11 The Cranmers, The Canons and Park Place

Mitcham Histories  11

by Eric Montague

For some 250 years the Cranmers and their descendants the Simpsons held the lordship of the manor of Mitcham Canons and were major landowners in the parish. Two of the three large houses which branches of the family occupied during this period still survive. Among those who lived in them were East India merchants, a Cavalier, Huguenot emigrés, officers who served in the American War of Independence or in the Napoleonic Wars, a leading churchman and botanist, and many others. Each has a place in the story of Mitcham, and yet sadly few are remembered today. Only the Cranmers have been commemorated, in the name of the school now on the site of their mansion, the Green overlooked by all three houses, and two local roads.

Nearby lies the Three Kings Piece which, with adjacent roads, lies within the Cricket Green Conservation Area.



1 The Canons – a description
2 Mrs Esther Maria Dixon/Cranmer’s Recipe Book
3 Mrs Esther Maria Dixon/Cranmer’s Journal
4 Probate inventory of Rebecca Cranmer, September 1815


This publication won the LAMAS (London and Middlesex Archaeological Society) prize for best local history publication of 2011.



Detail from the 25-inch OS map of 1867 showing The Cranmers, The Canons
and Park Place, and (not named) the course of the proposed railway






Published by

© E N Montague 2011

ISBN 978 1 903899 61 8

Dedicated to the memory of
Lionel Green
a founder member of Merton Historical Society,
who died in June 2010

Printed by intypelibra

Cover Illustration: Engraving of Mitcham Common showing The
Cranmers, The Canons and Park Place, reproduced by courtesy of Merton
Library & Heritage Service


The link between three large houses, The Cranmers, The Canons and
Park Place, whose histories are the main subjects of this book, is Cranmer
Green, named after the family who held the lordship of the Manor of
Mitcham from the mid-17th century until the 1890s. These houses
dominated this corner of Mitcham for 300 years, but the history of the
sites on which they were built can be traced back to the early 12th
century, when one holding came into the possession of the Augustinian
priory of St Mary at Southwark and another that of the prior and convent
of Canterbury. Although today the surrounding neighbourhood is largely
urban, the pattern of fields and enclosures in the vicinity of these properties
until the mid-19th century has been preserved in maps surviving from
the beginning of the 18th century. It is possible, therefore, aided by the
evidence of field names and using information gleaned from excavation,
to suggest how land use may have evolved.

Of the early occupiers of the various enclosures around the Green we
can say little, but the survival of a large collection of deeds, commencing
in the early 17th century, and concerned with the Cranmer properties in
Mitcham, is indeed fortunate. We are also aided in our attempts to
understand something of the fortunes of the Cranmer family and their
descendants, the Simpsons, by several inventories, estate and
memorandum books and, from the 19th century, correspondence. Other
records such as manorial rolls, vestry minutes and accounts, census
returns and directories have also proved valuable. Much of this legacy
remains, either in the care of Surrey History Centre at Woking or the
custody of the London Borough of Merton, as a still substantially
untapped resource for future students. I have seen my task as primarily
to bring together what is readily available to form a coherent foundation
on which others will, I hope, be tempted to build.

Several of the chapters incorporate the substance of articles or booklets
which have already appeared in print. Some pages are revised versions
of articles on The Cranmers which were published in the Merton
Borough News in September and October 1973 as instalments in the
paper’s ‘Merton Story’ series of features. Similarly, five articles on the
history of The Canons, published in October and November 1971, have


been expanded and now form chapter 3. The story of The Canons was
chosen by Merton Historical Society as its first venture into publishing
in 1967. Revised editions of the booklet were published in 1976 and
1999. Park Place, another of the Society’s booklets, was published in

Through the ‘Merton Story’ series I came into contact with the late
Roy Whiting, of Cranmer Farm Close, whose amusing recollections of
the area in the years just prior to World War I and in the early 1920s
were of value in concluding the story of the Cranmers. Mrs Ethel Smith,
whose memories of life below stairs at The Cranmers are reproduced
verbatim in Chapter 2, was introduced to me by the editor of the Borough
News, and was able to throw a unique light on one facet of local life
which would otherwise have gone unrecorded. Finally, George Nash’s
account of Park Place in the 1920s brought the account of the house as
a gentleman’s residence to a close. I am greatly indebted to them all.

I am also grateful to members of Mitcham Cricket Green Community &
Heritage for reading the text, and to Caroline Crimp, Raymond Gill and
Marion Herridge for the material reproduced in the Appendices.

I acknowledge with thanks the assistance that staffs of the various record
offices and public libraries have so willingly given me, and finally I wish
to express my gratitude to the late Lionel Green and many friends and
fellow members of Merton Historical Society whose helpful and forthright
comments on reading various drafts of this work have been of such
assistance in producing what, I hope, is a reasonably coherent narrative.

Eric N Montague 2010

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 = 36 inches = 0.9144 metres
1 mile = 80 chains = 1.61 kilometres
1 ton = 20 cwt = 80 quarters = 2240 lb (pounds) = 1.016 tonnes
£1 = 20s (shillings) = 240d (pence)
1 guinea = £1 1s
20 dwt (pennyweight) = 1 ounce = 28 grams
1 gallon = 4.5 litres
1 (British) horse power = 0.746 kW


1 INTRODUCTION ………………………………………………………………………… 1
Cranmer Green……………………………………………………………………………… 1
Archaeology and the location of Domesday estates ………………………… 5The Mitcham estate of the priory of St Mary, Southwark ………………….. 8The manor of Mitcham or Mitcham Canons …………………………………… 12
2 THE CRANMERS………………………………………………………………………. 19
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and the Cranmer family of Mitcham …… 19The Civil War and its aftermath ……………………………………………………. 23
Robert Cranmer (1617–1666) ………………………………………………………… 24Robert Cranmer’s contemporaries…………………………………………………. 31The fortunes of the Cranmer family between 1665 and 1705 …………….. 42James Cranmer (1684–1752), squire of Mitcham ……………………………… 48From The Rectory to Mitcham Villa and The Cranmers 1750–1926 ……. 56Life at The Cranmers before the 1914–18 War by Mrs E Smith …………. 60The last days of The Cranmers …………………………………………………….. 67
3 THE CANONS …………………………………………………………………………… 73
Origins of the estate……………………………………………………………………. 73Medieval bequests……………………………………………………………………… 74The Dissolution, and medieval survivals……………………………………….. 75The Odways, or Otways, of Mitcham – a military family ………………….. 82The Canons in the 18th century: the manor house of Mitcham ………… 87The Dixons and the Simpsons (1801–1843) ……………………………………. 90Sundry occupiers (1846–1939) ……………………………………………………… 98Recent history………………………………………………………………………….. 100
5 PARK PLACE………………………………………………………………………….. 111
Introduction …………………………………………………………………………….. 111
Medieval beginnings ………………………………………………………………… 112An Elizabethan farmstead? ………………………………………………………… 114
Park Place and its residents ……………………………………………………….. 116
The end of an era: Park Place and the News of the World……………….. 132
Reminiscences of Park Place by G O Nash……………………………………. 133Park Place in the ownership of the London Borough of Merton (1965–1995).. 137
6 COMMONSIDE WEST …………………………………………………………….. 141
Newton House, No. 1 Commonside West…………………………………….. 141The Lawn, No. 4 Commonside West ……………………………………………. 143The smaller houses and other buildings on Commonside West ……… 147
7 THE THREE KINGS PIECE ……………………………………………………….. 151
8 JOHN DONNE IN MITCHAM……………………………………………………. 155
9 THE HOUSES ON COMMONSIDE EAST ………………………………….. 159
APPENDICES ………………………………………………………………………………. 175

1. The Canons – a description by Lionel Green…………………………….. 175

2. Mrs Esther Maria Dixon/Cranmer’s Recipe Book ……………………….. 178

3. Mrs Esther Maria Dixon/Cranmer’s Journal ………………………………. 180

4. Probate inventory of Rebecca Cranmer, September 1815 …………….. 191NOTES AND REFERENCES…………………………………………………………… 199
INDEX ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 221



Engraving of Mitcham Common showing The Cranmers, The Canons and
Park Place …………………………………………………………………………………… cover
Detail from the 25-inch OS map of 1867 ………………………………………………….. i
Detail from a modern street map, showing the area covered by this book …… ix
Cranmer Green c.1910 …………………………………………………………………………. x
The Cranmers, photograph of the front of the house c.1900 ………………….. 28
Rear view of The Cranmers c.1900 ……………………………………………………… 47
Map of the Cranmer estate drawn by James Cranmer in 1717 …………………. 49
Engraving of the rear of ‘Mitcham Villa’, by John Hassell, c.1820 …………… 50
The Wilson Hospital, built on the site of The Cranmers in 1928 ……………… 68
Princess Mary at the opening of the Wilson Hospital in 1928 ………………… 69
Mitcham Garden Village c.1970 ………………………………………………………….. 72
The Canons and carp pond 1966 ……………………………………………………….. 73
Date inscribed on The Canons dovecote c.1970 …………………………………… 76
Interior of The Canons dovecote c.1970 ……………………………………………… 77
North view of The Canons dovecote c.1970 ………………………………………… 78
The Canons front entrance c.1970 ……………………………………………………… 89
1816 boundary stone c.1970 ………………………………………………………………. 92
The obelisk at The Canons 1975 ………………………………………………………… 93
The obelisk inscription 1975 ……………………………………………………………… 94
Cranmer Primary School, formerly Mitcham County School for Girls c.1970… 106
SS Peter & Paul RC Church 2010 ………………………………………………………. 106
Cranmer Cottages c.1975 …………………………………………………………………. 109
Cranmer Farm Closec.1975 ……………………………………………………………… 109
Park Place 1995 ………………………………………………………………………………. 111
Park Placec.1900 ……………………………………………………………………………. 136
Newton House, Commonside West c.1980 ………………………………………… 140
The gatekeeper’s lodge to Park Place and Commonside West c.1965 …….. 140
The Lawn, No. 4 Commonside West c.1985 ……………………………………….. 143
The Three Kings Pond c.1910 ………………………………………………………….. 150
The Three Kings public house and pond c.1905 ………………………………… 150
Commonside East and the Three Kings Pond c.1910 …………………………… 152
The Three Kings Pond and Clarendon House, Prospect House and
Rose Cottage, Commonside Eastc.1980 ……………………………………………. 154
Dr John Donne ………………………………………………………………………………. 155
Sketch of John Donne’s house by Richard Simpson c.1840 …………………. 158
Clarendon House, No. 3 Commonside East………………………………………… 161
Prospect House, No. 9 Commonside East ………………………………………….. 163
Rose Cottage, No. 13 Commonside East c.1975 ………………………………….. 168
Three Kings Pond, with No. 17 Commonside East to the right ……………… 170
Staircase, The Canons ……………………………………………………………………. 174

910111252134687COMMONSIDE EAST
1 The Cranmers / Mitcham Villa 2 Cranmer Green

3 The Canons 4 Park Place

5 Newton House 6 The Lawn

7 The Windmillpub 8 Three Kings Piece

9 Three Kings Pond 10 Three Kings restaurant

11 The former BeehivePub 12 Clarendon House, Prospect
House & Rose Cottage

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


Cranmer Green (postcard c.1910)

Chapter 1


Cranmer Green

Like the Cricket Green and Three Kings Piece, Cranmer Green is a
fragment of the ancient ‘waste’ or rough grazing land of the parish of
Mitcham, which in the Middle Ages extended in an unbroken expanse
of heath and scrub south and south-east from the centre of the village
towards Beddington and Waddon and the borders of Croydon. Its
physical severance from what is now known as Mitcham Common
came about shortly before 1868 with the construction of the London
Brighton and South Coast Railway Company’s line from Streatham to
Mitcham Junction and Sutton.

Until 1926 the Green was overlooked by the large house which had
become the country seat of the Cranmer family during the
Commonwealth. The lordship of the manor of Mitcham, together
with a house and various enclosures of land, was purchased in the
early 1650s by Robert Cranmer, a London merchant, and was to
remain in the hands of his family and their descendants the Simpsons
for almost 250 years. The house itself, known at different times as
The Rectory, Mitcham Villa, and in its last years as The Cranmers,
remained the family seat until 1752, after which it was leased to a
succession of wealthy tenants, usually having business connections
in London. Today nothing remains visible of the old mansion, and its
site is now covered by the car park to the north of the former Wilson
Cottage Hospital.

Although the actual extent of the manor of Mitcham is uncertain, and
for this reason the area of common land falling within its jurisdiction
was disputed in later years, the name Cranmer Green reflects a general
acceptance in the village that the family had a proprietorial interest in
the dozen or so acres immediately opposite what Robert Cranmer styled
his ‘Capital House’.

The sands and gravels of the Wandle flood plain underlie much of
Mitcham, and excavation of a trench across Cranmer Green by the
South Eastern Gas Board in 1968, during the laying of a new main to


convey North Sea gas from Croydon to Mitcham, provided an opportunity
for the underlying strata to be examined in some detail. It was apparent
that here a metre and a half of topsoil covers a band of chalk sludge and
fragmentary flint mixed with small pebbles. Beneath this layer lies another
metre or so of coarse gravelly sand over a basal stratum of weathered
London Clay. Organic material buried within the gravels gave a
radiocarbon date of 3353 +/- 134 BP, or approximately 1,400 BC, an
indication that for much of the Bronze Age this part of the Wandle
valley was subjected not only to severe flooding, but also the deposition
of gravels and debris, probably in a broad outwash fan of the river
extending from the foothills of the North Downs.1

The implications of this dating are important when we attempt to visualise
the pattern of settlement and land use in the area during the first and
second millennia BC. The finding of several Neolithic axeheads or hoes
elsewhere in Mitcham indicates that woodland clearance and cultivation
had commenced in parts of the Wandle valley long before the Bronze
Age,2 and it is reasonable to assume that as early as the fourth millennium
BC small farming communities were widely scattered over the better-
drained soils which covered the terrace gravels extending from Merton
towards Croydon. However, where shallow, typically over much of
Mitcham Common, such soils tend to become rapidly impoverished,
and elsewhere in Britain it has been shown that during a cooler, wetter
climatic phase in the mid-second millennium many areas on the margin
of cultivation were abandoned and left to revert to heathland and scrub,
with open woodland as the ultimate vegetational cover.3 Even where
the topsoil was perhaps a little deeper and cultivation still rewarding,
localities across which a river was liable to flow when in spate would
certainly have been avoided or abandoned by early settlers.

Unlike those parts of Mitcham where areas of deeper loam or brickearth
existed, the Common as a whole was incapable of supporting sustained
cultivation and, given a naturally high water-table, by the early Iron Age
it is likely to have been abandoned to become heath, with pockets of
peat bog, willow and alder carr gradually being interspersed with clumps
of mature trees. As the population expanded in the Middle Ages the
main value of the ‘waste’, as it was usually referred to in the parish


records, was as rough pasture and a source of fuel. Until the early
years of the 20th century, when the Common was virtually devoid of
trees, it was the browsing of the commoners’ livestock which effectively
suppressed the natural regeneration of woodland, with the result that
Mitcham Common remained a wind-swept expanse of gorse and other
vegetation typical of acid heathland.

For much of the 20th century an area of scrub was a feature of the
south-eastern margin of Cranmer Green alongside the railway cutting.
Left alone the bushes would have engulfed the whole Green, but regular
close-mowing by the local authority kept them at bay and maintained a
cover of greensward.

In mid-Victorian times there was a shallow well or ‘dipping hole’ on the
Green, near the corner of Madeira Road and Cranmer Road. This
provided a water supply for local cottagers, and at the beginning of the
20th century there were still old residents who could remember seeing
women using a long wooden pole with a hook at the end to lower their
buckets into the water.4 The water-table has since been falling steadily,
as shown by the water level in Cranmer Green pond, which in
summertime now tends to dry out almost completely.

Cranmer Farm lay towards the north-west of the Cranmers’ house,
and in the early years of the 20th century the farm cattle were turned
out to graze on the common opposite. A standing instruction to bus
crews was to “keep a sharp look-out for the cows in Cranmer Road”,5
and cattle are shown on the Green in photographs from the Edwardian
period. It is reasonable to assume that the pond, which is not a natural
feature, was dug for watering farm stock with the approval of the squire,
if not actually on his instructions. The earliest map in which the pond
can be seen was published in 1823,6 and, since it was not shown on a
sketch plan drawn by James Cranmer in 1717,7 it was presumably
created sometime in the mid-18th century. Today the pond is of some
ecological interest. Left alone, it would soon become filled with silt and
decayed vegetation and disappear. For this reason a management plan,
designed to preserve it as a useful wildlife habitat, was produced in
1994 by the London Wildlife Trust and has been adopted by the local


Cranmer’s plan of 1717 shows a drive to the house through a formal
planting of trees on the Green, arranged in parallel rows after the fashion
of Baroque landscaping. Whether or not this is mere artistic licence on
the part of the map-maker we cannot be sure, and the species planted
are not known for certain, but by the end of the 18th century the manor
house was described as being approached from the Croydon Road
through “an avenue of high elms”.9 A few of these trees, hollow through
age and reduced to unsightly stumps by heavy pollarding, survived into
the early 1930s, when they were removed. Today the drive, known as
King George VI Avenue, is edged with small decorative Prunus.10

In 1891 William Simpson, to whom the lordship of Mitcham had passed
through inheritance, surrendered the surviving manorial rights to the
newly-formed Board of Common Conservators. The Green remained
in the care of the Conservators for 30 years and then, in 1924, under
legislation passed the previous year, together with Figges Marsh, Three
Kings Piece, and the Upper and Lower Greens, Cranmer Green was
vested in Mitcham Urban District Council. Its maintenance as a public
open space has remained a municipal responsibility ever since.

Enclosure of land on the margins of the Green must always have been
a temptation, and there is record of one such encroachment being
sanctioned by the vestry as late as 1773, when the land on which the
houses fronting Madeira Road now stand was added to the grounds of
Park Place. The original south-western boundary of the common land
can be traced from Mitcham Garden Village (beyond the railway bridge)
past the houses of Burghley Close, which are set back from an old
ditch, as far as the Catholic Church of SS Peter & Paul. The frontage
of the Wilson Hospital, and the entrance to Cranmer Primary School
both take in land which was enclosed from the Green, probably in the
1840s, but the old boundary is respected by the modern Cranmer Farm
housing estate. Excavations carried out by AOC (Archaeology) Ltd in
1997 on land to the north of Caesar’s Walk and to the west of the line of
the ditch showed that here the underlying stratum of ‘natural’ – a
yellowish brown sand – lay about 0.75m below ground level. The topsoil
contained merely fragments of post-medieval glass and ceramics of no
archaeological significance. The work was conducted in advance of
development of the site by NHS Estates.


Archaeology and the location of Domesday estates

What we know today as Lower Mitcham may be equated with the ‘vill’
or hamlet of Witford or Wicford (the spelling varies considerably), which
had a separate identity within the hundred of Wallington when Domesday
Book was compiled in 1086.1 Although it was to become part of the
ecclesiastical parish of Mitcham, it retained its distinct identity until the
end of the Middle Ages, but eventually disappeared from the
documentary record, and now survives only in the name Whitford
Gardens, given to a road of Edwardian villas erected on the Elmwood
estate between the Upper and Lower Greens.

As an area of dispersed settlement Witford probably predated the Roman
period, and can be regarded as one of a number of similar localities
throughout the Wandle valley where the archaeological evidence suggests
there was already a scatter of long-established native British
communities by the time of the Claudian invasion in AD43.2 From Lower
Mitcham itself come grounds for believing a typical small Romano-
British farmstead existed in the Willow Lane area, where a burial
accompanied by a group of five undamaged pottery vessels dating to
the third and fourth centuries AD was found in 1928. Nearby were
ditches containing the bones of domesticated animals and further pottery
of a slightly earlier date, indicating that the site was occupied for several
hundred years.3 This is, of course, not unexpected, for although flooding
must always have been a hazard close to the Wandle, the rich alluvium
overlying the gravel of the river terrace made good agricultural land,
attractive to farming communities. It would seem feasible, therefore,
for farmsteads to have continued into the Saxon period, and with a little
imagination we can see in the earliest large-scale maps of the area,
produced after surveys in the mid-19th century, a general pattern of
enclosures to the north and north-west of Willow Lane that could well
have had its origins in an ancient field system.

The place-name element ‘wic’ in the older renderings of Whitford is
probably derived from the Latin vicus, or place, often an indication that
an area was settled during the Roman period. Archaeological evidence
of such occupation is widespread throughout the southern half of
Mitcham, and with late-Roman material present in the large ‘Anglo


Saxon’ cemetery off Morden Road excavated early last century,4 the
implications are that a community of people largely of Celtic/Romano-
British ancestry survived in the district into what used to be called the
Dark Ages.

The ‘Michelham’ of the Domesday record is first mentioned as ‘Micham’
in a 13th-century copy of a charter dated AD727, and in the Old English
elements ‘micel’ and ‘ham’ or ‘hamm’, which can be translated as a
large settlement or place, we again have an allusion to the vicus which
we have suggested corresponds with today’s Lower Mitcham.
Immediately to the south, the village of Wallington, also mentioned in
early 8th-century records, preserved in its name the Old English Wealha

– the Saxon term for the native British – again strongly reinforcing the
argument for continuity. A focal centre of Saxon Mitcham has yet to be
identified, but a site of importance was indicated by a ditch found dug into
the underlying gravel on a site excavated by the Museum of London
Archaeology Service (MoLAS) near Mitcham parish church in the 1990s.
The purpose of this feature, from which sherds of Romano-British and
Saxon pottery were recovered, remains to be explained, but it may have
defined a settlement enclosure the outlines of which seem to have been
perpetuated by property boundaries well into the 19th century. Further
material from the early post-Roman period came from an evaluation
conducted by MoLAS to the south of Mitcham station in 1997. Here, in
another strictly limited excavation in advance of redevelopment, a shard
of Saxon pottery and bones of domestic animals were recovered from a
back-filled pit.
By 1066 Whitford comprised two separate holdings or estates, lying on
the north-eastern bank of the Wandle, which here defined the boundary
with Carshalton and Morden. To the north lay the Lower Green, part of
the common ‘waste’ of Mitcham, whilst to the south and east the
cultivated land was bounded by the arc of heath and marsh separating
Whitford from the neighbouring settlements of Beddington and
Wallington. These boundaries are readily identifiable today, and the ford
crossing the Wandle – the ford of the vicus from which the vill derived
its name – can still be seen beside Mitcham Bridge, although it has long
been inaccessible to traffic.


The values in shillings and the extent of the two Whitford estates were
summarised by the Norman clerks conducting the Domesday survey
completed in 1086 as follows:

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

The Canons [of Bayeux] hold Whitford themselves from the
Bishop [of Bayeaux]. Edmer held it from King Edward. Then
and now it answered for 3 hides. Land for 2 ploughs. In lordship
1 plough; 2 villagers, 6 cottagers with 2 ploughs. Meadow, 4 acres.
Value before 1066 and now 30s; when acquired 10s.5

The valuation of these holdings is comparatively high for Mitcham,
although perhaps no more than one would expect on the more fertile
soils of the Wandle flood plain. In total the two estates comprised some
600 acres, or almost one fifth of the area of medieval Mitcham. Not
surprisingly, much of the land was under the plough, but there was also
a useful acreage of permanent grass, which can be envisaged bordering
the river. As water meadows, this would have been enriched by the
periodic deposition of silt by flood water, and provided lush grazing once
the annual hay crop had been gathered in.

Of Edmer we know little. As a minor landowner or thegn, he held his
land ‘of the king’ and would have been a freeholder, exempt from most
duties other than the three public charges of military service, bridge
repair and the building of fortifications. Like his tenants, he would have
been expected to join the fyrd or militia when the Normans invaded,
and evidently suffered the fate of the majority of the English landowners
who survived Harold’s defeat at Senlac Hill, for by 1086 his lands had
been taken from him and his name disappears from the record.

From the Domesday record it can be deduced that 20 years after the
Conquest the population of Whitford, excluding children, amounted to
some 50 people, four of the householders enjoying villein (villager) or
smallholder status, whilst the rest were either cottagers or landless


peasants. Of the two estates, that formerly owned by Edmer was in the
tenure of the canons of Bayeux in Normandy by1086, and would have
been managed by their steward. Lank’s property had passed to William
the Chamberlain, a tenant of William Fitz-Ansculf of Dudley, one of the
great Norman landowners, whose father was appointed sheriff of Surrey
in about 1071.

Without archaeological evidence the sites of the two late-Saxon demesne
farms, at the centre of these estates, are now difficult, if not impossible,
to identify, but tentatively a case could be made for Edmer’s being in
the vicinity of Henman’s Farm, off Willow Lane, and the other in the
general area of Ravensbury, downstream from Mitcham Bridge, where
a quantity of medieval sherds was found during excavations conducted
by Surrey Archaeological Society in 1974 and 1975.6

Bishop Odo’s tenants, the canons of Bayeux, probably lost their Whitford
property shortly after the final disgrace of their landlord in 1088, and the
holding reverted to the Crown. To whom the land was granted
subsequently is not clear, but within 30 years or so part of what had
been Edmer’s holding seems to have found its way into the hands of the
de Whitford family, who emerge early in the 12th century as important
landowners in Lower Mitcham.

The Mitcham estate of the priory of St Mary, Southwark

Although at times turbulent, the 12th century was a period of great
religious awakening, typified in Surrey by the foundation of several
famous monastic houses, and by the establishment or rebuilding of many
village churches by the new Norman landlords. Thus the priory of St
Mary at Southwark was either founded or re-established in 1106 on the
site of the old Saxon minster recorded in Domesday,1 and the parish
church of St Mary the Virgin at Merton was rebuilt by Gilbert, sheriff of
Surrey, shortly after his being granted the vill of Merton by Henry I in
1114. Three years later the great Augustinian priory of Merton, which
Gilbert established on a virgin site on the banks of the Wandle, was
formally handed over to the community of regular canons in whose
possession it remained until the Dissolution in 1538.


Both Southwark and Merton priories soon began to attract from the
devout gifts of land and the income from private estates all over the
county. Several Mitcham landowners, moved to show favour to the
Church, made bequests to the priory at Southwark. One of the earliest
of whom we have record was Richard de Whitford who, a little before
1130, gave his “entire possessions of that land which is called
Wihtrichescrofte” together with other enclosures of arable and pasture
in Mitcham.2 Sometime between 1110 and 1140 William the son of
Robert de Abingworth granted to the same priory “in perpetual alms”
the tithes, or one tenth, of the produce of his land in Mitcham, a bequest
which was confirmed subsequently by his son.3 Their example was
emulated by a John de Whitford who, between 1150 and 1170, granted
to the “church of St Mary of Southwark … the new garden and land of
Medewine and an acre of la Stane … an acre of commonfield and one
acre of demesne … and

… all my tithes of Wichford in cornfields and meadows and mill
and garden and lamb and calves and fleeces and milk and cheese
and foals and in all things from which tithes are bound to be given
in free and perpetual alms for the love of God and the salvation
of my soul and of my ancestors and descendants.4

There also survives in the British Library a charter dated sometime
between 1150 and 1170 by which Robert de Whitford confirmed, in the
following words, the grant of Wihtrichescrofte and other land in Mitcham
made by his grandfather and great-grandfather to:

… the church of St Mary of Southwark and the canons thereof,
servants of God for love … my entire possessions of that land
called Wihtrichescrofte, which lies … where the aforesaid dwelling
is built by the canons, and one acre of commonfield and one acre
of demesne; for the provision of wax candles for the church of St
Peter in Mitcham. And two acres of meadow at la Holme, and
two acres of seed land at la Haie, and one acre at Lestfurlang, and
one acre where Galfridus lives beside the cross; which lands are
of course my fee [i.e. feudal benefice]. Having and occupying in
complete freedom and perpetual alms. All these lands had indeed
been owned and held by the aforesaid canons, and occupied for 40


years and more as a complete alms from the gift of Arthur my
grandfather and Richard his father, since I Robert have enquired
the testimony of ancient men and men learned in the law. Whereby
I wish that the aforesaid canons shall have and possess all the
aforesaid lands in perpetuity from all secular taxes and service.2

Identification of the various parcels of land mentioned in these bequests
is difficult and, for the most part, likely to remain so. Galfridus’s one
acre beside the cross could, quite conceivably, have been near Mitcham
church, where an acre of glebe survived into the 19th century. The
meadow at la Holme and the two acres of seed land at la Haie might
have been combined to become the mowing ground, a parcel of land
shown by James Cranmer on the map of the family estate in 1717, and
now largely covered by the interwar houses of Bramcote Avenue and
Denham Crescent. Wihtrichescrofte is a ‘habitative’ name, the ending
‘crofte’ (the Old English term for a plot of enclosed land, especially a
piece of arable adjacent to a house) implying there may already have
been a building of some description close by when the land was granted
to the priory in the 12th century.

Any further attempt to locate the rest of the land of the estate held by
the priory in Mitcham at the time of the Dissolution would be purely
speculative. We can be certain, however, that as a result of the
munificence shown by the de Whitfords and others, by the second half
of the 12th century Southwark priory had come into the possession of a
sizeable holding which, in his ‘Charter of Confirmations’, Henry de Blois,
Bishop of Winchester from 1129 to 1171, saw fit to emphasize had been
brought under his protection.5 The bishop also made reference to another
plot of “land on which their [i.e. the canons’] houses are situated in the
same parish, which they hold and occupy from the grant and gift of the
whole parish”. This, as we shall show later, was almost certainly a plot
enclosed from the common waste and now occupied by The Canons
and the adjoining Leisure Centre.

Between 1200 and 1230 Alexander de Whitford, representing another,
later, generation of the family, acknowledged that the tithes of his corn
and mill were the right of the prior and community of Southwark, and
granted the canons and their teams free access over his land in


perpetuity.6 One wonders if this could be the origin of the old bridleway
known as ‘Jeppo’s Lane’ which used to run from the Cricket Green
and is now entered from Bramcote Avenue, skirts the Mitcham Park
estate, and leads towards the mill site by Mitcham bridge. The tithes
remained with the priory until the Reformation.

Southwark priory also received grants of rent and land in Mitcham in
the late 12th and early 13th centuries, notably from the de Fraxineto
family, to whom we shall return later. By this time the presence of the
canons must have exerted a significant influence on the parish of
Mitcham, and the priory was probably already providing a priest to serve
the church of St Peter, to which John and Robert de Whitford referred
in their confirmatory deeds of c.1150–70. Here he would have said the
daily offices, celebrated the Mass, and generally administered to the
spiritual needs of the parishioners of Mitcham. The names of the priests
from this early period are lost (Hugh de Guldeford, who was instituted
in 1291, is the first vicar of Mitcham known to us by name) but we may
picture them as figures in the black habit of the Augustinian Order
making their way to and from the simple little building then occupying
the site of the present parish church. What was described as the
‘Parsonage House’ was standing on The Canons site in the early 17th
century, and either it, or more likely its predecessor, had in all probability
provided lodgings for priests appointed to serve the parish since the
advowson was first presented to the priory by the church’s founders in
the 12th century.

There continued to be frequent documentary references to land in
‘Wic(k)ford’ until the close of the 14th century. Thereafter they become
much less common, and virtually cease after the mid-17th century. The
later Middle Ages were, of course, a period of great social and economic
stress. The Black Death of 1348-9 drastically reduced the population of
many villages, and the ensuing upheaval brought about or hastened radical
changes both in land use and in the structure of rural settlements.

It would certainly seem reasonable, therefore, to see Whitford, if not a
typical deserted medieval village, as a community destined to be
profoundly affected by the changes in land ownership and farming
practices as the Middle Ages progressed.


The manor of Mitcham or Mitcham Canons

Only one ‘manor’ or feudal estate in Mitcham (as distinct from Whitford)
was mentioned by the Domesday commissioners, and this formed another
part of the holding of Bishop Odo, sub-infeudated to the canons of
Bayeux. The estate had been created by bringing together two and a
half hides formerly held by two unnamed Saxons and part of the property
of another, Britric, at the time of the Conquest.1 It appears not to have
had any corporate identity before that date, and as a judicial entity the
‘manor’ seems to have been more a concept of the Norman bureaucracy
in 1086 than a reality. Although there are numerous references to the
manor of Mitcham, or ‘Mitcham Canons’, in the succeeding centuries,
no manorial records survive, either from the Middle Ages or later.2

The compilers of the Victoria County History of Surrey concluded
that the Bayeux canons’ tenure of their Mitcham lands terminated with
Odo’s final fall from favour in 1088, and that they reverted to the Crown.3
Their subsequent history is not easy to unravel, but the emergence in
the 12th century of two major land holdings in Mitcham not previously
recorded, suggests that Odo’s former estate was, in fact, broken up.
The ‘farming’ of manors, i.e. letting them out for a rent, was a common
enough practice at the time, and Malden noted the ‘farm’ of the royal
manors of Surrey amounting to £174 7s in 1154, including 20 shillings
from “four men at Wetham, possibly Mitcham, which had been the land
of the Bishop of Bayeux and had been confiscated to the Crown”.4
Remarking that there had been several grants of land in Mitcham during
the reign of Henry I (1100–1135), he also speculated that “it is not
improbable that some of the estates formed the manor [of Mitcham
Canons] which before the end of the 13th century had come into the
possession of the priory of St Mary Overy”.5

Of particular significance, and probably the transactions Malden had
mainly in mind, were the grants made between 1180 and 1210 to “the
church of St Mary of Southwark and to the canons there serving God”
by Hugh de Fraxineto and his wife Alice, née Boterel, and their son
Galfridus, or Geoffrey. Initially involving the gift of 12 pence “in perpetual
alms” from land held by Kipping, one of their tenants,6 this was later


extended to include the grant to the canons of St Mary of the under-
tenancy of land occupied by Radolphus son of Edward, and two brothers
Wigot and Robert.7 In settlement of this latter grant, the canons paid 12
marks in silver to Hugh and Alice, gave Alice a riding horse, and Galfridus
“a gold coin”. Two years after Hugh’s death, Alice confirmed the grant,
describing the land as comprising two hides (about 240 acres) with
appurtenances and formerly held by Radolphus, Wigot and Robert,
“Gilbert son of Edith”, and Simon, Kipping’s son. She acknowledged
that she herself held the land as a tenant of the earl of Gloucester for
two quarters of a knight’s fee, and that the four tenants together were
under the obligation to pay 19s 8d per annum and to provide lodging for
four knights.8 Between 1230 and 1262 Richard de Clare, earl of
Gloucester, remitted to the canons of Southwark the suit “of all our
courts”, owed to him from the tenement in Mitcham they possessed
from the gift of Alice Boterel.9 Here, in the authority handed down
from the de Clares to the prior and convent at Southwark, enabling
them to exercise limited jurisdiction over their estate and its tenants,
can be seen the origin of the feudal ‘manor’ of Mitcham.

As we have seen, several other early gifts of land in Mitcham and
Whitford were made to St Mary’s between 1106, when the priory was
founded, and c.1170, when Bishop Henry de Blois of Winchester issued
the general episcopal confirmation that he had taken the canons’ estates
under his protection.10 An outstanding bishop, Henry was a key figure
in the reform of diocesan administration, much concerned with bringing
order into the situation which had arisen from the increasing number of
estate churches founded under lay patronage, and the consequent
alienation of tithes. In issuing the charter of confirmation, the bishop,
whose brother King Stephen had died in 1154, was probably seeking to
safeguard the property of the priory in the face of deteriorating relations
between Henry II and the Church, which had culminated in the murder
of Becket at Canterbury.

The records of Merton priory show that in 1316 the prior was certified
the joint-lord of the ‘township’ of Mitcham,11 and there are several
references from the 14th century quoted by the Victoria County
History12 to support the view that “the lands of the priory of St Mary


Overy in Mitcham, known as the manor of Mitcham Canons, seem to
have been held as a quarter of a knight’s fee of the honour of Clare”,

i.e. the earls of Gloucester. The death of the gallant young earl of
Gloucester at Bannockburn in 1314 had entailed the division of the great
honour (or estates) of Clare amongst his three sisters, but within a month
of the English defeat the escheators were ordered to take all the
Gloucester holdings (valued at over £6,000) into the King’s hands, a
process which was completed by November 1317.13
John ‘de Aperdele’ is stated to have held the manor of Mitcham in
1367,14 but nothing more can really be said of him, other than to observe
that his surname suggests he came from one of the leading families of
the Leatherhead district.15 Lysons noted that in a record of the fourth
regnal year of Richard II (1380-81) the manor of Mitcham was “said to
have been divided between the King, the Earl of Gloucester, and the
Prior of Merton”.16 He, Lysons, seems surprised at the omission of the
prior of St Mary Overy from the record, for he shared the conviction of
other historians of his day that the monastery “had a manor there at a
much earlier period”. He added that the earl of Gloucester’s lands at
Mitcham “were annexed to his manor of Camberwell”.17

Information concerning the ‘manor’ of Mitcham before the Dissolution is
thus fragmented and confusing, and it is perhaps not surprising to find
that manorial records are non-existent. When, early in the 19th century,
the feasibility of enclosing Mitcham Common was under discussion, the
Cranmer family, who claimed to hold the lordship of the manor of Mitcham
Canons, engaged the services of a Mr Caley, an ‘antiquarian’, to investigate
the descent of the manor and its precise extent. Caley concluded that “a
Manor in Mitcham did belong thereto” (i.e. to Southwark priory at the
time of the Dissolution) and observed that ” … an Account of the rents
and forfeits of this Manor may be seen in the Minister’s or Crown
Receiver’s Return after the suppression of St Mary Overy 31.H.VIII
remaining in the Augmentation Office”.18 The account made mention of
“all rents, services, Courts Leet and other Manorial rights to the sd. Manor
belonging”, but there is no evidence of any courts baron or leet having
been held, no custumal or terriers have survived nor, apart from what
Caley claimed to have seen, any records of the fines and other feudal
dues normally exacted in the administration of a conventional manor.


We have nothing, in short, to indicate that in the priory’s hands the
estate ever functioned other than as a ‘rectorial manor’, in which the
recipient of tithes and rents, in this case the prior and convent of
Southwark, administered a modest estate within the parish, but
independent of the principal manors. As was typical on small estates of
this nature, the priory would have managed the demesne farm through
the agency of a lay official, such as its reeve. Commonly one of the
priory’s tenants, he would hold a particular tenement with an obligation
to serve the canons. Such a person, although not of the status of a
bailiff, was nevertheless a man of standing in the community, probably
farming a considerable area on his own behalf, and can be assumed to
have taken a prominent part in the conduct of local affairs.


Although the Valor Ecclesiasticus makes no reference to a manor in
the list of the priory’s property at the time of the Dissolution,19 the report
of the minister appointed to examine the lands and possessions of the
priory of St Mary Overy makes it clear that they included the lordship
of the manor, the rectory and the advowson of Mitcham except income
from land held by Thomas Fremond and Thomas and Richard Webb.20
No reason is given for the specific exclusion of the lands belonging to
Fremond and the Webbs, but both families were of some local importance
at the time. Elyn Fromonds (we can assume this was an alternative
rendering of ‘Fremond’), described as an “ancient gentlewoman”, lived
at Hall Place, off Lower Green West, and was buried at Mitcham in
1588. Her family were recusants, and were treated with suspicion for
their adherence to the old religion. Thomas Webb in 1569 was the owner
of land in Carshalton abutting the Wandle “against Southfield mead” in
Lower Mitcham, and one suspects that before the Dissolution the
Fromonds and the Webbs held office as lay administrators of the priory’s
Mitcham estate, and had by some means acquired recognised interests
in parts of the property.

“Lordship of our manor of Micham” was amongst other assets seized
by Henry VIII from the prior and convent of Southwark on the dissolution
of the monasteries, and was granted by letters patent on 28 September
1544 to Nicholas Spakman and Christopher Harebottell (or Harbottell),


“citizens and haberdashers of London”, for £400 16s.21 Brayley may
have been close to an explanation when he observed that “after the
dissolution, both the rectory and the advowson of the vicarage were
granted with the manor of Mitcham Canons”.22 In modern parlance,
the property was presented as attractively as possible in order to
maximise its sale potential, and Spakman and Harebottell were obviously
property speculators with access to ready money. With the parsonage
house (which we have seen stood on the site of The Canons), and its
appurtenances, the manor was purchased from “one Lawrence Warren
late Goldsmith of London” by Nicholas Burton of Carshalton, and passed
to his heir Henry under the terms of his will dated 20 April 1559.

In 1589 Sir Henry Burton of Mascalls House, Carshalton Park, inherited
from his father, Richard Burton, not only lordship of the manor of Mitcham
Canons, but also the rectory and advowson of Mitcham and a large
estate which included six houses (one of which was the parsonage
house), ten cottages, a water-mill, a dovehouse and over 1200 acres.
Some of the Burtons’ land, and probably several of the houses, lay
outside the parish of Mitcham, and parts of the estate fell within the
jurisdiction of the manors of Ravensbury, Beddington and Carshalton.23
Subsequently this estate was sub-divided, and in December 1612 part
of it, including the two meadows called Rowcrofts, next to what became
the Cranmer residence, was sold to Sir Nicholas Carew of Beddington.
With other property, this portion of the estate later passed into the
ownership of his son Edmund.24

Apart from what purport to be copy extracts of the court rolls for the
year 1594/5,25 there is no record of any session of the manorial courts
in the hands of the subsequent owners, nor of the lords exercising any
of the manorial rights or demanding any of the rents and services to
which the letters patent made mention when the manor was granted to
Spakman and Harebottell in 1544.26 The reference in Lysons to a
Thomas ‘Plomer’s’ tenure of lands in Mitcham “held of that manor” at
the time of his death in 1639/40 is an anomaly, and one is tempted to
suggest that Lysons may have been mistaken and that Plumer/Plomer
held a tenancy of another of the Mitcham manors.27 Tenure of the
manor itself after the Dissolution is fully documented,28 but one has to


conclude in their absence that any court rolls which may have existed
must have been lost or destroyed before the manor was purchased by
Robert Cranmer in 1656/7.29

An unidentified ancestor of the Mitcham branch of the Cranmer family
was alleged to have been holding land of the manor of Mitcham Canons
in about 1619,30 but the earliest reliable evidence surviving in local records
for the Cranmers’ actual residence in Mitcham is the deed recording
the sale in 1653 of a pew in the parish church to Robert Cranmer,
described as a London merchant, following his purchase of a large
newly-built house from Ralph Trattle the previous year.31 A little over
three years later Cranmer concluded a series of property transactions
with the purchase of various buildings and land in Mitcham, lordship of
the manor, the advowson and the right to the rectorial tithes.32

The number of deeds and other documents preserved from that time
shows that the Cranmers, several of whom were trained in jurisprudence,
if not actually practising lawyers, were certainly not lax in such matters,
but no manorial records survived by 1890 when, in the case of the
Ecclesiastical Commissioners v. Bridger, it was declared by the defendants
(amongst whom was William Simpson, who then held the lordship of the
manor of Mitcham Canons), that no court rolls then existed.33

One might have expected to find that at least part of Cranmer’s newly-
acquired property lay within the manor of Mitcham Canons, but there is
nothing to confirm this, and in fact a substantial proportion of the estate,
including enclosures in the Willow Lane area, remained within the
jursidiction of Ravensbury and was held of the Carews. Even land which
later comprised part of Cranmer’s farm, adjoining the grounds of his
Mitcham house, lay within the manor of Ravensbury, as can be seen
from a deed of 1628, which recorded the admission of Richard
Broughton, a London merchant, to the tenancy of the manor of
Ravensbury as the occupier of four acres known as Chaff(e) Hawes.34
No properties, in fact, can be shown to have been held in demesne, that
is, as an integral part of the manor of Mitcham Canons and, as we have
already argued, it is difficult to find evidence that the manor ever
functioned in the normal juridical sense.


The manor of Mitcham thus remains something of an antiquarian enigma,
and it is significant that, when enclosure of Mitcham Common was
under consideration during the Napoleonic War, the claims of the
Cranmer family to proprietorial rights over the main body of the Common
were disputed by Mitcham vestry as well as by the lords of the other
manors. Some, no doubt, cloaked their views in the deference due to
the late squire’s family, but outsiders were not so inhibited. When
reporting in 1806 on the extent and use of common land and waste in
Mitcham to which the dean and chapter of Canterbury, as lords of the
manor of Vauxhall, could lay claim, their surveyor John Middleton made
it clear he did not recognise the manor of Mitcham (which he referred
to as a “reputed manor”), dismissing Mrs Cranmer’s claim to the right
to keep cattle on the Common as that of an “Estate … not holden of any
superior”.35 A resolution of the conflicting claims was only attained
after lengthy litigation in the courts, by which time interest in enclosure
had waned, and the Common remained substantially unenclosed.36 The
compilers of the Victoria County History confirmed that there were
no court rolls of the manor extant at the close of the 19th century, but
noted that certain of the tenants of the manor still insisted they had
grazing rights on the Common.

We have seen that when the management of Mitcham Common had
been placed in the hands of a Board of Conservators under the provisions
of the Metropolitan Commons (Mitcham) (Supplemental) Act 1891,
William F J Simpson, the lord of the manor of Mitcham, presented his
manorial rights to the Conservators.37 In reality, except for the possibility
of Simpson deriving some financial benefit from the sale of minerals if
he could reach an agreement with the lords of the other manors, the
gesture did not amount to much. His action, nevertheless, was not
completely unworthy, for in the case of the manors of Ravensbury,
Biggin and Tamworth, and Vauxhall, the lords of which expected an
income from the sale of turves and gravel, the manorial rights had to be
purchased by the Conservators in order that the Common should be
preserved for public enjoyment and spared further exploitation by sand
and gravel excavators.

Chapter 2


Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and the Cranmer family of Mitcham

During the 19th century it was a common misconception that the
Cranmers of Mitcham were descended from Archbishop Thomas
Cranmer who, following the accession of Mary I, was burned at the
stake in Oxford in 1556 for his refusal to renounce Protestantism. Equally
false was another local tradition, dismissed by Robert Masters Chart, a
reliable local historian, as “absolute fiction” and “a mere assumption
due to the name of the house”, that the Archbishop had lived at “The
Cranmers House”.1 Both ideas had already gained popular currency in
the late 18th century, first appearing in print in Edwards’ Companion
from London to Brighthelmston, and one can only assume he heard
the stories when visiting Mitcham in about 1789.2 Later writers kept the
myths alive,3 although the family was well aware that the relationship
was indirect, and that there was no evidence of Thomas Cranmer ever
having lived in Mitcham.4 The concept of the Mitcham Cranmers’ direct
descent from the Archbishop was obviously false for, as Jasper Ridley
makes clear in his biography of Thomas Cranmer, although the
archbishop’s children survived to adult life, his son Thomas “died without
issue in 1598 and Cranmer’s line became extinct”.5

The future archbishop was born on 2 July 1489, at Aslockton,
Nottinghamshire,6 the son of Thomas Cranmer of “Allarton” and Agnes
his wife, daughter of Laurence Hadfield of Willoughby. He married his
first wife, Joan “Dwelling at the Dolphin opposite to John’s Lane”7
whilst still a fellow of St John’s, Cambridge, and was already prominent
amongst the English reformers, although at this time he had not taken
holy orders. Joan died in childbed during their first year of marriage,
and Cranmer married his second wife, Margaret, the daughter of a
Nuremberg brewer, whilst serving as an ambassador in Germany. She
was niece to Osiander, an eminent divine of the German Protestant
Church at Nuremberg, where he was pastor. In spite of his being married,
Cranmer was consecrated Archbishop in 1533 but, to conform outwardly
to the ruling orthodoxy of Henry VIII’s Church, was obliged to keep his
wife and two children, Thomas and Margaret, in hiding.


A few years after Thomas’s martyrdom Margaret Cranmer remarried,
taking as her second husband Edward Whitchurch, a citizen and
haberdasher of London, and a leading Protestant. With Richard Grafton,
Whitchurch had been responsible in 1539 for printing the first authorised
English translation of the Bible – Miles Coverdale’s ‘Great Bible’ –
copies of which had been ordered by Henry to be placed in every parish
church. In 1553 Whitchurch purchased the lordship of the manor of
Morden, the rectory, parsonage and advowson, and took up residence
in the “new buylded mansion house called Growtes”, which stood to the
south of what today is Morden Hall garden centre, off Morden Hall

After the accession of Mary I later that year, Whitchurch, who refused
to give allegiance to the restored Roman Catholic regime, found it prudent
to sell his estate and, with other Protestant reformers, he fled the country
to escape persecution. His marriage to Thomas Cranmer’s widow
probably took place on his return from exile following the accession of
Elizabeth. Whitchurch died in 1561, and is buried at Camberwell.
Margaret survived him, and in 1564 married her third husband,
Bartholomew Scott of Camberwell, a JP for Surrey. It was for the sake
of Cranmer’s children that an act of Parliament was passed in 1562 for
“The Restitution in Blood of the Children of Thomas Cranmer late
Archbishop of Canterbury”. Except in colour, the arms of the Mitcham
Cranmers correspond very closely with those of the Archbishop, a fact
Robert Cranmer’s grandson James (1684-1752) noted in September
1736, when he saw, “at Mr. Roffe (an Attorney at Law)’s House at
Sevenoaks in Kent three coats of arms in painted glass in the Hall
window” which he was given to understand had come from a property
once in the tenure of Thomas Cranmer.

The Cranmer lineage, with as much of the family’s history as he could
trace, was carefully recorded by James Cranmer at the front of a
memorandum and estate book he kept from 1717 until 1749.9 Never
having known his paternal grandparents – both Robert and his wife
Mary had died when James’s father was a boy of 12 – and apparently
conducting his researches some time after his father’s death, James
would have been hampered by the lack of older relatives to consult. It is
not surprising, therefore, to find that his observations are at variance in


several respects with the opinions of genealogists working on the
Cranmer pedigree in the 19th century.10 He does not quote his sources,
but noted that “Edmund Cranmer Sonne of Thomas married Isabell
daughter and heir of Sir Ragnold Allarton of Allarton Knt. Anno Regni
Edw. 3.44”. “John Cranmer, the son of Edmund, married the daughter
of [sic] MarHall de Mutchin”, and James further noted that “Thomas
Cranmer Sonne and heir of John married Agnes daughter of Laurens
Hatfield of Willoughbie Notts and had three sons, John Cranmer, Thomas
Cranmer [the Archbishop] and Edmund Cranmer, Archdeacon of

In a further entry on the same page James reiterates what he understood
to have been the situation, i.e. that the archbishop’s father was “Thomas
Cranmer of Allarton Notts Esq”, and that his mother was Agnes,
daughter of Laurence Hatfield of Willoughby “of like degree and a
gentleman of the same County”. In addition to the three sons, John,
Thomas (the archbishop) and Edmund (the archdeacon), there were
four daughters, Dorothy, Ann, Jane and Isobel. Obviously anxious to
remove any doubt, the descent was stressed finally by being described
in reverse: “The Archbishop’s Great Grandfather Edmund, married
Isobel daughter and heir of William de Allarton, a very ancient family”.
“This Edmund,” James commented, “was alive in the reign of Edw 3”.
In the church of Whatton he noted he had seen “an ancient monument
of an ancester of the Archbishop, a Thomas Cranmer, who died 27
May 1501”. This, James concluded correctly, was the archbishop’s

What James Cranmer failed to demonstrate was the precise relationship
between hisfather John and the archbishop. He does observe, however,
that the archbishop’s elder brother John married Joan, daughter of
“Fletchwick” (actually John Fretcheville Esq. of Staveley – James’s
writing is minute and not too legible) whose grandchild Thomas, great-
nephew of the archbishop, “had none but daughters” (two boys died as
infants). James had nothing to say about John’s sons, which is tantalising,
since it must be here that the connection lay.11

In fact John’s eldest son, Thomas, had nine children, as explained by R
E C Waters, a descendant, in 1878.12 By his first wife, Cecily Quadring,


he had one son, Thomas, in 1529, who was survived by two daughters.
By his second wife, Isabel Morton, he had five more sons and three
daughters. His youngest sons were Edmund, baptised 1 September 1545,
and Robert, baptised 14 February 1546/7, both at Whatton,
Nottinghamshire. (Aslockton is a hamlet in Whatton parish). Edmund’s
eldest son was John, baptised 2 March 1585/6, whom Waters believed
was “the father of Robert Cranmer, who purchased the manor of Mitcham
in Surrey in 1652, and founded a family there”.13

Waters goes on to explain the relationship:

… Edmund, after the death of his wife and the expiration of his
lease at Aslacton [sic], migrated with his children to Chevening,
where he was provided for by his brother Robert. He had two
sons: John … and Thomas, who was a year younger. We know
that Thomas was apprenticed by his father on 18th Nov. 1605 to a
Merchant Taylor of London, and it may therefore be fairly guessed
that John also was apprenticed in London, and that he is the John
Cranmer who was made free of the Clothworker’s Company in
1613. It would be natural enough that the two brothers, after taking
up their freedom respectively, would live together in St Michael-
le-Quern, and that when John had a son born to him in 1617 he
christened him by the name of his father’s favourite brother. If
this identification be true, John Cranmer was 33 years old when
his son Robert was born, and 60 years old when he died.14

In a letter to an unnamed correspondent written in January 1896 William
F J Simpson, whose paternal grandfather had married into the Cranmer
family, referred to Waters’s book Genealogical Memoirs of the
Kindred families of Thomas Cranmer Archbishop of Canterbury

…, a copy of which was in his possession, and which contained “an
exhaustive history of the various branches of the Cranmer family”.
Simpson asserted that he had always understood that the “Cranmers of
Mitcham are descended from the Archbishop’s elder brother John
Cranmer and I think it is definitely proved that the Archbishop’s son
and daughter, Thomas and Margaret, died without issue while another
daughter died unmarried”.4 One cannot help wondering if the Simpson
family’s conversion to Roman Catholicism half a century before William


was writing, and a wish to distance his line from the taint of heresy, may
have spurred him to refute the Cranmer family tradition so vehemently.

