01 The Cricket Green

Mitcham Histories  1

by Eric Montague

The unique character of Mitcham’s Lower Green, the eastern half of which is today known as the Cricket Green, was recognised by its declaration as a Conservation Area by the London Borough of Merton in 1969. The Green was formerly part of the expanse of largely uncultivated heath and woodland – the common ‘waste’ – which formed a substantial part of the parish throughout the Middle Ages.

By the time of the Norman Conquest, still forming part of an unbroken swathe of rough grazing land extending from today’s Church Road eastwards as far as Commonside East, the Lower Green served to separate the two Saxon ‘vills’ of ‘Witford’ and ‘Michelham’ recorded in the Domesday Survey.

Both sanctioned and unauthorised enclosures of land on the margins of the Green have diminished its extent, but a little over eight acres (3.25 ha) survive today as public recreational space. It is conceivable that here, in the Middle Ages, stood the archery butts, close by Mitcham’s earliest recorded inn, the White Hart. Skilled bowmen may no longer be needed for the defence of England, but since the late 17th century the Lower Green has been the cradle of another sport whose stalwarts were able during the great days of village cricket to throw down a challenge to all comers, including visiting Australians.

The gradual development of the land peripheral to the Green has left an interesting history of building and rebuilding, as well as a legacy of architectural styles which, although modified in their translation to a village setting, nevertheless reflect trends and fashions throughout the Home Counties.


  1. THE CRICKET GREEN: The Heritage of Cricket; The Village Playground
  11. OTHER BUILDINGS AROUND THE GREEN: The Eastern Side of the Green; Sir Isaac Wilson and The Cumberland Hospital; Chestnut Cottage; The Western Side of the Green



Detail from the First Edition Ordnance Survey Map, published in 1816,
showing the village of Mitcham






Published by

© E N Montague 2001

ISBN 1 903899 00 1

Printed by Intype London Ltd

Cover Illustration: “Alms-Houses at Mitcham, Surrey
Built and endowed by Miss Tate AD 1829”
(Engraving published in the Gentleman’s Magazine March 1830)


The unique character of Mitcham’s Lower Green, the eastern half of which is
today known as the Cricket Green, was recognised by its declaration as a
Conservation Area by the London Borough of Merton in 1969. The Green
was formerly part of the expanse of largely uncultivated heath and woodland

-the common ‘waste’ – which formed a substantial part of the parish throughout
the Middle Ages.
By the time of the Norman Conquest, still forming part of an unbroken swathe
of rough grazing land extending from today’s Church Road eastwards as far as
Commonside East, the Lower Green served to separate the two Saxon “vills”
of “Witford” and “Michelham” recorded in the Domesday Survey.

Both sanctioned and unauthorised enclosures of land on the margins of the
Green have diminished its extent, but a little over eight acres (3.25 ha) survive
today as public recreational space. It is conceivable that here, in the Middle
Ages, stood the archery butts, close by Mitcham’s earliest recorded inn, the
White Hart. Skilled bowmen may no longer be needed for the defence of
England, but since the late 17th century the Lower Green has been the cradle
of another sport whose stalwarts were able during the great days of village
cricket to throw down a challenge to all comers, including visiting Australians.

The gradual development of the land peripheral to the Green has left an
interesting history of building and rebuilding, as well as a legacy of
architectural styles which, although modified in their translation to a village
setting, nevertheless reflect trends and fashions throughout the Home

This, the first volume in a series which, it is intended, will eventually cover the
whole of the former Borough of Mitcham, reproduces in extended form three
articles (on Mitcham Court, Elm Lodge and the National Primary School) written
for the Merton Borough News in 1972, and which were published that year in
the paper’s “Merton Story” series. The choice of illustrations and maps used
has been dictated largely by the availability of originals either in my possession
or in the Local History Collection at Merton Local Studies Centre. It is hoped
they will prove an adequate accompaniment to the text.

E N M Sutton, January 2001


The Cricket Green (Lower Green East)
Detail from the Second Edition 1894 Ordnance Survey map


Scale: 25.344 inches to a Statute Mile



A study such as this would have been impossible without help from
many sources. Publication, bringing together the results of research
over a period of some 35 years, now affords me the opportunity to
acknowledge the very great debt of gratitude I owe, in particular to
staff past and present of Mitcham reference library (now incorporated
in Merton Local Studies Centre), the former Surrey Record Office at
Kingston, the Minet Library at Lambeth, the library of Surrey
Archaeological Society and the Surrey History Centre at Woking. Over
the years I have come to regard many of them as personal friends. I
would also like to thank my wife for so patiently reading and correcting
early drafts almost ad nauseam and, last but by no means least,
members of the editorial panel of Merton Historical Society without
whose encouragement, invaluable advice and comments I would never
have had the confidence to offer this little book to a wider readership.



The Heritage of Cricket 7
The Village Playground 12
John Wesley’s Visits to Mitcham 61
The Early Methodist Society 63
The Cricket Green Church 66
Introduction 93
The Eastern Side of the Green 94
Sir Isaac Wilson and The Cumberland Hospital 95
Chestnut Cottage 98
The Western Side of the Green 107



“Alms-Houses at Mitcham, Surrey, Built and endowed by
Miss Tate AD 1829” (Gentleman’s Magazine March 1830) Cover
Detail from the 1816 OS Map, showing the village of Mitcham i
The Cricket Green: detail from the 1894 OS Map vi
A match in progress on the Cricket Green, c1931 3
Cricket on the Green, c1975 6
Costumed participants in an Elizabethan Pageant, 1911 13
The White House, Chestnut Cottage and Victorian villas 16
Vestry Hall and Cricket Green from The King’s Head, c1905 28
Plan of King’s Head, National School and Almshouses, 1888 30
The King’s Head Hotel seen in an Edwardian postcard 35
Side view of the Burn Bullock, 1993 35
“North East View of an Old Mansion at Mitcham”,1827 40
“The Recovery: A House for Lunatics, Mitcham Green”, 1825 40
The Tate Almshouses, Lower Green, c1976 55
The houses built in 1838 for the National Infants School, 1972 60
Mitcham’s first Methodist chapel, No 46 Lower Green, 1993 65
Celebrations on Lower Green, 1887 66
Elm Lodge, 1972 73
Mitcham Court, 1972 74
The White House, No 7 Cricket Green, 1972 86
Chestnut Cottage, No 9 Cricket Green, 1972 99
View of the ‘Causeway’, Lower Green, c1905 106
Houses overlooking Lower Green, 1993 111
The former Britannia public house, Lower Green, 1993 113
Greenview and Mitcham Cricket Clubhouse, c1910. 114
The last of the Cricket Green elms, 1967 117
Mitcham’s first Police Station, erected 1885 119

Chapter 1


It is now some 70 years since the last of the countryside which once
surrounded Mitcham disappeared under housing estates, and the town
was finally engulfed by the relentless expansion of London’s suburbia.
Fortunately, however, Mitcham retains its two village greens – the Upper
or Fair Green, and the much larger and more attractive Lower Green,
the eastern half of which is usually called the Cricket Green. Whereas
the first was sometimes referred to more specifically in the 19th century
as Upper Mitcham Green, the latter was also known as Whitford Green.
The origins of both must lie in pre-Conquest England, when they were
contiguous parts of the extensive Mitcham Heath extending far to the
south and south-east, where it merged into the waste or commons of
the neighbouring parishes of Beddington and Croydon.

It is clear that when the Domesday Survey was conducted in 1086 two
distinct settlements or ‘vills’ were recognised in Mitcham – “Michelham”
and “Witford”.1 Wicford or Whitford, as it was rendered at various
times, was absorbed within the emerging ecclesiastical parish of Mitcham
by the 13th century, eventually losing its separate identity during the
later Middle Ages as it merged with its larger neighbour. Certainly by
Tudor times Whitford, or Lower Mitcham, formed part of the
administrative parish of Mitcham for poor law, highway and most other
local government purposes. Although the two halves of the Green,
lying either side of the London Road, were often known jointly as Lower
Mitcham Green by the middle of the 18th century, such is the
extraordinary persistence of folk memory that the Cricket Green, or
eastern portion, continued to be described as “Whitford Green” until
well into the 19th century.2

The names of the two vills are Anglo-Saxon, but archaeological evidence
from a number of sites points to settlement having been widespread
throughout the district during the 1st to 4th centuries AD.3 Significantly,
the large Dark Age cemetery excavated at Ravensbury early last century
contained Romano-British as well as early Saxon material, hinting at
continuity of the community into the post-Roman period. By the early
8th century Micham – the prefix micmeans large – began to find mention
in records of Chertsey Abbey.4


In “Wicford” – the place-name throughout the Middle Ages was written
with either c or k – we may detect the place-name element Wic, from
the Latinvicus, meaning a place or settlement. We need look no further
than the Wandle crossing upstream from Mitcham bridge for the ford,
and the community it served was obviously nearby. This was the way
to Sutton, and commonsense tells us the ford must be of respectable
antiquity, but “Witford” remained absent from the documentary record
until the 11th century.5

In Mitcham there is archaeological evidence for later Saxon and early
medieval occupation both sides of Church Road from the vicinity of the
parish church to the commencement of the Lower Green,6 but so far
nothing has been found to indicate when the first dwellings were erected
around the Cricket Green itself. A primary grouping of houses and
cottages where the roads meet might be expected, an idea to which
support is given by the earliest surviving maps of the area, showing a
marked concentration of buildings near the White Hart and Burn Bullock
inns.7 Both these hostelries can be traced back to the beginning of the
17th century, but unfortunately the maps only date from the mid-18th
century, and are thus relatively late. Other groups of dwellings are
shown along the eastern and south-eastern margins of the Cricket
Green. The sites they occupy are small, and demolition of the original
structures, together with a lack of good photographs of those surviving
into the 19th century, means we have nothing to indicate their date of
erection. Some of these plots probably originated as unauthorised
enclosures of waste ground taken for house building by squatters either
during the Middle Ages, or periods when the exercise of manorial
jurisdiction was lax. That the process of unsanctioned enclosure was
still taking place in the late 18th century is shown by a surveyor’s report
in 1806 to the dean and chapter of Canterbury, who then held the lordship
of the manor of Vauxhall and exercised jurisdiction over the Cricket

What was probably at one time the south-western boundary of Whitford
Green can be detected in the tithe map of 1847 and the first edition 25inch
OS map of 1867. Here the rear fences of properties facing the
southern tip of the Green all follow a common boundary, defined by an
ancient ditch taking water from slightly higher ground to the south


east. Long ago the ditch was piped or confined in an underground
culvert to become a surface water sewer, but here and there it survived
as a visible feature in the 19th century, and can still be discovered near
Mitcham Garden Village. The south-eastern portion of the Green is
relatively low lying and in the past, when the water table in the underlying
gravel was higher than it is today, this corner tended to be marshy. A
century ago land drains were laid beneath the Cricket Green itself to
improve the drainage, and from the old name for the road along the
southwestern side of the Green – The Causeway – it is obvious that at
some time the level of the road was raised above the water-logged
ground either side.

By the nature of their sites, therefore, we can expect the dwellings
overlooking much of the southern tip of the Cricket Green to have been
generally humble in character. Nearer the London Road, however,
possibly because of better drainage, the situation evidently improved
and, as we shall see in later chapters, it was here that a large house and
a farm were to be found by the 17th century.

A match in progress on the Cricket Green (Post card, c1931)


Another group of dwellings, perhaps a little later in origin, can be seen
along the eastern side of the Green. On the evidence of the deeds, one
at least, No 9 Cricket Green, had been built on land falling within the
jurisdiction of the manor of Ravensbury. As in the case of enclosures
on the south-eastern side of the Green, between Jeppos Lane and the
Cranmers, there seems to have been observance of a recognised
boundary to the rear, and the house plots in general lack depth, showing
that they too were confined to a narrow strip of waste at the edge of the
Green. This can be seen clearly in a plan of the Cranmer estate produced
for Mrs Esther Maria Cranmer in 1815,9 and also in the tithe map of
1847. Behind the house plots on the eastern margin of the Green were
the large rectangular enclosures of meadowland belonging to the grounds
of Park Place. In the 14th century part of this estate was referred to as
“Allmannesland” – literally “all men’s land” – and had evidently once
been enclosed from the broad swathe of common grazing land extending
from the Lower Green to Three Kings Piece. While the population of
Mitcham remained small, and the heath seemingly limitless, the practice
of enclosure or ‘assarting’ waste land was obviously acceptable, and
there is a record from the 12th century of the parishioners of Mitcham
actually making a gift of common waste to the newly founded priory of
St Mary at Southwark.10 Today this can be identified as the land
occupied by the Canons Leisure Centre and its adjacent parkland, lying
between Park Place and the southern corner of the Cricket Green.

In the main, the common lands of Mitcham, so important in the medieval
economy for the pasturage of stock and as a source of fuel, largely
escaped formal enclosure during the agricultural revolution of the 18th
and early 19th centuries, and 522 acres (211 ha) survive today as public
open space. Management of the largest portion, some 460 acres (186
ha) in extent and comprising Mitcham Common, became the responsibility
of a Board of Conservators in 1891.11 Five scattered fragments – Figges
Marsh, the Upper Green, Three Kings Piece, Cranmer Green and the
Lower Green – were vested in the Urban District Council of Mitcham
following the passing of a Private Act in 1923.12 They are now managed
by the London Borough of Merton.

The eight and a half acres (3.4 ha) of the Lower Green comprised part
of a large estate or tithing in Mitcham within the jurisdiction of the manor


of Vauxhall which, since the 14th century, was held by the Cathedral
Church of Christ at Canterbury. When the Dissolution of the great
monastic houses took place between 1538 and 1540 the monastery of
Canterbury was abolished, and the prior and convent were replaced by
a secular chapter headed by a dean. The Lower Green and several
houses overlooking the Cricket Green remained within the jurisdiction
of Vauxhall until the close of the 19th century, by which time lordship of
the manor had passed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The history
of the manor, the origins of which can be traced back to a Saxon estate,
is the subject of the next chapter.

The dean and chapter of Canterbury were to prove worthy guardians
of what the court rolls refer to as “the Common called the Green”,
resisting unauthorised enclosure and only sparingly granting permission
to the parish officers to use the land for civic purposes. Courts baron
and leet continued to be held held regularly throughout the 19th century,
with the time-honoured writ of seisin and the swearing of an oath of
fealty remaining part of the quaint ritual attaching to the admission of a
new property owner to the tenancy of the manor.13

Until the closing years of the 19th century rights of grazing on the
common wastes remained of economic importance to copyholders of
the four Mitcham manors, and were jealously defended by those with or
without legitimate claims. One such was Ebenezer Thompson an old
dairyman, who regularly turned his cattle out on the southern part of
the Green, as well as on Three Kings Piece.14 Although it may not
always have been appreciated, tenants of the manor of Vauxhall and the
residents of Mitcham as a whole had cause to be grateful to the vigilance
shown by the dean and chapter in their control of the Lower Green.
The manor pound near the site of the Cricketers was still in use during
the early 19th century to hold livestock found grazing without authority,
and old photographs show that horses and donkeys, in addition to cattle,
were to be seen on the Green until shortly before the Great War.

Prior to the transfer of the greens to the Urban District Council in April
1924, control over the Cricket Green was exercised by the Board of
Conservators under the Metropolitan Commons (Mitcham)
Supplemental Act 1891. Proceeding under byelaws which they were


empowered to adopt under the new legislation, the Conservators
succeeded, not without recourse to the courts in the case of one grazier
from Beddington Lane, in abolishing all grazing on the Common. Of
this action there was probably general approval, but at times the
Conservators seem to have acted somewhat insensitively and without
over much concern for the strength of local feeling. Children, for
instance, were barred from playing on one corner of the Green, probably
to avoid annoyance to residents such as Harry Mallaby-Deeley of
Mitcham Court, who was chairman of the Board. When in the 1890s
Liberal George Pitt, a retired shopkeeper and local eccentric, sought to
assert the rights of ‘the common man’ by engaging a band to play on
the Green on the occasion of his son’s coming of age, proceedings
were instituted against him in the courts. As is so often the case in
such disputes, local opinion polarised between those who supported the
‘have-nots’ and the more affluent members of the community with an
interest in preserving the “tone” of the neighbourhood and safeguarding
property values.

