purposes by
Mitcham Borough Council. The first dwellings erected were a row of
prefabricated concrete houses in Morden Road, facing the park
entrance. Site preparation necessitated backfilling the ditches once
running across the bleaching grounds, and the work was carried out by
Italian and Austrian prisoners of war. A later phase in the development
of the new estate in the early 1950s involved the demolition of the
cottages in Ravensbury Grove and The Laurels, a late Victorian red
brick house at the corner of Morden Road which had been leased by
Hatfeild in 1904 to Thomas Harvey, a varnish maker, and let to William
Marshall, whose family occupied it for many years.

Inevitably the clearance work also included the ruins of the old print
works, and very little now remains to guide the interested visitor to
the site of the factory. There is a short length of 13½-inch red brick
boundary wall facing the river, and a backwater winding its way round
the edge of Ravensbury Park to join the Wandle below the mill pond
of Ravensbury Mills, but both are meaningless without a plan of the
works in their heyday. Today, lock-up garages at the side of No. 11
Ravensbury Grove occupy the site of the manager’s house, whilst the
roads and gardens of the post WWII Council estate cover the bleaching


The Ravensbury Printworks in 1890
reproduced by courtesy of Mrs Madeline Healey

The cottage occupied by Hatfeild’s bailiff, the last remaining building
contemporary with the works on the northern, or Mitcham, bank of
the river, stood beside a roadway giving access to the factory from
Morden Road. Its low-pitched slate roof and walls of yellow stock
bricks indicated erection in the earlier part of the 19th century, and
the building is shown on the 1846 tithe map, but nothing much is known
of its origins. It was included in the Carew estate sale of 1855, and it
was one of the cottages acquired by Gilliat Hatfeild in 1876. Abram
Clark, the bailiff for the Morden Hall estate, lived there for many
years, followed by his stepson, William Williams. Williams also worked
on the estate, having been employed by Gilliat Edward Hatfeild since
his boyhood, and became bailiff himself after serving in the 1914/18

When the Hatfeild estate was auctioned in 1946, William Williams as a
sitting tenant successfully bid for his cottage, encouraged by the
assurances received that Mitcham Corporation did not require the
property. Within a year or so, however, the Council placed a compulsory
purchase order on it, buying at the favourable auction price and not the
current market value.


The Bailiff’s Cottage with Mr & Mrs Williams in 1959
reproduced by courtesy of Mrs Madeline Healey

Mitcham’s redevelopment plans did not necessitate demolition of the
cottage, and after his retirement William Williams was allowed to retain
the tenancy, and lived to reach the age of eighty. The long narrow garden,
bordered by a leat from the mill pond, was beautifully kept by the old man,
and created a brilliant splash of colour in the early summer with peonies
and irises in profusion. By 1959 Surrey County Council had finalised their
plans for diverting the river above Ravensbury mills as part of a
comprehensive scheme of flood control, and it was obvious considerable
changes were in the offing. Work commenced towards the end of 1962,
and the still picturesque setting of Ravensbury cottage was destroyed,
breaking old Mr Williams’s heart. He died of pneumonia early in 1963,
and three years later the cottage, empty and becoming increasingly
dilapidated and a prey to vandals, was demolished. It could have been
sold and renovated, but the Council decided that the land on which the
building stood was needed for access to the newly installed flood control
gates. The site of the cottage and its garden have now been incorporated
in the riverside walk forming an entrance to Ravensbury Park.64

Two of the names for the roads on the new municipal housing estate
were chosen for their local associations – Hatfeild Close, and Rutter


Gardens, the former recalling the last lord of the manor of Morden and
the latter commemorating the Rutter family, manufacturers of snuff
and tobacco at the Ravensbury Mills for over a century, whose ‘Mitcham
Shag’ acquired a nationwide reputation. Regrettably the opportunity to
acknowledge the even longer history of calico bleaching and printing at
Ravensbury was missed, probably because it was all but forgotten by
the time the land was redeveloped in the immediate post-war period.

Quite by accident, however, the estate revived a connection with the
Low Countries dating back 400 years, for one of the roads was named
after the Dutch township of Hengelo, twinned with the Borough of
Mitcham at the end of the 1939-45 War. The link is commemorated by
a metal plaque set in a concrete slab at the roadside, inscribed

“Hengelo Gardens,
30th August 1952
This plaque was unveiled by
the Burgomaster of Hengelo
as a token of the friendship
between the people of Mitcham
and Hengelo in the Netherlands”.

The plaque in Hengelo Gardens in 1980


‘A Plan of Parts of the River Wandel In the Parish of Morden and County of Surrey. survey’d 1750’
reproduced by courtesy of Merton Library & Heritage ServiceMorden Mills
‘Mr. Movillianshouse’ (Growtes)

Chapter 5


The Domesday Survey of 1086 recorded two mills within the future
civil parish of Mitcham, and on the basis of what is known (or can be
deduced) of their subsequent history neither seems to have been located
at Ravensbury. Another mill was also recorded at Morden, but its site
has not been identified.1 The de Mara or de la Mare family, who held
the manor of Ravensbury through much of the Middle Ages, certainly
owned a watermill, but there is good evidence to show that it was not
situated at Ravensbury, but a little over a mile downstream, beyond
Merton Bridge.2

What seems to be the first mention of a mill on the Wandle at Ravensbury
occurs in the manorial rent roll recording that a rent of £5 was paid to Sir
Nicholas Carew by a Mr Westbrooke for a “newly erected mill below
Ravensbury house”. The roll is undated, but the handwriting, and what is
known of the history of the Carew estate, has led the County Archivist to
ascribe it to the 1680s.3 It is conceivable that the document may actually
date to either 1688, when Francis Carew inherited the family estates on
the death of Sir Nicholas, his father, or perhaps the following year, when
Francis himself died, heavily in debt. The subsequent family dispute over
guardianship and management of the Carew properties culminated in
litigation, as a consequence of which matters were placed in the hands of
the ‘punctilious’ Charles Bynes of Carshalton, acting as official receiver.4
It was noted in the rent roll that the amount payable by Westbrooke had
been increased to £6 10s, which conveys a hint that at around the time
the roll was compiled the financial administration of the Carew estate
was being placed on a more realistic footing – probably by Bynes.

Nothing in the rent roll indicates that the new mill replaced an earlier
structure, and the Ravensbury Mills were paying tithes in the 19th century,5
which implies that the site was not that of a mill ‘of ancient demesne’,
with origins in the Middle Ages, and therefore free of tithe. We are thus
left to conclude tentatively that construction of the mill should be dated to
within a decade or so of the Restoration. Nothing seems to have been
recorded to suggest the identity of the entrepreneur responsible being
other than Westbrooke himself, and the purpose for which the mill was
first used is not known.6


A ‘Plan of Part of the River Wandel In the Parish of Morden and County
of Surrey Survey’d in 1750′ for Richard Garth, owner of the Morden
Hall estate, indicates, probably in stylised form, a large rectangular
building or group of buildings astride the river in the position now occupied
by the Ravensbury Mills, plus a smaller building adjoining, on the north
or Mitcham bank of the mill-head.7 Against the latter structure, but
probably relating to the whole complex, is written “Westbrooks Mill”.
The earliest surviving Mitcham poor rate book, for September 1755,
lists a Mr Busick as the rate payer in respect of a mill and land, assessed
by the parish overseers at £15 per annum, which he rented from Sir
Nicholas Carew.8 There is no indication of what Busick was using the
mill for, but the following February, when the rate book no longer
mentions Busick, there is a new entry for “Mr. Arnold’s snuff mills”,
valued at £32.9 This doubling of the rating assessment almost certainly
reflects enlargement of the premises by Arnold on taking over from

In October 1758 Latham Arnold, described as “of Newgate Street,
Tobacconist”, insured his mill on the Mitcham bank of the river with the
Hand in Hand insurance company. The policy was renewed in 1765,
1772 and 1779.10 In March 1765, when the valuation for rating purposes
was increased, this time to £63, the entry “Mr. Arnold for Mill and land
late Busick” makes it clear the same premises are involved. By 1769
the assessment had risen to £82 11 – a change which, once again, must
reflect the continued expansion of the premises stimulated by the profits
to be made from snuff manufacture. From the insurance records it is
evident that Latham had an interest in another mill at Ravensbury, situated
on the Morden bank of the river. In 1761 and 1768 this was described
as milling logwood (from which dye was extracted), but by the time
Arnold renewed cover in 1775 both mills had been converted to the
grinding of tobacco for snuff.

It is apparent from the map produced for Richard Garth in 1750 that
mill buildings were already straddling the river, which here formed the
parish boundary. Whilst the rates demanded by Mitcham steadily
increased over a period of a decade and a half, the Morden overseers
appear not to have shown the same level of interest, and their records
seem somewhat inconsistent.12 From 1780 onwards, however, the


premises were assessed for Land Tax in both Mitcham and Morden
concurrently. The implication is that the mill at Ravensbury was
established initially on the north bank of the river, and that expansion on
to the Morden bank took place gradually during the third quarter of the
18th century. Prentis13 noted on a visit to the mills in the 1960s that the
floors of what he believed to be original buildings on the north bank
were below the level of the water in the mill pond outside. The slate-
roofed and weatherboarded buildings he saw may not, in fact, have
been as old as the 17th century, but the floor levels certainly indicated
that they pre-dated the creation of the large mill head we can see today.

It is from the last decade or so of the 18th century that we begin to have
other evidence which confirms that the snuff mills buildings were
becoming concentrated on the Morden side of the river. Edwards’s
map of c.178914 for instance, marks a “Snuff mill” on the south bank,
although not at the roadside as today. An ink and blue wash sketch of
the rear of the mill made by James Bourne in about 1810, makes it quite
clear that the premises then comprised a group of buildings disposed
across the end of the mill-head, with a subsidiary grouping of smaller

Ink and blue wash sketch of the rear of the mill by James Bourne c.1810
reproduced by courtesy of John Turner


buildings on the Mitcham bank.15 There were also two wheels in parallel,
very much as at the Morden Hall snuff mills today, and a tumbling bay
discharging on the northern side of the mill pond as it did until modified
in the early 1960s. Wilfred Prentis16 was evidently pursuaded by
Rocque’s map of 1762, which marks a snuff mill at Ravensbury, to
conclude that the mill building fronting the road today was “probably”
already standing in the 1760s. Bourne’s drawing, which depicts the
buildings as gabled and with an irregular roof-line, quite unlike the large
yellow stock-brick structure surviving to the present day, shows that
Prentis was misled.

Peter McGow’s work on the insurance registers has enabled the history
of Latham Arnold’s snuff mills to be followed in some detail until his
death in 1781.17 His daughter Mary married the Revd John Pearkes, whose
brother Martin entered into partnership with Latham in about 1777, and it
was from Martin Pearkes that the snuff and tobacco business was acquired
by John Rutter of Love Lane, Aldermanbury in 1805. During Pearkes’s
time the premises were extended, an indication that the business was
prospering, and in 1789 there is mention of insurance cover being granted
for a newly erected warehouse opposite the snuff mills, and a barn situated
some 20 yards to the east. In September 1790 Pearkes (still trading from
the premises in Newgate Street) took out a fire insurance policy with the
Sun Insurance on the utensils and stock in “A House, Water Snuff Mill”
and adjacent shed at his factory at Mitcham. At the same time he insured
“an adjoining House and Tobacco Mill House”, together with a warehouse,
in Morden.18 These were the buildings depicted by Bourne, and are shown
by the policies to have been of timber construction, with tiled roofs. They
were insured for £500 and £1000 respectively, and the two water-wheels
and machinery were valued separately at £500. Pearkes and Company
did not actually own the premises, but held them by lease from Richard
Gee Carew of Beddington, who had come into the family estate in 1780
on the death of an aunt.19

An archaeological evaluation conducted by the Museum of London
Archaeology Service in October 1992, when an application for planning
consent to redevelop land at the rear of the Ravensbury Mills was under
consideration by the London Borough of Merton, exposed several


features to support the belief that the earliest buildings had been on the
north bank of the river.20 Here, in one trench, the remains of a large wall
of red unfrogged bricks was uncovered. This had been built in a timber-
revetted foundation trench, and was dated to “perhaps” the 17th or
18th centuries, and could well have been part of Westbrooke’s mill of
the 1680s. In a second trench, also on the Mitcham side of the river,
several arched brick channels were found, believed to have been
constructed to control the flow of water beneath a building. Again,
construction materials suggested a date contemporary with the late 17thcentury
mill. On the southern, or Morden bank, a distinctive feature in
the one trench opened by the archaeologists was a buried river channel
which, until it was levelled with dumped material, seems likely to have
formed a major depression on this side of the river. The clay and sand
filling of the depression contained fragments of the same early red bricks
found on the north bank, and could well have been deposited here when
the level of the mill-head was raised in the latter part of the 18th century.
This may have taken place in the 1780s when, as we shall see below,
there seem to have been new buildings erected on the Morden side of
the river or, alternatively, shortly before the erection of the present mill
building early in the 19th century.

Although the use of tobacco, taken in the form of snuff, had been
widespread on the Continent in the 17th century, it did not become
fashionable in England until the reign of Queen Anne, and it was another
50 years before snuffing ousted the smoking of tobacco in popularity.
The elegant use of snuff gradually evolved into a social accomplishment
and extravagant claims were made for its alleged therapeutic properties.
To meet the demand, production in this country greatly expanded in the
18th century, though the best quality snuff, and hence the most expensive,
continued to be imported from France and Portugal. Prices varied
enormously, and the varieties were legion. The process of manufacture
took up to 20 months to complete, and involved the grinding of the
tobacco, for which water power was used, and repeated fermentation.
Snuffs were perfumed with jasmine, cloves, lavender and attar of roses,
the two latter being produced in increasing quantities by the Mitcham
physic gardeners towards the close of the 18th century. By this time
snuff milling had become an important local industry, there being three


mills operating on the Wandle above Mitcham Bridge, plus the
Ravensbury Mills, and two more in the grounds of Morden Hall. There
were also others upstream, in Beddington and Carshalton.21

Edwards, collecting information for his Companion from London to
Brighthelmston in about 1788, describes “a snuff mill belonging to Mr.
Spencer”, as being about a furlong downstream from Ravensbury,22
but Spencer’s name does not appear in either the poor rate books or the
land tax records, and it is thus a little difficult to relate him to the premises
held by Pearkes. One can only assume that he occupied the premises
on a sub-lease or some form of tenure under which he was not
responsible for rates and taxes.

A plan of the Wandle through Richard Carew’s estate, drawn in 1804
following a survey conducted by the Croydon surveyor William Lazonby,
survives in the London Borough of Lambeth’s archives at the Minet
Library.23 Lazonby shows “The Manufactory of Martin Pirks Esq.”
occupying buildings astride the river, with a frontage on the Morden Road.
The ground plan of the principal building corresponds so closely with that
of the main component of the Ravensbury Mills today, and the materials
used and the style of construction are so evidently of the early l9th century,

Ravensbury Mill from Morden Hall Road (ENM 1968)


that one can be reasonably confident in asserting that Pearkes and
Company had demolished the old timber and tiled buildings a short while
before the survey. In their place had been erected the large building which,
apart possibly from a new roof, the steel trusses of which seem more
likely to date from the late l9th century, survives virtually intact on the
Morden side of the river today. The fact that the assessment of £72 for
land tax in Morden remained unaltered from 1800 to 1832 gives support
to the conclusion that the building dates from the very end of the 18th

As we have seen, in 1805 the Ravensbury snuff mills were taken over
by John Rutter, who had founded a tobacco and snuff manufacturing
business in the City of London 15 years previously. In December 1805
he was joined in partnership by his two nephews, Thomas and John.24
The family had roots both in Mitcham and Morden, the marriages of
two Rutters being recorded as early as 1738 and 1746 in the two villages
respectively. In the late 1780s a Robert Rutter (d.1815) occupied part
of a house in the nearby lane (now Central Road) leading to Morden as
a boarding school “for young gentlemen”,25 and for the next 150 years
the parish registers record the baptisms, marriages and deaths of
numerous members of the family, several of whom, as might be expected,
took an active part in local affairs. In about 1816 Thomas Rutter built
Morden Lodge (now owned by the National Trust) and lived there until
his death in 1821.26 His brother also dying in 1821, their business interest
was devolved to their cousin, John Rutter III, who was in partnership
with his uncle Isaac. The name of the firm was changed from J Rutter
and Company to Isaac Rutter and Company after Rutter senior’s death.27

The actual ownership of the land was soon to pass into the hands of Sir
Benjamin Hallowell Carew, but the Rutters continued to hold their premises,
which included gardens, a meadow and a barn in what is now part of
Morden Hall Park between the river and the Surrey Arms, on a lease.28
Isaac Rutter died, aged 59, in 1837 and was buried at Morden. The firm
continued for another quarter of a century in the control of the third
generation partnership of John Rutter III and Isaac Campbell Rutter 29
and, later and briefly, James Rutter. The sale of the Carews’ Ravensbury
estate in 1855 brought the mills on to the market, and the Bidder family


papers have a record of George Parker Bidder acquiring the lease of the
snuff mills in 1856.30 By the 1880s the great grand-nephews of the firm’s
founder had come into the business, Hugh Campbell Rutter and Henry
Crofts Rutter being the principals, and so the story continues, until Rutter
and Company left Mitcham in about 1925.

The mid-19th century probably witnessed the climax of snuff milling at
Ravensbury. In 1853 the combined output of the two wheels equalled 21
horse power,31and since at this point the full potential of the Wandle could
be impounded in the Ravensbury mill-head, a constant source of water
was assured. The tail-race flowed under the road outside the mill, and
was joined in Morden Hall Park by the overflow from the tumbling bay on
the mill pond and two small backwaters from the Ravensbury print works.
In addition to the snuff mills, the Rutters rented on the Mitcham side of
the river some 33 acres of meadow and gardens, plus various buildings
and yards, from Captain Charles Hallowell Carew.32 By this time the
family had several branches, some living in Morden (the mill house
demolished in 1994 was one of their homes) and others in Mitcham at
Raydon, in London Road, one of the Baron Grove houses and Glebelands,
off Love Lane, and, from the 1890s, in Mostyn Road, Merton Park.

In response to changes in fashion and demand towards the end of the
Victorian era Rutters turned increasingly to the manufacture of tobacco
for the cigarette and pipe smoker, their ‘Mitcham Shag’ being a
particularly well-known line. Snuff milling, however, continued to be an
important activity at the Ravensbury Mills until they were finally closed
down. Some contraction seems to have taken place in the second half
of the 19th century, for when Gilliat Hatfeild, the new squire of Morden,
acquired a leasehold interest in part of the Ravensbury mills in 1884, it
was said that they had been used between 1868 and 1884 as a flock mill
by James Thomas Roe, a shoddy (shredded re-used cloth) and flock
manufacturer and broker, and later by William E H Hooper who, with
his wife, lived at Morden Lodge for a short time in the mid 1870s.33

The final commercial occupiers of the Ravensbury mills, Whitely Products
Ltd, were first included in the local directories in 1925.34 The firm had
been founded by an American in 1894, and manufactured a great variety
of sports goods and athletic equipment, rubber cords, and such diverse


items as starting gates for horse races, luggage straps, chest expanders
and exercise equipment, bungee cords for stunt men, and arrestor gear
for aircraft carriers etc.35

In the autumn of 1959 plans were produced by Surrey County Council
for modifications to the various backwaters of the Wandle above
Ravensbury Mills as part of the authority’s Wandle Improvement
Scheme. Flooding at vulnerable points throughout the valley had been
causing serious problems for some years, and at Ravensbury the
proposals were for the abolition of the old tumbling bay and overflow
channel, and the construction of a new automatic tilting gate discharging
into a 22-feet-wide spillway through what hitherto had been the garden
and orchard of the cottage on the north bank of the river. At the same
time the sides of the mill-head were to be strengthened with new retaining
walls of sheet steel piling, but the mill-tail beneath the road was to be
left intact. The works were completed in the early 1960s, and, as far as
can be seen, were carried through in their entirety.

Today the two cast iron breastshot wheels, mounted in parallel, are still
to be viewed, housed behind doors within the main mill building. Their
metal L-section blades are practically intact, and the wheels were last

The rear of Ravensbury Mills (ENM 1994)


used to drive wood-turning machinery, but by the 1960s they ceased to
be utilised as a source of power. Inside an adjacent workroom there
was a large wooden drive wheel mounted on the axle of one of the
water-wheels, together with parts of other machinery, formerly
connected with belting.36 Although the bearings were badly worn, the
wheels were still capable of being turned, and periodically the sluice
gate controlling the flow of water to the central channel of the mill-race
was operated to allow wood and accumulations of other rubbish to be
washed into the mill-tail and pass away downstream.

In January 1970 the local press caused some alarm by reporting that,
although it was no longer used as such, the future of the mill had been
placed in jeopardy by road widening proposals, which would do away
with the tail-race. These came to nothing, and the Morden Road at this
point remains constricted to two lanes, and, although a pelican crossing
has been installed, it is still dangerous to pedestrians attempting to cross
from one side to the other.

Around 1980 the Ravensbury Mills were vacated by Whitely Products
Ltd, and the buildings remained empty for some 14 years. During this
time they were broken into repeatedly, and at least one fire severely

The overflow from the mill pond (ENM 1992)


Ravensbury Mills. Water-wheel assembly 1970


damaged the older buildings on the Mitcham side of the river. With the
future of the site uncertain, these were not repaired, and the mills and
the detached mill house remained vacant, a prey to vandals, and
increasingly derelict as a consequence.

The wheels at the Ravensbury mills were included in the 1965 edition
of the Surrey County Council’s Antiquities of Surrey, and their historic
interest has quite recently led to their being afforded the protection of a
Grade II statutory listing.37 In 1992 the Council of the London Borough
of Merton granted planning permission for the redevelopment of the
site, including partial demolition of, and alterations to, the mill buildings
and their use after restoration by the Wandle Industrial Museum. The
remainder of the site, on both banks of the river, was to be used for the
erection of residential accommodation. Modified proposals were
submitted by the architect late in 1993 and approved, and works were
commenced in September by Fairclough Homes Ltd. Within five months
the first of the new flats was occupied, and repairs to the wheels were
being undertaken by the Wandle Industrial Museum, to whom part of
the mill buildings had been offered for display purposes. Details of tenure
have yet to be resolved.

The water-wheels at Ravensbury Mills
Merton Borough News photograph January 1970

Chapter 6


Arguably one of the most visually attractive of the National Trust’s
domestic properties in the London Borough of Merton, White Cottage,
or Casabianca,1 in Morden Road is also a rare example of a three-
storeyed tiled and weatherboarded house. This form of construction
was once common throughout north-east Surrey and Kent, and of course
still dominates the vernacular architecture of New England, but the
ravages of rot and woodworm, exacerbated by neglect, have combined
with a mania for development to reduce those left in the Greater London
area to a mere handful.

Stylistically, White Cottage must date from the latter half of the 18th
century, and a building is indicated on the present site in Edwards’s
map of c.1789.2 Its precise date of erection has not been ascertained,
but some time between perhaps 1760 and 1780 is feasible, and of the
three local builders active in Mitcham at this time Samuel Oxtoby seems
most likely to have been responsible for its construction.

Early in the 19th century White Cottage became the residence of William
Ness, a gentleman of independent means.3 Tenure of the property was
by lease, with ownership being in the hands of the Carews of
Beddington. Ness died in 1844 at the age of 84, and a white marble
tablet to his memory can be seen on the wall of the south aisle of
Mitcham parish church. He was survived by his wife Eliza, who was
some 30 years his junior, and she stayed on at White Cottage for another
ten years or so.

With the break-up of the Carew estate White Cottage (described as a
“freehold cottage residence” and still occupied by Mrs Ness) was
bought in 1856 by Samuel Haines.4 The following year he sold it to
Henry Haines, an auctioneer and surveyor,5 who at that time was living
with his family at The Rectory, a substantial house standing in extensive
grounds overlooking Cranmer Green, Mitcham. Henry Haines
relinquished tenure of The Rectory in the mid-1860s, apparently moving
away from the village, but White Cottage, leased to tenants, remained
his property until his death in around 1873.


In 1875 Haines’s widow leased White Cottage to Robert Ellis of Elm
Lodge, which overlooks the Cricket Green at Mitcham, and he purchased
the property four years later.6 Ellis, who was a mineral water
manufacturer, sank an artesian well at the rear of White Cottage, where
he built a small factory and offices. His ‘Raven’s Spring’ (the name
was obviously inspired by the manor of Ravensbury or the nearby
Ravensbury Park) is marked on a map of 18837 and in another, dated
five years later, the factory is shown, measuring 54 feet by 25 feet,
together with the well and a ‘well room’.8 The seemingly unlimited
supply of wholesome, albeit hard, water was a valuable asset, but the
premises were small and by 1882 the business must have been transferred
to the Ellis family’s larger Ravenspring Works in Western Road,
Mitcham, for in this year White Cottage and the buildings at the rear
were purchased by Gilliat Hatfeild of Morden Hall.9 A cast-iron drinking
fountain fitted with a chained metal cup, which presumably had been
installed by Robert Ellis for the benefit of passers-by, remained in the
front garden for a number of years but, like the inscription it once bore,
has long passed beyond living memory.10

From the time of its purchase by Gilliat Hatfeild, White Cottage has
been a private residence and part of the Morden Hall estate, passing
into the ownership of the National Trust in 1942 following the death of
Hatfeild’s son, Gilliat Edward, in 1941. During the 1939/45 War, when
an ammunition dump was located to the rear of the premises, the old
factory building was used as a Home Guard post. Nothing of this remains,
but the house fortunately survived the war, shaken during the air raids
but relatively unscathed, and was categorised by Mitcham Borough
Council as Grade III in the supplementary list of buildings of architectural
and historic merit prepared under the provisions of the Town and Country
Planning Act of 1947. It was subsequently upgraded, and is now Grade
II in the statutory list compiled by the Secretary of State.11

Repainting was carried out by the National Trust in the autumn of 1980
after overhaul of the structure, but White Cottage stood empty and
boarded for several years more before a new leaseholder was found,
prepared to undertake further refurbishment and maintenance necessary
to ensure the continued survival of the property.