The common urge to associate old buildings with colourful figures of
the past, coupled with local ignorance of the facts, is of course hard to
suppress, and yet another myth, associating the Archbishop with the old
farm house known as ‘Henmans’ or ‘Rumbolds’ in Carshalton Road,
was afforded unwarranted currency by Edward Walford in his Greater
London, published in 1883/4. He gave no source for his information,
and the story is completely uncorroborated.15 Without something more
convincing, it would certainly be wise to regard the idea as a typical
manifestation of Victorian romanticism and writer’s licence, to be treated
with caution if not outright scepticism.

The Civil War and its aftermath

The steady decline of the old feudal structure of society, which had
been a feature of the 16th century, was replaced in the 17th by a growing
sense of individualism both in religion and politics. Influenced inevitably
by their proximity to the capital, the villagers of north-eastern Surrey
found themselves in the van of social and economic change. In the
country at large, changes in the ownership of land as a direct result of
the Civil War during the 1640s were remarkably few. Locally, the fortunes
of the large landowning families were somewhat mixed, and reflected
national divisions of allegiance.

The Garths of Morden supported Parliament, and survived the upheaval
with their lands intact. Sir Henry Burton, who was lord of the manor of
Carshalton and had been created a Knight of the Bath in 1603, prospered
like the rest of the Burton family during the reign of James I. His readiness
to assist his sovereign, however, was to place him in serious financial
difficulties soon after Charles I’s accession, and by 1642 Henry’s
remaining lands were mortgaged, and his fraudulent attempts to raise
further capital were the subject of complaint to the chancery court. Sir
Henry paid more heavily than many for his support of the Royalist cause,
and when he died in 1645 the Burton family fortunes were in ruins.1

The Carews of Beddington were only marginally more successful than
the Burtons in their efforts to retain hold of their estates, and like other
royalist supporters were penalised by sequestration or heavy fines and


obliged either to sell or mortgage much of their property. In 1646 Edmund
Carew sold the “Parsonage House etc.” [i.e. The Canons] in Mitcham
to Richard Surman, whose son disposed of the property to John Swift
and John Morris in 1659.2

Thus it was that Thomas Hamond of Byfleet, from whom Robert
Cranmer acquired a substantial portion of his estate, held the manor of
Mitcham, the rectory and the advowson by way of mortgage from the
Carews. Hamond may have been a lawyer, or perhaps a goldsmith, for
in the absence of a banking system goldsmiths of the City often acted
as moneylenders and financiers, or dealt in real estate, as we have seen
in the case of Lawrence Warren from whom Nicholas Burton purchased
lordship of the manor and the parsonage house a century previously.
Whatever his profession, Hamond typifies the class of land and property
speculators who reaped a rich harvest in the decade before the
Restoration. Ralph Trattle, from whom Cranmer also bought land and
buildings in Mitcham in 1652, together with a right of common, had only
acquired the property himself three years previously,3 and sold it after
building a large house on the site of a cottage which had been demolished.
Thomas Hopkins, another party to these transactions, was merely styled
“of London”. On the other hand, Richard Knepp, who sold land to
Cranmer in 1654, was of a local family, for he bears the surname of a
Mitcham property owner to be found in the lay subsidy rolls of 1593 and
1594,4 and was himself in occupation of the ‘Parsonage House’ in 1646.

Robert Cranmer (1617–1666)

In Mitcham and its neighbouring parishes in the Wandle valley a
particularly noteworthy feature of the period both before and after the
Civil War was the growth of the textile bleaching industry, brought to
this country by Dutch Protestant refugees during the closing years of
Elizabeth I’s reign, which expanded steadily in the succeeding century.1
Unbleached fabrics were imported from the Indian sub-continent and
elsewhere through London merchants, and after treatment by ‘whitsters’
were either sold bleached, or passed to the dyers, ‘painters’ or printers
for further processing. Towards the close of the 17th century the Wandle
began to play an increasingly important role in this industry, both as a
source of water for washing the fabrics during the course of bleaching
and printing, and as a means of power, notably for driving the logwood


mills which produced the dyes. It may be more than a coincidence that
the land in Mitcham bought by Robert Cranmer, who had amassed a
fortune during his service with the East India Company, included a
considerable acreage of riverside land then used as bleaching grounds.
We lack any evidence to link Robert Cranmer the merchant with the
local textile processing industry, but certainly by the 18th century his
grandson James, who inherited the estate, was deriving a useful income
from the rent of a colour mill and a bleaching works, situated on what is
now the Willow Lane industrial estate.2

Robert Cranmer, the son of John Cranmer, citizen and merchant of
Paternoster Row and Anne (née Gravener) his wife, was born in 1617
and baptized on 11 May.3 We know nothing of his early life, but he was
evidently sent abroad as quite a young man, and spent some ten years
in the capacity of agent or factor for the East India Company, mostly in
Basra, where he acquired a fluency in Arabic. Cranmer seems to have
had an adventurous tour of duty, at one point nearly losing his life when
attacked by rival Dutch merchants, and he left the Company a highly
esteemed employee.4

In January 1646 Robert was at “Sherratt”, described as being in the
East Indies, but probably Surat, north of Bombay, where under the
early Stuarts the East India Company had established a small trading
station.5 On the 21st he wrote to his mother, Mrs Anne Cranmer, “at
the ‘Blew Bell’, at the Upper End of Cheapside, St Paul’s Gate,
London”, promising to return home the following year (his father had
died in October 1644).6 Robert kept his word, and within three years
had married Mary Whitwell, daughter of a city gentleman, then a girl
of 17 or 18 years of age. Robert Cranmer obviously had a respectable
fortune at his disposal, for the house he purchased in Mitcham in 1652
was substantial, and the estate extensive. Whether this money came
entirely from his trading activities in India, or partly as an inheritance
or dowry, we have no knowledge. In fact, with so little biographical
information one is left to speculate on his motives in settling in Mitcham.7
The opportunity afforded by property for sale no doubt played a part,
to which we can add the understandable wish to settle in pleasant
surroundings and to raise a family but, as a successful merchant and
a member of one the great City companies, Cranmer would also have


aspired to the undoubted social status conferred by the possession of
houses and land.

A number of Puritan merchants and Cromwellian officers bought land
for a song during the revolutionary heyday and the acute depression
which followed the end of the Civil War, and managed to retain their
estates after the Restoration. Like the majority of London merchants
Robert Cranmer would probably have supported Parliament rather than
the King, albeit with some reluctance, but nothing much has survived to
indicate his real political inclinations. A tenant of one of the larger
properties he acquired in Mitcham was Sir Robert Tichborne, a prominent
member of the Cromwellian hierarchy and a signatory of Charles I’s
death warrant,8 but this was probably mere coincidence and Tichborne’s
departure from Mitcham by 1659 cannot be interpreted as evidence of
animosity between them. It would seem, however, that Cranmer was a
moderate, not only in politics but also in his religious leanings,
demonstrating his preference for conformity when, as patron of the
living, he presented a royalist and supporter of the Church of England to
the vicarage of Mitcham in 1661.

Amongst merchants and professional men with connections in the City,
Mitcham had for many years enjoyed a popularity as a healthy country
retreat within easy reach of town. With no banks as we know them,
and no stock market, the customary investment of surplus capital was
in the purchase of houses and land, to which the buying and selling of
leases added a source of income and an element of speculation. Until
evidence is forthcoming of any ancestral link with the village, it is therefore
probably best to see Robert Cranmer’s acquisition of an estate in
Mitcham as fortuitous, and part of a continuing trend, aided by, rather
than a direct outcome of, the disruption caused by the Civil War and its

Cranmer’s ventures into the property market had commenced around
1652 with the purchase from Ralph Trattle of a ‘capital messuage’ and
47 acres of land in Mitcham. Further houses and land were acquired in
the years that followed, and by 1660 Cranmer was established as the
squire of Mitcham, patron of the parish church and a major landowner
in the village. He thus secured for himself and his family a position of


pre-eminence in local society which they and their descendants were to
retain for the next 250 years.

Cranmer’s purchase in 1653 of a pew “under the pulpit” in the parish
church indicates that he and his young wife Mary had taken up residence
in the village within a year of purchasing the house built by Trattle.9
Militia levy assessment books,10 beginning in 1655, confirm that their
new house was substantial – contemporary records describe it as a
‘mansion’ – and the 1664 hearth tax records prove it to have been one
of the largest in Mitcham, with a total of 15 hearths.11 It is depicted
overlooking the Common in the two sketch maps drawn by Cranmer’s
grandson James in 1703 and 1717, the later map indicating the formal
planting of trees on the green immediately opposite the house, to which
we have referred earlier.

Robert and Mary had wasted little time in starting a family, and by the
time they settled in Mitcham Mary had a three-year-old daughter
Elizabeth, and two little boys, Robert and John, the latter a babe in
arms. A new wing was added to the house, and five more brothers
were to arrive at roughly yearly intervals. By 1660, when the seventh
son, James, was born, the household must have been a lively one. In the
14 or so years that the Cranmers lived at their Mitcham house many
events occurred calling for family rejoicing, such as the wedding in
1658 of Anne, Robert’s sister, to a neighbour, Nathaniel Wyche, who
was President of the East India Company. Wyche’s house in Lower
Mitcham seems to have been built only a short time before the marriage
on land purchased by Cranmer in 1654-5. It was not, however, occupied
for long by the newly-weds, who are believed to have moved to Kent,
and it was eventually purchased by Henry Hampson, another city
merchant, of whom more later.

An inventory of Robert Cranmer’s “goods Cattle and Chattles” compiled
in March 1665 (old style – 1666 by today’s calendar) makes interesting
reading, and provides a glimpse of the furnishings and accommodation
whilst the family were in residence.12 Six principal bedrooms are
mentioned, with names such as “Mrs. Dorothy’s Chamber,” the “White
Chamber” and others described as red, black and white, purple and
“striped”. In each case the name was obviously inspired by the


predominant colour of the soft furnishings. There were tester beds with
quilts and valances in several of the rooms; additional colour and warmth
was given to floors of the more important chambers by rugs and, in one
case a “Turkey carpet”, whilst the window curtains were of holland or
calico. Mention of fire-irons in most of the rooms shows they were
individually heated by open fireplaces, and other items, such as tapestries,
black (lacquered) cabinets, mirrors, couches, stools and so on convey
an impression of wealth and comfort. In addition to the bedchambers
on the upper floors there was a nursery and a maids’ bedroom, several
closets and a “Garrat”, where further beds listed were probably for the
use of other servants.

On the ground floor were the great and little parlours – the former
furnished with an oval table and twelve chairs “of Persia worke”
(embroidered to imitate tapestry), a court cupboard and side board, a
clock, a pair of “Playing Tables”, and brass fire-irons. On the floor was

The Cranmers, photograph of the front of the house c.1900,
probably taken by Tom Francis, reproduced by courtesy of
Merton Library & Heritage Service


a velvet carpet. The little parlour, in which the chairs and stools were in
“Turkey worke”, was similarly furnished, although perhaps on a more
modest scale. The six “Elbow chairs and six backstools” in the tapestry-
hung dining room were “of India”, and the rest of the furniture, including
cabinets and mirrors, were in keeping with the owner’s standing and
most likely acquired during his career abroad. The hall, which the visitor
first entered, contained a “Long Table and two Leather Carpetts”, a
reading desk and various other smaller items of furniture. On the walls
hung 18 pictures, and Cranmer’s collection of souvenirs from his service
in the Gulf, including an “India bow and arrows”, a buckler, three “India
Belts”, various articles in silverware, five pistols, two lances and “some
old armour”. The general effect must have been quite impressive.

The domestic offices at what was known as The Rectory comprised a
counting house or estate office, a kitchen, a wash-house, a dairy with
cellarage, and a brewhouse. A coach and four horses were kept in the
stables, and in other outbuildings could be found the equipment of the
farm, including plough, harrows and various carts and tackle. The
livestock listed in the inventory shows very clearly that the house was
served by something much more than a ‘hobby farm’, for in addition to
six cows and two yearlings, Cranmer had a flock of 75 ewes and wethers,
and 35 lambs.

As a relative newcomer to the village, the new squire seems to have
been not altogether welcomed by the inhabitants, some of whom were
even hostile, and the contemporary quarter sessions afford several
tantalising glimpses of the difficulties which Cranmer encountered when
attempting to bring some of the local villains to book. At the general
sessions held at Dorking in 1661, having, as he alleged, had “divers
goods and chattels” stolen from him, and suspecting “divers of the
inhabitants of Mitcham”, he procured justice’s warrants for the
apprehension of the suspects. The warrants were delivered to Henley,
the part-time parish constable, but this officer had been so neglectful
and remiss in their execution that Cranmer had been unable to prosecute.
The bench, on hearing Cranmer’s complaint, ordered the high constable
of Wallington to apprehend Henley and to take him before a justice of
the peace to be bound over to appear at the next quarter sessions to
answer for his contempt.13


Presumably by 1 June 1661 the warrants had been served, for Smith, a
“cordwainer” or shoemaker, was bound over in his own surety of £20,
with William Bond a carpenter of Mitcham and James Smith, also a
shoemaker, of Beddington standing surety for him in the sums of £10
each to appear at a later date and answer the charge of receiving corn
stolen out of Robert Cranmer’s barn at Mitcham, and of receiving into
his house John Cherrington “the fellon” late of Mitcham, a labourer,
“now a prisoner in the Gaol”. Cranmer himself was bound over in the
sum of £40 to appear later to give evidence in the prosecution of the
pair. At the same session Richard ‘Costen’ was bound over to answer
the charge of stealing an iron mattock worth 8d from Cranmer’s barn,
and Richard ‘Costead’ for stealing a mattress. When his case came
before the midsummer sessions Costen pleaded not guilty, and placed
himself at the mercy of the Court. The penalty imposed is not recorded,
and we are also left ignorant of the outcome of Cranmer’s charges
against Smith, Costead and Cherrington.

Robert and Mary Cranmer were granted only a few years more in
which to enjoy their new surroundings and sadly, as we shall see below,
even these were marred by a bitter dispute with Anthony Sadler, the
vicar of Mitcham. The year of the great plague of London, 1665, was to
bring tragedy to the Cranmers, and on 23 April, towards the end of what
had been an exceptionally cold winter, Mary Cranmer died, aged only

31. Two days later, in the presence of her seven young sons, she was
buried in the chancel at Mitcham “where the Communion table stands”.6
According to Manning and Bray, in the chancel of the old parish church,
at the east end, there was a square painted framed tablet, inscribed
“Nere this place lyeth interred Mary, late wife of Robert Cranmer of
London, marchant. She was daughter of Laurence Whifmell [sic],
Alderman’s Deputy; she died on the 23d of April, ao 1665, leaving behind
her seaven sonnes”.14 The memorial was removed when the old church
was demolished before rebuilding in 1819 and was not replaced.
The cause of Mary Cranmer’s death is not known, but pneumonic plague
seems the most likely explanation. The following 20 February, Robert
Cranmer himself was buried “in his own chancel in Mitcham”. Manning
and Bray make no mention of there being a monument to his memory,
but it is unlikely his grave was unmarked. Cranmer would have spent


much of his time at his chambers in Leadenhall, where he was at
considerable risk of succumbing to the infection, but the cause of his
death is not recorded in the burial register. According to Waters, however,
it was the plague. Lysons observed that the 21 burials in Mitcham that
year did not exceed the average for the period. Nevertheless the village
was not entirely free of the plague, a man and his four sons “who died
of the sickness” being buried in one night.15

Robert Cranmer’s contemporaries
Anthony Sadler – A “Turbulent Priest”

It has been said that in many parishes the local historian can find the
latter part of the Civil War and its immediate aftermath a rather difficult
period in which to study the fortunes of the parish church. Mitcham is
no exception, although it seems better served than many. We are
therefore unable to say exactly how long the Revd Norris Buckock
MA, who was inducted in 1638/9 under the patronage of Sir Nicholas
Carew, remained at Mitcham, but he seems to have continued to be a
parishioner throughout the civil war and into the interregnum, and was
still attending meetings of the vestry as late as 1654. This is in contrast
to the situation in Surrey as a whole, where many of the county’s clergy
were deprived of their livings by Parliament, and a Presbyterian system
was decreed in 1646 under which, four years later, parishes were required
to elect elders and ministers.

Whilst we may remain uncertain of Robert Cranmer’s political affiliation,
it is obvious that he took very seriously his duty, as patron of the living,
to maintain the discipline of the Church, and was generous in the financial
assistance he gave to distressed and sequestered clergy. The first
incumbent he presented to the benefice was George Weldon, in
Cranmer’s words “a very able and orthodox divine”, who was instituted
on 1 October 1658. For reasons of which we cannot be sure, Weldon’s
ministry was of short duration, and following the Restoration two years
later Cranmer exercised his patronage again, this time presenting
Anthony Sadler BA, an avowed Royalist and Anglican, to the vicarage.
The choice was not a happy one, however, and the parish entered a
very trying period.


Anthony Sadler had an extraordinary, perhaps psychopathic, personality
and his arrival in Mitcham at this difficult period in the history of the
Church must have been traumatic and deeply disturbing for all
concerned. He was born in 1610, the son of Thomas Sadler of Chilton,
Wiltshire, and entered St Edmund’s Hall, Oxford, in 1627. There he
obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree and was admitted to holy orders
in 1631. Within a short time he obtained a post as chaplain to a gentleman
in Hertfordshire, and at the outbreak of the Civil War was a curate at
Bishopstoke in Hampshire. Sadler subsequently became chaplain to Lady
Letitia Paget, an elderly dowager, and remained with her until her death
in 1654. The farewell sermon he preached at her house, entitled
‘Benedictio, Valedictio’ or ‘The Remembrance of thy Friend, and thy
End’ on 2 Cor. xiii 11, was published in 1655.1

Following Lady Letitia’s death, Sadler was presented to the living of
Compton Hayway in Dorset but, presumably because of his adherence
to the Church of England, and since this was during the Protectorate of
Cromwell, he failed to pass scrutiny by the ‘Triers’ at Whitehall – the
Commissioners for the Approbation of Ministers who were, of course,
Presbyterians or Puritans. Incensed at this denial of an opportunity to
continue his career in the Church, Sadler wrote and published in 1654
an attack on the Triers, whom he called ‘The English Inquisition’. This
was subsequently refuted in a tract, attributed to John Nye BA of
Magdalen College, clerk to the Commissioners. Its picturesque title
discloses the nature of its contents: “Mr. Anthony Sadler examined, or
his disguise discovered; shewing the gross mistakes and most notorious
falsehoods in his dealings with the Commissioners for approbation of
public preachers in his Inquisitio Anglicana …”.

In 1648 Sadler was the author of an elegy, ‘The loyall Mourner’, which
he printed, dedicated and presented to King Charles II on his accession
in 1660. Sadler was also the author of a ‘Divine Masque’, published in
London in 1660, dedicated to Lord General Monck, who had been largely
responsible for Charles II’s return to England. At about the time of the
Restoration Sadler, in a state of great poverty and “well stockt with
Wife and Children”, was presented by Robert Cranmer to the vicarage
of Mitcham, after having what was described as “birded” for a spiritual
benefice or living. Charles entered London on 28 May 1660, and on 28


June Sadler preached at Mitcham to a solemn congregation, taking as
his text Matthew viii 25: “And His disciples came to Him and awoke
Him, saying Lord, save us; we perish”. His sermon ‘Mercy in a Miracle,

– shewing the Deliverance and Duty of the King and People’ called
upon his listeners “to support the Restoration of his Majesty to the royal
Throne”, and was published as a pamphlet in 1661. Sadler had now
reached the peak of his career. Reinstated in his calling, returned to the
favour of the establishment, he was soon to be awarded a doctorate of
divinity and the appointment as Chaplain Extraordinary to his Majesty.
Sadler’s approbation sermon at Mitcham was well received both by
Cranmer and the parishioners, and he was formally instituted and inducted
at Mitcham in November 1661. Conscious that the living was only worth
£40 per annum, (Sadler had readily accepted this when seeking the
appointment) Cranmer sought to make amends by inviting the vicar
daily to his own house and table, and providing him with “wood, Coale
and other necessaries … at his own Charge” and “Cordials and other
Physick in times of sickness”. Before long, however, Sadler was in
bitter dispute with his patron, and by his behaviour was also making
himself thoroughly objectionable to the parishioners. The weight of
evidence which survives, in the form of pamphlets published by the two
parties to the dispute, suggests that our sympathy should lie with Cranmer,
and that theology played little or no part in the conflict between them.

Sadler’s royalist sympathies and religious philosophy must have been
well-known to Cranmer from the outset and were, we have to assume,
acceptable to his patron. It is likely, nevertheless, that some of the
parishioners tended towards Presbyterianism, and the troubles which
soon arose between Sadler and his congregation could in part have
been attributable to radically differing theological attitudes as well as to
Sadler’s personality and demeanour. A contemporary account of Sadler’s
conduct in Mitcham leaves the reader in no doubt as to the main cause
of the profound discontent and disapproval felt by the parish;

… they [i.e. the parishioners] estrange themselves from the said
Anthony Sadler, and do adhere to Mr. Cranmer, … and they have
no more to do with him than to hear him in the Pulpit; where
Anthony Sadler Acts his Part most Rarely … Extolling himself


and Reproaching his Parishioners. But you shall see by his
Practice, what a Dutiful Son of the Church he is; It was observed
by some Persons who had been at Mitcham but three Sundays
that two of those days Anthony Sadler Read Prayers without a
Surplice and frequently Baptizeth Children without it, and Preacht
in his Cloak both forenoon and after-noon; oftentimes neglects
the Duty of his Place, four or five Sundays together. Some Sundays
when the Bells have Assembled the People, his Maid is sent to
the Clarke to Dismiss them; either because it is Cold Weather
and the Vicar loves his Bed well, or else he is straggling Abroad
where he is not to be found … And yet they [the parishioners]
must come to hear him, else to the Bishop’s Court he goes,
Presents them and troubles them with Citations. Witness Mr.
Cranmer his Patron, whom he Presented to an Excommunication
for not coming to Mitcham Church when the Gentleman is usually
at his house in London upon those days: if any chance but once
to sit with his Hatt on, though he be at the time indisposed in
Health yet he shall taste of the same sauce, Witness Sr. William
Green of Mitcham, Baronet, who for such an Offence Anthony
Sadler caused to be cited unto the Bishop’s Court by the name
and Stile of William Green, Brewer, of Westminster; Edward
Brigstock one of the Church-Wardens of the Parish of Mitcham
this Anthony Sadler presented because he would not Present
what and whom he pleased, and caused the said Edward Brigstock
to be Excommunicated thereupon; upon the Weekdays you shall
find this Anthony Sadler in the Ale-House Drinking and Wantonly
Discoursing of Women beyond all Bounds of Civility, or Railing
against his Patron, or Enticing poor People to Subscribe their
Hands, or set their Marks to some stuff that Anthony Sadler hath
prepared and drawn up before hand against his Patron; or telling
strange stories of himself, of his Sufferings, and of his Learned
Works, in which Discourse must be brought in by Head and
Shoulders, the Inquisitio Anglicana, which Anthony Sadler calls
his, though many have affirmed that it was not his, but made at a
Club of Divines, and that Anthony Sadler being the Boldest and
most Confidentest of them, did first Adventure to Print it.


Thus you may see how Arrogantly Anthony Sadler Imps his Wings
with other Mens Feathers, and has not the Ingenuity of the Prophet
to say, Alas it was borrowed; We need not mention his frequent
Swearing by the Name and Attributes of God, his Drunkenness,
and other of his Personal Vices, which declare him not to be a
Moral Man …2

It was customary for Puritans to wear their hats at worship and Sadler’s
sharp reaction to Sir William Green’s apparent assertion of dissent is
not perhaps altogether surprising. It had been in reaction to the harsh
Puritanism of the Commonwealth and the Protectorate that the ‘Cavalier’
Parliament of 1661 under Edward Hyde, earl of Clarendon and chief
advisor to the king, passed a series of repressive acts with the object of
severely curtailing the power and freedom of nonconformists, and of
enforcing adherence to the liturgy of the Church of England. Known as
the Clarendon Code, the legislation included the Act of Uniformity of
1662, which required all ministers of the Church to renounce the Solemn
League and Covenant of 1643 under which, at the outbreak of the Civil
War, Parliament had adopted Presbyterianism as the form of worship in
England and Scotland. About one fifth of the English clergy refused to
take the oath required, and some 2,000 ministers of good repute were
ejected from their livings. Sadler was clearly not amongst them, and
proclaiming that he was “for the Liturgie of the Church of England”,
Sadler constantly reproached his parishioners, accusing them of being
in the Covenant, and for Presbytery, rather than the episcopacy of the
re-established church.

It is far less easy to understand the reasons for Sadler’s extraordinary
actions against his patron, which soured disastrously the relationship
between them. It is probable that initially the dilapidated condition of the
incumbent’s house might have been a potential cause of friction, although
measures were in hand for its rebuilding. The vicarage had been “inhabited
by diverse of his [i.e. Sadler’s] Predecessors before him for many years”
and was, one assumes, the same ‘parsonage house’ which had been
amongst the property sold by Sir Henry Burton of Carshalton to Sir
Nicholas Carew in 1612.3 It is mentioned again in various deeds of sale
etc. until 1661, when it finally passed into Cranmer’s ownership. As we


have observed in an earlier chapter, until the Dissolution the advowson
of Mitcham was in the possession of the prior and convent of St Mary
Overy at Southwark, who also owned land and various buildings in the
parish. At least one of the latter occupied the site on which The Canons
stands today, and comprised part of the estate purchased by Cranmer.4
It is quite feasible therefore that the dwelling provided for Sadler and
his family had been used by the vicars of Mitcham since the time of
Henry VIII, if not before, and had been built originally to provide
accommodation for the canons. If this was the case, by the mid-17th
century it would have been a very old building and, given a likely period
of neglect during the Civil War, was quite understandably in some

Sadler was invited to take up residence at the parsonage on his institution
in 1661, and fully accepted its condition. He was, moreover, aware of
his patron’s intention to repair. However, he had not long settled in
Mitcham before learning that some £40 had been subscribed by
parishioners towards the expense of repairing and rebuilding the
vicarage. He sought legal opinion and was advised to claim the money,
and to commence a suit in the prerogative court against his patron for
dilapidations. Cranmer, who was generally regarded as the wronged
party, found himself so maligned by Sadler and his counsel when the
case came before the Court of Arches that he filed suits against them
both in the Borough court at Southwark. The vicar, unable to provide
bail, was held in prison overnight. Next day he and Cranmer agreed
terms of reconciliation, one of which was that Sadler should resign the
vicarage and living by 10 April 1665, and he entered into a bond of £500
for that purpose. Expressing due repentance, he was released from
prison and returned to Mitcham where he preached a sermon entitled
‘How happy and pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in

It was not long, however, before Sadler had a change of heart, repudiated
the agreement, and began proceedings afresh. As a result, he found
himself threatened with the penalty of the bond. By 1664 matters had
come to a head, and Sadler published a pamphlet entitled ‘Strange News
indeed, from Mitcham in Surrey, of the treacherous and barbarous


Proceedings of Robert Cranmer, merchant of London, against Anthony
Sadler, Vicar of Mitcham …’. Cranmer was accused of many cruel and
unjust persecutions of the vicar, particularly of throwing him into prison,
and inducing him, under false pretences, to give a bond for £500 which
threatened himself and his family with ruin. Cranmer responded with a
letter and petition to the bishop of Winchester, setting out the facts of
the case. He followed this in 1665 with a long pamphlet entitled ‘Mr
Sadler Saddled’, published in vindication of his conduct and refuting the
wild accusations being made against him.

Robert Cranmer’s death in February 1665/6 brought the sordid little
affair to a premature end. Sadler failed to honour his agreement, for he
did not resign until 1669 on becoming vicar of a parish in Wiltshire. He
died in 1680, at the age of 70, leaving behind him, in the words of a
contemporary, “the character of a man of a rambling head, and a turbulent
spirit”.5 John Berrow MA, his successor at Mitcham, was instituted on
18 February 1670 under the patronage of Henry Hampson, acting for
trustees of the Cranmer estate.

Sir William Greene

Sir William Greene, who was created a baronet in 1664,1 is one of
several distinguished people living in Mitcham soon after the Restoration
the sites of whose houses have yet to be identified with certainty, although
a case can be made for Sir William’s seat being to the south of the
Upper or Fair Green.2 Sir William is therefore a gentleman for whom a
place must certainly be found in the history of Mitcham, and these notes
on Cranmer’s associates provide as good a place as any in which to
relate what is known about him.

Sir William’s retirement to Mitcham with his second wife, Elizabeth,
and his only daughter Gertrude seems to have taken place in about
1664, and there is an account of the move to Mitcham which asserts
that it was “in the company of Mr. Cranmer, lord of the manor”.3 One
would expect the country house built or chosen for retirement by a
wealthy city business man – Sir William was the proprietor of a
Westminster brewing firm which had been in his family’s hands for 250
years – to be substantial and in a choice position. The hearth tax returns
for 1664 certainly confirm Sir William’s house to have been relatively


large, for its 13 hearths imply a level of comfort and size which it shared
with only nine other important houses in the village at this time.4 The
contemporary militia tax records provide further evidence of its size
with a similarly high valuation.5

Plague was endemic in 17th-century London, and many of the more
wealthy city merchants and professional men, like Sir William and Robert
Cranmer, looked to the villages of north-east Surrey for a place of retreat
both for themselves and their families. No doubt for this reason Mitcham,
blessed with a good water supply and exposed to fresh breezes from
the wide expanse of heathland to the south and south-east, became “a
Village well inhabited by the Citizens of London”,6 and in the Index
Villaris, published in 1680, “Micham” is described as “containing the
seats of one baronet, one knight, and more than three gentlemen
authorised to bear arms”.7 With congenial company never far away,
life must have been pleasant indeed for those with wealth and influence.

The Greenes were from an old Northamptonshire family who came to
London in the Middle Ages.3 In 1420 Thomas Greene became a master
of the Brewers’ Company, the family at this time being concerned in
the running of the brewhouse and bakehouse of the Abbey of
Westminster within Broad Sanctuary. They were also well connected,
(Catherine Parr was a daughter of Matilda Greene of Greene’s Norton,
Northants) and survived the vicissitudes of the Tudor period. In 1607,
following the death of William Greene, the family extended the business
into Pimlico, building the brewery which in 1641 William’s grandson,
also called William, named after the stag in the family’s coat of arms.3
Born in the early years of the 17th century, this latter William stood for
the King at the outbreak of the Civil War, enlisting in 1646 as a captain
in the Royalist army. He was subsequently promoted to the rank of
major. After the death of the King, William Greene returned to civilian
life, becoming churchwarden of St Margarets, Westminster, in 1652
and serving with his cousin John Greene as overseer of the poor in
1657. On the accession of Charles II William received a knighthood
and, as we have seen, was created a baronet on 2 November 1664. His
unfortunate brush with the vicar, Anthony Sadler, has been mentioned
already, but the outcome of the action threatened against him for alleged


blasphemy is not known. In view of Sir William’s standing in the
community it seems more than likely that the matter was not proceeded
with. It is understood that he served as a sheriff of Surrey for the year
1667/68, probably as deputy to Sir Richard Stydolph of Norbury.8

Gertrude Greene, Sir William’s sole daughter and heir, married William
Peck of Stamford Hall, Essex, the son and heir of Edward Peck,
serjeant-at-law.6 The re-direction of the Greene family’s interests
towards East Anglia, and the absence of any other children who might
have continued the family’s association with Mitcham, provides an
adequate explanation for their disappearance from local records towards
the close of the 17th century.

The Hampsons (1653–1703)

With both parents dead, Robert and Mary Cranmer’s property passed
in trust to their seven little boys, the eldest of whom was only 13 years
of age and the youngest barely five. Henry Hampson, whom Cranmer
described as “my good friend and neighbour”, emerges from the
somewhat meagre local history records we have inherited from the late
17th century as one of the executors of the will.

According to Woodhead Henry Hampson had been apprenticed to
William Rice of Newgate Market in 1627 and became a member of the
Merchant Taylors’ Company.1 His wife Ann seems to have been a
daughter of Elizabeth and Edward Dudson, another London merchant,
but so far this has not been verified. Hampson was elected in 1662 to
represent the ward of Farringdon Within on the Court of Common
Council of the City of London, and became an alderman in January
1663/4. The same year he was appointed Master of the Merchant
Taylors’ Company. In a marriage settlement of March 1663/4, made
before the marriage of his eldest son Thomas, Hampson was styled as
‘of Oundle’ where, presumably he had an estate.2 For reasons which
need to be clarified, Henry Hampson only served six months on the
bench of aldermen, being discharged in June 1664. There is mention of
his being fined £420, and one suspects this may have been imposed for
non-compliance with the Act of Uniformity. In support of this theory,
there is a record of 1668 which notes that Hampson was the landlord of
the Quakers’ Meeting House in Aldersgate Street. If he was a member


of the Society of Friends Hampson is likely to have absented himself
from services of the Church of England, for which misdemeanour he
would certainly have been liable to prosecution. Furthermore, such failure
to observe the statute was commonly considered to show contempt for
the King and to be ‘against the peace’. A man guilty of such offences
could hardly have continued to serve on the aldermanic bench, and
discharge would have followed automatically. Whether or not this is in
fact what happened, Henry Hampson apparently enjoyed the trust of
Robert Cranmer, for, acting as patron of the living in the years following
Cranmer’s death, he presented John Berrow MA to the vicarage of
Mitcham in 1669.3

The first evidence of Henry Hampson in Mitcham is in a deed of l
October 1653 by which, as “a citizen and merchant taylor of London”,
he concluded the purchase of a number of tenements and small parcels
of land in Great, Little and Long Thornton, the west field or Blacklands,
and Fleming Mead and Bolstead.4 The other party to the transaction
was William Pitchford, citizen and haberdasher of London. Between
1654 and 1657 Hampson was involved in the transfer of a mortgage
and subsequently the sale of the White Hart inn in Mitcham to Robert
Cranmer5 and in March 1663/4 we find him in occupation of the newly-
built “mansion house” in Mitcham “with barns, stables, orchards, gardens
and courtyards, until late occupied by Robert Wych of London, merchant”,
Cranmer’s brother-in-law.6 Like Cranmer, Hampson seems to have been
actively investing in real estate during the Commonwealth, and by the
1660s had purchased a little over 100 acres of land scattered throughout
the parish.

The militia levy assessments for 1655–16807 confirm that Hampson’s
house in Mitcham was substantial, for with its grounds it was valued at
£40 per annum, which was comparatively high for the village. Further
testimony to its size is provided by the hearth tax return of 1664, which
shows that with 12 hearths it was amongst the top ten houses in the
parish (in order of size) out of a total of 184 chargeable properties.8
From the position of the entry in the militia levy books it is evident that
Hampson’s house stood on the eastern side of the highway leading
south from Lower Mitcham Green to the river Wandle. Moreover, its


position relative to what remained of another property, identifiable as
Sir Julius Caesar’s Tudor ‘mansion house’, purchased by Cranmer in
1654, is a strong indication that it must have been the mid-17th century
house known in later years as Mitcham Hall.9

Henry Hampson and his wife Ann had two sons, Thomas and Henry,
about whom a little is known. In 1663/4 Thomas, a citizen of London
and member both of the Merchant Taylors’ and the Haberdashers’
companies, married his cousin Sarah, daughter of Thomas Dudson of
Berkshire and St George, Southwark, and Alice Ironmonger.1 Henry
Hampson senior marked the event with a settlement of property in favour
of the young couple,2 but they did not make Mitcham their home.

Henry, the other son, became a member of the Merchant Taylors in
1663, joined the East India Company, and had an address in Bull and
Mouth Street, Aldersgate, in 1677.1 During the late 1680s he seems to
have been the tenant of Ravensbury manor house, owned by Sir Nicholas
Carew of Beddington and attractively situated on the banks of the Wandle.
The evidence comes from an undated but late 17th-century rental of
the manor which lists “Henry Hampson Esq” as being in possession of
the “Mansion howse called Ravensbury, One Dovehouse, One great
Barne, a Storehouse, a Stable, Two gardens, two Orchards” and some
90 acres of land in Mitcham.10 He died on 25 March 1691, aged 48, and
lies interred in a vault beneath the floor of the north aisle of Mitcham
parish church, where a black marble ledger stone to his memory could
be seen until a new raised floor was laid in 1991.11

Henry Hampson senior’s Mitcham house was leased or let to various
tenants after 1668.7 The implication is that by this time he had ceased to
live in the parish, and he is said to have died in 1677 in Throckmorton
[sic] Street12 where, presumably, he had a town house. The latest
Mitcham militia tax book to survive is for 1680, which hampers further
research, but, as his elder son, Thomas, had died in 1676, ownership of
the family house evidently passed to Henry, the second son. (Thomas
is described in the index of Peterborough Consistory Court wills at
Northampton Record Office as ‘of Uppingham’.) The parish register
of Oundle shows that Henry Hamson [sic] married Jemima Marsh of
Oundle in August 1688, and in 1703 the “messuage and lands formerly


the property of Henry Hampson of Mitcham”, were sold by Jemima
Hampson (by this time a widow) and Robert Marsh, ‘gentleman’, both
of Oundle, Northants. The buyer was William Brown, a merchant of
London.13 Jemima Hampson ‘of Oundle’ had died by November 1729,
when an administrative bond was entered at the Peterborough court.

The fortunes of the Cranmer family between 1665 and 1705

As we have seen, the period 1665/6 was one of great sadness for the
Cranmer family. With both their parents dead, the seven boys – Robert,
John, Joseph, Thomas, Benjamin, Charles and James – were obviously
too young to fend for themselves, and it seems likely that they would
have been cared for, or at least had their upbringing supervised, by their
paternal grandmother, Anne Cranmer. She survived her son and
daughter-in-law by a little over seven years, and was buried in Mitcham
church on 25 August 1673.1

Pocock, the Cranmer family’s solicitor, many years later stated (not
very helpfully) that the family was living at “The Rectory House”
“sometime between 1665 and 1685”, whereas the tax books only list
the “heirs of Mrs. Cranmer” as being liable to make payments until
March 1666/7 – i.e. for one year following her son’s death. Too much
ought not to be read into the entry in the tax collector’s book, and
Cranmer’s will needs to be examined to ascertain precisely what
provisions he made for the conduct of affairs after his death. From
1667 until 1675, part at least of the house was let to a succession of
tenants, including William Child, Samuel Parr and James Haste, who
were responsible for meeting the tax demands. Precisely where the
children and their grandmother were living after April 1667 is not known.

Fifty years later James Cranmer, Robert Cranmer’s grandson, listed
the changes in the tenure of 18 acres of copyhold land known as Cold
Blowers, lying to the south of the Upper Green and forming part of the
grounds of the house that we have suggested might have been occupied
by Sir William Greene. A deed of 1628 shows Cold Blowers then to
have been held copyhold of the manor of Ravensbury, as was Chaff
Hawes. Recorded changes in the tenancy of the one parcel of land
may, therefore, be taken as some indication of what happened to the


James noted that the death of his grandfather, who was the copyholder
of Cold Blowers, was recorded in the court rolls of the manor in July
1666, and that on 10 February following, his uncle James, the seventh
and youngest son of Robert Cranmer, in accordance with the practice
of Borough English, was admitted to the tenancy of Ravensbury although
at the time he was only six years of age. James’s death in June 1668
was formally reported to the manor court on 4 December, and his brother
Charles, the sixth and youngest surviving son, succeeded to the tenancy
in his place. He died, aged 17, in the parish of St Margaret, Westminster,
and was buried at Mitcham on 14 November 1676.

By 1675 Chaff Hawes and the house bought from Trattle had been
leased to Sir Robert Howard, whose name occurs in the Ravensbury
court rolls as the copyholder. Benjamin, the fifth son, aged 18, was at
the time living in ‘Hartford’. He was admitted only as a copyhold tenant
of Cold Blowers, title to which he retained until 1690, when he
surrendered manorial tenure in favour of Peter Batt of Morden, and the
property thereby passed out of the family’s possession.2 Benjamin
Cranmer continued thereafter to live in the Hertfordshire area, where
he died without issue.

Following the death of Robert Cranmer in 1666 an inventory was
compiled of his effects, both at Mitcham and in his chambers at
Leadenhall, the completed document being signed by Henry Hampson,
as trustee of the Cranmer estate, in June 1667. The total value of Robert’s
goods and moveable possessions, including farm stock, was calculated
at £793 8s, to which was added £2,250 “in the hands of the East India
Company which is hoped to be good”. As we have seen, in 1669, acting
as patron of the living in lieu of Cranmer, Hampson presented John
Berrow MA to the vicarage.3

Nothing much more can be said about Henry Hampson’s administration
of the Cranmer estate. There is, however, an enigmatic reference to
what may have been either Hampson or his son in the rent and
memorandum book kept from 1717 until 1749 by Robert Cranmer’s
grandson, James. Here, amongst other family details, he made the
following entry:


Robert Cranmer, eldest son of Robert Cranmer, who died a
batchelor before coming of age in September 1672 supposed to
be poisoned by H…n’s means.1

Tantalisingly, James provided no further details, but it is clear that in the
opinion of the Cranmer family the circumstances surrounding the death
of Robert, who had been on the point of inheriting his late father’s
estate, were regarded as suspicious. How James intended “H…n” to
be interpreted we shall never know.

Robert Cranmer junior was buried at Mitcham on 23 September 1672,
and the estate passed to his brother John. We are told the latter inherited
“subject to claims of his younger brothers under the father’s will, all of
which he discharged”,4 and amongst the collection of Cranmer papers
kept at Surrey History Centre there is a deed of bargain and sale dated
28 June 1679, when John would have been 25 years of age, recording
his purchase from Joseph, Thomas and Benjamin of the manor, rectory
and advowson of Mitcham.5 In 1679 John also granted an annuity to
Thomas, then 22, out of property called Newbarnes, a farm lying
between Mitcham Common and Pollards Hill. Thomas, according to
the biographical notes kept by his nephew James, “died a bachelor”.

Joseph, the third son, who was born in December 1654, married Elizabeth
Dunster, and was survived by three sons and two daughters when he
died in April 1722. He was buried at Mitcham, where a large marble
memorial, bearing the Cranmer coat of arms, can be seen on the south
side of the chancel, having been refixed in this position after the church
rebuilding betwen 1819 and 1822. An attractive monument, it is inscribed:

Near this Place lies Deposited
the Body of Elizabeth Cranmer
one of the Daughters of Henry
Dunster of Jenningsbury, in the
County of Hertford, Esq. and
Wife of Joseph Cranmer Esq.,
a younger Son of Robert Cranmer
of this Parish, Merchant, who
departed this Life June 2 1719
Aged 57 Years.


As likewise the Remains of the
said Joseph Cranmer Esq, who
died April 17 1722 in the 67th
Year of his Age.
To whose Memory this
Monument was erected at the
Expence of Henry Cranmer
Gentleman, (eldest Son of the
said Joseph Cranmer and
Elizabeth his Wife) who departed
this Life March 8 1737
Aged 47 Years
Whose Body also lies interred here.

Joseph Cranmer senior was a court official with the impressive title of
‘First Secondary of the Pipe Office in the Exchequer’. Holders of this
office were second in command to the chief officer of the department
of the Exchequer reponsible for drawing up the pipe-rolls or Great Rolls
of the Exchequer, comprising the ‘pipes’ or enrolled accounts of the
sheriffs and other ministers of the Crown for a financial year. The office
was abolished during the reign of William IV. In 1690 Cranmer purchased
Chickney Hall, south-west of Thaxted, which he set about improving by
extending the east wing, heightening the building to form attics and adding
a modillioned cornice to the north wing. Joseph Cranmer, his second
son, was one of ‘the Six Clerks in Chancery’, another lucrative office
which enabled him to buy Quendon Hall, a palatial residence close by,
which remained in the family’s possession for 150 years.6

We now return to tracing the occupation of the Cranmers’ house at
Mitcham. By the early months of 1675, Sir Robert Howard was in
residence in the parish, leasing the family home and grounds from John
Cranmer, who had by this time come of age and was able to administer
his late father’s estate. Sir Robert, described in the Dictionary of
National Biography as an historian, poet, cavalier and politician, was
born in 1626 the sixth son of Thomas Howard, the first earl of Berkshire.7
Supporting his sovereign, like other members of the family (his namesake
and uncle was governor of Bridgnorth Castle whilst it was besieged
during the Civil War), young Robert Howard rode from home to join


Charles’s army, and at the age of 18 was knighted for gallantry on the
field near Newbury in 1644. When hostilities were resumed in 1648, Sir
Robert, whose support for the King was well known, was imprisoned in
Windsor Castle and spent the next decade under restraint.6

On the restoration of Charles II to the throne Sir Robert stood for
Parliament, and was returned as member for Stockbridge in Hampshire.
Unpopular amongst many of his associates for his subservience to the
King, Sir Robert became Secretary of the Commissioners of the Treasury,
and eventually secured the lucrative post of Auditor to the Exchequer.
The Ravensbury court rolls show that as late as July 1680 Sir Robert,
with two other men, still held a tenancy of ‘Chaff Hawes’, various
closes of pasture and arable land, and certain other tenements and
buildings in Mitcham. Militia tax books for the late 1670s disclose that
he was in occupation of what amounted to quite an extensive holding in
Mitcham which, assessed at £98 per annum, had the highest valuation
of any in the parish. Sir Robert left Mitcham soon after midsummer
1680, having purchased a large estate at Ashtead, including lordship of
the manor. By now a very wealthy man, he was soon to embark on the
building of a new manor house, Ashtead House, which became his seat
on its completion in 1684.

A peculiar character, Sir Robert boasted a knowledge of the arts and
sciences which brought him ridicule from his contemporaries. This trait
was used by Thomas Shadwell, who portrayed him as ‘Sir Positive
Atall’ in his play Sullen Lovers. Sir Robert could, nevertheless, lay
claim with some justification to being a dramatist, and was certainly a
collaborator with Dryden. Sir Robert Howard died in 1689 and was
buried in the parish church of St Giles at Ashtead, where he is
commemorated by a tablet by William Stanton in 1701.8

In 1679/80 John Cranmer married Dorothea Gilbert, daughter of a London
merchant, but she died during the winter of 1680/1 and there were no children
of this marriage. John Cranmer’s principal claim to a place in the history of
Mitcham rests on his leasing to John Odway in 1680 12 acres of land referred
to as ‘Cannons’ or ‘The Grove’ on condition that Odway rebuilt what was
evidently regarded as the old manor house of Mitcham Canons, also known
as the ‘parsonage house’, which then occupied the site.


According to Pocock, the family solicitor, the Cranmer family was living
at the Rectory when The Canons was built. If this is true, it means that
John and Dorothea must have moved back soon after Sir Robert Howard
departed for Ashtead.

John Cranmer seems to have spent much of his time managing and
improving his late father’s estate, although one imagines he had other
interests in London. He certainly maintained a house at Spitalfields,
where he and his second wife, Anne Wood, were living when their sons
John and James were born in 1683 and 1684. Two more children, Mary
and Thomas, followed. The family papers disclose that John senior was
responsible for building a house off Willow Lane (probably on the seven-
acre freehold plot in the Marsh Fee lands where a building is shown on
a map drawn by his son James in 1717), a little house on the site of the
Goatinn at Mill Green, and for the enlargement of Henman’s farmhouse,
which stood at the edge of the Common off Carshalton Road. All, with
the exception of The Canons, have long since disappeared.9 These
activities, and John Cranmer’s other business ventures, were financed
by way of leases or mortgages on the various parts of the Mitcham

Rear view of The Cranmers. Photograph probably taken by Tom Francis
c.1900, reproduced by courtesy of Merton Library & Heritage Service


estate. In one such transaction, involving the granting of a 99-year lease
of a house and land in Mitcham to Mary Dawson, his mother-in-law, in
1690, specific mention was made to it being “in settlement of £1,200
advanced to pay my debts”.10 He also sold New Barns Farm and
associated land to Peter Batt in 1695.11

Photographs of the Rectory (or The Cranmers, as it was known in the
19th century) show it to have had a strong resemblance to Garrett Hall
at Banstead, which was built for John Lambert in 1691/2. It is thus
possible that it was John Cranmer who was responsible for extending
the Rectory, adding the square, three-storeyed front part of the house in
the Restoration style which remained, although somewhat altered in the
18th century, until it was pulled down in 1926 to make way for the
Wilson Cottage Hospital and what was then intended to become the
new Mitcham County School for Boys. (In the event it became the
County Girls’ School and is now Cranmer Primary School.)

James Cranmer (1684–1752), squire of Mitcham

As we have already noted, by his second wife, Anne, whom he married
late in 1681, John Cranmer had four children, three boys and a girl.
John, the eldest, who should have inherited his father’s estate, was
apprenticed to Samuel Holden, a London merchant, and was sent to
Novgorod ‘in Muscovy’, where he died and was buried in 1702.1 John
Cranmer senior died in 1705, and James, the second son, (b.1684)
thereupon succeeded to the Mitcham estate. It is his memorandum and
estate books, now in the care of Surrey History Centre, that form two
of the most valuable sources of local history material available for
Mitcham in the first half of the 18th century.

A map of Mitcham Common drawn by James, dated 5 April 1703, is
one of the earliest we have of Mitcham, and shows pictorially a house
beside “Cannon Pond”, a larger house opposite, and also three buildings
representing Henman’s farmhouse, another on the site of the Goat, and
the logwood mill on the Wandle downstream from “Cranmarsh” or Mill
Green. On another map, dated 1717, James shows the same two houses,
the one marked “The Manor or Parsonage House” standing in an
enclosure marked “Cannons alias the Grove”, and the other, on the
opposite side of the Green, occupying a three-acre plot which included


Detail from map of the Cranmer estatedrawn by James Cranmer in 1717reproduced by permission ofSurrey History Centre – SHC 470/1 p5


an orchard, and extending onto an adjacent three-acre enclosure against
which is written “Chaffe Hawes”.2 Whereas etymologically it might be
translated as “Chief House”, an alternative meaning could merely be,
literally, chaff house, or threshing barn. This is, perhaps, the more likely,
for the whole of one side of the enclosure was occupied by the large
weatherboarded tithe barn belonging to The Cranmers, which survived
until the mid-1920s.

From James Cranmer’s estate book it is evident that by 1717, if not
before, the larger house – which although not named as such on his
maps was obviously the Rectory – was regarded by the family as their
‘Capital House’. It comprised two distinct parts, the three-storeyed main
building which we have suggested might have been added by John
Cranmer in the late 17th century, and a two-storeyed wing to the rear.
This can be seen in a small coloured engraving by Hassell, and also one
of the two photographs which have survived of the house.3 The style of
the rear wing suggests it could have been early 17th-century in date,
and therefore a surviving fragment of the house bought by Robert
Cranmer in 1652.

Coloured engraving of the rear of ‘Mitcham Villa’, by John Hassell,
c.1820, reproduced by courtesy of Merton Library & Heritage Service


James noted in his memorandum book that in 1713 his mother had let the
‘square part’ of the Rectory to Captain Edmund Hooke of Plymouth at £25
per annum. The two-year lease included part of the garden, half the stable,
hayloft and woodhouse, together with the close ‘Chaffe Hawes’. Hooke
held a commission in the Royal Navy, and commanded the sloop Jamaica
in 1711. In November 1712 he was appointed captain of the Garland, and
his career subsequently included command of the Bedford and theIpswich.
He saw service with the Baltic Fleet and in the Mediterranean, and settled
finally in Hampshire, dying at Hambledon in 1745.4

On the Captain’s departure from Mitcham, Mrs Cranmer granted a
five-year lease of the same part of the house, together with the two
freehold enclosures of meadowland known as Rowcroft (today covered
by inter-war housing and the Mitcham Garden Village) to Joseph Taylor,
a London merchant. The rental was £42 and, rather quaintly, two dozen
pigeons yearly. This lease was subsequently re-negotiated, and an
indenture of 1717 shows the rent to have been reduced to £30 per
annum. The latter document describes Taylor’s part of the premises as
including the brewhouse, and half the stable and hayloft, and conveys
an idea of the way in which the grounds surrounding the house were
laid out, Taylor’s portion being “the best garden, the dwarf garden and
the kitchen garden”. Joseph Taylor died in 1722, aged 70, and lies buried
in the north aisle of Mitcham church, where a ledger stone to his memory
could still be seen until the alterations to the floor in 1991.