Cricket on the Green
(Photograph taken from the balcony of the Clubhouse in about 1975)


The northern part of the Cricket Green is still crossed by a remarkable
survival from early medieval times in the form of a footpath leading
from houses in the vicinity of the parish church to what was once the
unfenced East Field, cultivated in strip holdings by the villagers. This
ancient track, a mile long, runs from Church Road and crosses Lower
Green West and the Cricket Green before becoming the footpath ‘Cold
Blows’ leading to Commonside West. From here it traverses Three
Kings Piece before becoming in turn Lavender Walk and Gaston Road.
The path passes over the railway by a footbridge erected by the London
Brighton and South Coast Railway Company in 1868, and reaches its
destination as Acacia Road. The attempt a century or so ago to rename
Cold Blows St Mary’s Avenue evidently met with little support from
the ordinary folk of Mitcham, and its ancient name is now officially

Until the end of the 19th century there were several other paths crossing
the Cricket Green, including one from the corner opposite the White
Hart to the beginning of Cold Blows Lane, and another from the Vestry
Hall to the police station. At least one village diehard, determined to
assert his ‘rights’, used to make a practice of walking across the Green
during cricket matches, to the understandable annoyance of both players
and spectators. There was another character who, to make a point,
rode his horse across the Green, but he was taken before the Croydon
Court and convicted.15

Obviously from the cricketers’ point of view these paths could not be
tolerated, and with increasing pressure from an expanding population
making some form of protection necessary, railings were erected around
the Green in about 1905. A solitary path now crossing the southern
part of the Cricket Green in front of the almshouses skirts the cricket
field. It is shown on the OS map of 1867, but its origin is unknown.

The Heritage of Cricket

With the exception of Broadhalfpenny Down near Hambledon, the
Cricket Green at Mitcham has the distinction of being possibly the most
famous village cricket ground in the world. It is our misfortune that
many of the earlier records of the Mitcham Cricket Club were lost in a


fire at the pavilion during the 1939-45 War. The Hambledon Club may
thus be able to claim seniority, but from a reference to the game being
played at Mitcham in 1685, it is apparent that cricket has been established
here for well over 300 years.16

As long ago as 1707 Mitcham boasted so many good players it could
afford to throw down the gauntlet to London, and one of the earliest
accounts of a game on Mitcham Green comes from The County Journal
of June 26th 1730, which reported a “Great cricket match which was
played between the Gentlemen of London and those of Mecham in
Surrey.” Scores in those days were kept by the primitive method of
cutting notches on a stick, andThe County Journal commented that on
this occasion the game was won by the gentlemen of London “by a
considerable number of notches.” Despite this defeat, the cricketing
giants of “Mecham” remained virtually unbeatable, and throughout the
18th century their Green was considered amongst the best in the whole
of Surrey.17 The headquarters of Mitcham cricket club in the late 18th
century was the Swan, the inn then standing on the site of the present
Cricketers. It was kept by Samuel Sanders, and when in 1799, following
his death, an inventory was prepared of his goods and chattels, a framed
picture entitled The Cricketers was found in the bar. There were also a
parcel of old books and scoring slates, three “crickett” balls, 13 “Crickett
and Trap balls”, three “Trap Batts”, and two “Tressell” tables and
benches, whilst in the “Club Room” there was a “Marquee”.18

During the brief period between 1801 and 1805 when Nelson was able
to savour life as a country gentleman, he is said to have enjoyed driving
over to Mitcham from Merton to watch the cricket. Years after
Nelson’s death the older villagers loved to recall how, on one occasion
when he was accompanied by Lady Hamilton, the great man gave a
group of lads a shilling “to drink to the confusion of the French”. Mitcham
remained the strongest village side in the County throughout the
Napoleonic wars, and when Surrey played England at Lord’s in 1810
no fewer than five of the County side were Mitcham men. For the
next century Mitcham Green was to be a veritable cradle of cricket,
with a host of celebrities learning to play here. The names of many are
now forgotten, but the memory of others is revered by lovers of the
game. Dan Hayward was born in Mitcham in 1808 and played for the


Mitcham team long before he went to Cambridge. His contemporaries
included Thomas Sewell, Tom Sherman (at one period honorary treasurer
to the village club), Thomas Lockyer, William Gaffyn (who lived to be
100), John Bowyer and later James Southerton, the famous England,
Sussex, Hants and Surrey bowler. For a while Southerton was mine
host of the Cricketers inn, which provided dressing rooms for the club
before the present pavilion was built next to the King’s Head.

The picturesque appearance of the game on the Green “before overarm
bowling came into practice” can be visualised from an old resident’s
recollections of a match in the 1830s in which the eleven on one side
wore high beaver hats, white cord breeches, silk stockings and buckle
shoes. “Their skill and play were quite equal to that of the present
day”, he recalled some fifty years later.19 Another, writing of the 1860s,
said that it was not unusual to see players in top hats. “They may not
have made their centuries, but when one considers the remarkable fielding
displayed by those very alert gentlemen, one wonders at times whether,
if equal agility was displayed in fielding today” (the 1940s) “such
extraordinary scores would be made. A top hat was not always the sign
of inactivity.”20

Towards the middle of the century, playing for side-stakes became
commonplace and bets were made freely on the ground. It has been
alleged, perhaps with some exaggeration, that players (not only in
Mitcham) were offered and took bribes to lose, and that gangs of bookmaker’s
‘legs’ dominated the game to such an extent that on occasions
both teams were bribed to lose, and to win became a farce.15 Undoubtedly
during the early part of the 19th century ‘sporting games’ were organised
by the gentry for big stakes, and in one notable game arranged by two
noblemen at Balls Pond, Middlesex, in 1811, two elevens of ‘females’,
representing Hampshire and Surrey, played a game for 500 guineas a
side. The Hampshire XI was victorious. Until recently a poster survived
in the possession of Mitcham Cricket Club advertising “A Grand Match
of Cricket” which took place on the Green on Monday, July 26th 1819,
between ten gentlemen of Mitcham and William Dyer Esq, of Blackheath,
and ten gentlemen of Dorking with Mr Jupp of Reigate, for 100 guineas
a side. This match was typical of many arranged during the first half of
the last century.


Charles H Hoare, grandson of Henry Hoare of Mitcham Grove and a
member of the famous banking family, came to live at the Canons in
about 1850. He played for Surrey between 1846 and 1853, and was
treasurer of the County Club for several years. With his keen support,
and that of C T Hoare his son, Mitcham Village Club flourished. T P
Harvey, generally esteemed in his day as one of the finest all-rounders
the game had produced, was captain for about 20 years. Other
outstanding local players towards the turn of the century included A
Ferrier-Clarke, G Jones and William Wright Thompson (captain and
also honorary secretary of the village club) who before World War I
was managing director of R R Whitehead Bros Ltd, the felt
manufacturers at Mitcham. All three played for Surrey. Still later,
Mitcham boasted such great players as Tom Richardson, the Surrey
fast bowler, Herbert Strudwick who kept wicket for the county, and
Andrew Sandham who was long remembered for the centuries he
scored for Surrey in the mid-’thirties. Without question, these three
were the finest cricketers that Mitcham produced, and each achieved
international fame, playing for England on many occasions.
Contemporaries who earned Surrey caps included J Keens, F Pearson,
B Sullivan, and E Bale, and there have been many others too numerous
to mention down to the present day.

With such a tradition, and the inspiration offered to local youths, it is not
surprising that Mitcham Green became a training ground for cricket,
and on fine summer days towards the end of the Victorian era seemingly
every corner was being taken by players of all ages and proficiency.
Tom Francis, a keen cricketer himself, used to recall in his lantern slide
lectures that it was not at all unusual to witness three cricket matches
being played on the Green simultaneously,20 and Emma Bartley observed
in her memories of Mitcham during the 19th century that “on cricket
match days there were generally five marquees erected for the
occasion.” Such was the enthusiasm for the national game that in
those days, when long hours in the local shops and factories meant
young cricketing buffs found their playing time severely limited, matches
were arranged starting at dawn, drawing stumps at 7.30 or 8 am. One
notable match took place in the summer of 1870 between “The Upper
Mitcham Early Risers” and the “Lower Mitcham Peep-o’-Day Boys”.


More often than not the younger set would be followed by players
from the “Old Buffer’s Club”, whose headquarters was the old Britannia
inn, now a private house, 40 Cricket Green. The “Old Buffer” was the
pen-name of Fred Gale of the Croft, Commonside East, a celebrated
cricketing writer who did much for Mitcham cricket.

Memories such as these, highlighted by events like appearances of the
great Dr W G Grace, or the use of Mitcham Green in the early 1880s as
a practice ground by the first five or six visiting Australian elevens
(including one composed entirely of Aboriginees), and international
ladies’ matches in which during the late 1940s Mitcham’s own Hazel
Saunders excelled, ensure that the Green will long remain one of
Mitcham’s most cherished possessions. ‘Burn’ Bullock, one-time
honorary secretary of the Mitcham club, and licensee of the King’s
Head from 1941 until 1954, was at one time a professional cricketer
and played for Surrey for a number of years, mainly in the second XI.
‘Burn’ virtually carried the Mitcham club through the difficult war-time
period, and in the years that followed brought many famous clubs to
play on the Green. In a rare gesture the brewers after his death changed
the name of the old inn to the Burn Bullock in his memory, and the sign
now portrays Burn in his cricketing whites. Another ardent player and
supporter of Mitcham Cricket Club, Tom Ruff, a local shoe repairer
who died whilst mayor of Mitcham in 1961, is commemorated by a
simple stone memorial unveiled that May on a corner of his beloved
Green where in spring the crocuses bloom in profusion. Finally, mention
must be made of Frederick Cole. ‘Fred’ was the club’s president in the
1980s, and had been associated with Mitcham cricket for more than 50
years, both as a player and an official. His contribution to the club over
so long a period is certainly no less than that of others who, quite rightly,
are remembered from the early years of the village and its sport.
Notwithstanding its very long history (or perhaps because of it) the
Mitcham Cricket Club remains one of the strongest in the county and,
indeed, in the south of England.


The Village Playground

Cricket may have dominated the games played on the Green, but for
centuries the Green also served as the focal point of village recreation
and celebrations. It would be speculative to suggest that here were the
village archery butts, required as training grounds for bowmen by
successive English kings, not the least of whom was Richard II, son of
the Black Prince, whose emblem of the white hart can still be found in
one of the inns overlooking the cricket pitch. Equally fanciful would be
the thought that here, perhaps when progressing to her favourite palace
at Nonsuch, Elizabeth I paused to watch villagers dance in her honour,
and received their loyal addresses. Certainly during the national rejoicing
that accompanied Victoria’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees, and the
coronations of Edward VII and George V, the village was en fête. Old
photographs show buildings bedecked with flags and bunting, and the
Green itself swarming with people watching and taking part in the sports
which were de rigueur on such occasions. A first-hand account has
come down to us of the festivities marking the marriage of Albert
Edward, Prince of Wales, to Alexandra of Denmark in 1863, and is
worth recounting in full:

“That was a red letter day for Mitchamers, when England’s most popular
Prince was married to one of the kindliest ladies who ever shared the
throne. Public dinners were given in most parishes throughout the
kingdom; at Mitcham it was given in the National Schools, and old
Jacky Winders, the butcher, with ruddy face and ample waist, carved
the enormous joints of beef supplied for the occasion. Everyone who
cared was invited to take part in the feast, and well they were regaled
with the roast beef of Old England, plum pudding and a draught of
good beer, not like the chemical preparation retailed under that heading
today. That was before the great temperance movement in the late
‘sixties, and it was not considered a sin to partake, in moderation of
course, of the national beverage. After the dinner there were great
sports for all and sundry on the village green. Running and walking
contests were not confined to youths of the sterner sex, but matrons
over forty and rosy-cheeked broad-bosomed lasses were invited to
take part in races at distances to suit their age; not only did the long
jump, standing jump and high jump entice many competitors, but the
pole jump, at which the cross bar at 13 feet was cleared, and the hop,


Costumed participants in an Elizabethan Pageant
on the Lower Green in 1911

skip and jump, seldom heard of today, gave opportunities for display
of great vigour. The latter may seem too childish for these days of
professional sport, but to clear 40 feet at the combined effort of hop,
skip and jump might heavily tax the agility of the professional footballer.
There were no professionals in any branch of sport in those days, and
no gate money.

“After ‘Kiss in the Ring’ and similar games in the evening the sport of
the day was concluded by an enormous bonfire on the Common, the
reflection of which might be seen for many miles around. The position
of the fire was about half way across the part of the Common now
occupied by the railway, which was not cut until the following year”.21

Such was the enthusiasm with which the villagers threw themselves
into local celebrations that the Green seems rarely to have been left in
peace for long. Even an event such as the “christening” of a new fire
engine was regarded as a heaven-sent opportunity for rejoicing.


Nothwithstanding the cold of a January day in 1884 when Miss
Czarnikow of Mitcham Court broke a bottle of champagne over
“Caesar”, the parish’s newly-acquired horse-drawn steam engine,
hundreds turned out to cheer.21

Each year had its sequence of events, starting with Easter Monday,
when there was plenty of simple enjoyment and sports. Greasy pole
climbing, hurdle jumping, walking and running matches and sack races
attracted the athletic, whilst “bobbing” for treacled rolls, dipping for
oranges, and grinning through the horse collar caused plenty of laughter.
As always, donkey rides were popular amongst the old and young. On
Whit Mondays the benefit societies of the parish, rejoicing in such names
as the Amicable Society, the United Friends, and the Saturday Nights
Club22 met for their annual dinners, preceded by a parade round the
Green with bands and banners – a sight guaranteed to bring out the
crowds. The parade over, members of the societies and their families
would sit down to their dinners in the various inns and halls, and after
the inevitable speeches and toasts, dancing lasted well into the night.

The annual Epsom race week created another eagerly awaited diversion.
On Derby Day in particular, when the Green and the main road right
through Mitcham was thronged with people, schools were shut, since it
was impossible to induce sufficient children to attend. Until the latter
half of the 19th century there was no way of reaching the Downs other
than by road. As late as 1865 there were tollgates on the turnpike road
from London to Sutton – one at Figges Marsh and the other at Rose Hill

– and the press of traffic in the morning and again in the evening caused
jams which lasted for hours, everything moving at a walking pace. At
this time Royalty went by road like everyone else, and for years it was
the custom of the future Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, to stop
briefly for refreshment at the King’s Head whilst the horses were changed.
The cavalcade included scores of four-in-hands, and every conceivable
variety of vehicle from coaches and landaus to broughams and gigs and
the humble donkey cart. Always thrilling were the private carriages
bearing coats of arms of the nobility on their doors, and driven by liveried
servants resplendent in gold braid and buttons. Outshining all were the
beautiful dresses and hats worn by the society ladies, accompanied by
immaculately dressed gentlemen.


The toy shops along the way used to do a roaring trade on these days,
the “quality” delighting in buying trinkets and small toys which they
threw to the children who lined the roads to see them go by. They also
tossed out handfuls of coppers, for which the village urchins would
noisily scramble. “Everyone seemed to have plenty of money to throw
away at this time, both rich and poor”, remembered one old Mitchamer
in 1912 “for there was money and toys in one continual stream being
thrown on all sides as they passed along the road. Nothing of that sort
now”, he observed ruefully.21

Apart from cricket, Mitcham Green is probably associated most in the
minds of the present generation with the annual crowning of the May
Queen, and the procession from the Roman Catholic church in Cranmer
Road to celebrate the feast of SS Peter and Paul on the 29th June.
The May ceremony, formalised in a pretty Saturday afternoon’s
diversion, now attracts mainly the participating children and their
admiring parents. Although there is mention of a maypole to be seen
on the Upper Green in the late 18th century, the earliest record of the
crowning of the May Queen in Mitcham is a faded photograph dating
to about 1900 in the Merton Local Studies Centre collection. This
portrays a decorously-posed group of young ladies, a little older than
the children who take part today. None of the surviving personal
reminiscences of Mitcham life in the mid-19th century mention the
May Queen or the maypole, and both are relatively recent revivals of
old traditions. It was John Ruskin who sems to have been responsible
for awakening interest in May Day celebrations in the 1870s and 1880s,
and the Catholic procession is an even later addition to the Mitcham
calendar, but well-established by the 1930s.