White Cottage, Morden Road (ENM 1995)


above:’South West View of Mitcham Grove’
below:’South East View of Mitcham Grove’
Watercolour drawings by J Buckler dated 1818
reproduced by courtesy of Merton Library & Heritage Service

Chapter 7


An Introduction

According to contemporary topographical writers,1 a remarkable feature
of Mitcham in the late 18th and early 19th centuries was the number of
gracious country houses and elegant villas to be seen within the
boundaries of the parish. None, however, could compare with Mitcham
Grove, for 42 years the home of Henry Hoare, a member of the
celebrated family of Fleet Street bankers. This beautiful residence,
probably one of the finest houses ever erected in Mitcham, and certainly
the largest of which record survives, stood on slightly elevated ground
on the north bank of the Wandle some 60 yards west of Mitcham bridge.
Surrounding it were lawns, gravelled walks and over 20 acres of parkland
planted with a great variety of shrubs and exotic trees. The setting
alone would have ensured Mitcham Grove a place of distinction amongst
the other property in the district, quite apart from its association with
several prominent figures in the history of British politics, finance and
social reform. The origin of the house itself is obscure, although
documentary evidence lends support to the theory that it replaced or
even incorporated within its structure elements of an earlier house which,
in the reign of Elizabeth I and for a century and a half afterwards, was
the home of one of the leading families in the village. Excavations
conducted by Surrey Archaeological Society on the site in 1974/5
demonstrated that Mitcham Grove itself had been preceded by another
substantial house, probably the centre of a complex of domestic buildings,
which had been occupied in the 14th and 15th centuries.2

An important clue to the early history of Mitcham Grove, to which we
have referred earlier, may be contained in the conveyance of 1362, by
which William Mareys or de Mara of Mitcham leased his house and
land in ‘Wykeford’, including two water-mills on the Wandle and
marshland adjoining ‘Beneytesfeld’, to the Church.3 Constituent elements
of this extensive estate can be identified in later records. The mills
were located just upstream from today’s Mitcham bridge; Beneytesfeld
can be shown to form part of Poulter Park on the south bank of the
river; whilst Wykeford, or ‘Whitford’ as it is rendered in Domesday


Book, is synonymous with Lower Mitcham. Much of the property, known
as ‘Maresland’ was held by Merton priory until the 16th century,4 when
it was granted by Henry VI1I to Robert Wilford, a Merchant Taylor of
London.5William Mareys remained an important personage in Mitcham
for a decade or so after making the estate over the Church. No records
relating specifically to the house have survived from the intervening two
centuries, and the site of his ‘capital messuage’ has been lost. It is
tempting, however, to conclude that the footings of a medieval building
exposed beneath Mitcham Grove in 1974/5 were, in fact, the remains of
Mareys’s house. Circumstantial evidence points to much of his former
estate, including what survived of the house, having passed into the
possession of Thomas Smythe by the latter half of the 16th century.

The Smythe Dynasty (1564–1725)

The early years of Mitcham Grove may be obscure but, as we have
seen, there are good grounds for believing that here, on a slightly elevated
position on the banks of the Wandle, a substantial medieval building was
replaced in the 16th century by a fine new house, erected for Thomas
Smythe, an official in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. In the 1870s
biographical research was undertaken by Robert Garraway Rice on
people whose names appear in the earliest Mitcham parish registers,
which date from the late Tudor period. Results of his work were published
in The Reliquary in 1877, and include details of the Smithe or Smythe
family, who first appeared in the registers during the mid-16th century.
Rice noted a reference in the baptismal register of 1590 to “Mr. Smythe’s
howse by the Watersyd”,6 and was aware that when the family returned
their pedigree in the armorial visitation of 1623 their crest was a buck’s
head.7 He also recalled that when Mitcham Grove was demolished in
the 1840s the same heraldic device had been discovered painted on
ancient panelling until then hidden behind battening and canvas, and he
concluded that the house, or parts of it, had once been in the possession
of the Smythe family.8

One of the earliest entries in the registers records the baptism in August
1564 of Edward Smythe, “the natural sonne of Thomas Smythe esquire
one of her majesties servantes”. Smythe’s first wife was Mary Cely


(or Sely), about whom nothing else seems to have been recorded. Another
son, George, who was to inherit the estate, was born around 1561 and
had, presumably, been baptised elsewhere. The note of Edward’s
christening, the first of many entries chronicling the births, marriages
and deaths in what became one of the leading families in the village
during the next 260 years, is followed in quick succession by others
recording the baptisms at yearly intervals of brothers and sisters born,
one assumes, on the correct side of the counterpane.

Thomas Smythe’s second wife, Elener, was of the family of Hazelrigge,
or Hesilrige, but the date of their marriage is unknown. His fortunes
were evidently already in the ascendant when, in 1569, he purchased
from John Swyfte of London the lordship of the manor of “Downesforth
alias Donnesforthe [i.e. Dunsford] and a messuage called the garrett
within the parish of Wandsworth”.9 At this time Smythe was also busily
assembling an estate in Mitcham, purchasing freehold property from
William Stevens in 1567, Richard Stappe in 1571, and Christopher
Stewarde and Thomas Wylforde in 1574.10

The precise service Smythe rendered his queen is not clear, but he is
styled in one genealogy as “clarke of ye Greencloth”.11 The Board of
the Greencloth was a department of the royal household which in
Elizabeth’s day had control of various matters of expenditure, besides
legal and judicial authority within the sovereign’s court-royal. Of Smythe’s
antecedents we have no information. When he died he held the lordship
of a manor in Wiltshire, and it is tempting to believe he may have been
related to the great Thomas Smythe, the yeoman’s son from Corsham,
Wiltshire, whose immense proficiency and financial acumen ensured
the success of Burghley’s experiment in the farming (or, as we would
say, privatisation) of customs administration. Despite his contribution to
Elizabeth’s exchequer, ‘Mr Customer Smythe’ did not receive the honour
of knighthood from the Queen. He succeeded, however, in amassing a
fortune rivalling that of many members of the peerage, into which his
grandson Viscount Stangford took the family.12 Customer Smythe
outlived his namesake in Mitcham, and at his death his eldest surviving
son bore the name of John. There is a possibility that Thomas Smythe
of Mitcham was a son or nephew, but this remains to be explored.


Thomas Smyth(e) of Mitcham was unquestionably a man of standing in
the world of his day, possessing a considerable estate. In his will dated
1575 “in perfect mind but sick of body”, he left to his wife Elener13 for
life two thirds of all his “lands in England”, which included in Mitcham
three messuages or houses, 20 acres of arable land, five acres of meadow,
four acres of pasture, with their appurtenances, besides other property
at Wandsworth and Streatham. Elener was also willed use of all goods,
furniture, plate etc. in his house at Mitcham, with the proviso that should
she remarry this was all to go to his son George. There was a specific
exclusion of a silver and gilt “bason” and ewer, two silver spoons, the
best silver salt, and a gilt silver tankard, which seem to have been left to
George personally. George was also bequeathed “a gold chain, a gold
ring with arms thereon, bedstead and household stuff in a chamber in
Black Fryers, London, a chamber at Court, “game of swans” (i.e. the
right to take swans for his table) “on the River of Ware and game of
swans on Mytcham River”. Smythe’s will also names his other children,
Edmund (to whom was left the manor of “Mounton-farlyt” in Wiltshire),
Mary (who was married to Edward Brabazon), Edward of Wandsworth,
Eleanor and “Mary Smythe the younger”. Servants were left sums of
money, and there were the customary bequests to the church and poor
of Mitcham.14 No maps of this part of Mitcham survive from the 16th
century to indicate the position of Smythe’s house, but notices served
on riparian owners by the drainage authority in 1572 15 make it obvious
that his estate bordered the Wandle between the Watermeads and what
is now Ravensbury Park. To the east of the house his property included
a field immediately to the south-west of Mitcham mill, tenanted by a
John Woimanne. To the west, the estate seems to have been bounded
by “longe poole lane”, as yet not identified with certainty, but most likely
the ancient highway leading to Morden from the vicinity of Mitcham
church, adjacent to and also passing through today’s Ravensbury Park.

At the time of his death in 1575 Thomas Smythe was in “debte, daunger
and bonde of twoe thousand poundes”, and the prospects for George,
his eldest son and heir, then a boy of 14, seemed bleak. The following
year Elener Smythe remarried, taking as her second husband
Bartholomew Clerk. The choice proved a fortunate one, for Clerk
redeemed much of Smythe’s property, including the latter’s “choice


house and Landes”, to which he had no title in law, and eventually made
them over to his stepson George. Clerk, a fellow of Kings College,
Cambridge, doctor of civil law and dean of the arches, held the lordship
of the manor of Clapham, and it was to Clapham that he took his wife.
In 1584, at the time of a dispute between Sir Francis Carew and Lord
Howard of Effingham over the extent of the manor of Ravensbury,
Clerk’s estate, held in right of his wife, included some 30 acres of
‘Marrish’ land, two water mills, and a house in Lower Mitcham.16 The
building of the manor house at Clapham, at which Queen Elizabeth was
entertained in 1583, is attributed to Clerk,17 and at his death in March
1590 he directed that he be buried in the north chancel of Clapham
parish church. Elener died four years later and was buried near him.18
“George Smythe gentleman” receives regular mention in contemporary
records. He married Rosa Worsop of Clapham and, if we are to be
guided by his will, his career seems to have been attended by even
greater financial success than that of his father. He resumed residence
at the family house in Mitcham well before the end of the century, and
“Mr. Smythes howse by the Watersyd” is mentioned in the Mitcham
parish register for 1590 as the birthplace of a child fathered by William
Daunce, but whether the mother was there as a resident or visitor is not
stated.6 Smythe is known to have also kept a house in Mugswell Street,
London, but the nature of his business interests is unknown. It is to be
hoped that affairs in London did not prevent him enjoying the pleasures
of his country estate, enhanced in 1595 by a grant of free fishery in the
Wandle downstream from Phipps Bridge by the lord of the manor of
Biggin and Tamworth.19An indication of George Smythe’s standing in
the County is afforded by his appointment by the Queen’s Commissioners
in 1593 as High Collector of the Lay Subsidies in the Hundred of
Wallington, although comparison of the assessments given in the subsidy
rolls would imply that he was not yet one of the major landowners in
Mitcham. At 20% the tax he paid on this occasion – 20 shillings on
lands valued at five pounds – was heavy enough, but it was probably
levied on the net value only. The valuations were, of course, to a large
extent arbitrary, and their main use to the local historian is as a means
of assessing relative wealth.20 In 1625, when loans were extracted from
the more substantial gentry in Surrey for the benefit of Charles I, George


Smythe contributed £20.Towards the close of Elizabeth’s reign Smythe
(like his father before him) was active in enlarging the family’s estate,
and in February 1594/5 purchased from “Henry Whitney of Micham
esq. and Anne his wife” four acres in Carshalton parish adjoining a mill
house. This land was described as “part of Mareslande or Maresfee,
the estate of the dissolved ‘monastery’ of Merton”, and was obviously
near the river, but its precise location is uncertain.21 At about the same
time Smythe also purchased from Whitney another parcel of freehold
land in Mitcham, together with other freehold land from Alice Tyler and
William Travys.10 In addition to the mills he inherited with his late father’s
estate, George had evidently acquired a third by 1610, for in a list of
flour mills on the Wandle compiled in that year three are shown to have
been in his possession.23 The third mill was probably that noted in a
survey of the manor of Reigate dated 1623, which found that as a

“George Smyth, gent., holdeth also of this Mannor One Tenement
a water Milne and 30 acres of marsh ground lyinge at Mitcham
for which he payeth the yearly rent of xxs.”23

(The rent was a ‘quit’ rent, discharging the owner from manorial
services.) As far as is known, Smythe had no interest in these mills
other than as the landlord, and they were, presumably, let on long leases
as a source of income.

The mill (which seems to have been a relatively new one, erected since
1584) together with associated property, remained in the hands of the
Smythe family, as freehold tenants of the manor of Reigate, until the
death of “widow Smythe”. It then passed to her heirs, the Myers. George
Smythe died in 1638 at the age of 67, and although he is described as of
Mitcham, in the later years of his life he spent much of his time at his
Mugswell Street house. His long and fascinating will, in which he detailed
many valuable items of jewellery, furniture and plate, also shows that
he died owning much property in Mitcham, including the Buck’s Head
at Fair Green.6 Whereas we have no illustrations of the ‘choice house’
on the banks of the Wandle George had inherited, one can detect in
drawings produced by Adam in 1774 the typical E-shaped ground plan
of a large late 16th- or early 17th-century property.24 The main entrance


was by a doorway beneath a porch in the centre of the north elevation,
giving access to the great hall which extended to the visitor’s right and
contained a massive chimney-piece. The kitchen and service quarters
lay beyond, whilst to the left was the dining room, library and study. In
his will Smythe refers to “The Great Chamber”, “The Gallery”, “the
entry going into my closet” and “the Great Bedd whereon my Armes
are embroidered at the head in Silver … with the ffeather Bedd, Bolster
and Bedclothes …”. The interior of the house certainly sounds impressive,
but whether Smythe had in mind his London residence or the family
home at Mitcham is not clear, although the latter seems the most likely..

By the end of the reign of James I the Smythe family’s seat by the
Wandle had become the residence of George’s eldest son, Thomas,
who in 1618 married Sarah, daughter of Sir Humphrey Handford, a
merchant and alderman of the city of London.25 In the marriage
settlement the two fathers made over to the young couple in tail male
the capital messuage or farm of Dunsford, and the mansion house at
Mitcham. A marriage portion of £2,000 was paid by Sir Humphrey,
whilst George “Smith” undertook to pay the newly-wed couple an annual
allowance of £200 in quarterly instalments, to provide “diet and lodging”
for Thomas and Sarah, and the same for a manservant and lady’s maid,
plus provisions and stabling for either two geldings or two racehorses.
It was agreed that George Smith would continue to receive the rents
from the estate and, in lieu of Thomas and Sarah living with him, the
sum of £60 p.a..26 These provisions seem generous indeed, and we can
imagine Thomas and Sarah living very comfortably. Whether or not
they resided at Mitcham Grove we cannot tell, but if Thomas had
business in the city the couple would probably have kept a house in

One may assume that for a while all was well, but difficult times were
ahead for many old-established families, and in the Civil War loyalties
were frequently divided. Thomas’s aunt Mary married a Sir John Leigh
of Mitcham, who is described as ‘a soldier’, and seems to have been a
high Anglican, if not actually an adherent of the ‘old religion’. She lived
at Hall Place, a house in Mitcham associated with recusancy since the
late 16th century, and would almost certainly have sided with the King
and the Royalist party.27 Where the rest of the family’s sympathies lay


we cannot be sure, but Thomas, son-in-law of a prominent city merchant,
seems more likely to have favoured the Parliamentary party than the
Royalists. Even so, he evidently soon found himself under financial
pressure and in 1645, was obliged to mortgage to John Handford of Essex,
a member of the Merchant Taylors’ Company and, presumably, one of
his wife’s relatives, much of the estate settled on him at the time of his
marriage. The property was described in a ‘declaration of trust’ as:

“all that messuage or tenement with barns, stables and appurtenances
in the occupation of Thomas Smythe
certain parcels of Marsh ground thereunto adjoining, enclosed with
pales, lying in Micham containing 20 acres
certain parcels of arable ground in Carshalton commonly called Marris
fee containing 40 acres
a cornmill called Micham MillalsWickford Mill alsMarrish Mill with
appurtenances, and a high drying room or loft adjoining and two closes
of marsh ground, all in the parish of Micham
a mill house with orchards, barns, stables, yards, outhouses and 4 acres
of meadow, then in the occupation of Grace Sadler, widow
a mansion house, messuage or tenement with barns, stables, orchards,
gardens and appurtenances in the occupation of Thomas Smyth
and 83 acres of land more in the occupation of Thomas Smyth”
as well as woodland in Streatham and properties in Witley.28

The need to raise capital evidently arose again four years later, for in
1649 Thomas and Sarah sold some 50 acres of land, including 44 acres
in Marrish Fee, to Ralph Trattle, a land agent and member of the
Fishmongers’ Company of London.29 Within a few years this was to
form the nucleus of the estate of Robert Cranmer, an East India merchant,
who purchased from Trattle the modest mansion the latter had built for
himself overlooking what is now Cranmer Green.30 A second substantial
house in Lower Mitcham, occupying land once owned by the Wyche
family, was sold by Thomas and Sarah to Henry Hampson, another
London merchant, in 1649.31 In the deed of sale the couple’s “son”
George is mentioned. We shall return to him later.

Holding office as churchwarden at Mitcham in 1653, Thomas was
evidently held to be ‘faithful, fearing God and hating covetousness’, for


he was appointed several times to act as a local assessor for the quarterly
levy imposed by Cromwell to maintain the army and navy during the
Protectorate.32 With, we may imagine, interests in the city, Smith would,
like many London merchants and professional men, have continued to
support parliamentary government and stability, without necessarily
subscribing to the views of the more radical elements and extreme
Protestants. George Smith (sic), who seems to have been the grandson
of George and Rosa and son of Thomas’s brother William and his wife
Parnell, lies buried beneath the floor of the chancel of Mitcham church,
having died in October 1714 in his 80th year. His black marble ledger
slab, now beneath the flooring of the south aisle, bears the arms of the
family, and he is known to have inherited an estate in Mitcham on his
father’s death in 1640. At that time young George would have been a
child of about six years of age and, as a minor, was, presumably, brought
up under the guardianship of his uncle Thomas and aunt Sarah. It also
appears that he may have been adopted, for, as we have seen above, he
is described as Thomas’s “son” in an indenture of 1649.31 William,
George’s father, was styled as “of Mitcham” in 1627 when he bought
the “goods, chattels and plate etc.” belonging to his aunt Elizabeth Wyche
of Mitcham, the widow of Richard Wyche, a London merchant who
died in November 1621. Elizabeth was the daughter of George Smythe
senior, and was the mother of 18 children, one of whom, Sir Peter Wyche,
was “Comptroller of the house to Charles I”. The circumstances of
William Smythe’s death are unknown, but it may be significant that
1640 was the year of the Second Bishops’ War, when the Scots invaded
the north of England and defeated the Royalist forces at Newburn. His
uncle, Sir John Leigh, had borne arms in the king’s service, and the
possibility is that William Smythe, like George Carew of Beddington,
was killed in the fighting around York.

Thomas Smythe died in 1658, leaving debts to George who by this time
had reached manhood. Whatever their allegiances, on the Restoration
the social standing of the Smythe family seems to have emerged
unimpaired. Having come of age, George Smythe, or Smith, as the name
is more commonly rendered by this time, had become the owner of the
house by the waterside at Mitcham in about 1655, and was already one
of the leading residents in the village when, in 1663/4, he was assessed


for tax on the basis of 14 hearths.33 If these were all under one roof, it
can be taken as an indication that his was a house of considerable size,
and without doubt one of the largest in the parish. It also had innovations,
and in a letter written to John Aubrey in 1675/6 John Evelyn, having
described a ‘Smokejack’ installed in the kitchen chimney at his brother’s
house at Wotton, commented that “Mr. Smith of Micham’s Spits are
turn’d by the Water, which indeed runs thro’ his House”. The “water”
he referred to as “the most Chrystal Stream we have in our Country,
and comes from Beddington”.34 Evelyn was obviously alluding to the
Wandle, but it was unlikely to have been the river itself that ran through
Smith’s house, but rather a leat taken from upstream. At the Quarter
Sessions at Reigate in April 1663 “George Smith of Mitcham esquire”
was appointed treasurer for the East and Middle Divisions of Surrey
for moneys to be collected for “the relief of maimed soldiers, gaols,
hospitals and poor prisoners in the King’s Bench and Marshalsea
prisons”.35 His response to the court’s commission seems to have fallen
short of his obligations for, at the quarter sessions at Guildford in 1667
he was indicted for having refused to execute the order of the Reigate
court, and was ordered to do so within three weeks or face a fine of
£50. As is so often the case, the records are silent on the outcome. We
are left to assume that Smith complied, and can only speculate on the
reasons for his apparent disobedience. Could his contempt of the court
be seen as an expression of disaffection with, or even defiance of, the
Cavalier Parliament of Charles II and the administration of Clarendon?

In 1669 George Smith, styled “of Wandsworth”, granted a 21-year lease
of the Buck’s Head inn, overlooking the Upper Green, and 21 acres of
land in Mitcham to a Matthew Bowman.36 Two years later, in June
1671, he mortgaged Dunsford farm and Garretts farm, with
appurtenances, to Ambrose Phillips and son for £1,000 and payment of
£1,060 “voids”. By concurrent deed poll the Phillipses affirmed that
they were acting as trustees for Anthony Keck esq, who provided the
money, and the following February, £l,035 having been paid to them and
£465 to George Smith, the property was assigned to Keck. Interest
charges were met and part of the principal had been repaid by 1678,
when Smith decided to sell both properties.


Nothing more seems to have been recorded of George Smith’s activities,
and it has not been ascertained if he married. A survey of the manor of
Reigate in 1700 noted the claim of a “widow Smith” to the freehold
tenure of one “Messuage or Tenement with a Water Mill now used for
the working of copper and a parcel of Marsh ground there unto belonging
situate and being at Mitcham, Conteining 30 acres” for which she paid
20 shillings per annum, but in the absence of a christian name one cannot
identify her with certainty.37 The Smith family’s influence in Mitcham
affairs remained throughout the early 18th century, the vestry book for
1699, for instance, showing that a Thomas Smith senior and his son
Thomas were appointed members of the then newly formed select
vestry, a self-perpetuating body of local landed proprietors concerned
with parochial administration. Thomas Smith (presumably the son)
continued to serve as a vestryman until around 1736.

The Myers Family (1715–1742)

Through the medium of the court rolls of Reigate,38 tenure of the mill
and the land associated with it and, by implication, ownership of the
Mitcham Grove estate, can be traced from the Smiths or Smythes to
the Myers, another family of local importance to whom they were related
by marriage. Mrs Smith and “Mr. Miers and his wife” were listed
amongst the ‘Gentry &c.’ of the parish by the vicar, William Hatsell, in
the answers he gave to the bishop of Winchester’s visitation of 172539
and we find William Myers of King Street, London, being admitted to
the tenancy of the manor in 1726, having inherited the estate the previous
year from his kinswoman Susannah Smythe.40 (Will: Appendix 1a)
William’s precise relationship is not clear, but Susannah, who was
described as a spinster, could have been George Smith’s unmarried
sister, and William’s aunt. Myers in his turn bequeathed the estate to his
eldest son on his death in 1742.41 (Will: Appendix 1b)

In 1715, following the death of George Smith, who held various parcels
of land in Mitcham as a customary tenant, the court rolls of the manor
of Biggin and Tamworth record the admission of William Myers, then
of Watling Street, London and described as an attorney, to the tenancy
of that manor.42 The date he took over the family house is not known,


but the vicar’s inclusion of William amongst the gentry of the parish in
1725 suggests the Myers family may already have been resident at
Mitcham Grove before Susannah Smythe’s death.

Whereas we have no illustrations or contemporary descriptions of the
house William Myers inherited in 1726, the plan prepared by Robert
Adam in 1774, when extensions were under consideration, shows that
at the core of the 18th-century building was a house typical of the late
Elizabethan period. The front entrance, on the north-east elevation, either
side of which were projecting wings, opened directly into the hall, 38
feet long by 20 feet wide and extended to the right. In sale particulars
produced in 1828 there is mention of an “ancient arched stone chimney
piece”, which had clearly once occupied a central position on the far
wall of the hall, behind which was an inner hall containing a “handsome

Mitcham Grove – southern elevation – watercolour c.1830
reproduced by courtesy of Merton Library & Heritage Service


oak staircase with balusters and gallery”. Both dining and drawing rooms
are said to have had “statuary marble chimneypieces”, and it is not
difficult to imagine the general appearance of the interior, no doubt similar
in many respects to numerous examples which still survive, both in Surrey
and further afield. Later engravings and paintings of Mitcham Grove
show signs of its having been transformed externally in the late 17th or
early 18th century with the installation of boxed sash windows, the
addition of a classical pediment on the south-west front and, running all
round the building, a heavily modillioned cornice topped with a parapet
wall and balustrading.

There is no firm evidence that William Myers and his family used
Mitcham Grove as their country home in the late 1720s and ’30s, but
the signs are that they did and, moreover, that they took their expected
place in local society. This impression is supported by the fact that the
two premier families in the village were united in 1743 by the marriage
of 30-year-old William Myers junior, an arts graduate of Lincoln College,
Oxford,43 to Elizabeth Cranmer,44 daughter of James Cranmer, the squire
of Mitcham.

With the death of William Myers senior in 1742 the story of Mitcham
Grove seems to have entered a new phase. As far as we can tell no
longer the seat of one of Mitcham’s oldest families, it was leased for the
next quarter century or so to a succession of tenants whose involvement
in national affairs was by no means insignificant, and was then sold.
Meanwhile, William and Elizabeth Myers were living in what later became
known as the ‘Manor House’, a largely 18th-century residence off London
Road, Lower Mitcham, just to the south of the Cricket Green. The Alumni
Oxonienses, recording the matriculation at the age of 19 of yet another
William Myers, this time at Pembroke College in 1763, describes the father
as “of Mitcham”, and entitled to bear arms. William and Elizabeth’s third
son, the Reverend Streynsham Derbyshire Myers MA of Magdalen
College, Oxford, was appointed to the living at Mitcham under the patronage
of his uncle James Cranmer in 1779, and remained the incumbent until his
death in 1824.


Scots at Mitcham Grove (1755–1786)
Archibald Stewart and Alexander Wedderburn

The oldest surviving poor rate book for the parish of Mitcham is for
September 1755,45 and lists Archibald Stewart (to be misspelt by the
overseers as “Steward” or “Stuart” over the next 18 years) as the
‘proprietor’ and occupier of Mitcham Grove. In all probability he held
the property on a lease from Myers, and an apparent break in the
continuity of his occupation may perhaps be explained by the granting
of a sub-lease to a Robert Paulk, whose name appears in the rate books
for a couple of years in the late ’60s.

Boswell, in his London Journal, recorded his meeting with Stewart,
“formerly the noted Provost at Edinburgh” at a dinner party of “half-
English gentry” in London in May 1763. Stewart had been provost in
1745 and, according to Professor F A Pottle, “opposed all plans for
arming the city, so that the Highland army entered without opposition.
After the collapse of the Rebellion he was arrested and put in the Tower
(he was MP for Edinburgh), and in 1747 was tried before the High
Court of Judiciary for neglect of duty and misbehaviour in the execution
of his office. The verdict (a popular one) was not guilty”.46

By 1759 Stewart’s son John47 had become a partner in the family wine
business, and was also connected with the East India Company.
According to Valentine,48 John Stewart was an aide and supporter of
Clive, and in 1766 became assistant to Sir George Colebrook. He was
elected member of parliament for Arundel in 1771, representing that
constituency until 1774. Throughout this time he supported Colebrook’s
interests, though there is no record that he ever addressed the House of
Commons. The younger Stewart is described by Valentine as “of
Mitcham”,49 but his connection with the village seems to have been
severed in the summer of 1773 when his father’s name ceases to appear
in the rate books. At about this time John Stewart commenced writing
and publishing articles on East India Company affairs. Two years later
he was in financial straits, and took no further part in politics.