In July 1718 James Cranmer conveyed title to his ‘Mansion House’ and
estate in Mitcham to John Birkhead of Isleworth by the usual device of
an indenture of bargain and sale for one year, followed the next day by
release of the reversionary interest. The transaction was part of the
settlement agreed on the marriage of Birkhead’s daughter Elizabeth to
Cranmer’s son James, and the property was subsequently made over
to the young couple for their use for life, the residue to pass to their
children or heirs.5 From time to time James and Elizabeth, with their
five children, seem to have occupied part of the Rectory, but they also
had a London house in Coleman Street, off Moorgate. It was here that
two of them, James and Elizabeth, were born. The rest of the Mitcham
house was leased to tenants.


The Cranmer family derived a useful, if modest, income from their various
properties in Mitcham, and their imposing ‘Capital House’ was leased
to tenants either in whole or in part throughout the two centuries or so
that followed the death of John Cranmer in 1705. In his later years
James shared with his son and heir the ownership of three houses in
Clements Lane, but his London residence remained the property in
Coleman Street. Support for the conclusion that as Cranmer senior
became older he probably spent much of his time in town is given by his
letting the family pew in Mitcham church (“under ye Bellferry”) to a
Mrs Allcraft of Durham House, Mitcham, in 1742, and to another lady
in 1744.

In the late 1720s, when the square part of the Rectory was the residence
of Richard and Elizabeth Rowlandson, James Cranmer spent a
considerable sum of money on repairs which, as was his custom, he
recorded meticulously in his estate book. It may be that this work was
put in hand after the death in April 1727 of Anne Cranmer, his 69-year-
old mother, and that of his unmarried sister Mary the following winter.
In later years the Rectory was known as The White House, having
received a coat of stucco. Here again, we can see a parallel with Garrett
Hall at Banstead, where the original brickwork of Lambert’s house
was also covered with rendering sometime in the 18th century.

During the 1720s and 1730s we find James Cranmer, as befitted the
squire of Mitcham, taking an increasingly active role in the affairs of
the local vestry. In 1717, following the death the previous year of the
vicar, John Payne, James presented Edward Arrowsmith to the living.
The latter’s tenure of the vicarage was short, however, for he resigned
after only three years in office, having accepted a better position at
Crutched Friars, London. The incumbency of the next vicar, Thomas
Bullock MA, was similarly brief, and he left in 1724 for a preferable
appointment. Later the same year William Hatsell BA was instituted
under Cranmer’s patronage. The heart of the difficulty in retaining the
services of a minister for long undoubtedly lay in the poor endowment
of the vicarage of Mitcham. Treating the rectory, or the right to tithes –
the revenue from which was originally intended to provide an income
for parish churches – as a financial asset at his disposal, John Cranmer


had sold the corn tithe (one of the easiest to collect) to Peter Batt in
1694. He retained only the tithe of hay from which to pay a stipend to
the incumbent, who was otherwise obliged to rely on the smaller vicarial
tithe of farm produce, and the income from glebe land. The financial
situation did not improve until the 1730s when, mainly through the
generosity of the Revd Dr Monkton and Charles du Bois, who was
treasurer to the East India Company and a Mitcham resident, additional
glebe land was purchased with financial assistance from the Governors
of Queen Anne’s Bounty.

The laudable practice of making charitable bequests for the poor was a
long-established custom, and during the 18th century the parish of
Mitcham was to receive several benefactions, involving what at the
time were considerable sums of money. Thus under the terms of the
will of Mrs Ellen Fisher of Hammersmith, dated 1709, the parish had
been left a legacy of £200 “to be laid in the purchase of land of
inheritance”. There seems to have been a lapse of some time before
the vestry was made aware of, or able to utilise this bequest, but in January
1726 we find James Cranmer being authorised “on behalf of this parish to
make an enquiry forthwith after the money left as a Legacy to this parish
by Mrs. Fisher late of this place”. The vestry clerk also minuted that
James Cranmer, whose legal knowledge was obviously valued, was to be
paid for his “Charge and trouble”. Three years later the vestry was able
to formally consent to the purchase of an estate at Lingfield from Mr
Payne, a schoolmaster of Croydon, at an agreed price of £375. The balance
of the purchase money was to be raised by loans and gifts solicited from
parishioners by the vicar and churchwardens. Legalities were handled by
Cranmer in the Court of Chancery. Thereafter the annual rental of £14
was employed by the minister, churchwardens and trustees to make
payments every Whit-Monday to 24 “poor house keepers” not already in
receipt of alms from the parish.6

Beating the bounds, a widespread practice which since time immemorial
had been carried out with due ceremony in Ascension week, had the
very practical purpose of reaffirming beyond all possible doubt the
administrative boundaries of the parish. Accurately surveyed maps were
virtually unknown in Mitcham until the early 19th century, and at a time


when parish expenditure was growing, it became increasingly important
to ensure that no rateable property escaped the notice of the officers.
In 1535 two parcels of land within the broad expanse of common heath
lying in the southern part of the parish had been the subject of exchange
between the lords of two adjacent manors.7 That part of the heath
passing into the hands of the lordship of Beddington and Bandon was
enclosed and became known as the ‘New Grounds’, and what had long
been called the ‘Sundridge Grounds’ was incorporated into Mitcham
Common. The parish boundary remained unchanged by the transfer of
title, and Mitcham officers stoutly maintained their right to continue
perambulation of the bounds across the 75 acres enclosed. In the early
18th century this brought them into conflict with Elizabeth Carew, lady
of the manor and the owner of the Beddington estate, and in 1732 the
vicar of Mitcham, William Hatsell, and several of his parishioners, having
conducted their customary Ascension-tide perambulation, found
themselves indicted for trespass. Clearly outraged, Mitcham vestry
agreed to indemnify the defendants against all costs and charges incurred
in pleading their case at the general quarter sessions at Guildford. The
following May the vestry agreed that James Cranmer and Henry Fenners
should employ an attorney to defend them should action be brought
against them for further trespass on the New Grounds, carried out in
defiance of the previous indictment. The bounds were beaten again in
1734, after which the vestry expressed thanks to James Cranmer for
the stand he and his fellow churchwarden Robert Constable were taking
on the parish’s behalf. Mitcham conceded defeat in 1735, when the
assize court again found for the plaintiffs and awarded damages and
costs against the vestry amounting to £93 6s 8d. These being paid initially
by James Cranmer, who appeared for Mitcham, they were duly met by
the vestry and a rate of sixpence in the pound was fixed the following
April to recoup the expenditure. This judgement did not completely deter
the parish officials of Mitcham, however, for they had certainly
recommenced beating the bounds by the latter part of the century.6 No
further prosecutions are recorded, so presumably they either avoided
trespass on the enclosures, or else reached an amicable arrangement
with Nicholas Hacket Carew, who had succeeded to the Beddington
estate on his coming of age in 1741.


The idea of the vicar and the squire of Mitcham – the latter a gentleman
versed in the ways of the law – being arraigned before the courts is
somewhat bizarre, but the dispute illustrates the strength of feelings
aroused when ancient boundaries were challenged. The courts refused
to endorse Mitcham’s claim to a right to enter private land, even if only
to beat the bounds. In this instance the case was lost, and the legal
expenses had to be born by the ratepayers, but the episode illustrates
the general increase in efficiency discernible in the management of
parish affairs in Mitcham during the second quarter of the 18th century.
This can most likely be attributed directly to the lord of the manor’s
influence and example. Cranmer was meticulous in keeping his own
account and estate books, and he applied the same care to the
management of vestry income and expenditure for the three years from
April 1733 to March 1736 during which he served as a churchwarden.
Contrary to the normal practice of the time, the annual accounts were
transcribed in full into the vestry minute book, and then signed as read
and audited by the vicar and 11 vestrymen.

Repair of the ageing fabric of the church was a continuing worry at this
time, and in July 1736 Cranmer noted in his account book that he had had
various repairs and redecoration, together with reglazing, carried out in
“my chancel” at his own expense. Two years later it was realised that the
ruinous and decayed condition of the north aisle made actual rebuilding
an urgent necessity, and the required faculty having been granted by the
diocesan bishop, work commenced in July 1738 with the laying of a
foundation stone by the vicar, churchwardens and James Cranmer.

How much, and what part, of the Rectory House James Cranmer retained
for the family’s use is not clear, but rooms seem to have been kept for
their occupation, at least until the marriage of his daughter Elizabeth to
William Myers in 1743, for in 1742 he referred in his account book to
“Betty’s chamber” when detailing repairs carried out. Between the autumn
of 1742 and the spring of 1743 Cranmer ordered various improvements
and alterations, and in October 1742 paid William Puplett, a local bricklayer,
£9 13s 0d for building a chimney from the cellar. In the same month he
paid John Graham £10 9s 0d for three marble slabs, a marble chimney
piece, a Portland stone chimney piece and “three fire stones” for the


chamber over the kitchen, the parlour at the north-east corner of the
house and “Betty’s chamber” over it. The previous month Robert Barley
received £35 7s 0d for making a new staircase from the hall, and for
alterations to the sash windows. Samuel Knight was paid £5 for painting
the new staircase and doors in the hall and the two parlours.8

It is difficult to explain this flurry of building activity other than perhaps
in preparation for occupation of the refurbished apartments by the newlyweds.
We know, however, that shortly after their marriage Elizabeth
and William Myers set up house in Lower Mitcham, so their occupation
of the suite of rooms at the Rectory could only have been brief.9 There
is, moreover, evidence that the Revd John Evanson BA, who Cranmer
had presented to the vicarage in 1734, was living at the Rectory in the
1740s, and it may have been in preparation for his occupancy that the
works were carried out. Clearly, having disposed of his pew, James
Cranmer had no intention of living in Mitcham for any length of time,
and it would seem that from then on he and Dulcibella, his second wife,
spent most of their time at the house in Coleman Street.

Cranmer’s second estate and account book,8 started in 1740, ceases with
his death in June 1752, and from this time onwards the parish rate books
are the only source of information, sometimes confusing, as to the
occupancy of the house until the land tax records commence in 1780.

From The Rectory to Mitcham Villa and The Cranmers 1750–

The Revd John Evanson, vicar of Mitcham from 1734 to 1770, is recorded
in the rate books as living at The Rectory in the late 1750s (earlier
books have not survived).1 According to Hans,2 Evanson kept a school
at Mitcham from 1740 until 1760 or a little later, tutoring students in
classical studies before they progressed to Oxford or Cambridge. From
1742 until 1752 Evanson paid James Cranmer half a guinea per annum
for the use of the latter’s pew beneath the belfry in Mitcham church,
which was used by his sister and the students boarding with him.3 A
separate reference to ‘Mr. Evanson’s School House’ shows the academy
was still there as late as 1767, and by implication places it near Mitcham
Common – i.e. Cranmer Green.4 In his memorandum book Cranmer
noted that Evanson had been installed as a prebendary at Chichester in


July 1739, a position the latter held until his death in August 1778, when
in his 77th year. A tablet to Evanson’s memory, formerly in the north
aisle of the parish church, can be seen today on the wall of the north
vestibule, where it was refixed after the rebuilding between 1819 and

Evanson appears to have taken up residence in the vicarage in Church
Street (now Church Road) in the late 1760s, for a Mr Palmer (about
whom nothing further is known) is recorded as the ratepayer at The
Rectory from about 1768 until 1776. Palmer was followed by a Rev Mr
Wright, whose occupation of the house was of shorter duration, for he
left in 1780, the new tenant being Charles Vyse. In view of the
comparative brevity of these gentlemen’s residence in Mitcham, and
the fact that at least one of them was in holy orders, it is likely that all
three were tutors at Evanson’s school and, quite possibly, were also

In 1783 The Rectory became the country seat of James Portis, a London
stockbroker, who was to remain the Cranmers’ tenant for nine years.
He evidently found the locality to his liking, and four years later returned
to the village, having taken a lease of Mitcham Hall from Henry Hoare,
and did not finally leave Mitcham until 1804.1 In about 1789, whilst he
was resident at The Rectory, Portis was visited by James Edwards, the
topographical writer, who was busy compiling his Companion from
London to Brighthelmston, a guide for the instruction and amusement
of the steadily increasing number of people travelling by coach to the
newly popularised resort on the Sussex coast. Edwards described what
he called the “manor” house as a “large white house, with good offices,
gardens, etc.” directly in front of which, on the Common, stood an avenue
of high elm trees. These were no doubt survivors of the trees portrayed
by James Cranmer in his map of 1717, and were probably well over 100
years old by the time Edwards saw them. In the garden of the house
Edwards’s attention was directed to a white Marseilles fig tree, which
he was led to believe (quite wrongly, as we now know) had been planted
by Archbishop Cranmer when the latter lived at the house. Edwards
noted in his guide that the branches of the tree were very low, and
considered that its stem, which measured 30 inches in girth, had “every
possible mark of great age”.5


In July 1792 James Portis sold the remaining portion of his lease for
£3,700.6 His successor at the house, by then renamed ‘Mitcham Villa’,
was Thomas Smith, a member of the Leathersellers’ Company of the
City of London, and of the Court of Common Council from 1784 until
1802. Smith served as alderman for the ward of Farringdon Within from
1802 until 1823, and was Lord Mayor of London from 1809 to 1810. He
died on 18 April 1823, four years after leaving Mitcham.7 During
Alderman Smith’s time Mitcham Villa was without question an impressive
house, described by contemporary writers as ‘handsome’ and
‘particularly elegant’ – praise indeed in a district noted for the number
and excellence of its fine houses and villas.8 Hassell, the watercolour
artist and writer, apparently having been received most hospitably by its
lessee, described Mitcham Villa in glowing terms:

It is situated on a gentle eminence, overlooking the river Wandle,
and its surrounding scenery; from which river it may be about
half a mile. The back front of this mansion evidently proves to be
no modern structure:- its internal fittings up are in the very first
style of elegance, and bespeaks a genuine taste. The rooms on
the ground floor are spacious and lofty; and consist of a drawing-
room, dining-room, a breakfast-parlour, a dressing-room and a
dining-parlour, besides the entrance hall etc. … The billiard-room
and a suite of bed-chambers form the first floor. The upper-story
are also bed-chambers. The kitchen and its appurtenances are
adjoining the mansion, as also are the farm and its out-buildings.
The gardens occupy a space on either side of the house, and
have a profusion of wall and other fruits, and are kept in a high
state of cultivation. In the paddock on the right of the back front
of the house, is a row of choice walnut trees; this, with the
meadows on the left, in possession of Alderman Smith, completely
surround the grounds belonging to the villa; and prevent any dread
of innovation to destroy this desirable spot. The hospitality of the
worthy owner of this mansion, reminds us of those days, when
sincerity was the standard of British excellence.9

Hassell was, of course, writing to please his host, but his praise of
Alderman Smith was probably sincere enough, and not without


Of the leaseholders who followed Thomas Smith at Mitcham Villa we
know little apart from their names, which are to be found in the land tax
records. A Dr Finch held a lease of the house, or part of it, for a short
while, using it as an asylum for the insane. He was licensed under an
Act of 1774 to receive ten patients, and there is a record of an official
visit to the premises in 1819, and of their receiving a favourable report.10
In 1821 Finch was followed at Mitcham Villa by Samuel Barlow, who
occupied the property for two years before being succeeded by John
Weston. He remained in residence at least until 1831 (when the
sequence of land tax records held by Surrey History Centre ceases).
Meanwhile, John Foakes made the main part of the villa his home from
1823 until the 1840s, and was apparently responsible for renaming it
‘The White House’.11 By profession Foakes was a land surveyor, and
from about 1789 until 1826 he was engaged by clients in Surrey, Kent,
Essex and Hertfordshire, often in connection with proposals for the
enclosure of commons, and the survey and valuation of standing timber.
He also held appointments as an estate trustee.12

At the time of the census in 1841 the house was only occupied by three
women servants, perhaps because the family was away from home,
but it is clear that the Foakes family had left permanently by 1844, for
there is in existence a schedule of dilapidations drawn up in June that
year for Mr and Mrs William Simpson, the landlords, on the expiration
of John Foakes’s lease.13

The next tenant of the house, now with the name of The Rectory restored,
was Henry Haines, an auctioneer and surveyor. Haines had a family of
four sons and a daughter living with him and his wife when the 1851
census was held, and the success with which he conducted his business
is indicated by his ability to employ a living-in staff of cook, housemaid,
nurse and under-nurse, footman and gardener in addition to a coachman
who lived in the gatekeeper’s lodge. Five years previously, when the
estate was surveyed for the Tithe Redemption Commissioners, it was
shown to include lawns, ‘pleasure ground’, gardens, a meadow and walnut
orchard, in all comprising over 18 acres. The Commissioners’ surveyors
also noted a recent extension of the grounds of the house abutting
Cranmer Road by enclosure of a strip of the roadside common land.
This was described in their report as a “garden and lawn encroachment”,


and in view of John Foakes’s professional expertise in such matters, it
seems likely the enclosure had taken place during his occupancy. It would,
of course, have been with the concurrence of Simpson, who was
accustomed at this time to exercise the rights of the lord of the manor on
behalf of his wife, who had inherited part of the Cranmer estate.

With the aid of local directories the names of the various occupants of
the house can be traced throughout the remainder of the 19th century
without much difficulty. A Mrs Pearson’s name occurs during the 1860s,
and a “Mrs” Charlton, wife of Sir Thomas Charlton, until the close of
the century. The last private occupants of what had become known as
‘Cranmer House’, or ‘The Cranmers’, was James Ernest Peat, a colonial
broker, who moved to the house from Elm Court (subsequently known
as Mitcham Court) shortly before 1900. One of James Peat’s two
daughters, Marjorie Constance Lucy Peat, married Guy Meyrick Mallaby-
Deeley, the son of Harry Mallaby-Deeley MP of Mitcham Court, at
Morden church in July 1920.14 Both daughters were still remembered in
the 1970s by one old resident as “wonderfully pretty” girls, with a ladylike
air of confidence, beautifully spoken, and ready to pass the time of
day with anyone.15 Marjorie was often to be seen around the Cricket
Green with Guy Mallaby-Deeley – “very gracious, very gallant”. Ernest
Peat, the girls’ brother, was also a familiar figure in his Bath chair, being
pushed by Marjorie and Diana her sister, or else the Revd Sperry, the
curate at the parish church. The Peat family continued to live at Cranmer
House until 1924, but then left, and three years later, at the hands of
demolition contractors, it had vanished virtually without trace.

Life at The Cranmers before the 1914–18 War

Following publication of an article on The Cranmers, the Merton
Borough News in October 1973 printed the reminiscences of Mrs Ethel
Smith who, as a young woman, was in service with the Peat family.
These I had recorded during a series of interviews with her in her flat in
Monarch Parade, London Road, in which she recalled with extraordinary
freshness the life ‘below stairs’ in this, the largest of Mitcham’s big
houses, a century ago. The luxury and gaiety of life in these Edwardian
mansions, each with its army of servants, contrasted sharply with the
harshness and poverty which was the lot of so many of the village
people. Nevertheless, one cannot ignore the contribution these


establishments made to the local economy, either through their patronage
of local tradespeople, or their employment both directly and indirectly of
considerable numbers of local people. Neither can one ignore the obvious
contentment of the staff at The Cranmers and, indeed, the pride in their
work which was felt by many for whom ‘being in service’ could offer a
standard of living and security hard to come by in the world outside.


I was cook to the Peat family at The Cranmers, Lower Mitcham,
for a number of years both before and during the early part of the
1914-18 War. The household was a large one, made up of the two
Mr. Peats, Ernest and James (who had married two sisters), their
five children and, of course, their servants. There was also the
Mrs. Peats’ sister, Miss Carson, who was handicapped, and lived
with a companion in a separate suite of rooms, with her own staff.

I had been in service with the Governor of Jamaica before I
went to the Peats at Mitcham. Their cook had worked previously
in a hospital, and could hardly boil a saucepan of water without
burning it. She used to have Tuesdays off, and the cooking then
fell to me. I loved cooking, although I never had any formal training,
as you might say, and welcomed these opportunities of doing
what I wanted. Mrs. Peat called me to her room one day and
said ‘We can always tell when cook’s off, because the meals are
so much nicer when you do them. How would you feel about
taking the post of cook?’ When I was told that the cook would
not be returning if I accepted, I agreed, and at the age of 20
assumed the responsibility of catering for the whole household.

The Cranmers was a large, three-storeyed house, at least 200
years old. In the back part, which seemed much older than the
front, was located the enormous kitchen. I can see it all now in
my mind’s eye. The floor was all flagstones, and down almost
the length of the room were huge windows, protected by iron
shutters. These were the size of ordinary room doors, and so
heavy they took three of us pulling to swing them round to cover
the windows. Once shut, they were secured by great iron bars
as wide as your forearm.


As I have said, it was an enormous kitchen, with a ceiling so high
that twice a year they had a man come with a Turk’s head, or
whatever you call it, to sweep the cobwebs down, because we
couldn’t reach it. From the kitchen you went out into the scullery,
which was really old, with a floor covered not exactly with
earthenware, but old, very, very old flagstones. It was lit by a
small window, and at night by a dim gas light. Then, further down,
on one side, there was a slaughterhouse, with a block and tackle,
and a tank or sump in the floor into which they could drop a
whole pig for scalding. Then further on there was a semi-
underground larder, which was a creepy place! Outside was a
broad flagged courtyard, off which was the fuel store – a great
brick place, with partitions, where they kept the coals. There
was a great big iron-studded door – not the front entrance, but
the side, or second entrance, – and before it a huge round step,
which was worn, you could see, by hundreds of feet going up
and down.

In the kitchen was a huge table, so big that the scullery maids
used to kneel up on it to scrub it – two of them, working from
each side until they’d meet in the middle. I had a massive range
on which I did the cooking, with two ovens on each side. The
fireplace itself was about three feet wide, and had a lever which
you lifted up if you wanted to get the heat up at the top, or let it
down if you wanted to use the ovens. There was a charcoal
burner as well, which we never used. I don’t know exactly how
much coal I used to burn on the old stove – the gardener’s boy
brought the scuttles in to me – but I suppose I must have burned
quite a ton in a week.

The place was obviously over-run with rats – I remember on one
occasion I went out into the scullery and in the dim light thought
one of the girls had left a sponge on the floor. I went to pick it up,
and it shot up the waste pipe. The pipes, you see, were all exposed,
and the rats used to run up and down without hindrance. We had
a rat catcher called Woods from Battersea down there one night,
and he and his men caught 150 in one session!


Alongside the house there was an ancient tithe barn, and beyond
it the farm where the Peats used to get most of their butter and
cream. They didn’t actually run the farm themselves, but let it to
a tenant, whose cattle used to graze on the Common opposite
the house. Then of course there were the stables. Lovely stables
they were, but we didn’t see much of that sort of thing really, as
we weren’t supposed to go out there.

We didn’t have to rely on a pumped water supply when I was at
The Cranmers, as the house was on the main. The plumbing
was very primitive, though, and set up a rattling throughout the
house when you turned the water on.

The servants’ quarters had no gas or electricity, and when we
went upstairs to bed we had to take candles. For safety, they
had to be protected with shields, for if there had ever been a
fire, we would never have escaped from the dormer windows,
where the servants’ bedrooms were. Upstairs the wooden floors
were almost black with age, and the gutters, instead of
discharging through external downpipes, were so arranged that
rainwater could be seen running along open channels as you
walked up the stairs.

Tradition had it that an underground passage to The Canons ran
from Miss Carson’s bedroom, or from somewhere beneath her
rooms, and underneath the piece of Common that separated the
two houses.

I didn’t realise then – I was very young at the time – just how
interesting a house The Cranmers was. If I had only known then
what I know now, I would have found it absolutely fascinating.

The Peats had coffee, tea and rice plantations, and ostrich feather
farms. We used to have our tea direct from their plantations in
huge chests – hundredweights at a time. Nothing was bought in
half-pound packets – it was all in hundredweights. We had sacks
of rice and cereals, all of their own growing. The tea was
gorgeous, and also the coffee – real coffee that came in green –
which I used to roast and grind myself.


I used to pay the tradesmen’s bills, for we shopped locally. The
butcher’s was just round the corner from Burn Bullock’s place
[the King’s Head]. The shop used to have long steel bars outside,
with hooks on which the meat hung, and the butcher used to
wear a straw hat and a striped blue and white apron. The grocer’s
was further down towards the station, where Stevenson and
Rush’s were later on. I used to have four or five gallons of milk
a day, delivered twice daily, and two or three quarts of cream, for
I used to make my own ice cream. There were no fridges in
those days, of course, and I used a bucket which was fitted into
what they called an ice box. It was lead-lined, and filled with
loose ice from Carlo Gatti’s, who used to come round every day
with fresh supplies.

Mrs. Peat used to come down to see me in the mornings, but she
never ordered any meals, – she just looked at the menu, to see
what was there, and then said ‘That’s all right’, and used to leave
me to it.

At midday I used to have the dining room lunch, the school room
lunch, the lady’s maid’s lunch, Miss Carson’s lunch, and finally
the servants’ hall lunch – that was five different meals at different
times. I had to have a staff of four in the kitchen to help me. At
weekends I often used to have to cater for 30–35 in the dining
room, and they had seven-course meals every night! It was a lot
of work, but oh, it was marvellous! You know, really first class
cooking, and I had to do it all!

As you can imagine, the Peats needed a large staff to run a
house the size of The Cranmers. To wait at table they had two
parlour maids and a head parlour maid whose name was Birdfield,
I remember, and a man servant who was a sort of semi-butler/
gentleman’s gentleman who used to look after the wines and that
sort of thing. Then they had three or four housemaids, and nursery
maids, a school room maid, and Miss Carson’s companion and
her staff.

Outside they had three gardeners, and a groom and two stable
boys, because they used to keep their own horses there, you see,


– no carriages, but horses for the girls to ride. The gardener had
a lodge at the gates, overlooking the Common. He had the most
beautiful little place there, and of course looked after the grounds
and a glorious walled garden where he used to grow peaches
and nectarines and that sort of thing for the house.
I used to have a lot of the local people come to the house, because
my privilege was the dripping, which I used to sell at tuppence a
pound. Do you remember those big old red earthenware bowls
that were used to keep the bread in? I used one like that for the
dripping, and the kids used to come to the side door for a penn’orth.
And then we used to have oh, such a lot of food left over, and I
used to give them a parcel of bits and pieces as well. I used to
make a lot of money, perhaps 30 to 35 shillings a week in selling
the dripping, which of course the Peats never used. The kitchen
maids and the scullery maids used to save all the fat and scraps for
the pig swill, which a man used to come to collect. The proceeds
of this, together with all the bottles and jars, they got as their perks.

Although there was a lot of poverty in Mitcham at this time, the
servants lived well. They certainly would not accept anything
left over from the dining room – they had to have it all fresh for
the servants’ hall. I remember once there was a lovely piece of
ham left over – the corner of a gammon – and I said to the
gardener, I said, ‘Would you like this?’ ‘I don’t want any leftovers’
was his short reply. I knew that some family would be
delighted, and a short while later a little kid came along, and I
said ‘You take this home to your mummy’. The poor woman
came back to the house, and thanked me, and wanted to buy me
a box of chocolates, but of course I couldn’t hear of such a thing,
for the gift hadn’t cost me anything.

Young Mr. Ernest Peat, the brother of Marjorie, who married into
the Mallaby-Deeley family of Mitcham Court and became Lady
Mallaby-Deeley, was crippled and confined to a long spinal carriage
in which he was wheeled about the village. He was about 17 or 18
then, I suppose. He used to invite the village children to The
Cranmers, and give them rides on the donkey cart. The grounds of


the house were very extensive, you see, and went right down to
the railway. The Peats used to have tennis parties at The Cranmers,
and were also very keen on racing. They were frequent visitors to
Brooklands, where they used to take some of us on outings. I
remember seeing Bill Cotton racing there on one occasion. Ernest
Peat was an awfully nice young fellow, and interested in all forms
of sports, but the poor thing couldn’t get off his back, you see.

The other Mrs. Peat had two daughters and a son, James, who
was rather a wag [Mrs. Smith actually used the word ‘gay’, but
regrettably the meaning of the word has become distorted in recent
years]. When he was a young man he used to bring his lady friends
down to stay at The Cranmers, and one of the maids used to come
down to the servants’ hall and make us laugh, alleging that she had
found hairpins in Mr. Jimmy’s bed! But he was a real scream, and
we all liked him. If the housemaids were busy on the stairs doing
something, he would pull their apron strings, and tie them onto the
bannisters before making good his retreat. Then there was Diana,
Jimmy’s sister, and the baby they used to call ‘Boomy’ – I don’t
remember what her real name was.

When the children were little, they used to have their meals in
the school room. There was an old service lift that used to go up
and down with the plates and things, which acted like a speaking
tube. I remember one of the housemaids was singing once – I
don’t recall what it was – when we heard a voice from above –
I think it was Jimmy’s – calling ‘Hi, Birdfield, give us the Queen,
and then we’ll all be finished!’ It was a happy house, and there
used to be real fun there at times.

I left The Cranmers in about 1915. The Peats were still there
then, and the War had not affected them greatly, although I believe
it was to cripple them later. The groom joined the Forces, although
he didn’t go abroad. He was killed when he was in Norfolk
somewhere, and I remember we all went to his funeral at Bandon
Hill cemetery. I don’t think Jimmy went away, although I believe
he was in the O.T.C. or something. Ernest, the other boy, was, of
course, quite unfit for service.


The Mitcham Ethel Smith was recalling has now passed beyond living
memory. Two World Wars and the ensuing economic and social
upheavals have altered completely the village and life she knew, making
all the more fascinating such glimpses of a world most of us have never
experienced, and life at a house which has long since gone.

The last days of The Cranmers

Contributing to a series of articles on Old Mitcham written by local
residents and published in 1925 and 1926, James D Drewett wrote of
The Cranmers:

The finest of Mitcham’s old houses, ‘The Cranmers’ still stands
as an example of what such a place was in the old days. Just
peep into the huge kitchen; the Barn, one of the largest in Surrey;
the old garden; the old bell on the roof; note the decay and solitude
of this old house.1

Although born of an old Mitcham family, and with a natural interest in
the history and traditions of his native village, Drewett failed to make
any further comment about the house, or the family whose name it
bore. The Drewetts were (and still are) funeral directors, and James
was obviously not one to be carried away by sentiment. We can,
nevertheless, detect in his remarks the awe and veneration with which
the house was regarded by many of the older residents of Mitcham.
Roy Whiting, who had been allowed in the kitchen when a lad, recalled
the floor of stone slabs – “all different shapes and deeply worn, especially
from the kitchen door to the large fireplaces, and round the big table in
the middle of the room”.2 There was evidently a general ignorance of
the actual age of the house, and shortly before Drewett penned his
memories, the compilers of the Victoria County History of Surrey
had been somewhat dismissive, observing (incorrectly as we now know)
that it was “a house of the late 18th century”.3

The dramatic changes in the economy and social structure of Britain
brought about by the first World War, together with the cumulative effect
of those ills which beset the structure of all old houses, combined to
render the maintenance of The Cranmers and its grounds no longer
financially supportable. The construction of the railways through Mitcham


in the 19th century, followed some 40 years later by the electric
tramways, together with the expansion of London which they facilitated
and hastened, had begun to destroy much of the rural character and
isolation of the village even before the outbreak of war in 1914, and by
the mid-1920s the ‘innovations’ so dreaded by Hassell were already to
be seen on all sides.

According to Whiting, for a while after the Peats had moved away, The
Cranmers was occupied by an order of nuns, or ‘Sisters of Mercy’, but
by the time Drewett was writing, the house appears to have been empty
and, like its great tithe barn,4 awaited demolition to make way for the
new Mitcham County School and the Wilson Cottage Hospital.

The Wilson Hospital building covers a substantial part of the actual site
of The Cranmers which was demolished in about 1926 following its sale,
with the adjacent grounds, to Isaac Henry Wilson, a property developer.
Wilson proved a great benefactor to Mitcham (in 1939 he received a
knighthood in recognition for his services to the local community), and
he and his wife conceived the idea of setting aside part of the newly-
acquired land, overlooking Cranmer Green, as a site for a cottage hospital,

The Wilson Hospital, built on the site of The Cranmers in 1928 ,
photograph reproduced by courtesy of Merton Library & Heritage Service


much needed by the rapidly expanding township. Chart, Son and Reading
were the appointed architects, and the builders the Mitcham firm of
Stanley Dale & Co. The formal laying of foundation stones took place in
January 1928 and the following November work had finished and the
building was ready for its official opening. The new hospital provided 26
beds, and had a well-equipped operating theatre, sterilising room and
dispensary, X-ray and dark rooms, casualty and emergency wards, as
well as offices and staff accommodation. An income was also assured,
and the very considerable estate with which the hospital was endowed
by the Wilsons was administered by a board of trustees.

The passing of The Cranmers left a sense of loss amongst many of the
older residents of Mitcham, although it cannot be said that within living
memory the occupants of the house, friendly as they may have been,
had had a particularly noteworthy impact on the life of the village. It
was well-known, of course, that the house, at least in part, was of some
antiquity, and that the Cranmer family and their descendants had been
connected with it and Mitcham for many years. The impulse to weave
a web of romance about the house was hard to resist, and few residents

Princess Mary Viscountess Lascelles at the opening of the Wilson Hospital
in 1928 , reproduced by courtesy of Merton Library & Heritage Service


thought to question the views of Sir Cato Worsfold of Hall Place,
Mitcham, who convinced himself (and most of his contemporaries) that
on the site of The Cranmers had stood the mansion of Sir Julius Caesar
at which, in September 1598, Queen Elizabeth I had been entertained.5
When, on 7 November 1928, the new Wilson Cottage Hospital was
opened with due ceremony by HRH the Princess Mary Viscountess
Lascelles, Sir Cato declared to the assembled crowd of local dignatories

… my mind travels back to … 12th September 1598, when this
very spot where we are assembled this afternoon was visited by
Queen Elizabeth. She came to one of her most loving and loved
subjects, Sir Julius Caesar Adelmare who, on the 10th April 1596,
was married to Dame Alice Dent from her home that then existed
here, and which has only recently been removed to make room
for the hospital that rises before us …6

No doubt Princess Mary showed a polite interest in this snippet of a
local tradition; the residents of Mitcham were certainly impressed, and
the account of the Queen’s visit, so often repeated in local guides and
histories, was now nicely linked with the new hospital of which the fast-
growing township was justifiably proud. Research has shown that Sir
Cato was, in fact, misled in his enthusiasm, and it has been established
that Sir Julius Caesar’s house was in London Road, Lower Mitcham, a
little over 100 yards south of the King’s Head (now the Burn Bullock)
inn.7 The last surviving fragments of this house were demolished by
1814, and in Sir Cato’s time all memory of it had been lost. Thanks to
the development of the public library service, and the deposition in county
record offices of family papers and documents of all kinds, the local
historian is now far better able to avoid the pitfalls of verbal tradition
which have so often ensnared his predecessors.

The new hospital soon became a focus of civic pride, and attracted
much local support. During the 1930s it was the venue of the annual
Wilson Hospital Fete, a popular fund-raising event in which the whole
community took part. Isaac Wilson’s generosity continued, and with his
help the hospital building was extended on several occasions. In 1973,
after 45 years during which ‘The Wilson’ had been a general hospital
and proved a valuable asset during World War II, dealing with civilian


casualties of the Blitz, it was announced in the local press that with
effect from January 1974 it was to become an orthopaedic hospital.
This phase was of relatively short duration, and the building became
used for administrative purposes by the Merton Sutton and Wandsworth
Health Authority until re-opened in 2010 as a district hospital. (A more
detailed history of the Wilson Hospital was compiled in 1989 by Mrs J
Capewell of the Mitcham Carnival Committee, and a shortened version
appeared in the programme of events produced for the Carnival on 13
May of that year.)

Adjoining the hospital to the south were what remained of ‘Rowcrofts’,
the 20 acres of freehold pasture once forming part of the extensive
grounds of The Cranmers. Already cut in two by the London Brighton
and South Coast Railway Company’s new line between Streatham and
Sutton, opened in 1868, Rowcrofts in the mid-1920s was ripe for
redevelopment. The northern, and larger, portion had for some years
been used for raising roses by a market gardener called Simmonds,
whose weatherboarded cottage, aptly named ‘Rose Nursery’, remained
in Tramway Path until the 1960s. Judged by its position at the end of a
lane from Willow Lane and at the commencement of an avenue of
limes leading to the rear of the Cranmers, the cottage could once have
been a gatekeeper’s lodge. Whether or not this was the case is uncertain,
but it is evident that from the early 19th century it was used in connection
with the Surrey Iron Railway, for the building was described as the
‘Iron Road Cottages’ by the enumerator conducting the 1851 census,
and is marked as ‘Railway Cottages’ in the 1867 OS map.

In the 1920s land formerly at the south-eastern tip of The Cranmers’
grounds, known locally as Rowcrofts Corner, was donated in a typically
generous gesture by Isaac Wilson to the newly-formed Mitcham Garden
Village Trust for the erection of an estate of dwellings to be let to elderly
people. These were completed between 1929 and 1932 by local builder
Charles Higginson, working to plans prepared by Chart, Son and Reading.
Wilson, a farmer’s son who had been persuaded to leave his native
Cumbria to join his brother’s building firm in London before the outbreak
of war in 1914, had endowed a similar estate at Milton, near Carlisle,
where he is still remembered for his open-handedness. Half a century
later, mistakenly calling Wilson’s Surrey estate “Mitcham Garden Suburb”


in his Buildings of England, Pevsner somewhat tersely described the
development as a “keyhole-shaped close with houses facing inwards, all
different. This is the spirit of Blaise Hamlet a century late. Pleasant
layout, poor half-timbered houses, 1929-32”.8 In 1977 it was reported in
the local press that the administrators of the Garden Village Trust had
offered to transfer ownership to the London Borough of Merton, but this
was declined, and the estate is now run by a housing association.9

The wave of nostalgia for the past which affected the district in the late
1920s and 1930s coincided with the vogue for ‘stockbroker’s Tudor’
amongst speculative builders creating the outer suburbs of London. In
Mitcham it has left a legacy of imitation half-timbering and gabled roofs
to be seen on the hundreds of terraced houses which soon covered the
remaining fields and meadows around Mitcham Common. An excellent
example of the pleasing effect which can be achieved by a restrained
use of the ‘Elizabethan’ idiom is afforded by the design of the Mitcham
Garden Village, and in the same spirit the roads on the estate of 1930s
housing which now covers the northern part of Rowcrofts were given
the evocative names of Burghley Place, Caesar’s Walk, Walsingham
Road, Hatton Gardens and Cecil Place.

Mitcham Garden Village (ENM c.1970)

Chapter 3


Origins of the estate

The architectural and historical importance of The Canons, the
somewhat altered but still interesting house of the Restoration period to
the north of Cranmer Green, received early official recognition with
listing under the Town and Country Planning Act 1947. It was featured
subsequently in the Surrey County Council’s Antiquities of Surrey,
published in 1965, and was placed in the Grade II* category when an
updated list of buildings of architectural or historic interest was compiled
by the London Borough of Merton in 1990. At the same time the
dovecote in the grounds was listed Grade II.1 The main part of the
house was erected during the reign of Charles II, and is therefore now
well into its fourth century. The dovecote can be dated to the early 16th
century. For much of its long history the site has been occupied by one
of the manor houses of Mitcham, and for nearly 300 years the property
was closely associated with the Cranmer family and their descendants

The Canons and carp pond (ENM 1966)


the Simpsons. The site itself, however, has a far longer history: its
occupation can be traced back to within a few years of the Norman

Medieval bequests

It has been suggested by some historical writers, influenced by the
Domesday record, that the rather unusual name by which the land and,
by association, the house has been known at least since the early 18th
century was in some way connected with the estate in Mitcham which,
as we have seen earlier, was held in 1086 by the canons of Bayeux as
sub-tenants of Bishop Odo. If that assumption is correct, the canons’
tenure must have been relatively short, and is unlikely to have continued
long after William II’s defeat of the Norman barons in 1088 and Odo’s
retirement to France in disgrace.2 A more likely explanation is that the
name arose from possession of the property, as part of their Mitcham
estate, by the canons regular of the Augustinian priory of St Mary at
Southwark for a period of some 400 years, commencing early in the
12th century and ending with the Dissolution.

The many gifts of land made to the priory following its foundation early
in the 12th century tell not only of the special favour being shown to the
Church at this time, but also of the freedom of individual landowning
families to grant land which they held as vassals of the King or a feudal
overlord. That this right to dispose of land also extended to the village
assembly, or folkmoot, is demonstrated by the ability of a group of
ordinary Mitcham people to act in a corporate capacity for ‘the whole
parish’. These transactions were occurring at a time when, it is usually
believed, the feudal system had become firmly established in England,
and the general populace outside towns was reduced to impotent
serfdom. One suspects that in reality this was not the situation, at least
in this part of Surrey, and that the Alfredian system of local government
based on the shire and hundred, which it had been Henry I’s avowed
intention to restore, was functioning at parish level.3

On examination of a large-scale map of Mitcham it is immediately
apparent that the dozen or so acres comprising the grounds of The
Canons today abut public open spaces on two sides – the Cricket Green
and Cranmer Green. Both would appear to have once been part of the


extensive tract of heath over which many of the villagers could claim
common rights. As we shall see later, the grounds of Park Place, which
adjoin The Canons, are similarly bounded on the east by former common
land – the Three Kings Piece – and it can be seen that, taken together,
the two properties occupy land that could once have formed a swathe
of uncultivated ‘waste’ extending from Church Road in the west probably
as far as the medieval East Field. It therefore comes as no surprise to
find the old name for the Park Place estate to be ‘Allmannesland’ –
literally all men’s land. The enclosure was obviously of considerable
antiquity, for it was referred to in 1382, when Allmannesland was
amongst the possessions of the late Sir John Burghersh as a copyhold
tenant of the tithing of Mitcham, held by the prior and convent of Christ
Church Canterbury.4

The precise location of the land “on which their [i.e. the canons’] houses
are” is not clear from a charter of confirmation of Bishop de Blois
dated c.1170,5 and its site must remain a matter for conjecture. However,
what can be identified as the core of today’s Canons estate was
surrendered at the Dissolution by the canons of Southwark priory, and
included not only the parsonage house, but also numerous ancillary
buildings including a hall, dairy, brewhouse, dovecote etc. It seems a
reasonable assumption, therefore, that we are considering the same
site, and that The Canons and its grounds are on the land given to the
priory in the 12th century. When the tithe commutation survey was
conducted in 1846 the land occupied by the house and its adjoining yard
and outbuildings was recorded as tithe-free – a certain indication that at
some time in the past a property had been held by the Church.

The Dissolution, and medieval survivals

As we have seen, in the opening years of the 16th century the priory of
St Mary Overy at Southwark was one of the principal landowners in
the parish. Then, on the Dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII
in 1538, the priory was obliged to surrender all its Mitcham estates,
which reverted temporarily to the Crown.

Before dealing with The Canons itself, we should perhaps take a look
at the interesting dovecote in the grounds, for this enjoys the distinction
of being the oldest complete building in Mitcham, and must date from


before the Dissolution. In plan it is rectangular, with walls three feet
thick built of squared and coursed hard chalk or ‘clunch’, and in places
knapped flint. The angles are of thin red Tudor bricks, and the plinth is
of flint and chalk with a chamfered brick capping. The entrance doorway
is on the eastern side, surmounted by a four-centred arch of stone, and
reached by three stone steps. The roof takes the form of a truncated
pyramid, covered with plain tiles, and surmounted by a louvred turret.
An aperture in the south wall, formerly filled with honeycomb brickwork,
allowed pigeons access to the interior. Roosts – real ‘pigeon holes’ –
for between 500 and 600 birds are constructed of chalk blocks and
slabs on the interior faces of all four walls, arranged in 15 rows extending
from floor to eaves level.

The year of the dovecote’s erection
is suggested by the date 1511 cut
in Roman numerals MDXI in a
chalk block in the west wall, about
four feet from the ground. Long
hidden from view and thus
protected, the figures were
discovered in August 1942 during
the removal of ivy to facilitate repairs to a section of the wall which had
collapsed the previous month.6 The dovecote suffered damage through
vandalism in the spring of 1993, and after poorly executed temporary
repairs had been carried out by workmen of the Borough Council’s
parks staff, renovations were undertaken by a specialist firm
recommended by English Heritage. New stone from the Totternhoe
quarry in Bedfordshire, said to be one of the few remaining sources of
suitable material, was used where replacement was necessary, and the
plinth and the damaged doorway opening were competently repaired.
Regrettably, the decision was taken to tool back the surface of the
original blockwork to remove an encrustation of soot and lime wash,
during the course of which the important incised date was severely
defaced and left barely decipherable.

The materials of which the dovecote is built, and the chequer-pattern
achieved with alternating chalk blocks and panels of flint beside the
doorway, accord well enough with a date of construction late in the


Interior of The Canons dovecote (ENM c.1970)


North view of The Canons dovecote (ENM c.1970)

15th or early in the 16th century. The whole is a unique survival in
Mitcham of a form of construction probably common amongst the more
substantial structures of the late medieval and early Tudor period. The
building is recorded as being the property of Richard Burton in 1589,7
and there is little reason seriously to doubt that it had been erected by or
for the prior and convent of St Mary Overy towards the end of their
ownership of the estate. The exclusive right of a landlord to keep pigeons,
a valuable supplement to the menu, particularly during the lean months
of winter, was a jealously guarded privilege in the Middle Ages, for too


many pigeons could become a pest, creating havoc in the cornfields. As
at Mitcham and Beddington, dovehouses quite often survive unaltered
in the grounds of large country houses which, unlike the humbler
structures on the estate, were frequently enlarged or even rebuilt to suit
the changing needs and social aspirations of successive owners.

Work on the priory papers by the late Evelyn Jowett confirmed the existence
of a farm at Mitcham run by the canons in the 14th century, and disclosed
the dimensions of the hall, the principal building.8 The exact location of the
farmstead itself, and of its associated buildings, was not specified, but it
would be a reasonable assumption that they were close to the site of the
present house. Miss Jowett visualised the establishment as following very
much the usual pattern of the Augustinian Order’s lowland grange farms,
the buildings of which included, in addition to the hall and parlour, a kitchen
and sleeping quarters, a dairy, bakehouse and brewhouse, together with
cowsheds and other farm buildings, a dovecote and a carp pond. In contrast
to a farm let to tenants, the typical grange was run directly by the monastic
establishment, the daily routine being supervised by a lay bailiff, visited
from time to time by an ‘obedientiary’, a monastic officer, possibly a sub-
prior, charged with the responsibility of overseeing such establishments.
Organised in this way these farms were run with great efficiency, achieving
what, for those times, was a high standard of husbandry. A so-called
‘cell’, which it has been claimed stood on the site,9 could have existed as
an adjunct to the grange, and as a small dependent off-shoot of the parent
house might have provided accommodation for ailing canons, or perhaps
for the priest serving the parish church.

The advowson of Mitcham had been exercised by the prior and convent
probably since the 12th century, and in 1259 was granted afresh by
Baldwin, the eighth earl of Devon and Wight.10 The rectory, or right to
tithes, was also held by the priory, but at the Dissolution, like the
advowson, it passed into lay hands. The names of the vicars appointed
from 1291 are known, but whereas some of the early incumbents may
well have been canons of St Mary, it is likely that in later years the more
usual custom was followed, whereby the rector (in the case of Mitcham,
the prior and convent at Southwark) appointed paid, unbeneficed minor
clergy to say the offices. Convincing indications that a building on the
site of The Canons did, in fact, provide accommodation for the priest


serving the parish are the references to a ‘Parsonage House’, repeatedly
occurring in deeds recording the changes of ownership of the property
during the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

A large timber barn, occupying a position to the north of the present
house, was the subject of a sketch (undated) at one time to be found in
Mitcham library’s collection of historic documents.11 It can also be seen
on a plan of the estate produced for Esther Maria Cranmer in 1815. On
the evidence of the 25-inch Ordnance Survey maps of the late 19th
century, demolition seems to have taken place by c.1895. The dovecote,
as we have noted, survives from the priory’s tenure of the estate, as
does the nearby lake which, for some time after the Dissolution,
comprised two adjacent ponds. These would have been the ‘stews’, or
ponds used for breeding and holding carp, fish being a valued item of
diet on meatless days during the Middle Ages. There is a record of the
pond having been enlarged and deepened by Robert Cranmer in about
1664,12 and it would, of necessity, have been dredged of silt and vegetation
many times over the succeeding 300 years. It is therefore most unlikely
that any descendants of the priory’s fish stock remained when the pond
was cleaned in 1966. The opportunity was then taken to restock it with
fish rescued from static water tanks at James Pain and Sons’ firework
factory at Eastfields, then being demolished to make way for
redevelopment as a municipal housing estate.13 Unfortunately this modest
link with another aspect of Mitcham’s past was overlooked when the
pond was drained and cleaned in July 1993, and the fish were transferred
to a lake in Sussex.14 Due to an abnormally wet autumn that year the
level of ground water rose somewhat earlier than had been expected,
and it proved impracticable to finish the removal of silt. By October the
pond was full again, and completion of the work was deferred until the
following year. The water level has since remained more or less constant.

In 1612, when a large portion of the Burton estate in Mitcham was sold
by Sir Henry to Sir Nicholas Carew of Beddington, the transaction
included what in the indenture and deed of feoffment was described as
the “Parsonage House or Manor House”.15 It passed subsequently into
the possession of Sir Nicholas’s son Edmund, and seven years later, in
1619, the “Capital Messuage commonly called the parsonage house of
Mitcham” with the dovecote etc. was the subject of a second lease,


granted by Sir Nicholas to a sitting tenant, Marke Sharp “of Mitcham,
yeoman”.16 A separate, contemporary, deed also contains a reference
to a “messuage in Mitcham called Cannon”.17 In 1646 Edmund Carew
and Richard Tredwell sold the “Parsonage House” and “The Grove” in
Mitcham, then in the occupation of Richard Knepp, to Richard Surman
of Croydon. The latter’s widow Joan released the house and land, which
included Rowcrofts, plus the right of commoning (i.e. grazing cattle and
gathering fuel) on Mitcham Common, to her son Richard in 1657.18
Two years later Richard, who was described as a maltster of Croydon
and was using the parsonage as a brewhouse, sold the property for
£450 to John Swift and John Morris.19 It was from them that it was
purchased by Robert Cranmer in September 1661. The “Brewing house
at Cannon”, with its copper and mash tun, “sweete wort Tunne”
and malt mill, find mention in the inventory post mortem taken of
Robert Cranmer’s effects in March 1665/6.20

With such a history it can be imagined the condition of the
accommodation provided for the ministers serving the parish church
could well have been a source of the friction which, as we have seen in
the previous chapter, arose between the vicar, Anthony Sadler, and his
patron, Robert Cranmer, in the 1660s.

On Robert Cranmer’s untimely death his estate passed to his sons, of
whom there were seven. The eldest, Robert, died in 1672 immediately
before his coming of age, in consequence of which John, who was a
boy of 11 when his parents died, inherited.21 We know very little of John
Cranmer’s business interests, but he had an address in Spitalfields, where
his second son, James, was born in 1683, and he was probably a
commodity merchant. It is evident from the family papers that John
was responsible for the building or enlarging of at least three houses on
the Cranmers’ Mitcham estate, but they were small, and either leased,
or let to tenants.

The Revd John Berrow was instituted vicar of Mitcham in 1670, and
eleven years later John Cranmer evidently decided the old parsonage
house was beyond repair. The appearance of the parsonage in Church
Road, which remained in use until 1826, when it was demolished, was
preserved by John Hassell in a watercolour drawing,22 and is certainly


consistent with its having been erected towards the end of the 17th
century, perhaps as new accommodation for the Revd John Payne,
who succeeded Berrow as vicar in 1675.

With the old parsonage presumably empty, in November 1680 John
Cranmer granted a building lease to a John Odway of the “parcel of
Ground called Cannons (heretofore ‘The Grove’) with the Orchard
Gardens, fish pond, dovehouse and appurtenances containing together
12 acres”.23 The lease was for 51 years commencing the following
Lady Day at a rental of £12 per annum, and Odway, who covenanted
to lay out £250 in rebuilding the “Manor House called the Parsonage”,
agreed to vacate on or before the expiration of the lease. The result
was the southern part of the house we see today. John Cranmer married
his first wife, Dorothea Gilbert, the daughter of a London merchant, in
1679/80, and the coincidence of dates may suggest, although there is
nothing otherwise to support the idea, that the new house was seen by
the Cranmers as their future country seat. Unfortunately Dorothea died
in 1680/81, and whatever plans John and she had made were abandoned.

The Odways, or Otways, of Mitcham – a military family

Locally, records for the late 17th and early 18th centuries are not plentiful,
and give no indication who lived in the house in the years immediately
following its completion. Consequently nearly 40 years elapse before
we learn from the estate book kept by John Cranmer’s son James that
in 1717 the property, which he invariably described as “the house that
Odway built”, was in the hands of a widowed lady, Mrs Cross, paying
an annual ground rent of £12 – i.e. the same as John Odway. She had,
presumably, acquired the unexpired portion of the original lease from
the Odway family, John having died in 1702.