The “Dig for Victory” campaign of the Second World War saw the
southern part of the Cricket Green pressed into temporary service as
vegetable gardens, which remained in cultivation until the early 1950s.
The land was then cleared and returned to grass, one ash tree (an
allotment holder’s bean pole that had taken root) being left as a memento.
The ugly chestnut paling which also dated from the war-time period
was removed in the 1970s, to be replaced by a slightly more elaborate
version of the old oak post and iron bar barrier which surrounded the
Green before the war. Sadly the new fence, with its double rails and


lower part enclosed with chain link, no longer provided budding gymnasts
with a horizontal bar over which to perform somersaults. New iron
railings, thought to be more aesthetically pleasing and therefore better
suited to the Conservation Area, were provided in the early 1990s.
Also gone are the hollow remains of several fine old elms which were
a delight to small boys and girls. Until the late 1960s and early 1970s
half a dozen or so survivors remained outside Mitcham Court, opposite
Barclays Bank, and across the road from the Tate Almshouses. To the
regret of many, Dutch elm disease and the need to widen the road by
the traffic lights finally necessitated their removal.

Today the Cricket Green forms part of the Cricket Green Conservation
Area, declared by the London Borough of Merton in 1969 and extending
from the Three Kings Piece as far as the parish church in Church
Road. A rare survival of a village green in the London suburbs, it is still
surrounded by much that is evocative of old Mitcham, and although at
peak hours the presence of heavy traffic is disturbing, at other times,
typically on a summer’s evening with a game of cricket in progress, one
can imagine that time has stood still.

The White House, Chestnut Cottage and Victorian villas
overlooking the Cricket Green. 1972

Chapter 2


During the reign of King Edward the Confessor, Aelmer, a Saxon thegn,
was in possession of an estate in Wallington hundred which, although
its location was not made explicit in Domesday Book, can be argued
with a degree of certainty to have been in central Mitcham. The case
rests mainly on what is known of the subsequent history of the ‘tithing’
of Mitcham, which came to form part of the Surrey estate of the de
Redvers family, earls of Devon and Wight from the early 12th century,1
and as the manor of Vauxhall was granted to the prior and convent of
Christ Church Canterbury in 1362.

At the time of the Domesday survey Aelmer’s former holding comprised
two hides and one virgate, or about 270 acres (108 ha), of which nine
acres were “meadow”. The latter were probably water meadows and,
if we are correct in locating the estate in Mitcham, would most likely
have been close to the Wandle. Three plough teams, a fair number for
a holding of this size, worked the arable land, and the 13 households
living on the estate can be estimated to have comprised in all between
60 and 70 persons.2 Aelmer seems to have been a man of considerable
wealth and standing, for he is recorded as holding no fewer than 12
separate estates elsewhere in Surrey. He also owned two watermills,
and possessed a half interest in three others. The name Aelmer was
by no means uncommon, however, and it must be admitted that the
Domesday entries may relate to more than one individual. By 1086,
when the survey was conducted, England was a conquered nation, and
the former Saxon landowners had to a large extent been dispossessed.
Aelmer’s widely scattered properties were confiscated and re-distributed
amongst several Norman nobles, including the Count of Mortain, one
of the Conqueror’s half-brothers. Mortain’s principal estate in Surrey
was the manor of South Lambeth, previously in the hands of the canons
of Waltham Abbey, and when he died his lands, which included a
substantial part of central Mitcham held as a tithing of the Lambeth
manor, were inherited by his son.3

Amongst the Anglo-Norman knights who allied themselves to Henry I
in the struggle for power with his brother, Duke Robert of Normandy,
was Richard de Redvers. Until his death in 1107 de Redvers remained


one of Henry’s staunchest supporters, and his loyalty was rewarded with
the grant of lands in Devon and the Isle of Wight. Mortain, on the other
hand, suffered the penalty for supporting the Norman faction and,
following the defeat of Robert at the battle of Tenchbrai in 1106, forfeited
his property in Mitcham which, together with the manor of South Lambeth,
passed into the hands of de Redvers. Tenure was subsequently inherited
by Richard’s son Baldwin, the first earl of Devon, and a century later,
under King John, the estate was held by William de Redvers, who died in

Following the death, also in 1216, of Baldwin de Redvers the 6th earl, his
widow Margaret married Falkes (or Fawkes) de Breauté of Fawkes Hall,
or Vauxhall.4 De Breauté, energetic and ruthless, was one of King John’s
executors and a loyal member of the Council responsible for the affairs of
state during the minority of Henry III. The de Redvers’ manor of South
Lambeth, including the tithing at Mitcham, passed into his hands on his
marriage to Margaret, and it is from him that the manor of Vauxhall
derived its name. When Falkes died in 1226 his houses in Lambeth, and
the rest of his property associated with the manor, were granted by Henry
III to de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, to hold until the son and heir of Baldwin
de Redvers should come of age.

Baldwin, the 7th earl of Devon and Wight, married Amicia de Clare,
daughter of Gilbert, 5th earl of Gloucester and Hertford, during the royal
Christmas celebrations at Winchester in 1240. The couple were betrothed
as children in 1223, and the match had the approval of Henry III, before
whom the marriage took place amidst great celebration.5

Within five years Baldwin was dead, “cut down in the flower of his youth”,
leaving Amicia a widow at the age of 25, with three small children one of
whom, Baldwin, became the eighth earl of Devon. In 1259 a “Bartholomew
de Lisle”, presumably acting during the eighth earl’s minority, had granted
the advowson of the parish church of Mitcham to the prior and convent of
St Mary at Southwark.6 (The grant is likely to have been in confirmation
of earlier grants by the family, for it is clear the church had actually been
in the possession of the priory for a hundred years or more.)7 The
formalities were completed and the grant confirmed the following year
by Baldwin, acting through Adam de Stratton his clerk.8


In 1260 Baldwin, by this time one of the group of young bachelors who
were intimates of Prince Edward (later to become Edward I), had been
moved to give further expression of his favour to the Church by granting
to Eustace, the prior of Merton, a moiety, or half share, in a watermill.9
Baldwin was now in possession of the family’s Mitcham estate, and
from future references to the mill as “Pippes” or Phipps mill it is clear
that it stood on the bank of the Wandle at Phipps Bridge. With this
knowledge, and also the history of other properties in Mitcham held in
later years of the manor of Vauxhall, it is possible to be fairly confident
that the estate was that in Mortain’s tenure in 1086, and that it extended
from the Wandle eastwards across central Mitcham as far as
Commonside West.

Baldwin was poisoned in a palace plot in 1262,10 and the inquisition
post mortem confirmed that amongst his property was an estate in
Mitcham, held as “an appurtenance” of his manor of South Lambeth.11
A copy extract from the report of the enquiry gives the rents of free
tenants in Mitcham due to “Lord Baldwin de Insula in Surrey …… in
1263”.12 These rentals were “assized”, ie the amounts were verified
by the court, and found to total £3 8 5½d. The tenants’ names and the
size of their holdings were recorded, and included “The Prior of Merton
(who) renders 20s for the mill which is called Pypesmoln” and “Hugh
at Church” (presumably the parish priest) who held a virgate of land.
The extent of the de Redvers’ lands in Mitcham is of course difficult to
determine precisely, but if we take a virgate to represent very roughly
15 acres (6 ha), the average for Surrey, we arrive at an estate of roughly
two and a half hides, or some 300 acres (120 ha). This is very close to
the size of Aelmer’s holding in Wallington hundred at the time of the
Conquest, and gives further support to the belief that the de Redvers’
estate embraced much, if not all, of the land held by Mortain in Mitcham
in 1086.

Following Baldwin’s murder the manor of South Lambeth or Vauxhall
was held in dower by his widow Margaret. She remarried, taking Robert
de Aguilon as her second husband, and was still in possession in 12789,
when they had to answer a writ of quo warranto, requiring them to
prove their right to tenure.3 Margaret and Robert retained lordship of
the manor, holding it “of the inheritance” of Baldwin’s elder sister, the


Lady Isabella de Fortibus, but after Margaret’s death tenure of the
family’s estates passed to Isabella, a lady much given, either by
inclination or force of circumstance, to litigation.13 The widow of the
count of Albermarle, she was one of the wealthiest women of her time,
and was involved in one of the worst judicial scandals of the 13th century,
in which over 700 officials, high and low, were implicated. Lady Isabella
died in 1293, immediately after being persuaded (some would say
tricked), into selling her hereditary lordship of the Isle of Wight and her
manors to Edward I for £4,000.14

The whole of the Mitcham estate thus passed into the hands of the
Crown, and we find reference in 1301 to “Pippes” mill being held in
capite, ie directly of the king, the prior of Merton paying homage as a
tenant-in-chief to Sir Ralph de Marton on behalf of Edward I.15 In
1315 Hugh de Courtney petitioned for the property of the late Isabella
de Fortibus, countess of Albermarle and Devon, but the outcome is not
known.17 An enquiry into the extent of the manor of Vauxhall in 1318
further confirmed that it included the watermill known as Phipps Mill
at Mitcham, still held as a manorial tenant by the prior of Merton.18

In September 1337 lordship of the manor of Vauxhall, together with
Kennington, passed into the hands of Edward Duke of Cornwall, the
“Black Prince”. Vauxhall was amongst various properties Edward
granted to the prior and convent of Canterbury in 136219 to guarantee
the expense of maintaining, in the crypt of the cathedral, a chantry
chapel which he founded the following year as the price of papal
dispensation to marry his beautiful cousin, the widowed Joan of Kent.
Edward, one of the most charismatic figures of the Middle Ages, was
born in 1330, the eldest son of Edward III. At the age of 16 he had been
left in command at Crecy when his father retired from the field, and
deployed the English long-bowmen with such skill and effect that the
French were completely routed. Understandably idolised by his men
and the country, he came to epitomise the popular ideals of chivalry and
bravery. Edward died in 1376, and although in his will he directed that
he should be buried in the lady chapel in the undercroft at Canterbury,
popular opinion demanded a more honourable place for the nation’s
hero, and he was accordingly interred close to Becket’s tomb on the
south side of the chancel of the cathedral.20


At an inquisition post mortem held following the death in 1392 of Sir
John Burghersh, lord of the manor of Ravensbury, it was confirmed that
he had been in possession of the copyhold tenancy of “a parcel of land
called Allmannesland” which he held of the prior of Christ Church,
Canterbury, lord of the manor of “Faukeshall”, paying six shillings a year
as a quit rent in respect of all feudal services due.21 During the priorate
of Thomas Chillendon (1391-1411) leaseholds came to be granted on
many of the Canterbury estates, and in 1424 “Allmannesland” was held
by John Arundel of Bideford, who had acquired tenure by right of his
late wife, Margaret née Burghersh.22 Half a century later it was held
by Sir Richard Illingworth, chief baron of the exchequer to Edward IV,
who died in 1476.23 Today the land and the house which has stood on it
since the latter half of the 18th century are known as Park Place, and
the property was still copyhold of the manor of Vauxhall in the 1820s.
The name “Allmannesland” (in some later documents it is shortened to
“Almonds”) clearly enshrined the folk memory that it had once been
common land, and today it lies between the Cricket Green and Three
Kings Piece, both of which survive as public open spaces. In 1236 the
Statute of Merton had declared legal the taking of common land by the
lord of a manor provided sufficient pasturage for the commoners’ cattle
remained on the parish waste, but we have nothing to indicate whether
the enclosure of Allmannesland occurred before or after the manor came
into the hands of the prior and convent of Canterbury.24

In 1428 the prior of Christ Church was confirmed to be holding two
hides (of which one hide, or about 120 acres (48 ha), carried the annual
obligation of paying one-fifth of a knight’s fee) in Mitcham, described as
having once been in the king’s hands and subsequently of Edward, the
former Prince of Wales.25 The estate, which was to prove a most
profitable one in future years, together with the lordship of the manor of
Vauxhall, passed into the possession of Canterbury Cathedral following
the Dissolution26 and, apart from a brief period during the Commonwealth,
remained under the control of the dean and chapter until the 19th century,
when it was appropriated by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

Whereas there appears to be no surviving map or terrier of the tithing of
Mitcham, there are numerous clues to the extent of the manor of


Vauxhall’s jurisdiction. Phipps Mill, which we have already mentioned,
lay at the western extremity of the estate, and Allmannesland to the
east. Hall Place, off Lower Green West, one of the larger medieval
houses known in Mitcham and believed to have been the seat of the
Illingworth family during the late 15th and early 16th centuries, is said
to have been held of the manor by another Sir Richard Illingworth in
1512, and passed to his son William.27 Hall Place had both a dovecote
(an asset customarily restricted to the demesne farm of a manor) and an
open hall. Both features imply that the house had a status above that of
the rest of the dwellings in the vicinity, and that it was at one time the
residence of someone of at least local importance.

In the 16th century, land to the south of the Cricket Green, forming the
northern part of the grounds of the “mansion house” of Thomas Pyner,28
seems to have been held of the manor. By the early 17th century the
former Pyner estate was subdivided for redevelopment, providing the
site for what in later years was known as the Manor House, Lower
Mitcham. Although this property was mainly freehold, court rolls show
that a quit rent (for what one assumes was a portion of the grounds)
continued to be demanded of owners throughout the 18th century. From
rent rolls of the manor it can also be seen that the King’s Head29 and
the land overlooking the Cricket Green on which the Tate family’s house30
stood in the 18th century were likewise held of the dean and chapter of

References to the manor pound occur several times in the court rolls,
one of the earliest being from the Commonwealth period, when Mitcham
pound was reported to be “much decayed” – a hint that it was little
used, and certainly neglected, in the mid-17th century. The occasion
was a survey of the manor of Vauxhall conducted in 1649 pursuant to
one of Cromwell’s early Acts, by which lands held by the dean and
chapter of Canterbury were sequestrated in October of that year. (The
estates were restored to the archbishop after the Restoration.)31

The need for a secure pound which could be used when the occasion
demanded seems to have become an issue of some importance towards
the end of the 18th century. The annual Mitcham fair attracted large
numbers of gypsies and other travellers who, after the fashion of their


kind, no doubt left their horses and other stock to graze on the Common
and the various greens of Mitcham with scant regard for the rights of
commoners and copyholders of the manors. Whether or not the renewed
interest in the condition of the pound had any connection with efforts
being made in the early 1770s to suppress the fair it is difficult to say,
but the coincidence of dates suggests the two might have been linked.32

At the court leet held on November 7th 1775, it was reported by the
four officers from the tithing of Mitcham that the pound belonging to
the manor of Vauxhall was out of repair.33 Although the court rolls
record the decision that the pound ought to be repaired by the lord of
the manor, nothing seems to have been done, for two years later the
headborough, William Oxtoby, reported to the court that the pound was
still “greatly out of repair”. In 1780 the officers again presented to the
court that the common pound for the “liberty of Mitcham” continued to
be “so out of repair that no estrays or trespassing cattle can be secured
therein to the great loss and damage to the Lords’ Tenants of the said
Manor, and that the pound ought to be repaired by the Lords of the
manor”. A year later, by now obviously exasperated at the lack of
response to their previous presentments, the jurors threatened “a suit or
prosecution against the lords for their neglect” if they failed to put the
pound in “good and sufficient repair” by January 1st 1782. With their
bluff called (if, indeed, it was a bluff,) and still with no apparent
satisfaction from the dean and chapter, it was minuted at the court leet
in November 1782 that “Whereas the parish of Mitcham has for the
last five years presented the said pound of the said parish as being
useless and have received no redress”, the frustrated jury “do hereby
firmly make this their presentment that if the pound is not repaired by
the Lords of the Manor within one year the said jury will not keep the
court”.34 The court was reconvened in November 1783, but no Mitcham
business was conducted, apart from imposing a fine on the constable,
Thomas Chesterman, £5 for non-attendance. The fine had little effect,
for both constable and the headborough were fined for non-attendance
at the meeting in 1784. Oliver Baron, a local magistrate who had been
a prominent member of the justices’ committee appointed to suppress
the fair, died in 1786, and thereafter the officers and copyholders seem
to have lost interest not only in resolving their dispute with Vauxhall,


but also in the condition of the pound, and in 1787 it was reported to
have “totally fallen down”.35

After a lapse of nearly 20 years, during which nothing much seems to
have transpired, a new name, that of William Sprules, appears as pound
keeper in the court leet roll for 1801. This may be of some significance,
for certain landowners were beginning to show interest in the enclosure
of Mitcham Common, and for a while the vestry was to be much
concerned with the proper control of common grazing and the protection
of the rights of pasturage which had been enjoyed for generations by
the copyholders of the several manors of Mitcham. This was, of course,
during the Napoleonic wars, when there was a heightened awareness
of the increased output (and profit) which could be gained from marginal
land by recourse to modern husbandry. Several of the parishes adjoining
Mitcham were to lose their commons to enclosure at this time. In the
event, neither Mitcham Common nor any of the Mitcham greens were
enclosed, and remained “waste of the parish”.