In March 1764 Archibald Stewart and William Myers II were joint
signatories of a lease conveying to Robert Cochran, a surgeon and


apothecary of Mitcham, the ‘millhouse and three water corn mills therein’

(i.e. three mills in one building) and several parcels of land lying upstream
from Mitcham bridge most, if not all, of which had been part of the
Smythe estate since the 16th century.50 Through the medium of the
steadily increasing volume of local records the subsequent history of
this triple mill can be followed throughout the rest of the 18th and 19th
centuries. As the Grove mill, rebuilt many times but on more or less its
original site, it still stands, although no longer a mill, having been converted
to flats. The site of another, separate, mill the former Crown mill, was
incorporated in a housing development in 2004. The 18th-century miller’s
house survives, and is now one of a group of three picturesque pantiled
and weatherboarded houses overlooking the river.
According to notes deposited in Mitcham library by Miss Farewell Jones,
a local historian in the 1930s, William Myers, “an attorney of London”
and heir to the Smythe estate, sold the Mitcham Grove estate to Lord
Clive.51 Unfortunately, Miss Jones, the daughter of a local solicitor and a
generally reliable authority, did not quote the source of this vital scrap of
information, but she may have had access to an abstract of title. The
precise date of the transaction thus remains unknown. In 1769 Clive,
recently returned from India, purchased the Duke of Newcastle’s estate
at Claremont, near Esher. He is said to have found Claremont inconvenient,
but there is no record of his having resided at Mitcham. A new Claremont
House was under construction to the designs of Launcelot (‘Capability’)
Brown and Henry Holland when Clive died in 1774.52

Regrettably, not all the early Mitcham poor rate books survive, otherwise
the gap in our knowledge might be closed. However, the book for
September 1773 shows that by then the Mitcham Grove estate had
become the property of Alexander Wedderburn, and from this point on
the history of the house is clear. Sir John Soane’s Museum possesses
two sets of plans and elevations produced by Robert Adam for
Wedderburn in October 1774.53 Both schemes incorporate as a common
element what was evidently the existing house, which would seem to
have come into Wedderburn’s possession the previous year. (Soane, it
is perhaps worth observing, worked on Claremont under Brown and
Holland in 1772, when only 19.)


1st Baron Clive, 1725-74
from the picture by Dance, engraved in Malcolm’s Life of Clive
and reproduced in C Macfarlane and T Thomson
The Comprehensive History of England III (1877) p693

mansion in the fashionable classical idiom for which the architect is
famous. To the north-east, south-east and south-west fronts he proposed
the addition of colonnades. The existing doorcase and main entrance
door on the north-eastern side of the house were to be removed, and in
their stead Adam designed a most imposing entrance from the northwest.
Here a pediment supported by four Doric columns was envisaged


Copy, by Norman Plastow, of Robert Adam’s Plan of Mitcham
Grove in 1774, now in Sir John Soane’s Museum


towering above the new doorway, which was to be approached from a
gravelled court flanked on either side by new domestic wings built in
the Palladian style. Internally, Adam suggested further drastic alterations,
the former domestic offices giving way to a new double-apsed entrance
hall 30 feet long by 22 feet deep, and an “eating room” 36 feet by 20. In
the south wing he proposed retention of the drawing room and study,
but added an antechamber giving onto a colonnade with views of the
west lawn and river.

The second of Adam’s schemes was far more conservative, retaining
much of the original structure, including the seven fireplaces on the
ground floor which, with the corresponding seven on the upper storey,
tally neatly with the 14 on which George Smith had paid hearth tax a
century earlier. For reasons on which one can only speculate, the second
scheme seems to have been that which Wedderburn favoured, although
he adopted several of the features from Adam’s more extravagant
alternative. One of these, a semi-circular loggia on the north-west front,
can be seen clearly in drawings of Mitcham Grove in Henry Hoare’s
time. We may also ascribe to this period the building of a two-storeyed
extension on the south-western corner of the house, balancing the small
projecting wing containing the study.

Adam’s ground floor plan of Mitcham Grove, confirmed in part by the
excavations conducted by Surrey Archaeological Society in 1974, shows
that the house was of quite modest proportions for a gentleman’s
residence of the late 18th century. The drawing room, dining room and
study lay to the left of the former hall, by this time subdivided to provide
a butler’s pantry and larder, and the domestic quarters were situated to
the right, in the north wing. At the rear the principal staircase led, via a
half-landing, to the first floor, passing large windows overlooking the
lawn and the river. The unchanging assessments for poor rate and land
tax are indications that the house was not enlarged significantly during
Wedderburn’s ownership, and in fact its external appearance changed
comparatively little in the years following his departure from Mitcham,
although Henry Hoare is alleged to have developed the grounds very
considerably after purchase in 1786, adding an approach courtyard and
“other refinements”54 which probably included the castellated entrance


lodges. The sale particulars surviving from 1828 certainly indicate that
when auctioned by Henry Hoare’s executors the house was essentially
the same “spendid villa” with which Clive was to reward Wedderburn
for his legal services so handsomely in 1773.

Much of the biographical content of what follows, dealing with
Alexander Wedderburn, Henry Hoare and Sir John Lubbock, was
compiled between 1970 and 1973 by the late Doris M Dawes, a fellow
member of Merton Historical Society. Out of respect for her scholarship,
and in acknowledgement of her considerable contribution to our
knowledge of these three very great men, her notes are reproduced
with the minimum of alteration, and with only a few additions.55

Alexander Wedderburn, though not greatly involved in parish affairs
during his residence in Mitcham, deserves a place in local history in
recognition of his achievements in a wider sphere.Born in Edinburgh in
February 1733, he studied law and, being extremely ambitious, settled
in England in 1757 having decided the English bar would offer him far
greater opportunities for advancement than that of Scotland. He was
proved correct, for in 1760, through the influence of Lord Bute, his
intimate friend, he became member of Parliament for the Ayr burghs,
and by 1763 a King’s Counsel. Like Boswell, who found him overbearing
and flippant, many people disliked his conceit and resented his success.
In 1771 Wedderburn secured the post of Solicitor General, in which
office he was described as “acute, perspicacious, elegant and persuasive”
and to have “alternatively essayed the force of reason and the charms
of eloquence; sometimes attacking the judgement with refined argument;
at other times appealing to the fancy with the powers of wit and graces
of elocution”.

With these attributes it is little wonder that Wedderburn’s ambitions
were realised, although his political life was not particularly savoury.
Whereas he entered Parliament as a Tory, he showed no scruples in
changing his views should this be to his advantage, shifting his ground
first to support the Radical, John Wilkes, and then, to gain the post of
Solicitor General, he became a Whig. This last manoeuvre has been
described as “One of the most flagrant cases of ratting recorded in our
party annals”. Wedderburn’s marriage to an heiress in 1767 brought


him a considerable fortune, which helped him to indulge his liking for
splendour; he later claimed that on the day he became Solicitor General
he had ordered a service of plate which cost him £8,000. He had,
however, another side to his nature, for in 1771 it was mainly he who
obtained a government pension for Dr Johnson, who was then in need,
defending the grant when this was queried by a member of Parliament
with the retort that “the Dictionary of the English Language was reason
enough for public bounty”.

In the House of Commons in May 1773 Wedderburn conducted a
masterly defence of Lord Clive, who was faced with a motion charging
him with abuse of the powers entrusted to him in India, and of amassing
a private fortune of £250,000. In an all-night sitting Wedderburn
persuaded members to reject the censure motion with an amendment
that Clive’s career had brought great credit on himself and his country.
Clive rewarded his defender not only with money but also with the gift
of a “spendid villa and estate in Mitcham in Surrey”. This was, of course,
Mitcham Grove, which in Wedderburn’s possession became the centre
of a busy social life. “Here he used on Saturdays and Sundays to entertain
the great and witty. He likewise had an elegant house in Lincolns Inn
Fields; in horses and equipage he rivalled the nobility.” Through his wife
he possessed an estate in Yorkshire, and he liked to go there at times
and act the country squire.

By June 1778 Wedderburn had become Attorney General, in which
position he assisted in the first relaxation of the Roman Catholic penal
code in Ireland. Then, in 1779, came the threat of invasion by France
and Spain. On the grounds that shortages of men were such that six or
eight ships of the line at Portsmouth were useless for want of crews,
Wedderburn introduced a bill for unrestricted impressment into the
service. The measure was rushed through Parliament, and became law
on the third day.

Wedderburn’s next advance came the following year, when he became
Lord Chief Justice to the Court of Common Pleas, and was raised to
the peerage as Lord Loughborough of Loughborough in the County of
Leicester; he had also become friendly with the Prince of Wales, and
was often called upon for advice by the Prince during George III’s


illness. For another six years he continued to live at Mitcham Grove;
then in April 1786 he sold the house and estate to Henry Hoare.
Wedderburn reached the peak of his career in 1798 when he achieved
his ambition of becoming Lord Chancellor, a position he was to retain
until his resignation in 1801, when he was created Earl Rosslyn and
retired to his villa near Windsor. On 31 December 1804 he was present
at a royal party at Frogmore, apparently in his usual good health. The
following day he collapsed and died. He was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.

There are two entries in the Mitcham vestry minutes recording occasions
when Wedderburn’s help was requested in connection with local matters.
In 1780 – the year he became Lord Chief Justice – the churchwardens
and overseers were considering the erection of a new workhouse, and
decided to ask the great man’s assistance in obtaining Parliamentary
sanction. They were advised that this was unnecessary, and proceeded
with the erection of a workhouse on the Common in 1782 at a cost of
£1,200. The second occasion was in 1783, when there was a dispute
concerning the payment of poor rates, several persons having refused
to pay a rate computed on the gross rent, i.e. including that portion of
the inclusive rent which was to meet the land tax demanded of the
landowner. One objector declared that he would abide by Lord
Loughborough’s decision, and the parish’s most distinguished resident
was accordingly asked to give his opinion. His answer was that as the
land tax was part of the rent it was therefore liable to poor rate. Upon
which, presumably, the objectors paid up.

Henry Hoare of Mitcham (1786–1828)

The purchase of Mitcham Grove (for the sum of £18,000) by Henry
Hoare inaugurated a very different era both at the house and in the
village, for it would seem impossible to imagine a greater contrast
between two men than that between Lord Loughborough and the new
owner. The former, an ambitious stateman, childless, fond of display
and with little time to give to local concerns and, the latter a banker,
happily married with five children, who, almost at once, took his place
as a leader in the community.


The banking firm of Henry Hoare and Company, of which Henry Hoare
was a member, had been founded by his great-grandfather Sir Richard
Hoare who, the grandson of a Buckinghamshire yeoman farmer, had
been apprenticed at the age of 17 to the trade of goldsmith. By 1672 he
had established his own business as a goldsmith and banker in Cheapside
‘at the sign of the Golden Bottle’. In 1690 the business was transferred
to the site of the present bank, C Hoare & Co, at 37 Fleet Street, EC4,
where a gilded leather bottle is still displayed. Not long after Sir Richard’s
death the business became confined to banking. Neither Henry Hoare’s
father nor his grandfather were connected with the firm, and his entry
into it had brought back the senior branch of the family.

Henry being a name which occurs often in the Hoare family, it became
necessary to employ nicknames in order to distinguish them; hence ‘Fat
Henry’, ‘Magnificent Henry’, and ‘Henry of Mitcham’. The latter, born
in 1750 and educated at Eton, was already a partner in the bank when
he came to Mitcham Grove. A year later, in 1787, he became senior
partner, a position he was to hold until his death in 1828, although towards
the end of his life he directed the business from his home at Mitcham.
Extremely able and industrious, he is remembered in the bank today for
the success with which he guided the business through 40 years of
unprecedented anxiety and difficulty. Never before had the banking
system of this country been faced with problems of such complexity,
for to the fiscal effects of the growing momentum of the Industrial
Revolution were added the alarm and uncertainty engendered by the
French Revolution and the inflationary influence of the Napoleonic Wars.
Peace brought no respite, and to the trials of post-war depression and
unemployment were added the stresses imposed by the continuing
process of change in British industrial organisation and the introduction
of new manufacturing techniques.

In February 1775 Henry Hoare had married Lydia Henrietta Malortie,
the daughter and co-heiress of Isaac Malortie, a merchant of Hanover
and London, and when they came to Mitcham Grove they already had
five children: four sons and a daughter. Active in his support of important
church and charitable societies, Henry Hoare very soon added to these
interests those of Mitcham. During the next 40 years little business of


Henry Hoare
reproduced by courtesy of Merton Library & Heritage Service


any importance to the village was discussed or transacted without his
assistance, and the firm signature of ‘Henry Hoare’ appears throughout
the parish vestry minutes. From reading these one is left in no doubt
that he must have been an outstanding member of the vestry, always
ready to undertake whatever was asked of him, and a regular attender
of meetings. Mention of some of his interests will show something,
though only a little, of their number and variety.

Perhaps what proved to be one of the biggest and longest of his local
commitments commenced in 1789 when he became one of the six
members of a committee appointed to be responsible for the building of
the gallery and other alterations to the parish church. For years the
condition of the ancient building had been a matter of concern, and for
the next quarter of a century opinions veered continuously between
enlarging and repairing on the one hand, and complete rebuilding on the
other.56 Henry Hoare continued to serve on the committee throughout
the war, and when in 1819 it was finally decided to demolish and rebuild
the church, he not only became treasurer of the rebuilding fund, but also
lent a large sum of money. From then until 1827, the year before he
died, he presented the rebuilding account each year to the Easter vestry.
Some indication of Henry Hoare’s continuing generosity to the church
is given in the story recounted by Robert Masters Chart, whose
grandfather, John Chart, was the builder of the new church under the
direction of George Smith, the architect. It appears that Henry Hoare, a
churchwarden, when taking the collections at the church doors, was “in
the habit of placing in his plate a five pound note and five sovereigns –
the latter, he said, to keep the note from blowing away”.57 After nearly
two centuries of devaluation such a donation would still be exceptional;
in those days it must have represented a fortune.

In the spring of 1791 Henry Hoare was appointed a justice of the peace
for the county, and also one of the two overseers of the poor for the
parish of Mitcham. Shortly after his appointment to the latter office it
was reported that the workhouse children needed further assistance in
reading tuition than the master of the workhouse was capable of giving
them. Henry Hoare’s influence is not difficult to detect in the unanimous
decision of the vestry that a teacher should be employed on Thursday,


Saturday and Sunday afternoons “for instructing the children in reading
and saying their catechism” at a wage of three shillings per week. This
arrangement continued for almost three years, and then, a women having
entered the workhouse who was considered capable of taking over the
instruction, an opportunity for economy occurred and the teacher was

At the end of the 18th century the revolution in France and the subsequent
outbreak of hostilities with Britain led to a very real fear of French
invasion. Patriotic fervour swept the country, and on all sides preparations
were made for defence, not least in Mitcham where the alarmed vestry
met to “fix on a plan to defend this parish from the enemy”. Needless to
say, the first step taken was to appoint a committee to deal with the
problem, and Henry Hoare was of course among its members. Very
soon plans were made for the formation of an ‘Armed Association’, to
consist of two corps, one of cavalry and another of infantry “armed and
accoutred at their own expense”, whilst those unable to learn the use of
arms were to provide themselves with ten-foot long pikes or constables’
staves. It was stressed that these arrangements “were for the sole
purpose of protecting their own property and for the Peace and
Tranquility of this Parish on the occasion of Invasion, Rebellion,
Insurrection, Civil Commotions or other cases of Extra-ordinary
Emergency … and Ladies and Gentlemen and other respectable
inhabitants of the said Parish” were to be asked to contribute in aid of
the association. Many readers will recall how history was repeated
during the Second World War when appeals were made for those not
already in the armed forces to train for local defence, and the men of
Mitcham once more formed themselves into volunteer companies of
what later became the Home Guard. “Bring any weapon” was the
order, and in the early summer of 1940 men armed with clubs, staves
and, in one case, a cavalry sword turned out and drilled on Mitcham

Never one for a passive role, Henry Hoare threw himself into the
preparations and was soon deeply committed. Hannah More, a visitor
to Mitcham Grove in 1798, recorded in her diary for 17 May: “I did not
enjoy much of poor Mr. Hoare’s company, so occupied was he in arming


and exercising. He rises at half-past four at Mitcham, trots off to town
to be ready to meet at six the Fleet Street Corps, performing their
evolutions in the area of Bridewell, the only place where they can find
sufficient space; then comes back to a late dinner, and as soon as it is
over goes to his committees, after which he has a sergeant to drill himself
and his three sons on the lawn until it is dark.”58 When it is remembered
that as senior partner Henry Hoare was at this time charged with the
exacting task of guiding the family bank through a very troubled period
in the financial world and of making far-reaching decisions, this evidence
of his whole-hearted involvement in national and local affairs emphasises
the strong sense of duty which pervaded his life. One feels the resolve
and stamina of lesser mortals would have been sapped by the sheer
effort of daily commuting betwen Mitcham and Fleet Street over the
roads of the time.

The need to educate the country’s poorer children led to the foundation
of the National Schools Society by the Church of England in 1811 and
‘National’ or Church Schools built by voluntary subscriptions gradually
became a feature of towns and villages throughout the country.
Encouraged by Henry Hoare, the Mitcham vestry resolved that it should
follow the national trend, and decided upon an extension to the existing
Sunday School premises, the whole building to be capable of holding
200 children. Now grimy with age, the schools building is still to be seen
on Lower Green West, and above the entrance door an inscribed tablet
dated 1812 bears Henry Hoare’s name as Treasurer.

The parish vestry certainly had good cause to note in its minutes, as it
often did, thanks for the help so willingly given by this member, one of
these entries being made on the occasion of his having a cottage built at
the workhouse for the accommodation of the sick. The gratitude felt by
the villagers is expressed in the minute of 2 April 1793, which records
“… that the thanks of parish in Vestry assembled be given to Henry
Hoare Esq, for his kindness in Erecting and furnishing a Cottage at his
own Expence by the Side of the Workhouse for the use of poor people
afflicted with any Infectious Disorders that might be pernicious to the
poor in the House; and it is likewise ordered that the Vestry Clerk do
transcribe the last order of Vestry and wait upon Henry Hoare Esq.


with the same”. Until 1973 the cottage stood fronting Windmill Road,
surrounded on three sides by the factory of S & R J Everett Co Ltd. It
was the sole remaining building from the workhouse complex, and at
the time of its demolition few Mitcham people were aware of the
compassionate and generous impulse to which it owed its origin.

The education of the poorer members of the parish made further progress
in 1816 when the vestry agreed that the schools building should be used
for an evening school established for adults and others unable to obtain
instruction during the day. Thus it was that the first ‘Adult Education
Classes’ were started in Mitcham nearly 200 years ago. Consideration
of further means of helping this section of the village population to help
themselves led to the formation of the Mitcham Savings Bank in 1819,
a project with which another member of the Hoare family came forward
to assist, in the person of George Matthew Hoare, Henry’s third son.
George became treasurer whilst his father held the office of president,
and with these two at the helm, the bank proved a most successful
venture, the number of depositors steadily increasing until by 1825 it
reported over 300, ten of whom had deposits of between £100 and
£150. Henry Hoare retained the presidency until his death, upon which
his son took his place.59

With so many interests, it is perhaps not surprising that in one of his
roles, that of a gentleman farmer, Henry Hoare should have fallen short
of the standards of his day. In 1786 he had purchased from Lord
Loughborough two farms to the south of Mitcham on the clay lands
rising to Rose Hill. Known as Batt’s Farm and Pig or Hill Farm, they lay
in Carshalton parish between Wrythe Lane and the London to Sutton
turnpike. James Malcolm, compiling his Compendium of Modern
Husbandry published in 1806, said of these two farms, by then run as
one unit of considerable extent.

“… the land is strong and holding, but in the course of my frequent
observations on the state of the husbandry pursued thereon, I
never saw anything to commend. Were I to pass my opinion on
the cause, it would be something like this, that the master, unless
he takes great pride in seeing that the business of his farm is well
managed, and in leaving it altogether to the management of a


bailiff, unless he be one of those rarities which we now and then
meet with, is not likely to have things conducted in the best style.
As a merchant or banker he may have something else to do,
besides watching the actions of his servant, and being ignorant of
the profession, he is at a loss to commend, when to disapprove,
or when to recommend a different mode of proceeding; and if
his bailiff, after paying all the charges, brings him something more
than £5 percent on his capital, he thinks himself well satisfied,
forgetting, perhaps, if he had rent to pay, and a part of that capital
to repay at some future time, that it would be a losing concern.

“The land is far from being clean, nor is it well ploughed, nor
early enough for soil that is so tenacious; the ditches are choked
up at every other time, but when a new hedge or ditch is made,
and then it is too contracted; the hedges are besides in bad order
for a gentleman farmer; and those mixens [dunghills] which we
see by the roadside are not made with skill or science.

“I should be sorry if what I have just advanced should do the
man an injury, because he is an utter stranger to me; I had much
rather in detailing his routine, have had a great deal to have
commended. The crops are moderately good, certainly not what
they might be so near the London dunghills.”60

With all Henry Hoare’s work and interests – of which the foregoing are
only a small part – the home life at Mitcham Grove was not neglected,
and as the children grew up and married their old home remained the
centre to which they, and in due course their children, constantly returned.
The eldest son, William Henry Hoare,61 entered the family bank, and
became a partner in 1798. On his marriage to the Hon. Louise Elizabeth
Noel the young couple settled at Broomfield, Clapham, which for ten
years from 1797 until 1807 had been the home of the great William
Wilberforce, the slavery abolitionist. Here the Hoares were drawn into
the Evangelical ‘Clapham Sect’, numbering amongst their friends the
Macaulays, Hannah More, and Henry Thornton.62 When their eldest
son was born in December 1807, William Wilberforce himself was the
baby’s godfather. Bereavement came to Henry Hoare in 1816 when
his wife Lydia died at the age of 62, and this year also saw the death of


his daughter-in-law Louise, followed three years later by the death of
William Henry. Their six young children – three sons and three daughters

– were then taken, together with their governess, to live with their
grandfather at Mitcham Grove. A description of the house at the time
of the children’s arrival provides a picture of what must have been a
truly happy home
“… Mitcham Grove was a little world in itself. And while it rivalled
any house in England in comfort and ease, there was a regularity
and refinement about it which did a boy good. Surrounded with
pleasant lawns and gardens and a clear silvery trout stream, it
was by turns the resort of all the various branches of the family,
who looked upon Mr. Hoare as their head. A well-stocked library
was one of the great attractions of the place … It was the habit
of Mr. Hoare to attend on Sundays to the catechizing of his
grandchildren; and also on weekdays to give some further portion
of his valuable time to the revising of the holiday task … He
would not infrequently make his elder grandson his companion at
his early breakfast table, where he would talk to him privately on
many subjects.”

One of the stories told to his grandson was that when he was at Eton
with Rowland Hill, they were made the sport of boys for saying their
prayers before going to bed, receiving a shower of pins in their feet.
This boy, another Henry, was his grandfather’s heir. Great care was
taken with his upbringing; and after Eton and Cambridge – where he
took his degree at the age of 19 – he entered the bank.

In 1822 another member of Henry Hoare’s family died; his second son
Henry Villars Hoare, born in 1777, who died unmarried at Mitcham
Grove. The third son, George Matthew Hoare (1779-1852) became a
brewer, his father having purchased the Red Lion Brewery (later to be
known as Hoare & Co Ltd) in 1802 and placed him in it. George married
Angeline Frances Greene, daughter and co-heiress of a Lancashire
landowner, in October 1810 at Morden parish church (his younger brother
Charles James officiating) and afterwards lived at The Lodge, Morden,
from whence he was active in both Morden and Mitcham. High infantile
mortality was common at this time amongst rich and poor alike, and a


tablet in the church records the death in infancy of six of their children.
The census returns of 1851 show George Matthew Hoare, widower of
71, magistrate and landowner, still living at The Lodge, Morden, together
with his son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren, farming 250 acres.
Eleven servants were employed including two footmen, a butler and a
coachman, and 12 men worked on the farm. A window in the south
wall of Morden parish church commemorates George Matthew and his
wife, who died in 1846.

After obtaining several honours at St John’s College, Cambridge (of
which he was later a fellow), Charles James Hoare (1781-1865), Henry
Hoare’s youngest son, entered the Church, being ordained in 1804. He
was married in July 1811 to Jane Isabella Holden of Mitcham, amongst
the signatures in the parish register being that of William Wilberforce,
and in 1821 he became rector of Godstone, his father being patron of the
living. He subsequently became rural dean of Ewell, archdeacon of
Winchester and in 1847 of Surrey.63 Charles Hoare’s arrival at Godstone
began a lengthy connection of the family with the parish, as from that
time onwards until 1930, and then again from 1955 until 1965, the rectory
was in their hands. Henry Gerard Hoare of Stansted, who died in 1896,
was churchwarden for almost 40 years. A century later the family was
still represented in the parish.

The Mitcham registers record that Charles also officiated on 7 April
1808 at the marriage of his only sister, Lydia Elizabeth (1786-1856) to
Sir Thomas Dyke Acland of Killerton in the county of Devon. Sir Thomas
(1787-1871), the tenth baronet, took his bride to the family seat at Killerton
House, seven miles north-east of Exeter. Here one can still see a chamber
organ built in 1807 for Lydia, on which she had lessons from Samuel
Wesley (grandson of Charles) who was organist at Exeter Cathedral.
The house and beautiful grounds (now National Trust property) are still
very much as they were in Sir Thomas’s time. There is a romantic story
of Sir Thomas proposing to Lydia in the summerhouse at Mitcham Grove,
and a replica of this little building was erected on the Aclands’ Holnicote
estate in Somerset. Like the rest of the family, the Aclands (they had
nine children) were to continue to find happiness when visiting Mitcham,
and when Henry Hoare died Sir Thomas had a memorial tablet placed
immediately above the pew in the parish church of St Peter and St Paul


where Henry regularly worshipped for 40 years. A bound volume of
sketches of Mitcham by Sir Thomas, dated 1828 and presumably made
at around the time of Henry Hoare’s death, is in the possession of the
Acland family.64

Henry Hoare’s life came to an end in March 1828. During his long
residence in Mitcham he had fully and successfully taken his part in so
much that concerned the village community, had been the centre of a
happy family life which also embraced a wide circle of friends, and had
in addition occupied with distinction the most responsible position in
Hoare’s Bank. He was buried in the family grave in Morden churchyard,
and a white marble tablet to the west of the pulpit commemorates him,
his wife, two sons and several grandchildren. Another memorial, erected
by his grandson, is in the church at Staplehurst, Kent, where he held
another estate.