Family history research conducted some 20 years ago by Daphne
Bradbury, a descendant of the Odways (they seem to have adopted the
alternative spelling of Otway sometime in the late 17th century), has
now provided more information, and whilst many questions (old and
new) remain unanswered, the family members are beginning to emerge
as interesting people who not only have a place in Mitcham history but
also played their part in the formative years of the British Empire.1


The Otway family was not new to Mitcham, and a Thomas Otway(e),
a ‘husbandman’, or tenant farmer, is mentioned in several wills during
the latter part of Henry VIII’s reign. A marriage and two burials were
also recorded in the Mitcham registers early in Elizabeth’s reign. The
surname ‘Ottye’ or ‘Ottway’ occurs in two instances in Tooting early
in the 17th century, but although there may be a connection – the name,
after all, is not very common – nothing has come to light to show
conclusively that they were related to the Otways who are known to
have been living at Colliers Wood during the Commonwealth.2

The baptisms of three daughters born to Audrey, wife of Francis Otway,
are recorded as taking place in Mitcham between 1655 and 1663. On
one occasion, in 1657, the parish clerk considered Francis merited being
styled ‘gent’. In 1661/2 (i.e. early in 1662 by our calendar) Francis
‘Ottway’ of Mitcham, described as an ‘Innholder’, contributed five
shillings as a “Free and Voluntary Present” to the sum being collected
in Surrey as a gift to Charles II.3 Francis paid hearth tax in 1664, and
presumably spent the remainder of his life in Mitcham. He died in
September 1680, and his burial is recorded in the parish register.

No indication is given as to where, precisely, Francis Otway lived, but it
would be perverse to place him anywhere other than at Colliers Wood
House. We have evidence that he resided in the parish as early as 1655,
but unfortunately this conflicts with the militia levy assessments, which
do not show him as a taxpayer until the early 1660s. An explanation
could be that in the 1650s he was occupying the house at Colliers Wood
(or perhaps merely part of it) on a sub-lease, and did not take over the
property in its entirety (and hence assume liability as a taxpayer) until
about 1663. The transition to owner or lessee-occupier had certainly
taken place by 1664 when the assessments for hearth tax were made.
Otway’s description as an ‘innholder’ also invites comment. Was he at
one time using the rambling old house at Colliers Wood as an inn? It
was situated on the major highway out of London leading to Epsom,
which Pepys tells us was already attracting ‘much Company’ by the
1660s on account of its curative waters, the horse racing and meeting
rooms. Unfortunately the records of the Surrey licensing magistrates
are incomplete so, once again, we are left to conjecture.


Before turning to what Daphne Bradbury’s work can tell us about John
Otway and The Canons, mention ought to be made of Ensign Charles
Otway of the Duke of Monmouth’s Regiment of Foot. He saw service
in Flanders during the war between France and Spain for control of the
Netherlands, and in November 1678 was promoted to the rank of
lieutenant. The connection (if any) with the Mitcham Otways has yet to
be demonstrated, but Charles is of interest in that many of John Otway’s
sons and grandsons were also to follow careers in the army as
commissioned officers.

We now come to John Otway who, it is believed, was born around 1645
and was said to be ‘of Mitcham’ when, in about 1670, he married Auria
James. She was the 14-year old daughter of Walter James, a member
of a Kentish landowning family whose alleged recusancy had placed
them under threat of sequestration by 1610. In 1575 an ancestor, Martin
James, Remembrancer of the Court of Exchequer, had acquired Romden
Place, near Smarden in Kent, and on the death of her father in 1664
Auria, an only child and heiress to the family estate, inherited what
remained of their houses and lands.4 Title to Romden passed to her
husband John, and successive Otways retained possession of the estate
until 1786. The background to John and Auria’s betrothal is not known,
but her age, and the social standing and property she most likely brought
with her, suggests that the marriage may have been arranged, as was so
often the case, rather than purely the outcome of a romantic attachment.

The union was certainly fruitful, for Auria, who died in about 1698 whilst
still in her mid-40s, gave birth over the space of 30 years to no fewer
than 20 children. Twelve of them, six boys and six girls, survived her
and were living when John’s will was proved in 1702. With the exception
of the eldest son, James, who was born in about 1672, and a daughter
named Margaret, the names of all of the children appear in the Mitcham
baptismal registers. We are thus led to conclude that John and his family
were resident in the parish from 1675 until at least 1698, when his last
daughter, Hester, was born. This raises the question as to whether John
and Auria, with their young children, were living at Colliers Wood until
about 1681, when The Canons would have been ready for occupation.
There seems a strong possibility that John was related to Francis and


Audrey Otway – he could well have been their son – in which case his
obtaining a building lease from Cranmer, and the building of a new house
which he and his family later occupied, can be seen as the logical sequel
to the death of Francis in September 1680 and, presumably, the surrender
of the lease of the Colliers Wood house.

Following the detection early in 1696 of a Jacobite conspiracy against
the throne and life of William III, Parliament passed an Act of Association
requiring holders of civil and military posts and all ‘citizens of substance’
to sign a pledge of allegiance to His Majesty. John Otway’s name is
among the 182 signatures collected in Mitcham.5 This is not only an
indication of his social status in the community, but also confirmation
that the Otways were still resident in Mitcham, presumably at The
Canons, at least until the closing years of the 17th century. The fact that
in Mitcham there were so many persons of rank and ‘substance’
affirming their loyalty to the King is also interesting and, as we have
seen, it was regarded as “a Village well inhabited and much frequented
by the the Citizens of London”.6 Tax assessments show the parish then
had approximately 230 houses, from which we can postulate a population
of a little over 1,000. The 182 names on the oath roll would of course
have included more than one signatory from many of the larger
households, of which there were evidently several at the time. According
to the Index Villaris, published in 1680, “Micham” contained the seats
of one baronet, one knight, and more than three “gentlemen authorised
to bear arms”. “Mitcham Common” had three more gentlemen of the
same calibre.7

In 1693 James Otway married Elizabeth Lightfoot at the church of St
James, Duke’s Place, in London. Three of their children were buried at
Mitcham between 1696 and 1699, and two others, Richard and Francis,
were baptised at the parish church in 1700 and 1702 respectively. This
suggests that even before his mother’s death in 1698 James, with Elizabeth
and their own growing brood, had moved into the family home at Mitcham.
By this time James had probably already purchased a commission in the
army, and in 1699, when his daughter Elizabeth was buried at Mitcham,
he was described by the parish clerk as ‘Capt. James Otway’. The
following year Otway’s man John Whitehall was buried at Mitcham.


James’s career undoubtedly necessitated frequent absences from home,
and we can imagine Elizabeth taking charge of the household at The
Canons after her mother-in-law died. A picture of a close-knit extended
family thus emerges, the house enlivened with children from two
generations, plus parents, grandparents and their servants. Death, sadly,
was not an uncommon occurrence. As we have seen, several of the
children died in infancy and John Otway, James’s father, died in June
1702. There is also an entry in the parish register recording the burial in
February 1708 of ‘Widow Otway’ who, although we cannot be sure of
the relationship, could well have been Audrey, the wife of Francis Otway
and James’s grandmother.

Five of John Otway’s sons, all baptised in Mitcham, secured commissions
in the army. James appears likely to have seen service in the War of the
Spanish Succession. He rose to become colonel of the 9th (Norfolk)
Regiment of Foot, and in 1725 was stationed in Minorca where he died
and was buried. John, the second son, born in 1682, held a lieutenancy
in the 2nd Dragoon Guards from 1702 until 1706 when he became a
captain in Lord Lovelace’s newly raised Regiment of Foot. Charles,
who was baptised at Mitcham in 1686, had what was probably the most
colourful career of the five.8 He was appointed colonel of Lord Mohun’s
Regiment of Foot in 1717 and retained the rank until his death in 1764.
Otway’s regiment, the 35th Foot, garrisoned Fort William Henry in New
England in 1757, and two years later was on General Wolfe’s right
flank in the assault on the Heights of Abraham above Quebec. Stephen,
John’s fourth son to survive childhood, was 18 when he first appeared
in the army lists as a second lieutenant in Colonel Charles Churchill’s
Regiment of Marines. He became a major in his brother’s old Regiment
of Foot in 1743 and was still serving in the same corps five years later.
Finally, Thomas, who was born in 1695, held the rank of first lieutenant,
also in the 35th Foot, by 1721, and had been promoted to captain three
years later, when he was stationed at Fort St Philip.

In 1717 James became the sole possessor of Romden, having bought
out his brothers. By this time the unexpired portion of the lease of The
Canons had been relinquished, and the Otways had severed their
connections with Mitcham. Daphne Bradbury’s researches trace the


fortunes of the family into the 19th and 20th centuries, following a trail
that leads to Westmorland, Ireland, Canada and the West Indies, and
finally to Australia and New Zealand.

The Canons in the 18th century: the manor house of Mitcham

As we have noted, when, in 1717, James Cranmer began to keep an
estate and account book, The Canons was in the hands of Mrs Cross,
whose social standing merited her being listed amongst the local gentry in
the replies given by the vicar to the bishop of Winchester’s Visitation in
1725. She died in 1727, and after a brief period during which the outstanding
rent was settled by her executors, the lease of The Canons passed to
Firman Van Fleet, who remained in occupation for ten years. Nothing
much can be said of either Mrs Cross or Van Fleet, but it is perhaps worth
noting that Mitcham parish registers record the marriage in August 1733
of Hendrick Thesingh Egbertz, a merchant of Haarlem, to a Judith Van
Fleet, who was, presumably, Firman’s daughter.

Local historians owe a considerable debt of gratitude to James Cranmer,
for in his estate book the map shows the location of the properties owned
by the family, thereby removing any possible confusion arising from the
various terms which had been used to describe The Canons estate over
the preceding years. The map has a little sketch of the house Odway
erected, captioned by James “The Manor or Parsonage House where
Mr. Vanfleet lives” and, to the east of the house but within the same
curtilage, he wrote “Cannons alias the Grove”. Although the positioning
of the second caption might have been dictated by the space available on
the sketch and therefore of no real significance, at one time the two could
conceivably have been distinct parcels of land. They were obviously leased
together and regarded as one property by the early 18th century, and
eventually the house itself became known simply as The Canons.1

The next occupant of the house built by Odway was John Manship, a
merchant of the City of London and director of the East India Company,
who purchased the unexpired portion of Van Fleet’s lease in 1737. His
name first occurs in Cranmer’s accounts as paying rent due in arrears to
the previous Michaelmas, i.e. 1736. In 1741 Manship negotiated a new
lease with Cranmer for seven years from Lady Day 1741, at a rent of


£40 per annum rebated by £24 7s 0d the first year for repairs and
improvements.2 Manship purchased the Biggin Grove estate in north
Mitcham in 1743, and in January 1744/5 also acquired the lordship of the
manor of Biggin and Tamworth, which embraced not only much of north
and east Mitcham, but extended into Streatham.3 The Canons, however,
seems to have remained his seat until his death in January 1749, for James
Cranmer’s accounts show rent still being received from John Manship’s
widow, Elizabeth, into the 1750s.

James Cranmer junior, born at his father’s house in Coleman Street,
London, in 1719, married his first wife Ann Toll (b.1730) in 1750. That
same year he leased Chaff Hawes for 12 months to Richard Toll,
presumably Ann’s father. The Tolls were obviously wealthy, for Ann’s
dowry was £4,000, and the marriage settlement of May that year made
provision for her father’s house in Tottenham to pass to her husband,
James, and any children of their marriage surviving at his death.4 The
couple’s first child, Ann, was born in May 1751 at their house in Bartlett’s
Buildings in the parish of St Andrew, Holborn,5 and their second daughter,
Esther Maria, who was ultimately to inherit the Mitcham estate, at
Tottenham in September 1760.6 James was described by Manning and
Bray as being “of the Pipe Office”,7 and there was a notable family
tradition of legal service in the Exchequer dating back to the 17th century
for, as we have seen, his great-uncle Joseph of Chickney Hall, Essex,
held office as First Secondary of the Pipe Office, whilst his second cousin,
Joseph Cranmer of Quendon Hall, was a clerk in Chancery.8 Conceivably,
James and Ann set up house at The Canons on Mrs Manship’s leaving,
but one would imagine James’s official duties would have required him to
maintain accommodation in town, and he and his wife also spent much of
their time at Tottenham, where in May 1768 Ann died, aged only 38.

The following year James married again, taking as his second wife Rebecca
Bulmer, but this marriage was childless. James was thus denied a son to
bear the family name and eventually to inherit the Mitcham estate to
which he himself had succeeded on his father’s death in 1752. James
was now lord of the manor of Mitcham, and his duties as squire and local
landlord must have required his frequent presence in the village. Like his
father, he played an active part in the local government of the day, and his


signature occurs frequently in the vestry minutes. He also held the
advowson of the parish church and, as patron of the living, in 1779
presented his young nephew Streynsham Derbyshire Myers MA, a
graduate of Magdalen College Oxford and son of William Myers of
Mitcham and Elizabeth, James’s sister, to the vicarage of Mitcham.9

James and Rebecca retained the house at Tottenham, where they
evidently spent much of their time, but The Canons seems to have been
kept as their Mitcham residence, and in 1761, when James built or rebuilt
a brick wall around one of the enclosed gardens to the north-east of the
house, he commemorated the event with a block of white limestone
inscribed “Built by James Cranmer Esq., Anno 1761”. The stone can
be seen today on the eastern side of the old walled garden, where it

The Canons front entrance (ENM c.1970)


was reset when the garden was renovated in 1969. For the first time in
its history, The Canons house could now legitimately be called the manor
house, and in about 1789 James Edwards, visiting Mitcham whilst
compiling his Companion from London to Brighthelmston, commented
that “Mr. Cranmer has a genteel white house, which is his residence”.10

The Dixons and the Simpsons (1801–1843)

James Cranmer II, the last male heir of the Mitcham line of the family
and the great-grandson of Robert Cranmer, had for nearly 50 years
been the squire of Mitcham when he died at The Canons in June 1801
in his 83rd year. Unlike most members of his family, who for a century
and a half had been buried in the parish church at Mitcham, James was
interred at Tottenham where, as we have seen, he and his first wife
Ann had spent much of their time, and where she had been laid to rest
33 years previously.1 His younger brother, Edward, who matriculated at
Queen’s College, Oxford, in October 1760, at the age of 17, had obtained
his BA in 1764 and MA in 1767.2 Like his nephew William, Edward
took holy orders. He died in May 1802.1

In his will James devised his Mitcham estate to his second wife Rebecca
for life, the remainder passing to Esther Maria Dixon, the younger of
his two daughters by his first marriage. Ann, the elder daughter, had
married John Owen, son of John Owen an attorney of the Inner Temple,
in April 1774, receiving a marriage settlement of £2,000.3 In June 1782
Esther Maria, similarly endowed, had married Captain Richard Dixon
of the 85th Regiment of Foot, son of Benjamin and Ann Dixon of Marsh
Gate near Richmond but, with two young children and expecting a third,
she had been widowed in October 1791.1

It was her father’s wish that, as a condition of her inheritance, Esther
Maria and her two surviving children, Emily and Richard, (the second
son, James, having died in 1799 at the age of 11) should assume the
name and arms of Cranmer on the death of his second wife. In 1801, at
the age of 16, Richard Dixon had been articled to J W Davis, an attorney
at law of Queen’s Square, Bloomsbury, but decided in 1805 to abandon
the idea of a legal career and to enter the Church. Although James
Cranmer had not required that his daughter and grandchildren should


change their name before Rebecca Cranmer’s death, it was with the
concurrence of the family, prompted by Richard’s decision to relinquish
his articles and to pursue a career in the Church, that in 1805 the decision
was reached for Esther Maria and her children to adopt the name Cranmer
forthwith. The matter was placed in the hands of Sir Brook Watson, a
family friend, and a formal announcement appeared in the Gazette on
25 May.4 Esther Maria’s petition for a royal licence to use the arms of
Cranmer was referred to the College of Heralds. Although many years
later the true pedigree of Robert Cranmer was ascertained and his
relationship to Archbishop Thomas Cranmer was verified, the Heralds
were unable to establish at the time that Robert was entitled to bear
arms, and accordingly a new coat of arms was granted to Mrs Cranmer.5

Richard was released from his articles, and in October 1805 entered
Jesus College, Cambridge, where he graduated three years later. He
was ordained deacon in the Chapel Royal, St James, by Bishop North
of Winchester in June 1808, and secured the curacy of Whittlesea. In
December 1808 he was ordained priest by the Bishop of Salisbury, and
11 months later preached his first sermon at Kew, where he had obtained
the curacy with a salary of £60 per annum. In May 1812, when Revd
Derbyshire Myers, who was his mother’s first cousin, was taken
seriously ill, Richard Cranmer assumed temporary duties at Mitcham
church. Although the Revd Myers was to retain the living at Mitcham
until his death in 1824, Richard’s position seems to have become
permanent on Rebecca Cranmer having requested, and obtained, the
permission of the diocesan bishop.1

Richard took up residence at Mitcham in June 1812, and the following
February his mother noted in her diary that she had sent to him at Mitcham
“all the papers relating to the Mitcham property”. The indications are
that Richard Cranmer was by then living in part of The Canons, and
certainly the inventory of Rebecca Cranmer’s effects taken after her
death in 1815 implies that she retained only two reception rooms and
three bedrooms there for her personal use.6

Esther Maria Cranmer inherited her father’s estate on the death of her
stepmother. She continued to reside in the house later known as Holly
Lodge at East Sheen to which she and Richard Dixon had moved in


(ENM c.1970)

1789,7 and there is no real evidence that she left for Mitcham in 1815.
Following the example of her late father, however, when a section of
wall forming the eastern boundary of the estate was erected, she gave
instructions for a stone to be incorporated in the brickwork bearing the
inscription “This wall is placed at the boundary & built by Mrs. E. M.
Cranmer in the year 1816”. The stone, which originally faced the adjoining
property to the east, but was reset by the Borough Council in the 1970s,
is still to be seen, in the wall of The Canons car park. Until his death in
October that year the adjoining property, Park House, or Park Place as
it is now known, was the residence of Lieutenant General Forbes
Champagné, colonel commandant of the 95th Regiment of Foot. Esther
Maria Cranmer purchased Park Place for £2,960 from the general’s
executor in 18178 and the property was to remain in the family’s
possession until sold by her great-grandson, William F J Simpson, in 1922.

Esther Maria, widowed for 28 years, died in 1819 at the relatively early
age of 59, and the manor of Mitcham, the advowson and a substantial
part of the family estate passed to her son Richard, who married Elizabeth
Mary Window in 1820.9 A guidebook to Surrey published in 1823
confirms The Canons as the residence of the Revd Richard Cranmer at


that time.10 Following the death in September 1824 of his second cousin,
the Revd Streynsham Derbyshire Myers, Richard Cranmer was instituted
vicar of Mitcham on the presentation of the Revd John Cranmer, another
distant cousin. Richard and Elizabeth continued to live at The Canons,
probably until about 1826, when they moved to the newly-built villa
which still forms the central three bays of the vicarage standing opposite
the parish church. Two years later, the Revd Richard Cranmer died,
aged only 44. He was survived by his wife and two daughters, Elizabeth
Mary, who was to marry her cousin, the Revd Richard Simpson, in
1844, and Esther Maria Louisa, who died in 1841, aged 17.

It is to the Revd Richard Cranmer that Mitcham owes one of its few
outdoor monuments, commemorating the dramatic appearance of a
spring after a prolonged period of drought. The summers of 1821 and
1822 were marked by extremely low rainfall, and the villagers, normally

blessed with a bountiful
supply of water from
numerous shallow wells sunk
into the gravelly sub-soil,
supplemented by at least one
artesian bore, suffered great
hardship. Many of the local
wells dried up, and whereas
in years gone by the Wandle
had provided a supply to
which recourse could be had
in times of emergency, the
discharge of effluents from
the tanneries and the
bleaching and printing works
upstream from Mitcham
bridge had now rendered the
river water unsafe, if not
actually undrinkable. Local
tradition holds that the
apparently miraculous
emergence of a spring of

The obelisk at The Canons (ENM 1975)


pure water at the corner of The Canons grounds was felt by many
parishioners to be evidence of Divine compassion.11 A tall obelisk of
brick, faced with Roman cement, still standing at the junction of Madeira
Road and the Cricket Green, was erected in The Canons grounds by
the Revd Richard Cranmer to commemorate the event. It is dated 25
September 1822, and bears the following inscription:

grateful recollection
of the goodness of
through whose favour
water has been provided
For this neighbourhood
opened the rock
and the waters gushed
out; they ran in dry
places like a river.
Psalm CV. v.41
turneth dry ground
into water springs
Psalm CVII. v.35
everything that hath
breath praise the Lord
Psalm CL. v.6
Fountain shall water
the valley
Joel III. v.18

The supply is alleged by Walford12 to have failed soon after the monument
had been erected, but there is a watercolour sketch by John Hassell,
dated 1823, which depicts the springhead as a low, square, stone or
cement-rendered structure at the roadside, with water pouring into a


trough and overflowing into a channel outside the fence surrounding
The Canons’ grounds.13 The same channel is shown in the 25-inch
Ordnance Survey map of 1895, within the boundary wall and discharging
into The Canons pond. Henry Tanner, who was born in Mitcham in
1817, recalled many years later:

… an artesian well with a place to catch the water and drink out
of it in front of The Canons, that is, on the Lower Green side,
which used to be partly inside and partly outside The Canons

and Sir Cato Worsfold remembered the springhead from his childhood
in the mid-1860s as being of brick and stone, and looking “like a large
dog kennel”. Memory of its original function was evidently already fading,
for the young Worsfold was told it had been used in bear baiting!15 The
erection of a new brick boundary wall in the 1850s enclosed the obelisk
within The Canons’ grounds, and for 90-odd years it remained almost
completely hidden from view. In the 1950s, when part of the old wall
was demolished and re-erected behind the monument, the area in its
vicinity was paved and planted to form a small garden.

In March 1818 Emily Cranmer married William Simpson of Lichfield, a
town where his family had been important and prosperous citizens since
the middle of the 18th century.16 William had come to London in 1795,
and in 1812 had become a partner in the calico printing firm of Newton,
Langdale and Co (later Simpson Newton & Co), which then had
extensive bleaching and printing works at Merton and Wallington.17
Although it was soon to enter a period of severe depression, at this time
the textile printing industry of the Wandle valley was still flourishing,
and the marriage of the Cranmer heiress to a prominent local industrialist
was an event long remembered in the village.

From the extensive collection of estate papers and correspondence left
by the Cranmer and Simpson families one can see that, although William
Simpson continued to be much involved with his various business
connections during the 1820s, his interests became increasingly those of
a country gentleman and property owner, and he eventually relinquished
his partnership in the calico printing works at Merton Abbey between


1830 and 1831. Concurrently with the general decline in the industry
locally one can trace through his papers his growing involvement in the
life of the church and the social welfare of the parish. Following the death
of his brother-in-law Richard Cranmer in 1828 Simpson became, in right
of his wife, squire of Mitcham and patron of the parish church. The
vicarage was worth £456 per annum,18 and he presented firstly John
Henry Mapleton to the living in 1829 and then the Revd James Cowles
Pritchard MA in 1841. Upon Pritchard relinquishing the vicarage (it is
believed on the grounds of ill-health), Simpson presented his son, the newly-
ordained Richard Simpson BA, to the living in 1844.

As was expected of a man in his position, William Simpson served on
numerous parochial committees, a social responsibility he certainly did
not shirk. In 1819 he had been one of the trustees for the rebuilding of
the parish church, appointed under the enabling legislation passed that
year, and he served as a churchwarden for many years. A trustee of
the National Schools, he was an active participant in the establishment
of the new infants’ school built to the south of the Lower Green in 1836,
and in its subsequent administration. He was also one of the trustees of
the Tate Almshouses, and from 1819 until 1845 was manager of the
Mitcham Savings Bank, a local enterprise aimed at encouraging thrift
amongst the poorer parishioners.

William Simpson thus epitomises that fusion of philanthropy, public service
and, perhaps, a modicum of enlightened self-interest, which was so
often seen in the early Victorian period. The Mitcham he knew was an
unspoilt village, unaffected by the expansion of the railways and the
growth of London. Its unobtrusive industries were for the most part
housed in picturesque waterside mills, and the villas and cottages which
clustered around its greens and straggled along the margins of the Common
had about them an air of rural tranquillity now lost forever. Horticulture,
and in particular the cultivation of medicinal and aromatic herbs, was a
cornerstone of the local economy, imparting a seasonal rhythm to the life
of the majority of the villagers, whilst the stability of a social structure
which had remained unchanged for centuries must have seemed absolute.

Emily and William Simpson had three sons, William, Richard and Robert,
born in 1819, 1820 and 1824 respectively, and a daughter Emily, born in


1825. The closely-knit Cranmer family took pride in what they believed to
have been their direct descent from Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of
Canterbury who, for his adherence to the reformed Church of England,
died in the flames of martyrdom at Oxford in 1566. Like her mother, a
devout Anglican all her life, Emily raised her four children in the faith of the
Established Church. It was thus a great disappointment to her, and a
shock to many of the parishioners, that all four of them, including Richard
Simpson, the newly installed vicar of Mitcham, converted to Roman
Catholicism in the space of five years from 1843. Robert was ordained a
priest in 1848, but Richard, who had married his first cousin Elizabeth
Mary Cranmer in October 1844, was therefore unable to follow his
brother’s example. He resigned the living at Mitcham in 1846, left the
country, and died in Rome. It has been said that his mother never recovered
from the embarrassment of these defections to the church of Rome and
the opprobrium she felt it had brought on the family. By many of her
friends Emily Simpson’s death following a stroke in December 1858 was
attributed in no small measure to the anguish she suffered, and the bitterness
and resentment her children’s actions had engendered in the community.

Whereas it is clear from the family papers in Merton Heritage and Local
Studies Centre that The Canons was the Simpson family’s residence
following the death of Richard Cranmer, the house was frequently leased
to tenants. Precisely where Emily and William lived during the early years
of their marriage has not been ascertained, but in view of William’s business
interests it can be assumed to have been in the general neighbourhood of
Mitcham, and not at East Sheen or Tottenham. In 1836, when The Canons
was let for ten weeks, and the boys were presumably away at school or
university, their parents moved to the comparatively modest Church House
in Church Street (now Church Road), Mitcham. However, William and
Emily Simpson were back at The Canons in the early 1840s with their
sons William and Robert and daughter Emily, the census return of 1841
recording in addition to the family a staff of three female servants.

In June 1843 The Canons was leased again, this time for 21 years to an
Osborne Delano Osborne, late of Dover, and from this date, if not shortly
before, the Simpsons seem to have made Church House their permanent
residence, being listed at this address in successive directories of the mid


19th century. Neither Emily and William Simpson’s son William, who
inherited the manor, advowson and his mother’s portion of the family
estate on the death of his father in 1860, nor his son, their grandson William
F J Simpson, to whom the remainder of the Cranmer estates had been
left in 1848 by his aunt, Elizabeth Mary Simpson, lived at The Canons
thereafter, although the property was to remain in the ownership of the
family until 1939.19

Sundry occupiers (1846–1939)

Osborne’s stay at The Canons was only of short duration, for by 1846 the
house was in the occupation of a Henry Wingrave. A survey conducted
at this time by surveyors for the tithe commissioners recorded that in
extent the grounds were then very much as they are today, the nine acres
including a “garden, late pleasure ground”, two “meadows” and, in addition
to the house itself, various yards, sheds and, of course, the dovecote.1

Hugh Higgins was the tenant in 1850,2 but shortly before the census was
conducted in 1851 the house had become occupied by Charles Hugh
Hoare and his wife. Hoare, described by the enumerator as a ‘brewer’,
was a member of the famous family of bankers, whose business in the
City of London is still flourishing. His grandfather, Henry Hoare of Mitcham
Grove, a large mansion on the north bank of the river Wandle, which had
been demolished only a year or so previously, was a prominent and well-
loved parishioner of Mitcham for over 40 years. Some idea of the lifestyle
at The Canons in Charles Hoare’s time can be imagined from the census
return, which recorded a living-in staff of footman, cook, housemaid, lady’s
maid and coachman, supplemented no doubt by a small army of gardeners,
grooms, kitchen maids and laundrywomen who came in daily from the
village. Charles Hoare is said to have been responsible for erecting the
brick wall which for so long obscured the obelisk from public view,3 and
it is almost certainly also to him that the building of The Canons lodge
should be attributed, for it was not there in 1846. The little single-storey
building still stands by the former gateway, but the entrance gates it guarded
have gone, as has the impressive gravelled drive which led in a gentle
curve to the front door of the house.

Like his grandfather, Charles Hoare took an active part in the life of the
village, although he seems not to have involved himself to the same extent


in parish church affairs, or in local government matters. A keen cricketer,
he played for Surrey from 1846 until 1853 and was the county club’s
treasurer for many years. “Under his keen support Mitcham Cricket was
alive”, local historian Tom Francis used to recall when giving his lantern
slide lectures on ‘Old Mitcham’.4 When Charles Hoare moved to The
Canons the courtyard in front of the Tate Almshouses, built on the southern
side of the Green in 1829, was enclosed by a high brick wall. Motivated
by a concern for those less able to fend for themselves which was typical
of his grandfather, Charles Hoare persuaded the trustees to replace the
wall with open railings and to convert the yard into a garden to provide a
more cheerful outlook for the elderly residents.5

From Charles Hoare’s time onwards The Canons was occupied by a
succession of leaseholders or tenants of the Simpsons, and little is really
known about them. Thus one finds Mary Denny, a widowed Scottish
lady of 39, and her young daughter, living at The Canons in the early
1860s, with a household of governess, cook, housemaid and footman.6
Mr and Mrs R Fry followed in the late ’60s,7 but Fry died around 1870,
for the census return of 1871 records his wife Lucy as the head of
household, and a widow. There were four small children, the youngest
a baby of eight months, cared for by a nurse, and a living-in staff of
lady’s maid, parlour-maid, kitchen-maid and groom. Local directories
show that John Hewetson was in residence between 1874 and 1882. A
Mrs Upton was listed as living at The Canons in directories of 1890 and
1891, and at the turn of the century the house had been taken by a
Captain Montgomery.8 In the meantime, on the death in 1888 of William
Simpson II, ownership of The Canons had passed to his son, William
Francis Joseph Simpson, who was living at Park Place.

Montgomery’s successor at The Canons, James George Henry Glass,
was perhaps typical of many who in those days retired to Mitcham
after a life spent in business or public service, at home or abroad. Glass
had been born on the Isle of Skye in 1843, and was educated at
Musselburgh Grammar School, East Lothian. He entered the Public
Works Department of the Government of India in 1862, and after a long
career during which he became successively Chief Engineer to the
Government of the Central Provinces, the North-West Provinces and
Bengal, he was made a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire


in recognition of his services. He retired in 1898 on pension, and died in
1911 whilst a resident of Mitcham.9

Still regarded as one of the manor houses of Mitcham, although it had
long ceased to be the residence of the lord of the manor, The Canons
continued to be occupied as a private house until shortly before the
outbreak of war in 1939. It retained to the last the atmosphere and
appearance of the secluded country house of an affluent family, with its
well-kept flower and vegetable gardens, its orchards and paddocks and,
beyond the encircling walls, an expanse of open heathland, the village
green, and the grounds of Park Place. The last private occupant was E
B Homan, a City financier and one-time South African mining magnate
with an interest in racehorses, several of which he owned.10

On 14 July 1939, shortly after the Homan family had vacated the house,
the property was purchased for £25,093 from Philip Witham Simpson
by the Corporation of Mitcham.11 The Council’s intention was to use
the house as a community centre, developing the grounds for sport and
athletic purposes. War intervened, however, and, strengthened internally
to withstand bombing and protected by sandbags, the house became an
air raid wardens’ control centre and a Home Guard post. Outside, the
paddocks between the house and the Cricket Green were turned into
allotment gardens, and remained so for some ten years after the end of

Recent history

The early postwar history of The Canons was described briefly by James
Berry, Merton’s then Deputy Director of Parks, in the concluding
paragraphs he contributed to Merton Historical Society’s booklet on the
house, first published in 1967.1 Staff shortages during the war had
resulted in The Canons’ gardens becoming virtually derelict, the east
lawn alone being saved from reversion to wilderness. Once hostilities
had ceased, reclamation of the grounds was undertaken by the Parks
Department of Mitcham Borough Council, beginning with the construction
of plant nurseries in front of the old walled fruit and vegetable gardens.
The Council also restored the lawn to the west of the house, laid down
a perimeter path and provided a playground for small children, with
swings and a slide. To the north of the house land was laid out as bowling


greens and tennis courts, and a service yard was constructed for the
department’s vehicles and equipment. During the 19th century a barn,
old stables and outhouses had been removed to make way for a billiards
room, to which access was gained through a drawing room overlooking
the lawn. This was demolished in the 1960s to enable facilities to be
built for catering, and to provide changing rooms, toilets and private
rooms for letting to local voluntary organisations. At the same time a
well-equipped gymnasium was constructed in a fairly inconspicuous
position on the northern side of the house. Efforts were made to avoid
altering the external appearance of the property as far as possible, but
the new scheme was not without its critics for, although the Corporation
was proceeding with proposals discussed and accepted before the War,
there were those who were horrified at the contrast in architectural
style between the old and new structures.2

These works were completed shortly before the abolition of the old
Borough of Mitcham under the London Government Act of 1963 and
the absorption of Mitcham into the new London Borough of Merton in
April 1965. The Parks Department of the new authority resolved to
continue the development of The Canons’ grounds, and to enhance the
surviving features of the original gardens. The east garden was
reconstructed to resemble that which might have embellished a late-
17th-century house, the existing terrace being widened at the same
time with the intention of forming “a pleasant place to sit, and perhaps
to have tea” – a planner’s vision which never materialised. Whilst these
works were in progress the old carp pond was cleaned out and restocked
with fish and aquatic plants, and a new walk was constructed around
the perimeter and planted with suitable shade-loving plants and shrubs.

An arcaded yew walk bordered with flowers was planted to link the
pond with an old walled garden, the mellow brickwork of which was
conveniently dated by the stone inserted at James Cranmer’s behest in
1761. This had formerly faced east but, at the writer’s suggestion, it
was turned round by the Parks Department so that it should be visible
from within the garden, which was restored and replanted. By the
entrance gate a millstone from one of Mitcham’s flour mills was
incorporated in the new brick paving which was laid to surround a
rectangular lily pond and formal flower beds. The stone had been noticed


in the pavement outside the old Greyhound beerhouse in Nursery Road,
off Lower Green West, and when the area was being cleared in June
1966 as part of a slum clearance programme, arrangements were made
by the writer for it to be salvaged by the Parks Department and used
where it might provide an item of interest. Unfortunately the lily pond
attracted vandals, and proved expensive, if not impossible, to maintain in
a satisfactory condition. In 1993 it was filled in, with the intention that it
might at some time be replaced with a sculpture approved by the Council.

Old houses attract stories as roofs collect lichen, and for years a rumour
had been current in Mitcham alleging that a secret underground passage
running beneath Cranmer Green connected The Canons with the Rectory
House. Several older residents sought to add credibility to the tale by
declaring they had seen a movable flagstone in the cellar of The Canons,
and claimed that the top of the tunnel had been exposed in the grounds
on various occasions in the past, although none had actually entered it.
On the thorny questions of by whom the passage might have been built,
and for what purpose, the romantics were usually silent, although some
were prepared to speculate that it might have been for “the monks at
Merton Abbey”! In the summer of 1970 the laying of the North Sea gas
pipeline between Mitcham and Croydon provided a unique opportunity
for putting the story to the test. Sad to relate, although a massive trench
some six feet deep cut through the grounds to the west of The Canons
and crossed the Green opposite, it severed nothing more dramatic than
the small brick culvert which had conveyed water from the nearby
spring to The Canons pond.3

In August 1973 it was announced in the local press that Merton Borough
expected to benefit from a grant of £646,000 made by the Sports Council
to Greater London for sports projects. £50,000, it was reported, had
been awarded to Merton, which would enable Mitcham to be given a
“£300,000 shot in the arm” by the building of a multi-purpose sports
centre at The Canons. The need to re-vitalise Mitcham had long been
acknowledged by Merton councillors, and the Borough Architect had
prepared plans for the new centre, but lack of finance had precluded
their adoption. Proposals for an impressive recreational complex
surrounding the gymnasium were now made public, and photographs of


an attractive scale model appeared in the press. The new buildings
were to house two indoor tennis courts, eight badminton courts, indoor
cricket nets and a bowling green. A new gymnasium was planned,
complete with changing and shower rooms, and there was also to be a
bar and a café, whilst the existing gymnasium was to be converted into
a new community centre and public meeting hall.

It was immediately obvious, Sports Council grant notwithstanding, that
raising the balance of the capital required would still present a major
obstacle. Although the Sports Council had endorsed the Council’s
proposals, a note of realism was sounded by Henry Boddington, the
Council’s Director of Parks and Cemeteries who, whilst welcoming the
assistance proffered by the Sports Council for The Canons centre,
pointed out that Merton Council had identified other equally deserving
projects elsewhere in the Borough, and would need to examine its
priorities carefully. By January 1974 after further consideration of what
the local press was still optimistically describing as “Mitcham’s brand-
new £1 million multi-purpose Sports Centre”, councillors were beginning
to criticise it as a total waste of ratepayers’ money and a ‘white
elephant’, and agreed that it be deferred for at least a year.

Towards the end of 1974 a new venture, designed to foster greater
interest in the natural environment and ecology of Mitcham Common,
was initiated by the Parks Department, and in March 1975 a ‘Nature
Interpretation Centre’ in the basement of The Canons was opened by
the Mayor of Merton, Councillor Bernard Clifford. Conversion costs
had been met in part by a generous donation from the Mitcham Rotary
Club, and at the opening ceremony the Mayor formally received on
behalf of the Borough two antique chairs presented in memory of the
late Henry Winbow, founder chairman of the Mitcham Common
Preservation Society, and his wife Dorothy, who had died the previous
year.4 Unfortunately the nature centre was short-lived and, with the
retirement of James Berry from the Council’s service approaching, it
was closed.

Meanwhile, the proposed Canons Sports Centre continued to be
bedevilled with difficulties, and in July 1975, following the local
government elections earlier in the year, fierce arguments arose over


the new Council’s decision to grant itself temporary planning consent
for an intended six-lane indoor bowling rink at The Canons to be used
as offices for the Council’s Planning Department whilst suitable
permanent accommodation was found. The protests were of no avail,
however, and the consent of the Greater London Council having been
obtained to this departure from previously agreed plans for a maximum
of seven years, building work commenced. In view of its proximity to
the Grade II listed house great care was taken with the design of the
new building, the estimated cost of which was £350,000 excluding car
parking, and it was faced with hand-made bricks and roofed with sheet
copper. On completion in April 1977 the accommodation was turned
over to the Planning and Building Control Departments.

In the Spring of 1982, whilst work was in progress on the early stages
of erecting new swimming baths to the north of the house, the contractors
uncovered a length of red brick wall varying from 18 inches to 2 feet
thick, running parallel to the car park. Until a few months before, the
site had been occupied by a bowling green, and it was clear the wall
must have been demolished to just below ground level sometime before
the green was laid down. The bricks lacked frogs, which indicated an
18th-century date, and the fact that the wall, although thick, had no real
foundations, suggested that it was not part of a building and had not
been of great height. The wall could be identified on the tithe map of
1847, and the conclusion was reached that it had probably enclosed the
walled gardens of the house. The mass of brickwork would have been
effective in retaining the sun’s heat after dusk, and by slowly releasing
warmth through the night provided a degree of protection from frost for
any delicate trees and vines trained against it, as well as hastening the
ripening of fruit. The device was, of course, a familiar one in the 18th
and 19th centuries, and is still to be seen in many old gardens. All remains
of the wall were removed within the area covered by the new pool
complex, and the contractors reported finding nothing more of
significance, apart from a well, the head of which was rebuilt as a
feature, but capped for safety.

The Planning and Building Control Departments vacated their temporary
offices in 1982, and the new 25-metre swimming pool and a teaching


pool were opened in September 1983 by the Mayor, Councillor Frank
Meakings. The ceremony was also attended by Angela Rumbold, MP
for Mitcham and Morden. Although the ambitious sports complex
conceived in the early 1970s was never built, a sports hall adjoining the
baths was completed in 1984. The Canons Leisure Centre today offers
facilities for a number of sports, including squash, badminton and table
tennis. There is a ‘fitness suite’ with weight-training equipment, and a
sunbed, whilst the hall itself is used for activities such as aerobics, judo
classes and circuit training.

For a while the house provided meeting facilities for various clubs and
local groups, and had modest catering facilities, but this is no longer the
case. The basement of The Canons, empty and disused since the Nature
Interpretation Centre closed in the 1980s, was refurbished in 1993/4 as
a Heritage Centre, and was formally opened by the Mayor of Merton,
Marie-Louise de Villiers, on Saturday 23 April 1994.

It is sad to relate that the prospect of a new era commencing for the house
has proved illusory. Keepers on permanent duty have long disappeared
from the Borough’s parks, and mobile patrols provide a totally inadequate
defence against damage. With the adjoining Leisure Centre open to the
public until late in the evening, The Canons and the dovecote have been
exposed to all forms of vandalism. The walls are constantly defaced with
paint-sprayed graffiti, which has to be removed at considerable expense.
The process always carries the risk of damaging the chalk blocks of the
dovecote, the door of which has also been forced open on more than one
occasion. More alarmingly, an attempt during the summer of 1996 to set
fire to The Canons itself was only narrowly thwarted, but not before damage
was done to the entrance hall and room above. Suggestions by concerned
members of the public that alarms and security lighting ought to be installed
have not been acted upon by the department responsible, and it was over
12 months before the fire damage was made good.

The Heritage Centre finally closed on 2 May 2009, having been
transferred to Morden Library, and, as Canons House, the building is
now (2010) used by adult education classes.


Cranmer Primary School, formerly Mitcham County School for Girls
ENM c.1970

SS Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church
RAM Scott 2010

Chapter 4 107


Commencing at the entrance to Park Place on Commonside West, and
continuing round the corner into Madeira Road as far as the entrance to
The Canons car park is a row of semi-detached houses. Built in the
1920s by the News of the World Organisation, it is understood they
were intended initially for company employees. The land on which they
stand was roadside waste until 1773, when it was enclosed by Francis
Gregg, an attorney, who had recently purchased Park Place and wished
to extend the grounds of his house to the edge of the Common. His
proposal received the consent of Mitcham vestry, given “as far as in
them lies”, on condition that Gregg paid a guinea per annum to the
parish poor rate for the concession.

It could be argued that the vestry was acting beyond its powers – in
fact, the wording of the minute implies a degree of uncertainty – for a
grant of enclosure would normally have been the prerogative of the lord
of the manor, acting with the concurrence of the ‘homage’, or jury of
commoners. In Mitcham, however, the precise limits of the individual
manors’ jurisdiction over the Common as a whole was far from certain.
Park Place lay within the manor of Vauxhall, held by the dean and chapter
of Canterbury, whilst the adjoining Canons estate was owned by James
Cranmer, lord of the manor of Mitcham. There seems to be no record
of either manor being consulted by the vestry on receipt of Gregg’s
application, or of anyone raising objections to the proposed enclosure.
In reality the land added to Gregg’s estate may never have been brought
within the manorial system, and could well have been a relic of the ‘folk
land’ of which ‘Allmannesland’, the site of Park Place, had once been a
part. This idea is supported by the knowledge that the site of The Canons
was in the gift of the people of Mitcham in the mid-12th century. The
vestry was therefore acting with the same authority as the early medieval
folkmoot, although there is nothing in the minutes to suggest this was
realised by the members when they reached their decision in 1773.

In 1940 one of the News of the World houses facing Madeira Road
was strengthened and converted into a strong point from which the
local Home Guard might cover the railway bridge in the event of an


invasion. In addition, a brick and concrete gun-emplacement was built
into the embankment of the bridge itself. The ‘pillbox’ was removed
after the end of the War, and the house was soon restored for domestic
use. Between the entrance to the Canons Leisure Centre and the corner
of the Cricket Green is a brick wall, probably of 18th-century date, built
to enclose the grounds of The Canons. The present entrance is quite
modern, and the former gate lodge can be seen by a break in the wall a
little further on. This particular building dates to around 1870. It was
renovated in 1994, and is now privately occupied. The history of the
nearby obelisk has already been set out in detail in Chapter 3.

The Roman Catholic church of Saints Peter and Paul in Cranmer Road
was built in 1889 to the design of Frederick A Walters, architect also of
Sacred Heart and St Winefride’s Roman Catholic churches in Wimbledon.
The Simpson family were generous benefactors of the new church, and it
was with their support that a little brick chapel was erected overlooking
the Cricket Green in 1862. This soon proved inadequate as membership of
the Church increased, and in 1887 land for the present church building
was first offered, and then given, by Mary Simpson, wife of William Simpson

III. The history of the foundation and early years of the Roman Catholic
Church in Mitcham is the subject of a separate study, written in 1981 by
Dr R A M Scott, the present chairman of Merton Historical Society (200811).
Fixed to the wall within the entrance porch of the church can be seen
a white marble tablet, inscribed “Benefactors of this parish”,
commemorating Mary Simpson who died on 17 July 1930, and also her
husband, who died two years later, “fortified by the rites of Holy Church”.
Nos. 3, 4 and 5 Cranmer Cottages, three dwellings probably of early
18th-century date, are the sole survivors of a group of workers’ dwellings
in the vicinity of Cranmer Farm and extending towards the Cricket
Green. Cranmer Farm was the home farm of the Cranmer estate, and
the three cottages occupy land quite clearly enclosed from the margin
of the Green. Others in the row were demolished in the 1950s to enlarge
the car park of the church. From here the backs of the two cottages
nearest the church can be seen to be examples of a style of dwellings
still familiar in Vermont and New Hampshire, where the distinctive sloping
roofs of their back-additions has earned them the name of ‘salt-box
houses’. In New England they are often carefully conserved as a link


Cranmer Cottages (ENM c.1975)

Cranmer Farm Close (ENM c.1975)


with the early settlers, and as examples of the vernacular architecture
brought from their homeland in the 17th and 18th centuries. Now restored
(one was renovated in 1973 and offered for sale at £14,000), Nos. 3, 4
and 5 Cranmer Green are on the Borough’s local list of buildings of
historic or architectural interest. Several cottages at the southern end
of the row were pulled down early in the last century and replaced by
the present two houses. Adjoining them is a roughly contemporary
extension built by the local Board of Guardians which, as late as the
1940s, was still providing office accommodation for the relieving officer
and the school attendance inspectorate of the Surrey County Education
Department. Office use ceased around 1960, and Nos. 6 and 7 are now
privately occupied.

Cranmer Farm and Barn Cottage, the latter derelict and with its roof
showing evidence of the damage sustained during the Blitz, together
with various sheds and outbuildings to the rear, were still standing in the
1950s. All were cleared away following acquisition of the land by
Mitcham Corporation, and in their place Cranmer Farm Close, an
attractive little estate designed for older tenants, was completed by the
London Borough of Merton in the late 1960s. In 1968 it deservedly
received a commendation from the Civic Trust. A large timber-framed
and weatherboarded barn remained a curiosity until the mid-1920s, but
it was then removed by Surrey County Council and its site now lies
beneath and to the side of the drive leading to Cranmer Primary School.

Cranmer Primary School was built by the County Council in 1928/9 and
opened in 1929 as Mitcham County School for Girls. It had been intended
originally as the new County boys’ school, then accommodated in the
building off Commonside East occupied today by the school of St Thomas
of Canterbury. The style is typical of many designed by the County
Architect’s department, and as a link with the past the new building
incorporated within the entrance hall and the school library timbers from
the old barn. A large part of the grounds of the old Cranmers house,
including the site of a walnut orchard which had been a feature during the
18th century, survives today as open land, but is now divided, providing
playing fields for the school and space for the pleasant tree-fringed lawns
and flower beds surrounding the Wilson Hospital.

Chapter 5 111



Park Place, a Grade II listed late 18th-century mansion of modest
proportions, stands back from Commonside West, and occupies a site1
formerly known as ‘Almonds’ or ‘Allmannesland’, with a history that
can be traced back to the 14th century. The former parkland surrounding
the house is probably better known than the house itself, at least amongst
the older residents of Mitcham, and is still occasionally referred to locally
as ‘The News of the World sports ground’, although over 50 years
have elapsed since the property was acquired compulsorily from the
newspaper proprietors by Surrey County Council, with the intention
that it should be used for educational purposes. Since then, although
externally the old house has remained substantially unaltered, inside
there have been many changes, and it is now a popular restaurant/pub.

Park Place (ENM 1995)


Medieval beginnings

The first identifiable reference to what became the site of Park Place is
in an inquisition post mortem of 1391, which confirmed Sir John
Burghersh, lord of the manor of Ravensbury, to have been in possession
of land called ‘Allmannesland’ in Mitcham at the time of his death.2
The property was held by Sir John as a copyhold tenant of the prior and
convent of Canterbury, to whom an annual quit rent of six shillings was

‘Allmannesland’ was later modified to the more easily pronounced and
spelt ‘Almonds’, a form still used in legal documents as late as the 19th
century. The name is interesting, and several theories have been advanced
to explain its derivation, the most plausible of which is that it arose from
the land having once been part of the common land of Mitcham – ‘all
men’s land’ – of which the Cricket Green to the west and Three Kings
Piece to the east remain as public open spaces. The name current in the
14th century was Germanic rather than Latin in origin, which might imply
that it was coined by an English-speaking peasantry and not by Norman-
French landowners, but the actual date of enclosure, and the circumstances
under which this took place, must remain conjectural. It is worth recalling,
however, that the adjoining Canons estate, which similarly appears once
to have been common land, was given to Southwark priory around 1150
as the “grant and gift of the whole parish”.4

Sir John, whose family were lords of the Carshalton manor of Stone
Court,5 had purchased Ravensbury from Sir Robert de Plesynton, Chief
Baron of the Exchequer to Richard II, in 1382.3 By this time lordships
of manors were being bought and sold very much as other parcels of
real estate, and de Plesynton himself had purchased the manor of
Ravensbury from Lord Neville of Raby only four years previously.
Biographical detail for Sir John is somewhat sparse, but the Burghershes
were typical of the great landowning warrior families surrounding the
Plantagenet throne, who had been prominent in the service of Edward
III, receiving large grants of land and many manorial privileges as a
reward for their loyalty.6 His interest in the Mitcham estate would have
been purely as a landlord, and there is no evidence that he or his family
ever lived in the parish.


On Sir John’s death in 1391 his two daughters, Margaret, the wife of Sir
John Grenville, and Matilda, were left as co-heiresses,7 and in March
1392 Thomas Jardyn, Escheator for Surrey, was notified that Richard
II had assigned the manor of Ravensbury and a parcel of land called
“Almanneslond in Micham” to John “Grenevylle”, “chivaler”, and
Margaret his wife.8 In accordance with medieval custom Jardyn was
required to take the oath of fealty from Sir John, who thereupon became
a tenant-in-chief of the king, and to deliver the land to him and his wife.9

After the death of Sir John Grenville his wife Margaret remarried, taking
as her second husband John Arundel of Bideford, to whose son John
the Mitcham estate passed in 1424. The Arundels, of whom the Bideford
branch was probably a minor offshoot, were one of the few Cornish
families of Norman origin, and included among their ranks some of the
most wealthy landowners in England during the 14th and 15th centuries.
The extent and value of their property in Mitcham increased considerably
in the 30 years following Sir John Burghersh’s death, and John Arundel
junior inherited 672 acres of arable land, 60 acres of meadow and the
manor of Ravensbury, the whole being worth £17. Lordship of the manor
of Ravensbury eventually passed to the family of John Arundel’s aunt
Matilda, who is said to have married Thomas Chaucer, son of the poet.3

In the latter part of the 15th century Allmannesland was among other
property in Surrey acquired by Sir Richard Illingworth, a baron of the
exchequer to Edward IV. He seems to have owned Hall Place, a large
open hall house with its own private chapel, situated on the western
side of the Lower Green which, like Allmannesland, was copyhold of
the manor of Vauxhall. Sir Richard retained ownership of Allmannesland
until his death in 1476,10 after which title passed to his son, also named
Richard. The Illingworth family were to remain prominent residents of
Mitcham for a century or more, owning eight houses and various parcels
of land in the parish, and several of them lie buried in the north chancel
of Mitcham church.

Allmannesland may have changed hands soon after Sir Richard’s death,
for when a John Perrys died in 1498, it was confirmed before the court


baron of Vauxhall that he had held a ‘croft’ “called Almonds lying
between the land of William Rothwell on the North part and abutting
the Common of the Lord on the East and South part thereof”.11 The
location of Almonds, i.e. Allmannesland, is thereby established with
reasonable precision, and it can be placed within the angle now formed
by the Three Kings Piece and Cranmer Green, with Rothwell’s land
lying to the north, abutting Cold Blows.