Until the 18th century Vauxhall pound had been located off Lower Green
West, opposite the present fire station, but it was then moved to a site
on the Green itself, where it is shown on the tithe map of 1847. “Old
Billy Sprules”, who died in 1848, was still remembered as the pound
keeper by an elderly witness giving evidence in the case of the
Ecclesiastical Commissioners v Bridger and others in 1890.36 Within
his memory, he said, cattle straying from the Common had been placed
in the Vauxhall pound – proof that it played a part in the management of
the manorial waste at least until the middle of the 19th century. After
Sprules’ retirement, Newland, the landlord of the Cricketers, is said to
have acted as pound keeper, and had charge of the key.37 The land
occupied by the inn today must itself once have been enclosed from
the Green with, one assumes, the consent of the dean and chapter, but
precisely when this happened is not known.

The Lower Green and several of the houses overlooking it, including
No 7 Cricket Green (the White House), certainly remained within the
jurisdiction of the manor during the 19th century. Emma Bartley, who
lived at No7, recalled in her reminiscences of old Mitcham38 that changes
of copyhold tenure were still being formalised in the mid-19th century


by observance of the age-old ritual of “grant of livery of seisin”, with
the new owner, on admission to the tenancy of the manor, being required
to swear an oath of fealty to the lord of the manor in the person of his

Perhaps reflecting rising land values, manorial administration seems to
have become far more vigilant in the 18th century, and the formal consent
of the dean and chapter of Canterbury was deemed necessary by the
parish officers in 1765, when the Mitcham vestry wished to enclose a
plot on Lower Green West 12 feet by 20 feet for the erection of a watch-
house or lock-up.39 “Leave and license” was granted at “the small
acknowledgement of 1d per annum” on the condition that the Vestry
should be responsible for keeping the building in good repair. It is
understood their successors, the Urban District Council of Mitcham,
still considered it prudent, if not strictly necessary, to seek the
concurrence of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners when the erection of a
new fire station on Lower Green West was under discussion in the early

In the case of the lock-up, which it was considered would be a “publick
Utility”, it had been the unanimous decision of the “parish in Vestry
assembled” that enclosure of a small part of the Green for the purpose
could be justified. There was no such unanimity in 1788 however,
when William Pollard, a newcomer to the parish who was the owner of
Park Place and a copyholder of Vauxhall, objected to the proposed
enclosure of part of Lower Green West to provide a site for a Sunday
School building. Plans had to be changed, and the school was erected
on an alternative site donated by the owner of Hall Place.40

Early in the 19th century, when the enclosure movement was at its height,
there was a real danger that a substantial part of the Green might be
enclosed. John Middleton, who had been commissioned by the dean
and chapter of Canterbury to conduct a survey of the waste lands lying
within the manor of Vauxhall, reported of “Mitcham Green” in 1806:

“Nearly one third of this is rough ground; to the enclosure of which
no person would object.

“The other part, of 8 or 10 acres, is a fine turf, in the middle of the
village, on which there is much Cricket playing. This Green is


surrounded by mean houses and Cottages, many of which are holden
of the manor of Fauxhall. What proportion of the inhabitants would
consent to a division of it, I have no means of Knowing, but this
Green is a good sheep pasture, and is the best feature of the village.
A few acres of nice green turf, adjoining the turnpike road, and in the
centre of a village, seems to contribute its just proportion to the benefit
of society.”41

Middleton concluded, after advising the dean and chapter of his valuation
of the land and its mineral rights if it were to be enclosed, that experience
had shown that where commons or greens were overlooked by persons
from London, living in “Genteel houses”

” … to obtain an act of Parliament without opposition cannot be
expected. It would chiefly be from persons who have not any right of
common joined by three or four who have …”

He invited the dean and chapter to consider whether they wished to
incur the expense of soliciting the tenants of the manor for their consents,
and then the charges for presenting a Bill, in the

” … small uncertainty as to whether the acts may be obtained or not,
for the value of their interest in case they should succeed.”

In a letter dated November 27th, Middleton advised the dean and chapter
that whereas enclosure of commons and wastes was of such obvious
benefit to the nation that it could be taken for granted “that the Legislature
will afford it every facility”, opposition could not be repressed and was
well known to involve the parties concerned in considerable expense for
perhaps little gain. As an alternative, he put forward the following

“Various persons have made many encroachments within the last eight
or ten years, and others have been enclosed for a longer time, these
persons may be induced to accept such grants” (of land, on payment
of a sum of money to the lords of the manor) “in preference to being
ejected by law. These several grants might be managed in such a
manner as to create a disposition in other tenants and inhabitants of
the manor to solicit for similar indulgences. Particularly the tenants
who compose the Homage Jury may be invited to negotiate with the
steward of the manor for such slips of waste as adjoin, or be
conveniently for their respectively tenements. I think this would


induce them to solicit for grants to be made to themselves on paying
for them. It would also increase the habit they are now in of giving
their consent to other grants, being made to strangers. By a union of
making grants in the first instance, and blinking at encroachments
till the parties can be brought into Court to accept a grant of them,
something considerable may be done in the short time; this system
seems to be calculated to continue for many years, or until all the
waste or Common land belonging to the Manor become enclosed.”

This course of action, devious as it might have been, seems to have
found some favour with the dean and chapter. Middleton’s advice would
certainly appear to have been followed in the case of a group of adjacent
properties at the northern corner of the Green, where the tithe map of
1847 shows very clearly that the land on which they stood must once
have been part of the Lower Green. In about 180742 Edward Tanner
Worsfold, the owner of Hall Place, a copyholder of the manor and a
member of the court leet from 1788 until 1804, acquired from a Mr
Spencer a plot of land at the corner of Lower Green and the turnpike
road leading to London which, for a number of years, had been occupied
by three very small cottages. These were soon demolished, and in about
1808, on the best part of the cleared plot, with a southerly aspect
overlooking the Cricket Green, he built Elm Lodge, an attractive villa
in the Regency style. Whitford Lodge and Whitford Cottage, which
stood on the remainder of the land to the rear until bombed during World
War II, were of later date, and had probably been erected around the
middle of the 19th century. All three remained copyhold of the manor
of Vauxhall until 1925, when they were enfranchised on application
being made to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.43

Management of the Lower Green, but not the mineral rights, passed
into the hands of the Board of Conservators elected after the enactment
of the Metropolitan Commons (Mitcham) Supplemental Act 1891. This
remained the situation until April 1924 when, following the passing of
the Mitcham Urban District Act of 1923, the Mitcham greens were
vested in the new local authority. Like the Urban District Council it
superseded, the Borough Council of Mitcham, which received its charter
in September 1934, showed little compunction in building on the Green
when councillors deemed the development to be in the public interest.


The Vestry Hall, erected in 1887 on the site of the village lock-up,
already occupied a considerably larger parcel of land than that originally
sanctioned in the 18th century, and was doubled in size in 1930 by the
building of a large extension to the rear. The need to provide
accommodation for the growing number of staff employed at the Town
Hall led to the construction of an ugly outbuilding on yet another portion
of Lower Green West shortly before World War II, and this, although
intended to be only a temporary structure, still stands today, occupied
by the Wandle Industrial Museum.

In recent years the desire to improve the movement of road traffic has
resulted in road-widening on several occasions, again at the expense of
the Green. Occasionally pleas are heard for a site to be made available
on the Green for a new cricket pavilion but, obvious as the advantages
would be for the cricketers, it is to be hoped that such an encroachment
on what remains of the Green will be always be rejected in the wider
interests of the Conservation Area.

The Vestry Hall and the Cricket Green seen from outside the King’s Head
(Copy of postcard c1905)

Chapter 3


The Burn Bullock or, to give the inn its earlier name, the King’s Head,
occupies a commanding position at the corner of the Cricket Green and
the main London Road. It is certainly the most impressive and, so far
as one can tell, probably the oldest of the various inns and public houses
that abound in Mitcham,1 and 200 hundred years have now elapsed
since it was described in a guide to buildings and other items of interest
on the road to Brighton as a “large, good-looking inn”.2 Happily, although
the name has changed, the building has altered little in external
appearance since that time. The compiler of the guide was J. Edwards,
and his modern counterpart would have little cause to disagree with his
assessment, for the inn has withstood the passage of time remarkably
well. “Modernisation”, where it has taken place at all, has been discreet
and for the most part gradual, serving to reflect the passing years through
subtle changes which have actually added to, rather than detracted from,
the historical interest of the premises.

The earliest evidence we have for the inn’s age is in its architecture – the
rear of the building showing every indication of being of late 16th or
early 17th century in date. Here heavy structural timbering survives,
and is particularly in evidence on the ground floor, where it adds to the
attractions of the lounge bar and dining room. Much of the exposed
woodwork shows signs of having been re-used, a reminder that by Tudor
times good structural timber was scarce and therefore expensive in this
part of Surrey. Externally the rear wing, with its gablets, its tile-hung
upper storey, oriel window and massive chimneys, again speaks more
of the late Elizabethan period than of the Jacobean. So much for the
superficial features; a more detailed and expert examination, particularly
of the roof timbers, would undoubtedly prove revealing.

The first documentary evidence for the building is in an indirect reference
to the “farm house of Sir Julius Cesar”(sic). This is contained in a 20year
lease dated 20 March 1604/5 involving a neighbouring property to
the south, granted by George Smyth of Mitcham to a John Bowssar,
citizen and vintner of London.3 Sir Julius Caesar, who had been knighted


The King’s Head and gardens, the National School and the Almshouses, shown
in a plan produced for an auction in 1888. (Courtesy of Surrey History Centre)


by James I two years previously, was the owner of a mansion to the
south of the Cricket Green, standing in grounds which are now covered
by the houses in Mitcham Park and Baron Grove. One of the leading
lawyers of his day, he had been host to Queen Elizabeth on three
separate occasions, and was to become Chancellor of the Exchequer
in 1606, and Master of the Rolls in 1614.4

Another important document dealing with the history of the King’s Head,
for many years hanging in a glazed frame in the dining room, seems
most unfortunately to have been removed during a change in management
in the 1970s.5 Its present whereabouts are unknown, but the writer
recalls that it was a lease or conveyance of around 1620 granted by Sir
Henry Savile of Methley in Yorkshire, who was Sir Julius Caesar’s
son-in-law. The actual transaction possibly took place in 1623, when
Sir Henry and his wife sold other land in Lower Mitcham which she
had inherited. Precisely what property the document related to cannot
be confirmed until the deed is traced, but Lily Bullock, the licensee in
the 1960s, believed it to be an early lease of the King’s Head. One can
only hope that such a valuable piece of evidence for the early years of
the inn has not been lost forever, and that it will re-emerge in the fullness
of time and be available for study.

The precise purpose served by the building in the 16th and early 17th
centuries is unknown, although situated strategically by crossroads at
the heart of the village, it seems quite likely that it offered hospitality to
travellers from its earliest days. The King’s Head was certainly one of
the earliest recorded meeting places of Mitcham vestry after the
Restoration.6 The Surrey Quarter Sessions records7 for 1661 mention
five alehouses in the village, including the establishment run by Richard
Thompson, a victualler whose name occurs for the first time in October
of that year. Thompson is the only licensed victualler known to have
occupied a house with four hearths in 16648 – the other ale houses were
much smaller – and he therefore seems a good candidate for being
regarded as the first licensee of the King’s Head known to us by name.
It would be pleasing to be able to attribute to Thompson the actual
naming (or renaming) of the inn in celebration of the restored monarchy,
but unfortunately the records are not helpful.


It is also a matter of regret that the records of the licensing justices for
this part of Surrey have not survived in anything like a complete series.
We are therefore unable to follow the occupancy of the King’s Head in
much more detail until the mid-1750s, from which period the earliest of
Mitcham’s poor rate books survive.9 These show a John Darbourne as
occupier in the early 1770s, and then his widow, Susannah, until 1785.
She was followed by a succession of male innkeepers over the next
quarter of a century about whom nothing much is known.10

Actual ownership of the inn in Darbourne’s time was in the hands of
Robert Busick of Tooting, and this provides another clue to the earlier
history of the house, for rentals listing customary tenants of the manor
of Vauxhall from 1726 until 1771/2 show various Busicks – first William,
and then in a rental of 1740, Robert – occupying a property near to or
overlooking the Lower Green, and paying an annual quit rent to the
dean and chapter of Canterbury.11 A deed (actually a copy release) of
1791, now in the care of Surrey History Centre, confirms the King’s
Head to have been the property of “William Busick of Mitcham,
innholder” at the time of his death in 1728. The inn passed to William’s
eldest son and heir Robert, whose nephew and devisee (also named
Robert Busick) duly inherited. In October 1791 the latter, styled as “of
Epsom”, completed the sale of “the King’s Head Inn Mitcham, with
stables and outbuildings etc and vacant land extending round two elm
trees and adjoining the high road from London to Sutton, together with
two nearby messuages and other land in Mitcham” to “James Potter of
Mitcham, gardener”.12

We know from Mitcham vestry minutes that throughout the 18th century
the King’s Head continued to be used for meetings of what in those
days was, in effect, the local council.13 It also served, alternating with
other inns in the village, as a court house for the local magistrates, and
for meetings of the courts baron and leet of the manors.14 Thus it was
at the King’s Head, during the years 1771-5, that meetings were held of
the committee of magistrates of the county, charged with the
responsibility of curbing riotous behaviour at the annual Mitcham Fair.15

Incidents at Mitcham and at other fairs in Surrey that summer may
have prompted the making of an order at the Christmas quarter sessions


in 1770 requiring justices of the peace to take steps for “the prevention
of nuisance caused by late night drinking and the erection of booths
and sheds where were acted plays and drolls and unlawfull gaming”
….. which “encouraged vice and immorality and the ruining and
debauching of servants, apprentices and others”. As the time for the
1771 Mitcham Fair approached the justices, meeting at the King’s Head,
arranged for the printing and exhibiting of notices, ordered local publicans
to ensure that good order and decency were maintained, and instructed
the village headborough and constables in their duties. The measures
adopted met with a degree of success, but the following year Mitcham
Fair was marred by a riot in which several constables were injured,
and as a consequence at the next quarter sessions an order was made
for the Fair to be stopped. There seems to be no record of the Fair
being a matter of concern to the justices after 1775, which implies that
the major nuisances had then been brought under control.

How far this flurry of activity was brought about at the instigation of
Oliver Baron, an attorney who had only recently taken up residence at
a large house off the London Road in Lower Mitcham, it is difficult to
say. Baron was present at most of the justices’ meetings, and for four
or five years the law was brought to bear heavily on the stallholders,
showmen and others whose activities could at times be regarded as a
nuisance, and transgressors were brought before the magistrates by the
parish constables. Enthusiasm for suppressing the fair seems to have
waned at about the time Baron left Mitcham. Whether or not there was
any connection it is difficult to say – the reasons for the failure of the
attempt to end the fair may well have lain as much in its continuing
popularity amongst the ordinary people of Mitcham as in the departure
from the parish of one of its main opponents. Whatever the reason, the
Order for the Suppression of Mitcham Fair was rescinded at the Easter
Sessions in 1780.