As might be expected, Henry Hoare’s will, a document of seven closely
written pages, is of considerable interest, although much of it, dealing
with the disposal of his bonds and other securities, is of no direct concern
to the local historian. (Appendix 1c) His grandson was left an extensive
estate, but did not inherit Mitcham Grove. This, together with land and
buildings in Mitcham, Morden, Carshalton, Sutton and elsewhere in
Surrey, was left to his sons George and Charles and two other Hoares,
with instructions that it should all be sold either by public auction or
private contracts, and the money used in accordance with his directions.
There were many bequests in the will, such as £100 to Mitcham Sunday
School, and £40 to Richard Cranmer, vicar of Mitcham; no-one seems
to have been forgotten, least of all the servants at Mitcham Grove. One
bequest is particularly striking, illustrating the compassion with which
Henry Hoare had always regarded the poor of the parish; in it he directed
that William Giles (presumably his steward or bailiff) was to pay out
£12 per week for the first four weeks after his master’s death to poor
persons “as has been usually done by him”. Clearly, for some time past
this sum had been distributed regularly from Mitcham Grove, apart from
other benefactions. Its termination must have been a tragedy for its


Mitcham Grove – a Description

When offered for sale in 1828 the Mitcham Grove estate, of 620 acres,
extended across the turnpike road to Sutton and included the grounds of
Mitcham Hall, to be developed many years later as Mitcham Park. It
also embraced the Watermeads and the Grove mills, Poulter Park and
farmland in Carshalton parish extending as far south as Rose Hill, and
much of the Ravensbury estate to the south of the Wandle in the parish
of Morden.65 Fortunately the appearance of the house in the early 19th
century was preserved for posterity, and numerous engravings, sketches
and watercolour drawings from the early years of the 19th century
survive in the collections of public libraries and record offices. With
artistic licence the detail and consequently the accuracy of the portrayal
varies, but a common element is the impression of restrained good taste
and an enchanting setting. In some respects the house showed the
influence of Palladio as interpreted by Inigo Jones; neo-classical details
had been used with discernment, and the overall effect was one of
excellent proportion and balance. To date an existing house precisely is
often difficult enough, and even greater uncertainty must attend an
attempt based solely on drawings. One can say, however, that behind
Mitcham Grove’s mid-18th-century exterior with its early 19th-century
modifications, the house could well have dated from the late 16th or
early 17th centuries, a theory which is supported by the evidence from
the excavations conducted on the site in 1974.

Part of the red brick boundary wall of Mitcham Grove survives abutting
the road north from Mitcham bridge. Long gone are the castellated
Gothic lodges, probably of late 18th-century date, which in the 1820s
stood either side of the double gates barring entry from the turnpike
road. Beyond, a gravelled drive wound round an extensive shrubbery to
terminate in a sweep in front of the house, where beneath a columned
portico folding glazed doors opened into the outer entrance hall. In plan
the house formed a half-H, its central portion of seven bays being flanked
by two wings of unequal size projecting towards the north-east. It was
of three storeys throughout, the attic dormers protruding through the
hipped, tiled roof. Stucco covered the external walls, the plainness of
which was relieved by louvred window shutters, a bold string course at


first floor level, and a modillioned cornice beneath a parapet wall pierced
by sections of balustrading. The south-western facade, overlooking the
river, was a little more impressive, and incorporated a centrally positioned
pediment above a semi-circular columned loggia. The sale particulars
of 1828 evoke images of gracious rooms inside and the reference to
“an Ancient arched Stone Chimneypiece” in the butler’s pantry, which
had been created by a subdivision of the original hall, is an indication
that an earlier building was encapsulated within successive extensions
and modifications.

It is understandable that this beautiful house and its grounds should
have attracted the attention of artists, topographical writers and historians,
none of whom conveyed their impressions with greater eloquence than
Hassell, who wrote in 1817

“… We now return to the Wandle, which, after leaving the snuff-
mill on the left of the road, passes by an arched way into the
grounds of Mr. Hoare; where its first entrance is obscured by an
immense quantity of high trees, forming the commencement of
the Grove. Leaving this recess, in a serpentine form, the larger
body of the stream takes a course to the left, within a short distance
of the house. A smaller stream resembling a canal, is conducted
on the right side of the mansion; where it turns a wheel, by which
the water is conveyed in pipes to every part of the house that
requires it; it also supplies the outhouses and dairy, which is a
pretty rustic building, and is thatched, and partly obscured from
the site by an immense quantity of timber that surrounds the villa.
The hot and green-houses, and the pleasure gardens are on the
right side of this small canal; which, after coursing the pleasure-
grounds for some distance, joins the stream at the furthest
extremity of the grove.

“The main stream is the principal ornament to the grounds, which
are particularly beautified by immense groups of large trees, the
accompaniment of its banks, obscuring its waters at certain points
from the eye. The trout in the stream at Mitcham Grove are
numerous and large; to such as possess leave of angling from its
proprietor, it must be a high treat.


“The pleasure grounds lead entirely round the meadow on the
opposite side of the river, and diversify the scene, until they reach
down to the extreme point on the left of the river, where they are
joined by those belonging to Mr. Rutter. Though the grounds of
Mitcham Grove terminate here, the river, gliding in a direct course,
appears as if emerging from the confines of a wood, and seen
through the various openings and vistas, leads to a belief of the
other premises belonging to the same property; nor is the deception
detected, until you reach the point of the lawn at the back of the

Mitcham Grove and the Lubbocks

The buyer of the Mitcham Grove estate in 1828 was Sir John Lubbock,
head of the banking firm of John Lubbock and Company. Born in 1773
into an old Norfolk family, he lived for a time at High Elms, near
Farnborough, Kent, but finding it inconvenient for travelling to the City
had been attracted to Mitcham Grove, only 9½ miles from the Royal
Exchange on a good turnpike road. Sir John is said to have driven from
Mitcham to his bank in a four-in-hand, and to have been in the habit of
sitting in the parlour in his top-boots, a foible which apparently caused
some comment in the area. Sir John was not to become as involved in
local affairs as Henry Hoare – indeed, it would have been difficult for
anyone to have equalled the latter in this respect – but he took his part,
serving on some committees, including that of the National Schools, and
in 1831 an account was opened at his bank for the deposit of the poor
rate money.

Sir John’s only son, also named John, was born in 1803, and by 1825 he
had become a partner in the bank. An outstanding mathematician, he
later became the first chancellor of London University, one of the
treasurers of the Great Exhibition of 1851, and a member of numerous
scientific commissions. His eldest child, another John, was born in 1834,
and was destined to become even more famous than his father. A great
deal of his early childhood was spent at Mitcham Grove with his
grandparents, and the impact of these idyllic surroundings in the formative
years of his life must have been an important factor in his subsequent


development as a renowned naturalist. The Wandle, at that time still a
clear stream abounding in fine trout despite increasing pollution from
tanneries and other industries at Beddington, ran through the extensive
and beautiful grounds of the house. Beyond the gates lay the village of
Mitcham, situated in the centre of hundreds of acres of arable farmland,
herb gardens, woodland and open heath. The scene moved Hassell to
remark how in late summer the hues of the herbage were “particularly
diversified”. There was “blue from the ripe lavender, red and brown
from the herbs, rich dark yellow from the wheat, pale yellow and greens
of various casts from ripe and unripe barley and oats, purples from the
seed clovers, and deep brown from the fallow lands”. Given such an
environment, and the devoted encouragement of both father and
grandfather, the little boy encountered few obstacles to the development
of his great interest in all aspects of the life which abounded around him.

What was doubtless a source of wonder and curiosity was the arrival at
Mitcham Grove in 1838 of the first devices ever to reach England for
the taking of Daguerreotype photographs which the inventor, Daguerre,
had forwarded from France to Sir John Lubbock. In later years his
grandson claimed he had assisted in (or had perhaps hindered!) the
taking of the first picture ever to be recorded by the sun in England.

On the death of Sir John in 1840 the family returned to High Elms, and
Mitcham Grove ceased to be the family home; this is confirmed by the
1841 census return, which shows only three persons resident in the
mansion, a manservant and two maids. Five years later, advertisements
having failed to secure a purchaser at a satisfactory price, Mitcham
Grove had been demolished and the materials sold.67 When the tithe
commutation survey was conducted in 1846, only the site of the house
was recorded, surrounded by 22 acres of gardens and shrubberies. The
sole buildings left standing from Henry Hoare’s time were the hothouse,
the stables and outbuildings, and a gatekeeper’s lodge. The passing of
this fine house, so long associated with the local community and the
home of some of its most distinguished residents, must have left a serious
gap in village life. Adjustment to the loss would have been made all the
more difficult by the chronically depressed state of Mitcham’s two staple
industries of textile printing and physic gardening.


In 1846 the grounds of Mitcham Grove were still owned by Sir John
Lubbock, the third baronet, but very shortly afterwards they were
amongst the 160 acres of land on either side of the river purchased by
George Parker Bidder, then living at the nearby Mitcham Hall. Until the
end of the century the Grove formed part of the grounds of ‘Ravensbury
Park’, the new house Bidder erected for himself off the Sutton Road.
Break-up of the estate followed the death of his eldest son in 1896, but
a plot on the south bank of the river, overlooking the site of Mitcham
Grove, was retained and used for the erection of Harold F Bidder’s
‘Ravensbury Manor’ in 1912.

The northern fringe of the Grove estate bordering Morden Road
contained good deposits of sand and gravel, and these were exploited
by the Bidders. In doing so they were instrumental in uncovering the
southern part of the famous Anglo-Saxon cemetery of Mitcham. This
important Dark Age site, dating to the period AD 450-600, contained
the graves of several hundred men and women, many of them buried
with their weapons and jewellery. A considerable number of the graves
was excavated between 1891 and 1922, mainly under the supervision
of Harold Bidder, who was an active amateur archaeologist. What was
found cast an important new light on the post-Roman period in this part
of the Wandle valley, the significance of which is still not fully

As the grandson of Sir John Lubbock spent much of his early childhood
at his grandfather’s house, Mitcham can claim some interest in his later
career – in fact, he never entirely deserted the village, for there are
entries in his diaries recording the many games of golf played there until
1906, when he was 72. Leaving Eton at the early age of 14, he at once
entered the family bank. The position was no sinecure, however, for
shortly after his arrival the partners died and he, with his father and one
old clerk, carried on the business. Banking did not by any means absorb
all his energies or interests, and as the years passed he became famous
in many spheres, including those of natural history, geology and literature.
In 1870 he entered Parliament, and at once pressed for reforms in shop
hours and elementary education, and proposed his Bank Holiday Bill
for a general day’s holiday to be given to all workers. It is when one


reads that one of his aims was that no young person under the age of 18
should work more than 72 hours per week that one realises how much
has been achieved in the last century to shorten working hours.

John Lubbock’s campaign for shop assistants progressed very slowly
against a great deal of opposition, and it was not until 30 years later that
his Early Closing Bill – for the majority of shops to close at 8 o’clock in
the evening – became law. It is surprising, therefore, that his Bank
Holiday Bill met with few obstructions and was passed in 1871 to the
great delight of workers of all kinds. The press of the day carried full
reports of the excitement and the excursions which took place on the
occasion of the first Bank Holiday, adding that on all sides blessings
were called on Sir John’s name. (His father having died in 1865, he had
succeeded to the baronetcy.) There were even half-serious suggestions
that the day should be called “St Lubbock’s day”! Special trains were
run and Londoners in their tens of thousands poured to the coast or onto
the river boats for a day in the open air. Opposition to the holiday
developed, however, and continued for many years on the grounds that
it increased drunkenness. Eventually a count was made of ‘drunks’ at
three of the London termini, but although the number was small the
accusation continued to be made, fortunately with no effect. Among
other bills introduced by Sir John Lubbock were those for a weekly
half-holiday for shop-assistants, for the establishment of public libraries,
and for the formation of open spaces in large cities. At one time he was
lecturing and writing both as a naturalist and geologist. A great reader
himself, he published a list of “One Hundred Good Books”. “Never be
without a book”, he advised his son when they were once travelling
together, and thereupon produced a book from his own pocket and
became immersed in it for the rest of the journey.

Sir John was created Lord Avebury in 1900 and died in 1913 at the age
of 79. With his death there passed what was probably the last link with
the great days of Mitcham Grove.



Although an old coach house and the lodge remained tenanted for many
years after the demolition of Mitcham Grove, the extensive grounds
were never again occupied solely as an adjunct of a gentleman’s house.
For over 50 years nothing of interest was recorded locally touching
upon the history of the estate, but by the end of the 19th century several
changes occurred. At about the time Harold Bidder was busy with the
excavation of the Dark Age cemetery, the southern part of the grounds
was in the occupation of a Mr Jenner, who lived at ‘Wandle House’,
another former Hoare property on the eastern side of the London Road.
Jenner was a trotting enthusiast, and is said to have indulged his love of
the sport by laying out a trotting track encircling the lawns which once
surrounded Mitcham Grove.54

Changes were also occurring in the northern half of the grounds, in
addition to gravel digging, and in 1901 the old walled gardens and a few
outbuildings remaining from Sir John Lubbock’s time were taken over
by the silent film company of Cricks and Sharp. An empty cottage was
used as offices and a laboratory, and one of the old greenhouses, suitably
blacked out, for developing and printing. Comic shorts were a speciality,
and many of the sequences were filmed ‘on location’ on (or in) the
Wandle. Mitcham residents were enlisted as extras for the crowd scenes,
enticed by the promise of a couple of pints of beer and half-a-crown for
the day. Stars, it is said, were not much called for, and Jenner’s daughter
would sometimes play the heroine.

The film studios were acquired by Hovis and Company during the first
World War, and their site was gradually lost beneath a complex of office
buildings and workshops used by Locomotors, an associated company
specialising in the manufacture of commercial vehicle bodies and later
the servicing of electrically-powered delivery vehicles. The remaining
portion of Mitcham Grove, including the unspoilt parkland adjoining the
Wandle, was purchased by Hovis for a company sports ground in 1923.
The lawns became the cricket field, in the centre of which, in times of
drought, parched grass outlined the foundations of Henry Hoare’s villa,
still surviving a few inches below the surface.


In June 1973 it was announced in the local press that after 60 years in
Mitcham Locomotors were closing the works down and relocating
production in Andover. The move followed the take-over of the firm, a
subsidiary of the Rank, Hovis, McDougall Group, by British United
Engineering the previous year, and was justified on ‘economic grounds’.
Resettlement assistance was offered to the workforce, but many
declined to move away from Mitcham and there was a predictable
outcry from the unions. The decision had been taken, however, and the
works closed, those not relocating receiving redundancy payments.

Twelve months later, having granted outline planning consent for use of
the land for housing, the London Borough of Merton purchased the
derelict works and the adjoining sports field for £1m. The proposal to
use the land for the erection of a new 160-unit showpiece municipal
housing estate was the ‘brainchild’ of Councillor David Chalkley, then
chairman of the Housing Committee. The action was criticised by the
Conservative opposition as over-hasty and grossly extravagant, but the
majority party was not to be deflected, holding “the needs of the
homeless” to be paramount and that the Council had a duty to put the

The Cricket Pitch, ‘Hovis’ Sportsground, London Road, Mitcham
(ENM 1969)


land to public use rather than “let it get into the hands of unscrupulous
property speculators”. Plans were soon produced for a high density
low rise estate based on the design first seen at Pollards Hill, where it
won an RIBA award for the Borough Architect’s team headed by
Bernard Ward, and later at Eastfields.

Difficulties were soon encountered through the number of watercourses
traversing the site, and its liability to flooding. A backwater of the Wandle
and a culvert across the site had to be accommodated and, to reduce
the danger of the new estate being flooded, four acres were required to
be set aside for a lake to hold water should the river level rise after
prolonged rainfall. Consequently, fewer dwellings than originally planned
were built. As the new Watermeads estate neared completion it was
stated in the press that costs per unit would be £18,881 each, and that,
with a subsidy of £37.60 per week, rents were calculated to range from
£5.46 to £8.24. The lake, attractively landscaped and incorporated in a
linear park linking the National Trust’s Watermeads and Ravensbury
Park, today provides an extremely attractive setting for the estate.

The Watermeads estate (ENM 1990)
The cedar tree once stood on the lawn of Mitcham Grove

Chapter 8 139


Crescent Grove and the shop and houses numbered 494 to 512 London
Road Mitcham stand on a site which, until the late 1920s, had been
occupied by at least two substantial houses, the last of which is now
beyond the memory of all but the oldest local residents.

The first house of which we have evidence was of 18th-century date,
or possibly earlier, and was surrounded by several acres of garden,
orchard and paddocks.1 During the 1780s and ’90s it was the home of
Penelope Woodcock,2 whose husband’s family had been resident in
Mitcham for upwards of a century, George Woodcock, her father-in-
law, being appointed as one of the trustees “for the poore bread” by
the vestry in 1703.3 George Woodcock was a whitster by trade,
bleaching calicoes and linens for the printing works which abounded
along the Wandle valley at that time. The business seems to have been
profitable, and the Woodcocks enjoyed a respectable niche in the village
during their lifetime. Both George Woodcock and his son Thomas held
various parish offices, and in 1792 Penelope, by this time widowed,
presented the newly erected Sunday School building on Lower Green
West with a turret clock, which can still be seen above the central
pediment over the front entrance door.4

We have no idea of the appearance of the Woodcocks’ house, but it
was described as “genteel” by Edwards, using an epithet he reserved
for houses of varying size to convey to his readers that the furnishings
were tasteful and the property well-maintained.5 For land tax purposes
the house and land was assessed at £55 p.a, based on the estimated
rental value in 1780, which suggests a residence of more than average
size for the village. The ground landlord was Lord Loughborough of
Mitcham Grove who, as we have seen, was to sell the estate, including
the Woodcocks’ house, to Henry Hoare in 1786.

As Lot 2 the freehold house and 13 acres of land were sold for £2,960
when the estate of the late Henry Hoare was auctioned in 1828. It was
then occupied by a “Mr. Smith”, who held it on an 11-year lease from
Michaelmas 1817. The sale particulars describe the house as a
“desirable residence with forecourt, enclosed from the road by a wall


and pallisade”. On the ground floor, off “a neat entrance hall” were
breakfast parlour, drawing room and dining parlour, each papered and
with marble fireplaces. A kitchen and scullery (the latter with a pump
of water) completed the ground floor. There were four “excellent bed
chambers” on the first floor, and a servants’ bedroom reached by a
secondary staircase. Outside, the domestic offices comprised a
washhouse-cum-brewhouse with oven, a chaise house, ‘coal hole’, a
cart house, a four-stall stable, cowhouse, hen house and piggery. Flower
and kitchen gardens, orchard and meadowland completed what must
have been virtually a self-contained establishment.6 Whether or not it
was the house the Woodcocks knew, we cannot say.

“Mr. Smith” was George Smith, the architect responsible for the design
of Mitcham parish church, rebuilt between 1819 and 1822. He was
born at Aldenham, Herts, in 1782, and after being articled to R. F.
Brettingham in 1797 had become a clerk to James Wyatt in 1802. Smith
exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1801 until 1849, was a Fellow of
the Society of Antiquaries and also of the Institute of British Architects,
of which he was Vice-President in 1844-5. In 1810 Smith was appointed
district surveyor to the southern division of the City of London, and in

Grove House c.1910


1814 surveyor to the Mercers’ Company, retaining both posts until his
death in 1869. Some of his principal works were Whittington’s
Almshouses in Highgate, St Paul’s School, and the Corn Exchange in
Mark Lane.7 In 1815 George Smith came to reside at Mitcham, leasing
Tamworth Lodge, off Commonside East, from Daniel Watney. In 1818
he had been appointed by Mitcham vestry to conduct a survey and
valuation for rating purposes of property in the parish, and it was his
report on the structural condition of the old medieval church that
influenced the decision to demolish and rebuild in 1819.

Detail from the Six Inch to One Mile Ordnance Survey Map of 1867,
showing ‘Grove House’


Although he had vacated the property some time previously, it was still
known as “Mr. Smith’s house” when bought by George Parker Bidder
in 1846. It was then in the occupation of a Louisa Dean, a widow,8 and
was almost certainly held on a lease from the trustees of Sir John
Lubbock, the previous owner of the Mitcham Grove estate. Louisa Dean
was the sister of Thomas Rutter, the retired tobacco and snuff
manufacturer whose family operated the Ravensbury snuff mills. By
1851 Louisa Dean’s son, Lloyd, who was living with her, had followed
his uncle into the business.9 Whether he was at the Ravensbury mills
with Isaac Campbell Rutter and John Rutter III, or worked at the
company’s London premises, is not known. The Rutter family remained
prominent in Mitcham and Morden well into the early years of the next
century, but the Deans seem to have vacated Grove House sometime
in the 1850s.

The next occupiers of whom we have trace are John Harrison Stanton
and his wife Elizabeth, eldest surviving daughter of George Parker
Bidder.10 The couple were married at Morden in 1859, and what appears
as ‘Grove House’ on the Ordnance map of 1865-7 is said to have been
erected to John Stanton’s design. The son of a Newcastle solicitor, he
had been indentured to Robert Stephenson, and later worked for him as
an assistant on the Egyptian railway, where he met ‘Lizzie’ Bidder, who
was visiting Egypt in the winter of 1858/9. They raised a large family –
13 children in all – at Grove House, and eventually moved away to
Stubb House, County Durham, which Stanton inherited from an uncle.11

By the time the Ordnance Survey revision of 1894 was conducted,
Grove House had become known as ‘Mitcham Grove House’, and it
was described as the seat of Mrs George Gibb shortly before the outbreak
of war in 1914.12 Prominent members of the parish church, George and
Constance Gibb were responsible for the gift of the voix céleste and
new tremulant stops which were added to the organ in 1910. Mitcham
Grove House seems to have survived as a private house until the 1920s,
ending its days as the private ‘Ravensbury School’. It was demolished
in the early 1930s to prepare the site for the erection of the present
houses, the school transferring to a large weatherboarded house on the
opposite side of the London Road, at one time associated with the long-
defunct Mitcham Brewery.

Chapter 9 143

No study of the history of the Ravensbury area would be complete
without something being said of the large post-Roman or ‘Anglo-Saxon’
cemetery excavated by Harold Bidder and members of his family
between 1888 and 1922. A definitive article by John Morris on the
cemetery and the grave goods recovered has appeared in the Surrey
Archaeological Collections,1 and it is therefore not the intention of
the writer to attempt to cover this ground again, although with 60 years
having elapsed, some of Morris’s conclusions now seem questionable.
It is important, however, to consider what
the evidence can lead us to deduce about
the early history of the village of Mitcham.

The main concentration of burials lay either
side of the Morden Road, between
Mitcham station and Ravensbury Park, but
other interments have been found to the
north, almost as far as the parish church.
This suggests the burial site observed
Roman custom, and lay outside the principal
settlement, which may have been where a
circular ditched enclosure has been
identified to the south of the medieval
church. It had been known for well over a
century before the Bidders’ excavations
that human remains were to be found at
Ravensbury, and one of the fields was
known as ‘Dead Man’s Close’. Workmen
digging liquorice roots for herb growers
Potter and Moore on land to the north of
the road in 1848 unearthed a large number
of bones, together with swords, spear
heads, glass beakers and brooches, and the
interest that these discoveries aroused
amongst Victorian antiquaries was

Green glass beaker from
Mitcham, reproduced by
courtesy of Museum of London


recounted by Ben Slater in his memoirs many years later.2 The full
significance of the finds was not appreciated at that time, and it was
not until Harold Bidder took advantage of his family’s ownership of
the former Mitcham Grove and Ravensbury estates, and the opportunity
afforded by the excavation of the sand and gravel deposits lying beneath
the fields and meadows bordering the Morden Road, that the extent
and significance of the cemetery came to be realised.

Through the work of archaeologists over the last century, and the
reporting of various stray finds, it has become evident that during the
350 years of the Roman period the Wandle valley remained widely
settled by predominantly native British communities. Stane Street, the
road from London to Chichester constructed around AD70, passed
through Colliers Wood in what later became the northern part of the
parish of Mitcham, crossed the Wandle at Merton and, after rising
over the hill at Morden, continued on its course to Ewell and beyond.
From the vicinity of the road, and to the south at Carshalton, Beddington
and Croydon, we have numerous finds of pottery, coins, and burials,
which are indicative of a substantial, if scattered, population. At
Beddington there was also a villa, complete with bath-house, stock
yard and barn, erected in about 180 AD in place of an earlier timber
farmhouse. This, in its turn, had replaced a group of typical round
houses of the late Iron Age.3

Barely a mile to the north of Ravensbury, on what was to become the
Lombard Road factory estate, the discovery in 1922 of coins, pottery
and building material suggested the existence of a settlement at the
side of the Roman road.4 Evidence of other homesteads or farms has
come from sites off Willow Lane, Church Road and Western Road at
Mitcham,5 whilst a partially excavated Romano-British cemetery exists
between Church Road and Phipps Bridge.6 Within recent years, further
discoveries have been made in the Ravensbury area itself, the
excavations by Surrey Archaeological Society prior to the erection of
the Watermeads housing estate in 1974/57 producing a handful of
sherds of Romano-British origin and a piece of decorated bone, and in
1989 more pottery of the 2nd/3rd century came from a ditch feature
exposed by a team from the Museum of London working on a site to
the south of Mitcham parish church.8


Unfortunately archaeology so far has tantalisingly little to tell of life in
the neighbourhood of Ravensbury or, indeed, elsewhere in north-eastern
Surrey in the closing years of the Roman period. We have scarcely any
evidence from the known settlement sites that occupation continued
beyond the mid-4th century and, apart from Ravensbury, no burials
that have been recognised as late Roman or Saxon. The coins found on
the line of Stane Street at Merton indicate that money may still have
been in use as a medium of exchange at the settlement here possibly
until the end of the 4th century, for the latest coin found, of Valentinian
I and dated to AD 375, could have been in circulation some years after
it had been minted. (Very little Roman coinage found its way to Britain
after the turn of the century, and the monetary system had probably
broken down completely by c.420.) If road-side trading continued at
Merton into the early 5th century, and there is no reason to believe that
it did not, transactions would of necessity have been based increasingly
on a system of exchange in which coins played no part, and which left
no archaeological evidence.