An Elizabethan farmstead?

From 1498 to 1657 nothing has been traced of the history of Almonds,
or the house which stood on the site, although research in the court rolls
of the manor of Vauxhall might fill the gap. The property finds brief
mention again during the Commonwealth,12 and a farmhouse, alleged to
have been built in the reign of Elizabeth I, is said to have survived here
at least in part until the end of the 18th century.13 This claim was given
enhanced credibility when a large number of thin Tudor-style bricks,
used for paving the cellar floor, were noticed by workmen engaged in
renovating the present house in 1975-6. Limited archaeological work
by AOC (Archaeological) Ltd in advance of restoration and the building
of extensions by Whitbread the brewers in 1996 did not, however, produce
any material earlier than the 18th century

The Tudor house was presumably amongst the possessions of a William
Sheldon, citizen and draper of London, who died early in the 18th century,
willing his property to his son,14 and in November 1704 copyhold tenure
of “Almonds with barn, two gardens, orchard and four acres” was
formally conferred on William Sheldon junior and Elizabeth Sheldon.15
“Mr. Sheldon and his wife” were included among the local gentry listed
by the vicar in answer to the bishop of Winchester’s visitation
questionnaire in 1725.16

Rocque’s map of the environs of London published in 1745, the earliest
we have showing the area in reasonable detail, depicts an unnamed
house on the site of Park Place, but is not sufficiently accurate or detailed
to be of much further assistance. It does, however, indicate the presence
of an orchard or garden adjoining the house, and it is apparent that,
probably by virtue of their copyhold tenure, the Sheldons were exercising


certain proprietorial rights over the Common in the vicinity of Almonds,
for throughout much of the early 18th century land extending to the
crossroads where the Ravensbury Arms now stands was known as
‘Sheldon’s Corner’.17

In 1749, on Elizabeth’s death, her son John received a grant of
administration of the estate, and five years later, John having died,
Elizabeth’s daughter, Elizabeth Atkins, was admitted to the tenancy of
the manor.18 By this time the house appears to have been leased to a
John Goff, who we know was in occupation from 1755, if not before,
and he remained there until about 1761.19

On the sale taking place of a life interest in the property, a Henry Atkins
(presumably either Elizabeth Atkins’s husband or son) surrendered
Almonds in November 1763 and a Richard Sheldon was admitted to the
tenancy of the manor in his place.20 By November 1768 Mrs Goff had
left Almonds, and Sheldon himself moved into the old family home for a
brief period, but around 1769 a Mr Wolff had taken the house, probably
having been granted a lease, and was paying the parish rate as the
occupier. Richard Sheldon subsequently resumed residence, and
continued in occupation until he finally sold the property to Francis Gregg,
an attorney, in or shortly before 1772.19

The pattern of frequent changes in tenure, and the repeated leasing of
the property for short periods is one familiar in local history research, at
least in Mitcham, where it often indicates a building which is nearing
the end of its useful life. If it is correct that Sheldon’s house dated back
to the reign of Elizabeth, it would by the mid-18th century have been
some 200 years old, and probably somewhat dilapidated. As we shall
see, it was not long before the next owner set about its demolition.

Park Place and its residents
Francis Gregg

Francis, the eldest son of Francis and Emilie Gregg, was born in
September 1734 at Putney, in an Elizabethan mansion which then stood
in the High Street. Known as Essex House, it once belonged to Robert
Devereux, earl of Essex, who used it as a hunting lodge, and it was


from here that he was taken to the Tower to be beheaded. The Gregg
family claimed descent from a near relative of Oliver Cromwell, and
Handel is said to have been connected with them. Francis Gregg junior
married Elizabeth Welford on 20 October 1758. Their London residence
was at Skinners’ Hall, Dowgate Hill, and Francis was a member of the
Skinners’ Company, as many members of his family had been before
him. An attorney by profession, he became clerk to the company in
1759, a position which he was to hold until his death in 1795.21

The court rolls of the manor of Vauxhall record Gregg’s admission, at a
court baron held in April 1772, to the copyhold tenancy of a house, barn,
garden and four acres of land or pasture called Almonds,22 and in
February 1773 Mitcham vestry assented “as far as in them lies” to the
enclosure of part of the commonland fronting the house “in Consideration
of Mr. Gregg paying one Guinea pr. An. to be added to the poors’
rate”.23 Gregg signified his acceptance of this condition, and thereby
added appreciably to the value of his property. Although the vestry
actually had no legal right to sanction such an enclosure (strictly, this
was a matter for the lord of the manor), the practice was not unusual in
Mitcham during the 18th century, and on more than one occasion had
been adopted as a useful source of income to supplement the rates.
The land enclosed is not defined very clearly in the vestry minutes, but
it seems clear that it lay along the south-eastern and south-western
boundaries of the estate abutting Commonside West and what is now
Madeira Road, then probably only a track leading from the Croydon
road to The Canons and the Lower Green. For 150 years this enclosed
land was to remain part of the grounds of the house, ensuring for the
occupants an excellent and unbroken view across Mitcham Common
to the distant Surrey hills.

The date of the house we know as Park Place is a little uncertain, but
licence to demolish and rebuild was granted at the manor court in 1772,
and Gregg, his affairs apparently prospering, had in mind either building
a new house for himself and his family at Almonds, or the extension of
one already standing. Edwards, in his guide published in 1801, but
researched some ten years earlier, described Gregg’s house (although
he did not give it a name) as “erected about the year 1780”, which


suggests a substantially new building.24 The land tax assessments support
the idea that the property was extended considerably in or about 1780,
for the valuation of the house and land was increased from £25 in 1780
to £43 the following year. Unless this could be attributed to land being
added to the estate (for which, the enclosure sanctioned in 1772 apart,
there is no evidence) a near-doubling in size of the house is indicated. If
we disregard the alterations made in the mid-1970s to convert it into
offices, the house as it exists today is seemingly of at least two main
periods, the remains of the oldest part of the house being incorporated
in the two-storeyed wing standing to the west. That this was originally
of three storeys was confirmed during the alterations in 1975, when
ceiling timbers of at least one upper room could be seen to have been
trimmed around a hearth which had once served a room on the floor
above. This oldest wing, much altered and rebuilt, also seems to have
been of five bays. Evidence of the central doorcase one would expect
has gone, however, but the original brickwork and the treatment of the
window openings where they survive are more in keeping with a mid,
rather than late, 18th-century date. Was this house the one for the building
of which Gregg obtained manorial consent in 1772, or was it already
standing when he purchased the property from Sheldon?

What one assumes to have been Gregg’s “handsome house, built of grey
stock-bricks and finished in the present taste” (as Edwards described it)
is now the main wing of the house. It is a departure from the norm for an
18th-century house in that the façade is asymmetrical, the four-bay front
elevation dictating that the principal entrance doorcase should be offset
from the central axis. The rear elevation was also somewhat unusual for
the period, being a jumble of outbuildings and additions of mid to late 18thcentury
date. These were removed during the alterations in the 1970s. A
rear extension to the main wing, constructed with matching stock bricks
and with identical cornice and window apertures, has ‘1828’ and the
initials ‘E.C’. cut in a brick on its western side. (These were obscured
during alterations in the 1990s.) The date could indicate the building of a
further extension, and the initials are probably those of Edwin Chart, a
surveyor and son of John Chart, the local builder who had completed
rebuilding the parish church four years previously.


Whereas some slight uncertainty thus remains as to the construction
date of Francis Gregg’s new house, there is no doubt that it was very
pleasantly situated, and Edwards commented on it having a small lawn,
which was skirted on one side by tall elm trees and bounded on the east
and south by Mitcham Common. From this description it is apparent
that the grounds of Park Place at that time did not include the land as
far as Cold Blows path, which had become incorporated in the estate
by the 1840s.

Francis Gregg is said to have been a singularly handsome man, and his
manners in society engaging. He made his house in the City the resort
of many wits and celebrated personages of the time and George Selwyn,
a Mr Dunning (afterwards Lord Ashburton), George Rose, and others
of the same stamp, as well as all the eminent lawyers of the day, were
his frequent guests. When in 1773 Lord Carlisle’s extravagance, together
with his rashness in having stood surety for Stephen and Charles Fox,
had brought him to the brink of ruin, he turned to Francis Gregg, his
agent, for advice. Gregg took charge of Carlisle’s affairs, restored them
to some order, and even recovered from Charles Fox a large proportion
of his debt. Gregg became a close friend of Carlisle and his political
associates, who often visited Park Place. On 14 September 1789 Gregg
was returned as member of Parliament for Morpeth on Carlisle’s interest
to hold his seat until Carlisle’s son came of age. There is no record of
Gregg having spoken in the House, however, and he relinquished the
seat in December 1794.

The Greggs’ household at Mitcham must have been a lively one, for
Francis and Elizabeth had three sons and three daughters, all of whom
would have spent much of their childhood at Mitcham. Henry, who
became a barrister of the Middle Temple, married Maria the daughter
of Francis Gosling and was made commissioner of bankruptcy on 6
February 1790 by Lord Chancellor Erskine. Francis Gregg junior
succeeded his father as clerk at Skinners’ Hall in 1795, and married
Janet Bell, a celebrated beauty whose portrait (now in the Cincinnati
Art Museum) was painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence. Thomas, the
youngest son, born 28 September 1765, died of fever off the coast of
Madras shortly before his 27th birthday, whilst serving as a lieutenant


on board HMS Perseverance. Emily, one of the sisters, married Richard
Norman Esq, and Caroline, who was born in 1769, married Ralph Carr
of Pinner. The third daughter, Elizabeth, also born in 1769, died three
years later.

After 12 years or so in Mitcham, during which time Francis Gregg’s
professional services were sought on at least one occasion by the parish
officers – it was he who acted for the vestry in 1781, obtaining the
consent of Elizabeth Manship, lady of the manor of Biggin and
Tamworth, to the enclosure of a plot of land on the common on which to
build a new workhouse – he sold Park Place in 1784 and settled at
Barrow Hedges, a house at the foot of Banstead Downs.24 The
purchaser of the Mitcham house was William Pollard, a London wine
merchant of St Swithin’s Lane.25

William Pollard (1784–1808)

William Pollard’s arrival in Mitcham in 1784 is confirmed by the minutes
of a special court baron of Vauxhall held in March of that year at which
he was admitted to the copyhold tenure of a house with “stables and
other erections and buildings and gardens and a close of ground called
Almonds” on the surrender of Francis Gregg.26 In sharp contrast to the
former owner of the property, Pollard was a controversial character,
and in the vestry records he appears as a thorn in the side of the parish
officers over more than one issue.

Then, as until recently in local government, the basis of assessment for
the levying of rates was the anticipated or calculated yearly rental of
the property the ratepayer occupied, but since in the 18th century it was
determined by untrained and sometimes dishonest overseers of the poor,
the valuation and the collection of the rates were potentially vulnerable
to sharp practice. The situation which could arise is well illustrated by
the difficulty encountered in Mitcham in 1787 due to the outrageous
behaviour of the two overseers elected at the annual Easter vestry
meeting that year. William Pollard and Joseph Sibley, the overseers for
the year 1787/8 appointed by the vestry, the local government body of
the time, had refused to rate themselves on the same basis as the other
parishioners, and the churchwardens and inhabitants “assembled in
vestry” on 14 June 1787 decided to appeal against the rates demanded


of them by Pollard and Sibley. Accordingly, a committee of 12
parishioners was appointed to conduct the appeal of “the greater part
of the Parishioners against the unequal Poors rate now made”, to
consider future rating assessments, the manner in which the poor were
cared for, and how the rate should be applied. Three times Pollard and
Sibley declined to attend the meetings at which these three measures
were to be discussed, and when a meeting of the full vestry was called
on 12 August to consider the overseers’ finances until the appeal was
settled, the pair merely responded with the assertion that “… the poore
are not in want, nor the Master of the Workhouse in want of Money ..”.
The appeals against the unequal rating assessments were heard at the
Quarter Sessions held at Guildford and Kingston on 10 July and 2 October
respectively, and William Pollard was ordered to double the assessment
on his house from £50 to £100. Legal costs were borne by the parish.

Attempts to levy a poor rate of one shilling in the pound for the
Michaelmas quarter were unsuccessful, and when the two overseers
again failed to attend before the vestry at a meeting held on 30 December
they were formally required to be present at the next monthly meeting,
and once more to “give an account of the poor”. This, too, had little
effect, and Pollard’s and Sibley’s continued failure to comply with the
vestry’s orders resulted in the churchwardens again being instructed to
proceed against them “as the law directs”.

The churchwardens’ action seems to have been singularly ineffective,
and Pollard and Sibley remained conspicuous by their absence at
subsequent meetings of the vestry called by the parish clerk. They did,
however, call a vestry meeting themselves in March 1788, and attempted
to levy a poor rate of 6d in the pound, but this was adjourned, and a
week later the vestry refused to agree to the making of any new rate
“until £20 of the former rate and £120 of the last rate” were collected
properly, being of the opinion that a sufficient rate had already been
granted to defray the expenses of maintaining the poor and that the
defaulters should pay the amount still due. Unfortunately for some reason
the vestry minutes do not record the conclusion of this sorry affair; the
overseers failed to submit their books at the end of their year in office,
and after repeated adjournments called when it was realised no business
could be transacted, the vestry seems to have decided to cut its losses


and to start afresh. The parish’s troubles were not lessened by the
resignation of the workhouse master in May 1788, probably in disgust
at the vestry’s failure to manage its finances more effectively.23

The foundation of a Sunday school for the village children provided
Pollard with another opportunity for demonstrating his ability to be
obstructive. Although he was one of the ‘gentlemen subscribers’ to the
fund raised for the establishment of the school, and served on several
church committees at which the proposal was discussed, Pollard was
the cause of the vestry abandoning its plans for building the school on
Lower Green West. A site had already been marked out, and at a meeting
in March 1788 it was agreed, since the Green was part of the manorial
waste, that formal application should be made to the dean and chapter
at Canterbury for consent to enclose the plot of land for this obviously
worthy purpose. Before application could be made, however, a written
objection was received from Pollard, exercising his right as a copyholder
of the manor of Vauxhall, and the vestry decided not to proceed. The
impasse was resolved when the owner of Hall Place generously donated
a portion of her own land abutting Lower Green West, and the erection
of the Sunday school building went ahead.27 The small loss of grazing
can hardly have been a matter of great concern to Pollard, and it seems
highly improbable that he was acting out of concern for the poorer
copyholders, by whom the right to turn out animals on the common
waste was still valued. It is far more likely, and also in character, that,
already in dispute with the vestry, Pollard seized upon what he saw as
another opportunity to be uncooperative.

For reasons which have not been ascertained, in November 1802 William
Pollard surrendered the customary tenancy of Almonds to his brother,
John Pollard, although he continued to be assessed for land tax on the
Mitcham property until 1809. John himself had been resident at the
adjoining Firs estate from about 1774 until 1788, when he left for Ewell.
The copyhold tenure of Almonds was formerly surrendered to Lords
Carysfort and Porchester by William Pollard in 1808, and her right of
dower by Grace Pollard, his wife, the same year.28 Again, the
circumstances behind these somewhat unusual transactions are not
known. William died in 1811 and his mortal remains now lie beside those
of Grace beneath their limestone altar-tomb in Mitcham churchyard.29


The contrast between the two brothers’ dispositions was long remembered
at Ewell, where John Pollard had erected an impressive new house,
known as Ewell Court or Ewell Grove. John, or “fine Pollard”, as he
was known by the villagers there, was a gentleman they held in some
regard, whereas his brother, one member of the family recalled many
years later, was “rather a rough customer, … called ‘coarse Pollard'”.30

The Revd William Herbert

The Revd William Herbert, who succeeded Pollard as the occupant of
Almonds in 1808, had been elected member of Parliament for Hampshire
in 1806. A man of considerable intellectual achievement, he had edited
a volume of poems entitled Musae Etonienses in 1795 whilst still at
school. At Oxford he obtained a bachelor of arts degree at Exeter College
in 1798, took his master’s degree at Merton College four years later,
and became a doctor of civil law in 1808. He was elected member for
Cricklade in 1811, whilst still at Mitcham, but retired from politics in
1812. Two years later he was ordained, and on being presented to the
rectory of Spofforth in Yorkshire, left Mitcham.

The somewhat diverse nature of William Herbert’s interests, and his
impressive command of languages, are demonstrated by his literary
achievements; he published Select Icelandic Poetry, with translations,
in 1804, Attila, or the Triumph of Christianity, an epic, in 1838, various
translations of German, Danish and Portuguese poems, and other poetry
of his own composition in English, Greek and Latin. In 1833 and 1837
he assisted in editions of White’s Selborne, and published monographs
on Amaryllidaceae in 1837 and crocuses in 1847.31 He was a noted
breeder of bulbous plants, including hybrid narcissi,32 many of which he
cultivated whilst at Mitcham, and his contribution to botany was
recognised by Sweet, who named the Herbertia genus of ferns after
him. The crowning achievement of William Herbert’s career came in
1840, 26 years after his departure from Mitcham, with his appointment
as dean of Manchester, a post which he was to hold until his death in
1847 at the age of 69.

Lieutenant General Forbes Champagné

What the Vauxhall court rolls still referred to as “that customary
messuage or tenement and all the stables and other erections and buildings


and gardens and close of land thereunto belonging with the appurtenances
called or known by the name of Almonds” remained unoccupied from
1814 until 1815. It was then purchased by Lieutenant General Forbes
Champagné, Colonel Commandant of the 95th Regiment of Foot. A
further grant of enclosure dates from this time, consent being given in
August 1815 by the manor of Biggin and Tamworth for a 424-foot-long
strip of land between Park Place and the Common, mainly along the
Commonside West frontage, to be added to the general’s estate.33 As it
happened, the general’s residence in Mitcham, like that of the Revd
Herbert before him, was only of short duration – the General died in
October 1816 – but his career in the service of the Crown had been an
eventful one and, embracing as it did one of the great formative periods
of world history, is worth summarising.

The name Champagné is a familiar one in Huguenot records, and it
would seem to be a reasonable assumption that the general’s antecedents
had been amongst the many hundreds of French Protestant families
seeking refuge in England following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes
in 1685. Forbes Champagné commenced his army career in 1773 at the
age of 15 as an ensign in the 4th Foot or, to give the regiment its full title,
the 4th King’s Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment, and served for seven
years in the North American colonies during the War of Independence.
He was present at the skirmish at Lexington, fought in the siege of
Boston, was in the expedition against New York and at the battle of
German Town. By the end of the war he had reached the rank of
captain in the mounted light infantry.

Champagné was 17 when, on 18 April 1775, Lieutenant General Thomas
Gage, C-in-C of the British Army in America and Governor General of
Massachusetts, dispatched a force from Boston to capture rebel stores
and arms at Concord, a distance of 20 miles. The advance column
under Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith included the flank company of
the 4th Foot from the Boston garrison, and their first encounter with the
colonists was at Lexington Green where, on 19 April 1775, was fired
the ‘shot heard round the world’ when a small band of colonists attempted
to halt the advance of the British troops. After the clash at Concord,
where the first British casualties occurred, Smith’s force withdrew to


Lexington under fire from increasing numbers of Massachusetts
militiamen. Here they were met by the relief force under Brigadier
General Lord Percy, which included a battalion company of the 4th

Although we know that he was at Lexington, the exact part young
Forbes Champagné played in these skirmishes seems not to have been
recorded. Both companies were in the miserable retreat back down the
road from Lexington to Menotomy and Charlestown, during which they
were harassed by the Americans who, to the discomfiture of the British,
avoided direct confrontation but fought ‘Indian fashion’, sniping at the
columns of redcoats from the cover of trees and rocks. By the time the
British reached the safety of Boston, out of the original expeditionary
force of 1,700 men, 73 had been killed, 174 were wounded and 26

Champagné was with the 4th Foot on 17 June 1775 when, at the assault
on Bunker Hill under Major-General Sir William Howe, the light infantry
were on the right flank of the British forces, led by the 23rd Regiment
of Foot and followed closely by the 4th Foot. Eleven companies
altogether in close ranks faced 200 New Hampshire riflemen –
sharpshooters – under John Stark. The 23rd took the first volley at 40
yards. The 4th pressed on, but were checked by fire from the rebel
barricades. Ninety-six men were killed, and the light infantry advance
was smashed.

Eventually, the British took Bunker Hill, but at terrible cost. Out of Howe’s
2,650 men, 1,054 were casualties, including 226 killed. Eighty-nine British
officers were killed or wounded. ‘Elbow room’ was gained, but the
Americans retired to prepared lines at Prospect Hill, Cambridge. The British
did not advance further, and evacuated Boston the following September.

Champagné was also present in the expedition against Philadelphia and
at the action on landing. Finally, after seeing service in various
engagements in the Carolinas and Virginia in 1780, he returned to
England. In 1793, on the outbreak of war with France, he obtained the
majority of the 28th Foot, and later the same year was promoted to the
rank of lieutenant colonel. He served with the 80th Foot in Holland, and
then spent many years on garrison duty in Ireland. His career closed


with a period of staff duty with the army in the East Indies and his
ultimate promotion in 1810 to the rank of lieutenant general in the 95th
Foot.34 In 1816 Lieutenant General Forbes Champagné became Colonel
of the 70th Foot, one of the two regiments (the other being the 31st)
combined in 1881 to form the East Surreys.35 He died the same year,
aged 58, and lies buried beneath the central aisle of the nave of Mitcham
parish church, where a ledger stone to his memory could be seen until
1991, when it was covered by the new raised wooden floor.

General Forbes Champagné’s executor was his brother, Lieutenant
General Josiah (or Josius) Champagné of the 41st Regiment of Foot.36
He was admitted to tenancy of the manor of Vauxhall in November
1816,37 but having no use for the property himself sold the house and
land the following year for £2,960 to his neighbour, Esther Maria Cranmer
of The Canons. The entry in the court rolls recording the change in
tenure is worth repetition if only for the insight it gives into the quaint
medieval procedure which was still being followed, even at this
comparatively late date:

At this Court came Josius Champagné Esq., a Major General
[sic] in His Majesty’s Service and a customary tenant of this
Manor and in his own proper person surrendered into the hands
of the Lords of this Manor by the acceptance of their said Steward
by the Rod according to the custom of this Manor in consideration
of the sum of £2960 all that customary messuage or tenement
and all the stables and other erections and buildings and gardens
and close of land thereunto belonging with the appurts. called or
known by the name of Almonds situate lying or being in Mitcham
within this Manor and to which he was admitted tenant at a Court
held for this Manor on the 14th November 1816 to the use and
behoof of Esther Maria Cranmer of Mitcham in the County of
Surrey. (Afterwards Gen. Champagné surrendered to the Court
all that triangular piece of land [in Mitcham] abutting south on
the copyhold premises [of Gen Champagné], abutting north with
the highway leading from London to Carshalton, and abutting
southeast upon a private road leading from the said highway to
the residence of Esther Maria Cranmer).38


Sundry occupiers (1817–1830)

Esther Maria Cranmer, in addition to The Canons, also owned Mitcham
Villa (see Chapter 2). With the acquisition of the copyhold premises of
Park Place, as the house built by Gregg now seems to have become
known, she was the owner of three of the principal houses in the village.
Three years later, after her death, the estate passed to her son, the
Revd Richard Cranmer, and it seems possible that it was he who
commissioned the rear extension to Park Place we have noted earlier,
possibly intending to occupy the house himself. However, his second
cousin, the Revd Derbyshire Streynsham Myers, who had been the
vicar of Mitcham since 1779, died in 1824, and Richard Cranmer was
appointed to the living in his place in October that year.

Within a short time a new vicarage was built in Church Road, conveniently
situated opposite the church, and Richard Cranmer leased Park Place
to a succession of tenants, including a Mr Haggart, the Revd Dr
Heathcoate, Mark Singleton, Henry Langhorn and a Miss Ogg, but by
1829, the year following Cranmer’s death, the house again stood empty.39
The executors of Richard Cranmer’s estate were anxious either to re-
let the house on lease or, if this proved impossible, to sell. The Canons
was also vacant at this time and in a letter written to John Innes Pocock,
the family solicitor, Emily Simpson, Richard’s sister, referred to the general
difficulty then being experienced in finding suitable tenants for properties
of this type. To make matters worse, Park Place had been badly
neglected by the previous lessees, being left in a dirty condition, and in
a bad state of repair and decoration.

Instructions were given for what the auctioneers described, with
customary poetic licence, as a “very desirable Freehold and part Copyhold
Estate, comprising the modern built, elegant and Commodious Family
Residence” to be offered for sale by auction, provided a suitable lessee
had not been found in the meantime. In view of the dilapidations, and
Emily Simpson’s wish to be absolutely fair to a future purchaser, advice
from a surveyor had been obtained, and a reserve price of £3,150 notified
to the auctioneers. The auction took place on 20 October 1830, and a
manuscript note on the back of one of the surviving notices of sale40
records that the property was “knocked down at £3,000”, meaning that


it was not sold as it failed to reach its reserve price. It is clear from later
records that Park Place remained in the family’s possession, passing
eventually to Esther Maria’s great-grandson, William F J Simpson, on
the death of his father in 1888.

The Revd Hyam Burn’s Academy (1837–1850)

Exactly how long Park Place remained untenanted after Richard
Cranmer’s death is uncertain, but in September 1837 the trustees of the
Cranmer estate granted a lease of “the Capital Messuage called Almonds
or Park Place” to the Revd Hyam Burn.41 An inventory of fixtures and
fittings prepared at the time survives, together with a detailed description
of the accommodation, and Burn accepted responsibility for repair and
redecoration both inside and out. Mitcham had long enjoyed a reputation
for providing a healthy environment, and in the 18th and l9th centuries
several of the larger houses came to be used as boarding schools for
the sons and daughters of the gentry and upper middle classes. In about
1825, whilst still a curate, Burn had established a preparatory school for
boys at The Poplars in Upper Mitcham, near Figges Marsh.42 Once the
lease of the new premises had been settled and suitable preparations
completed, he moved his academy to the far more spacious
accommodation at Park Place.43

At the time of the census in 1841, Hyam Burn and his wife Elizabeth,
both then in their early forties, had 21 boys between the ages of eight
and 12 in their charge, assisted by a staff of seven resident servants.44
The grounds of Park Place by this time extended over 11 acres, and
included walled gardens and ample pasturage for the small herd of dairy
cattle kept for the needs of the household.45 Outside the gates lay the
wide expanse of Mitcham Common and beyond, miles of herb gardens
and enclosed farmland extending to the distant hills. To parents of
prospective pupils the situation must have appeared idyllic, and there
was apparently a high regard for the care and tuition received at Burn’s
‘Academy for Young Gentlemen’ for in several instances two or even
three brothers had been entrusted to his care. At least two of the boys
attending the academy in the early 1840s eventually found places in the
Dictionary of National Biography or Who was Who. Frederick Lygor,
sixth earl of Beauchamp, who was ten when the census was taken, left


Park Place for Eton in 1844, and went up to Christ Church, Oxford,
three years later. He was a fellow of All Souls from 1852 to 1856, and
was elected member of Parliament for West Worcester in 1863. On the
death in 1866 of his older brother, Henry (who also attended Burn’s
academy), Frederick succeeded to the title. He died in 1891 after a
career in Parliament, where he was an advocate of the High Church
cause and Puseyism.46

Among other contemporaries of the Lygor boys at Park Place were
Herbert and Frederick Murray, sons of the bishop of Rochester. Herbert,
the older of the two, was at Christ Church with Frederick Lygor and in
later life, as Sir Herbert Harley Murray KCB, held the position of governor
of Newfoundland from 1895-98.47 Former pupils also appear in Burke’s
Peerage, not unexpectedly, for most of them came from well-connected
families. Three sons of Edward Berkeley, the first viscount Portman, for
instance, were at the school in the 1840s. William Henry, the eldest, became
the second viscount, whilst the older of his two brothers, Edwin Berkeley
Portman, another fellow of All Souls, became a barrister and was member
for North Dorset in the House of Commons from 1855 to 1892.

Details are missing of the later history of the Park Place academy, and
of Burn’s subsequent career. He had evidently secured a stipend as a
prebendary by 1845,48 and the school had either closed, or moved away
from Mitcham by about 1850. Park Place now reverted to its former
role, becoming once more a private residence.

Mrs Louisa Boyce (c.1850–1873)

The Revd Burn’s successor at Park Place, or ‘Park House’ as it was
called for a time, was Louisa Boyce, described in the 1851 census as a
widow of 28, and a ‘gentlewoman and fundholder’.49 A cousin of the
Earl of Shaftesbury, she was the daughter of Lady Louisa Erskine and
Sir George Murray, Master of the Horse to George IV, who, after a
most distinguished career in the army throughout the Napoleonic Wars,
held the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies in the Duke of
Wellington’s administration. The Duke was, in fact, godfather to Sir
George’s daughter.50 Bereaved by the death of her husband, Captain
Henry Boyce of the 2nd Life Guards, within a very short time of their


marriage, Louisa Boyce withdrew into the deepest mourning. For several
years after her arrival in Mitcham she appeared rarely in public, and
then always wearing a thick veil of black crepe. With her daily needs
attended to by her maids, her footman and coachman, and visited only
by the closest relatives and friends, for ten years or so she seems to
have taken little or no part in the life of the village.51

It was not until 1862, when Mitcham seems to have experienced
something of a religious revival, inspired by the new vicar, Daniel Wilson,
that Louisa Boyce emerged from her seclusion and became actively
engaged in evangelical work. On Whitsunday 8 June 1862, she started
a Bible class in a cottage in Western Road opposite Love Lane. Six
months later the class was moved to a more conveniently situated lodge
at Park Place, where it continued to be held under her supervision for a
further ten years.52 During the 1860s Louisa Boyce also took a more
active part in other aspects of the life of the parish church, and is
mentioned in the Revd Wilson’s pastoral letters as one of the members
of the Ladies’ Visiting Society, who were much concerned at this time
with the relief of poverty and distress amongst the village labourers and
their families.

After residence in Mitcham for nearly a quarter of a century, Louisa
Boyce left Park Place in 1873 and eventually retired to Italy, where she
died in 1891.53

The McMaster Family (1874–1890)

In 1874 a 21-year lease of Park Place was granted to James Short
McMaster by William Simpson, who had inherited the property through
his mother Emily, the daughter of Esther Maria Cranmer. The McMaster
family’s principal claim to a place in local history appears to be their
close association with the growth of the Methodist Church in Mitcham.

For many years before their arrival in the village it had been clear that
the tiny Wesleyan chapel, built on the south-western side of the Lower
Green in 1789, was inadequate for the needs of the community. In 1877
work started on the new Methodist church on the opposite side of the
Green, on the site now occupied by the present church, built in 1958.
The McMaster family took a prominent part in the inaugural ceremonies,


and the foundation stone laid by Miss McMaster on 30 March 1877 is
still preserved in a boundary wall of the present church, together with
another laid by Miss Ada McMaster in June 1881.

Local directories indicate that the McMaster family had left Mitcham
by 1890, and five years later the occupier of Park Place was William F
J Simpson, the squire of Mitcham, to whom ownership of Park Place
had passed following the death of his father in 1888.

The Simpsons (c.1895–c.1918)

William Francis Joseph Simpson, the grandson of the calico printer
William Simpson of Lichfield who in 1818 married Emily Cranmer, heiress
to the Cranmer estates in Mitcham, was the only son of William Simpson
the second and Winefride (or Winifred), the daughter of Sir Edward
Mostyn of Talacre, the seventh baronet. He was born at Mitcham in
September 1863, educated at Downside School near Bath, and qualified
as a marine engineer. In January 1891 he married Mary, the only daughter
of George Herbert of the Middle Temple and Constantia his wife, the
daughter of Sir Charles Witham RN.54 From the evidence of local
directories it would appear that William Simpson and his wife had taken
up residence at Park Place soon after their marriage. From the same
source one gathers that by 1899, having leased Park Place to Harry
Mallaby-Deeley, who subsequently purchased Mitcham Court,55 the
Simpsons had moved temporarily to the much smaller accommodation
afforded by No. 3 Cranmer Villas, newly erected overlooking Lower
Green West. The year 1903 saw them back at Park Place, which now
resumed its role as the family home.56

For 250 years the Cranmer and Simpson families had occupied an exalted
position in the village hierarchy, holding the patronage of the parish church
and lordship of the manor of Mitcham which, like the rectory, had
belonged to Southwark priory before the dissolution of monastic
foundations in the 16th century. For a few brief years during the afterglow
of the Victorian era William Simpson the third, the last lord of the
manor of Mitcham, was to enjoy the prestige attached to the position of
squire. Both he and his wife were pre-eminent in the life of the village,
and Park Place was the scene of many local functions.57 Like his father
and grandfather before him, William Simpson owned a considerable


estate in Mitcham and, as befitted his social status, played an important
part in parish affairs. He served on the Board of Guardians of the Poor
and on the School Board and, as a member of the old sanitary authority,
became one of the first to represent Mitcham on the new Croydon
Rural Distict Council when it was formed in 1894. Although he remained
patron of the Anglican Church in Mitcham, with the right to appoint an
incumbent to the living, William Simpson was a Roman Catholic. As we
have noted above, he had been educated at Downside, the country’s
premier Roman Catholic school, and throughout his life was one of the
chief supporters of the Catholic Church in Mitcham. The family was
largely responsible for establishing the church in its present position
overlooking Cranmer Green.58

Mitcham Common, over parts of which for generations the Cranmers
and later the Simpsons had claimed manorial rights, selling gravel, sand,
turf and timber, was brought under the control of the Mitcham Common
Conservators in 1891 to save it from complete destruction. Bowing to
the inevitable, William Simpson released all but his grazing rights to the
Board of Conservators, retaining them for the benefit of the few
remaining tenants of the manor. He served as a conservator for a number
of years, and when the exclusive Princes Golf Club was granted a
lease of a large part of the Common, he became a member.

The outbreak of war in August 1914 not only signalled the end of
Edwardian England, with its clearly stratified and stable social structure
and its sharply contrasted extremes of wealth and poverty, but also
heralded tragedy for virtually every household in the country, and the
end of many an ancient family. Like most of his contemporaries, young
William Herbert Mostyn Simpson, born in June 1893 the eldest child
and heir to the estate, was moved to answer the call of patriotism.
Granted a commission as a lieutenant in the East Surrey Regiment, he
was amongst the first of the British Forces to see action in Belgium,
and was mortally wounded at Wolferghem, dying five days before
Christmas Day 1914, at the age of 21. He lies in a military cemetery,
and the simple stone monument his parents obtained to erect over his
grave now stands in Mitcham churchyard, close by the family grave on
the southern side of the parish church. The shock of William’s death


was such that Mary Simpson became seriously ill, and was confined to
a wheelchair. During the war she was often to be seen in the vicinity of
the Lower Green, being pushed by a servant, or her husband. One old
resident of Mitcham recalled William Simpson clearly in later middle
age, describing him as a solemn-faced, bearded man, his pince-nez awry,
and habitually dressed, or so it seemed in retrospect, in a Norfolk jacket
and breeches. His demeanour was often somewhat strange. “Walking
alone, he had the peculiar habit of stopping suddenly and looking around
as though he had heard a strange noise, and could not understand from
which direction it came”.59

Both William and Mary Simpson left Mitcham before the War ended,
and after the Armistice in 1918 Park Place was leased to the Young
Men’s Christian Association. Mary Simpson predeceased her husband,
and was buried at Burgess Hill, Sussex. William died at his home in St
John’s Wood in June 1932, leaving one son, Philip Witham Simpson, and
two daughters.

The end of an era: Park Place and the News of the World

In 1922, the Park Place estate was sold by William Simpson to the
News of the World Ltd. Several groups of small houses and cottages
which stood along Commonside West between Cold Blows lane and
the gates to Park Place, on either side of the Windmill public house,
were acquired by the company in the 1920s, and the title to the land
was formally registered in 1931.60

Over the next 32 years the estate was developed and maintained as the
main sports ground for the News of the World organisation. The old
house was converted to provide clubrooms, there was a steward’s flat
on the ground floor, and four self-contained flats upstairs. In the
basements were storerooms, a bar and a lounge, and the old coach
houses, stables, dairy, brewery and bakehouse were gradually converted
to serve the needs of the new owners. In 1922 the old enclosed
commonland bordering Commonside West and Madeira Road was used
for housing for News of the World employees, and during the inter-war
years the grounds of Park Place underwent drastic transformation.


Hedges and fences which had divided the various meadows and
paddocks were removed to provide a central playing area with football
pitches and a cricket field. A running track was laid down, and two
bowling greens, and hard and grass tennis courts were constructed,
together with a timber-built bowls pavilion and dressing-rooms.

Over the next 30 years, as the News of the World sports ground, the
estate achieved a nationwide reputation and Park Place as such was
almost forgotten. Then, in 1963, Surrey County Council proposed
compulsory purchase of the land from News of the World Ltd for the
purpose of rebuilding the Mitcham County School for Boys. The price
ultimately agreed was £165,000 and the Council took possession, but
two years later changes in local government structure and educational
policies caused the County Education Committee’s plans to be

Reminiscences of Park Place by G O Nash

In December 1969, having completed most of the research for an
earlier version of the history of Park Place which was to appear in
serialised form in the Merton Borough News in February 1974, I felt
there was a need to conclude what was a somewhat impersonal
account with the reminiscences of someone who had seen the house
in its last days as a private residence. A friend suggested I visit George
Nash of Madeira Road who, I was assured, probably knew as much
about Park Place as anyone in Mitcham, having worked as
groundsman in charge of the News of the World sports ground for
over 40 years. The advice could not have been better, and it is to
George Nash that posterity will be indebted for the following memories
of this corner of Old Mitcham at the beginning of the century (the
reader should note that George’s ‘now’ is 35 years ago, and that
much has since changed):

Although I had lived in Mitcham all my life, it was not until 1919
that I first saw the interior of Park Place, when it was on lease to
the Young Men’s Christian Association. Then past its prime, and
no longer a gentleman’s residence, it was still a wonderful house,
and the decor of the principal rooms impressed me greatly. I can


still remember clearly the white-painted doors, the panels of which
were most artistically decorated with vases of gold, full of flowers,
all hand-painted. The friezes round the ceilings were also ornate,
the detail being picked out in gold, whilst the pelmets and curtains
to the windows were a lovely deep red velvet, with gold braid and
tassels. A beautiful staircase surmounted by a glass dome led to
the top floor, but this has long since disappeared, the stairs being
removed, and the dome dismantled because it had become
dangerous. I still have a Georgian penny which fell into the hall
whilst the work was in progress. What used to be called the
domestic offices included the butler’s pantry, a housekeeper’s room,
a very large kitchen with the biggest cooking range I have ever
seen, a dairy with large slate benches and a hand pump and well
below, a brewhouse and a bakery. The bakery oven was heated
by a wood fire, lit inside the oven itself. When it was hot enough
the ashes were withdrawn and the dough placed in position with a
long wooden shovel, which was later used to remove the bread
when baked. A little flight of back stairs led down to the servants’
quarters in the basement, cut off from the house proper by a green
baize-covered door outside the butler’s pantry. There was a belfry
on what was the older part of the house, and the bell rope came
through to the same back stairs. When the belfry was dismantled
and taken to the News of the World the bell was found to bear the
date 1776.

Of the two standard lamps which once lit the drive to the house,
one still remains. The old cedar tree, which a forestry expert told
me is over three hundred years old, still stands in the centre of the
drive although damaged by a “doodle bug” during the war. A lovely
row of elm trees, containing quite a large rookery, separated the
horse paddock from the cow paddock, and an avenue of walnut
trees, also now only a memory, ran out to the Cricket Green. On
Sunday mornings the ladies and gentlemen from the house used to
drive through this avenue on their way to service at the parish
church. The little procession was quite impressive, and an old lady,
who lived in Church Road when she was a girl, recalled for me the


grand sight of the postillions on their horses, the coachmen sitting
high on the coaches, wearing black coats and white breeches and
with black cockades in their top hats, and inside, the ladies in their
grand dresses. I once met an old man who was a stable boy at
Park Place, and he told me he had been given many a gold half-
sovereign for riding to the old post office in Lower Mitcham to
fetch the mail for the guests. The ‘dormy house’ in which the
overspill guests used to sleep was on the site of No. 15 Madeira
Road, demolished after the war, and replaced by the present house.

The gardens of Park Place were still very lovely when the News
of the World took over, and there was a walled-in kitchen garden
where the bowling green is now, and an orchard on the site of the
tennis courts. The horse paddock is now the cricket field, and the
cow paddock a running track. When I was a lad at the Lower
Mitcham school we used to go to the cow paddock to celebrate
Empire Day, and then had the rest of the day off as a holiday. On
other unauthorised visits, we boys used to “scrump” fruit and
walnuts from the trees. If we were careless and tripped the wires
set by the gardener there was a noise like a gun going off, and we
used to run for it! A wall ran along Commonside West from the
South Lodge, the main gate, to North Lodge, with a row of old cottages
in front which were demolished in 1936. In one of the cottages there
lived Mr. Thompson, a cowkeeper. His cows used to graze on the
Common, and at milking time, when he stood at the gate and shouted,
they would come to be milked, and then stroll back across the road
onto the Common. I might add that Commonside West was then an
old dusty flint-surfaced road, and there were no motor cars! I once
saw an old woman who, with her daughter, Mrs. Webster, used to
live in South Lodge. Her job was to open the main gates to let the
carriages in and out. The mechanism was semi-automatic – you
turned a large wheel with a handle to open the gates, and weights
closed them again. I also once met an old man who asked if he could
look round the grounds; he explained that he had worked on the
estate when he was a boy, and had emigrated to America. Before
he left he had carved his initials on a tree, and last week I went again
and looked at the tree, and found the date 1867 still visible.


I left George Nash after the interview and walked back towards the
Three Kings Piece and the Fair Green in a pensive mood. Seen from
Commonside West in the half-light of that winter’s afternoon, and with
the exercise of a little imagination, the house still looked much as I
imagine it must have done in the late 19th century. The iron porch
covering the steps to the front door, added, so I am told, by James
McMaster at the time of his daughter’s wedding and still obscuring the
elegant Georgian doorcase, helped to sustain the illusion, but in reality
the changes which had taken place in the 60-odd years that George
Nash had known the house and its grounds were very great. The
conversion of Park Place from a gentleman’s residence to a clubhouse
and sports ground in the 1920s had necessitated quite drastic alterations,
but many of the old outbuildings, like the stables and the coach house,
survived until, damaged by the flying bomb, they were demolished after
the war. The mid-Georgian wing of the house, once the domestic quarters,
also sustained damage during the Blitz, but was repaired. Now, with the
virtually intact shell of the late 18th-century house, they form a little
group of buildings spanning 250 years of local history.

Park Place c.1900,
reproduced by courtesy of Merton Library and Heritage Service


Park Place in the ownership of the London Borough of Merton

Under the provisions of section 30 of the Town and Country Planning
Act 1947, the former Mitcham Borough Council had placed Park Place
on the provisional list of buildings of architectural and historic interest,
but in the belief that it was only of early 19th-century date, and with
little to commend it, the house was placed in Grade III. Unfortunately it
was not seen fit to list the 18th-century red brick and tile-roofed lodge,
despite its age and close association with the house.

Internally the lodge had one large living room at the front, overlooking
Three Kings Piece, and a kitchen/scullery in a single storey back additon.
Upstairs there were two small bedrooms. It fell empty in 1967 and
although not seriously unfit, and certainly capable of restoration and
improvement, it was demolished in August 1969 by the Housing
Department of the London Borough of Merton. With the lodge
disappeared several fascinating features, including the large wheel and
connecting gear by which at one time it was possible to open the gates
to the drive from inside the lodge. The following month Park Place and
the whole of Commonside West was included in the Cricket Green
Conservation Area, designated by Merton Council with the expressed
intention of protecting the visual environment and encouraging the
retention of buildings of interest.

The grounds were used by Mitcham County School for Boys, but by
May 1973, having no use for the house, the Education Department
decided that Park Place was not worth repairing and should be
demolished. In November that year, however, the building was formally
listed for the first time, since when it has remained on the Department
of the Environment’s list of ‘other buildings of local note’, where it is
categorised as Grade II.61

For several years the house stood vacant, being used merely for storage.
In September 1974 a proposal to use it as offices for the Town Planning
Department was dropped in favour of other, albeit temporary,
accommodation in the Canons sports centre next door, and Park Place
instead underwent substantial renovation and alteration in 1975-6 to convert


it into offices for the Borough’s Environmental Services Department, then
awaiting relocation from the Vestry Hall in the centre of the Lower Green.

In spite of the very considerable expenditure incurred in the building’s
repair and renovation, its use as offices was of relatively short duration,
and the main building was again vacated following removal of the
Environmental Services staff to the Civic Centre at Crown House,
Morden. Three self-contained flats which had been created in 1975
remained occupied for a time, but the occupants were rehoused, and
once more Park Place was empty.

It was designated for office use in the Borough Plan, but limitations on
floor loading due to its construction proved a serious disadvantage when
seeking a new occupant. The Area Health Authority, for instance, had
to abandon plans to use the building when it was learned that proposed
internal structural reinforcements would be unacceptable on aesthetic
grounds. Whilst the authorities deliberated the house remained
unoccupied and in May 1979 the local press reported that lead worth
£800 had been stolen from the roof.

By February 1989 Merton Council, anxious to relieve itself of the burden
of responsibility for a Grade II listed building for which it could find no
use, resolved to sell the property once it had granted ‘deemed planning
consent’, subject to the approval of English Heritage, for a small area
of low-rise ‘mews-type’ office development at the rear of the house.
This, it was hoped, might render the premises a little more attractive to
a potential purchaser when placed on the market.62

A separate proposal, affecting another part of the Park Place estate,
including the running track, was put forward for discussion early in
1989. The proposal envisaged releasing an area of land at the corner of
Commonside West and Cold Blows path for housing purposes, and taking
part of the cleared site of the redundant Cumberland Hospital in
exchange. The latter would have been used for the creation of additional
sports facilities, linked to The Canons recreational complex. The
proposition was abandoned in view of the cost, and also the adverse
public reaction to the loss of open space on the Commonside West
frontage. Eventually an alternative scheme was adopted involving


redevelopment of the hospital site as sheltered accommodation for
mentally handicapped people and a care home.

Whilst the future of Park Place was undecided, in 1989 the empty building
was damaged severely by fire. The main fabric survived, but with much
of the roof destroyed the interior had become vulnerable to further damage
by weather. A temporary roof of plastic supported by scaffolding was
quickly erected, and to deter further vandalism the windows and doors
were boarded up. Despite its derelict condition, in 1990 interest was
expressed in acquiring Park Place by Sheridan Estates, a local firm which
had recently completed the very sympathic renovation of Eagle House,
with some new office accommodation at the rear, in Upper Mitcham.

Nothing came of this particular approach, but in February 1993 a planning
application submitted by Hallmark Care Services, who proposed adapting
and using Park Place as a privately-run home and educational centre
for children with special needs, with the building of some extensions for
residential accommodation, was approved by the Council. The sale of
the property to Hallmark followed in October 1993, but the financial
feasibility of the project was already doubtful, and by January 1995 it
became known that Hallmark were seeking to sell. In the meantime,
Park Place had been placed on English Heritage’s list of ‘Endangered
Buildings’ in view of its serious condition.

By September 1995, Whitbread Properties having signified their
willingness to purchase Park Place from Hallmark Care Services, planning
approval and listed building consent were given for conversion and use
of the house, after refurbishment, as a public house and ‘Beefeater’
restaurant. Whitbread were prepared to invest £1.3m in the project,
which included internal alterations and the building of extensions to
provide kitchen, conservatory and toilet accommodation, details of which
were submitted to and approved by the Planning Services Committee
of Merton Council in September 1995. Today (2010) Park Place is a
popular venue for lunches and dinners.


The gatekeeper’s lodge to Park Place and Commonside West c.1965

Newton House, No. 1 Commonside West c.1980 (ENM)

Chapter 6 141


In addition to Park Place two other 18th-century houses survive on
Commonside West which are of particular interest in view of their age
and aesthetic appeal. Both therefore merit special comment before
proceeding to review what is known of the remainder of the properties
fronting the Three Kings pond.

Newton House, No. 1 Commonside West

Newton House is to all appearances an early 18th-century detached
two-storey building of three bays with a central entrance doorway. The
assumed dating is supported by the simple canopied doorcase, and the
internal panelling still present when the writer visited the property in the
1990s. The origins of the house are somewhat obscure, but it may be
occupying the site of one of the ‘messuages’ mentioned in documents
relating to 18 acres of enclosed land, copyhold of the manor of
Ravensbury, which were known as ‘Blowers’ in the 17th century.1 The
best clue to the building’s date is in the granting by James Cranmer of a
lease of one of “five new messuages with a garden by Mitcham
Common” to Edward Foster in 1727. The lease, initially for 11 years at
£4 guineas per annum, was later renewed.2

The name of Charles Foster, who is known to have been a millwright,
appears in the Mitcham freeholders’ list of the 1760s,3 and the poor
rate books show that from 1753, when the records begin, until 1766, an
Edward Foster was the occupier of a large flour mill on the Wandle at
the end of Willow Lane. The business was carried on by another Charles,
presumably Edward’s son, until 1796. The Mitcham rate books and the
land tax records confirm that Charles Foster was the owner/occupier
of a modest house on Commonside West which was either the Newton
House of today, or else another property very close by, since demolished.
The evidence is, admittedly, circumstantial, but the Foster family’s position
in the community, the stylistic indications that Newton House must have
been standing since the early 18th century, the position of the entries
relative to other properties which can be identified, plus the lack of any
other likely occupants, all support the assumption that the house was
the Foster residence for some 70 years.


Charles Foster was also the tenant of various other plots of land, a barn,
and ‘tenements’ extending along Commonside West towards Cold Blows
path. In addition, he held, probably on lease, a “house and mill”, also
standing on Commonside West, which were owned by James Cranmer,
the son of the lessor mentioned previously who had died in 1752. The
rateable value of this property, which was £64 per annum – seven times
that of Foster’s house on its own – presumably included a substantial
commercial element, reflecting the economic importance of the mill.4
Little else is known about this mill, but there is a strong possibility that it
was the unusual horizontal windmill illustrated in a little sketch of about
1800 now in the possession of Croydon Local Studies Library & Archives
Service, and reproduced in Farries and Mason’s Windmills of Surrey
and Inner London. The location of this mill is merely given as “Mitcham
Common”, and Farries and Mason, commenting that it was not a robust
structure, observe that “the sails seem to have been of the feathering
type”.5 Nothing more is recorded of this fascinating little mill, and it
disappears from local records by the early 19th century, when a more
conventional hollow post-mill was erected in the centre of Mitcham

From the turn of the century until the early 1830s the house we assume
to have been formerly occupied by Charles Foster was owned by John
Oxtoby and let or leased to tenants, but by 1838 it had once more become
owner-occupied as the residence of James Barber, a stockbroker, and
his wife Sarah.7 They were followed by Mr and Mrs John Coles in the
1860s and 1870s, but apart from the fact that John Coles was a half-
pay naval officer8 and Mary Coles belonged to the Ladies’ Visiting
Society of the parish church and was active in good works amongst the
poor of the parish,9 little is really known about them.

In the post-war period No. 1 Commonside West was occupied, and
well maintained, by T G Baker, a builder and decorator. At the rear
there survived a fine weatherboarded outbuilding, which enhanced the
‘olde worlde’ appearance of the property, but unfortunately it was
considered necessary to remove this when the property changed hands
in the 1980s and was substantially renovated. Before being occupied as
offices by the South West London Probationary Service in 1984, Newton


House had been included in a provisional list of buildings of architectural
or historic importance compiled in 1952 by the Borough of Mitcham,10
and was in the supplementary list approved by the Minister of Housing
and Local Government in 1954, but it was not until 1988 that it was
given a formal Grade II designation by the Secretary of State for the

The Lawn, No. 4 Commonside West

The Lawn was a delightfully picturesque house not immediately visible
from the road, for several years left standing vacant and vandalised until
approval of plans for its repair with partial redevelopment in 2009/10.
Although adapted and extended over the years, it is still clear that the
house has its origins in the 18th century and, as in the case of Newton
House, its merit was recognised by Mitcham Borough Council as long
ago as 1952, when it was included in a provisional list of buildings of
architectural or historic interest.12 It is also in the schedule of buildings of
importance in Appendix II of the Mitcham Action Area Plan of 1980, but
has not, so far, been given statutory listing. The former coach-house at
the rear of The Lawn also deserves comment, for it was a neat little

The Lawn, No. 4 Commonside West (ENM c.1985)


building dating perhaps to 1810-20, constructed in buff stock bricks with
an attractive elliptical arch of finely gauged bricks above the entrance
doors. Unfortunately the adjacent harness room, which was topped with
a small dovecote, was removed by the owners in the 1980s as the
weatherboarding had become rotten and was not thought worth repairing.
The building has now (2010) been renovated to provide residential

The house was clearly multi-period, the front portion being of mature
stock brick, rendered in rusticated stucco to first-floor level. White-
painted weatherboarding covered the side elevation, which included a
large bow window with sliding sashes above the enclosed entrance
porch. From its appearance, this was the oldest part of the property,
whilst the weatherboarded back addition, with its low-pitched slate roof,
was substantially early 19th century. Two wells are said to have existed
on the premises, one, brick-lined and with a lead cistern, being discovered
by builders13 carrying out alterations in 1958 to extend the kitchen.