At some time in the middle of the 18th century the King’s Head was
improved and enlarged. The coaching trade had been increasing steadily
throughout the previous 100 years, stimulated by the growth in popularity
of Epsom as a venue for horseracing and as a spa resort. A series of
turnpike Acts designed to secure the improvement of the road through
Mitcham from London to Brighton culminated in an Act of 1775, fixing


the charges to be levied, and authorising the erection of toll bars
throughout the length of the road. The increase in traffic held the
prospect of prosperity for the owners of roadside hostelries, and local
innkeepers no doubt vied with each other to attract custom. The White
Hart, opposite the King’s Head, was substantially rebuilt in 1750, in
response to which some ten years later an impressive three-storeyed
five-bay front was added to the King’s Head.16 It seems quite likely
that the new building replaced an earlier timber-framed structure standing
parallel with the main road, but of this we have no record. Whatever
evidence may still survive below ground, eveything above now seems
to have vanished. By good fortune, however, the rear wing was retained,
and the two parts of the house, 200 years apart and so very different in
style, now have the protection of a Grade II listing as a building of
architectural and historic importance.17

Architecturally the Kings Head is interesting in several respects. We
have already referred briefly to the Tudor wing, and should add that
from the car park at the rear one can see the only example of authentic
timber-framing still on view in Mitcham, used in the construction of an
outbuilding. The spacing of the timbers is wide, suggesting a late-16th
or 17th century date.

In style the mid-18th century addition at the front of the inn is absolutely
typical of its period. Three storeys high, with strict adherence being
paid to the contemporary ideal of symmetry, its five-bay fenestration
embodies boxed-framed sashes whose architraves lie flush with the
exterior brickwork, an early, rather than late, 18th century feature. The
brickwork of the principal elevations is two-coloured, and although both
are now darkened with age the red bricks of the quoins and voussoirs
still provide a contrast with the yellow stocks used for the rest of the
walls. These were originally carried up above the present eaves level,
hiding the roof from view behind a parapet, whilst at ground level the
front entrance has been given importance with a porch supported on
Tuscan columns. A wish to minimise the assessment for the 18th-century
window tax evidently prompted the installation of false sashes on the
upper floor – a subterfuge so skilfully employed that the dummy windows
are easily missed by the casual observer. Alterations in about 1910/11


The King’s Head, seen in an Edwardian post card.

Side view of the Burn Bullock (formerly the King’s Head) in July 1993


to the front and side walls of the Georgian extension included the removal
of the upper courses of brickwork and replacement of the parapet by a
heavily moulded projecting eaves supported on a modillioned cornice.
The work is dated by the lead rainwater cistern installed at the time.18
Apart from alleviating the plainness of the front façade, the effect of the
alteration, which is in the style favoured by builders after the Restoration,
is to suggest that this part of the inn dates from the late 17th century.

The shell porch to the side entrance, which was moved from its original
position a little to the left of the present doorway,19 and the bow windows
either side of the front porch are also relatively late alterations. Just
beyond living memory, but still preserved in old photographs, a large horse
chestnut tree was removed from the front forecourt. Finally, old handmade
tiles on the roof and walls of the rear wing were replaced with
machine-made tiles during the course of war-damage repairs in the late
1940s – not, it must be stated, without protest from the Mitcham Civic

James Potter, to whom, as we have seen, the King’s Head inn was sold
by Robert Busick of Epsom in 1791, was the proprietor of the Mitcham
firm of Potter and Moore, famous since 1749 as growers of peppermint
and lavender and as distillers of essential oils. It is doubtful if Potter,
who died in 1799 leaving the physic gardens and herbal distillery at Figges
Marsh to his nephew, James Moore, was ever actively involved in running
the Kings Head, and we can assume he acquired the property as an
investment. At the time the premises were still subject to the conditions
of copyhold tenure of the manor of Vauxhall, an annual quit rent of one
shilling and six pence being payable to the dean and chapter of Canterbury
in discharge of customary manorial services.20

Whereas Potter, and after 1799 Moore, was the owner of the King’s
Head, the inn was actually occupied by tenants, probably holding the
premises on lease. The longest tenancy of which we have record was
that of Henry Hart, first recorded as the occupier in 1811, and still “mine
host” as late as 1855,21 although then well into his seventies. The census
details of 1851 imply that Hart was by this time assisted in the running of
the hostelry by his son and daughter, both of whom were living with him.


As we have seen, the King’s Head had developed into a coaching inn
in the 18th century, and by the time England was at war with the French
Republic the inn was the point of departure for George Holden’s stage
coaches to the Spread Eagle in Gracechurch Street – “8 – 9 am and 4 pm
every weekday, taking two hours there and back”.2 The coaching
business remained in the Holden family’s hands for over half a century,
passing to sons and grandsons. In about 1855 it was taken over by
Phillip Samson, whose father, a “job and postmaster” according to a
local directory of the time,22 conducted the coaching business from
premises opposite the King’s Head. His house still stands, numbered
348 London Road, and his former stables can be found at the rear,
although somewhat altered over the years and now used by a joinery

The latter part of the 19th century was a time when to the normal trade
at the King’s Head there was added each year all the excitement of the
comings and goings during the race meetings at Epsom, culminating in
the Derby. As we have remarked earlier, the road through Mitcham
was often jammed with horse-drawn vehicles of every description, and
the kaleidoscopic show was a perennial source of fascination to local
residents, adults as well as children. Early in the century a troop of
mounted life-guards was the normal accompaniment of the coach of
George IV, and some 40 years later it was established custom for
Edward VII, when Prince of Wales, to stop briefly at the King’s Head.
On these occasions the inn naturally became the focus of attention,
and the village beadle, a pompous figure resplendent in tricorn hat and
braided coat, strove to officiate, and to keep the crowd of sightseers at
a respectful distance.23 Whilst the Prince and the royal party retired to
the ‘oak room’, now the longroom or restaurant, fresh horses were
harnessed to the coaches, the others being led away to rest in the
King’s Head stables. It is said that on one of these occasions a Lady
Morton, one of the Prince’s favourites, was abused by a lavender seller,
and his Royal Highness was highly offended. Local tradition tells that
as a consequence royal patronage was transferred to the Six Bells by
Merton bridge, and that here the Prince was regrettably the target of a
well-directed bag of flour! Thereafter the royal party chose to travel
to and from Epsom by the railway.


Another story told of the King’s Head concerns an alleged secret
passage, access to which could be obtained via the cellars. A small
boy is said to have caused a minor panic when he became lost in the
“passage”, and this was subsequently bricked up for safety. Romantic
as such passage stories are, in truth the boy is more likely to have
found a way into an old brick culvert built many years ago to replace
the open ditch conveying water from the direction of the Common. A
surface water sewer now performs the same function, and after leaving
Lower Green West flows north beneath Church Place and finally
discharges into the Wandle above Phipps Bridge.

Following the death of James Bridger, the natural son of James Moore,
the King’s Head was offered for sale by auction in November 1888.
Described by the auctioneers as “a freehold, fully licensed old-
established public house” in the occupation of Mr W R Watson, it had
seven bed or other rooms upstairs, and a dining room, bars, kitchen etc
on the ground floor, plus cellarage. Outside was a large yard with good
stabling, coach houses and loose boxes. The rent was paid by Nalder
and Collyer, the Croydon brewers,24 who had interests in a number of
other Mitcham public houses at this time.

On January 20th 1941 Burnett (“Burn”) and Lily Bullock, joint licensees
of the Regent Arms in London’s West End, became licensees of the
King’s Head.25 Both were already well-known in Mitcham, Lily’s
parent’s, Mr and Mrs Card, having a baker’s shop in London Road
opposite the King’s Head. It was to this address that they had brought
Lily when she was only six months old. Burn’s father held the position
of surveyor to Mitcham Urban District Council, having previously served
as an assistant surveyor to the old Croydon Rural District Council.
Being brought up in a village steeped in cricketing history, it is not
surprising that Burn soon showed promise with the bat and ball. As a
young man he acquired fame in cricketing circles, where his ability
brought him the ultimate reward of skippering Surrey for several years.
He was also honorary secretary of Mitcham Cricket Club from 1914
until 1924. Then came the opportunity to turn professional, and Burn
obtained an appointment as coach to the wealthy owner of Old
Buckenham Hall in Norfolk. He was also a professional with Surrey,
playing mainly for the second XI.


During the Bullocks’ tenancy the walls of the King’s Head were hung
with photographs of a happy Burn, surrounded by cricketing stalwarts
of the inter-war years. In the ’30s he was captain of the Licensed
Victuallers’ Cricket Club north and south of the Thames, and was
responsible for bringing the Lords Taverners and many other famous
clubs to play on Mitcham Green. Great players in those days were his
personal friends, and it was at the King’s Head that The Cavaliers held
their first meeting.

Burn Bullock died in 1954, but for many years his name continued to be
displayed on a board hanging over the entrance to the saloon bar. The
story was that so many of Burn’s cricketing friends, when passing
through Mitcham, mistakenly called in at the Cricketers, expecting to
find him there, that Lily put up the sign outside the door of the King’s
Head, and the inn soon acquired the name of The Burn Bullock.
Determined to perpetuate her husband’s memory, Lily Bullock continued
to run the business on her own for another 11 years, although increasingly
handicapped with asthma. She retired in 1975, proud to have held the
licence of the King’s Head for over 30 years, and went to live with her
daughter Stella Saunders26 near Portsmouth. Lily Bullock died the
following year, aged 78, and was brought back to Mitcham for burial.
It was both in deference to Burn’s memory, and in acceptance of popular
usage, that the brewers Ind Coope took the unusual step of renaming
the King’s Head the Burn Bullock in 1975.

By 1997 concern was being expressed by the owners at the need for
major repairs, and English Heritage was called in for advice. It was
found that the stability of the building had been impaired by the removal
of internal walls at some time in the past (to increase the size of the bar
accommodation) and that the structure was spreading. Plans were
finalised in 1998, Listed Building Consent for the works was granted
by the Borough Council, and by November the inn could barely be seen
behind a network of steel scaffolding whilst workmen were busily
engaged inside, working until late at night. Within a month the
scaffolding had been removed, and internal refurbishment was completed
in time for Christmas.


“North East View of an Old Mansion at Mitcham, Surrey, Belonging to M. Tate”
(Watercolour signed “J C B 1827”. Original in Merton Local Studies Centre)

Watercolour of the rear of the Tate family house by Yates, dated 1825,
captioned “The Recovery, A House for Lunatics Mitcham Green. Back View”
(Original in the possession of Surrey Archaeological Society)

Chapter 4


Before turning to the history of the old primary school house and the
Tate Almshouses – after the Burn Bullock the next buildings of note
overlooking the Cricket Green – it is appropriate to examine what is
known of the Tate family and, since demolition in 1828 released the
land required for the new buildings, the house which was the home of
the Mitcham Tates for much of the 18th century.

The Tates’ house was described as “an antique building” by Edwards,
the travel writer, shortly after visiting Mitcham around 1789.1 John
Chessell Buckler, whose two sketches of the house as it was in 1827
fortunately survive, also saw it as “old” and, with perhaps a little artistic
licence, went so far as to use the term “mansion” in the captions to his
drawings.2 By good fortune, another excellent watercolour of the house
survives, painted by Gideon Yates in 1825.3 Taking all three together
one can form a good impression of how the property looked shortly
before it was demolished, One can also, with reasonable assurance,
date the building from its external appearance to the late 17th century,
although it had obviously been modified by several early to mid-18th
century additions. The roofs, the complex lines of which are indicative
of several building phases, were covered in plain red tiles, almost
certainly the product of local kilns. The walls are shown to have been
rendered by the 1820s, the fashionable stucco of the time being most
likely applied originally to cover decaying and porous brickwork rather
than for appearance. On the principal elevations boxed-sash windows
were disposed with an attempt at symmetry, whilst a porch carried on
Tuscan columns, and another doorway surmounted by a canopy with
heavily carved console brackets, were typical efforts to add touches of
classical elegance to a house erected by a provincial builder. Regrettably,
no record of the interior of the house has come down to us, and we can
only assume from both Edwards’ and Buckler’s comments that the
building they saw incorporated an older structure either contained within
or, so their drawings would suggest, behind a relatively new “Georgian”

Whereas most of the land the Tates’ house occupied seems likely to
have been enclosed from the manorial waste at some time in the Middle


Ages, the gardens to the south could well have resulted from a much
later extension, taking in part of the grounds of the large Tudor mansion
once belonging to Sir Julius Caesar where, as we have seen in an
earlier chapter, Queen Elizabeth stayed on several occasions during
the latter part of her reign.4 Sections of the moat that surrounded the
house survived into the 1920s, but following sale early in the 17th century
the estate was broken up, providing sites either side of the old mansion
for the erection of two substantial houses with entrances from the Sutton
road.5 The Tates’ residence probably dated to the same period of
redevelopment, during which parts of the parkland surrounding the Tudor
house quite possibly became available, and could be added to the grounds
of what we are assuming was a new house being built on the
southwestern side of the Green.

We now turn to the evidence linking the Tates, who first appear on the
Mitcham scene in the early 18th century, and the Hamond or Hammond
family, one of whose ancestors may have been the first owner of the
house overlooking the Green. During the Civil War and the
Commonwealth several large estates in and around Mitcham were either
sold or mortgaged to meet the heavy fines imposed by Parliament on
royalist supporters. As a consequence lawyers and others dealing in
property profited, often investing in land themselves. One such was a
Thomas Hamond of Byfleet who, having purchased the manor of
“Mitcham alias Cannon” in November 1647 from Sir Francis Carew of
Beddington, in February 1656 sold it to Robert Cranmer, a wealthy
London merchant recently returned from service abroad with the East
India Company.6 The court rolls of the manor of Vauxhall show that in
1718 a “Mrs Hammond” was paying a relatively large annual quit rent
of 2s. 4d. to the dean and chapter of Canterbury as a copyhold tenant
of property in Mitcham close by, if not actually overlooking, the Cricket
Green.7 “Mrs Hammonds” was listed amongst the local gentry by the
vicar of Mitcham when replying to the bishop of Winchester’s visitation
questionnaire in 1725,8 and as late as 1740 the manorial rent roll still
lists Mrs Hammond, paying the same rent as in 1718.

It is most unlikely that the widow of Thomas Hamond of Byfleet was
still alive in 1718, but it is not inconceivable that a house he built in
Mitcham with the proceeds from his property transactions passed to


his heirs and remained in the family into the 1740s. Mitcham parish
registers record the marriage between Ann Hammond (sic)(presumably
Thomas Hamond’s granddaughter) and a William Tate in 1705, and in
October 1745 Benjamin Tate who, if our assumption is correct, would
have been Thomas Hamond’s great-grandson, was admitted to the
copyhold of Vauxhall manor formerly held by “Martha” Hammond. 9
Thereafter Benjamin’s name is listed as paying the rent of 2s. 4d. until
the end of the 18th century. There is little doubt that the same property
is involved. A little further research in the parish registers and the wills
left by members of the family would no doubt clarify their precise

The Tate family were related to the Tates of Burleigh Park, near
Loughborough, and were descended from the Tates of Delapré Abbey
in Northamptonshire, a wealthy Midland family who numbered amongst
their ancestors no fewer than four lord mayors of London, holding office
in 1473, 1488, 1496 and 1513.10 The family’s arms were three Cornish
choughs, with as a crest an arm, embowed and couped at the shoulder,
holding a golden pine branch. The escutcheon can still be seen above
the door of the Tate Almshouses. William was possibly the son of
Henry Tate, High Sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1711,11 and a
descendant of Zouch Tate of Delapré (1606-51), Member of Parliament
for Northampton in 1640.12

Whether or not William and Ann made the house at Mitcham their
country home we cannot say, but by the early 18th century it was the
established custom for many men with business or professional
connections in the City to maintain modest estates in the Home Counties.
This migration from the capital, already evident in Mitcham in the 16th
century, was encouraged by recurrent outbreaks of plague and finally
the Great Fire of London, and was to lead to the virtual suburbanisation
of parts of north-eastern Surrey by the close of the 18th century.

It has to be admitted that of the Mitcham branch of the Tate family,
particularly their early years in the parish, we know comparatively little
of significance, and yet as time went by they became prominent and
much respected members of the community. As a family they are, of
course, not unique in this respect, and but for the benevolence of Mary


Tate in the following century they would have faded into that anonymity
which has been the fate of so many who made Mitcham their home.