Many attempts have been made at a satisfactory explanation for the
paucity of evidence from the late 4th century, and the virtual
disappearance of the Romano-British from the archaeological record in
the early 5th century. The absence of coinage and commercially
produced pottery has undoubtedly made dating more difficult, and a
reversion to timber and thatch rather than brick and tile for domestic
buildings would render settlements less easy to recognise. Some writers
have suggested an actual decline in the population brought about by
lower living standards and disease, but this is not easily substantiated.
Whereas there may be some justification for broadly accepting what
Gildas, the 6th-century historian, recounted of the devastation and horrors
which accompanied the Saxon migration into southern Britain in the
latter part of the 5th century, in recent years various writers have
questioned whether the destruction and slaughter were as widespread
or cataclysmic as Gildas would have had his readers believe. The theory
has also been advanced for periods of relative stability and co-existence
between the British and the earliest Saxon settlers before the struggle
for supremacy commenced around 450. At least initially, the newcomers
could only have represented a minority amongst a substantially British


population. The main preoccupation of both groups would have been
subsistence farming, and with pressure no longer exerted to grow a
surplus of corn and other produce to meet Imperial taxes, there could
well have been a surfeit of potentially arable land.

There would thus seem to have been little reason for serious conflict
between the indigenous population of the south-east and the immigrant
Saxon families, and one can imagine a degree of cultural fusion and
intermarriage eventually taking place. Evidence which seems to support
this belief has come from several sites. There are, for instance, the claims
for sherds of late Romano-British pottery being found in close association
with early Saxon material at Carshalton and Waddon, whilst complete
pots of Romano-British manufacture were found in graves in the Saxon
cemetery at Croydon. What is of particular significance for us, a few
coins and several other objects of indisputable Roman origin were interred
with the dead in the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ cemetery at Ravensbury.

There is, therefore, a case not only for arguing continuity of occupation
of the Wandle valley beyond the collapse of Roman Britain, but also for
the survival of a substantial element of native British amongst the
population well into the 5th century and beyond. It also seems reasonable
to assume that these people, British and Saxon alike, were to be found
living in hamlets and farmsteads scattered across the more fertile soils
of the river terraces. Moreover one suspects, but cannot yet prove, that
the villages with Early English place-names like ‘Totinge’, ‘Stretham’,
‘Mordon’ and ‘Bedinton’, which begin to emerge in the documentary
record by the late 7th century, were continuing the broad pattern of
settlement already well established in the Roman period.

The earliest archaeological evidence for a Saxon presence in Mitcham
comes from the Ravensbury cemetery. One of the largest in Surrey,
this appears on the evidence of the grave goods to have been in use for
a period of some 150 years, at least two interments in Morris’s estimation
being from early in the 5th century, whilst the latest took place a little
before 600. Over half the 238 burials recorded were dated by the
reported associated finds, composed mainly of weapons, belt fastenings,
brooches and other articles in distinctive Saxon styles. Some burials
unaccompanied by grave goods could well lie outside this range, and of


Detail from a modern street map, showing the location
of the ‘Dark Age’ cemetery at Ravensbury, reproduced by
permission of Merton Design Unit, London Borough of Merton
The shaded area indicates the main area of burials


course nothing can be said of the many hundreds robbed or destroyed
without record in the past.

The very important question of the actual identity of the people buried
here has not so far received much attention. The assumption made by
Bidder and Morris, on the evidence of the weapons and most of the
grave goods, was that they were ‘Anglo-Saxons’, but this is not
necessarily true in all cases. The fact that many of the men carried
weapons of the type common amongst the Saxons, and the women
favoured jewellery fashioned in the style of or popularised by Saxon
craftsmen did not determine their ethnicity beyond doubt. No such
assumption could be made with regard to those buried without
possessions and, except in a few rare cases where the excavators noted
a stratigraphical relationship with a datable grave, they could not be
dated. Morris concluded these burials were merely of poor people, and
may well have been correct, but it might also be argued that they represent
a separate element in the community, members of which observed a
different funerary tradition.

It is noticeable that the majority of the inhumations were orientated
with feet to the East, following Christian and late Roman custom. Morris
commented that this is also the predominant orientation in pagan Saxon
cemeteries, the practice, he said, being copied from the Romans. The
majority of the Mitcham ‘Saxons’ would thus appear to be conforming
to an established, and presumably local, custom. It is also interesting
that whereas cremation was the practice in the Saxon homelands, no
evidence whatever of cremation burials was reported from the Mitcham
cemetery. Finally, there is the very important question raised by the
handful of graves producing Roman material, which included fragments
of pottery, a belt fitting and bronze finger-rings, coins and a beautiful 4th
century glass amphora. Many of the graves discovered by farm workers
in the mid-19th century are also said to have contained coins (presumably
Roman), which were sold to dealers. It is unfortunate that so much of
the cemetery was destroyed before its significance was recognised,
and that none of it was dug with the benefit of modern archaeological
techniques. A few burials may still remain undisturbed, and one can
only hope that if and when they are discovered, it will be possible for


them to be examined properly. The implications of what we do know
about the cemetery are obvious, however – some of the burials at
Mitcham could have been of late Roman date, and use of the cemetery
continued into the 5th century by people of both Romano-British and
Saxon origins.

Morris formed the opinion that, if the Mitcham cemetery remained in
use for any appreciable time after 600, it must have served an
impoverished community, who interred their dead without possessions.
An alternative explanation could be that some of the burials which so
inconveniently lacked datable grave goods, were in fact post-600, and
that they were reflecting further changes taking place in funerary practice
under the renewed influence of Christianity, which had returned to Surrey
by the mid-7th century. Mellitus had become Bishop of London in 604,
and Chertsey Abbey, which was founded in 666, claimed to have held
an estate in Mitcham as early as 675.9 Given the missionary zeal of the
early Roman Church, charged by Pope Gregory with the task of bringing
the Gospel to the heathen English (many hundreds of whom were claimed
to have been baptised by St Augustine in 597) it is to be expected that
priests from the minster church of St Peter at Chertsey would soon
have been active amongst its tenants in Mitcham.

The number and concentration of burials in the cemetery led Morris to
conclude it served a compact village rather than a number of scattered
farms each with its small family graveyard. This need not have been
the case, and other authorities have suggested that large cemeteries
might have served communities scattered over the surrounding areas.
However, accepting Morris’s hypothesis, we may imagine the village to
which the Mitcham cemetery belonged as a somewhat random grouping
of houses of various sizes and types, resembling the ‘Dark Age’
settlements now known from a number of excavations in the south-east
of England.10 On the assumption that some 400-500 burials had taken
place over a period of 150 years, Morris furthermore suggested the
village at Mitcham could hardly have been a large one, and visualised a
community of from 50 to 100 persons, perhaps increasing in size towards
the end of the 6th century, and living in a cluster of a score or so houses.
With so much still unknown this is, of course, little more than guesswork.


In 1989 the excavations conducted by the Museum of London
Archaeological Service to the south of Mitcham church exposed features
which may have been part of a roughly circular ditched enclosure. Apart
from the Romano-British material already mentioned, some late Saxon
pottery was also found. Nothing more was discovered to show that
here was an actual habitation site, and what slight archaeological evidence
of structures which might have survived, given the nature of the buildings
at the time, is now likely to have been severely disturbed, if not destroyed.
The site is, however, the focal point of a number of old lanes and field
paths, which points to it having been of some significance in the past,
and further excavation might yet be productive.

Who, then, were the people whose descendants have given us the names
for Mitcham and the neighbouring villages, and what were the
circumstances that induced them to settle in this part of Surrey? The
historical record is of little use in reconstructing a reliable backcloth to
the 5th century, but it is known that for well over a century southeastern
Britain had attracted land-hungry migrants sailing from the Low
Countries and the north German coast. The Kent and Sussex coasts
had long been subjected to forays by sea-borne raiders entering the
river estuaries, and landing on the gently sloping beaches. Whilst the
shore forts were manned, and the province was still garrisoned by
Imperial forces, immigration could be controlled, but the situation must
have changed rapidly once the regular troops were withdrawn. The
Thames, of course, gave ready access to north-eastern Surrey, whence
Roman roads led inland, and the archaeological evidence is for quite
small numbers of migrants, either as individuals or family groups, finding
their way to the Wandle valley by the early 5th century. Here they
might have discovered land which had been abandoned – an example
of the agri deserti common elsewhere in the Empire, and complained
of by Roman writers. The buildings of Beddington villa appear to have
fallen into decay by the latter part of the 4th century, and part of the
estate may have been left to revert to scrub. The same process could
quite possibly have been occurring in parts of Mitcham, but the fertile
soils bordering the Wandle are more likely to have remained in cultivation.

The Ravensbury cemetery, together with that at Croydon, has a number
of grave-goods contemporary with some of the earliest Saxon migrants.


Bede’s Adventus Saxonium ought certainly no longer to be regarded
as a unique and closely datable event which took place in or about 450,
but rather as the culmination of a prolonged period of folk migration.
Morris supported the view that the Mitcham Saxons, and their kin at
Beddington and Croydon, had been settled here when the British invited
German federates, as a deliberate act of policy, to help defend the
southern approaches to London in the mid-5th century. If this did take
place, the evidence suggests it would have been as a reinforcement of
established communities. Morris saw these three cemeteries of the
Wandle valley as situated on the nearest inhabited land to the southwest
of London, but excavations at Clapham have since shown this
assumption to be untrue.11 One suspects that Saxon settlement to the
south of London in the early 5th century will eventually be found to
have been far more widespread than was once believed. Morris went
on to stress what he saw as the strategic significance of the three
settlements: “Placed on the Wandle between Merton and Croydon, these
garrisons blocked all access to London from the south. They covered
the London-Chichester and London-Brighton roads at the two Roman
roadside villages nearest to London.”12 The idea has an initial romantic
attraction, but presupposes the continued existence into the mid-5th
century of a British authority in the London region capable not only of
strategic planning, but exercising control over an area extending some
10-12 miles into Surrey. So little is known of London at this time that it
is impossible to say if such a body existed. Some activity continued to
the west of the city, however, for traders in the London area retained
commercial contact with the mainland of Europe into the mid-5th century,
and Gaulish merchants were trading with London as late as 468.

The ‘evidence’ of place-names in support of the theory of continuity of
occupation is, of course, to be treated with great caution,13 but locally
we have some fascinating examples. The derivation of ‘Wallington’
from the Old English Waletona or Waleton(e) – ‘weal tun’ or farm of
the ‘Welsh’, i.e. Celtic British14 – is certainly interesting and does lend
support to the belief that an identifiable enclave of people of Romano-
British stock was still to be found in the vicinity of Mitcham until well
into the 7th or 8th centuries.15 The hundred of Wallington, which
embraced Mitcham and the spring line settlements from Cheam to


Croydon, and remained a focus for local fiscal and judicial purposes
until the 20th century, is a typical example of a place-name providing
evidence of a primitive grouping of estates or land units about a central
point, the meeting place of the hundred moot, and hints at an
administrative framework perhaps dating to the sub-Roman period.

From Mitcham itself we seem to have a further hint of continuity,
although not so immediately apparent. As we have seen in chapter I,
the vill of ‘Witford’ was recorded in the Domesday survey of 1086, and
recurs as ‘Wicford’ (in various spellings preserving the hard ‘c or ‘k’
sound) in documents throughout the 12th and 13th centuries.16 In 1362,
as ‘Wykeford’,17 it was synonymous with Lower Mitcham, bordering
the Wandle.

The evident persistence of the ‘wic(k)’ form of the name throughout
the middle ages (‘Witford’ or ‘Whitford’ did not reappear until the 18th
century) suggests that phonetically this was closest to the more usual
spoken form, and that the local English rendering had been modified by
the Norman clerks when compiling the Domesday record. One is
therefore justified in proceeding further on the premise that the ‘wic’
element is, in fact, Old English, and predates the Conquest.

Aware of the alternative form of the name, Gover and others14 suggested
Whitford might be interpreted as ‘ford by the wic’. Whereas ‘wic’ can
denote a dairy farm, it also has a clear association with the Latin vicus

– a term for a very variable unit in Roman times, ranging from a small
town to a settlement, and which by the end of the 4th century may have
come to include a village. Research has shown that a large proportion
of the ‘wick’ names in England, often occurring in combination with
other elements, are either on or close to a Roman road, or less than half
a mile from sites known to have been occupied during the Roman period.
Many are found to actually coincide with Romano-British settlement
sites.18 It is a reasonable hypothesis, therefore, given the archaeological
evidence from Mitcham, that the term ‘wic-ford’ was applied to a
Wandle crossing in the proximity of the former Romano-British vicus,
and that in subsequent common usage its meaning was extended to
include the general area on the north bank of the river in the vicinity of
the river, as well as the ford itself.


The first Anglo-Saxon settlers seem to have begun to arrive in the district
early in the 5th century, and by the mid-7th century the area of settlement
was sufficiently extensive to merit the name of ‘Micham’ in
contemporary deeds. In this, its earliest form, the name Mitcham contains
firstly the Old English element ‘micel’, meaning ‘big’. The second element
could be either ‘ham’ or ‘hamm’; the two are difficult to distinguish,
and have different meanings. ‘Ham’ can be interpreted as ‘village’,
‘place’, or even ‘home’, and may also be used in the sense of an estate.
‘Hamm’, on the other hand, was used variously as meaning land in a
riverbend, or on a promontory, or dry ground in a marsh, a river meadow
or a cultivated plot in marginal land, or a piece of valley bottom land
hemmed in by higher ground. ‘Micham’ can thus be seen as conveying
the idea of a large expanse of arable land and water meadows enclosed
by a bend in the river. The absence of an early spelling of Mitcham
ending with a double ‘m’ need not concern us here, for study of the
topography is the important factor in recognition of the origin of this
form. Even today, the description still seems particularly apt as, when
approaching Mitcham from the south, one descends the incline from
Rose Hill to cross the Wandle beside the old ford. What remains of the
village centre, near the parish church and clustered round the Lower
Green, can be seen to lie at the heart of a broad expanse of level ground
some two miles wide, beyond which rise the hills of Streatham and

If our interpretation is correct, this places Mitcham in what Gelling calls
the ‘topographical’ settlement-name classification – the type describing
the physical setting rather than the ‘habitative’, which uses a word for
a settlement. The translation of ‘Mitcham’ as ‘big home’ or ‘big place’,
generally favoured by local historians in the past, does now seem to be
less feasible than a topographical derivation. Moreover, contrary to the
assumptions of authorities at the beginning of the 20th century, the
topographical form of place-name is now seen as the earliest type,
illustrative of the importance physical factors played in the selection of
habitation sites.19 This accords well with our present understanding of
the origins of Mitcham.

Tradition does tell us of stiffening British resistance to further Saxon
insurrections and incursions into central southern Britain during the mid


5th century, commencing with the campaigns initiated by Ambrosius
Aurelianus, the dux bellorum of noble birth described by Gildas, and
culminating in Arthur’s victory at Mount Badon in about 500. Welsh
and English tradition also holds that the country was to enjoy relative
peace and freedom from foreign invasion for a further 50 years, although
squabbling continued intermittently amongst the British themselves.

Arthur is said to have died at Camlann in about 515, and the stability
won at Badon had evidently collapsed by the middle of the 6th century.
The British appear to have lacked any central cohesion, and Gildas,
writing about 540, says they had five kings or princelings. The old Roman
province of Britannia had by now disintegrated and Procopius, who
wrote some ten years later, describes the British as subject to ‘tyrants’
or usurpers. The advance into the Midlands and the south-west continued
between 550 and 600 and, succeeding in defeating the British, Saxon
warlords eventually gained control of the greater part of lowland Britain.
Often this may not have been so much a war between two clearly
defined racial groups as a prolonged struggle between rulers of different
provinces striving for supremacy.

In the south-east the kings of Wessex and Kent fought for possession of
what later became north-eastern Surrey. At the battle of Wibbandune20
between Caewlin and Cutha of Wessex and Ethelbert of Kent in 568
Caewlin was victorious, and for a time the Wandle valley may have
been left in a no-man’s land between the two kingdoms. This, the first
sign of Kentish expansion for a hundred years, marks the beginning of a
long campaign spanning much of Ethelbert’s reign (560-616). Caewlin
died in 593 and his nephew, Coelwulf, who succeeded to the throne of
Wessex in 597, found himself in a state of continuous war with the Picts
and the British, as well as the neighbouring Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

We of course cannot tell what part, if any, the people of the middle
Wandle valley played in the struggle for control of the southern Home
Counties which took place between the kings of Wessex and Kent in
the 6th century. From a study of the typology of the brooches found at
Ravensbury, however, it seemed to Morris that during this period the
inhabitants of Mitcham were able to achieve a degree of prosperity and
creative independence they had not known before. During the early 6th


century their jewellery was of a distinctive type, presumably made in
the locality, and may have been traded far into south-western Surrey.
Towards the middle of the century the situation seems to have changed,
and the local brooches disappear, to be replaced by imitations, notably
of Kentish design. The relative poorness of the later Mitcham jewellery,
and the lack of variety to be seen in the material derived from Kent and
north of the Thames, led Morris to suggest that whatever independence
and prosperity the Wandle communities had enjoyed did not persist. He
considered that after the middle of the 6th century “they were too poor
to maintain a brooch-maker of their own, or to produce wealthy women
or powerful chieftains”.21

So far, excavation of the Ravensbury cemetery has provided nothing to
carry the history of Mitcham much beyond 600. We know that by then
London was in the hands of Ethelbert, and his son was king of Essex,
but by the end of the 7th century the balance of power had shifted, and
London lay within the kingdom of Wessex, for between 674 and 688 we
find Ine, king of Wessex, referring to Erkenwald, bishop of London, as
“my bishop” in the preamble to his laws.22 Whilst the kings’ struggles
for supremacy swept back and forth, the main concern of the peasant
farmers in the Wandle valley, was undoubtedly survival of themselves
and their families, and the defence of their livestock and crops.

Saxon style brooches from Mitcham, reproduced by courtesy of Museum of London


Henry Hoare’s estate in 1828, from the sales particulars
reproduced by courtesy of London Borough of Sutton Archives


(Appendices 1a-1c are transcripts of extracts of wills made by Doris E.


Extract from Will of Susannah Smyth Spinster of Mitcham.

Will dated 13 Feb 1724, probate 30 July 1725. (Prob 11 604 162) SHC

“I give devise and bequeath all my Manors Messuages Advowsons
Tythes Lands Tenements and hereditaments whatsoever to my kinsman
William Myers of King Street London Gent, his heirs and assigns for
ever. All my real estates in the County of Surrey to William Myers
except for £1000 ….. To Damaris Myers, sister of William Myers £100
and ten pounds to buy mourning. I give to her likewise my two small
Silver Salvers, my two silver candlesticks and snuffers, my two large
guilt spoons and all my books … Ten pounds unto and amongst the poor
people of Mitcham … to each and every of my servants £5 for mourning
… I give to Elizabeth Browne Widow £200 and my great silver tankard
and silver plate and all my china ware or pieces of china and also the
sum of one hundred pounds with which she is to provide herself with
mourning … I give to William Myers son of the above William Myers
my great silver salver and silver cup …”


Extract from Will of William Myers of Mitcham in the County
of Surrey and of King Street in the parish of St Lawrence Jewry
London Gent. Will dated thirteenth October 1739 proved at
London 29th July 1742.

(Prob 11 719 226)

“I made settlement before marriage with my now wife Mary Myers …
I give over and above the settlement aforesaid the sum of one hundred
pounds to buy mourning or otherwise as she shall think fit … also one
pair of silver candlesticks the set of silver casters that are in use in my
house in Mitcham, the Green Calimante1 Bed with the ffeather Bed


bolster pillows blankets and Quilt therewith commonly used and wherein
we usually lye when in London. I give her likewise two pair of sheets
two pair of pillow beers2 two tablecloths twelve napkins and twelve
towels such as she shall choose out of what we commonly use. I likewise
will and direct that she shall have all her paraphernalia Jewells and
Ornaments of her Body except the Pearl necklace which was my
Mothers which was not given to but lent by me to my said wife for her
wearing only, it being always intended (tho of small value) to be kept as
a ffamily Jewell and to go from generation to generation and for that
reason I give the said necklace to my eldest son … I give £5 to the poor
of Mitcham and to St. Laurence Jewry and St. Mary Magdalen Milk
St. [united parishes]. William shall have all my books and household
furniture prints pictures linnen brewing vessels implements of gardening
and husbandry and other utensils which shall be in or about my house at
Mitcham, likewise so much of my silver plate as my executors shall
think fit to reserve for him … I desire to be very privately interred in the
parish church of Mitcham as near to my pew as conveniently may be
and without aschutions [sic] or other vain show or pomp. All real estate
copyhold as well as freehold by virtue of Will or settlement of Sussana
Smith late of Mitcham to my son William Myers … ”


Extract from Will of Henry Hoare of Mitcham Grove. Will dated
1st day of March 1828, proved at London 31st March 1828.
(Prob. 11 1738 151)

“The last will and testament of Henry Hoare of Fleet Street in the City
of London and of Mitcham Grove in the County of Surrey, Esq. which
I make and publish whilst I am through the mercy of God of sound and
disposing mind memory and understanding … I desire that my remains
may be buried in the vault I have lately made in Morden Churchyard
and my positive injunction is that there be not any ostentatious parade at
my ffuneral. I leave to the minster who shall officiate at my burial the
sum of ten pounds and to the officiating clerk the sum of five pounds
including and in lieu of their legal fees … I have a power to appoint the
sum of £2500 amongst my children … now forms part of mortgage


£15000 due from Lady Caroline Damer formerly lent to the Earl of
Dorchester by his then title of Lord Milton. £2500 to my only two
surviving sons George Matthew Hoare and Charles James Hoare and
my daughter Dame Lydia Elizabeth the wife of Sir Thomas Acland
Bart. to be divided amongst them share and share alike. I give and
devise all my severall ffreehold houses ground rents and other ffreehold
hereditaments in and near Exchange Alley in the City of London and
also the land tax payable in respect therefore which I have redeemed
and also all that Manor of Little Spilsel and the farm and lands situate at
Staplehurst in the County of Kent which I have lately purchased of
John Ballard … to the use of my grandson Henry Hoare son of my dear
departed son William Henry Hoare his heirs and assigns for ever … I
give devise and bequeath all and singular my ffreehold and leasehold
messuages ffarms lands and other tenements and other hereditaments
situate lying and being in the parishes or places of Mitcham Morden
Carshalton Sutton or elsewhere in the County of Surrey and also all the
rest and residue of my manors messuages ffarms lands tenements and
hereditaments whatsoever and wheresoever and whether in possession
reversion remainder or expectancy with their respective appurtenances
unto Charles Hoare of ffleet Street aforesaid and of Dawlish in the
County of Devon Esq. Henry Merrick Hoare of York Place in the parish
of St. Marylebone in the County of Middlesex Esq. my said sons George
Matthew Hoare and Charles James Hoare and their heirs upon trust
that they shall do as they or he in their or his absolute discretion shall
think fit after my decease shall sell and dispose of the same either by
public auction or private contracts in lots or otherwise and shall apply
and dispose of the money to arise by such sale in the manner hereinafter
mentioned. All investments etc. to be for Henry Hoare … I direct that
the rents and profits of my real estates shall until sale and subject to the
enjoyment of my said sons or either of them of my Mansion House at
Mitcham and the gardens and pleasure grounds adjacent thereto go and
be employed in the same manner as the interest etc. … My two sons
George Matthew Hoare and Charles James Hoare and the survivor of
them shall have the use and occupation of my Mansion House at Mitcham
and the gardens etc. for the space of six calender months from my
decease and of the furniture table linen plate books china liquors wines


and stores for housekeeping and shall be allowed the sum of £1000 for
the maintaining thereof … £40 to the Rev. Richard Cranmer of Mitcham,
£200 to my servant Edward Longworthy to all servants who have lived
with me 6 years previously to my death six months wages over and
above what shall be due from me to them … to Mr William Giles of
Mitcham the sum of four hundred pounds over and above what may be
due to him for his salary which I direct shall be paid to the day of my
death. I recommend him to my Executors to be employed in the settlement
of my books as he is a person whose integrity can be relied on and I
recommend his assistance to my sons in the inspection of my papers if
they shall think fit. I give to the trustees of the Mitcham Sunday School
the sum of one hundred pounds to the churchwardens and overseers of
the poor of the parish of Carshalton the sum of £30. £12 per week for
the first four weeks after my decease may be distributed to poor persons
by William Giles as has been usually done by him. I give all my wearing
apparel and linen unto my servant Edward Longworthy. I also give to
the said Henry Hoare my grandson all the books prints maps and
pamphlets which shall be in and about my library and dwellinghouse at
Mitcham … Lady Oakes is to reside in the house which she now occupies
at Mitcham until Christmas 1828 free of all rent and taxes … If any
person shall institute any proceedings for a more particular or any other
amount or for inspection of books they shall forfeit all benefits. I give to
Lady Acland all my paintings and portraits except the portrait of my
deceased son Willam Hoare which I give to my eldest grandson Henry
Hoare. I give also to him my watches watch chains seals rings jewels
and trinkets”.

(This is a very lengthy will and disposes of considerable property. Among
other things mention is made of provision for his children under terms of
a marriage settlement. I have only extracted those items which have
particular local interest – D E D.)

The Edward Longworthy mentioned was Henry Hoare’s valet, and he
stayed with the family, becoming the grandson’s butler when he married
and settled in Staplehurst. (D E D)




(Notes Compiled by J G Berry, Deputy Director of Parks, London
Borough of Merton, in September 1980)

Owing to the age of the park, it has some notable aged trees. Of these
the most outstanding are the several gigantic London Plane trees, now
sadly, some of them declining into senility. All of them seem to be about
the same age, which has been estimated at about 200 years. They have
girths at breast height of about 7.5m and heights of around 30 metres.
There are also very large Oaks and Black Poplars, but none so huge as
the Planes.