In the early years of the 19th century the house was one of a pair.
Both had been owned by a Robert Morris, but held on lease by Benjamin
Potter, who seems to have sublet to various tenants. Until about 1827
the two semi-detached houses continued to be occupied separately,
the southernmost, known as ‘The Lawn’, by Francis Moore, and the
other, still owned or held on lease by Benjamin Potter, occupied by
Thomas Holden, his son-in-law.14 Following the death of Thomas
Leverton, the owner of The Firs estate behind The Lawn, Moore
enlarged the garden to the south of his house in 1827 by purchasing a
triangular plot of land from Thomas Russell of Croydon and John Blake,
an auctioneer, who were handling the sale.15 From 1827 until his death
Moore was assessed for land tax as both ‘proprietor’ and occupier of
the two houses combined as one property. The Lawn was referred to
in the court rolls of the manor of Ravensbury from the 1830s onwards
as “All that copyhold messuage or tenement and premises ‘wherein
Francis Moore formerly resided'”. A large part of The Firs estate
was also copyhold at this time, and it seems likely that the land on
which The Lawn, or its predecessor, had been erected was originally
part of the same holding.


Francis Moore, an apothecary and a cousin of James Moore, proprietor
of the famous herb-growing firm of Potter and Moore, died in 1829 at
the age of 57, and under the terms of his will the house passed to Mrs
Elizabeth Frances Megarey (née Smoker). She remained the owner
until her death in 1851, when the property was inherited by Denham
Smart and subsequently by his younger brother Alfred, from whom it
was purchased by Christopher Robinson in 1868. On surrender of Alfred
Smart, the previous copyholder, Christopher Robinson was admitted to
the tenancy of the manor at a court baron held on 29 April 1868.15
Seven years later, on receipt of the appropriate fee, the trustees of the
Carew Estate, who then held the lordship of the manor, entered into a
deed of enfranchisement with Robinson, and the property, which
incorporated the adjacent triangular plot of land purchased by Moore in
1827, became freehold.

Following Francis Moore’s death in 1829 The Lawn seems to have
been leased. Positive identification of occupants from the surviving
records is not easy in the absence of addresses, but around 1841 the
house was apparently tenanted by Samuel Holden, his wife Amelia and
their two children.16 At this time Thomas and Samuel Holden were
proprietors of the Mitcham stage coaches and horse buses, which for
over half a century had been providing the main means of transport to
and from London.17 Within a few years Samuel and his family moved to
other accommodation, nearer the coach yard and stables at the rear of
the White Hart, and in 1851 we find a Mr A M Baughan, an elderly
gentleman, living at their former house on Commonside West.18 He,
too, was soon to leave, and the house was subsequently taken by Thomas
and Rebecca Jacobs.19 It is perhaps of interest to note that although the
house was not particularly large, and all three householders were only
of modest social status, they each employed servants living in. Baughan
and Jacobs were described as ‘fundholders’ in the censuses taken whilst
they were in residence, and in view of their ages both would appear to
have retired from business. The party wall between The Lawn and the
adjacent late 19th-century house is of cast iron, approximately one and
a quarter inches thick, and it was the belief of the owner, Mr Vowles,
who kindly volunteered this information when I visited the house in the
1980s, that this might date from around the time of the Great Exhibition


of 1851, when cast iron was in vogue as a fire-resisting building material.
One can only speculate on the reason behind this most unusual form of
construction, which calls to mind David Hartley’s ‘fireproof house’ at
Putney Heath, built in the 1770s, in which sheet iron was also used.

It is not until the latter part of the 19th century that The Lawn can really
be said to have earned a special place in local history. As we have seen,
in 1868 it was bought by Christopher Robinson, of Hammersmith, who
was a pork butcher with a business at Blackfriars.20 His daughter
Florence married Robert Masters Chart of 3 Commonside East in January
1873. Robert (‘Masters’ was his maternal grandmother’s maiden name)
was the son of Edwin Chart (1805-1888), a local surveyor and land
agent who was also the parish and vestry clerk. After their wedding
Robert and Florence Chart lived at Commonside West, either at The
Lawn or the adjoining house, and several of their children, including
Robert, Florence, Minnie and Stephen, were born here.21 They
eventually moved to St Mary’s, a house overlooking the Cricket Green.
Robert was an architect and surveyor by profession, in his later years
becoming the principal in the partnership of Chart, Son and Reading.22
He followed the family tradition of service in local government, and
during his long life held many offices, both honorary and salaried,
including that of vestry clerk from 1886 until 1925. He also served as an
elected member or professional advisor on innumerable local boards,
was a justice of the peace, a churchwarden, and a Surrey county
councillor for 15 years.23 When Mitcham received Borough status in
1934 he was honoured by being elected the Charter Mayor at the age
of 84. Stephen Chart, his son and one of 13 children, attained the rank
of lieutenant colonel in the 1914/18 War and was awarded the DSO.
He was the first clerk to the Mitcham Urban District Council, which
had come into being in 1915, and was appointed town clerk of the newly
formed borough in 1934. In 1946, after his retirement from local
government service, Colonel Chart was granted the freedom of the
Borough of Mitcham in recognition of his unique service to the town.

On the death of Christopher Robinson in 1899 ownership of The Lawn
and the adjoining Maori Cottage passed to his daughter Mrs Esther
Purchase Taylor, with the proviso that her older sister Mrs Blanche
Amelia Sahler should be given the opportunity of living at the cottage


rent-free for three years if she so wished.24 Maori Cottage was later
renamed The Nook. It would appear that Robinson had combined the
two dwellings to form one house, and it was as one property that Mrs
Taylor, who had settled in New South Wales, sold the property to Charles
Lester in 1920. The house had again been subdivided by 1929, when
The Lawn was sold by Lester to Wilfrid Bateson.25 The Nook continued
to be occupied by Mrs Lester until 1960.

When in 1957 Mr and Mrs C D Vowles (the last occupiers of the property
before redevelopment) purchased The Lawn from Mr Bateson the
communicating doorways in the party walls at both ground and first floor
level were still visible in outline, although they had been bricked up
sometime between 1920 and 1929.26 In 1962 Mrs Joy Vowles revived the
association of The Lawn with local government on being elected to the
council of the Borough of Mitcham, representing the Phipps Bridge Ward.

The smaller houses and other buildings on Commonside West

Maps of the mid-19th century27 show that along Commonside West
from The Lawn to Cold Blows path there was firstly a shrubbery and
trees which formed the boundary of a meadow on The Firs estate, and
then a row of five cottages and small houses (two of which incorporated
shops), with their gardens and outbuildings.Various buildings are indicated
here on a map of c.1790, and in a plan of property within the manor of
Biggin and Tamworth held by Charles Sprules and Mrs Elizabeth
Westwood, prepared in 1821 by Mr C Penfold, a local surveyor, there is
shown a row of cottages along Commonside West to the north of Cold
Blows, occupied by Coad, Sprules, Summers, Westwood and Brown.28
According to Drewett, there was also a small herbal distillery next to
the end of Cold Blows in the 1820s,29 but no other reference to it has
been traced. Land tax records from 1817 to 1830 show Sprules
occupying one of these dwellings, but make no mention of a distillery.
The Spruleses were an old Mitcham family connected with colour or
‘drug’ milling, as well as herb or physic gardening, and a James Sprules
was a master miller at the logwood mills in Willow Lane in the 1850s,
but his relationship to Charles has not been traced. All these cottages
were cleared away during the 19th or early 20th centuries, and their
sites redeveloped.


Southwards along Commonside West from the end of Cold Blows path
to the entrance to Park Place are the sites of the north lodge to Park
Place and then some half dozen small houses and cottages, clearly
marked on the tithe map and the Ordnance Survey maps of the latter
part of the 19th century. Their appearance is also preserved, in part, in
photographs dating from the end of the 19th century. As might be
expected, several were timber-framed and weatherboarded, with red
pantiled roofs after the Surrey fashion of the late 18th and early 19th
centuries. Others of brick and slate were of mid-19th century date.

In 1888, on the death of James Bridger, who became the owner of the
firm of Potter and Moore and lord of the manor of Biggin and Tamworth
on the death of James Moore, what were known as ‘Hopkin’s Cottages’,
near The Windmill public house on Commonside West, were offered
for sale by auction. They were described as a pair of timber and tile
cottages, each of two rooms up and two down, tenanted by a Mrs Jay
and a Mrs Knight at four shillings a week each. Adjoining Mrs Knight’s
and next to The Windmill was a low brick and tiled cottage of two
rooms only, occupied by Mrs Gosling who paid two shillings and sixpence
(12.5p) per week. A fourth cottage was vacant.30 This may have been
the dwelling occupied around the turn of the century by Jack Thomson,
a cow-keeper who grazed his cattle on the Common and was a familiar
figure in the village, making his milk round with two pails suspended
from a wooden yoke across his shoulders. The plots on which all these
cottages stood were small and, as in the case of the similar development
along Commonside East on the opposite side of the Three Kings Piece,
could have had their origins in squatters’ enclosures of waste land
bordering the Common during the Middle Ages. They had all been
brought within the jurisdiction of the manor of Biggin and Tamworth by
the 19th century, and were acquired by Lieutenant General Forbes
Champagné of Park Place in 1815.

In the 1920s the houses and cottages either side of The Windmill from
Cold Blows as far as the lodge to Park Place passed into the ownership
of the News of the World organisation, whose sports field lay at the
rear. Most of these little dwellings were demolished in the mid-1930s,
but numbers 51, 52 and 53 Commonside West, three rather nondescript


mid-19th-century cottages, and the picturesque red brick and tiled south
lodge to Park Place survived the war, and were not cleared away until
the late 1960s.

During the air raids of the 1940s two high explosive bombs and a ‘doodle
bug’, or flying bomb, fell within the grounds of Park Place, the latter
causing considerable damage to the outbuildings of the house. A bomb
falling to the north of Cold Blows also demolished No. 22, a detached
house of the inter-war period, seriously injuring Mrs Hobbs, wife of
Lieutenant Hobbs of the 57th Surrey (Mitcham) Home Guard. Another
fell just to the north of The Windmill. The site of the Hobbs’s house
was redeveloped as flats after the war, and other houses to the north of
Cold Blows were either repaired, or had their sites redeveloped. The
narrow strip of land between the grounds of Park Place and Commonside
West is today occupied by the Training Ship Trafalgar, the headquarters
of the Merton Sea Cadet Corps and, on the site of the lodge itself, the
headquarters hut of No. 2157 (Mitcham) Squadron of the Air Training

South-west of Cold Blows, the only building now remaining from the
19th century is The Windmill public house. Edwards’s map of 1789
indicates a building, amongst others, roughly on this site, and there is a
watercolour by Scharf which shows a pretty stucco and slate villa
apparently standing near here in 1819, but nothing more is known of it,
and one has to allow for artistic licence when attempting to locate it
precisely.31 The first indisputable documentary evidence of a public house
on the site is in the tithe register of 1846, which records the ‘Windmill
Beershop, cottages and gardens’ occupying a plot totalling 11 poles,
and owned by Charles Waymark.32 The beershop itself probably came
into being after the passing of the Beerhouse Act of 1830, and the
name could have been inspired by Foster’s horizontal windmill, which
then would still have been within living memory. The present building
dates from the latter part of the 19th century, and amongst its recent
licensees was ‘Smiler’ Boxall, one-time captain of Mitcham Cricket
Club, who died in 1971.


The Three Kings public house and pond. Postcard c.1905

The Three Kings Pond. Postcard c.1910

Chapter 7 151


Between Commonside East and Commonside West lies a triangular
portion of common land, 18 acres in extent, which, until the construction
in 1868 of the London Brighton & South Coast Railway Company’s
line from Streatham to Mitcham Junction, was an integral part of the
wider expanse of Mitcham Common. The name by which it is invariably
known is obviously derived from the former Three Kings public house
which occupied a prominent position on Commonside East, overlooking
the pond. A hostelry of this name is known to have stood here since the
latter part of the 18th century, but its origins are unknown. The
significance of the name is often debated, some claiming that the three
kings were the Hanoverian Georges, whilst others maintain that they
were the three Magi. At the time the railway was built, the Common,
an uninterrupted tract of open heathland, extended some two miles
south-east from Mitcham’s Upper Green to beyond the boundary of
Croydon parish, reaching almost as far as the modern Aurelia Road.

By the mid-19th century the sand and gravel deposits which still underlie
much of the Common were being dug extensively, leaving an unsightly
landscape of pits and spoil heaps. Fortunately the physical separation
of the ‘Three Kings Piece’ from the main Common by the railway may
have been a factor in saving it from the worst depredations of the
gravel diggers. Of greater significance, however, was the fact that the
lords of the four Mitcham manors, Ravensbury, Vauxhall, Biggin and
Tamworth, and Mitcham Canons, each of whom claimed rights over
the Common, and was more concerned with potential profit than
preservation of what they regarded as waste land, disagreed as to the
exact extent of their interests. The situation was finally resolved by the
formation of a Board of Conservators in 1891, who acquired the mineral
rights in 1894, and gravel digging ceased, except where authorised.

The Three Kings Piece remained under the management of the
Conservators until the passing of the Mitcham Urban District Council
Act in 1923, which vested this, and the various Greens of Mitcham, in
the recently created local authority. From now on this particular part of
the Common was established as the site of the annual Mitcham fair,
transferred from its traditional site on the Upper, or Fair, Green under


the powers conferred on the new local authority by the Act. During the
winter the Three Kings Piece became used for sports pitches, for which
it was kept mown and rolled by the Council’s Parks Department. This
of course effectively destroyed anything of botanical interest, and the
combined effects of municipal maintenance and the annual fair over
the last 60-odd years have ensured that any resemblance the land might
have had to wild Surrey heath has now vanished. Even the surface air
raid shelters and Home Guard strongpoints – interesting relics from
World War II – have long since been removed to prevent them becoming
nuisances through public misuse.

Until the beginning of the 20th century there were two ponds on the
Three Kings Piece – the Chestnuts Pond, opposite the gates to Park
Place on Commonside West, and the Three Kings Pond. Both probably
owed their origins to gravel digging, but whereas the Chestnuts Pond,
the smaller of the two, was filled in some 50 years years ago, the Three
Kings Pond, fed by a brook running along Commonside East, survives.
There are references to it as ‘Heatherndery Pond’, or ‘The Great Pond’
in parish records and it seems to have been in existence for 300 years
or more. When horse-drawn traffic was commonplace it was the custom
to drive carts and wagons down into the water, the soaking helping to

Commonside East and the Three Kings Pond. Postcard c.1910


tighten the wooden spokes and rims of the wheels whilst the horses
drank. Access ramps were retained until Commonside East was diverted
in a traffic management scheme implemented in the early 1980s. The
surroundings of the pond have now been landscaped, but there still
remains the task of periodically dredging the pond of rubbish.

Crossing the Three Kings Piece there is a footpath, linking ‘Cold Blows’
path with Lavender Walk. This has its origins in a bridleway of great
antiquity, which ran from Church Road to Eastfields. Land already
known as ‘Cold Blowers’ or ‘Colde Blowes’ lying off Commonside
West is mentioned in deeds of 1620, but the path is almost certainly far
older, and must have its origins in a right of way used by villagers living
near the parish church, and around the Lower Green. An attempt was
made in the late 19th century to rename the Cold Blows path, and it is
shown on the 1897 Ordnance Survey map as ‘St. Mary’s Avenue’. The
old name was too securely entrenched in local tradition for such an
innovation to be accepted, however, and it seems to have been abandoned
and forgotten by the 1930s. The East common field was never formally
enclosed, but by the 1860s the old medieval strip holdings had become
largely amalgamated, and were soon to be incorporated in the Mizen
Brothers’ Eastfields Farm. Nevertheless, the old path was still considered
important enough for the railway company to place a footbridge over its
new line when this was under construction in 1868.

Until the coming of the railway Commonside East continued southeastwards
past The Beehive beerhouse (now converted to flats),
following a course that can still be seen at the side of the embankment
to the bridge which now carries the road over the railway tracks. A
forerunner of today’s Beehive Bridge is shown on the Ordnance Survey
map of 1894. It was obviously quite narrow, and became redundant on
completion of its replacement in the early 1930s and was removed. In
the process of building the new bridge a broad strip of Three Kings
Piece was sacrificed, together with a corresponding portion of Mitcham
Common lying between the railway and Cedars Avenue. As we have
observed above, a further diversion of Commonside East took place in
the early 1980s, leaving the part adjoining the Three Kings pond as a
partly pedestrianised cul-de-sac, and allowing the surroundings to be
improved with paving and seats.


The Three Kings Piece, Commonside East as far as the railway, and
Commonside West fall within the Merton (Mitcham, The Cricket Green)
Conservation Area designated by Merton Borough Council in 1969 in
view of the area’s general interest and visual attraction. In addition,
three of the houses overlooking the Three Kings Piece have been given
statutory listing by the Secretary of State for the Environment in view
of their special architectural or historic interest, and a further five are
acknowledged to be buildings of local importance. It is to be hoped that
this official recognition of their qualities will ensure their future
preservation. The works undertaken to improve traffic movement at
the junction of Commonside East with Commonside West, together with
the enhancement of the immediate surroundings of the Three Kings
pond, were some of the first to be completed by the London Borough of
Merton under the Mitcham Action Area Plan prepared by the Borough
Council under the Greater London Development Plan, and formally
adopted in 1981 after public consultation. Completion of a scheme of
comprehensive traffic management and general area enhancement for
the Mitcham town centre, which embraces the north-western part of
the Three Kings Piece, was completed in 1994 and is again under review.

The Three Kings Pond and Clarendon House, Prospect House and Rose
Cottage, Commonside East (ENM c.1980)

Chapter 8 155


John Donne, the Elizabethan adventurer, gallant and poet who, at the wish
of James I, entered into holy orders and became Dean of St Paul’s in
1621, spent six years of his life in Mitcham, renting a house in the village
from 1605 until 1611. Writing of John Donne, Lysons recounts how

Sir George More of Losely, whose daughter he had privately married,
was so exasperated, that he not only refused to forgive, but employed
his utmost endeavours to ruin him; and actually procured his removal
from the family of Lord Chancellor Ellesmere, to whom he was
secretary. At this juncture Sir Francis Wolley took compassion on
him, and received him and his family into his house, where they
continued as long as Sir Francis lived. At his death, being left destitute
of an asylum, Donne took a small house at Mitcham, ‘a place as his
biographers observe, noted for good air and choice company’.1

Brief as Donne’s sojourn in Mitcham may have been, it has never been
forgotten, and is enshrined in virtually every guide and history of the village
published during the last 200 years. In addition to a collection of
metaphysical poetry notable for its wit, he left to posterity some of the
finest sermons ever delivered in the English language. Furthermore, a

large number of his letters, many written
at Mitcham, have escaped destruction
and provide not only a valuable insight
into his character, but also a vivid picture
of his home life. To quote Lysons again

Being very learned in the civil
law, he was occasionally
consulted by persons of the first
rank, who paid him liberally for
his advice; but this yielded only
a precarious support, and he was
sometimes reduced to great
distress, as may be seen by the
following extract from a letter to
a friend dated from this place.

Dr John Donne
Painting by R T Bone engraved
by W Bromley


‘The reason why I did not send an answer to your last week’s
letter was, because it found me under too great a sadness; and at
present it is thus with me. There is not one person well but myself
of my family: I have already lost half a child, and with that mischance
of her’s, my wife has fallen into such a discomposure as would
afflict her too extremely, but that the sickness of all her other
children stupifies her, one of which in good faith I have not much
hopes of, and these meet with a fortune so ill provided for physic
and such relief, that if God should ease us with burials, I know not
how to perform even that; but I flatter myself with this hope – that
I am dying too – for I cannot waste faster than by such griefs.

From my hospital at Mitcham,

John Donne’

Unfortunately the site of Donne’s house has been lost, although it is
thought that it survived into the mid-1840s. The late Tom Francis, an
authority on life in the village during the latter half of the 19th century,
and an assiduous compiler of notes on local folklore, much of it handed
down through his father, used to say that the house overlooked the
Three Kings Pond,2 but this view is not shared by another authority on
old Mitcham, Miss Emma Bartley. The author of Mitcham in Days
Gone By, Emma Bartley certainly might have been able to remember
the last days of the house from her early childhood, and was in no doubt
that “the learned Doctor Donne” resided in a house in or near Whitford
Lane, between the Upper and Lower Greens.3 Nevertheless, Black,
compiling his guide to Surrey, published in 1864, admitted that he was
“unable to fix upon the exact locality” of the house.4

Donne himself described the house disparagingly as “little”, and “thin”.5
He mentioned a parlour, and bedchambers on the first floor, and also a
cellar or “vault” beneath the room he used as a study, from whence, he
complained bitterly, “raw vapours” arose. Although Lysons would have
us believe that Donne “became so attached to his situation that he would
have staid there for life” the impression Donne has left of his stay in
Mitcham is one of deep depression and frustration – he referred to the
house in his correspondence as his “little hospital”, his “prison”,


“dungeon” and “grave”. It has to be remembered, however, that Donne
was a Londoner, the son of a member of the Ironmongers’ Company,
and aspiring to a place at court. To him, life in the bucolic tranquillity of
Mitcham must have been an anathema, and although he could ill afford
the expense, he maintained lodgings near Whitehall until 1607 in an
endeavour to retain contact with the wealthy and influential in whom
lay his main hopes for future preferment and patronage.

Donne’s life in Mitcham was marked by illness and melancholy,
heightened by his remorse at the suffering he believed he had inflicted
on his devoted wife, Anne. Writing to Sir Henry Goodyer from Mitcham
in 1608, he confided that he wrote

by the side of her, whom because I have transplanted into a
wretched fortune, I must labour to disguise that from her by all
such honest devices, as giving her my company and discourse,
therefore I steal from her all the time which I give this letter.6

Anne was the third daughter of Sir George More, and had been used to
a life of comfort and luxury. Both her sisters were married well, Mary
to Sir Nicholas Carew of Beddington, and Margaret to Sir Thomas
Grymes of Peckham. The contrast between her life and theirs was
marked, and yet Anne seems to have accepted her lot for the most part
with a stoicism and patience that is remarkable. Children arrived at
yearly intervals, and died almost as regularly. She herself was to die in
1617, aged only 34, seven days after her 12th confinement.7

With the belated recognition of the marriage by Sir George More and
the start of annual allowances in 1608, the family’s penury ended, and
Donne was able to devote his time to writing and the cultivation of
friends whose patronage proved invaluable in the years to come. The
Donnes left Mitcham in 1611, having been offered more commodious
and congenial accommodation by Sir Robert Drury in a wing of Drury
House, his palatial mansion near Temple Bar.

Shortly before its demolition Donne’s house was sketched by Richard
Simpson, vicar of Mitcham from 1844 until 1846, whose father is said to
have owned the property at one time. Simpson’s drawing confirms that
the house was small, but also shows that to modern eyes it would appear


very attractive.8 With its gables and latticed windows, and a jettied first
floor above the front entrance door, it is undeniably ‘Tudor’ in style, but
in the cross-wing visible at the rear there is a hint of an earlier ancestry,
perhaps in a little ‘hall house’ of the late Middle Ages. Guided by
Simpson’s sketch, and allowing for artistic licence, a tolerable ground
plan can be drawn, but this does little to advance the quest for its site.
Various maps of Mitcham survive from the latter half of the 18th century
and the first part of the 19th, but, being produced for travellers, they are
deficient in the detail necessary to identify anything but the larger houses.
At 22 chains to the inch the tithe map produced after survey in 1838 is
the first reliable large-scale map of the parish, and had Donne’s house
been still standing at the time of the survey, it should have been possible
to identify it. Unfortunately this cannot be done. Simpson resigned the
vicarage in 1846 and left Mitcham, and his sketch probably predates
the commencement of the survey. From the absence of any house in
the 1847 tithe register or on the accompanying tithe map which could
remotely be considered as a candidate for having been Donne’s house,
one is obliged to conclude that it had been demolished before the
Commissioners began their work.

Sketch of
John Donne’s
house by
reproduced by
courtesy of
Merton Library &
Heritage Service

Chapter 9 159


The small houses and cottages which now extend along Commonside
East from the Upper Green south-eastwards in a continuous line as far
as the Beehive railway bridge have a group identity of their own, and
their history, such as we know it, is therefore best brought together as
one study.

The oldest of the dwellings now remaining dates only from the late 18th
century, but it seems likely that the earliest structures on what was
once waste land bordering a commonside track were squatters’ hovels.1
Typically these would have been built quickly of timber and thatch on
small ‘tofts’, or plots of land, enclosed during the Middle Ages with or
without consent from the lord of a manor. In the 1820s the land on
which the houses now numbered 13 to 17 Commonside East stand was
still copyhold of the manor of Ravensbury, as was much of the Firs or
Elmwood estate, on the opposite side of the pond. Although it is many
years since commoners’ cattle and sheep were last seen on this part of
the common, as late as the 1940s one of the shopkeepers on Commonside
East kept geese which were turned out to graze on the roadside verge
and embankment of the bridge. No one seems to have objected, and if
challenged he would no doubt have claimed to be exercising ‘commoner’s

At least six of the Commonside East properties standing long enough to
be recorded in photographs of the early 1900s were built in the 18th
century, but we now have evidence of nothing earlier. Fields and
enclosures still fronted the roadway in places until the 1820s, but infilling
with terraces of artisans’ dwellings continued throughout the Victorian
period. The development of the plots fronting the road was completed
before the outbreak of war in 1914, and in the inter-war years the second
identifiable phase commenced, that of piecemeal demolition and
redevelopment. A third phase, of ‘back-land development’, is now

One of the first buildings to disappear between the wars was a modest
18th-century house next to theThree Kings public house. The old Three
Kings, itself a picturesque 18th-century hostelry, came down in 1928.
Clearance of various yards and terraces of ‘slum’ cottages –


development dating to the mid-19th century – also took place in the
1920s and 1930s, under the Housing Acts. Finally, war damage and
semi-dereliction led to the demolition of No. 15 Commonside East around
1950, providing access to the land at the rear, on which the houses of
Esher Mews were built some 15 years later.

The houses on Commonside East overlooking the Three Kings Pond
are included in the Cricket Green Conservation Area, and it was intended
they should benefit from the diversion of traffic away from Commonside
East by a management scheme implemented in the early 1980s.
Unfortunately the Council’s attempts at environmental enhancement
have been negated by the recent increase in car parking by non-residents,
and fouling of paved areas and surrounding grass by flocks of Canada

At the beginning of the 19th century the first property on Commonside
East was a two-storeyed house, gable end to the road frontage, standing
behind cast-iron railings. The porch hood was carried on moulded
brackets in the style of the late 18th century, but the low-pitched slate
roof and the wide eaves soffits suggest that it was probably built
somewhat later. From the evidence of the census, this seems to have
been the home of Edwin Chart in the 1840s, and the last resident was a
‘court glovemaker’. The house was demolished in 1939 by A & C
Jenner Ltd, and a new building was erected as an air raid shelter for
use by the company’s employees and their families. The premises were
later occupied as a shop and office by Shelfguard, a firm of shop-fitting
equipment distributors.

The next property on Commonside East is Clarendon House, No. 3, a
neat weatherboarded villa which is also in the fashion of the early 19th
century. The style is common enough in north-east Surrey, and many
examples still survive, some in brick and some, as at Mitcham, in timber.
Clarendon House has long been recognised as of architectural interest,
and was listed in Surrey County Council’s Antiquities of Surrey
published in 1965. It is not, however, included in the current list of
buildings of architectural or historic interest although its importance was
recognised by the Borough Council in its Mitcham Action Area Plan.2


A building stood on this site in the late 18th century,3 but this is clearly
post-dated by the present structure. The low pitched slate roof of No.
3, with its wide eaves overhang and paired soffit brackets, is very much
in the style of the Regency period, and in early photographs one can see
the original lead-covered chinoiserie roof to the front porch – another
feature typical of the early 19th century. This was the home of Edwin’s
father, John Chart, who was responsible for rebuilding Mitcham parish
church between 1818 and 1822. His timber-yard, sawpit and workshops
were at the rear, with access from Clarendon Grove. John Chart had
succeeded his own father in the offices of vestry and parish clerk, and
like many village builders and carpenters, he was also the local
undertaker. In all probability, it is to him that we should credit the design
and building of Clarendon House. John was 74 when the 184l Census
was taken, and seems to have been ailing, for his parochial duties were
soon to be undertaken by his son. When John Chart died in 1846,
ownership of Clarendon House passed to Edwin. He moved to what

Clarendon House, No. 3 Commonside East (ENM c.1970)


was usually known as ‘Chart’s House’ and five years later, at the next
census, the household comprised Edwin, his wife Mary Ann, their three
daughters and two little boys, Edwin and Robert, Mrs Chart’s mother,
Mrs Elizabeth Bale, and a servant.

Edwin Chart, architect, surveyor, house and estate agent, undertaker,
vestry and parish clerk, died in March 1888 in his 83rd year, and in due
course Chart’s house became the offices of A & C Jenner Ltd, a
Mitcham firm of engineers. Established in 1898, in its early years the
firm produced a machine for making breeze blocks and another for
producing punnets, then much in demand for packing the watercress
which was grown commercially in large quantities along the banks of
the Wandle. Another of Jenners’ staples was equipment required for
James Pain and Sons, who had a firework factory at Eastfields and
mounted displays all over the world.4 Alf Jenner was at one time captain
of the Mitcham Volunteer Fire Brigade, and it was his firm that installed
much of the machinery in the Grove Mills on the Wandle following a
disastrous fire in 1907. In a town guide of the 1930s Jenners were
described as “manufacturers of laundry machinery and steel racking
equipment” and their works, with an entrance from Clarendon Grove,
off Upper Green East, remained a prominent feature until the early

What is left of Jenners’ Clarendon Works is now occupied by a car tyre
and exhaust fitting centre, and No. 3 Commonside East became the offices
of Huffey Construction Ltd, security engineers. While still in the hands
of Jenners the appearance of the former Chart’s house altered
considerably. As late as 1965 it retained its original chimneys and deal
weatherboarding, then painted pale blue although originally this would
have been white. In April 1971 the local press reported that A & C
Jenner had applied to Merton Council for town planning consent to
demolish No. 3 Commonside East, but this was refused and 18 months
later an appeal was registered. In the event the proposal to demolish was
abandoned. During the subsequent renovation, the redundant chimneys
were removed, and the weatherboarding replaced in cedar, which was
left in its natural colour. The result is not altogether pleasing, and sadly
much of the original character of John Chart’s villa has been lost.


A side passage separated No. 3 Commonside East from No. 5, a single-
storey shop of rather unusual design, with decorated barge boards and
diagonal weatherboarding. One assumes it was built and used by the
Charts, either as a builder’s workshop or in connection with their
undertaking business. Like the house, it was later taken over by Jenners,
but was eventually demolished to enable the site to be used briefly for
storage and car parking by Huffey Construction Ltd before the present
building was erected.

In the vicinity of the Charts’ house a yard marked as ‘Jennings Yard’ is
shown on a map of 1876, produced to show the location of pockets of
slum houses regularly visited by social workers from the parish church.5
At this time there were in Mitcham a number of similar yards containing
rows of tiny cottages tenanted by village labourers and their families.
None survive today, and the location of Jennings Yard is uncertain.

We next come to Prospect House, No. 9 Commonside East which, with
No. 11, has been listed as a Grade II building by the Secretary of State.6
Viewed dispassionately, it must be admitted that Prospect House is not

Prospect House, No. 9 Commonside East (ENM c.1970)


a particularly attractive house, nor is it a good example of late 18thcentury
design. It had been included in the supplementary list of buildings
of architectural or historic interest compiled by the Minister for Housing
and Local Government in 1954 under the provisions of the Town and
Country Planning Act of 1947, but its present status derives from a
‘spot listing’ applied in 1975, when the house was standing derelict and
in risk of demolition. At the time little was known of its history, and its
main value was seen as an important member of a group of unpretentious
and roughly contemporary houses whose chance survival had preserved
something of the atmosphere of the old village. Had Prospect House
been allowed to deteriorate beyond the point at which reclamation was
no longer feasible, the fate of the remaining houses would have been
sealed. In November 1974 it had been reported in the Borough News
that a planning application had been made by Dowson Investments for
approval to repair and renovate Prospect House and to build a small
extension on the left to be used as offices. Listing had the desired effect,
and in March 1976 it was announced that renovation would commence
that August. For a time the refurbished Prospect House was used as
offices, but it again became vacant and suffered from vandalism and
occupation by squatters in the 1980s before new commercial tenants
were found. It is now used as a small private school.

In the case of many of the smaller properties of Mitcham it is not
particularly easy, in the absence of street numbering, to follow the history
of their ownership and tenure through the surviving records. Moreover,
when names of owners or tenants are found, since they are usually
those of people of relatively humble status, not much of moment has
been recorded of their lives. Prospect House, although not by any means
an outstanding building, provides an exception to the general rule.

We cannot be sure that the house we now know as Prospect House
was the “house belonging to Mr. Phillips, broker” that was described as
standing here in or about 1789.3 A quarter of a century later, however,
it can be identified with certainty in the court rolls of the manor of
Ravensbury as the “capital messuage” which, with “two tenements
belonging”, was owned by “James Dalgety, late Edward Kimber”.7 The
occupiers of these three houses were “Dr. Verlander, Henry Duce and


James Lovett”. Of the two tenements, one still survives, numbered 11
Commonside East. Old photographs confirm that originally there were
two identical cottages – one either side of Prospect House. Each was a
small, self-contained dwelling, roofed with pantiles and built with bricks
matching those of the front of Prospect House, which suggests all three
were built at roughly the same time. The brick façade of the central
house hides what is essentially a timber structure, however, and may
have been added to an existing building. The date of demolition of
No. 7 is not known. Externally No. 11 is substantially unchanged,
although it was re-roofed recently with modern interlocking tiles.

By the late 1830s Prospect House, with the two adjacent cottages, had
come into the possession of George Holden8 who, in the 1841 census,
was recorded as aged about 50 and of independent means, living there
with his wife and a female servant. Holden was almost certainly a
relative, and possibly the son, of the George Holden who, in the 1780s
and 1790s, had been the proprietor of the Mitcham stagecoaches which
ran from stables at the rear of the White Hart, off Lower Green West.
The left-hand cottage was tenanted by Withall, a cabinet maker, and
No. 11 by Caleb Hall, who designed patterns for use in the local calico
printing industry.

Thomas Pratt, to whom Holden leased Prospect House sometime in
the mid-1840s,8 was regarded by his contemporaries as ‘a man of rare
character’. In his early years he is said to have worked as a calico
printer and also a silk weaver, and then, when the local textile industry
went into decline, he turned his hand to selling boots and shoes from a
shop in Phipps Bridge Road. Pratt must have succeeded in accumulating
a little capital, for he built a terrace of six small cottages known as
‘Pratt’s Folly’ off Phipps Bridge Road, which he rented out. Pratt’s
main claim to a place in local history, however, is as one of the founding
fathers of the Zion Chapel in Western Road. Perhaps in part due to his
zeal, membership of the local congregation of Independent Calvinists,
as they were known, had increased considerably towards the end of
the Napoleonic War, and a new chapel, to hold 500 people, was planned.
As it was anticipated that the congregation would be composed largely
of ‘the laborous poor’ a public appeal for funds was launched, and not


unexpectedly, prominent among those who donated and collected money
for the new building was Thomas Pratt. It was fitting therefore, that it
should be Pratt himself who laid the foundation stone for the new chapel
on 9 September 1818. By the time he and his wife came to live at
Prospect House Pratt was no longer a young man, but he was still
motivated by the Nonconformist ethic of hard work. The census of
1851 might have recorded him as a ‘retired draper’, aged 77, but he
was still listed in the local directories as the Mitcham agent for the
Globe Fire and Life Insurance Co9 and we know that he was also a
deacon of Zion Chapel. Thomas Pratt died on 18 June 1854 and was
buried in the little burial ground adjacent to Zion Chapel. His and other
graves were moved to the London Road cemetery when the chapel
was demolished in the late 20th century.

In the 1860s and 1870s Edward Cresswell, a local Methodist preacher,
was living at Prospect House, but of those who followed him little is
known.10 It is possible to obtain their names from the local directories.
Charles Finck, for instance, appears in the 1882 edition of Kelly’s
Directory, but without biographical detail, a mere list has little point in
this account.

If Prospect House could be identified with the house described as being
occupied by Mr Phillips in 1789, we would have also located the site of
one of Mitcham’s first Nonconformist chapels, for Edwards tells us
that “… at the back … is an Independent Dissenting Meeting House”.
The latter would certainly seem to have been the meeting house which,
in November 1763, was the subject of an application for registration
made to the diocesan bishop by members of a congregation of “dissenting
protestants” in Mitcham. The pastor was a John Beasley, and the three
elders included William Phillips, in whose house the meetings were held.11
One assumes this was the congregation recalled in an old collecting
book of the Mitcham Congregational chapel dated 1818 in which it was
noted that the Gospel had been introduced amongst the villagers of
Mitcham in about 1770 by “some ministers in connection with the Revd
George Whitfield”. This would have been George Whitefield (17141770),
an important evangelist. The writer felt obliged to comment that
subsequently support had waned, and no further references to the
meeting house on Commonside East, which must have been well known


to Thomas Pratt, have been found in available local records. Another
small place of public worship was fitted out by a group of Nonconformists
and opened by the Revd Rowland Hill on 17 April 1816. This little chapel,
perhaps more correctly described as a meeting room, was above
Thomas Bennett’s workshops in Bennett’s Yard, just to the south of the
old King’s Head (the Burn Bullock) in Lower Mitcham. It is said to
have owed its inception to Thomas Pratt, and he, with Jonathan Perkins,
Samuel Sambrook Rackstraw and Peter Johnston, were signatories of
the application for a certificate granted by the Quarter Sessions on l
November 1816.12 Nothing more is known of this meeting room either,
and it was probably closed after the opening of Zion Chapel in 1819.
Pratt, who was responsible for paying the land tax on Berkeley Cottage,
one of two new houses built in 1803 to the south of the Manor House,
Lower Mitcham, remained there until the early 1840s. He and his family
were there for the census of 1841, so their removal to Prospect House
can be assumed to have taken place shortly afterwards.

Beyond 11 Commonside East one comes to No. 13, or Rose Cottage, a
narrow two-storey house, probably of late 18th-century date, built with
its gable end to the road. This end wall was originally of dark local stock
bricks, similar to those used on Prospect Place, but it became unsafe
during the war, and was supported with shoring until 1948. With funding
from the War Damage Commission the wall was then demolished and
rebuilt in common flettons. Good facing bricks were in short supply at
the time, and one suspects that the old stocks were salvaged, and used
elsewhere. The ugly blotchy pink of the new bricks gave rise to a number
of complaints, and Hodges, the managing agent, was ultimately persuaded
to have the wall colourwashed. The rest of the structure was not without
interest; the flank was timber framed and weatherboarded, and the
roof pantiled – both materials widely used in the 18th and early 19th
centuries, but now increasingly rare. Internal wall surfaces were covered
with hessian, and then papered, sufficient layers producing a board-like
surface. There was once a well beneath the front sitting-room floor, but
this has now been back-filled.

Deemed to be unfit for habitation, Rose Cottage was the subject of a
closing order made by Merton Council in September 1977. Hopes were


expressed that it might be restored, and application for consent to
demolish were refused. As a result Rose Cottage was substantially, but
sympathetically, rebuilt and now, with boxed sliding sashes in place of
the side-hung casements which had marred it for years, externally it
must be very much as it had appeared when first erected. One
innovation, the installation of shutters all round at ground floor level,
was regrettably necessary in view of the vandalism to which properties
in this neighbourhood were subjected at the time.

The earliest documentary reference to Rose Cottage is in a plan of
March 1825, produced to show the estate belonging to George Frederick
Augustus Dempster.7 It was one of three “Capital Messuages and
gardens occupied by Ann Dempster, Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Webb”.13 It
also appears from sale particulars of 1845 to have been held copyhold
of the manor of Ravensbury, together with two other houses, “opposite
the Great Pond”, which were auctioned by the executors of Mrs Ann
Rosier in 1845. By 1847 the three properties were owned by George
Holden, who lived at Rose Cottage himself.8

Around the turn of the
century Rose Cottage
achieved brief notoriety
as the hiding place of
James Canham Reed,
the Southend murderer,
until his eventual
apprehension. Half a
century later it was
featured in an article in
the Daily Mirror
entitled ‘Spirit Riddle of
Old Cottage – Woman
in Grey’ and also
in Mitcham News
December 28 1951
‘Ghost Stories of Old
Mitcham’. Both were
ridiculed as largely

Rose Cottage, No. 13 Commonside East c.1975


journalistic fabrication by Mr and Mrs Jackson-Burton, the occupiers
of Rose Cottage at the time, although they admitted to hearing strange
noises from time to time, which Mrs Burton attributed to movement in
the old structure. By 1978 Rose Cottage was occupied as the registered
offices of Drummond Design and Building Services Ltd, after restoration
by Beechwood Investments Ltd with the advice of their architects, Grant
Partnership. It is now once more a private house.

The roadway leading to Esher Mews was constructed by Beechwood
Investments in the early 1970s over the cleared site of No. 15
Commonside East, an unattractive two-storey house in stock bricks
which probably dated to the early 19th century. This is shown on the
plan of 1825 as one of the three houses belonging to George Dempster,
and was probably the house, held copyhold of the manor Ravensbury
with other property opposite ‘The Great Pond’, auctioned in 1845.13
No. 15 survived the bombing of the 1939-45 war, and although dilapidated
was still let to tenants by Hodges the local estate agent in the late 1940s.
The tenants were eventually rehoused, and the property demolished in
the early 1950s, after which the site remained vacant for nearly 20
years. The new houses in Esher Mews were completed in December
1972, but well over a year passed before they were all occupied.

Number 17 Commonside East is an interesting two-storeyed house in
yellow brick, built with its gable end to the road. The style, incorporating
a low-pitched slate roof with generous eaves overhang, a pedimented
gable end and, until recently, a lead-covered chinoiserie hood to the
ground floor front room window, all suggest a date of around the beginning
of the 19th century. The brickwork speaks of quality, as evidenced by
the fine gauging of the voussoirs of the original window arches, a typical
example of which, now blocked, can be seen on the side elevation. A
house is, in fact, indicated on this site in the map which accompanies
the 1801 edition of Edwards’s Guide from London to Brighthelmston,
but the scale is too small to be certain that this is intended to show No.

17. The general effect of the design is pleasing, and No. 17 was included
in the 1965 edition of Antiquities of Surrey, but has not, so far, been
given statutory listing, although its importance was recognised in the
Borough’s Mitcham Action Area Plan.


In the plan of the estate belonging to George Dempster in 1825 No. 17 can
be seen, L-shaped in ground-plan, with a wide access way on the right-
hand side where there is now a garage. It was also the third of three
‘Capital Messuages and gardens’ already mentioned, and one of the three
properties auctioned by Mrs Rosier’s executors in 1845. The buyer appears
to have been George Holden who, with his wife Ann, was recorded as
living here in the 1850s and early 1860s. Born in about 1790, George had
by the time he bought the property retired from the family coaching business
founded by his father in the late 18th century. The next occupants were
Henry Adams, an underwriting agent’s manager, and his wife.14

At about this point on Commonside East during the latter part of the 19th
century was ‘Watt’s Yard’. It is marked on the 1876 map of church work
in Mitcham, and was presumably the site of another small group of cottages
occupied by poor families. Nothing more is known of it, and it was probably
cleared during a pre-1939 slum clearance programme.

The block of four inter-war houses numbered 19-21a Commonside East
and standing to the north of the former Three Kings public house is on
the site of a two-storey, three-bay house of 18th-century date in mellow
red brick which can be seen in several postcards produced in the early
1900s. Shortly before the outbreak of the Napoleonic War it was described
by Edwards as “a neat house in the possession of Mr. Swain, Surgeon”.15
It seems to have been the property of Mrs Dempster in, or soon after,
1825, but nothing more is known of it.

Three Kings Pond, with No. 17 Commonside East to the right (ENM c.1975)


The old Three Kings, in the possession, we are told, of a Mr Ambrose
Taylor in the latter part of the 18th century,3 was another attractive brick
and tile Georgian building, the appearance of which has also been preserved
in numerous old postcards. It was one of the inns used by Mitcham vestry
for its meetings in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and from local
directories it seems that between 1825 to 1845 it was kept by Joshua
Hancock. In the returns for the census of 1851 it is intriguingly referred
to as the ‘New Three Kings’ – a beer house, kept by James Rosier – and
the implication is that it had been extended only a short time previously.
The Three Kings was demolished in 1928 and the present building, much
larger and in the ‘mock Tudor’ style then much favoured by brewers’
architects, was erected in its stead. It closed as a public house c.2006,
and re-opened as a Chinese restaurant.

Beyond the former Three Kings stands a pair of much altered semidetached
brick and pantile cottages of the late 18th century. The right-
hand cottage, No. 29, had been altered into a shop by the beginning of the
20th century, and in the immediate post-war period was the house and
yard of R Townsend & Son, coal and coke merchants. Both cottages
have now been converted back to very much their previous appearance.

The next dwellings along Commonside East are Hancock’s Cottages,
numbered 33-41. A second terrace of cottages of similar design is
numbered 55-65. A document of 1825 in the Surrey History Centre refers
to them as Samuel Hancock’s ‘new tenements and gardens’, comprising
two terraces of five and six dwellings, and thus provides both an
approximate date for them and the name of the owner at that time.7 One
may assume that Samuel was related to Joshua Hancock of the Three
Kings. The cottages are marked on the church map of 1876, from which
it seems likely that they were then occupied by the families of labourers,
many of whom were considered to be in need of help. The two terraces
are separated by a further group of small houses, numbered 43-5l
Commonside East, which was built on one of the few empty plots of
land remaining towards the end of Victoria’s reign.

The Roman Catholic primary school of St Thomas of Canterbury, which
occupies the land behind these houses and Hancock’s cottages, was
originally the Upper Mitcham Boys’ Council School, but was re-opened


in 1922 by Surrey County Council as Mitcham County School for Boys.
It was re-designated Mitcham Grammar School for Boys after the 193945
War, and the pupils were moved to new premises at Eastfields under
further educational reorganisation in the 1960s. During the inter-war
years the boys’ county school had established an important place in the
educational and social life of the developing township of Mitcham, and
its going was regretted by many local people, not least its former pupils.

Nos. 67-73 Commonside East form a terrace of cottages, post-dating
the publication of the 1897 Ordnance Survey map. The end cottage,
converted into a shop, and now a dwelling again, was for many years
Charles F Tyler’s general stores, selling grocery, fruit and vegetables,
milk and ice cream. The next pair of cottages, Nos. 75 and 77, are older
and pre-date the 1846 tithe survey. They stand next to Lavender Walk,
or ‘Crew’s Alley’, a continuation of a medieval bridleway leading from
Church Road via Cold Blows path to the East common field.

Abutting Crew’s Alley was a terrace of six cottages – Cox’s Cottages

– two-up and two-down, opening directly onto the alleyway. Of mid-
19th-century date, they were another group of dwellings thought to merit
special attention from churchworkers in the 1870s. Further down Crew’s
Alley there was another terrace, known as ‘Nicholls’ Cottages’, which
comprised a terrace of nine mid-19th-century single-storey dwellings
ending against the railway fence. Nicholls’ Cottages were empty soon
after the end of World War II, but Cox’s Cottages survived until 1978,
when they were demolished after their remaining occupants had been
rehoused by Merton Council.
West of what was once the Beehive public house, and built on a narrow
plot of land extending back from Commonside East, was yet another
group of labourers’ dwellings, known as ‘Smith’s Buildings’. These were
a double row of 30 back-to-back houses, built between 1847 and 1865,
with a single row facing them across a common yard. This type of
development, with its tendency to degenerate quickly into slums, was
common in the industrial Midlands and North of England but
comparatively rare in Surrey. The erection of back-to-back houses was
banned by public health legislation towards the end of the 19th century,
and Smith’s Buildings seem to have been the only example in Mitcham.


Lacking through ventilation, overcrowded and with inadequate outside
communal sanitation, they were condemned as unfit under the Housing
Acts and demolished in a clearance scheme in 1936.

The redevelopment which took place on the site of Smith’s Buildings in
the late 1930s included several small shops – A G Hendra, a tobacconist
and confectioner, a grocer and provision merchant, and a barber trading
as ‘Kaymere’ survived into the 1960s – but they probably never provided
much of a living, and eventually succumbed in the 1960s to the
competition of the larger shops around the Upper Green. All have now
been converted into living accommodation.

The former Beehive public house, a late-18th-century building, was a
beer shop in the 1850s, occupied by Richard Arthur, his wife and six
children. They were members of the extensive Arthur clan, which
included James Arthur, one of the major ‘physic’ gardeners of Mitcham,
who had a large farm at New Barns, between Pollards Hill and the
Common. There seems to have been a building on the site of the Beehive
in the late 18th century, and Drewett speaks of a small herbal distillery
near here in the 1820s.16 Nothing more is known of this, and the beer
shop probably came into being after the passing of the Act of 1830.17
Next to the beer shop was the Beehive common lodging house, providing
basic shelter for labourers and run, presumably, by the Arthurs. The
lodging house has long since gone, and the Beehivepublic house closed
some ten years ago. The building has now been extended and converted
into attractive apartments.

Finally, at the end of this stretch of Commonside East and next to the
railway, is the yard of Jack Sparrowhawk and Son, industrial rag, metal
and waste paper merchants, a business founded over a century ago.
The Sparrowhawks are a very old Mitcham family, with Romany
antecedents, making their living in former days by general dealing,
‘totting’ and ‘greenmeating’, horse trading, and in seasonal work in the
market gardens which once covered much of Eastfields.


Staircase at The Canons (ENM c.1975)


APPENDIX 1: The Canons – a description by Lionel Green

Although at first sight the house today may appear to have little externally
to awaken the interest of the connoisseur, it is in fact, a building of the
Restoration period and, as such, unique in Mitcham. Extensions and
alterations nothwithstanding, The Canons remains a fair example of an
unpretentious house of the late 17th century, built in brick but later partly
rendered, comprising two main storeys with basement and attics. The walls
terminate in a heavily modillioned wooden cornice, and the main roof, hipped,
is covered with plain tiles. Unfortunately later additions and alterations have
spoiled the symmetry of the original composition, although obviously an
attempt was made to harmonise new with old by echoing the detailing of
the cornice and the proportion of the earlier fenestration.

On the western elevation, four of the original window openings have been
blocked, presumably to reduce liability for payment of window tax in the
late 18th century. It is from the west that the adverse effect of other 18thor
early 19th-century alterations and extensions is most marked; additional
chimney stacks and the four extra and smaller windows of the extension
on the north side of the house have destroyed the former balance of the
façade, and three original flat-topped dormers protruding through the roof
now have the appearance of being off-centre.

The Canons seems to have survived the 1939-45 war relatively unscathed,
although some internal strengthening is understood to have been carried out
when it was used as a command post for the local Home Guard and civil
defence forces. Post war, in the hands of the local authority, the standard of
maintenance has not always been of the best. Regrettably, the old handmade
tiles and lead ridges were removed in the 1970s by Merton Borough
Council, and modern machine-made clay tiles and ridges refixed in their
place. The justification offered at the time was the high cost of new handmade
tiles and specialist labour. Also in the late 1960s or early 1970s the
worn front nosings of the flight of ten splayed stone steps were cut back
rather than repaired, but moulding on some tread ends survives. These ‘repairs’,
together with scrapping of the original cast-iron newel posts with their ball
finials and delicately curving hand rails (replaced with modern wrought iron),
have robbed the front entrance of much of its simple elegance. The overriding
need was perceived as ensuring safe access for the public (the old handrails
and newel posts were distinctly shaky) and shortage of funds again precluded


more satisfactory restoration. The doorcase itself, with a shouldered architrave
and dentilled cornice, is modest but original, but the door bears the scars of
repeated replacement of locks and fittings and the arson attempt in 1996.

The south front of the house is similar to the west, the brickwork now being
obscured with cement stucco, colour-washed off-white, as it was in the late
18th century. As one would expect, the window frames in the older part of
the house tend to be set closer to the outer face of the brickwork, with only
shallow reveals, but of the six sashes on the south front, only those on the
first floor retain their glazing bars and twelve small panes. The east front is
of colour-washed brickwork, with a string course three bricks deep between
the ground and first floors partially intact, but the fenestration here is now
random, for there have been extensive alterations. Four original window
openings have been bricked up, and others partially so, or modernised. On
this side of the house there are four dormers, flat-topped as on the west.
The east door has an architrave surround and a cornice on shaped brackets,
and is approached by a flight of three (originally four) steps happily retaining
their handrail, a smaller version of that leading at one time to the front door.