William and Ann had two sons, William and Benjamin. William Tate
junior became an attorney-at-law, with offices in Watling Street,
London.13 As a Chancery lawyer, he obviously prospered, as indeed
did many of his profession in the 18th century, and with his wife
Elizabeth, née Wynn, whom he married in 17369 he made the house
overlooking the Cricket Green their home. Here, in the healthy
surroundings of this popular Surrey village – dubbed the “Montpelier of
England” by one fashionable physician – they raised their three childen,
Elizabeth, Ann and William.

In 1742 William’s brother Benjamin married Martha Allcraft, sister of
Henry Allcraft of Mitcham, whose seat lay immediately to the south of
the Upper Green,14 and the newly-weds established themselves in a
large house in Lower Mitcham, later known as Baron House. This
may have come into Benjamin’s hands at about the time of his marriage,
for the previous occupier surrendered tenure of land at the rear, which
he had occupied with the house, in 1742.15 There is a mention in a
memorandum book kept between 1740 and 1752 by James Cranmer,
the squire of Mitcham, of “the house where Mr Tate lives”, which he
implies could be seen as one left Mitcham on the way to Morden,16
and the parish poor rate book for 1761 – one of the first to have survived

– confirms Tate to have been the ratepayer at that time.17 Here, then,
Benjamin and Martha’s seven children, Henry, Martha, George, Sophia,
Benjamin, Dulcibella and Susanna would have been born. We are
ignorant at the present time of Benjamin’s profession – he may, of course,
have followed a career in the law like his brother – but it is interesting to
see that by 1751/2 the copyhold tenure of his parents’ home overlooking
the Green had passed to him, presumably by way of inheritance as
William and Ann’s younger son, in accordance with the ancient custom
of Borough English.
As befitted their position in village society, the two brothers took an
active part in the affairs of the local vestry.18 Both served as overseers
of the poor, Benjamin in 1761-2 and William in 1771-2. In the 1750s
and 1760s William was repeatedly nominated by the vestry for selection


by the justices as a surveyor of highways, an unpaid post normally held
for one year only, two parishioners of substance being selected (or
reselected) annually and then held responsible for supervising the
maintenance of the parish roads and the collection of the highway rate
during their term of office. Benjamin served on the special workhouse
committee appointed in 1758, and a year later the brothers were
members of a seven-man deputation from Mitcham vestry appointed
to see Sir Nicholas Carew and John Manship, lords of the Mitcham
manors of Ravensbury, and of Biggin and Tamworth respectively,
concerning the proposition that a new workhouse should be erected on
the Common. Martha Tate died in December 1762, and in due course
Benjamin remarried, taking as his second wife Mary, daughter of Dr
Edward Butler of St Mary Magdalen College, Oxford.19 Benjamin’s
involvement with parish affairs ceased at about this time, and it would
seem that he moved away from Mitcham after the marriage.

Benjamin and Martha’s son, also christened Benjamin, was born in
1751. He matriculated at University College Oxford in 1769 and
proceeded to obtain his Bachelor of Arts degree at Magdalen College
in 1773 and his master’s degree three years later. In 1780 he was
elected a fellow of Magdalen, a position he was to hold until his death
in 1820. Benjamin junior elected to follow an academic career, becoming
senior dean of arts in 1784, bursar in 1785, vice-president in 1794, and
dean of divinity in 1795.20

William Tate died in 1781, aged 74, and was buried in the family grave
on the north side of Mitcham church, where one may still find the chest
tomb bearing the family coat of arms. When the topographer Edwards
was visiting Mitcham in 1789 he noted that what he called the “antique
building” beyond the King’s Head was in the possession of “Mrs Tate”,
an “aged lady”. This was Elizabeth, William’s widow, who was then in
her 84th year. She died in October 1789, and after her brother-in-law’s
death a year later her nephew Benjamin inherited the family’s Mitcham
house. At a court baron of Vauxhall held in November 1790, as “the
Revd Benjamin Tate the younger”, he was duly admitted to the tenancy
of “a house, barn and croft of land in Mitcham”. A manorial rent roll
of 1799 confirms that Benjamin Tate was still in possession of the tenancy
at that time, and he continued to be assessed for land tax at Mitcham


until 1820,21 but with accommodation at Oxford he did not return to
live in Mitcham and died in college, where he is buried in the ante-

Mitcham parish church, demolished in 1819 and rebuilt over the next
three years, contained several Tate family memorials which, in deference
to the family’s social standing in the parish, were refixed in the new
church. These include, on the wall of the north aisle, a simple oval
marble tablet by C Harris of London to Sophia, who died in April 1780,
and another white marble monument, surmounted with an urn and
bearing the Tate arms, to the memory of Benjamin’s other sister Martha,
who died in December 1795. Benjamin’s aunt Elizabeth, who was
interred beside her husband in the family grave, was joined in due course
by their only son William, who died in 1814, and two unmarried
daughters, Ann (1742-1817), and Elizabeth (1737-1821). A memorial
to William, Ann and Elizabeth can be seen inside the church, on the
wall of the north aisle. Benjamin Tate senior died in January 1790 at
Burleigh Park, the family seat, but was brought back to Mitcham for
burial in the north aisle, where he is commemorated by a plain white
marble monument bearing the Tate arms. On the Revd Benjamin Tate’s
death in 1820 the family estate passed to his older brother George,
styled at the time of his death in 1822 as “of Burleigh near Loughborough
in Leicestershire and of Langdown in the county of Southampton”.19

John Buckler, who was to be appointed architect of the Tate Almshouses
at Mitcham, knew the family well, and designed a memorial to the
Revd Benjamin Tate which was installed in the ante-chapel at Magdalen
College. Buckler was also responsible for a simple memorial to George
Tate which can be seen on the wall of the north chancel of Mitcham
parish church.22

The Revd Tate’s cousin Elizabeth, unmarried and in her early 50s when
her mother died in 1789, had in all probability been her mother’s
companion in the last years of her life. She seems to have left Mitcham
for a while after the funeral, but by 1795 had returned to the village of
her birth, taking a lease of what later became known as the Manor
House, just to the south of the King’s Head, on the road to Sutton. This
was one of the two houses we have mentioned earlier as having been


built in the late 17th century, and by the 1790s it was owned by a
Charles Everingham.21

For a year or so after old Mrs Tate’s death her former house stood
empty, no doubt whilst the terms of the will were settled and the family
determined the future of the property. Without further research it is
not possible to be dogmatic, but it would seem very likely that it was
held in trust for the various beneficiaries of the estates, firstly of her
late husband William, and then of his brother Benjamin. Certainly for
the next 30-odd years the house overlooking the Cricket Green was
let, probably on short-term leases, to a succession of tenants. The
pattern is one we find repeatedly when studying the history of the larger
houses in Mitcham at this time, and was no doubt also common
elsewhere. The tenants were obviously wealthy, for these houses were
expensive to maintain. Typically, the Tate property, with its stables and
outhouses, the large garden and many rooms, would have required the
employment of a small army of servants.

In the closing years of the 18th century the house overlooking the Cricket
Green was certainly still an attractive old building. Secluded behind a
high brick wall, but overlooking from the upper windows the village
green and adjoining parkland, it afforded its occupants enjoyable and
extensive views across the surrounding countryside to the wooded hills
of Norwood and Streatham, or the Downs beyond Beddington. The
actual frontage was a little over 200 feet (60 m), and a surviving plan
shows the garden and shrubberies extending to the rear, with a barn,
stables and a cottage at the side.23 The neighbours were congenial
and affluent, for a dozen or more similar houses, all within a half mile
radius, were the residences of either local gentry, City merchants,
lawyers or bankers. Mitcham vestry was a model for local government
at the time, conservative but efficient, and actively supported by the
leading parishioners. Moreover, the village industries were thriving,
and unemployment and poverty were happily not serious problems.
Finally, but a most important consideration for those with business
interests in town, an excellent turnpike road passing within a stone’s
throw of the house offered the facility of speedy and comfortable
travelling to London. Alternatively, if one’s mind turned to pleasure,
the road led southwards to horse-racing on the downs at Banstead and


Epsom, or what was becoming the fashionable watering-place of

The first of the new private residents at the Tates’ house was John
Trott, to whom it was evidently leased for three years. He was followed
in about 1795 by Thomas Smith of the Leathersellers’ Company of
London, an important man in the City who was a member of the court
of common council from 1784 until 1802, and became Lord Mayor in
1809.24 Although he relinquished the tenancy of the Tates’ house by
1798, Alderman Smith later made Mitcham his home, leasing an even
larger house, the Rectory or Mitcham Villa (later known as The
Cranmers), from the Cranmer family from 1804 until 1819.25 Benjamin
Tate found other tenants for his house apparently without difficulty, a
William Browning following Smith and staying until 1804 or 1805, when
it was taken by a Mrs Baker until 1818. John Bassett followed her,
staying until 1824.

The Revd Tate’s cousin Elizabeth died in July 1821, coincidentally at
almost the same age as her mother – once they had passed the hazards
of early childhood the Tates enjoyed notable longevity – and was laid to
rest in the family grave. Her monument, on the wall of the north aisle
of the parish church, erected by another cousin, Maria Beckford, is a
particularly beautiful piece by Richard Westmacott, the well-known
sculptor. Ten months later, in his 78th year, her cousin George Tate of
Burleigh passed away, leaving his unmarried daughter Mary the sole
survivor of the Mitcham branch of the family. Highly regarded by his
contemporaries – “a gentleman of amiable and accomplished manners”
… “beloved in home and foreign parts” – he also lies in the parish
churchyard, and is touchingly commemorated by a white marble tablet
in the church, commissioned by his grieving daughter.

With the expiration of Bassett’s lease in 1824, and whilst the estate
was being administered by Elizabeth Tate’s executors, the family’s old
home at Mitcham assumed a new and what was to be its final role.
This was as a home for the mentally deranged named, optimistically,
The Recovery. From what we can deduce of her character, it would
have been entirely in keeping with Mary Tate’s compassionate nature
for this change of use to be attributed to her. A record survives of an


inspection of the home, which was licensed under an Act of 1774 for
the reception of not more than ten patients, whilst it was under the care
of William Antonio Rocher.26 The inspecting officials, two justices of
the peace appointed by the Quarter Sessions at Reigate in April 1825,
accompanied by a doctor of medicine, found the house “commodious,
airy and well adapted for the purpose”. The apartments were reported
well furnished, clean and confortable, and the two patients confined
therein apparently receiving proper care and treatment.

One of Rocher’s associates at Mitcham, an unqualified self-styled
“Professor for the Cure of Insanity” by the name of James Lucette, is
an interesting character. He had worked with a Mr Tardy of Marchmont
at the Foundling Hospital before moving to West Ham, where he was
treating patients in 1812. Two years later he was in practice at Ealing
Green, receiving financial assistance from a committee which included
the Dukes of Cumberland and Sussex. At a time when psychiatric
medicine was in its infancy, Lucette’s practices attracted some interest,
and he produced a pamphlet on his treatment which he brought to the
attention of Queen Charlotte in the hope it might be of benefit to George

III. Nothing is known of Lucette’s subsequent career, but he appears to
have fallen on hard times by the 1840s, when he was in Camberwell
workhouse, and he died there in 1851.27
It was during 1825 that The Recovery was visited by Gideon Yates, the
artist, and the charming watercolour he painted showing the rear
elevation of the house with its garden is now in the possession of Surrey
Archaeological Society.3 Whilst the treatment of mental illness at that
time would almost certainly now be regarded with disapproval, if not
horror, the inmates of Rocher’s establishment at least had the benefit
of surroundings which offered peace and seclusion, if not the assurance
of a cure.

Conscious of being the sole surviving offspring of the ten cousins who
had shared their childhood in Mitcham, and with no children of her own
to carry the name forward, Mary Tate seems to have been motivated by
a desire to perpetuate the family’s name in the village, and to give help
to the poor of the parish in a practical way. The family had long been
held in high esteem as generous benefactors of the parish, Ann Tate


having bequeathed £500 to the poor in 1817, to which her elder sister
Elizabeth added £1,000 four years later.28 These monies were to be
invested in stock and the dividends expended in the purchase of
provisions, distributed annually on Christmas Eve amongst the poor of
the parish not receiving alms.

Thus it was that Mary Tate, “spinster, of Grosvenor Place, Middlesex
and Langdown in the County of Southampton” conceived the idea of
endowing the building and subsequent maintenance of a group of 12
almshouses, designed specifically for elderly widows or single women
of the parish, with whom in her loneliness, although their financial
circumstances might differ very considerably, she felt an affinity. With
her expressed preference for tenants who had grown old in domestic
service, Mary Tate may well have had in mind some of the family’s
former retainers at Mitcham.29 It was little short of an inspiration for
her to give the site of the family’s old home for this worthy cause, and
her benevolence was a perfect application of the Tate family’s motto
“Thinke and Thancke”.

Miss Tate retained close contact with the gentlemen appointed as
trustees to administer the almshouses, and her name occurs frequently
in the correspondence, in which her advice and approval was sought
for actions proposed. In her later years she retired to Leicestershire,
taking up residence herself at Burleigh Hall, which had been the family
seat for 150 years. The Tates had always maintained a close interest
in the welfare of the people of nearby Loughborough, and Mary Tate
continued the tradition until her death. She endowed the Boys’ School
in the parish of Emmanuel in 1840, and five years later the Girls’ School
in Bedford Square. She also gave a large sum of money to help in the
rebuilding of Emmanuel Church, the east window in which is a memorial
to her generosity.11

Chapter 5


One chilly morning late in 1829, 12 elderly women, several of them
protected from the autumn winds by distinctive woollen capes reaching
to their ankles, could be seen in little groups of two or three slowly
making their way to Mitcham parish church. Local people observing
the old ladies carefully picking their way along the uneven footpaths
that Sunday could tell immediately by their attire that they were inmates
of the new almshouses on Lower Green, and henceforth the little
procession was to become a familiar sight in the village, for in 1829 the
Tate Almshouses were completed, providing “a residence free from
rent, taxes and outgoings for twelve poor women who shall be
respectively widows or unmarried women ….. members of the Church
of England and who have a legal settlement in the parish”.1

As we have seen in the previous chapter, for four generations an offshoot
of the Tate family of Northampton had been resident in Mitcham. In
1828, finding herself the sole survivor of this particular branch of the
family, Mary Tate decided to fund the erection of a little group of cottages
for the poor of the parish. The site, we have already noted, was given
by Miss Tate, and was that of her grandparents’ former home overlooking
the Cricket Green. The neat and attractive almshouses, so familiar to
residents today and now formally recognised by a Grade II listing as
buildings of architectural and historic merit, were built to the design of
John Buckler, a well known architect of his day.2 He was acquainted
with the family through his association with Mary Tate’s uncle at Oxford,
where he, Buckler, was bailiff at Magdalen College and Dr Benjamin
Tate had for many years been dean of divinity. Buckler proposed, and
Mary Tate accepted, that the almshouses should be built in the Tudor-
gothic style popular in the early 19th century, They were erected entirely
at her expense, and such was the quality of the workmanship and
materials that, despite the combined effects of war-time bombing, natural
decay and the elements, their external appearance has altered little in
the 170 years that have elapsed since they were completed.

As the work progressed under the personal supervision of the architect,
a board of four trustees was established to select suitable tenants from
amongst the applicants for admission to the houses, and to administer


the charitable trust set up by Miss Tate. The four local gentlemen
chosen by her were the Revd John Henry Mapleton, the recently instituted
vicar of Mitcham who acted as clerk to the trustees; George Matthew
Hoare of The Lodge, Morden, son of the late Henry Hoare of Mitcham
Grove and a senior member of the famous banking family; Sir John
William Lubbock, head of the banking firm of John Lubbock and
Company and the new owner of the Mitcham Grove estate; and William
Simpson, a retired industrialist and lord of the manor of Mitcham, whose
wife’s family, the Cranmers, had been major landowners in the parish
and patrons of the parish church since the Commonwealth. To support
the charitable trust she had established, Mary Tate transferred to it the
sum of £5,000 invested in 3% Consols. Subsequently further gifts
increased the total endowment to £5,800.3 All rights in the property,
comprising the almshouses themselves, the front garden and land at
the rear, were vested in the trust via the trustees, their heirs and assigns.