Most of the interesting species are on the river bank. Near the bridge
on the north bank are two Ginkgo on either side of the path leading into
the park proper. This species was at one time thought to be found only
in Chinese temple gardens (it is a sacred tree), but more recently a
grove of Ginkgos was found in a remote valley. The deciduous foliage

– like huge maidenhair ferns fronds – is unique. Nearer the mill on the
same bank is a Weymouth Pine, a fairly uncommon tree in the London
area. Walking from the bridge towards the Watermeads on the same
bank one encounters another unusual conifer, the deciduous Swamp
Cypress. This tree when growing in waterlogged ground throws up
‘knees’ from the roots to enable them to breathe. Signs of these can be
seen in the surface of the tarmac path.
A little further on is a young Western Yellow Pine. This can be identified
by its long needles in big ‘brushes’ at the ends of stout twigs. Nearby is
the remnant of an ancient Indian Bean tree. These old plants were
originally shoots springing from the ruins of the parent tree – now
completely decayed. This species flowers in late summer, and the long
seed pods are a conspicuous feature of the tree in autumn.

Near the point where a side stream leaves the main river is a group of
trees, obviously part of an old garden layout: a large Oak, a fine Scots
Pine with the cinnamon colour on the upper bark well-developed, and
several Ilex trees. From this point one can pass over the bridge which


gives access to the walkway to the London Road and the Watermeads.
The layout of the Watermeads housing estate caused the death from
environmental stress of many fine trees, but a huge Lucombe’s Oak, a
Cedar of Lebanon and a fine Swamp Cypress remain.

In the remainder of the park, the rarest tree is in the children’s playground.
This is the Californian Laurel, or Headache Tree, with its yellowish
willow-shaped leaves. Nearby is a tree-sized Clerodendrum with white
flowers in August/September, followed by blue berries. There are several
other plants of the same species in other parts of the park. In the same
row is a rare Chinese Cow-tail Pine. This has leaflets arranged flat on
each side of the shoot like barbs of a feather. Not far away – near the
entrance from Morden Road and the car park – is an ancient Mulberry.
In spite of its age it still fruits well.

Amongst smaller plants the most notable are the Giant Rhubarbs and
the bamboo clumps near the bridge. The bamboo is not the common
species but Arundinaria simonii, a taller kind.

With thought for the future the Council have planted new trees of which
the most interesting are the Sweet Gums on the south bank of the Wandle.
These have maple-like leaves and spectacular autumn colour. Council
policy is to maintain both the size and interest of the fine tree plantings
inherited from the past, and in time to improve upon them.

River Wandle at Ravensbury Park – postcard c.1930



Common Name Botanical Name

London Plane Platanus x hispanica
Common Oak Quercus pedunculata
Black Poplar Populus nigra
Ginkgo Ginkgo biloba
Weymouth Pine Pinus strobus
Swamp Cypress Taxodium distichum
Western Yellow Pine Pinus ponderosa
Indian Bean Tree Catalpa bignonioides
Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris
Ilex (Evergreen Oak) Quercus ilex
Lucombe’s Oak Quercus lucombeana
Cedar of Lebanon Cedrus libani
Californian Laurel (Allspice) Umbellularia californica
Clerodendron Clerodendrom trichotomum fargesii
Chinese Cow-tail Pine Cephalotaxus fortunei
Black Mulberry Morus nigra
Sweet Gum Liquidambar styraciflua

J G Berry 1. 9. 80.

Ravensbury Park – postcard postmarked 1954



Memories of the Ravensbury Factory in the 1930s

(Slightly adapted from notes written by Mr Peter Sales, c.1991)

“I knew this area well over the period from 1930 to 1948 when as a child
I was a frequent visitor. My grandfather, William Williams, was the bailiff
on the Morden Hall Estate and my uncle, Jack Williams, was one of the
carpenters. Unfortunately after 1948 my visits were less frequent as in
that year I joined the army and was away for long periods for the next 24
years and, after my army service, settled in Shropshire, so my knowledge
from then on is sketchy …

“The ‘factory’ was used as a warehouse for the Hatfeild estate, it was
also the estate workshop. For example – each year one of the haywains
was taken out of service, stripped down and rebuilt, and in its ‘as new’
condition was used as the carriage for the ‘May Queen’. This event was
held at the recreation ground in Central Road. The vehicle was drawn by
two shire horses, their harness polished and their manes be-ribboned.
This was the responsibility of their driver, Harry Greenleaf. After this
event the vehicle was returned to normal service.

A fragment of the boundary wall of the Ravensbury Print Works,
still to be seen in Ravensbury Park (ENM 1991)


“The waterwheel in the factory was undershot and was in regular use all
through the ’30s and early ’40s. It was used to drive the various machine
tools used in the workshop, i.e. drills, planers and saws etc. A sluice gate
was opened to allow the water through to drive the wheel and a large
lever was used to engage a clutch which transferred the drive to a belt
system. The various tools were driven by subsidiary belt systems.

“There were three floors in the building and the main drive went to all
three. Each floor had its own system of belt drives, and these were all in
place and capable of being used. The top floor was more like an attic
right up under the roof. Each of the two upper floors had double doors at
one end with hoists for lifting heavy items. Access to each floor inside the
building was by shallow open stairways with rope handholds.

“Stored within the building were all the items for daily use on the estate,
timber, fencing, bales of wire, glass, doors and frames, sand, cement and
other building materials. Smaller items such as door furniture, screws etc,
were kept in the ‘office’ at the house.

“Also stored was all the equipment used for the annual children’s parties
held in Morden Hall Park. These items were swings, roundabouts,
marquees, assorted tents, tables and chairs/benches and the like. Also
there were the punts and rowing boats that were used to give the children
boats rides on the waterways within the park. This annual event was held
over a week or so in the summer when the children from the schools in
Mitcham and some of the Morden schools were given a treat of jellies,
ice cream, sandwiches, cake, fruit and lemonade, etc. It was something
that was looked forward to and remembered all year. Regretfully the
outbreak of World War 2 in 1939 and the subsequent death of Mr. Hatfeild
put a stop to these wonderful parties and they were never resumed.

“The spillway which ran from the main river by the orchard into the
stream by my grandfather’s house was brick lined on the sides and the
bed was of slate slabs approximately 4 feet by 3 feet by 2 inches thick
(they were extremely slippery).

The depth of water from the spillway to where the stream crossed under
the road into the park was normally 18 inches to two feet. When the mill
was in use it was deeper and faster, as it was when in spate. There were


various parts that were deeper, such as where the spillway entered the
stream where it was three feet, and at the exit from the tunnel four feet,
lessening to 18 inches or so towards the house.

“Within the grounds of the factory there was a ‘soakaway’ [which had]
signs that at one time it had been ornamented as a pool. There were
pieces of broken stone which looked at if they had come from decorated
slabs, plinths, etc. This, plus a white footbridge, indicated that the pool
was not just for practical use.

“Up to the early ’40s there were fish in the river and the various streams.
They were mainly minnows and three-spined sticklebacks (I used to catch
them with a net made from an old stocking, a piece of wire, and a bamboo
pole plus, of course, a jam-jar). My grandfather told me that years ago
there had been trout in the river. There were also frogs, toads, newts and
all the usual water insects, particularly dragonflies. After the ’40s all
these creatures gradually disappeared due, I assume, to pollution.”

Two of the Sales children playing in the Wandle
reproduced by courtesy of Madeline Healey, née Sales



(TQ 2617 6815)

Following the announcement, early in 1972, of a proposal by Messrs.
Watney Mann to convert The Grange into a licensed restaurant the
Merton Historical Society, Archaeological Section, obtained permission
from the Greater London Council to carry out a small-scale exploratory
excavation in the grounds. The primary objective was to find evidence
of early occupation of the site. Eight trenches were cut, two in the
garden, and the remainder near the house. No such evidence was found.

In trenches 5 and 7, to the west of the main building, two sections of
19th-century brick wall were uncovered together with a section of
rammed chalk walling of presumably earlier date. These are assumed
to be the remains of foundations of previous outbuildings. Trench 6,
adjacent to the east veranda, produced a length of brick-built, barrel-
topped drain 12 inches by 12 inches internally. Overlying the drain was
a scatter of broken tiles, bricks and pottery fragments. The direction of
the drain indicated a junction with the south-east corner of the main
building, and probably served to carry off waste from a kitchen or wash-
house beyond. Above the waste materials was a layer of hard-packed
flint which may have been a path or drive, though the latter is not
confirmed on map evidence. Whatever its purpose, the drain had
collapsed under the superimposed weight and ceased to perform its
original function. The drain had 9inch brick sides, a shallow arched top,
but no base. It had been cut into the natural clay and partly filled with
clay, which would be sufficiently non-absorbent to conduct the water
away from the house. The weight above had depressed the arch into
the drain leaving no gap. That it had been in use is borne out by the fact


that the clay filling was discoloured at the top. The bricks were red,
unevenly fired, had no frogs and were presumably of local manufacture.
Specimens were retained.

The pottery recovered, which has not yet been properly classified, is of
the 17th and early 18th century, and being roughly contemporary with
the first phase of building, was not unexpected. It consists of three main
groups. There are a number of sherds of Bellarmine ware, and a small
quantity of red glazed earthenware. A handful of tin-glazed earthenware,
including a polychrome sherd, was also recovered, with a few sherds of
green and yellow glazed white ware. There were some fragments of
bottle glass, and iron.

The dense growth of plants, shrubs, etc and a request to reduce clearance
to a minimum prevented a more extensive exploration, and in view of
the results obtained it was not considered desirable to continue. However,
observations will most likely be carried out once the work of conversion
has commenced.

Research is at present in progress in an effort to trace the history of
The Grange. The early history of the building and the occupants is
somewhat obscure. The main building can be described as being of
three attached blocks. The oldest, the west block (facing Central Road),
is timber-framed and contains re-used timbers of an earlier structure.
Where these timbers came from is unknown. A date in the mid to late
17th century has been suggested for the west block, but this is uncertain.
Some time later, in the 18th century, a brick-built east block was added.
The west block may have been refaced with stucco at the some time.
Later still, probably in the 19th century, a north block was built across
the end of the other two. The west block has three floors, including an
attic. The east and north blocks have two floors, creating split levels.
There are considerable extensions to the south, comprising kitchen,
pantries, wash-house and dairy.

Report by W J Rudd in Merton Historical Society Bulletin 32
(January 1973)


Plan of The Grange, alias Steel Hawes, Morden
with details of three excavation trenches inset (W J Rudd 1972)


Red Wares

Milk pans, broken, typically 16″ diameter by 2½” high with straight,
splayed sides and everted rims, black-flecked glaze in interior only.
Pancheons, broken, typically 1′ 6″ diameter by 8½” high with near-
vertical sides, glazed interior only.
Globular storage jar, broken, 1′ 6″ diameter with bead rim, glazed interior
Sherds of a miscellany of vessels in red or greyish-red ware with
varying shades of red and brown glaze. Forms varying – pancheons,
pans, lids, breadpots, some with massive loop handles, fragments of a
colander, globular jars, etc.
Probably Farnham ware. Late 17th or 18th century.

Off-white Ware

Sherds of shallow pan with interior yellow glaze.
Miscellaneous sherds with yellow or green glaze.
Possibly Surrey ware. Late 17th or 18th century.


One sherd of an olive jar, pink earthenware. Probably Spanish. 17th 19th
Miscellaneous sherds of Staffordshire pressed-ware chargers,
decorated with feathered slip, salt-glazed, late 17th or early 18th century.

Tin-glaze Delftware

Gallipot, 2″ diameter, chipped, but complete. White.
Dinner Plate, 9″ diameter, one third complete. Blue on white decoration.
Bowl, 8½” diameter, near complete. Blue on white decoration.
Plates, bowls, chamber pot sherds. Plain white or pale blue.
Plates, miscellaneous sherds. Blue on white decoration. Bowls, ditto.
Probably Lambeth ware. Mid-18th century.

Salt-glaze Whiteware

Sherds from a variety of press-moulded dinner plates, some with
basketwork borders, tea bowls and larger bowls with deep foot rings.
Staffordshire. Mid-18th century.


Salt-glaze Creamware

Sherds from various sized bowls, typically with deep foot rings.
Dinner plates, shallow dishes and chamber pots; sherds from a variety
of sizes and forms.
Staffordshire. Probably Wedgwood. Second half 18th century.


(a) Coarse Earthenwares
Red Wares
Sherds of pancheons, a bread pot?, and a miscellany of unidentifiable
vessels with varying shades of red and reddish-brown glaze.
Probably Farnham Ware.

Off-White Wares

Sherds of unidentifiable vessels with green, yellow and brown glaze.
Probably Surrey Ware,

Roofing Tile

Pieces of pantiles and plain tiles with peg holes but no nibs.

(b)Fine Earthenwares
Tin-glazed delftware

Small sherds of plates and unidentifiable vessels in white, blue on white
and polychrome.
Probably Lambeth Ware.

Feathered Slipware

A few small sherds.
Probably Staffordshire.

(c) Stonewares
Sherds of possibly four different flasks, some with medallions.


A few pieces of thick green bottle glass.


Fragments of nails and other ferrous objects. One fragment of
E N Montague (1973)

The finds have been deposited at the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre


0 10 20 30
Plan of Ravensbury House in 1847, from the Tithe Map



MANOR HOUSE, 1973 (TQ 2665 6804)
In June 1973 an exploratory excavation was conducted by the Society
at the invitation of the Borough’s Director of Parks and Cemeteries.
Three trenches, covering 54 square metres, were opened north-east of
the remains of the manor house, exposing a yard surfaced with knapped
flint and the site of three domestic outbuildings. One of these was
dated to the mid-18th century. All had been demolished by 1867.

Beneath the yard ran an extensive system of brick-built drains, more
complex than would appear necessary for domestic use. They predated
the flint paving, and were dated on ceramic evidence to the first
half of the 18th century. It was evident that these drains were largely
disused when the house was enlarged and occupied by John Arbuthnot
as his residence in 1755.

The undisturbed soil below the drains, overlying the natural river silt
and gravel at 0.7 metres below ground level, contained sherds of coarse
black cooking pots and white Surrey ware. The concentration was
sufficient, in the small area exposed, to indicate medieval occupation in
the vicinity. Fragments of chalk and greensand, both typical building
materials of that period and found at the same level, gave support to
this theory since they are ‘foreign’ to this area.

The southern-most trench, exposing footings and other structures
associated with a possible scullery or washhouse, also contained a brick-
built, cement rendered, rainwater cistern, circular in section and 2 metres
deep. This was emptied but found to contain only building rubble and
relatively modern glass and stoneware.

The trenches were backfilled after the site had been on view at the end
of the excavation.

During the Society’s excavation a number of medieval tiles in the park,
from Merton Priory, were brought to our notice by the park keeper.
The tiles had been cemented under a park bench, by a path that led
from the keeper’s hut to the river. There were 52 tiles or part tiles
altogether. Drawings of the tiles were made and shown to Mrs Elizabeth


Eames of the British Museum who was of the opinion they were of the
thirteenth-century Wessex type. This type of tile was found in quite
large numbers during excavations at the Priory. Only eight retained
their original white or light pink glaze and the patterns, very similar to
those already found at the Priory, included pierced 8-foil, fleur-de-lis
and part of a griffin. The tiles were probably brought to Ravensbury by
Colonel Bidder who excavated part of the Priory in the 1920s and owned
the land now making up Ravensbury Park.

E N Montague

Ruins at Ravensbury Manor House on banks of river (ENM June 1967)



(TQ 271679)

Rescue excavations were arranged in advance of housing development
on the site of the known 18th-19th-century house and directed by the
writer for Surrey Archaeological Society and Merton Historical Society
in July 1974.1 It was seen as a good site for a training dig but the
excavations also had two other aims: locating a Tudor house suggested
by documentary evidence and testing the area for any extension of the
nearby Anglo-Saxon cemetery.2

Geophysical survey was undertaken in May 1974 by a team from the
University of Surrey led by Professor Alan Crocker, and succeeded in
picking up the exact location of the later house. Trenches for the training
excavation could therefore be sited with some precision. As the housing
development was delayed, more work was undertaken late in 1974 and
early in 1975 in less than ideal circumstances by the John Evelyn Society
and Merton Historical Society, with assistance from the newly formed
South West London team of Surrey Archaeological Society.3 Records
of work by the latter have not been located. Unfortunately no resources
were available for post-excavation work; the project was carried out
well before it became the norm for developers to fund archaeological
work. As specialist finds reports still need to be completed it is not
possible to be precise about the dating of some of the phases but the
basic outline is clear.

Five trenches were opened in the first season. One was placed in the
nearest available location to test for the Anglo-Saxon cemetery but
encountered only modern disturbance. The others all located elements
of the later house and the evidence could easily be related to a surviving
plan, partly because the foundations of the entrance steps were found.
As work continued it could be seen that the front wall of the later
building had been created by refronting an earlier structure, probably of
Tudor date, and this was in due course shown to have succeeded another
building on a different alignment. The later trenching added some details
to the plan of the earliest building.


The sequence of events seems to have been as follows. The natural
gravel and sand subsoil was succeeded by a layer that was probably in
origin agricultural but also represented trample associated with the
construction of the medieval building. There were no finds to suggest
that this layer was itself pre-medieval, although part of a later Roman
bowl and some tile fragments hint at a nearby Roman-period site. There
were no prehistoric or Saxon finds. The medieval building was
represented by the remains of walls of rough chalk blocks, a cobbled
surface and a large amount of tile rubble, in particular one line of tiles
resting in the earth over the cobbled surface at an angle to the horizontal

– as though they had fallen from a decaying roof and plunged into a
damp earth layer overlying the cobbles. This line of tiles was at right
angles to the building wall in a different trench, but the wall was found
in later testing to have turned away from the tiles (rather than as expected
turning to run parallel with them) and so it cannot be said with certainty
that they had arrived at their eventual location by falling directly from a
roof. The later excavations found a tile-on-edge hearth with greensand
block surroundings on roughly the same alignment as the medieval walls
and so most probably part of the same building complex. Pottery suggests
that the building was constructed in the 12th or 13th century.
The medieval building was robbed of much of its materials, possibly at
the same time as the collapse suggested by the line of tiles, and it may
have been demolished not long before the Tudor house was constructed,
as part of the same programme of work. A different alignment was
chosen for this new house, which had chalk block foundations and brick
walls. The ‘back’ wall of this house (assuming that the front was in the
same direction as the later building) was not located and it was probably
smaller than its successor. At some point in the occupation of the building
a sleeper wall was constructed parallel to the front wall and not far
behind it, presumably to reinforce floor joists that were rotting where
they joined the main wall. Perhaps contemporary with this but more
likely later on, the front wall was given a new brick face, based on
quarry tiles built along the original wall, with a curving entrance step
structure. This ‘new’ wall was probably matched with a genuinely new
build to provide the back wall of the 18th-century house. Internal brick
walls and other features were also found, some probably of the same


Medieval walls excavated in 1974, superimposed on a copy, drawn by
Norman Plastow, of Robert Adam’s plan of Mitcham Grove


date as the refronting and others perhaps added later. The whole complex
was demolished in due course; an event documented as around 1840.
At some point subsequently rubbish apparently derived from pottery
making was brought to the site, and there were also spreads of clinker
perhaps to be associated with the creation of the cricket ground that
had occupied the site until just before excavations began in 1974.

Finds were mostly of pottery and animal bone, representative of
occupation across the period from perhaps the 12th century to the 19th.
There was little of special note except for a bone shuttle found near the
front entrance of the later house, in a post-medieval context. This was
at first identified as of Iron Age date, and as such became the basis of
a story involving the loss of a find from Wessex, lost by the early
archaeologist Colt Hoare while on a visit to Henry Hoare, owner of
Mitcham Grove and a relative.4 Unfortunately for the story, the shuttle
is probably to be dated to the post-medieval period5 and thus matches
its context on site (although of course this does not detract from the
general point that Clive Orton was making). One aspect of post-
excavation work that is still needed is a specialist report on the material
related to pottery manufacture found in later levels on the site in the
hope that this can explain its presence. It is unlikely to relate to local
manufacture and its origin would therefore be of interest.

D G Bird

Mitcham Grove excavations 1974 – entrance portico from southeast



Bidder and Morris




Gover et al


Manning & Bray
Mitcham Tithe


Morden Tithe









Bidder H F, and Morris J, ‘The Anglo-Saxon Cemetery atMitcham’ inSyAC LVI (1959)

British Library
Braithwaite F, ‘On the Rise and Fall of the River Wandle’
Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers 20 (1861)

Brayley E W, Topographical History of Surrey
Dictionary of National Biography
Edwards J, Companion from London to Brighthelmston
Gover J E B, Mawer M, and Stenton F M,The Place Names

of Surrey English Place Names Society XI (1934)
Heales A,The Records of Merton Priory (1898)
London Metropolitan Archives
Lysons D, Environs of London
McGow P, Notes on the Mills of the Wandle, transcript

deposited at the Wandle Industrial Museum, can beconsulted at http://www.wandle.org
Manning O, and Bray W, History and Antiquities of Surrey
Merton Historical Society
Michell R, The Carews of Beddington (1981)

Lambeth Archives, Minet Library
Mitcham Tithe Apportionment 1846/7 – original map andregister at SHC, photocopies at MLSC, published by MHS
as Local History Notes 22 (2002)

Merton Local Studies Centre

Montgomery, F M, Printed Textiles. English and AmericanCottons and Linens 1700-1850 (1970)
Morden Tithe Apportionment 1837/8 – original map and

register at SHC, photocopies at MLSC, published by MHS
as Local History Notes 13 (1998)
National Grid Reference

Prentis W H,The Snuff Mill Story (1970)
Rice, R. Garroway, ‘On the Parish Registers of Ss. Peter andPaul, Mitcham’ The Reliquary 1877

Surrey History Centre

Slater, B, ‘Reminiscences of Old Mitcham’ in Bidder H F
(Editor)Old Mitcham (1923)
Surrey Record Society

Surrey Archaeological Collections

The National Archives

Victoria County History of Surrey

Westminster Abbey Muniments



Note: Hone N J, The Manor and Manorial Records (1906) 281:
“Mitcham (Ravensbury) Various dates, 1488-1642” in the “British MuseumMS Dept.” [but now in the British Library] – Cf.Catalogue of Charters andRolls (1901) printed by the Trustees of the British Museum.


1 After noting that the manor of Ravensbury was held of the lords of Ashteadmanor, the VCH IV (1912) 232 suggested that “As Ashtead, like Mitchamand Witford, was held by the canons of Bayeux of the Bishop in 1086, it ispossible that here too we have part of the canons’ holding, granted withAshtead to the Mara family”.

Brayley IV (1841) 89 expressed the opinion that Lank’s pre-Conquest holding,
which was incorporated post-1066 in Fitz Ansculf’s Witford estate, becameRavensbury manor. It can now be demonstrated to have become part of themanor of Ravensbury.

2 Goveret al, 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 c.1280 BL

The form ‘Witford’ seems to have been a creation of the compilers ofDomesday Book, with an h being added by 18th/19th century translators togive ‘Whitford’

3 SHC 212/113
4 Morris J & Wood S (ed), Domesday Book – Surrey (1975) 21,1
5 Burns D, The Sheriffs of Surrey (1992) 3
6 Manning & Bray I (1804)
7 See Appendix 4b
8 Manning & Bray II (1809) 499, quoting Testa de Nevil.
9 Lysons I (1792) 351, quoting Harleian MSS, BL No. 313. f.15, and Manning

& Bray II (1809) 499
A ‘knight’s fee’ was a form of feudal tenure obliging the holder in theory toprovide a fully armed knight and his servants for 40 days a year. Oftencommuted to a money payment.
10 Historical Manuscript Commission. Report on the MSS of Lord Middleton(1911), then at Wollaton Hall, and subsequently Notts. Record Office, quotedby John Blair, of The Queen’s College, Oxford, in a personal communicationto the writer.


See also Meekings C A F, The 1235 Surrey Eyre (SyRS XXXI 1979) 218: Itis here stated that Ralph received Ravensbury from “Rabel the Chamberlainbefore 1140”.

11 I am indebted to Lionel Green (personal communication dated 9 September1994) for biographical information on de Tancarville, Ralph fitz Robert, andMary of Ashtead.

12 Middleton, op. cit., Sir Christopher Hatton’s Book of Seals 72 and Collegeof Arms Vincent MS 46 (also quoted by John Blair in personalcommunication)

13 Gover et al, 53

14 BL MS Add. 6040 f.1 No.1. Transcribed by John Blair.

15 BL MS Add. 6040 f.1 No.2. Transcribed by John Blair.

16 VCH IV (1912) 233, quotingVCH I 231

17 VCH IV (1912) 233, quoting Feet of Fines Surr. 3 Hen. III, no.23

18 BL MS Add. 6040 f.2 No.20. Transcribed by John Blair.

19 VCH IV (1912) 233, quoting Ancient Deed (TNA) A 9189
To ‘enfeoff’ was to put a tenant legally in possession of a holding.

The de Mara Dynasty

1 Malden H E, ‘Ashtead and the de Mara Chantry’ SyAC XIX (1906)

2 Milward R,Early Wimbledon (1969) 30-31 and Historic Wimbledon (1989)
91 states that in the 13th century the “de la Mares ran the mill”. The de laMares themselves are hardly likely to have been directly involved in theactual running of the mill, as this implies, and can be assumed to have held

the mill on a lease, sub-leasing it to a miller.

3 Burns D, The Sheriffs of Surrey (1992) 8

4 Heales 86 and Jowett E M, A History of Merton and Morden (1951) 31

5 D J Turner, in SyAC LXVI (1969) 114

6 Meekings C A F, The 1235 Surrey Eyre (SyRS XXXI) 220

7 Manning & Bray II (1809) 499 quoting Cotton MSS. BM [now BL] Cleopatra,

C.VII. f.111, 112

VCH IV (1912) 232 also quoting [BL] Cott. MS. Cleop. vii.

8 Goveret al, 53

9 Heales, 110-111

10 Lysons I (1792) 353, and Manning & Bray II (1809) 499, quoting Cart. 11

Edw I. No. 24, whereas
VCH IV (1912) 232, quoting Cal. Chart. R. 1257-1300, p.267, gives her nameas “Parnel”, the diminutive of Petronilla, and the surname as “de la Mare”.

11 VCH IV (1912) 232 says the manor was referred to as “Ersbourne” in theinquisition, but also uses the forms “Ersboury” and “Rasebury”.
Manning & Bray II (1809) 499, quoting the date 7 Edw. II 1314, call themanor “Ersborn in Micham”, but question this. VCH IV 232 refers to the
deceased as “William” de la Mare.


12 Manning & Bray II (1809) 499 and Victoria County History of

Northamptonshire I 291
The “property outside the manor” could well have been ‘Jenkingranger’
(on the site of the later Colliers Wood House), to which we shall refer later.