A large timbered barn, which once adjoined the house on the north side, was
demolished, presumably during the late 18th or early 19th century, prior to the
erection of the two bay extension which survives today. Also to the north of
the house, stables and coachhouses gave way in the 19th century to a billiard
room, constructed on the ground floor leading off a drawing-room overlooking
the lawn. In their turn drawing-room and remaining outbuildings were
demolished, and their place has now been taken by a post-war toilet annexe.

Very few original features are left inside the house. The disappointing
entrance hall (reduced from its original size by partitioning) is redeemed by
a good contemporary staircase leading out of the small passage extending
to the back door. Heavy and robust in design, the stairs have a broad
wooden bannister rail supported by ‘barley sugar’ twisted balusters, and a
moulded string. They are likely to be original.

A door leads off to the right from the entrance hall, giving access to a former
front reception room. Here, as elsewhere in the house, the windows retain their
shutters complete with original hinges and forged locking bars. To the left of the
hall is the former dining-room, and from it a door gives access to a short passage
at one time containing a staircase from the kitchens in the basement. Originally a


study overlooked the rear lawn, whilst opening off the dining-room there was
once a coffee-room or withdrawing-room, which in turn led to the billiards-room.

On the first floor there have been many alterations to the former bedrooms.
What was described in the early 19th century as the ‘South Chamber’
retains its folding shutters and, at one end of the room, what seem to be
sections of original late-18th-century cornice moulding and wall panelling,
and an early 19th-century chimney piece and overmantel.

Nothing more of historic or architectural interest survives at this level. A short
flight of stairs leads to the roof space, which formerly contained the servants’
quarters. These rooms were converted to provide a flat for a resident caretaker
whilst the property was still in the possession of Mitcham Corporation.

Until adapted in the late 1960s to provide a short-lived nature study centre, the
basement of The Canons retained most of the surviving original fittings in the
house, including old doors with hand-forged hinges and bolts and a fireplace in
the butler’s pantry dating from the 1860s or thereabouts. The floors of the
basement were stone-flagged and the original kitchen fireplace recess was still
to be seen, but with a large cast iron Victorian range taking the place of an older
grate with its crane and spits. Part of an open kitchen dresser with shelves
survived in place and, perhaps most intriguing of all, an old wine cellar of vaulted
brick. Sadly virtually everything of interest was stripped out during refurbishment.

The decision in 1993 to utilise the basement as a small Heritage Centre
necessitated further drastic refurbishment. What remained of the old stone
flags was removed and a new concrete floor was laid on a waterproof
membrane. The complete removal of wall plaster prior to treatment to combat
rising damp exposed the original soft red brickwork, and provided an opportunity
for photography before replastering. Brick bonding was irregular but in the
main English, and two blocked window openings could be seen in the east wall.
Of particular interest was a course of roughly squared blocks of what appeared
to be Reigate stone incorporated in the west wall. These could well have been
salvaged from an earlier structure on the site and used by John Odway when
erecting the house in 1680. In view of their historical interest consideration was
given to leaving the blocks exposed, but it was decided that moisture contained
in the wall would have caused them to have become defaced within a very
short time. The need to provide smooth interior surfaces also necessitated re-
plastering the exposed brickwork of the barrel-vaulted wine cellar.


APPENDIX 2: Mrs Esther Maria Dixon/Cranmer’s Recipe

The following extracts were made by Miss Caroline A Crimp, formerly
Barnes Borough Librarian, and published in the Barnes and Mortlake
History Society Newsletter No. 16 in September 1965. Mrs Cranmer’s
Recipe Book, dated 1796, was acquired for the Barnes Library in or
shortly before 1965. Enquiries in 1990 at the London Borough of
Richmond’s Local Studies Library (which since the reorganisation of
the London Boroughs in 1965 has included Barnes and Mortlake) failed
to locate the book, and its present whereabouts are unknown.

I am indebted to Raymond Gill of Surrey Archaeological Society, for supplying
me with a copy of part of the Barnes and Mortlake Society’s Newsletter
No. 16 during the course of correspondence in 1990, and in view of Esther
Maria’s connection with Mitcham, reproduce the note verbatim.


In 1791 Esther Cranmer, member of a notable Mitcham family,
married a Mr. R. Dixon, and the couple came to reside in East
Sheen, at the house later known as ‘Holly Lodge’ on the east
side of the ‘Hare and Hounds’. Mr Dixon died a few years later
but Mrs. Dixon lived in the house for many years calling herself
Mrs. Cranmer.

In 1796 Mrs. Dixon began to keep ‘A receipt book’. This little
book contains a wonderful mixture of recipes for food and drink,
furniture oil, Roman incense, a mixture to prevent the taste of
turnips in milk, yellow and purple dyes; cures for rheumatism,
chilblains, eye troubles, thinning hair, colds, pains in the stomach,
coughs, sprains in horses and other horsey complaints; and
instructions for washing linen.

Pride of place is given to a recipe for which Lady Paul paid £3.
3s. This is for preserving apricots, peaches or nectarines in brandy
and to a present day cook there seems nothing remarkable enough
in it to warrant the expenditure of three 18th-century guineas,
but an interesting point is that the instructions say that the fruit
must be turned in the syrup with a bunch of white feathers.


Mock turtle stew was a calf’s head stewed in veal gravy with
mace, onions, nutmeg, pepper, salt, leeks, marjoram, lemon, thyme
and a pint of madeira wine. An anchovy or two were added
when the meat was tender and the stew was sent to the table
with forcemeat balls and hard boiled eggs.

Oyster sausages were made of mutton, beef suet and oysters,
seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg and bound with eggs.
French Hedgehog was nothing more interesting than stuffed leg
of veal.

Most of the remedies to be applied externally for rheumatism
contained camphor, oil of turpentine or mustard and cures to be
taken internally for different complaints contained such interesting
items as tutty, hartshorn shavings, eringo root, china root, snails
and balsam of tolu. One recipe for the cure of a violent cold has
a note at the end which states that the mixture of linseed, liquorice
and stoned raisins in syrup, with a teaspoonful of vinegar or lemon
juice and the same quantity of old rum added to each dose, ‘has
cured an almost confirmed consumption’.

Well known local names appear as donors of recipes, – Lady
Watson, (rice cake, rice cream and rheumatism), Miss Crabtree,
(chilblains), Mrs. Peach, (stewed loin of mutton, New College
puddings, rice paste, ground rice plum pudding and a pain in the
stomach), Miss Best, (Roman incense), and Mrs. D. Lysons, (36
gallons of soup – ‘This given to the poor of Putney.’) and it is
interesting to find that Nelson’s Emma, Lady Hamilton, had a
way of pickling beef.

Ingredients apart, the recipes and the collection of them gives an
interesting insight into life of the period, particularly that of the


APPENDIX 3: Mrs Esther Maria Dixon/Cranmer’s Journal

In 1986, during the course of correspondence in connection with the
Cranmer family, Mr Raymond Gill, a fellow member of Surrey
Archaeological Society asked if I was aware of the above book, which
he had seen at Mitcham Library in October 1976. On a subsequent visit
to the library he was told that the book could not be found. Mr Gill was
adamant that he had seen the journal at Mitcham, and actually recalled
the name of the librarian who, without difficulty, produced it for him on
his first visit. He also remembered that the journal, which bore no
identification number, was calf-bound, had two clasps, and measured
7½ inches by 5 inches and was1½ inches thick.

Anxious to see the journal myself, since it was obviously of considerable
local historical interest, I contacted the Borough Librarian, Mr Michael
Saich, in January 1990 with the request that a search be made in the
local history collection. Sadly, no trace could be found of the book, nor
of its ever having been catalogued.

By good fortune, on his first visit Mr Gill made a complete transcription
of the contents of the journal, believing them to be of sufficient interest
to fellow members of the Barnes and Mortlake Society to merit
publication, with appropriate footnotes. As the original appeared to have
been lost, Mr Gill kindly copied his transcript for me, and this is
reproduced below verbatim. There are several obvious anomalies in
the dates which may be errors in the original volume, or mistakes in
transcription. Without being able to check against Mrs Cranmer’s actual
entries (which was the purpose of Mr Gill’s second visit to the Library)
the details have to be taken on trust, but also with a modicum of caution.

Page 1.
Esther Maria Cranmer born to James & Ann Cranmer Sept. 11. 1760 at Tottenham.
Esther Maria Cranmer married to Richard Dixon son of Benjm. & Ann Dixon
June 20th 1782 at Mitcham Church by the Revd Rd Dixon.
After our marriage we spent a few weeks with Mr Benjamin Dixon at Marsh
Gate near Richmond and then went to our own house at Epsom which we
quitted in 1783 and took a house at Topsham near Exeter Devonshire.
Page 2
Emily Dixon Daughter of R. & E.M.D. born July 14, 1783 at Topsham


We left Devonshire and took a furnished house at Epsom which we quitted
Xmas 1784 and took a house at Mortlake which we quitted 1789 and took a
house at East Sheen
Richard D. son of R. & E.M.D. born Dec. 10, 1784 at Mortlake

Page 3
James D. son of R. & E.M.D. born Jan. 1788 at Mortlake
My beloved Richard died at East Sheen Oct. 17, 1791 and was buried in
Tottenham Churchyard ye 31st aged 32. Blest Angel.
My mother Ann C. died at Tottenham May 9th 1768 aged 38
My father James Cranmer born Aug 22, 1719 …
Page 4
James C. died June 5, 1801 aged 82 buried at Tottenham but died at Mitcham
Jan. 15 1799. Emily went to Mr Peach’s on account of my illness.
Feb. 16, returned home on which day Dr Vaughan left me after breaking the
death of James to me
Page 5
Rev. Samuel Peach born July 14, 1746 Died March 7 1803, aged 57. Buried at
Harriet Peach daughter of Samuel & S. Peach born June 10, 1775. Married to
Thomas Edmunds June 10, 1800.
Rev. S. Peach left Mortlake April 24, 1800, their houseye14
Rev. J. Mossop succeeded the Revd S. Peach in the Curacy of Mortlake, Easter
Page 6
Richard D. son of R. & E.M.D. articled to J. W. Davis Attorney at Law of Queen
Square Bloomsbury Apr. 27, 1801
Richard had the jaundice Oct. 14, 1890 (sic)
Dr Wall purchased the two Richmond houses for £273 Dec. 10, 1890 (sic)
Mr Benjamin Dixon went to live at Thames Ditton Dec. 23, 1890 (sic)
Emily Dixon had the measles Jan. 1, 1792
Feby 24, 1799, dined downstairs after my illness,
March 4th, went into lodgings in King Street left town May 28th
Page 7
Alexander Hamilton Esq. created Knight August 18, 1786
Brook Watson Esq. created a Baronet Nov. 23, 1803


My accident on horse-back Nov. 4, 1790
Overturned in the open carriage at Chelsea by Mr Wilcox’s carriage driving
against us Jan. 26, 1890 (sic)
Mr Benjamin Dixon sold his house at Marsh Gate to Mrs Holland for £4000
June 7, 1790. died July 30, 1793
Page 10
26 Decr. 1790 (? 1798 ?) I caught a violent cold by going to Mrs Peach by her
particular desire which confined me to my room until Feb. 24, 1799
Jan. 5, 1799 sent for Mr Knight
Jan. 8 attended by Dr Vaughan
Jan.12, 1799 James Dixon taken ill died ye 18th aged 7 (? 11 – born in 1788) years
3 months & 7 days buried at Tottenham
Mrs Hill died May 17, 1799
The new part of Mortlake Churchyard consecrated by the Bishop of Winchester
June 30, 1799
Left East Sheen on a journey to Sir Alexander Hamilton’s Topsham Devon July
17, 1799
Page 11
Arrived at Sir Alexander’s 19 of July 1799. Sept. 5. Left Sir Alexander’s, stayed
at Sidmouth till Sept. 26 – arrived at Weymouth ye 27, stayed till ye 12th
October on which day I came to Southampton and stayed till ye 19. Arrived at
Sheen Oct. 20, 1799.
Dec. 1, 1799. Dr Collinson read himself into ye Perpetual Curacy of Mortlake.
Sept. 16, 1799 Elizabeth Dixon married to Capt. Blair.
March 15, Fanny Taylor’s birthday.
July 28, 1798 Marcus Dixon died.
Sept. 28, 1800 – Rev. S. Peach preached before the King at Weymouth.
Page 12
Set out on a journey to Weymouth from East Sheen Jan. 28, 1800 – arrived the
Sept.11, 1800. Mr & Mrs Peach arrived – they stayed till the 17th October. Mr
Harris purchased the House Mrs Mauvillain lived in at East Sheen for £2300
Page 13
June 31 (sic) 1791. Mrs King died aged 40 – her wedding day May 14th.
Aug. 2, 1791. Set out on a journey from East Sheen to Brighton on a visit to my
Father with my beloved Husband Rd. Dixon. Arrived the 3rd. Left Brighton ye
9th. Arrived at Portsmouth ye 10th. Ye 11th Sir Roger Curtis took us to view ye


grand fleet ye 12th crossed to the Isle of Wight and returned to Portsmouth.
13th left Portsmouth & arrived at Southampton – obliged to go to Rumsey (sic)
Page 14

Southampton being so full we could not get accommodation – ye 15th left
Rumsey – ye 16th arrived at Sheen.
Sept. 16, 1791. John Owen died

Oct. 13 1791. Dr Reynolds came to East Sheen to attend my beloved husband
Rd. Dixon. Dr Reynolds apprehended no danger! but his Angel Spirit fled to
Heaven the 17th of October 1791. Attended him to the grave at Tottenham ye
31st. accompanied by my Father, Mrs Cranmer, Mr Marcus Dixon, Mr Webb &
Mr Johnson (couplet)
Page 15

Nov. 12, 1791
My Father took me and my three Children with him to Mitcham
Nov. 27, 1791 – Went to Church at Mitcham the first time since my beloved
husband’s death
Dec. 10, 1791. My Father and Mrs Cranmer brought me and children home to
Sheen. They went with me to Mortlake Church ye 11, and left me the 12th. On
the 11th Mr Peach preached on these words – “God is no respecter of persons”.
Jan 6, 1792. Sold ye Carriage and Horses for £126.
July 11, 1792. Mr James Portis sold his lease for £3,700.
Page 16
May 18, 1802.
the Revd Ed. Cranmer died
Set out from East Sheen on a journey to Weymouth Septr. 13, 1802 – arrived ye

14. Left Weymouth Novr. 16, 1802 – arrived at Sheen ye 17.
Mrs Hunt and her Daughter Mrs Waring buried the same day Apr. 29, 1803 at
Barnes Church. Mrs W. died March 25.
Page 18
August 8, 1803 left East Sheen on a journey to Knebworth to see Mrs Cranmer
who lay dangerously ill at Mr Johnson’s. The 22 left Knebworth Mrs Cranmer
being out of danger. Mr William Brown died at East Sheen July 14, 1803.
Page 19
Maria Dixon married to Captn. Wales Aug. 25, 1802
June 18, 1802. Mrs Taylor’s first visit.
Jany. 1804. Mrs Watts died aged 32
May 22, 1803. Miss Ann Cranmer died at her house in Jermyn St, St James,
Aged 71.


Page 20
Impromptu – on the death of the much lamented Mrs Watts – found on Mortlake
Church Door

Tho’ death’s cold hand benumbed her vital clay
And all the active springs of life gave way
Her Soul or better part to Heaven is fled
And what remains lies numbered with the dead
The Rich bemoan a dear companion’s end
The Poor bewail their Patroness and their friend.

Sunday, Jan 15, 1804.
Page 21
Janry. 22, 1804 Mrs Mauvillain died at East Sheen, aged 91
Febry. 1 1804. Mrs Mauvillain buried in Westminster Abbey
Jany. 11 1804 Mrs Mary Watts went from her home in Mortlake in the morning

And died at seven o’clock the same evening in her home in Gower Street,

Bedford Square.
March 24, 1804. Miss Stone and Miss Sisson left East Sheen.
March 25, 1804. Mr James Harris took possession of Mrs Mauvillain’s purchase.
Page 22
Miss Sarah Kay Niece to Sir Brook Watson Bart. Married to Mr John Harrison
at Mortlake Church June 23rd 1804. Emily Dixon Brides Maid. Married by the
Revd Townly. Augst. 22 1804. Henry King Collinson born at East Sheen

Page 23
Decr. 17, 1804. Miss Crabtree upon the confession of Charlotte Harris before
the Revd John Collinson Minister of Mortlake and Mr Gilpin – convicted Mr
John Harris of East Sheen Surrey of a Criminal Connexion with his niece the
above Charlotte Harris a child of fourteen years of age then in Miss Crabtree’s
School. The connexion had subsisted two years, beginning at the time she was
only twelve years of age! The discovery was on the 14 of Decr. 1804. Related to
me by Miss Crabtree.
Page 24
Wednesday, 4th April 1805. Miss Margaret Franks eloped with Capt. Henry
Friday 11 Jany. 1805. accident of falling down the steps as we were going to
town in the carriage.
Apr. 23, 1805. Miss Mary Aynscombe aged 55 Married to the Revd John Mossop
aged 29 – late Curate of Mortlake !!! Married at St James Church.


Page 25
May 13, 1805. Mr R. Cranmer his sister and Mrs Cranmer of Mitcham dined with
me at East Sheen. Mr Brooks called and proposed to the Cranmers our
immediately taking the name of Cranmer on account of the intention of my
Son’s leaving the Law and entering into the Church & I consented
May 14, 1805. Mr Davis gave up my Son’s articles – consulted my friend Sir
Brook Watson respecting changing our name – he approved and took the

May 16, 1805 – went to Quendon with my Son and Daughter to consult Mr
Henry Cranmer – he approved.
Page 26
May 17, 1805 – returned to London – slept at Sir Brook Watson’s Adelphi
May 18, 1805. Lady Watson went with me to Sir Isaac Heards about changing

our name
May 25, 1805. Our change of name to Cranmer in this day’s Gazette.

N.B. My Father’s Will directed this change – after the death of his widow – at
whose particular request it now took place – in consequence of my son’s going
to Jesus Collidge (sic) Cambridge
Page 27
June 13, 1805. Mr Geering’s House at East Sheen sold for 1015 pounds. Mr G.
died the 3rd of April.
June 23, 1805. The pavement in the Communion in Mortlake Church gave way
during Divine Service.
October 3, 1805. Apprenticed James Greggs’ son to Mr Taylor – with the fee of
twenty pounds. Collected by me for that purpose of several friends.
Page 28

October 22, 1805. Mr Brooks took my Son to Cambridge the first time of his
The 2nd of Novr. Sir Brook & Lady Watson’s wedding day. Charles King Junr.
Born at Mortlake Jany. 1st 1773.
Janry 1806 Henry Owen articled to Mr Davis Attorney at Law. N.B. against my

Page 29
Febry 3, 1806 took Mr Brook’s son to the Revd John Patterson’s at Richmond.
Page 30
March 16, 1806. Sunday Night. Gay’s Chimney caught fire. Moved the Horse
and Chariot into Keate’s. Rover died.


May 26. Richard came home from Cambridge.
28th Took him to London for Dr Vaughan’s advice, took a lodging for him in
Half Moon Street, Piccadilly. The Dr pronounced it the Typhus Fever.
June 8th – went to St James’s to hear Mr Andrews preach before we left
London with Richard who by the blessing of God & the Dr’s skill recovered.
Page 31
June 16th – heard Mr Robert Cranmer had taken out a statute of Lunacy against
Henry Cranmer of Quendon in Essex – Mr R. Cranmer appointed Committee of
his property and Mr Gordon (Mr H. Cranmer’s natural Son) of his person with
an allowance of one thousand pounds a year – his property about 3000 a year.
Page 32
July 6th, 1806. William Pitt Esq. of Mortlake in Surrey died Aged 66. Brother in
law to Sir Brook Watson Bart. – he left the bulk of his fortune to his wife Mary
Pitt Sister of Sir Brook Watson – and three thousand pounds to Miss
Aynscombe. Neglecting the rest of his family he was buried in Mortlake Church
Yard July 12, 1806 he raised himself from the low condition of a Servant to
respect & fortune by his prudence & industry – He was Cousin to Sir Brook
Page 33
July 22, 1806. Hannah Dixon second daughter of the late Marcus Dixon Esq.
married at Marylebone Church by the Mr Andrews to the Revd D. Haslewood

– they took their dinner with me at East Sheen and then proceeded on their
road to Broadstairs Kent.
Page 34
Augst 18, 1806. Harriet Edmondes died after being delivered of a still born
daughter, aged 31. She was the only child of the late Samuel Peach many years
resident Minister of Mortlake in Surrey – she left no child. She was buried at
Augst 28th, 1806. Went to Worting in Hants to visit Mrs Waldo.
Septr. 8, 1806. Left Worting and returned to East Sheen.
Page 35
October 21st, 1806. Mrs John Harrison (late Miss Sarah Kay) niece to Sir Brook
Watson died at Jays near Dorking in Surrey the seat of Mr John Harrison’s
Brother in Law – Lee Steer Steer Esq. Aged 21
She was buried in Mortlake Church Yard. the 28 – with her infant which died
about a twelve month before her – and was removed from London by her



Page 36
Octr. 1806. News arrived of the death of Mr Thomas Barker by Shipwreck he
was second Son of Mrs Barker of East Sheen – and Mid Ship man in the Royal
Navy – Ship lost October 20th 1806.
Novr. 26th 1806. the Revd Thomas Wakefield Minister of Richmond in Surrey
died aged Page
August 13, 1807. George Harris left me after fourteen years service
Octr. 20th 1807. First felt unpleasant sensations in my Breast occasion by the
presence of a New pair of Stays
24th went to Putney with Emily and increased the complaint by cold – 30th
wrote to Dr Vaughan
Page 39
Octr. 2nd 1807. Sir Brook Watson Bart. died at East Sheen in Surrey aged 72
buried in Mortlake Churchyard Octobr 10, 1807
Novr. 14th 1807. heard the account of Dr John King’s death second son of Mr
King of Mortlake in Surrey. He died of the fever at Monte Video Aged Page
Novr. 12, 1807. John Harrison Junr. Esq. Married at Richmond in Surrey to Miss
Lucy Price second Daughter of Sir Charles Price Bart.
Page 41
Decr. 18th, 1807. Mr Hope planted his Trees on the side of his new Road
leading to Mr Gilpin’s. As they obstructed my prospect to Roehampton wrote
to him requesting they might be taken down. Not receiving any answer wrote
to him again Decr. 24th. Decr. 27. he called upon me – but said nothing to the
purpose – not absolutely refusing – nor granting my request (three lines further
written & then erased with ink)
Page 42
Decr. 1807. Sir Brook Watson’s House Garden & small piece of Ground opposite
sold to Mr Coffin for £2500 who immediately transferred it to Mr Turner Nephew
to Lady Watson.
Sir Brook Watson Bart. by his Will left his acquired property to be divided
between his two nephews William and Brook Ray and Mr Turner Lady Watson’s
Nephew. Lady Watson enjoys an income of 1800 a year – 1000 from an annuity
on her life by insurance with the Royal Exchange Insurance Office – and 500 a
year for her life from Govern-
Page 43
ment together with an Estate of 300 a year which after her death goes to Mrs


Pitt sister of Sir Brook’s.
From omission in Sir Brook’s Will a Field of eight acres which he had lately
purchased went to Mrs Pitt – which she gave up to Lady Watson.

N.B. Sir Brook purchased this Field which is Eight Acres of Mr Harris for
twelve hundred pounds.
Page 45
The Name of Dixon changed to Cranmer in obedience to the Will of my late
Father James Cranmer May 25th 1805 see London Gazette
Janry. 28th 1808. Mrs Haslewood (Hannah Dixon) brought to bed of a girl –
named Mary

April 12th 1808. Benjm. Goldsmid found hanging on the Post of his Bed at
Roehampton in Surrey.
Apl. 26, 1808. Mary Dickson Married to Mr Temple Boudoin (?) son of Lady
Temple of Boston North America

Page 46
12th June 1808. Whitsunday. Richard ordained Deacon in the Chapel Royal St
James’s by the Bishop of Winchester (North)
June 23rd 1808 set out on a journey to Whittlesea in the Isle of Ely with Emily
and Richard – to settle Richard in the Curacy of Whittlesea – Salary 80 pounds

a year
June 24, 1808 – arrived at Cambridge and stayed there till ye 27th on which day
arrived at Peterborough and the next day the 28th got to Whittlesea
Page 47
July 3rd. 1808. Richard preached his first sermon at Whittlesea, never before
having been in the pulpit.
July 12th 1808 – left Whittlesea at five o’clock in the Morning, leaving my son
Richard as Curate
July 14th 1808 arrived safe at East Sheen the weather intensely hot –
Thermometer 100!!!
Page 48
Sir Brook Watson Bart. bought 8 acres of Mr Harris at East Sheen in the year
1807 Mr Turner bought Sir Brook Watson’s house at East Sheen for £2500
immediately after his death in the year 1807.
Miss Crabtree purchased her house in ye year 1806 for Philip
Francis Esq. sold his House and about 3 acres of land to Sir Archibald
Macdonald for £3500 in the year 1805
Mr Hope bought Mr Bowles for 14,000 pounds


Page 49
Mr Brown’s house at East Sheen sold for 1550 pounds
Mr Turner bought the Farm House and 33 acres for 3950 pounds a small field of
4 acres bought by Lady Buckingham for 350 resold to Mr Turner
Mr Peach’s house sold to Mr Harris for £900
July 1808 Mr Barnard bought Lord Palmerston’s at East Sheen for —
Augst. 15, 1808. Subscribed to the alteration of Mortlake church 5 pounds.
Decr. 20, 1808. My son Richard ordained Priest by the Bishop of Salisbury
Quebec Chapel
Page 51
Jany. 10, 1809. Miss Martha Hill married to Mr James Bower Banker of Weymouth
at Mortlake Church
Novr. 3rd 1809. My son Richard quitted the Curacy of Whittlesea.
Novr. 26, 1809. My son Richard preached the first time since he had the Curacy
of Kew in Surrey – at Kew Church Salary 60 pounds
Page 52
30 April 1810. Mrs Pitt Sister to Sir Brook Watson Bart. Died at Mortlake Aged
20th Decr. Agreed to lett Mr Darby Myers the piece of Ground next his House
from Easter next for five pounds a year, the first year’s rent allowed for the new
30 Decr. 1810. Miss Charlotte Travers Married to Capt. Lucius Floodyman R.N.
Miss Barker Married to Capt. Page 10 Jany. 1810.
Page 53
Decr. 24th 1810. Henry Cranmer Esq. died at Quendon Hall Essex
15th July 1811. Mrs Haslewood brought to bed of a boy at Wimbledon.
Page 54
14 Sept. Mr Darby Myer’s Eldest Son announced to be dead in the East Indies
10 Octr. 1811. Mrs Bowdoin (?) brought to bed of a girl at Leghorn – this child
died at Rome 1812.
May 11th 1812 Richard engaged to take the duty at Mitcham on account of Mr
Myer’s illness he being obliged to leave Mitcham and remain in London for
May 30. Mrs Cranmer signed a letter to the Bishop of Winchester praying him
to appoint Richard to take care of the duty at Mitcham
Page 55
June 27th – took Richard to reside at Mitcham


4th of August. Walked to Mitcham with Emily
31st. Went to see Mrs Peach at Greenwich, remained all night and took her out
in an open carriage next day this proved to be the last visit and time I saw her
Sept. 8. set out on a journey to Nutshaling near Southampton on a visit to Capt.
and Mrs Hardyman when (?went) with our own Horses in an open Carriage
21 Mrs Peach died aged 67 at Greenwich
22 left Nutshaling. Slept at Mrs Waldo’s Worting
Page 56
26 Sept. returned to Sheen after a pleasant journey
Feby. 8th Miss Turner’s birthday
15th Jany. 1812
Page 58
1813 Febry. 20th. sent all papers to Richard to Mitcham (by Stokes) relating to
the Mitcham property
March 2 Went to Mr Dickasons Montague Street and in the evening to The
Play at Drury Lane – first time I went into Public for years
5 Went to the Selection at Covent Garden
the New …
April 18th. Helen Turner’s birthday

20. The Dickasons wedding day
May 30. the Revd Edward Owen read himself in to Mortlake Church
Page 59
September 7th. set out on a Journey to Ramsgate with Emily and Richard to
meet Mrs Burgess & family
I arrived at Ramsgate and took lodgings at Mrs Curling Nile House – at four
guineas per week
Octor. 7th. left Ramsgate arrived at East Sheen the same day at 7 o’clock Evg.
Decr. 12th. Mr Thomas Dickason Senior died at Endfield aged 85.

(Footnote by transcriber, Raymond Gill:

Only about an eighth of the calf-bound volume – with 2 clasps – used.
Remaining pages blank. Measurements – 5 inches wide 7½ inches high)


(Esther Maria Cranmer died in 1819 – E.N.M).


APPENDIX 4: Probate Inventory of Rebecca Cranmer, widow,
taken at Mitcham between Monday 31 July and Wednesday
20 September 1815

(TNA PROB 31/1111/376)

[Transcribed in full by Marion Herridge (member, Surrey Archaeological
Society) January 1993]. Includes detailed lists of all the furnishings,
books, etc. in each of the principal rooms, jewellery and plate, the contents
of the kitchens and of the various outhouses. The relevant parts of the
inventory, from which one can learn much of the appearance of The
Canons whilst it was occupied by Mrs Cranmer, are reproduced below,
following Miss Herridge’s transcript as closely as possible.


“A true full plain perfect and particular Inventory of all and singular the
Goods Chattels and Credits of Rebecca Cranmer late of the parish of
Mitcham in the County of Surrey Widow …” compiled by Robert Whittle
and Richard Clapton, her executors, whom she named in her will dated
18th May 1813.

Lists “Household Goods and Furniture Plate Jewels China Glass Linen
Books and other things belonging to the deceased and in her Dwelling
House situate at Mitcham” valued and appraised by Mr Thomas Scott
auctioneer of 28 New Bridge Street on 20th September 1815 as follows:

Ground Story. Dining Room. Front

A Kidderminster Carpet, 4 Printed Cotton Festoon Window Curtains, 6
Mahogany Chairs leather Seats and Cotton Cases, 2 Burgere (sic) Chairs
Cotton Covers, a Pair of Oval Pier Glasses Gilt Frames 26 by 19 inches,
a 3 foot by 4 Mahogany Dining Table, a Square Ditto, a Mahogany
Card Table, a Pillar and Claw ditto, a Mahogany Knife Case, 12 silver
handle knives and Forks, a Mahogany Book Case Drawers underneath,
a Pair of Cut Glass Candlesticks and Shades, a Landscape Gilt frame,
a pair of Family Portraits, a small fruit Piece, 4 Prints Gilt Frames, a
small Mahogany Table and a 6 feet Mahogany Celleret Sideboard.


Dining Room

A Steel Stove Grate Fender and Fire Irons, a Wilton Carpet planned, 2
Yellow Damask Festoon Window Curtains, 6 Mahogany Chairs damask
Seats and two Sofas, a Mahogany Card Table, a Ditto Pillar and Claw
Ditto and urn stand, a Backgammon Box, an oval pier Glass Gilt Frame
26 inch by 18, a Pair of gilt Sconces, a Painting (of) Flowers gilt Frame,
a Piece of Hair work Ditto, Four Coloured Prints framed and glazed
Naples, Two coloured Prints.

China Closet adjoining

A Mahogany dumb Waiter, a Mahogany Tray, a Ditto folding Screen, a
Pair of Deal Steps, a Bronze tea Urn Silver Mounting, an old Ditto, a
Plate Warmer, a Cheese Stand, a large fine old China Bowl, 6 China
Bowls, 3 imaged China Dishes, 7 blue and white Ditto, 4 dozen China
Plates various, 1 Dozen blue and white tea Cups and Saucers, some
Figures as Chimney Ornaments, 3 Tea Pots and a Tureen dish and Cover,
6 octagon blue and white Dishes, 2 Glass Salvers, 4 Quart Decanters, 1
Dozen Wine Glasses and 1 Dozen of Rummers and Tumblers, some Old
Pieces of China, a Pair of Copper Scales and Weights.

Hall and Stairs

A Mahogany Dining Table, 3 Mahogany Chairs, a Mahogany Knee
hole writing Table, a Print The Departure of Abraham – gilt Frame and
glazed, a ditto Alfred ditto – A looking Glass 27 inch by 18, a Picture the
Fortune Teller – a Thermometer, a Glass Lanthorn and Mahogany Steps,
an eight day Clock in a Japanned Case, a Landscape, The Stair Carpet
and 22 brass Wires, two Prints.

First Story Front Chamber South

A 27 Inch Bath Stove fender and fire Irons – a Mahogany 4 Post
Bedstead, a 3 foot 4 Mahogany Bureau, a 3 foot 9 inches high Single
Chest of Drawers, 5 Printed Chairs and an easy Chair, a Deal Toilet
Table and Cover, a Mahogany Box Dressing Glass, 11 Prints and drawers
Various, two Pillows, 3 Blankets and a Cotton Counterpane, a
Kidderminster Carpet, a pair of Bellows and a Watchman’s Rattle, a
Claw Table.


Middle Chamber

A Mahogany 4 Foot Bedstead, Green Damask furniture, a Crankey
Wool Mattress, a Feather Bed Bolster and Pillow, 3 Blankets and a
Printed Quilt, a 3 feet 6 Mahogany Single Chest of Drawers, a Ditto
knee hole dressing Table, a Ditto oval swing Dressing Glass, a Pier
Glass Gilt Frame 33 inch by 19, a small Mahogany Table, a Pair of Ditto
Stools, a night Stool, 2 Green Window Curtains, a Landscape and a pair
of Prints, a Bason Stand, Bason, Jug and Decanter, 3 Crimson Festoon
mixed Damask Window Curtains.

North Chamber

A Steel Stove, Grate, fender and fire iron, a 3 feet 9 Mahogany double
Chest of Drawers, a knee hole Ditto, a Mahogany Box dressing Glass,
a Pier Glass Gilt Frame 33 Inch by 19, a 3 foot 9 Mahogany Chest of
Drawers and Book Case and bust, a 3 foot Mahogany 4 Post Bedstead,
White Dimity Furniture, a Wool Mattress and a Ditto White Case, a
feather Bed, Boulster and 3 Pillows, a White Cotton Counterpane 3
Blankets 2 festoon White Dimity Window Curtains, A small Turkey
Carpet, a pair of Kidderminster bedside Ditto, 3 Prints from the History
of Joseph, some Chimney Ornaments, 5 painted Chairs.

Dressing Room

A Mahogany Bason Stand, blue and white Bason and Jug, a Ditto White
Bason and Jug, a square Mahogany Table, 2 Ditto Stools and two Ditto
Chairs, a Mahogany Screen, 18 pieces Drawings or Fancy Work framed
and glazed.

Attic Rooms

A Stump Bedstead, a feather Bed Bolster and Pillow, 3 Blankets and a
Counterpane, Wainscot Drawers. a Deal Table and 2 Chairs, A three
foot 6 side view Bedstead, A feather Bed and Bolster, 3 Blankets and a
Coverlet, a deal side Table with a Drawer, a Chair.

Store Rooms

A 3 foot 8 Square Mahogany Dining Table, a pair of Mahogany
Serpentine Card Tables, a Pair of Ditto Knife Cases, a Mahogany night


Table, a Steel Stove Grate, a high wire guard Fender, a pair of Japanned
Cabinets, a Sugar Chopper and board, a long deal Table under window
and Stand, a looking Glass 17 inches by 12, a high Tin Fender, a small
Mahogany Slab Sideboard, two tin Dish Covers, a Coverlet, a pair of
looking Glasses White Frames 26 inches by 18, a 4 Foot Mahogany
Bedstead, green Morine Furniture, a bordered feather Bed and Bolster,
a crankey Wool Mattress, 3 Blankets and a White Cotton Counterpane,
a Case of Drawers, a Japanned Candlestick with Shelves, a Tamboo
(sic) Writing Box, a Copper Tea Kettle, Sundry China dishes, various

(10) and several other pieces of China (30) a Tea Sett and some Chimney
Ornaments, a cut glass Basin, a Butter Ditto, a Plated Coffee Pot,
Chamber Candlestick and Pewter Mug, a pair of enamel’d China Jars,
a smaller Ditto, a hearth Rug and sundry Boxes.
Basement Story Kitchen

Coppers, A Fish Kettle, a Preserving Pan, two Stew Pans, a Coffee
Pot, Chocolate Ditto, 3 Small Saucepans, 2 Warming Pots, a Funnall, a
Coal Scuttle, a Warming Pan. 6 Tins. Some small Articles of Ware, 5
Brass Candlesticks, 2 Pestles and Mortars, and some small Articles, 7
tin Dish Covers, 6 Pewter Dishes, 3 Fish Plates, 19 Plates and two
Water Ditto, a large Square deal Table, 5 Chairs and a Kidderminster
Carpet, a Meat Screen, a Pair of Bellows, Fender and Fire Irons, some
old pieces of China and earthen Ware.

Servants Hall

A Mahogany Dining Table, an Ironing Board, a square deal Table, 4
Windsor Chairs, a Mahogany Butler’s Tray.

Wash House

2 Copper Boiling Pots and a Kettle, 5 Mahogany Tubs and a Beer

Books in Chamber

Burlington British Traveller with Plates 1 Vol. Secundo – L’estranger
Josephus 1 Vol. quarto
Newgate Calender 2 Vols.,
Horne’s Commentaries on the Psalms,


Rambler, 4 Volumes,
Dodds’ Visitor 2 Vols.,
Goldsmith’s Works 2 Vols.,
Rowe, Hervey and Scott 3 Vols.,
Sermons or Homilies in Queen Elizabeth’s Reign 1 Vol. Folio
Christian’s Dictionary 1 Vol., quarto
Buchan’s Medicine, 1 Vol.,
Lucas on Happiness 2 Vols.,
4 Vols. Divinity
Evangelical Magazine 17 vols.,
Westley 1 Vol. and some numbers unbound,
Blair’s Sermons 2 Vols.,
Beveridge’s Sermons 11 Vols.,
Ditto Thoughts 2 Vols.,
Bellamy’s Family Preacher,
Virtue in humble Life,
Family Bible,
Dodderidge’s Works 5 Vols.,
Moss’ Sermons 4 Vols.,
Howlett’s Ditto 2 Vols.,
Robinson’s Scripture Characters 4 Vols.,
Present State of Society 1 Vol.,
Whitefield’s Works 6 Vols.,
Lecker’s Lectures 2 Vols.,
Jenk’s Meditations 2 Vols.,
Dodd on the Parables, 4 Vols.,
Wilcox’s Sermons 3 Vols.,
Robinson Crusoe with Plates 2 Vols.,
Flavel’s Works 8 Vols.,
Sherlock’s Sermons 4 Vols.,
Wilberforce on Christianity 1 Vol.,
24 Volumes on Divinity
Watt’s Posthumous Works 3 Vols.,
14 Vols. Divinity Various,
Scott’s Christian Life 3 Vols.


Books in the Parlour

Sydney’s History of England 1 Vol.,
Lyson’s Environs of London 1 Vol.,
Goodwin’s Works only 1 Vol.,
Ovid Metamorphosis’s 1 Vol.,
Christian Warfare 1 Vol.,
Barnet’s own time 2 Vols.,
Archbishop Cranmer’s Memoirs 1 Vol.,
Life of Christ 1 Vol.,
Burkitt on the New Testament 1 Vol.,
London Chronicle 5 Vols., 1785-1789
Companion to the Temple 1 Vol.,
Taylor’s Life of Christ, 1 Vol.,
7 Volumes Serious Shakespeare’s Works 6 Vols.,
Ken’s Works 4 Vols.,
Sparke’s Devotions 1 Vol.,
English Dictionary 1 Vol.,
Pilgrim’s Progress 1 Vol.,
14 Volumes various
Dryden’s Plays 6 Vols.,
Ditto Virgil 3 Vols.,
Ladies Library 3 Vols.,
Guardian 2 Vols.,
Spectator 8 Vols.,
Don Quixote 4 Vols.,
Tom Jones 6 Vols.,
30 Vols. Various


2 large Damask Pattern Diaper Table Cloths, 9 Smaller Ditto
2 Pair of Russian Sheets, 2 Ditto of Irish, 4 pair of Servants’ Sheets
4 Huckerback (sic) Table Cloths, some round Table and Chamber Ditto,
4½ pair of Calico Sheets, 4 Pair of Pillow Cases



A hair Ring encircled with Diamonds,
2 Mourning Rings, 1 Ditto with hair device, 1 Worked Gold Ditto, 1 Hair
enamelled Ditto, 1 Gold Pearl Ring. 18 Gold Rings various
a Pair of Paste ear Rings, a Jubilee Medal, a Silver Snuff Box, a Ditto
apple Scoop. 4 Pair of Paste Buckles in Silver, a Silver Pencil Case, A
Lady’s Gold Watch by Cox Jewelled and two Seals, a Piece of Gold

Coin of James 1st., an Iron Chest –
Plate in Iron Chest
A 7 inch Waiter 11oz 5 dwts
A Pint Mug
A Cream Pot
15 dwts
15 dwts
4 Table Spoons, a Marrow Ditto
2 Tea Spoons, Sugar tongs and Butter Knife
Plate in Use
A Gravy Spoon and 6 Table Ditto
10 Tea Spoons and a tea Strainer
4 Salts
A Wire Strainer, Cruet Frame and 4 Salt Spoons
15 dwts
Additional Articles of Plate, very old
A Waiter, gaderooned edge
A small Ditto33oz
10 dwts
15 dwts
Two Coats ?
Snuffer Stand, Taper Candlestick
Wire Strainer and Punch Ladle
10 dwts
10 dwts
A Pair of Solid Candlesticks
A Coffee Pot
36oz 15 dwts

Total weight of silver: 234oz 10 dwts


Coach House

A Perched Coach with Boot, Hammer Cloth,
Lamps and Harness Cloth Lining very old and worn

Wood House

A grass Wheel Barrow, two Ladders,
A Pair of Steps, a quantity of firewood.

Tool House

Some garden Tools and Water Pots much worn
A Stone Garden Roller

Mrs Cranmer’s Assets totalled
The above items valued at £326. 5.
Cash in hand £8. 19.
In her account at Hoare’s Bank £197. 19. 10
£14,500 in 3% Consolidated Annuities of the Bank of England
£1,100 in 4% ditto
£1,500 in 5% Navy Annuities of the Bank of England
Rents (net of Tax and outgoings) due at Midsummer
from her Mitcham properties £164. 16s.



Alumni Oxonienses Foster J (ed.) Alumni Oxonienses 1715-1886 vols i-iv
(reprinted Liechtenstein 1968)

Bidder (1923) Bidder H F (editor)Old Mitcham I (1923)

Bidder (1926) Bidder H F (editor)Old Mitcham II (1926)

BL British Library

Brayley Brayley EWHistory of Surrey (1841)

CA Canterbury Cathedral Archives

DB Morris J Domesday Book: Surrey edited by Sarah Wood

DNB Dictionary of National Biography
Edwards Edwards J Companion from London to Brighthelmston


Greenwood Greenwood C & J Surrey Described (1823)

Heales Heales AThe Records of Merton Priory (1898)

Hitchin Hitchin W E Surrey at the Opening of the Twentieth

Century (1906)

Journal Mrs Cranmer’s Journal. Transcription by Raymond Gillof Surrey Archaeological Society (see Appendix 3)

Lysons Lysons D Environs of London I (1792)

McElrath McElrath D Richard Simpson 1820-1876: A Study inXIXth Century English Liberal Catholicism (1972)

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

MLSC Merton Local Studies & Heritage Centre
Nairn & Pevsner Nairn I & Pevsner N The Buildings of England: Surrey
Ridley Ridley JThomas Cranmer (1962)
SHC Surrey History Centre
SRS Surrey Record Society

SyAC Surrey Archaeological Collections

TNA The National Archives

VCH Victoria County History of Surrey

Walford Walford E Greater London: A Narrative of its History itsPeople and its Places (1883/4)

Waters (1877) Waters R E C Genealogical Memoirs of the KindredFamilies of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury,
and Thomas Wood, Bishop of Lichfield (1877)

Waters (1878) Waters R E C Genealogical Memoirs of the ExtinctFamily of Chester of Chicheley, their ancestors anddescendants(1878)



Cranmer Green

1 Peake D S ‘The Wandle Gravels in the Vicinity of Croydon’ in Proceedings
of the Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society XIV (1971) 159

2 Montague E N The Archaeology of Mitcham (1992) 8

3 Bradley R The Social Foundations of Prehistoric Britain (1987) 92

4 Drewett J D ‘Memories of Mitcham’ 2, and Bartley E M ‘Rural Mitcham’ 32,
in Bidder (1926)

5 Reminiscences of Roy Whiting, an old resident of Mitcham living inCranmer Farm Close, in a personal communication in the 1970s

6 Bryant A Map of the County of Surrey 1823

7 SHC 470/1: James Cranmer’s Rent and Memorandum Book 1717-1749. Asection of the sketch map is reproduced on page 49 of this study.

8 London Borough of Merton:Cranmer Green Pond Management Plan (1994)

9 Edwards II (1801) 17

10 Roy Whiting commented that “At least three of these elm trees were theresome time 1920-21 and perhaps later. They were then topless, hollow andwere situated right opposite what was then a privately owned nursery[Stepney’s Nursery off Madeira Road]. Under these trees was a seat – itcould be shifted. It was shifted – from time to time according to the wind. Thepartly gravel-like road ended by these trees – it was little more than a pathway”.

Archaeology and the location of the Domesday estates

1 ‘Witford’ i.e. without an ‘h’ was the spelling used in the original Domesdayfolios
By the late 12th century the spelling had acquired an ‘h’ to become’Whitford’ and this is the form in which it appears in various volumes onthe history and topography of Surrey published in the late 18th and early19th centuries. More usually however it occurs as ‘Wicford’ (in variousspellings and indicating pronunciation with a hard ‘c’) in documents of the12th to 14th centuries.

Gover J E B Mawer M and Stenton F M English Place-Name Society XIThe
Place-Names of Surrey (1934) 52 lists Wicford 1199, Wikeford(e) 1200,
1219, 1241, Wikford 1229, Wycford 1242, Wickford 1279, Wykford c.1280

The persistence of the ‘wic(k)’ form of the name throughout the middleages (and the complete absence of ‘Witford/Whitford’ from the documentaryrecord after 1086 until the end of the 18th century) suggests that perhapsthis was closer to the more usual spoken form and that the local Englishrendering had been modified by the Norman clerks when compiling theDomesday record. Whitford the form familiar today was adopted by theantiquarian literati of the 18th century influenced by the ‘official’ Domesdayrecord then becoming available in printed transcript. If this argument istenable one is justified in proceeding further on the premise that the ‘wic’element predates the Conquest.


The case for Wicford/Whitford and continuity of settlement in LowerMitcham through the Saxon period is also argued in my Lower Mitcham

2 Typical of the evidence is that found on the Wandle Valley Hospital site offMill Green dug by Birley for the Museum of London Archaeology Servicein 1992.

3 SyAC XXXVIII part 1 (1929) 93

4 Bidder H F and Morris J in SyAC LVI (1959) 51-131

5 DB 5,7 and 21,1

6 See Montague E N Ravensbury(2008) pp74-5

The Mitcham estate of the Priory of St Mary Southwark

1 Highham F Cathedral Church of St Saviour and St Mary Overie Southwark

2 BL MS Add 6040 f1 No1 (Transcribed by John Blair of the Queen’s CollegeOxford (Translation supplied in a personal communication)

3 BL MS Add 6040 f2 Nos 17 & 18 (Blair)

4 BL MS Add 6040 f1 No 2 (Blair)

5 BL MS Add 6040 (16) (Blair)

6 BL MS Add 6040 f2 No 20 (Blair)

The manor of Mitcham or Mitcham Canons

1 DB 5, 6

2 The online Manorial Documents Register (www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/mdr)
lists four groups of records purporting to relate to the manor of Mitcham Canons:TNA
SC 12/15/38, a custumal with rental made between 1272 and 1307,

refers to Mitcham, Streatham and Lambeth, suggesting that the manor is

Vauxhall, which included property in all three places.
Westminster Abbey Muniments 27866-27868, 27872-27877 are accounts1318-1324 for manors belonging to Geoffrey le Scrope. His Mitcham manorincluded lands leased from the cantor of Merton and the lord of Vauxhall.
This seems to have been an estate comprising freehold and leasehold land,
not a bone fide manor.

BL Add. Ch. 23548, an undated rental of a Mitcham manor, included with

Ravensbury court rolls 1470-1483, presumably relates to Ravensbury manor.
TNA SC 12/23/26, a valuation made between 1509 and 1547 of possessionsof Thomas Wareham, lists rents from five properties in Mitcham, held withthe Archbishop of Canterbury’s manor of Haling in Croydon. Vauxhall manorbelonged to the Dean & Chapter of Canterbury, formerly Christchurch priory,

There is no evidence that any of these documents relate to a manor ofMitcham Canons.

3 VCH IV (1912) 230

4 Malden H E A History of Surrey (1900) 97


VCH IV (1912) 230/1 quoting Testa de Nevill (Rec Com) 225 228. During thelater Middle Ages the priory of St Mary at Southwark became more generallyknown as the priory of St Mary Overy to distinguish it from another StMary’s ‘over the water’ in the City of London.

6 BL MS Add 6040 f2 No 21 Transcribed by John Blair (Personalcommunication February 1992)
7 BL MS Add 6040 f2v No 22 (Blair)
8 BL MS Add 6040 f2v Nos 22 23 24 & 25 (Blair)
9 CA Vincent MS 46 123 (Blair)
Extract from BL MS Add 6040 (16) (Blair)
11 Heales 216
12 Heales 231 quoting Cal Inq pm 1-9 Edw II 346; Chan Inq pm
22 Ric II no 86; 4 Henry IV no 41
13 McKisack M The Fourteenth Century 1307-1399 (1963) 40 and 58

14 M&B II (1809) 497 quoting Harl MS No 6281
There is no mention of John de Aperdele in the list of priors of Southwarkin VCH II 111. The names of the priors are taken principally from BL CottMs Faustina A VIII F 118B p 177 and BL Harleian MS 544 p 100 (Informationfrom Southwark Library).

Heales 249 noted an inquisition post mortemof 1347 which confirmed that
Merton Priory held lands of Hughe ‘de Audele’ late Earl of Gloucester .
16 Lysons 351 quoting Harleian MSS. Brit. Mus. No. 6281
17 Lysons 351 quoting ‘Court Rolls of the manor of Camberwell Buckingham’s’
18 SHC 2400/2: Volume of Historical Notes re Enclosure 1


19 VCH IV (1912) 231 quoting Valor. Eccl. (Rec. Com.) ii 48

SHC 599/220 a-b: Copy Extract from the Minister’s Accounts.
21 SHC 599/222 a-f
22 Brayley IV (1841) 91
23 M&B II (1809) 497quoting Inq post mortem 31 Eliz. n.119

Also SHC 599/- : Copy Inq post mortem Richard Burton 17 Nov. 1589
24 SHC 599/- : Reversion 21 Jan. 1652
SHC 599/238: The properties cited are difficult to reconcile with any laterowned by Cranmer. Some bear names which appear in the Ravensbury rollsand there is a mention of a cottage on Wikeford Green which was in themanor of Vauxhall.
26 VCH IV (1912) 231 quoting Pat. 36 Hen.VIII pt. xxiii m.27. Also BL Add. Ch.
23549 dated 28 September 1544
27 Lysons 351 quoting Coles Escheats No 410 Harleian MSS BM
Plomer and his heirs certainly held property in Mitcham of the manor ofRavensbury but other than Lysons’s comment there is nothing to suggestthat they also held property of the manor of Mitcham.


28 The descent of the manor from 1544 to 1657 is set out in M&B II (1809) 497and to 1910 by VCH IV (1910) on page 231.

29 Cranmer purchased between “1656 and 1657” when “Mr Hamond andNicholas Carew alias Throgmorton son and heir of Sir Francis sold it toRobert Cranmer of London merchant” [M&B II (1809) 497]. W W Coombs’Mss. Calendar of Deeds relating to Mitcham (1934) 18 lists an indenture ofsale and an agreement on the sale by Sir Nicholas Carew of the “Manor ofMitcham alias Cannon” to Thomas Hamond in November 1647 as amongstthe Mitcham deeds formerly at Croydon and now at SHC 599/

30 MLSC: Historical documents and papers relating to Mitcham.
Declaration of Thomas J. Platt in case of Cranmerv. Moore 1820.

31 MLSC: Copy of Indenture signed by Thomas Hamond d Feb. 4 1656.

32 SHC 599/- : Abstract of Title and Particulars of Certain Documents 15761695

33 SHC 320/3/2/1

34 Lambeth Archives deed ref. No.1138 contains a reference to ‘Chaffe Hawes’
in the records of a court baron of Nicholas Carew alias Throgmorton lord ofthe manor of Ravensbury held in 1628.