As can be imagined, there was considerable speculation amongst the
poor of the parish as to who would be successful in being granted
accommodation in the almshouses. Initially the selection was made by
Mary Tate from nominees put forward by the trustees. After her death
some 20 years later the task was performed by the trustees themselves,
adhering to the principles laid down by the benefactress. Her main
stipulations were that the almswomen were to be 50 years old or
upwards, to have resided in Mitcham for five years, and not to have
received parochial relief within five years of their admission. Miss
Tate also emphasised that preference was to be shown to former
domestic servants, “decayed tradeswomen”, or widows of tradesmen.

When at last an applicant was successful in gaining admission, there
were some fairly rigid rules to be observed. They can be seen in a copy
indenture, dated December 1829, which was presented to Mitcham
Library by Worthing Library in the early 1930s and is one of the most
interesting documents in Merton Local Studies Centre. The women
were expected to “behave civilly and orderly, and live orderly and
religious lives”, attending the parish church each week and receiving
the sacraments four times each year. No lodgers were allowed without
permission, and the gates, set in the high brick wall which fronted the
Green, were locked at 11 pm, and an hour earlier during the winter


months. The almswomen were not allowed to keep dogs, or to alter
their apartments without permission. The matron kept a book with the
names of the women, and was required to report to the trustees on any
“infraction of the rules”. The ultimate penalty for extreme cases was
eviction. Although it might seem that the establishment was run on
rather severe lines, many of the conditions imposed were far from
being considered unreasonable at the time.

Arrangements were made for the women to receive an allowance of
three shillings a week, which they were liable to forfeit if they remained
outside the almshouses for more than 24 hours without leave of the
trustees. On receiving their weekly allowance, the residents were
“enjoined to discharge all debts contracted in the last week”. They
were, furthermore, made an allowance of 13 hundredweights of coal
per year.

The almswomen might also benefit from other donations to the parish,
including “Smith’s charity”. Henry Smith was an Elizabethan silversmith
who, having amassed a considerable fortune which he invested in land
and property, established a Trust which, after his death in 1628, was
empowered to use the income for the benefit of people in need.4 In
1726 the parish of Mitcham was granted £4 per annum, payable out of
the rent of an estate at Bexhill, the money to be used for the purchase
of warm great-coats, distributed amongst the poor at Christmas. It
must be said that the recipients of this charity were not always as
grateful as one might have expected, for the coats bore a large badge
which not only recalled Smith’s generosity, but also proclaimed to all
that the wearer was a pauper at a time when poverty was often
considered a stigma.

The Revd Mapleton resigned the living at Mitcham in 1841, but remained
a trustee until 1846, when he requested the vestry to find a replacement
since his health was poor. For some time William Simpson had been
conducting much of the correspondence arising from the business of
the trustees, and letters passing between him and Miss Tate, who by the
1830s had retired to the family’s ancestral seat of Burleigh Hall, near
Loughborough, cast a further light on the way in which the women
were chosen to live at the almshouses. In February 1837 he wrote


“… our course at the last vacancy was to give notice of it at church and
invite each candidate to send in her grounds for admission to the trustees
… if it is your pleasure we should follow the same course on the present
occasion, will you do me the honour to communicate with me”. Then
again, he wrote to Sir John Lubbock asking if he considered it suitable
to ask applicants to go to the almshouses “when particulars of each
case be laid before Miss Tate for her decision on the next vacancy”.
The Simpson papers, a large collection of both private and business
correspondence of William Simpson are in the possession of Merton
Local Studies Centre, and provide a potentially fruitful source for further
research on various aspects of both local and social history of the mid19th

With the passage of time interpretation of the rules governing the
almshouses has mellowed in response to changing attitudes, and the
procedures of the trustees have been modified. To ease the ever-
increasing financial burden of maintenance, and to enable the Trust to
remain viable, the tenants by the mid-1980s were paying a small, but
still nominal, rent. Applications were considered by a seven-man Board
of Trustees, chaired by the vicar, the Revd John Thorold.

An engraving of the Tate Almshouses published in the Gentleman’s
Magazine in 18304 shows that a large elm tree, which had been in the
front garden of the old Tate residence, remained in the courtyard of the
cottages, which was enclosed by a brick wall some five feet high.
According to Emma Bartley, who published her reminiscences of old
Mitcham in 1909, this wall was removed in the 1850s at the suggestion
of Charles Hugh Hoare, who had come to live at The Canons. Mr
Hoare, who like his forebears was a partner in Hoare and Co., bankers,
persuaded the trustees that the outlook for the old people in the
almshouses would be much more cheerful if the wall were to be removed
and replaced with an open railing. This was done, and the courtyard
made into a garden that exists today, edged with real Mitcham lavender.

Apart from the removal of the railings and the elm tree, the appearance
of the almshouses from the road has changed little since the 1830s. In
1956, when under new housing legislation improvement grants were
becoming available through local authorities, a modernisation scheme


The Tate Almshouses, Lower Green, photographed c1976

resulted in a transformation within the main fabric of the building. Re-
roofing was carried out discreetly by a Mitcham building firm, and the
drainage system was renewed. Internally various renovations made
the residents much more comfortable, with electricity being installed,
and internal toilets provided for the first time. Each tenant had a bed-
sitting room and a little kitchen, completely redecorated in pleasant
light colours, but because of limited space the six new bathrooms had
to be shared between adjoining paired flatlets, as were their front doors.

At a period when so much was changing, often, it seemed to many, for
the worse, the survival of the Tate Almshouses provided a comforting
link with the past and a vanished Mitcham that a few of the older
residents could still remember as a country village. There was also a
renewed confidence that, with continuing good management, the
almshouses might survive for many more years, and that the benevolence
of Mary Tate would not be forgotten.


With their gabled slate roofs, and paired chimneys in yellow stock brick
topped with tall octagonal yellow pots, the almshouses made a unique
contribution to the Mitcham Cricket Green Conservation Area, declared
in 1969 by the newly created Merton Borough Council with a view to
preserving a most attractive part of the former Borough of Mitcham.
The unusual and original window casements of cast iron with glazing
bars in an intricate lattice-work design added to the aesthetic interest of
the cottages, but it was already recognised by the trustees that internally
other novel constructional details, such as suspended stone floors in the
kitchens supported on iron beams, were causing problems through rust,
and that further expensive renovation works were becoming necessary.
Income, however, was quite inadequate to meet major repairs and the
improvements and modernisation which eventually became a necessity,
and in 1987 the trustees transferred their liabilites and assets to the
Family Welfare Association, a registered housing association able to
obtain funding from the Housing Corporation and the Borough Council
to enable proper rehabilitation to be undertaken. At the same time the
Council’s Conservation Areas Advisory Committee undertook to make
grants available as and when necessary for additional works to the
exterior in order to retain original features.

In 1991, the Housing Corporation having undertaken to provide core
funding, amounting to 64% of the estimated cost, the trustees agreed to
launch a public appeal for £100,000 to meet the balance needed to
complete refurbishment without incurring debt charges which otherwise
would have to be met from increased rents, contrary to Mary Tate’s
original concept of low-cost housing. The appeal was successful, and
the scheme prepared by architect Eleanor Michel, which involved a
reduction in the number of units from the original twelve to seven in
order that each dwelling should be self-contained and have its own front
door, proceeded to completion. The end result met with general approval,
and received the first Local Design Award to be granted in the London
Borough of Merton.

By the end of 1997 the Mary Tate Cottages, as the almshouses are
now more usually known, had been transferred from the Family Welfare
Association to the Anchor Housing Association.

Chapter 6


When in 1972 the appearance of an estate agent’s board outside the
former National Infant Schools teachers’ houses, Nos 8 – 10 Cricket
Green, prompted the writer to contribute an article to the Merton
Borough News, it appeared that yet another change might be imminent
in a part of Mitcham which had contrived to remain unaltered for virtually
a century, and still retained something of its old world fascination. The
semi-detached pair then lacked the protection of being a listed building,1
and with the erstwhile school and its yard at the rear offering a potential
for redevelopment, there seemed a strong possibility that demolition
might ensue. In the meantime, a review of the story behind this historic
building, a landmark in the provision of public education in Mitcham, did
not seem out of place.

In 1812 the enlarged and adapted Sunday School building, built in 1788
on a small site overlooking Lower Green West, was opened as a National
Day School under the auspices of the Church of England’s National
Society for the Education of the Poor.2 Such was the demand for
education that almost from the outset the building proved inadequate,
but the site offered only limited scope for extension, and little could be
done to improve matters. The population of Mitcham was increasing
steadily, however, rising from 4,175 in 1811 to 4,387 in 1831, and with
the clamour of parents wishing to secure for their children the rudiments
of an education showing no signs of abating, a solution had to be found.

The National Schools’ minute book, kept at Surrey History Centre,
shows the trustees resolving on the 9th March 1835 that

“In consequence of the inadequacy of the present school to admit
more children, and applications being constantly made for the
admission of children of less than 6 years of age, a circular be sent to
the inhabitants of the parish requesting their concurrence in the
formation of an infants school”.3

In view of “their tender age” it was also considered that a separate
building was essential for the younger children.

The parishioners circularised were in agreement, and on 13th July 1835
the trustees decided, as a temporary measure, that premises owned by a


Mr Secker should be rented. The location of this buildiing has not yet
been identified, but the Surrey History Centre is understood to hold a
bundle of papers dealing with the early years of the infants’ school.
These have not yet been classified and their precise contents remain to
be studied.4

Having adopted a short-term measure to ease the problem of
accommodating the infants, the trustees were not content to let the matter
rest, and early in 1838 reached a decision to build a new school
specifically for the smaller children, together with accommodation for
the master and mistress. On 15th March 1838 two possible sites for
the new premises were inspected by William Simpson, accompanied
by the curate, the Revd Herbert Randolph, and a London architect,
Thomas Finden, who lived at Baron House in Lower Mitcham.5 Finden’s
estimates and opinions were duly submitted to the school trustees, and
the site finally chosen was a vacant plot located immediately to the
north-west of the Tate Almshouses, adjoining the gardens of the King’s
Head. Like the land on which the almshouses had been erected ten
years before, this plot was formerly part of the site and grounds of the
Tate family’s Mitcham house, demolished in 1828.

The two semi-detached houses for the school master and mistress,
built at the entrance to the school yard with a pleasant aspect overlooking
the Green, cost £210. The architect was almost certainly Finden6 and
the building, a tasteful example of the restrained “stucco gothic” popular
with the early Victorians, is unique in Mitcham. A century ago it ceased
to be used as originally intended, and was converted to offices, but
externally it retained gothic detailing to door and window openings,
and the chimneys kept their tall octagonal pots until the 1980s. Sadly
with the latters’ removal the building seems to have lost something of
its original elegance. A further unfortunate loss was an inscribed panel
set between the first floor windows, revealed in 1990 when the building
was being restored and redecorated for the present owners. This had
once carried wording to the effect that the building was the “Infants
School”, “Instituted in 1835” and “supported by voluntary
subscriptions”, but the lettering was so badly defaced as to be barely
legible and since much of the inscription was indecipherable, the panel
was photographed and painted over again.


Behind the teachers’ accommodation stood the actual infant school
building. Of single storey construction in yellow brick with slated roof,
it was designed to provide an area of 1440 square feet “adapted to the
reception of 240 children”. With a mere six square feet overall per
child, the overcrowding must, by our standards, have been appalling
when the school was full. The building was completed in seven months,
and with customary ceremony the school was opened on 28th October
1838. Ninety-eight children are reported to have been in attendance
the first week, ready to embark upon their educational careers under
the care of Arthur and Millicent Heron, the master and mistress.7

The subsequent history of this village school can be followed in detail
through the medium of the log books, which happily still survive in the
care of the County Archivist at Surrey History Centre. If any analysis
were possible, the standards of basic education attained would
undoubtedly make interesting comparison with that achieved today, with
far greater resources. It is equally certain that the Herons and their
successors could never have instilled anything worthwhile into their
charges’ heads without heavy reliance on the monitorial system, or
have maintained discipline without the threat, if not the application, of
corporal punishment. “Assistant teachers” were employed, but seem
more often than not to have been older children who, having graduated
to the main school a few years previously, left that establishment at the
age or 12 or 13. The salaries of the professional teaching staff now
appear to be absurdly low, although they probably equated well enough
with other comparable employment at the time. There is, however, a
hint that they were still inadequate to meet the needs of married staff,
for local directories show that Mr Compton, the schoolmaster in the
1890s, was also the proprietor of Compton’s Printing Works, which
very conveniently occupied premises adjoining the main school house
on Lower Green West.8

Despite its shortcomings, the infants’ school building served the village
of Mitcham for over half a century before it was closed. Hundreds of
children must have passed through its doors to grapple with the rudiments
of the “three Rs” in what, to our minds, seem incredibly primitive
conditions. Standards were rising, however, and towards the closing
years of Queen Victoria’s reign, under the stimulus provided by W E


Forster’s Education Act of 1870, new school buildings were being erected
by the Local School Board all over Mitcham. The end of the school on
the Causeway came in October 1897, when Her Majesty’s Inspector
Mr. Dibben visited Mitcham, and reported that “the Old Infants’ School
is now unnecessary and we are well rid of an inconvenient, insanitary

The detailed history of the buildings immediately after vacation by the
school is not known to the writer, but it is understood that at one time the
former school room was used as a laundry.9 In the 1920s it was adapted
for use as a printing works by Messrs H G Mather of Lower Green
West, successors to Compton, and known as the “Caxton Works” it
continued to be used in this capacity until the late 1970s. For many
years the teachers’ houses were the offices of Chart, Son and Reading,
the Mitcham firm of estate agents, auctioneers and surveyors whose
principal, Robert Masters Chart, was architect of Mitcham Vestry Hall,
and became the new Borough’s Charter Mayor in 1934 at the age of 84.
Nos 8 and 10 continued in use as offices after Chart, Son and Reading’s
departure, and until the late 1980s were occupied by the London and
Manchester Assurance Co. By the 1990s they had become the offices
of Mason Collins, licensed conveyancers and commissioners for oaths.

The houses built for the master and mistress of the National Infants
School, Lower Green, in 1838. Photographed 1972

Chapter 7


No 46 Cricket Green, an apparently undistinguished red-brick bungalow,
could easily be passed by today without a second thought. Even a side
window of rather unusual shape is insufficient to attract more than a
momentary glance, and yet this little building has an origin that makes it
of unusual interest in the history of Mitcham. Although as it appears
now it could easily be ascribed to the early 20th century, the bungalow
was, in fact, built in 1789, and started life as a Wesleyan Methodist
“preaching house” or chapel. Moreover, a month after its opening in
November that year a sermon was preached there by the great John
Wesley himself. For nearly a century the chapel served the Mitcham
congregation and then, in 1877, no longer able to cater for the expanding
community, it was superseded by a new chapel, built on the opposite
side of the Green. This, in its turn, was demolished in 1958 to be
replaced by the present modernistic church.

Methodism can trace its beginnings in Mitcham to the 1760s, and its
history from those early days until the closing years of World War II
was described by the Revd Douglas S Hubery, who became the minister
of the united Mitcham Methodist Churches in 1944.1 Since the booklet
he published the following year is no longer in print and copies are
scarce, his account of those early years, when the little chapel on the
Cricket Green lay at the heart of the Non-Conformist movement, justifies
transcription almost verbatim:

“John Wesley’s Visits to Mitcham

“John Wesley had been invited to stay at Dorking for a few days in
January, 1764”, wrote Hubery, “and on January 12th, as he was making
his way there from London, he came to Mitcham. Seeing the fine open
space at the Cricket Green, he immediately alighted from his horse and
began to preach. But the people gave no sign of interest and he
continued his journey. Little opportunity was given to him in Dorking
of doing what he intended, so two days later he returned to London,
again passing through Mitcham and preaching on the Green. No greater
interest was evinced than on his previous attempt there, and Wesley
wrote off his visits as failures. It had seemed a complete waste of time
halting at such a place; the people were in no mood to respond to his


message. When he recorded the events of these few days and
remembered his speaking at Mitcham he resolved to ‘totally leave the
place, despairing of doing any good.’ And for many years, it seemed
as if Wesley’s summing-up of Mitcham was right. Twenty-two years
were to elapse before he had reason to revise his opinions and resolve
once more to return.