13 Heales 189

14 SHC 212/113

15 Manning & Bray II (1809) 499 quoting Esc. 7 Edw. II. no. 20. Lodelowe held

the land “of the heirs of William de Marisco in capite”.

16 VCH IV (1912), 232, quoting Cal. Inq. p.m. 1-9 Edw. II, 250

17 Peter de Montfort married Maud de la Mare, granddaughter of William de la

Mare, after the death of her father Henry in 1256. Meekings C A F, The 1235
Surrey Eyre(SyRS XXXI) 220

18 Lewis F B, ‘Pedes Finium’ 87 11 Ed. II in Surrey Archaeological SocietyExtra Volume I (1894) 233

19 VCH IV (1912) 232 quoting Feet of Fines Surr, 14 Edw. II, no. 27

20 VCH IV (1912) 232 quoting 2 Edw. III, no. 23

21 VCH IV (1912) 232 quoting 21 Edw. III, no. 35
A ‘quit claim’ is a release and disclaimer of all rights, interest and potentiallegal actions from a grantor to a grantee.

22 VCH IV (1912) 232 quoting Feet of F. Surr, 21 Edw. III, no. 9

23 VCH IV (1912) 233 quoting Ancient Deed (TNA) A 5695

24 VCH IV (1912) 232 quoting (TNA) A 4012

25 From “de la Mare”, “de la Mar”, and “de Mara” of the 12th–13th centuries,
we now begin to encounter “Mareys”, and “Mares” as derivative forms ofthe same name.

26 Surrey Taxation Returns – Fifteenths and Tenths Part (A) The 1332Assessment SyRS No. XVIII (1922) 61

27 Calendar of Close Rolls X (1908) 308/9

28 Calendar of Close Rolls Ibid, Edw. III XI 302. “Sir” [dominus] was a title,
commonly applied to clerics.VCH IV 233 gives no names, and merely refersto “the vicars”, whilst Manning and Bray II 499, quoting Claus. 35 Edw. III.
m.3, dors, give a slightly different rendering and only mention “RichardPorter and others”.

29 Dom S F Hockey (ed) The Register of William Edington Bishop of
Winchester 1346-1366 Hampshire Record Series VII & VIII (1986, 1987),
entry 1261

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

31 VCH IV (1912) 233, quoting Valor. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 48

32 McKisack M, The Fourteenth Century 1307-1399 (1963) 324

Ravensbury – Medieval Real-Estate

1 VCH IV (1912) 232, quoting Feet of Fines Surr. 1 Ric. II, no. 4
2 VCH IV (1912) 232, quoting Feet of Fines Surr. 5 Ric. II, no. 5


3 VCH IV (1912) 232, quoting Anct. D. (TNA) B 2608

4 Jones A E, An Illustrated Directory of Old Carshalton (1973) 203.

5 SHC 599/ – Coombs W W, ‘A Calendar of Deeds Relating to Mitcham’

6 Manning & Bray II (1809) 505 quoting Esc. 15 R.II. n.8

7 A John Arundel, Governor of Southampton, successfully repelled an attackon the port by French transports, but lost an invasion fleet bound forBrittany in an Atlantic storm during the winter of 1379. It is not known ifthis was the same John Arundel who married Lady Grenville.

8 VCH IV (1912) 232 says 672 acres

9 Manning & Bray II (1809) 505, apparently quoting Esc. 2 Hen. VI n. 29

10 ‘Allmannesland’ is now occupied by the house and grounds known asPark Place, 54 Commonside West

11 VCH IV (1912) 232

12 SHC 320/1/13

13 VCH IV (1912) 232 quoting Pat. 3 Hen. VII, pt. ii, m.4
A holding ‘in tail’ is one that cannot be bequeathed at pleasure, i.e. it isinalienable.

14 Manning & Bray II (1809) 499

15 Lysons I (1792) 353 quoting Cotton. Cart. Antiq. BL xii. 24

Ravensbury and the Carews

1 VCH IV (1912) 231, quoting Pat. 36 Hen. VIII pt. xxvii

2 VCH IV (1912) 232, quoting Chanc, Proc. Hh, 17 Eliz. no.3; see also Pat. 30Eliz. pt.vi, m.14, and Pat. 2. & 3 Phil. and Mary pt.iv, m.36

3 SHC K77/4/1. Information kindly supplied by Peter Hopkins in 1999

4 SHC 470 – James Cranmer’s Rent and Memorandum Book of Mitcham 1717


5 SHC 320/2/1– Plans of Several Estates within the Manor of Ravensbury1825

6 SyAC XIX (1906) 42

7 DNB XIX 807-814

8 Michell 67 & 76-8. See also SHC 2163/6/7 – an undated document of the 17th

century showing the annual income of Nicholas Carew from his manors

9 BL Catalogue of Charters and Rolls (1901) 281, listed by Hone N J, The
Manor and Manorial Records (1906) 243

10 Transferred from F R Allen & Co, 3 Clements Inn, WC2 to SHC at the
writer’s suggestion

The End of the Manor

1 Michell 110
2 SHC – Deeds of Chestnut Cottage, Mitcham Cricket Green
3 VCH IV (1912) 232


The Ruins

1 NGR TQ 2665 6804
2 Prentis 98

The Early Years – The Carews and the Garths

3 The excavation, under the direction of the author, was carried out bystudents of Rowan Girls’ School, at the invitation of the Deputy Director ofParks, James Berry. See Appendix 4b and SyACLXXXI (1977) 286-7

4 London County Council, Court Minutes of the Surrey and Kent SewerCommission (1909) 120

5 SyACXIX (1906) 42

6 DNBXIX 807-814

7 The Visitations of Surrey 1623 Harleian Society (1899), and informationfrom W Rudd in a personal communication.

8 Surrey Hearth Tax 1664 SyRS XVII

9 SHC 212/9/2

10 Woodhead J R, The Rulers of London 1660-1689 (1965) 83

11 The inscription reads “Here lyes interred the body of Henry Hampson,
merchant, son of Henry Hampson Esq, and Ann his wife who departed thislife the 15th March 1691 aged 48”.

The entry in the parish register (SHC) describes him as “Henry Hampsonthe 2d” and adds that he was buried in wool 28 March 1691.

12 Information from W Rudd in a personal communication

The Arbuthnots of Ravensbury

13 MLSC – Mitcham Vestry Minutes 1807-1823 196
14 Lambeth Archives (Minet Library) – Calendar of Surrey Deeds No. 3380
15 Tombs in Morden churchyard
16 VCHII (1905) 374
17 DNBI (1922)
18 MHS Bulletin141 (March 2002) 4; MHS Bulletin 142 (June 2002) 11
19 SHC K85/2/42
20 The admiral’s name first appears in the Land Tax records as ‘The Proprietor’,

i.e. tax payer, in 1780, but the books reflect changes taking place the previous
21 Edwards II (1789) 18
22 DNBI (1922) 537-8
23 SHC – Morden Land Tax records
24 Caption to a print on display in Buckler’s Hard museum. In a personalcommunication A J Holland, former curator of Buckler’s Hard Museum,
questioned the accuracy of this caption.


The Last Years of the Old Manor House: 1800–c. 1860

25 SHC – Mitcham Land Tax records
A plan of part of the Wandle flowing through the estate of Richard Carew,
produced by W Lazonby after a survey in 1804 and now Minet 62/1804,
describes Carew as of “Raven Berry House”.

26 Information in a letter to the Hon Secretary of MHS from John E Barnard ofTemple Guiting, Cheltenham, in April 1992

27 Information in a personal communication from Mrs Marian P Sartin of Harrow(family history researcher) in October 1991

28 The career of the Hon Sir Hugh Arbuthnot KGB of Hatton-Bervie (secondson of the 7th Viscount Arbuthnot) is outlined in Clarke S, Cameron

Highlanders (1913) 136

29 Greenwood C & J, Surrey Described (1823) 233

30 Seen when in the possession of J Turner, Devonshire Road, Sutton

31 MLSC Extra-Illustrated copy of Brayley E W History of SurreyIII

32 Croydon Local Studies Library HW 904 and London Borough of Sutton

Archives 2361/2/2 – Sale particulars of Henry Hoare’s estate, 1828

33 SyACLXVII (1970) 55-59

34 Braithwaite 200

35 SHC K85/4/95

36 SHC K85/590-601

37 ‘G.O.M. of Mitcham – As Charter Mayor’ (R.M Chart’s memories) Mitcham

Mercury Charter Day Souvenir 21 September 1934, 3

Ravensbury and The Bidders

38 For much of the information that follows on the Bidder family I am indebted to

(1) E F Clark, great-great-grandson of George Parker Bidder, author of George
Parker Bidder, The Calculating Boy (1983), with whom I exchangedcorrespondence between 1978 and 1980
(2) Critical correspondence from George Parker Bidder III and Col Harold FBidder printed in theMitcham Advertiser following publication of an article’Famous Sons of Mitcham’ on 6 November 1924
(3)DNBII (1921-2) 474-5
(4) Mitcham Advertiser 5 April 1968. Obituary on Col Harold F Bidder byEvelyn Jowett39 On its course from Mitcham Station to Croydon the railway followed theroute formerly taken by the Surrey Iron Railway.
40 E F Clark believes that Ravensbury Park was designed by (Sir) Henry ArthurHunt (1810-1889), who was a partner in the firm of Hunt, Stephenson &
Jones of 45 Parliament Street, Westminster. By profession a surveyor, hewas surveyor to the fabric of Westminster Abbey.

41 ‘The Lesser Country Houses of Today: Ravensbury Manor, Mitcham’Country Life 8 March 1913, 7–
42 MLSC – Urban District Council Minutes and file of cuttings
43 Prentis 123-4



1 SHC K80/5/90-91

2 SHC 2065/4/31 – Morden Poor Law records

3 SHC K80/5/85; K80/5/100

4 Information from W J Rudd

5 SHC 2065/4/42 – Morden Poor Law records

6 SHC K85/4/68

7 Letter to W J Rudd from Grace Minter’s son, D L Minter, in April 1972, whenMr Minter lived in Pollard Road, Morden, now in the file on The Grangedeposited by MHS with Museum of London – GGM72.

8 Undated newspaper cutting, now in the file on The Grange deposited withMuseum of London – GGM72.

9 Grade III scheduled building on the Supplementary List of the Ministry ofHousing and Local Government

10 Undated newspaper cutting, now in the file on The Grange deposited withMuseum of London – GGM72.

11 Now in the file on The Grange deposited with Museum of London – GGM72.

12 Copies of Photographic Unit, Department of Architecture and Civic Design,
Greater London Council, ref 66/8066, 66/8068, and 66/8070 are in the file onThe Grange deposited with Museum of London – GGM72.

13 The beams were trimmed and preserved and incorporated into the replicabuilding, but they are no longer load-bearing

14 Undated report by A Quiney, Department of Architecture and Civic Design,
Greater London Council. A copy was supplied to Merton Historical Societyin February 1972, and annotated copies are in the file on The Grangedeposited with Museum of London – GGM72. The section covering theearly occupation of the building is not reliable.

15 The finds, site notes and other documentation have been deposited withthe Museum of London’s London Archaeological Archive & ResearchCentre – GGM72.

16 C and I Greenwood Surrey Described (1823) p232

17 Minet 3423/1, /2, /4, /5

18 Minet 3423/1, /2, /4, /5

19 Minet 3423/2

20 Minet 3423/3

21 SHC 2065/4/35-45 – Morden Poor Law records

22 SHC K80/5/90-91

23 Minet 3423/1, /2, /4, /5

24 SHC 2065/4/6 – Morden Poor Law records

25 SHC 2065/4/5 – Morden Poor Law records

26 SHC 2065/4/3-4 – Morden Poor Law records

27 SHC 2065/4/1 – Morden Poor Law records


28 London Borough of Sutton Archives 2361/2/2, 2361/2/6

29 SHC 2065/4/1 – Morden Poor Law records

30 Minet 3380 – The 37 acres are described in the 1764 lease as:

“all that field adjoining on the west of lands of John Arbuthnot 10 acres
and all that other field thereto adjoining 6 acres
two fields adjoining on lands of John Arbuthnot
and south on Mitcham River 18 acres
all that wood coppice and Shaw and Ruff Lane
adjoining on Edwards Lane and the River 3 acres
in Morden, late in the tenure of Thomas Stacey
and now of John Arbuthnot”
Fieldnames in the 1828 Hoare sales particulars and the 1838 tithe

apportionment suggest that these 37 acres were tithe ref. 311, 313-4, part of315, 316-7, 319-320. In 1838 plot 311 was the site of the farm and barn, notmentioned in the lease – they had presumably been built by Arbuthnot.

31 SHC 2065/4/1 – Morden Poor Law records; Morden Land Tax records (on
32 London Borough of Sutton Archives 2361/2/2, 2361/2/6
33 A H Smith English Place-Name Elements English Place-Name Society 25,26 (1956) p150
34 Morden Tithe – ref 353
35 SHC K85/2/13 [4]; K85/3/28 pp18-20;
36 SHC K85/2/6-8
37 SHC K85/2/12
38 TNA A4/4 fo.232 (transcribed by John Wallace); SHC K85/2/18
39 SHC K85/2/19
40 SHC G1/1/50a; K2575/3/G; TNA A4/9 fo.68; A4/12 fo.11
41 SHC K85/2/79-80
42 SHC K85/2/51-52
43 SHC K85/2/79
44 SHC K85/2/79
45 SHC K85/2/80
46 SHC K85/2/80
47 Minet 5860
48 SHC K85/2/80
49 SHC K85/2/81
50 Morden Tithe – ref 326-7, 333-4
51 Morden Tithe – ref 337-8, 343-8
52 Morden Tithe – ref 330-332
53 SHC K85/1/3


54 SHC K80/5/62; K85/4/1-11
55 SHC K80/5/42, 44, 46
56 Article on Bazalgette by W J Rudd in MHS Bulletin 142 (June 2002) p2
57 Feet of Fines Surrey 14 Edw II, no.27 (SyAC Extra Volume 1 (1894))


1 7 acres called ‘Flemynge mede’ are listed among the demesne lands ofMerton Priory, leased to Sir Thomas Hennage, in Ministers Accounts of1538 – TNA SC 6/HEN VIII/3463; another 4 acres ‘portion or parcel ofmeadow late in the occupation of William Pratte, lying and being in a certainmeadow of ours called Flemymede in Mycham’ were among the landsgranted to Robert Wylforde in 1544. Hennage’s holding is specificallyexcluded from this grant – SHC 599/219

2 ‘The Lay Subsidy Assessments for the County of Surrey in 1593 or 1594’,
SyACXVIII (1906)

3 SHC – Mitcham Parish Registers

4 Croydon Local Studies Library. Ms note by Garroway Rice
This discovery was subsequently published in the Proceedings of theCroydon Natural History and Scientific Society LXXVII (1917-18).

The stone is said to have resembled Kimmeridge Shale, and to have had onthe edge, in well-cut black letters, part of an inscription in Flemish whichread “… Pauline, his first wife, was in the year 1527 …”.

5 SHC – Surrey Quarter Sessions Records

6 A bored elm trunk was discovered here in 1962
Turner D J, ‘Wooden Water Pipe at Ravensbury Park, Mitcham’ in SyAC

LXVII (1970) 55-59

7 Montgomery 16

8 Quoted by Montgomery 15

9 Turnbull G, A History of the Calico Printing Industry of Great Britain

(1951) 21

10 Mauvillain papers kept by Barclays Bank. (Quoted by W Rudd incorrespondence)

11 SHC K85/2/12 and 36
In a bargain and sale of 7 March 1553/4 the “Newly built mansion housecalled Growtes”, copyhold, plus the copyhold land of Stelehawes, was

sold by Edward Whitchurch, citizen and haberdasher of London, to RichardGarth of London, gent. (K85/2/12).
It was sold again in 1682, by Jane Garth, widow, to William Booth. An

undated endorsement to the deed of sale, in an 18th-century hand, describesthe property as “A house that Mavillain bought that Selby lives in.” (K85/



13 SHC 683/1

14 SHC K85/2/51-52

15 LysonsI (1792) 363
In 1681 Francis Mauvillain, a French Protestant refugee from Cozes, inSaintonge, in the Department of Charente-Inf, was granted a letter ofdenization, usually a preliminary to naturalisation. Peter Mauvillain, whowas presumably his son, appears in the denization and naturalisationrecords of 1688 and 1689, apparently taking the oath on attaining his majority.
He, it seems likely, is the Peter Mauvillain who lies beside his wife Sarah inMorden parish churchyard.

(Information from Joyce Wheatley, Research Assistant, Huguenot Society)
Peter and Sarah’s monument, triangular in section and surmounted by anescarbuncle, bears arms described as Goutee a pile, charged with threeCinquefoils. Peter died 31 May 1739, aged 72, and Sarah two years later.
Stephen Mauvillain was survived by his wife Hannah and their two daughters,
Hannah and Sarah, the former marrying into the Stone family at Tooting in1743. Sarah died unmarried. Both sisters are buried in the north aisle of
Westminster Abbey, near the grave of Hannah’s husband Andrew, adistinguished academician, who attained high office under George III.
(Information supplied by William J Rudd, being extracts from Joseph LemuelChester’s Transcriptions of the Marriage and Baptismal Registers of the

Collegiate Church or Abbey of St Peter, Westminster (1876)).

16 SHC K85/2/151

17 SHC K85/4/95

18 VCHII (1905) 374
“It is not improbable that the Ravensbury printing works were started byMr. John Cecil of Ravensbury, Mitcham, who was buried at Morden 21April 1760. Mr. John Cecil apparently came from the Merton Abbey works,
for it is stated in the monumental inscription to Mrs. Hannah Cecil in Mordenchurchyard that ‘she died at Merton Abbey near this parish, January the3rd. 1756, aged 58 years’.”

In view of what now seems to be the history of the Ravensbury works, theabove supposition is clearly questionable. A more likely explanation is thatafter the death of his wife, John Cecil left Merton Abbey to take up residenceat Ravensbury Manor House with his daughter and son-in-law. He may, ofcourse, have assisted Arbuthnot financially at the outset.

19 SHC P40/1– Mitcham Poor Rate Books
The vestry minutes show Whapham taking a responsible part in parishaffairs in the mid-18th century, serving as churchwarden, overseer of the

poor and surveyor of highways.

20 SHC K85/4/95

21 Montgomery 13/14

22 SHC Deeds, Ravensbury.

23 SHC – Land Tax Records, Mitcham


24 Edwards II (1789) 18

25 VCHII (1905) 374

26 Royal Exchange Fire Insurance Policy 120664 24 March 1791
The agent appears to have been Sarah Benton of Mitcham, who also ran abakery business.

27 Ambulator or a Pocket Companion in a Tour Round London ed. 5 (1793)
260 (quoted byVCH II, 373) and (1794) 185
Malcolm J,A Compendium of Modern Husbandry (1805) refers to the Wandleserving Mr Fenning’s calico and printing grounds, and a plan of the Wandlethrough the estate of Richard Carew, drawn by W Lazonby in 1804 (Minet64/180) gives details of Fenning’s works.

28 VCHII (1905) 374
The Gentleman’s Magazine, reporting Fenning senior’s death, describes him “ofRavensbury grounds. Mitcham” – the “grounds” being the bleaching or whitening

grounds which at this time played a vital role in the preparation of calico for printing.

29 TNA WO 13 4060 – Muster Lists

30 SHC K80/4/43

31 His will, in which he is described as a calico printer, suggests that the

bleaching and printing of calico, as opposed to other textiles, still formedthe main, if not sole, activities at Ravensbury.

32 Pigot’s Directory, 1826-7 and Land Tax records

33 Here again, the compilers of VCH were not entirely correct when theystated “From this time” (1823) “the works gradually dwindled in importance,
and ceased towards the middle of the century”. VCH II, 374

34 SHC – Morden Land Tax records, and Register of Electors

35 SHC K80/4/44
Fixtures, machinery and utensils were included in this lease, as well as

buildings – See schedule K85/4/89.

36 Clarke S, Cameron Highlanders(1913) 136.

37 SHC – Book of Reference d/d 29.11.1836, listing occupiers of mills on the

Wandle QS 6/8/164

38 SHC K85/4/88

39 SHC K85/4/89
The mortgagees were the Child family. The mortgage document describesin great detail the contents of the numerous parts of the factory.

40 Pigot, Directory of Surrey(1839)

41 Wallington Library. Notes by the Revd H G Dodd in which he states thatmany of the ‘Paisley shawls’ popular in Victorian times were made by theMitcham firm of Walmesley. The local illustrations collection includes afaded photograph of a lady wearing one of these shawls.

42 MLSC – The Revd. Herbert Randolph’s Notebook 1837/38, published byMHS as Local History Notes 20 (2002)

43 TNA – Census 1841 – Mitcham


44 SHC K85/4/89
45 McGow citing London Gazette, 21 February 1845
46 McGow citing London Gazette, 31 May 1850
47 MLSC – Copy Tithe Register and Map

Ref. 1179 Meadow
1180 Farm Yard and buildings
1182 Bleaching ground and building
1185 Houses, gardens
1186 Printing Factory etc.
1181 House and garden

Total: 14 acres 1 rood 23 perches
Landowner: Captain Charles Hallowell Carew
Occupier: John Geary, dyer

48 SHC K85/4/97
49 Slater
50 Braithwaite 200-201
51 SHC K85/4/95

The sale particulars of 1855 (K80/5/90) contain a description of the dwellinghouse, cottage etc and yards.
52 McGow citing London Gazette, 15 April 1856

53 SHC K85/4/100 and 101
The history of the final 20 years of the Ravensbury factory, during whichvarious, but unsuccessful, attempts were made to find a viable use for thepremises, is well documented by the Hatfeild estate papers held by the SHC.
Amongst this collection are a number of interesting notices of sale, and alsocontemporary plans of the works.

54 SHC K85/4/102-104
William Simpson was the son of William Simpson of Litchfield, a formerpartner in calico printing firms at Merton Abbey and Carshalton, who became

the ‘squire’ of Mitcham. He died in 1860.
55 SHC K85/4/107
56 Revd D F Wilson’s Annual Letter and Report 1860
57 SHC K85/4/110 and 112
58 SHC K85/4/113
59 SHC K85/4/114/115
60 SHC K85/4/120
61 SHC K85/4/121
62 SHC K85/4/122-124
63 SHC 6159/5/1-20
64 Information from his granddaughter, Madeline Healey



1 One of the Mitcham mills may be identifiable with Wickford, or Mitcham,
Mill, located above Mitcham Bridge, whilst the other can be placed, albeittentatively, in the vicinity of Phipps Bridge, where there was a mill in the13th century. The site of the Morden mill has not been identified, but thelate Evelyn Jowett believed it would have been on the Wandle. If so, theMorden Hall snuff mills provide a possible location.

2 Milward R,Early Wimbledon (1969) 31 and Historic Wimbledon (1989) 91

3 SHC 212/9/2 – Rent rolls of the manors of Bandon, Norbury and Ravensbury

4 Michell 84

5 Mitcham Tithe – £3 4s 0d paid to the vicar and £3 19s 0d to William andEmily Simpson

6 The present mill head may date from this period also. From the evidence ofthe boundary between the parishes of Mitcham and Morden it does notappear, however, that at Ravensbury the Wandle was diverted from its formercourse, which contrasts with the extensive works carried out downstream to

serve the snuff mills in Morden Hall Park.


8 SHC LA5/4/1

9 SHC LA5/4/2

10 London Guildhall Library

11 SHC LA5/4/6 and LA5/4/9

12 For information on the poor rate and land tax records of Morden I am

indebted to an unpublished thesis on Ravensbury Mill written in about1970 by the late Miss Winifred A Mould (a fellow member of MHS).

13 Prentis 90-1

14 Edwards (1789)

15 Seen when in the possession of John Turner, Devonshire Road, Sutton

16 Prentis 86

17 McGow

18 Guildhall Library Vols 369, 379 & 387 – Sun Fire Insurance Policies Nos.
573544 (1790); 588589 (1791) and 604906 (1792)

19 Michell 105

20 Thomas, T, Ravensbury Mill. An Archaeological Evaluation (1992)

21 Mould, W A, op. cit.

22 Edwards II (1801) 18

23 Minet drawing 62/1804

24 Probate 11/1695

25 Edwards II (1801) 28

26 Peter Hopkins in pers. comm. quoting SHC K85/2/151-156

27 Pigot’s Directories 1824/5 and 1839


28 SHC – Book of Reference dated 29 Nov 1834 listing occupiers of mills, etc.
SHC QS 6/8/124 – Premises on the site of the Ravensbury Mills (Reference

No.3) are described as “Snuff Mill”, owned by Sir Benjamin HallowellCarew’s executors, leased and occupied by Isaac Rutter.
The land held by the Rutters is shown on the Morden tithe map and listed

in the register.

29 Post Office Directory 1845. “Rutter, John and Isaac, tobacco and snuff
manufacturers, Ravensbury Mills.”

30 George Park Bidder’s diary – information from E F Clark (Bidder’s great-
great-grandson) in a personal communication, February 1978
Isaac Campbell Rutter, a former churchwarden and overseer at Mitcham,

died in 1887, and is commemorated in the parish church by the reredos,
donated by his relatives in 1891.

31 Braithwaite 201

32 Mitcham Tithe – plots 1137, 1157, 1159 & 1160 (Meadow); 1161 (Gardens);
1163 (Barn and Yard); 1183 (Buildings and Yard); 1162 (Cottage and Yard)
and 1167 (Gardens).

33 SHC K85/4/148-156
AlsoKelly’s Directories 1874-78
The register of St Lawrence Morden records the burials of three children of

William Edward Lewis and Constance Hooper between 1878 and 1880. Eachdied within a few hours of birth.

34 Kelly’s Directory 1925 etc.

35 For an excellent description of Whitely’s and their products, see Festing S,
‘Ravensbury Mills – A local industry’Merton Borough News Summer 1973.

36 Prentis 89, contains a detailed description of the machinery visible insidethe mill in the late 1960s

37 NGR TQ 2640 6817. London Borough of Merton: List of Buildings of SpecialArchitectural or Historic Interest, November 1990


1 Both names may be relatively recent, and appear not to have been currentbefore the beginning of the 20th century. It was also known as ‘Ravenspring’,
and in Gilliat Edward Hatfeild’s will of 1941 it was called ‘The White House’.

2 Edwards (1789)

3 SHC – Mitcham Land Tax records
MLSC – 1841 Census returns and Mitcham Tithe

4 SHC K85/4/318

5 SHC K85/4/320

6 SHC – Catalogue of Hatfeild deeds K85/4/

7 This map was on display in Morden Hall in the late 1940s, but was later

moved to the National Trust office at the snuff mills.