35 Canterbury Cathedral archives MSS 70436. Transcribed by Roy Edwardsof the Streatham Society c.1990.

36 Montague E N A History of Mitcham Common (1970) 8 – 11

37 VCH IV (1912) 231


Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and the Cranmer family of Mitcham

1 MLSC: Comments by R M Chart

2 Edwards II (1789) 17

3 Brayley IV (1841) 88 and Lewis SA Topographical Dictionary of England
III (1840)

4 Simpson W F J – letter dated 1891 quoting Waters (1877) – copy kindly

supplied by CT Gordon in pers comm 1993

5 Ridley

6 ‘Aslacton’ according to some sources

7 Ridley IX ‘The Daily Life and Secret Marriage’
Copy from C T Gordon, the original being in the possession of John CranmerByng, another descendant of the family

8 Cal Pat Rolls 7 Edward VI pt xi m 13 [pp.233-4] and SHC K85/2/12

9 SHC 470 – James Cranmer’s Memorandum and Estate Book 1717-1749. Here
the birth place is given as “Allerton ¼ ml. from Nottingham”.

10 For instance Waters (1877) 77-84

11 C T Gordon (a descendant of the Cranmers) in a personal communication 12January 1993


12 Waters (1878) II 374-81
13 Waters (1878) II 376
14 Waters (1878) II 425
15 Walford II (1883/4) 527

The Civil War and its aftermath

1 Jones A E From Medieval Manor to London Suburb. An Obituary ofCarshalton (1970) 31-2

2 SHC 599/- : Indenture of Sale 21 June 1659

3 SHC 599/390 a-d

4 SyAC XIX (1906) 41 – 2
Michell RThe Carews of Beddington (1981) 80 notes that in 1640 “A Londonermarried Mr Knepp’s sister of micham on Easter monday at Carshalton church”

Robert Cranmer (1617–1666)

1 Montague E N Textile Bleaching and Printing in Mitcham and Merton
1590-1870 (1992) 5

2 SHC 470/1: James Cranmer’s rent and memorandum book 1717-1749 andSHC 2400/-: Account Book of James Cranmer 1740-52

3 Inscribed on Robert Cranmer’s signet ring, at one time in the possession ofWilliam F J Simpson. Letter dated 1891, copy kindly supplied by C T Gordon(a descendant of Cranmer) in pers comm 1993
Also SHC 470/1: James Cranmer’s rent and memorandum book 1717-1749

4 Letter from C T Gordon 12 January 1993 quoting research at India House
The Cranmer family were related to Sir Izaak Walton the angler andbiographer.
Both Mrs Judith Goodman and C T Gordon have kindly drawn my attention to

The Complete Angler (1836 edition) which sets out the Walton/Cranmer treeshowing that Sir Izaak like Lord Byron was a Cranmer through the female line

5 Trevelyan GMEnglish Social History (1948) 217

6 SHC 470/1: James Cranmer’s rent and memorandum book 1717-1749

7 The Guildhall Library has no record of him. Moreover he is not mentioned inthe poll tax of 1641 – which confirms that he was out of the country at the time.

8 SyAC XIX (1970) 89

9 SHC 599/-: Indenture of sale by Ralph Trattle 28 April 1652

10 SHC LA/8/1: Mitcham Civil Parish Records – Militia Assessments

11 Surrey Hearth Tax 1664 SRS Nos XLI and XLII, Vol XVII (1940)

12 TNA PROB 5/2160 (Transcribed by Marion Herridge of SurreyArchaeological Society January 1993)

13 SHC: Quarter Sessions Records

14 M&B II (1809) 500

15 Lysons 358 – 9


Cranmer’s contemporariesAnthony Sadler

1 M&B II (1809) 505
2 Surrey Archaeological Society research collection No. 116: Manuscripttranscription by R Garroway Rice in 1889 of an original copy of pamphlet

entitled ‘Mr. Sadler Saddled’ published in 1665
3 M&B II (1809) 497
4 SHC 599/-: Collection of deeds relating to Mitcham: Release by John Swift

of Parsonage House etc to John Morris in trust for Robert Cranmer 17September 1661
5 Lysons 358/9 quoting Wood A Athenae Oxoniensis II edit Tonson (1721)

Sir William Greene

1 BL extra-illustrated M&B Vol 12 (CRACH 1 Tab I B I)
The arms of Sir William Greene dated 1669 are shown as three stags on ashield half pale blue and half dark blue

2 Montague E NThe Upper or Fair Green (2005) 30-32
3 Janes H The Red Barrel – A History of Watney Mann (1963) 6 (Extract

transcribed by Dr R A M Scott and supplied with a personal communication)
4 Surrey Hearth Tax 1664 SRS Nos XLI and XLII, VolXVII (1940)
5 SHC LA 5/8/1-2: Mitcham Civil Parish Records – Militia Assessments
6 Cox TA Topographical Ecclesiastical and Natural History of Surrey (1700)

7 Quoted by Walford II (1883/4) 529. He gives 1700 as the date of publicationbut the Guildhall Library say 1680 and ascribe the work to Adams of theInner Temple
8 Burns D The Sheriffs of Surrey (1992) 66

The Hampsons (1653 – 1703)

1 Woodhead J R The Rulers of London 1660-1689 (1965) 83 has the following:
HAMPSON Henry Co Co Farringdon Within 1662; 1667-9 Ald Portsoken 12Jan 1663/4-23 Jun 1664 disch F £420 (1)
1st Prec Christ Church 1640/1 1663; Bull and Mouth Street Aldersgate 1677;
Mitcham Surr 1691 (2)
MT appr 1627 to William Rice of Newgate Market; M 1664 (3)
d: Mar 1690/1 (4)
Will: PCC 54 Vere pr 28 Mar 1690/1 f: Thomas Hampson HAB of London;
mar: Sarah da of Thomas Dudson of – Berks and St George Southwark andAlice Ironmonger (5)
Merchant EIC stock (6)
Landlord of Quakers’ meeting house Aldergate Street 1668 (7)
Bro-in-law of Edward DUDSON (8)

(1) Beaven I p 184 (2) MT Appr Bindings XII f112; MT 1663 f14; Directory1677; will (3) Beaven II p96; MT Appr Bindings IX f324 (4) Will (5) MT ApprBindings IX f324; LVP 1664 p57 (6) Will; Directory 1677 (7) Mills and OliverSurveys II p90 (8) Will of Edward DUDSON


NB It would appear that in compiling the above synopsis some difficultymay have occurred in distinguishing between Henry Hampson senior andhis son also named Henry who died in 1691 and was buried at MitchamFurther research is obviously necessary and the text of this account has tobe seen as an attempt to bring together sometimes confusing detail

In a personal communication dated 4 January 1990 the Principal Reference

Librarian of the Guildhall Library City of London commented:
“No reference to his [i.e. Henry Hampson’s] marriage to Sarah Dudsoncould be found in the International Genealogical Index for London andMiddlesex (1987/9 edition) or in Boyd’s Marriage Index for London andMiddlesex 1626-1675. No reference to his burial could be found in Boyd’sindex to London and Middlesex burials although the British Record Society’sindex to Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills (Index library vol. 77 p.124)
indicates that he died in ‘Throckmorton’ street”.

2 SHC 212/73/26: Deed dated 1 March 1663/4

3 M&B II (1809) 505

4 SHC 212/73/25

5 SHC 599/

6 Robert Wych seems likely to have been a relative (? son) of the NathanielWych(e) another London merchant, president of the East India Companywho in 1658 married Anne Cranmer, Robert Cranmer’s sister (“from theKentish branch of the Cranmer family”. C J Gordon in a personalcommunication 12 Jan 1993)

7 SHC LA5/8/1-2:Mitcham Civil Parish Records – Militia Assessments

8 Surrey Hearth Tax SRS Nos XLI and XLII, Vol Vol XVII (1940)

9 E N MontagueLower Mitcham (2003) 35-40

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

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

The entry in the parish register (at Surrey History Centre) describes him as

“Henry Hampson (the 2d)” and adds that he was buried in wool on 28 March 1691
An earlier entry in the register records the burial of Mary Hampson in July1665 but her age is not given and her relationship with the rest of the familyis not known.

12 Principal Reference Librarian, Guildhall Library, in a personal communication4 Jan 1990

13 SHC 172/5/2a-c: Lease and release 22 and 23 Nov1703


The fortunes of the Cranmer family between 1665 and1705

1 SHC 470/1/100: Rent and Memorandum Book of James Cranmer of Mitcham1717–1749

2 SHC: Court rolls manor of Ravensbury

3 M&B II (1809) 505

4 M&B II (1809) 497

5 SHC 599/

6 Notes supplied by Mr C J Gordon in pers commun 28 January 1990

7 DNBXXVII (1891) 59-60

8 Jackson A A (ed.) Ashtead: a Village Transformed (1977) 69
Nairn & Pevsner (1971) 98/9

9 SHC 470/1: James Cranmer’s estate book 23, and MLSC: Historical Papersand Documents relating to Mitcham

10 SHC 599/425

11 SHC 599/427

James Cranmer (1684–1752), squire of Mitcham

1 SHC 470/1: 5, 34 & 39

2 SHC 470/1:5 – James Cranmer’s Rent and Memorandum Book 1717-1749

3 MLSC: Photographs by Tom Francis – Local Illustrations collection

4 Information from David Fowler of Oxford in a pers comm 17 March 1976

5 SHC 599/353

6 MLSC: Mitcham Vestry Minutes

7 SHC 599/233

8 SHC 2400: James Cranmer’s Account Book 1740-1752 folio 36

9 See E N Montague Lower Mitcham (2003) 41 for details of the Myers’residence in Lower Mitcham

From The Rectory to Mitcham Villa and The Cranmers 1750–1926

1 SHC: Poor rate books for Mitcham
2 Hans N New Trends in Education in the 18th Century (1951)
3 SHC 413/8
4 SHC 470/1
5 Edwards II 17
6 Journal 15
7 Beaven ABThe Aldermen of the City of London (1908) 140
8 Pigot and Co’s London Directory (1826-7) 475-6
9 Hassell JPicturesque Rides and Walks I (1817) 116-7
10 SHC QS 5/5/4: Visitors’ Minute Book 1813-1828
11 Greenwood 306


12 Eden P Dictionary of Land Surveyors etc Great Britain and Ireland 15501850
Part 1 104 and Supplement 297

13 MLSC: Simpson Correspondence – William Simpson married Emily Cranmerthe granddaughter of James Cranmer and heiress to the Cranmer Estate in1818

14 SHC: Morden parish registers

15 Roy Whiting of Cranmer Farm Close in a pers comm

The last days of The Cranmers

1 Drewett J D in Bidder (1926) 7

2 Roy Whiting of Cranmer Farm Close. As ‘R.W. Wandle’ he was a regularcontributor to The South Warder the newsletter of the South Mitcham
Residents’ Association in the 1970s
Of the bell at the Cranmers he wrote
“Most large houses – and they were all farmhouses if only to some extent

– had a bell on the roof. I have seen such bells on the roofs of quite anumber of houses within a short distance. These bells were usuallycontained within a tower-shaped construction and served many purposes.
My mother who lived between Mitcham and Sutton from 1874 until 1925and then locally up to 1970 recalled how the bell ‘told’ workpeople all overthe estate the time of day. It could also be an alarm bell calling all to the “bighouse”. My mother particularly remembers a fire starting at a farmhousethat stood on the left hand side of the road on the way to Sutton at the spotwhere Middleton Road now crosses. Men all ‘came home’ – includingsome from neighbouring farms. It was the ‘ring’ that told the tale. Witnessa line from an old Chapel Hymn of before 1900: ‘Now the great bell on thefarmhouse is wringing Telling a tale that the days work is done’. Now we (I)
am on the subject – it might also be (indeed it was in some cases) a dinnerbell. Witness again: ‘That hideous cry – That all over-powering knell. TheTocsin of the Soul. The dinner bell'”
3 Victoria County History of Surrey IV (1912) 229

4 National Grid Reference TQ 278681. A photograph of the barn is in the localillustrations collection in MLSC.

5 Judge of the Court of Admiralty and Master of Requests Dr Julius Caesar(1558-1636) received his knighthood in 1603 –DNB III 658

6 MLSC: Tom Francis scrap book: news cutting dated 1928 headed ‘PrincessMary at Mitcham’ 216

7 Montague E N and Turner W A ‘The Residence of Sir Julius Caesar

Adelmare in Mitcham’ inSyAC LXVII (1970) 85-94
8 Nairn & Pevsner (1971) 369
9 Merton Borough News November 1977



Origins of the estate

1 National Grid References TQ2786 6834 and TQ2790 6833 respectively

2 VCH IV (1912) 230

3 Dr John Blair, with whom I corresponded in 1993, kindly drew my attentionto Susan Reynolds’ Kingdoms and Communities in Western Europe 9001300
(1984) 97 in which she quotes BL Add MS 6040 and demonstrateswith other examples that such corporate action was by no means uncommonelsewhere in Europe.

4 VCH IV (1912) 232 quoting Chan.Inq. p.m. Ric. II pt. i no.8

5 BL Add MS 6040 No. 16 (Blair)

6 MLSC: Tom Francis’s scrap book. Undated newspaper cutting.

7 M&B II (1809) 497 quotingInq post mortem31 Eliz n 119

8 I am indebted to the late Evelyn Jowett former Librarian Merton and MordenUDC for this information. The original manuscript is understood to be inthe British Library.

9 Hitchin 53

10 VCH IV (1912) 234 quoting Feet of F Surr 44 Hen III no 18 (1906) 63

11 On enquiry at Mitcham Library in 1993 this could not be traced.

12 Map of Mitcham Common marked ‘Cranmer’ and dated c.1812. Seen amongsta folio of Mitcham maps in Croydon Library c.1968. Present location

13 The fish were removed by Merton Parks Department on the suggestion ofthe writer. It is understood they were mostly carp with a few other coarsefish.

14 Information from Merton Parks Department in July 1993

15 M&B II (1809) 497 Enrolled in Chancery

16 BL Add Ch 23587 & 23588: Post-Dissolution deeds of Southwark Priory(quoted by Blair pers comm)

17 SHC 599/- : Collection of Deeds etc Relating to Mitcham

18 SHC 599/317

19 SHC 599/322

20 TNA PROB 5/2160 (Transcribed by Marion Herridge of Surrey

Archaeological Society)

21 M&B II (1809) 497 also III (1814) Appendix cli-clii

22 MLSC: extra-illustrated copy of Brayley III Part III

23 SHC 470/1 : James Cranmer’s Rent and Memorandum Book 1717-1749 13

The Odways, or Otways, of Mitcham – a military family

1 Research Notes compiled by Ms Daphne Bradbury, Cedar Road, SuttonNovember 1999


2 Montague E N Colliers Wood or Merton Singlegate (2007) 52-3

3 Transcribed by C Webb and published by the West Surrey Family HistorySociety (Quoted by Daphne Bradbury)

4 Worsfold W B Romden Place and its Restoration Kent ArchaeologicalSociety (Quoted by Daphne Bradbury)

5 Webb C Association of Oath Rolls 1695 West Surrey Family Family HistorySociety (Quoted by Daphne Bradbury)

6 Cox T A Topographical Ecclesiastical and Natural History of Surrey (1700)


7 Quoted by Walford II (1884) 529

8 Martineau G DA History of the Old Belfast Regiment and the Regiment of

Sussex 1701-1953 (Quoted by Daphne Bradbury)

The Canons in the 18th century: the manor house of Mitcham

1 SHC 470/1: 5

2 SHC 2400/1: James Cranmer’s Account Book 1740-1752 13 and
SHC 599/340: List of James Cranmer’s properties in 1739

3 VCH IV (1912) 232

4 SHC 599/285

5 SHC 470/1: 3

6 Journal 1

7 M&B III (1814) cli

8 Information supplied by Mr C J Gordon of Haddington, E Lothian, in a

personal communication 18 January 1990

9 M&B II (1809) 505 andAlumni Oxonienses I

10 Edwards II (1801) 16

The Dixons and the Simpsons (1801–1843)

1 Journal
2 Alumni Oxonienses I 313
3 SHC 320/3/1/10
4 Letter written by Simpson 21 January 1896 and Waters 421-3
5 Journal: Esther Maria Dixon’s petition for a royal licence to use the arms of

Cranmer in accordance with her late father’s wishes was referred to the
College of Heralds. They were unable to establish that Robert Cranmer thepurchaser of the Mitcham estate was entitled to bear arms and accordinglya new coat of arms was granted to her. See Waters 420 et sequa.

6 TNA PROB 31/111/376. (Transcribed by Marion Herridge of SurreyArchaeological Society)

7 Journal: According to Miss C A Crimp formerly Barnes Borough Librarianin an article published in the Barnes and Mortlake History Society’sNewsletter No. 16 September 1965 pp 5 & 6 ‘Holly Lodge’ was on the eastside of the ‘Hare and Hounds’.


8 MLSC: Copy Extract from the Court Rolls of the Manor of Vauxhall 1657–
1820 (Transcribed by W A Turner from a collection of Mitcham deeds heldat Croydon Library and since transferred to SHC)

9 McElrath 2

10 Greenwood186

11 MLSC: Tom Francis lecture notes

12 Walford II

13 MLSC: extra-illustrated copy of Brayley

14 MLSC: Manuscript notes of the evidence given in Ecclesiastical

Commissioners v. Bridger and others 1890

15 ‘Memories of Our Village’ by Sir T Cato Worsfold in Bidder (1926)

16 McElrath 3 quoting Parker AD A Sentimental Journey in and About the

Ancient and Loyal City of Lichfield (1925) 158

17 MLSC L22(920): The Simpson Family in Mitcham; also Surrey HistoryCentre 599/

18 SHC 289 and 320/3/1/10: Epitome of Title of William F J Simpson to theManor of Mitcham

19 Civic Centre, London Borough of Merton: Title deeds of The Canons

Sundry occupiers (1846–1939)

1 Mitcham Tithe Commutation Survey 1846, published by Merton HistoricalSociety as Local History Notes 22(2002): the land owners were referred toas ‘Heirs of Cranmer’.

2 MLSC: Simpson papers and local directories

3 Bartley E M Mitcham in Days Gone By (1909)

4 MLSC: Tom Francis lecture notes 84-5
5 Bartley E M ‘Rural Mitcham’ in Bidder (1923)

6 Census 1861

7 Wilson Revd D F Pastoral Letters 1860 1861 and 1866. Both Mrs Denny and

Mrs Fry were members of the Ladies Visiting Society of the parish churchand were active voluntary social workers.

8 Hitchin

9 Who was Who I 1897-1915 278

10 MLSC: Tom Francis’s scrap book – undated news cutting

11 Information supplied by the late Miss M Gummow MBE, founder memberof Merton Historical Society, and former Assistant Clerk of the CouncilMerton and Morden UDC

Recent history

1 Reprinted in 1976

2 Mitcham and District Advertiser 7 June 1962: ‘Building spoiled byExtensions’ and Nairn & Pevsner (1962) 316


3 The trenches were examined by the writer and fellow members of MertonHistorical Society shortly after each length was excavated

4 The chairs of mahoganised beechwood were in excellent condition and hadbeen purchased by Mitcham Common Preservation Society from a localantique dealer. They had been manufactured by pauper apprentices at theMitcham parish workhouse on the Common before it was closed down in1837 and had been presented to the master of the workhouse as a partingtoken when he left to go north. The workhouse master was said to haverefused to accept them as they would remind him of Mitcham! The chairspassed into the possession of a local family from whom they were eventuallyacquired by the antique dealer .The chairs are no longer at The Canons andrecent enquiries at the Civic Centre have failed to locate them.

5 Information kindly supplied by Susan Andrew Senior Reference LibrarianMitcham Library in April 1994


Medieval Beginnings

1 National Grid Reference TQ 2802 6843

2 SHC 172/5/1

3 VCH IV (1912) 232

4 Unfortunately one cannot demonstrate an early form of ‘Allmen(s)land’ or
something similar in support of this theory. The medial ‘es’ in ‘Allmannesland’
as it has come down to us in the documentary record is singular which can
lead to the alternative suggestion that the name had its origin in the Middle
English personal name Allman (from the Old French Aleman or ‘German’).
This was the view expressed by Prof K Cameron of Nottingham University
and the English Place-Name Society in a personal communication in 1969.

The gift of the land on which the Canons stands is referred to in the records
of St Mary Southwark BL MS Add 6040 (16) ‘Charter of Confirmations of
Henry Bishop of Winchester’ (Transcribed by Dr John Blair of The Queen’s
College Oxford and quoted in a personal communication 1991).

5 VCH IV (1912) 183
Lordship of the manor of Stone Court had passed by inheritance to Sir

Bartholomew Burghersh in 1355

6 DNB VII (1886) 333/4

7 VCH IV (1912) 232 quoting ChanInq pm 15 Ric II pt i no8

8 Sir John Grenville was probably of the well-known West Country family of

that name


9 Calendar of the Fine Rolls VI (1921) 42/3

The manor at this time was worth £10 a year and the land 20 shillings
10 VCH IV (1912) 233 quoting Chan Inq pm 16 Edw IV no.30
11 SHC 599/- : Collection of Deeds relating to Mitcham

An Elizabethan Farmstead?

12 MLSC: Copy Extracts from the Court Rolls of the Manor of Vauxhall 16571820
(Transcribed by W A Turner from documents then held at Croydon
Library and now at SHC 599/ )

13 Hitchin 63
14 SHC 298/13/19
15 SHC 298/3/13: 1 Nov 1704
16 Parson and Parish in Eighteenth-century Surrey: Replies to Bishops’

Visitations SRS XXXIV (1994) 46
17 SHC 320/1/3: Ravensbury Court Rolls
18 SHC 298/3/14: 30 Oct 1754
19 SHC: Mitcham poor rate books
20 SHC 298/3/15-16

Francis Gregg

21 Francis Gregg: Born 1 Sept1743 died 29 March 1795
The History of the Family of Carr (1893) I 198-201
Williams J Historical Notes on Wallington (1873)
Norrier and BrookeHistory of Parliament House of Commons(1754-1790) 536
I am also indebted to Robert Carr-Gregg of Shipston-on-Stour Warwickshire

for information supplied.
22 SHC 298/3/17
23 MLSC: Mitcham Vestry Minutes
24 Edwards II (1801) 16
25 Evidence of Pollard’s profession and business address is in the court rolls

of the manor of Biggin and Tamworth at SHC.

William Pollard (1784–1808)

26 SHC 298/3/18
27 SHC: Mitcham Sunday School Minute Book
28 SHC: 298/3/20-23


29 The long and detailed inventory of Pollard’s goods and chattels prepared
in 1816 prior to the sale of his effects depicts him as a moderately wealthy
man and at the time of his death to have been in occupation of a substantial
and well-furnished house at Fair Green which he held on a lease.

(Probate inventory transcribed from TNA PROB 31/1111/388 by Marion
Herridge January 1993 – cf Surrey Archaeological Society Bulletin 214)
30 Willis C S A Short History of Ewell and Nonsuch (1931, 1948, 1969) 57

The Revd William Herbert

31 DNB XXVI (1891) 234
32 MLSC: Letter from R Garraway Rice dated 12.2.1889

Lieutenant General Forbes Champagné

33 SHC 2/6/2: Manor of Biggin and Tamworth papers. The land ‘adjoining
Mitcham Common and the manor of Biggin and Tamworth’ is shown in a plan
34 The Royal Military Calendar I (1815) 160
35 Museum of the East Surrey Regiment, Clandon House, Surrey
36 Webb E A H A History of the Services of the 17th (The Leicestershire)
Regiment 273-4
37 SHC 298/3/26-7

38 MLSC: Copy Extracts from the Court Rolls of the Manor of Vauxhall 16571820
(Transcribed by W A Turner from documents held at Croydon Library
and since tranferred to SHC 599/ )

Sundry Occupiers (1817–1830)

39 SHC: Land Tax records Mitcham
40 SHC 298/3/49-55

The Revd Hyam Burn’s Academy (1837–1850)

41 SHC 176/22/14 (sources vary between Burn and Burns)
42 ‘Burns Rev – (curate)’ under ‘Nobility Gentry & Clergy’
Pigot and Co’s Directory 1826-7
His school premises are in the Land Tax assessments
“Rev. Hyam Burns Upper Mitcham – boarding school”
Pigot and Co’s Directory 1839
43 “Burn Rev. – Mitcham Common. Academy for Young Gentlemen”
Hobson’s Commercial Directory 1839
44 Census Return 1841 Mitcham: HO 107/1079 Folios 8 & 9: “‘Park Place’.
Establishment for Noblemen’s sons”. Burn was described as a “Clergyman
of the Church of England”. None of the boys was born in Mitcham.


45 The Tithe Commutation Survey recorded the following in 1846:
825 Park Place house etc ) 1a 1r 33p
824 Paddock )
826 Meadow )
860 Plantation )
861 Meadow ) 10 acres
862 Gardens )
863 Yard and buildings )
865 Garden )
The owners were stated to be ‘The Trustees of Cranmer’ and the occupier
Hyam Burn

SHC 298/3/13-56: Title to the Mitcham Estate of Mrs E M Cranmer:
“Messuage called Almonds with barn 2 gardens and orchard – 4 acres Ref:
824-827 863 & 867”

RCHM Report (1973) on Cranmer and Simpson Papers in SHC warns that
the ascription of ownership in the Mitcham tithe award is misleading.
46 DNB XII (1921-22) 324-5
47 Who was Who 1897-1916 I (1966) 516
48 ‘Burn Revd Prebendary’ is listed under ‘Gentry’ in Mitcham Post Office
Directory 1845

Louisa Boyce (c.1850–1873)

49 Census Return 1851 Mitcham

Mrs Boyce’s brother-in-law was resident at Park Place at this time.
50 DNB
51 Census Return 1861 Mitcham

The household at ‘Park House’ comprised:
Louisa G A A Boyce widow 38 Fundholder
Frederick A Boyce brother-in-law 41 Retired Commander RN (visitor)
and a housekeeper, two lady’s maids, a cook, a housemaid, a kitchenmaid
and a nurserymaid, a footman and a coachman.

52 The class was subsequently conducted by Mrs Mary Chart, wife of John
Chart, a local shopkeeper and undertaker, at the Mission Room in Clarendon

53 MLSC: Tom Francis Scrapbook: newscutting captioned ‘An Interesting
Jubilee’ dated 1912 in pencil. Origin not stated.

The Simpsons (c.1895–c.1918)

54 Hitchin 165


55 Kelly’s Directory 1899

56 Park Place was enfranchised in August 1894 – SHC 298/3/39

57 MLSC: Tom Francis in notes to Miss Farewell Jones (a fellow local historian)
dated 1.7.1932 stated:
“Mr. Simpson was rather proud of the metal covering he put over the steps
down from the front door of ‘Park Place'”. In his lantern slide lecture notes
Tom Francis also stated that the covering was for a wedding – to protect
those entering and leaving their carriages from wind or rain. In fact the
canopy obscured the rather pleasant 18th-century doorcase. It was removed
during renovations in 1975-6 but can be seen in many photographs.

58 The following inscription appears on a tablet in the entrance porch to the
Roman Catholic church of SS Peter and Paul at Mitcham;

DIED 18th JUNE 1932
DIED 17th JULY 1930

59 Mr Roy Whiting of Cranmer Farm Close in a personal communication

Park Place and the News of the World

60 For much of the recent history of Park Place I am indebted to the Town Clerk
of the London Borough of Merton, who allowed me access to the deeds of
the property in 1969.

Park Place in Local Authority Ownership

61 Serial numbers of list entry 12/30 and 4/30. Date first listed: 21.11.73
Description as follows (Note date of construction incorrect);
“Substantial detached house. Circa 1800. Stock brick. Slate double pitched
roof to parapet. 2 storeys plus basement. 4 windows wide with lower 4
window 2 storey wing to right. Entrance to third bay from left. Square
headed entrance set in round headed reveal; plain fanlight; Ionic quarter
columns. Square headed windows gauged heads sashes glazing bars.
Simplified cornice above first floor. Noted as having groin vaulted Ionic
pilastered entrance with marble floor. Other interiors not inspected”.


62 I am indebted to Mrs Eileen Thomas Assistant Director of Planning London
Borough of Merton for information concerning the situation in 1989.

Newton House, No. 1 Commonside West

1 SHC 320/1/1: Court Rolls of the manor of Ravensbury
From 1680 on into the 18th century there is mention of various buildings
erected on this land none of which can be identified as specifically relating

either to the structure we now know as ‘Newton House’ or its antecedents.
2 SHC 470/1: James Cranmer’s Rent and Memorandum Book 1717-49 89
3 SHC: He is also described as a wheelwright
4 SHC: Mitcham land tax book 1792 p23 for example
5 Farries K G and Mason M T The Windmills of Surrey and Inner London

(1966) 152
The original of the illustration is in an extra-illustrated M&B II (Book 5)
498a at Croydon Local Studies & Archive Service and is reproduced in

Farries and Mason as plate 70.
6 SHC: Court rolls of the manor of Biggin and Tamworth 27 Feb 1806
7 Census returns 1841 and 1851; tithe survey No. 847; and Post Office

directories for 1845 and 1851 in which the address given is ‘The Common’
8 Census return 1872. The property was then known as ‘Newton Cottage’.
9 MLSC: Canon D F Wilson’s pastoral letters
10 Ministry of Housing and Local Government Ref No 1411/11/A May 1952

“Early C.18. Two storeys stucco three sashes. Band between storeys.
Plain early C.19 doorcase approached by steps. Overhanging eaves
machine tile roof with two dormers. Modern side entrance recently added.”

11 National Grid Reference TQ2768 Serial No of list entry: 12/29 Descriptive note:
“Detached house now offices. Early C18 with late C20 additions. Stucco.
Steeply pitched machine tile roof to eaves. 2 storeys plus dormers. 3 windows
wide plus single storeyed 1 bay wing to right and left. Central square headed
entrance pilastered and corniced. C19 6-panelled door partly glazed. Square
headed sashed windows glazing bars. Band between storeys. Gabled
casemented dormers. Front room to right of entrance fully panelled early C18.
Turned baluster staircase. Late C20 additions to rear not included in listing.”

The Lawn, No. 4 Commonside West

12 Ministry of Housing and Local Government Ref No 1411/11/A May 1952
Sheet and No on map 1/5 Notes:


“C.18-19. South front is two storeys painted weatherboarding with overlay
of green painted trellis. 1st floor from left to right sash window with jalousies
French casement opening on to ornamental cast iron balcony similar window
with jalousies similar casement and balcony canted sashed bay over closed
porch and similar casement and balcony. Ground floor various windows
the West end of front carried on posts with trellis brackets and with flat
pitch slate roof. East end steeper pitched old tile roof. Road front is two
storeys two windows. Upper floor stock brick ground floor is rusticated
stucco. Reeded window surrounds. parapet. Very picturesque building.
House to north of similar date but front entirely altered”.

It was also included in a supplementary list produced by the London
Borough of Merton c.1965

13 The builder was W W Jenner & Co of Mitcham

14 SHC: Mitcham Land Tax records
MLSC: Genealogical table of the families of Potter and Moore from 1742 in
booklet produced by Messrs Potter and Moore (mid-20th century) entitled
Recorded History of the House of Potter and Moore distillers of Lavender
at Mitcham Surrey since 1749

15 SHC: Court rolls of the manor of Ravensbury 320/1/5

16 Census return 1841

17 Robson’s Commercial Directory of the Seven Counties (1839)

18 Census return 1851

19 Census return 1861

20 Census return 1871: On the day of the census the house was only occupied
by Robinson’s daughters, Blanche A (16) and Esther P (5), in the care of a
‘general servant’.

21 MLSC: Un-named newspaper cutting dated 12 December 1946, reporting
talk by Colonel Stephen Chart to Mitcham Civic Society
Mitcham baptismal registers give the address as ‘Mitcham Common’ in the
case of Robert born 4 December 1875 and Florence Daisy born 11 January
1877 but merely as ‘Mitcham’ in the case of Minnie and Stephen

22 Offices at the Cricket Green Mitcham and the Union Chambers Croydon

23 Articles ‘Diamond Wedding’ in The Advertiser January 1933 and ‘Grand
Old Man of Mitcham’ in Mitcham Mercury ‘Charter Day Souvenir’ 2l
September 1934
Hitchin 237: “Chart, Robert Masters, The Limes, Mitcham and Union Bank
Chambers, Croydon, son of Edwin Chart, late Architect and Surveyor of
Mitcham, born at Mitcham, October 20th 1850, educated privately.


“Entered his father’s business, and subsequently joined him in partnership;
upon the death of his father, in 1888 took over the business and established
himself at Croydon and is now in partnership with his two sons, Christopher and
Stephen. Fellow of the Surveyor’s Institute, member of the Society of Architects
and of the Sanitary Institute. Architect to Croydon Rural District Council.

“Responsible for many private and public buildings in Surrey and other
parts of the country. Represents Mitcham on Surrey County Council and
Surrey Education Committee.

“Married Florence daughter of Christopher Robinson of Mitcham and has
seven sons and six daughters”.

24 SHC Zs 153: Copy of Abstract of Title dated 1929

25 SHC Zs 153: Copy of Conveyance dated 21 November 1929

26 Information from Mr C D Vowles

The smaller houses and other buildings on Commonside West

27 Tithe map 1847 and Ordnance Survey map 1865

28 SHC 2/6/3

29 Drewett J D ‘Memories of Mitcham’ in Bidder (1923)

30 SHC 2327/1/1: Sale Particulars – Estate of James Bridger

31 British Watercolours in the Victoria and Albert Museum (1980) 339
The artist is George Scharf (1788-1870) and the painting is entitled ‘Mitcham
Common. Pt.1819’

32 Tithe register No 832


1 Lysons 354-5. The final quotation is from Izaak Walton – see Walton Izaac
‘The Life of Dr John Donne’ (1640) in Walton’s Lives edited by Carter S B
(1951) 18

2 MLSC: Tom Francis Lecture Notes 65 141
3 Bartley E JRural Mitcham (ND) 8 andMitcham in Days Gone By (1909) 16
4 Black’s Guide to the History Antiquities and Topography of the County of

Surrey (1864) 84

5 Gosse EThe Life and Letters of John Donne (1899) I 223-4

6 ibid I 214

7 M&B I (1804) 96

8 Reproduced in Jessop A John Donne (1897) 59-60 and Clive M Jack and

the Doctor (1966) 70



1 By custom, to claim squatter’s rights these had to be erected between
sunrise and sunset and have smoke issuing from the chimney before

2 It is listed in Appendix II ‘Schedule of Listed Buildings and Buildings of
Importance’ of the Mitcham Action Area Plan dated July 1980.

3 Edwards II 21

4 Montague E N ‘James Pain and Sons of Mitcham Manufacturers of Fireworks
(1872-1965)’ inSurrey History V No.1 (1989/90) 35

5 Published with Canon Wilson’s pastoral letter and annual report of 1876 on
the administration of Mitcham parochial charities

6 National Grid Ref TQ 27 68. First listed 30 May 1975
Comments: “Detached house. Late C18. Brown brick; pantiled roof to parapet.
2 storeys. 3 bay centre with lower 2 storey 1-window to each side (that to left
C20). Central square headed entrance with bracketed cornice. 6-panelled door.
Small 2-storey canted window to each side of entrance. Segmental headed
window to first floor centre bay and similar windows to subsidiary wings.
Sashes (horned) glazing bars. Weatherboarded to rear. Interior not inspected”.
No mention was made of a simple leaded fan-light above the front door.

7 SHC 320/2/1-2: Plans of Estates in the Manor of Ravensbury 25 March 1825

8 Tithe map 1847 Ref No 618

9 Post Office Directories for 1845 and 1851

10 Census returns 1861 and 1871

11 London Metropolitan Archives DW/D/510 – Application for registration

of Dissenters’ meeting house under I Wm and Mary (1689)

12 SHC 6/13/9: Quarter Sessions records

13 MLSC: Sale Particulars, Box B

14 Census return 1871

15 Edwards II 21

16 Drewett J D ‘Memories of Mitcham’ in Bidder (1923)

17 ‘Alf’ Pays who died on 26 February 1986 aged 86 was licensee of The
Beehive for 57 years. He was born there on 3 November 1899 when hisfather was the licensee. His father later moved away but Alf returned totake over the licence on 15 December 1928 and held it until his death when
he was said to have been Britain’s longest serving publican. (Informationfrom Dr RAM Scott quoting the Wallington Court records)


Abingworth, Robert de 9

William de 9
Advowson of Mitcham at Dissolution 79
‘Allmannesland’ 75, 111-114
Almonds (Park Place) 111-16, 119, 123, 125, 127
American War of Independence 123
Ansculf, William son of – Norman landowner 7
Aperdele, John de 14
Archaeology 1-2, 4-6, 8, 114
Arrowsmith, Revd Edward 52
Arthur, Richard – beerhouse keeper 173
Arundel, John – of Bideford 113
Atkins, Henry & Elizabeth 115

Baker, T G – builder, Commonside West 142
Barber, James – stockbroker, Commonside West 142
Barley, Robert – carpenter 56
Barlow, Samuel – of Mitcham Villa 59
Bateson, Wilfred – of The Lawn 147
Batt, Peter – of Morden 43, 48, 53
Baughan, A M – of Commonside West 145
Bayeux, Canons of 7-8, 12, 74
Beasley, John – nonconformist pastor 166
Beehive Bridge 153
Beehive Public House, Commonside West 153, 172-3

Edwin – pupil at Park Place 128

William H – viscount Portland 128
Berrow, Revd John – vicar 37, 81-2
Birkhead, Elizabeth – m. James Cranmer 51

John – merchant, of Isleworth 51
Blitz – see War DamageBlois, Henry de – bishop of Winchester 10, 13, 75
Blowers – land off Commonside West (see also Cold Blows) 141
Bois, du, Charles 53
Bomb damage to Park Place – see War DamageBond, William – carpenter of Mitcham 30
Boterel, Alice – landholder 12, 13
Bound beating 53-4
Boxall, ‘Smiler’ – of the Windmill 149
Boyce, Louisa – of Park Place 128-9
Britric – estate of 12
Brown, William 42
Buckock, Revd Norris 31
Bullock, Revd Thomas 52
Burghersh, Sir John – landholder 75, 112
Burn, Revd Hyam & Elizabeth 127-8


HenrySir Henry – of Mascalls House, Carshalton ParkJackson – resident of Rose CottageNicholas – of Carshalton

Caesar, Sir Julius
Canons of BayeuxCanons of St Mary’s priory, Southwark
Canons, The
A R P centre
brewhouse at
building ofcarp pond atdated stones in walls of groundsdescriptiondovecote at
gardens, restoration ofHome Guard postlisted buildinglodgemedieval estate
parsonage housepublic ownershipsports complexCarew,
Nicholas, Sir – buys The CanonsCarp pond at The CanonsCatholic church in Mitcham
Chaff(e) HawesChamberlain, William the
Lieutenant General Forbes
Lieutenant General Josiah

16, 23, 35
16, 24
16, 78

41, 70
7-8, 12, 74
8-15, 74-9
73-105, 106-10, 175-7
89, 92
73, 75-9, 80
11, 74-5, 79
100, 102-5

16, 24, 80-1
16, 24, 80
106, 108, 131
17, 42-3, 46, 50-1, 88
7, 8

92, 122-5

Charlton, Sir Thomas and ‘Mrs’ – tenants of The Cranmers 60
Chart, family 19, 146, 160-2
Chart, Son and Reading 146
Cherrington, John – felon 30
Chestnuts pond 152
Church, gifts to 12-13, 74
Civil War – effect on land tenure 23-4
Clare, honour of 13-14

Richard de – earl of Gloucester


Clarendon House, Commonside East 160-1
Cold Blows path 118, 138, 142, 147, 148, 153 , 172
Cold Blow[er]s – in manor of Ravensbury 42-3, 141, 149, 153
Coles, John – half pay naval officer 142

Mary 142
Common Conservators – see Conservators
Common land given to Church 74
Common of Mitcham 1-4, 14, 18, 131
Commonside East 159-173
Commonside West 141-9
Conservators of Mitcham Common 4, 18, 131, 151
Costen or Costead, Richard – a felon 30
Cox’s Cottages, Commonside East 172

Anne – mother of Robert, née Gravener 25

Anne, née Wood 47, 52

Benjamin 43

Charles 43

Dorothea, née Gilbert 46

Dulcibella 56

Revd Edward 90

Elizabeth 27, 55, 56

Elizabeth Mary, née Window 92-3

Emily – wife of William Simpson 90, 95

Esther Maria 88, 90-2, 125, 126, 178-90

Esther Maria Louisa 93

family 1, 14, 19-23, 25, 42-8, 91

James – squire of Mitcham and historian (1684-1752) 20, 21, 27, 47-56, 87-8

James II (1719-1801) 88

John 44, 46-8, 81, 82

John junior – d. ‘in Muscovy’ 48

Joseph – of the Pipe Office 44-5

Margaret – wife of archbishop Thomas 19-20

Mary, née Whitwell – wife of Robert 25, 27, 30

Rebecca 88-9, 191-8

Revd Richard – vicar of Mitcham 90-3, 126

Robert – merchant of London (1617-1666) 1, 17, 24-31, 81, 88-90

Robert junior 27, 44, 81

Thomas – archbishop of Canterbury 19-23
Cranmer Cottages 108
Cranmer Farm 3, 50, 108, 110
Cranmer Farm Close 110
Cranmer Green 1-4, 74, 107-10
Cranmer Villas 130
Cranmers, The – (also known as The Rectory) 1,19-72

furnishings of, in 17th century 27-9

reminiscences of Ethel Smith 60-7

reminiscences of James Drewett


Cresswell, Edward – of Prospect HouseCrew’s Alley, Commonside East
Cricket Green
Conservation Area
Cross, Mrs – occupier of The Canons

Dalgety, James – owner of Prospect House
Dawson, MaryDenny, Mrs Mary – lessee of The Canons


George – of Commonside EastDissolution of the monasteries
Dixon, Emily – see Cranmer

Esther Maria – see Cranmer
Captain RichardRevd Richard – see Cranmer

Dixons and SimpsonsDomesday recordDonne, Dr John
Dovecote at The Canons
Dubois – see Bois du
Duce, Henry – of Commonside East

East Fields (see also Mizen Bros)
Ecology of CommonEdmer – Saxon landowner
Elmwood Estate, also known as The Firs
Enclosure of common land
Esher Mews
Evanson, Revd John – vicar of Mitcham

Fair – moved to Three Kings PieceFenners, HenryField names:

Chaffe Hawes
La Haie
La Holme
La Stane

Finch, Dr – asylum for the insane at Mitcham Villa
Finck, Charles – of Prospect House
Firs, (Fir Grove), also known as ElmwoodFisher, Ellen – bequest of

82, 87


168, 169, 170
15, 75, 79


75-9, 80


75, 153
2-3, 152
7, 8
4, 74, 107-10, 148, 159
160, 169


17, 42-3, 50
16, 51, 71-2
147, 159


Firman van – resident of The Canons
Judith – m. Hendrick EgbertzFoakes, John – surveyor, tenant of The CranmersFord by Mitcham BridgeFoster, Charles – millwright
de Fraxineto familyFremond,
Fry, Mr & Mrs R – lessees of The Canons

Gilbert, son of Edith
Glass, James – lessee of The Canons
Gloucester, earl of
Goat public houseGoff, John
Golf Club on Mitcham Common
Gosling, Mrs – of Commonside West
Graham, John – stonemason
Gravel digging on CommonGreen(e), Sir William
Elizabeth – wife of Francis
Francis – attorneyencloses common land
Grenville, Sir John
Grove, The

Haggart, Mr – tenant of Park PlaceHaie, la
Haines, Henry – surveyor and tenant of The CranmersHall, Caleb – pattern designer, of Commonside EastHamond, Thomas – of ByfleetHampson, Henry – Merchant Taylor
of Ravensbury and Mitcham Halltrustee of Cranmer estate
Joshua – of the Three KingsSamuel
Hancock’s Cottages, Commonside East
Harebottell, ChristopherHassell, John – artist
Hatsell, Revd William
Heathcote, Revd Dr – tenant of Park Place

11, 12-13


34, 35, 37-9

107, 115-9, 126

27, 37, 39-43

58, 81
52, 54


Heathernderry Pond (see also Three Kings Pond) 152
Henley – parish constable 29
Henman’s Farm 8, 23, 47
Herbert, Revd William – of Park Place 122
Hewetson, John – lessee of The Canons 99
Higgins, Hugh – lessee of The Canons 98
Higginson, Charles – builder 71
Hoare, Charles Hugh – lessee of The Canons 98-9
Hobbs, Lieutenant – of the Home Guard 149

Amelia – wife of Samuel 145

George – of Commonside East 165, 168, 170

Samuel – stage coach proprietor 145

Thomas – stage coach proprietor 145
Holme, la 9-10
Homan, E B – lessee of The Canons 100
Home Guard 100, 107, 117, 152
Hooke, Captain Edmund RN 51
Hopkins, Thomas – citizen and cutler of London 24
Hopkin’s Cottages 148
Horizontal windmill 142
Howard, Sir Robert – Cavalier, of Ashtead, leaseholder of the Rectory 43,45-6
Huffey Construction Ltd 162-3
Illingworth, Sir Richard – owner of Allmannesland 113
Independent Dissenting Meeting House, Commonside East 166
Inventory of The Canons, 1815 191-8
Inventory of The Cranmers (The Rectory) 1665 43


Rebecca 145

Thomas 145
Jay, Mrs – of Commonside West 148, 162
Jenner, A & C – engineers 160-2
Jennings Yard, off Commonside East 163

Kimber, Edward – owner of Prospect House 164
King George VI Avenue 4
Kipping 12
Kipping, Simon, son of 13
Knepp, Richard – occupant of The Canons 24, 81
Knight, Mrs – of Commonside West 148
Knight, Samuel – painter & decorator 56

Ladies Visiting Society 129, 142
Lank – Saxon landowner 7
Langhorn, Henry – tenant of Park Place 126
Lavender Walk 153

Lawn, The, Commonside West 143-7


Lester, Charles – of Commonside West 147
Lodge at Park Place – demolished 137
Lovett, James – of Commonside East 165
Lygor, Frederick, 6th earl of Beauchamp 127-8

Henry 128

Mallaby-Deeley, family 60, 130
Manor of Biggin and Tamworth 18, 81, 88, 147, 148, 151
Manor of Mitcham Canons, lordship of 1,12-18, 88-9, 130, 151
Manor of Ravensbury 17, 18, 112-3, 141, 151, 159, 164,168, 169
Manor of Vauxhall 18, 151
Manship, Elizabeth 88, 119

John – East India merchant, occupier of The Canons 87
Maori Cottage, Commonside West 146-7
Mapleton, Revd John Henry 96
Marsh Fee Lands 47
McMaster, family – of Park Place 129-30
Megarey, Elizabeth – of The Lawn 145
Merton priory – joint lord of Mitcham 8-9
Methodist Church 129-30
Mitcham and Whitford – origin of names 5-6
Mitcham Action Area Plan 154
Mitcham Common – see Common
Mitcham County Girls’ School – on site of The Rectory 48
Mitcham Garden Village 71-2
Mitcham Grammar School for Boys, Commonside East 171-2
Mitcham Urban District Council 4
Mitcham Villa (The Cranmers) 1,56-60

asylum for insane 59
Mizen Bros – horticulturists 153
Montgomery, Capt – lessee of The Canons 99

Francis – apothecary 144-5

James 145

Frederick 128

Sir Herbert 128

Revd Streynsham D 89, 91, 93, 126

William – m. Elizabeth Cranmer 55, 56, 89

Nash, George, reminiscences 133-6
New Barns Farm 48
News of the World 107, 111, 132-3, 148
Newton House, Commonside West – grade II listed building 141-3
Newton, Langdale & Co – calico printers 95
Nicholls Cottages, Commonside East 172
Nook, The, Commonside West 147


Odo, Bishop – Norman landowner 12, 74
Odway – see OtwayOgg, Miss – tenant of Park Place 126
Osborne, O D – lessee of The Canons 97
Otway, family – of Mitcham and Colliers Wood 46, 82, 83-7
Overy, St Mary – see Southwark, St Mary’s prioryOwen, John – attorney 90
Oxtoby, John 142

Pain, James & Sons 80, 162
Palmer, Mr – at Rectory 57
Park Place 92, 111-139
Parsonage House (on site of The Canons) 11, 24, 46, 80
Payne, Revd John 52, 82
Pearson, Mrs – resident at The Cranmers 60
Peat family – of The Cranmers 60-7
Perrys, John 113
Phillips, Mr – broker 164, 166
Plague in Mitcham 30-1
Plumer, Thomas 16
Pollard, family – of Park Place 119-122
Portis, James – stockbroker, tenant of The Cranmers 57-8
Potter, Benjamin – lessee of The Lawn 144, 145
Pratt, Thomas – of Prospect House 165-6, 167
Pritchard, Revd James Cowles 96
Prospect House, Commonside East 163-7
Puplett, William – bricklayer 55

Queen Anne’s Bounty – purchase of 53

Raby, Lord Neville of 112
Railways – effect of 1, 67-8, 71, 151
Ravensbury – land in manor of 17, 18, 112-3, 141, 151, 159, 164, 168, 169

Rectory, The (The Cranmers)

Robinson, family – owners of The Lawn

Romano-British site in Willow Lane

Rose Cottage, Commonside East

Rose Nursery

Rosier, Ann & James – innkeeper

Rothwell, William – landowner

Rowcroft(e) meadow

Rowlandson, Richard and Elizabeth – tenants of The Rectory

Sadler, Revd Anthony – vicar of MitchamSahler, Blanche A – of Maori CottageSt Mary’s priory, Southwark – estate of

168, 170-1
16, 51, 71, 72, 81

8-15, 74-79


Schools –
Cranmer Primary 4, 48, 110
Mitcham County Boys 171
St Thomas of Canterbury, Commonside East 171

Sharp, Mark(e) – tenant of The Canons 81
Sheldon, family – of Almonds 114-5
Sheldon’s Corner 115
Sibley, Joseph – churchwarden 119-20
Simmonds – market gardener 71
Simon, son of Kipping 13

Elizabeth Mary 97, 98
Emily, née Cranmer 90, 95-8
Emily (d. of William & Emily) 97-8, 126
Mary 108, 132
Philip Witham – sells The Canons 100, 132
Revd Richard – vicar of Mitcham 96-7
William – of Lichfield, calico printer, squire of Mitcham 59-60, 95-8, 130

m. Emily Cranmer
relinquishes common rightsWilliam (II)
William F J (III)
William H M

Simpsons – and Mitcham Catholic ChurchSingleton, Mark – tenant of Park PlaceSmith, James – shoemaker of Beddington

96, 97, 98, 130
17, 18, 98, 99, 108, 127, 130-1, 132
97, 108, 131

Smith, Alderman Thomas – lessee of Rectory 58
Smith’s Buildings, Commonside East 172-3
Southwark, St Mary’s priory 8-15, 74-9
Spakman, Nicholas 15-16
Sparrowhawk, Jack – of Commonside East 173
Sperry, Revd 60
Spring of water at The Canons 93-5

Charles – of Commonside West 147

James – master logwood miller, Willow Lane 147
Surman, Richard 24, 81
Surrey Iron Railway 71
Swain – a surgeon, of Commonside East 170


Esther P – of Maori Cottage 146-7

Joseph – merchant, tenant of The Rectory 51
Thompson, Jack – cow-keeper 148
Three Kings Piece 1-4, 75, 151-4
Three Kings Pond 152-3
Three Kings Public House 151, 159, 170-1
Tichbourne, Sir Robert – tenant of Robert Cranmer 26


Tithes of Mitcham

Toll, Ann – wife of James Cranmer
Richard – lessee of Chaff Hawes

Townsend, R & Son – coal merchant

Trattle, Ralph – land agent

Tyler, Charles F – grocer, Commonside East

Upton, Mrs – lessee of The Canons

Van Fleet – see Fleet
Vauxhall – manor of
Verlander, Dr – of Commonside East
Vicarage, new
Villagers’ water supply
Vowles, C D and Mrs Joy – of The Lawn
Vyse, Charles – at The Rectory

Walters, Frederick A – architect
Wandle, River
War Damage
Warren, Lawrence – City goldsmith
Watts’ Yard, off Commonside East
Waymark, Charles – owner of Windmill beerhouse and cottageWebb, Richard & Thomas
Weldon, Revd George
Well on Green
Weston, John – at The Cranmers
Westwood, Mrs Elizabeth – of Commonside West
Whitchurch, Edward
White House (The Cranmers)
Whitford/Wicford – origin of place-name
Whitford – Domesday estates inWhitford, de – familyWic – place-name element
Wicford/Wickford/Witford – see WhitfordWihtrichescroft
Wilson, Revd Daniel
Wilson, Isaac H – developer
Wilson Hospital – on site of The Rectory
Windmill, horizontal – Commonside West
Windmill Public House
Window, Elizabeth Mary – m. Revd Richard Cranmer
Wingrave, Henry – lessee of The Canons
Withall – cabinet maker
Wright, Revd – at The Cranmers
Wych(e), Nathaniel – President, East India Co (m. Ann Cranmer)

9-11, 52-3
17, 24, 26


18, 151

1-2, 6, 7, 24
136, 149
16, 24
52, 59
8, 9, 10

1,48, 68-71
148, 149

Zion Chapel 165-6