8 SHC – Certificate of Contract for Redemption of Land Tax No. 66729 d/d16.2.88.
9 SHC K85/4/313
10 MLSC – Tom Francis lecture notes 76 166
11 NGR TQ 26 NE 4/105 33rd List dated 2 September 1988

The General Picture

1 Edwards II (1801) 18
Hassell J,Picturesque Rides and Walks I (1817) 117/8
Brayley E W, (Edit) The Ambulator [various editions, including the 12th

(1819)] 225
Pigot and Co’s Directory 1826/7 and
Greenwood C & J,Surrey Described (1823) 120

2 Under the direction of David Bird, Surrey County Archaeological Officer.
See Appendix 4c
3 Manning & Bray II (1809) 490 quoting Claus. 35 Edw. III m.3 and Calendar

of Close Rolls Edward III XI 302
The grant was probably in trust for Merton Priory, for in 1380 the prior wassaid to be holding the “manor” of Wickford; VCH IV (1912) 233, quoting681 Inq. a.q.d. 395, No. 28.

4 VCHIV (1912) 233, quoting Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.) ii, 48
5 VCH IV 231 quoting Pat. 36 Hen. VIII pt. xxvii

The Smythe Dynasty (1564–1725)

6 Reliquary 22/3 Note 49
7 SyACII (1862) pt.II
The Smythe arms were amongst those of several notable families displayedin the west window of old Mitcham church. Manning and Bray II (1809)
8 Reliquary 141 Note 28. The crest was incorporated in the inn sign of the
eponymousBuck’s Head at Fair Green Mitcham (renamed theWhite Lion of
Mortimer in 1992) which was owned by the Smythes in the 17th century.
9 LMA – Bedford Estate Papers E/BER/S/T/II/B 3
(For this, and other references to the Smythes taken from the BedfordPapers, I am greatly indebted to Rita J Ensing of the Wandsworth Historical

10 Feet of Fines Surrey (SyAC Extra Volume 1 (1894))
11 BL Harl, 1. 433, fo. 186b.
12 Rowse A L, The England of Elizabeth (1955) 285
13 Or Elinora, née Hesilrigge, formerly of Leicestershire


14 Reliquary 141 Note 28 and
Probate copy of will dated 6 Jan 1575/6, proved 1609/10, SHC 212/73/22

15 London County Council Minutes of the Surrey and Kent Sewer

Commissioners (1909) 120

16 VCHIV (1912) 232

17 Smith E E F, Clapham: an Historical Tour 15

18 Reliquary 142-3 Note 31, which includes much detail from Clerk’s will.
I am indebted to Ray Ninnis, member of MHS, who kindly suppliedinformation about the Clerks’ monuments at Clapham.

19 VCH IV (1912) 231, quoting Feet of Fines Surrey, Easter 37, Elizabeth

20 Lay Subsidy Assessments 1593/4 SyAC XIX (1906) 42

21 SHC K77/4/1

22 Giuseppi M.S, ‘The River Wandle in 1610’ SyACXXI (1908) 170-191

23 SHC – Survey of the Manor of Reigate, 46

24 Sir John Soane’s Museum, Lincoln’s Inn Fields – Adam Collection Vol 45
No 36

25 Berry W, Surrey Genealogies (1837)

26 LMA – E/BER/S/T/II/B/4

27 Montague E N, Lower Green West, Mitcham (MHS 2004) 102

28 SHC 212/113/ – deeds and mortgages 1645-1657

29 SHC 599/

30 SHC– plan in James Cranmer’s Estate Book 1717

31 Montague E N, Lower Mitcham(MHS 2003) 36-7

32 SHC LA5/8/1-2 – Militia records

33 Surrey Hearth Tax 1664 SyRS XVII (1940)

34 Parker E, Surrey Anthology (1952) 20

35 SyAC39 (1938) 3 and 14

36 LMA – E/BER/S/T/II/B/10, 11 and 12

37 LMA – E/BER/S/T/II/B/32 and 14

The Myers Family (1715–1742)

38 SHC – Court Rolls of the Manor of Reigate

39 Ward W R (ed) Parson and Parish in Eighteenth Century Surrey (SyRSXXXIV 1994) 46

40 Prob. 11 604 162 (See Appendix 1a)

41 Prob. 11 719 226 (See Appendix 1b)

42 SHC – Court Rolls of the Manor of Biggin and Tamworth

43 Alumni Oxoniensis I 1003. William Myers junr. matriculated 10 June 1731,
aged 18. He obtained his BA in 1735.

44 1721-1765


Scots at Mitcham Grove (1755-1786) – Archibald Stewart and AlexanderWedderburn

45 SHC – Mitcham Poor Rate Books.
46 Pottle F A Boswell’s London Journal 1762-1763 (1950, 1952) 236
47 c.1723-1781
48 Valentine A, The British Establishment II (1970) 826
49 Stewart seems to have married Arabella Ann Marlar, the daughter of John

Marlar, a London merchant resident in Mitcham between 1782 and 1790.
50 SHC 303/21/4/1
51 Note dated October 1942
52 The National Trust Claremont Landscape Garden (1988) 21
53 Sir John Soane’s Museum, Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Adam Collection Vol.45 No. 36
54 Information from Hovis Ltd (Contained in notes appended to framed print

of Mitcham Grove hanging in the cricket pavilion in 1974)

55 Miss Dawes cited as her sources:
Miss Avice Hoare of Godstone,
R Winder Esq, Archivist, Hoare’s Bank, Fleet Street, EC4

Mitcham, Morden and Wimbledon Reference Libraries

ReliquaryBurke’s Landed GentryGuide to St Nicholas Church, Godstone.
Hoare, Henry P.R, Hoare’s Bank, a Record 1672-1955. The Story of a

Private Bank (1955)
Sweet, James B,A Memoir of the Late Henry Hoare, Esq, M.A. (1869)
(This Henry Hoare was a grandson of Henry of Mitcham)
Hutchinson, Horace G, The Life of Sir John Lubbock, Lord Avebury (1914)

Campbell, John, Lives of the Lord Chancellors of England Vol. 8 (1857)
Cooke’s Topography of Great Britain or The British Traveller’s Pocket
Directory (1829).

Henry Hoare of Mitcham (1786–1828)

56 MLSC – Mitcham Vestry Minutes
57 Bidder H F (Ed), Old Mitcham (1923) article by R M Chart
58 Bryant A, The Years of Endurance (1944) 248, quoting Hannah More
59 MLSC – Mitcham Savings Bank records
60 Malcolm, James, A Compendium of Modern Husbandry III (1805) 397/8
61 1776-1819
62 Walford E, Greater London – A Narrative of its History, its People, and Its

PlacesII (1898) 528
63 Jacques, J W, ‘Godstone Rectors’ Surrey History IV No. 3 (1990) 165
64 Lady Acland of Killerton, in a personal communication, 27 September 1992


Mitcham Grove – A Description

65 London Borough of Sutton Archives 2361/2/2 and Croydon Library HW904
Particulars of the Sale by Auction of the Estate of Henry Hoare 1828

66 Hassell J, Picturesque Walks and Rides I (1817) 117/8

Mitcham Grove and the Lubbocks

67 Brayley IV (1850)
68 Morris J, ‘The Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Mitcham’ SyAC LVI (1959) 51-131


1 It is shown, for instance, on Rocque’s map of 1762.

2 SHC – Land Tax records

3 MLSC – Mitcham Vestry Minutes.

4 VCHII (1905) 371

5 Edwards II (1789) 18

6 London Borough of Sutton Archives 2361/2/2 and Croydon Library HW904
Particulars of the Sale by Auction of the Estate of Henry Hoare 1828
7 Colvin H, Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840 (3rd

ed 1995) 890-2

8 Mitcham Tithe – reference 1281: “House, garden etc.” 1a. 3r. 5p.

9 Census returns 1851

10 Green’s South London Directory (1869) 124: “Stanton J, mitcham grove”

11 Clark E F, George Parker Bidder, The Calculating Boy (1983) 115, 481 and

information kindly supplied in personal correspondence
12 VCH IV(1912)


1 Bidder and Morris 51-131
2 Slater
3 Adkins L, and Adkins R A, Under the Sludge – Beddington Roman Villa


4 NGR TQ 2607 6918SyAC XLII (1934) 23-4

5 NGR TQ 2780 6750. (Willow Lane) SyAC XXXVIII part 1 (1929) 93 and

XXXIX (1931) 45-6
NGR TQ 274 691. (Mitcham Gas Works) SyAC XXXIX (1931) 146

6 NGR TQ 2673 6918. (Short Batsworth) Excavated by Denis Turner andmembers of Surrey Archaeological Society and local societies in 1965/6.
Awaiting publication. Also Evaluation Report on excavations at Deen CityFarm produced by the Museum of London Archaeology Service in 1993.

7 NGR TQ 2710 6785.Surrey Archaeological Society Bulletin 129. Excavation
under direction of David Bird, 1974. Not yet published.


8 NGR TQ 2699 6857. Museum of London Archaeology Service PreliminaryReport of Archaeological Evaluation Work at Benedict Road Primary School,
Mitcham 1989.

9 ‘Grant by Frithewald, Subregulus of Surrey, and Bishop Erkenwald, ofMoulsey and various other lands to Chertsey Abbey AD 727 (for 675)’.
Birch W. de G, Cartularium Saxonicum I (1885) 64

10 For instance, Chalton, Hants, Bishopstone, Sussex, West Stow, Suffolk,
and Mucking, Essex

11 Densem R, and Seeley D, ‘Excavations at Rectory Grove, Clapham, 1980-81’
in The London Archaeologist Vol. 4, No.7, 177-184

12 Morris J, ‘Anglo-Saxon Surrey’ in SyAC LVI (1959) 152

13 Gelling, M, Signposts to the Past (1978), comments that, admirable as theyno doubt are, the early county volumes of the English Place Names Society,
and Ekwall’s Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Places Names are not
wholly reliable, and the EPNS county volumes are being revised.

14 Gover et al 55

15 Gelling M, in English Medieval Settlement (Edited by Sawyer P H) (1979) 114

16 Gover et al. 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 BL

17 Calendar of Close Rolls X (1908) Edward XI 302
VCH IV (1912) 233, quoting 68 Inq. a.d. 395, No. 28

18 Gelling M, Signposts to the Past (1978) 67

19 Ibid, 118

20 Hearnshaw F JC, The Place of Surrey in the History of England (1936) 34,
observes: “The site of ‘Wibbandune’ is in dispute. Wimbledon is generallyassumed, e.g. by Camden and by Mr R. Neville in SyAC X p.276; Mr H. E.
Malden argues for Wipsedone, on the heaths near Chobham;Mr D. C.
Whimster suggests Wipley, near Worplesdon.”

21 Bidder and Morris 131

22 Gover et al


1 Bird D G, ‘Merton: Mitcham Grove (TQ 271679)’ Surrey ArchaeologicalSociety Bulletin 114 (1975), 3-4; reprintedSyAC LXXI (1977) 284-5
2 Bidder H F & Morris J, ‘The Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Mitcham’,SyAC LVI
(1959) 51-131
3 Turner D J, ‘S W London team’, Surrey Archaeological Society Bulletin
118 (1975) 3
4 Orton C, Mathematics in Archaeology (London 1980)
5 Pers. comm. John Clark, Museum of London


Sir Thomas DykeLydia Elizabeth (née Hoare)
Adam, Robert: plans for Mitcham GroveAgriculture, see Arbuthnot, John
‘Allmannesland’, Commonside West
Angell, DantonyAnglo-Saxon cemetery, see Archaeological excavationsAnsculf de PicquignyArbuthnot
104, 110, 113-116
15, 183(n)
Anne (née Stone)
Rt Hon Charles
Major Gen Hugh 28, 33-34, 68

John, calico printer and farmer 25, 27-30, 56-57, 65, 72
Admiral Marriott 30-32, 66, 184(n)
Sally (née Cecil) 28, 65
Ursula (née Fitzgerald) 28

Archaeological excavations

Anglo-Saxon cemetery 43, 134, 143-155

The Grange, Morden 52-53, 167-171

Mitcham Grove 99, 175-178

Ravensbury Manor House 4, 24, 173-174, 184(n)

Ravensbury Mill 86-87
Arnold, Latham, snuff miller 84-86
Arundel, John 15, 84, 183(n)
Ashtead, manor of 5, 6, 7, 9, 14
Austin, Bailey, calico printer 67-68

Barnack, Henry Pas, Lord of 9
Barnard, William and Frances 33
Baron House 67
Batts Farm, Carshalton 125
Bazalgette, Sir Joseph W 60
‘Beneytesfeld’, see Poulter Park
Bennetts Hole, nature reserve 13
Berryman, John, print works manager 71
Best, William Draper 28

Anna (née McClean) 40,41

George Parker I, civil engineer 36-39, 49, 57, 90, 134, 142

George Parker II QC 39-41, 134

Col Harold Francis, archaeologist 42-43, 143, 144

Samuel Parker 39
Bigby, Messrs 77
Biggin and Tamworth, manor of 16, 103, 109
Black Death 11, 12, 14


Blacklands: west common field of Mitcham 3
Bleaching grounds, and see Calico printing 36, 48, 61, 78, 139
Boswell, James 112
Bowen, Owen, calico printer 71
Bowman, Matthew 108
Braithwaite, Frederick, civil engineer 36, 72-73
Brandon, Charles 16
British and Foreign Oxolin Co 77
British Rubber Co 78
Browne, Elizabeth 157
Buck’s Head 104, 108, 194(n)
Burghersh family, and see Grenville and Chaucer 14
Busick, ——-84
Bynes, Charles 83

Calico printing, and see Bleaching grounds 13, 27, 28, 36, 56, 61,
62, 63, 64, 67, 73, 190(n)

CanterburyArchbishop of 8
Christchurch 15

Carew family, owners of Ravensbury 16-22, 38, 49, 54, 64, 70, 89, 95
Anne 18, 25
Sir Benjamin Hallowell 54, 70, 89
Captain Charles Hallowell (1802-1849) 22, 35, 90
Charles Hallowell Hallowell (1831-1872) 22, 72
Sir Francis (1530-1611) 16, 18, 25, 58, 103
Sir Francis (d.1649) 18
Sir Francis (1663-1689) 83
George 107
Mary (née More) 18
Sir Nicholas (executed 1539) 16
Sir Nicholas (1635-1688) 83
Sir Nicholas Hackett (1720-1762) 57
Sir Nicholas Throckmorton (d.1644) 18
Richard Gee 66, 86, 88
Susan (née Romney) 18

Carshalton 11, 13, 14, 17, 45, 125
Carter, Edward, textile printer 71
Catherine Gladstone Home 42, 45
Cecil family, of Merton Abbey 27, 28, 56-57, 65, 189(n)
Cely, Mary, see SmytheCentral Road, Morden 49, 52, 60
Chamberlain,see Tancarville
Chambers, Christopher 55
Chart family 122


Chaucer, Thomas
Chiche, Thomas, Lord Darcy ofChild, John Jonas
Civil War
ClaphamClark, Abram, bailiff at Morden Hall estate
Clerk, Bartholomew
Clive, (Robert) LordCochran, Robert, surgeon and apothecaryCollant, Adrian, bleacher
Colliers Wood
Courts, furnishers
Cowper, William
Cranmer familyCresby, Henry and Alice
Crescent Grove
Cricks and Sharp, film makersCrown Mill, and see Mills

Darcy, see Chiche
Daunce, William
Dead Man’s Close
Dean, Louisa
De Mara, see Mara
Dempsey, Peter, and Heard, George, shawl printers
Digby, Simon
Dolbell, Laurence Daniel
Domesday SurveyDonne, John, writer and dean of St Paul’s
Downesforth, see Dunsford
Downing, John, textile printerDucket(t), LionelDucketts Farm, Morden

Edward the Confessor
Edwards, Foster, at Ravensbury millEllis, Robert, mineral water manufacturer

Fairclough Homes LtdFenning, William, calico printer
Fitz Ansculf, Norman landowner
Fitz Robert, Ralph and Mary, of Rouen
Fleming Mead

103, 126
16-17, 102-103
112-113, 117, 118
9,15, 19
106, 111, 129


36, 72, 73, 75
15, 18
1-4, 83

55, 58-60
2, 5, 7
101, 105, 108

1, 3, 4, 5

66-67, 68, 190(n)
2-4, 9
61, 188(n)


Fraunceys, Florence and Nicholas leFreville, Sir Baldwin de

Garth family, of Morden
Geary, John, print works manager
Gedge, SydneyGibb, Constance and George, of Grove HouseGibson, Alexander, calico printer
Gifford, John, colonial broker
Giles, William
Gladstone, see Catherine
Glover, George
Glovers Farm, Morden
Goldsmid, Abraham
Goodwin, Chamberlain
Grange, The, see Steel Hawes
Greater London Council
Greenwood, C and J
Grenville/Grenevylle, Sir John and MatildaGrove, The
Grove House or Mitcham Grove House
Grove Mill, and see Mills
Groves, John
Growtes, Morden

Haines, Henry and SamuelHall Place, Mitcham
Hampson, HenryHandford, see Smythe’Happy Valley’
Harvey, Thomas
Hatcher, Thomas, calico printer
Hatfeild, of Morden Hall


Gilliat Edward
Hatsell, Revd William, vicar of Mitcham
Hayward, Daniel & Sons LtdHazelrigge, Elenor, see SmytheHazelwood, Morden
Heard, George,see DempseyHearth tax
Hengelo, NetherlandsHerle, William de
Hill, Octavia
Hill Farm, Carshalton


25, 26, 29, 58, 64, 84


33, 35

51, 52, 167
14, 15
56, 60
32, 58, 63, 188(n)

26, 106, 184(n)


36, 51, 76-79, 90, 96
51, 96

51, 68

25, 107-108
11, 60


Hill Field House
‘Hilly Fields’Hitchcock, ——, of Ravensbury HouseHoare

Charles James

George Matthew


Henry James

Lydia Elizabeth, and see Acland

Lydia Henrietta (née Malortie)
Hoare’s Bank
Hooper, William E H
Hopkin, Richard’Horse Meads’
Hovis Ltd

Howard, Charles, Baron Howard of Effingham

‘Jenkingranger’, Colliers Wood
Jenner, ——, of Wandle House

Keck, AnthonyKeene, Elizabeth and Thomas
King, Frederick Benjamin, calico printer

‘Ladyfield’, theLamprell, Andrews & Emerson, lace merchantsLank (Lang), Saxon landholder
Lansbury, George MP
Laurels, The
Lazonby, Richard, surveyor
Ledmer/Lemar, Saxon landholder
Leigh, Sir JohnLewin, Edith
Little Steelhawes
Locomotors Ltd
Lodelowe, Thomas de
Lodge, The, MordenLondon County CouncilLondon Road
Loughborough, Lord (Sir Alexander Wedderburn)
Lubbock family

36, 73

128, 159
55, 125, 127
35, 57, 75,99, 119-129, 158-160

49, 55
75, 120



1, 2, 3, 4, 9
88, 98
39, 49, 55, 127
45, 51
113, 116, 117-119
35, 57, 132, 134, 135

Madder, dyestuff 65, 66, 73
Makepeace, Samuel, calico printerMalortie, see Hoare


‘Manor House’, Mitcham

Mara, de/de la Mare/Mareys/Mareis)
familyFlorence (and see Orreby)

Marie Celeste Samaritan SocietyMarlar, Arabella Ann
‘Marrish’, see ‘Maresland’
‘Marsh Fee lands’, see ‘Maresland’
Mauvillain family, calico printers
Meadows, Jonathan
Merle familyMerton, London Borough ofMerton priory

Mills 1, 2, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 16, 83, 104, 106, 109, 113-115, 130, 164-166, 181(n)

Minter, Grace
Mitcham, origins of, and RavensburyMitcham Common
Mitcham Grove
Mitcham Grove House, see Grove House
Mitcham Hall
Mitcham Linoleum & Floorcloth Co
Mitcham Rubber Co
Mitcham Savings Bank’Mitcham Shag’ tobaccoMontfort, Peter de, landowner
Morden Farm, see Ravensbury FarmMorden Hall
Morden Hall Park
Morden Lane (Central Road, Morden)
Morden LodgeMorden RectoryMore, Sir George of Loseley, and Mary (see Carew)
More, Hannah, writer and campaignerMoreton Green, Morden
Mortlake, manor of
Munkton Farm, Morden
Myers family


7-13, 83, 99
8, 9, 10
6, 8, 12, 19, 99-100
11, 13, 16, 17, 100, 104

27, 63-65, 189(n)
54-55, 60
8, 9, 13, 16, 43, 100, 104

22, 41
35, 57, 99-138

26, 36, 39, 130
8, 12, 13, 16, 30, 49-55, 60

58, 89, 90
123, 126
57, 104, 109-112, 157-158

National Schools 35, 124
National Trust 43, 95-96, 138
Ness, William and Eliza, of White Cottage
Neville, see RabyNewton, Percy, architect
Orreby, Philip de and Florence de (née de Mara) 10-11, 60
Pas, see Barnack
Paulk, Robert, of Mitcham Grove 112
Peacock Farm, Morden 30
Pearkes, Martin & Co, snuff merchants 86, 88-89
Pellat, William 27
Phillips, AmbrosePhipps Bridge, see PippesmillPig Farm, Carshalton, see Hill Farm
Piper, Captain ——Pippesmill/
6, 146, 151, 153
Plesyngton, Sir Robert, landownerPlough, Morden
Pole, de la, familyPoppendicks, MordenPorter, Horace, architect
Porter, Sir Richard, vicar of Mitcham 12
Poulter Park 12, 99, 130
Prentis, Wilfred Henry
Prince’s Golf Club, Mitcham Common
85, 86

Raby, John Neville, Lord of
Raleigh, Sir Walter
Randolph, Revd HerbertRavensbury

manor, history of
manor house
print workssnuff mills

Ravensbury Arms

‘Ravensbury Manor’, houseRavensbury Park’Ravensbury Park’, house


25, 39, 49-60
4, 25, 27, 28, 35, 61, 102
1-22, 58
23-48, 56-57
27, 28, 30, 36, 56, 61-81, 164-166, 191(n)
36, 77, 83-94, 192(n)
43, 45, 46, 134
4, 18, 23, 25, 45, 46, 47, 48, 80
39, 40, 42


Ravensbury School 142
Ravenspring mineral water plant 96
Reigate, manor of 16, 104
Rice, Robert Garraway, antiquary 100
Roe, James Thomas, shoddy and flock manufacturer 90

Sir William 18

Susan, and see Carew 18
Rutter family, tobacco and snuff makers and merchants 60, 77, 81, 89-91, 142

Sadler, Grace 106
St Helier Estate 45, 51
St Mary’s priory, see Southwark
St Peter’s church, Mitcham 7
Sancto Sepulchro, Laurence de 5
Sandau, Bernard Van 54, 55
Scaldewell, Sir John de, vicar at ‘Westmorden’ 12
Selby, Philip, whitster of Carshalton 64
Simpson, William, squire of Mitcham 75, 191(n)
Smith, George, architect 122, 139-141
Smythe/Smith family 17, 100-109
Snuff mills, see Ravensbury and RutterSouthwark, priory of St Mary at 7, 10, 12
Spital Farm, Morden, see The LodgeStacy, Thomas 55-58
Stanton, John Harrison 142, 197(n)
Stappe, Richard 101
Steel Hawes/Steelhawes (The Grange), Morden 49-55, 57, 58, 60, 167-173
Steelhawes, Little 57-58
Stephenson, Robert, engineer 38, 142
Stevens, William 101
Stewarde, Christopher 101

Archibald, ex-provost of Edinburgh 112

John, East India merchant 112
Stone, Richard, banker, see Arbuthnot
Streatham 102
(de) Strete family 11-14
Sumery/Sumeri, Roger de, Norman landowner 5,6
Sumner, —— and Holt, ——, mortgagees 75
Sunday Schools 122-123, 124, 139
Surrey Arms 76, 89
Sweyn, William, son of 8
Swyfte, John 101


Tamworth Lodge 141
Ralph/Ralf the Chamberlain of 6
William the Chamberlain of 2, 3, 5, 9
William Chamberlain of 6
Terry, James 75
Textile works, see Calico printingThrockmorton
Elizabeth 19
Sir Nicholas, of Beddington (and see Carew) 18, 25

Trattle, RalphTravys, William
Tritton, Revd Robert
Tyler, Alice
Tyrrell, John

Union Villa, Morden
Upham, William

Vauxhall, manor of
Volunteer infantry

WalmesleyEdward, calico printerMaryWandle, River

Wandle Industrial Museum
Wandle Road

49, 51, 55, 60
58, 60


1, 15

68-70, 71
1, 8, 9, 12, 17, 18, 27, 35, 36, 43, 47, 61,
63-64, 73, 77, 80, 91, 102, 103, 108
2,11, 63, 101, 102, 108

Ward, Alice, daughter of rector of Beddington 25
Warenne, William de, earl of Surrey 8
Warrington, John 58
Wasley, John and Robert 67, 71
Watermeads, and see National Trust 130, 138
Watermills, see Mills
Watney, Daniel 141
Watney Mann Ltd 51, 167
Watts, —— and Elizabeth, tenants of Ravensbury 26
Wedderburn, Sir Alexander, see LoughboroughWestbrooke, ——-83, 84, 87
Westminster Abbey 8,38
Whapham, Thomas, of Ravensbury print works 56, 65, 189(n)
Whitchurch, Edward 58, 63
White, Edward 55


White Cottage/Casabianca, Morden Road 95-96
Whitehead, James 75
Whitely Products Ltd 90-91, 92
Whitford, and see Wickford 1, 2, 3, 13, 99-100, 152, 180(n)

family 5, 6, 7, 10
Whitford Green 1

Anne (née Wilford) 17

Henry 17, 104
‘Wihtrichescrofte’ 7
Whitstering or Whitening grounds, see Bleaching groundsWickford/Wykeford, and see Whitford 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 12, 13, 180(n), 198(n)

family 5, 7
Wilberforce, William 126, 128
Wilford/Wylforde, and see Whitney

Robert 16, 17, 69, 100

Thomas 101
Wilkinson, James 75
Williams, William, bailiff Morden Hall estate 79-80
Willow Lane 13, 17, 19, 144
Willows Avenue, Morden 60
Wilson, Revd Daniel 75
Woimanne, John 102
Wood, William 61
Woodcock, George and Penelope 139
Worsop, see SmytheWyche, Richard and Elizabeth 107
Wykeford, see Whitford and Wickford