“In October, 1785, a family residing opposite the King’s Head Inn
decided to form in Mitcham a Methodist Society. They spoke to their
more serious minded neighbours and friends about their intention
and meetings were held in their house throughout the winter. Whether
any member of this family had heard Wesley preach on the Green
and had remembered his message throughout those years, whether
the family itself had recently come to Mitcham, bringing the Methodist
witness from their previous abode; or whether some Methodist
preacher had visited them in Mitcham and had persuaded them to
make such a venture, we do not know. Whatever the origins of the
Society. however, it was clear that this time Methodism in Mitcham
had come to stay. The ‘cottage meetings’ were a conspicuous success,
and news of them soon reached the ears of Wesley.

“The reports he received must have been encouraging, because in
February, 1787, John Wesley was again in Mitcham. His journal
faithfully records how different he found the people of Mitcham on
the occasion of this visit. In place of an apathetic crowd he found a
Society ‘all on fire for God’; instead of having to search for a
congregation he discovered people falling over each other in their
anxiety to reach the house where he was to preach. Indeed, so many
wanted to hear him that Wesley decided to speak in the open-air.
And here, to use his own words, ‘the earnestness of the people made
amends for the keenness of the north wind.’

“Wesley did not wait another twenty-two years before coming to
Mitcham! In the November of the same year he was there again. He
was able to note that progress was being made, and he began to discuss
with the local leader the possibility of erecting a ‘preaching house’ in
Mitcham. By that time the leader of the Society was a Mr William
Cave, a shoe-maker by trade, who was living at the south-west corner
of the Cricket Green, and under his direction the Cause of Methodism
had certainly moved forward. ‘The work of God’, wrote Wesley, ‘is
more lively here than in any Society near London.’ A chapel of some
kind was obviously needed, and during the next twelve months


preparations were carried on with that end in view. Wesley came
again then to Mitcham to review the situation and found the Society
still ‘swiftly increasing in the grace of God.’

“The chapel (or ‘preaching house’ as it was then called) was finally
built in 1789 on the south side of the Cricket Green. Four weeks
after its opening Wesley came to see it and to preach in it. His sermon,
the last he was to preach in Mitcham, dealt with the subject of Wisdom,
and was based on the text, ‘Her ways are the ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace’. (Proverbs 17) I have often wondered
whether Wesley was influenced in the choice of his text by the setting
in which he found himself. Certainly the situation of the chapel, and
its immediate surroundings, are both pleasant and peaceful. Having
conducted the service, Wesley examined the members of the Society.
‘They were’, he wrote, ‘rejoicing in the love of God’. Such was his
final judgement of Methodism in Mitcham, and although many things
have happened since then – some good, some bad – I am sure that if
he could return he would find the spiritual descendants of that early
Society still ‘rejoicing in the love of God.’ This is their heritage, and
this their present experience.

The Early Methodist Society

“The name of William Cave has already appeared in this account of
Mitcham Methodism, and he was to prove himself a real leader during
the formative years of the Society. Between 1785 and 1789, when
meetings were being held in private houses, Mr Cave’s house was
regarded as the headquarters. And when, in July, 1789, it was
definitely decided to build a chapel in Mitcham, Mr Cave became
responsible for carrying out all the negotiations. The many financial
commitments were in his charge, and in addition he accepted the
duty of visitation, the distribution of Society Class Tickets, and the
provision of acceptable preachers for the Sunday services. Had he
not been in Mitcham at that time it is possible that Methodism would
not have flourished until much later. Mr Cave did not work alone,
however. There were other families which gave him strong support,
and it is fortunate that their names have been preserved for us.
Hartfield, West, Bridgman, Parker, Wright, Bland, Oxlade, Legge,
Axille, White, Rutter, Ward, Tagg, Richman, Philby, are among the
more prominent ones.


“The site of the chapel was taken at a rent of £4 per annum, the lease to
expire after seventy-one years. This lease was held in the names of
Messrs B Holbrook, J Ward, L Houlton and J Hovatt (representing
London Methodism), and Mr W Cave (representing the local Society),
and in November, 1789, the chapel was built and opened. Wesley came
down in the December, and Methodist lay preachers began regularly
to visit Mitcham.

“Financial statements recorded in this early Society are not without
their humour, and those who care to examine them in detail can see
the original Accounts Book (1791-1801). This book has been handed
down to, and is in the possession of, Mr Frank Stickings, whose family
have long associations with Mitcham Methodism, and who is a
member of our present church. The loan of a horse to a Methodist
preacher taking a Sunday appointment was 6d. The Society used to
pay 1s per week to the family at whose house the preacher received
hospitality while staying in Mitcham. Three shillings was paid
regularly for the provision of wine and spirits, to be kept in the vestry
and used, if desired, by the preacher before beginning his service.
Times have certainly changed since then! Several items appear under
the heading of ‘Beer Money’, such money to be given to the labourers
employed in church repairs, etc. It is interesting, too, to compare the
Sunday collections with those of the present time. Collections for
1788 were £4 3s 7d, this being an increase of 2s 8d on the previous
year. On the occasion of Wesley’s visit to the chapel the sum of
money raised during the day was £3 3s, an amazing amount for
Mitcham at that time. Ordinary collections were augmented by the
levy of a pew rent, by the payment of which families had the privilege
of using the same pew every Sunday. In 1791, twenty-four families
were paying 4s a year for this privilege, and this number had risen to
forty-two by 1800. There was also a Poor Fund, a Special Repairs
Fund, and a Chapel Cleaning Fund. Members paid 3d per week into
the latter fund to cover the cost of cleaning the chapel, the cost itself
being 4s a month.

“At its inception the Society became part of the London Circuit,
remaining in it until 1811. The circuit was then divided owing to the
increase in the number of societies, and Mitcham was joined to the
Brentford Circuit. When a further division became necessary Mitcham
was again involved, being moved to the Hammersmith Circuit. Still
another change took place in 1836, when Mitcham was placed in the
Croydon Circuit. And in 1838 the biggest change of all occurred.


For some time Methodism had been divided on the question of
authority. Increasingly, the laymen of the church were feeling that
insufficient authority in regard to the administration of the church
was in their hands. This division of opinion led to the breaking away
of many churches from the parent body, and Mitcham resolved to be
among their number, eventually becoming a Methodist Free Church.

“In 1860, the lease of the land expired, and a Mr Cresswell decided
to renew it on a yearly tenancy. He removed the church from the
circuit plan, and himself became responsible for everything connected
with the church. This arrangement was continued until 1870, but
did not prove successful, and in the same year the church was offered
back to the Croydon Circuit. This offer, however, was declined, and
it seemed the church must soon close its doors. Then Mr J J Kenyon
(who was to prove himself one of the most capable Methodists in
Mitcham) took the church’s affairs into his hands, and soon the Free
Methodist Church was to supply the pulpit each week. The critical
years had passed and Methodism was still alive in Mitcham. Within
three years a minister had been appointed and the Methodist church
was going forward. The infant of the eighteenth century had become
a sturdy and rather independent youth of the nineteenth.

Mitcham’s first Methodist chapel, built 1789. No.46 Lower Green.
Photographed July 1993


The Cricket Green Church

“Under the direction of Mr Kenyon the little chapel began to pull itself
together after the disturbing years of controversy and transition
between 1838 and 1870. Indeed, it soon became apparent that the
preaching house which seated a hundred people was no longer
adequate to meet the needs of the time, and the great number of
activities carried on by the loyal band of workers. In 1876 it was
decided to build a larger church, and a series of special meetings was
held to raise money for this purpose. Those who are familiar with
Methodist procedure in such matters will not be surprised to read
that the special meetings included two Services of Song, a ‘Christmas
Tree’, and a Bazaar. When £120 had been raised a site was obtained
almost exactly opposite the preaching house on the other side of the
Green, and plans for the new church were drawn up by Mr Chart.
The estimated cost was £865, and Mr Lawrence was given the contract
for its erection. When completed, however, the building was found
to have cost just over £1,000.

Celebrations on the Lower Green, probably on the occasion of Queen
Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in1887.
The Methodist church, built in 1877, can be seen in the background.


“The Stone-laying Ceremony was held on Good Friday, 1877, and the
service conducted by Rev J G Hopkins (Methodist minister at Mitcham)
and Rev I Jacob (Congregational minister at Sutton). Miss McMaster,
of Park Place, Mitcham, and Miss Wade, of Lower Mitcham, were the
first to lay stones, and the ceremony was followed by an address
delivered by the Rev C Worboys. He chose as his subject ‘The
Principles and Polity of Denomination’ – an interesting sign of the
times. Refreshments were served in the Congregational School Room
(The Zion Chapel, as it was called), and the day ended with a Public
Meeting. Mr Kenyon, the man who was following in Mr Cave’s
footsteps, was able to report the day’s proceeds as £164. Others who
spoke were the Revs Newton, Kennedy and Sunman, and Messrs
Pousty, Ward, Biles, Wade and Russell.

“Although Mitcham at this time was receiving ministerial oversight,
there can be no doubt that Mr Kenyon was the real leader. Like Mr
Cave before him, it was his responsibility to steer Mitcham Methodism
through the period of building a chapel, with all the financial anxieties
involved in such a project, and like Mr Cave, Mr Kenyon in his lifetime
held every important office in the church. A Memorial Tablet to Mr
Kenyon can be seen in the Cricket Green Church.

“The church itself was opened eight months later, tea being served in
the old chapel, and a Public Meeting being held in the new. Mr J S
McMaster – another good friend to Mitcham Methodism – presided
over the meeting, and the speakers were the Revs J Reacher and G
Brooks, the latter having taken the place of the Rev J G Hopkins as
minister at Mitcham. Mr Kenyon reported that a debt of £500 still
remained on the building, but that it was hoped to clear this by means
of a Bazaar.

“This church, of course, still stands and is still serving as the strategic
centre of operations in the Methodist witness. Indeed, one might say
that useful as it was when it was built, its greatest period of service
was to be later, when, sixty-three years afterwards, death and
destruction descended upon people and property throughout the
London area. The original ‘preaching house’ is also still standing
on the opposite side of the Cricket Green. Its usefulness at an end,
the building was sold to a Mr Langridge, who used it as a storehouse,
and was afterwards converted – if ‘converted’ is the right word
to use – into a private house. Visitors to Mitcham may see it: No 46,
Lower Green, Mitcham. Truly there comes a time, in human beings


and in buildings, when the old things must be done away with and all
things must become new.”

Although he could not have realised it at the time, Douglas Hubery was
speaking prophetically, for the days of the Cricket Green church building
were already numbered. The Methodist church at Fair Green had been
destroyed in an air raid in September 1940, and shortly afterwards the
two Mitcham congregations amalgamated. With the return of peace
thoughts turned naturally to rebuilding, and eventually plans were
finalised for the erection of a large modern church and hall on the site of
the Cricket Green building.

The new church, in remarkable contrast to Robert Masters Chart’s severe
little building, was to the design of Edward Mills, the architect of the
Methodist church in Colliers Wood completed in 1936, and also the
highly acclaimed church built at Woking in 1966. Mill’s avant-garde
works canteen built for May and Baker in 1940 had earned him a place
as a modernist in architectural circles, and as a break with the past his
new church at Mitcham attempted to capture the forward-looking spirit
of the post-Festival of Britain era. Nikolaus Pevsner considered the
steel-framed zigzag timber roof carried on Y-shaped columns to be
“big-boned, modern” and “honest”. He also thought the church hall
“very effective”.2 Opinions amongst local people were decidedly
mixed. Building actually started in 1958, and the church was opened
the following year. The old Cricket Green church and the adjoining
school were demolished in the process, but the stones laid during the
foundation ceremony at Easter 1877 were set aside, and have been
incorporated in a wall to the rear of the car park, beside the new hall.

In 1997, above an old commemorative stone originally laid in 1908 by
Mrs F C Miller on behalf of the Mitcham Methodist Society, a marble
tablet was affixed to the wall of the church hall itself. This is in memory
of John James Kenyon, who so diligently promoted the building of the
Victorian church. He died in 1899, in his 61st year, after 30 years
devotion to Methodism.

Chapter 8


John Rocque’s map of the environs of London, dated 1741-5, indicates
that by the mid-18th century the eastern side of “Mitcham Green”,
extending from (sic) “Wingford Lane” as far as the grounds of The
Canons, was lined with houses and cottages. The more reliable Edwards,
describing Mitcham half a century later, approached the Green from
the north along “Whitford-lane” and wrote

“Enter lowerMitcham green
On the left is a small neat house belonging to Mr Spencer
About half a furlong to the east is a good brick house in
possession of Mr Cochran, surgeon.”1

We will return to Cochran’s house, which was on the site of today’s
Mitcham Court, in the next chapter. In the meantime, it is to Spencer’s
“small neat house” that we shall turn our attention.

The parish poor rate books show that in about 1807 Edward Tanner
Worsfold, the owner of Hall Place, off Lower Green West, acquired
from Spencer a plot of land near the corner of Whitford Lane on which,
for a number of years, there had been three separately assessed
properties.2 One of these we must assume, was Spencer’s “small neat
house”. No other descriptions of it have survived, and we have nothing
from which to form an idea of its appearance.

Examination of the plot boundaries as they are shown on the 1847 tithe
map3 makes it fairly obvious that the corner on which the three dwellings
had been built must once have formed part of Lower Mitcham, or
Whitford, Green. Elm Lodge and its grounds were tithe-free – often a
clue that land had once belonged to the Church or a religious foundation.
This is, of course, what one might have expected, since the Green was
waste of the manor of Vauxhall and had been in the possession of
Canterbury Cathedral since the 14th century. It is therefore not surprising
to find in a record of enfranchisement in 1925, when in addition to Elm
Lodge the land was occupied by Whitford Lodge and Whitford Cottage,
two late-Victorian houses, that all three properties had been copyhold
of the manor.4 The date enclosure was sanctioned – if, indeed, formal
permission was ever granted – is not known. Each of the original cottages
was quite small – they were assessed for rating purposes in the late 18th


century on the basis of annual rental values of only four or five pounds
per annum – and had presumably reached the end of their useful life, for
in 1808 the land tax records show for the first time a new house, as far
as one can tell on the same corner site, assessed at £20 per annum.

This assessment remains unchanged until the records cease in 1831,
and there can be little doubt that the new house, the building of which
we can attribute to Worsfold, is the attractive and unaltered villa known
as Elm Lodge today which forms such a conspicuous feature at the
corner of the Cricket Green. The Lodge is statutorily listed as a Grade
II building of architectural and historic merit,5 and has been in local
authority ownership since 1937, when it was purchased by Mitcham
Corporation, together with Mitcham Court, from Sir Harry Mallaby-

The first recorded tenant of the villa, James Simons, lived there until
1811. He was the proprietor of the nearby Angel brewhouse and, since
Worsfold was a maltster, the two are likely to have had more than a
mere landlord/tenant relationship. In 1810 the villa became the property
of William Mansell, one-time licensee of the Buck’s Head, Upper Green,
and a relative of Worsfold. Two years later, Simons having left, Mansell
made Elm Lodge his home. The Angel disappeared from the tax records
at the same time, and presumably was demolished.6

John Parrott, a surgeon who, as we shall see in the next chapter, had
leased Cochran’s “good brick house” soon after Robert Cochran’s death
in 1789, purchased the new villa in 1817 and moved in the following
year. In 1822 he acquired the former Cochran property, evidently with
the intention of redevelopment, and from the absence of any record of
the house in the tax or rate books for the next three years we can deduce
that it was either left empty or actually demolished soon after changing
hands. An entry for what was clearly a new house appears for the first
time in the land tax book for 1826, and plans show this can be identified
with the central part of Mitcham Court.2 Parrott moved in to the fine
modern villa with, it would appear, his second wife Dorothy, and Elm
Lodge was thereafter let to tenants.

In the 1840s Elm Lodge (there is no evidence that at this time it had a
name, but Elm Lodge will be used to avoid confusion) was again


occupied as a doctor’s house and surgery, this time by young Charles
Housley. He shared the accommodation with his widowed mother and
his sister Mary, both described in the census of 1841 as “of independent
means” and, not unexpectedly for a middle-class household of the time,
employed two maids and a manservant to administer to their needs.7
Precisely how long Dr Housley remained at Elm Lodge has not been
ascertained, but it is a strange example of history repeating itself that
70 years ago it was reoccupied as a doctor’s surgery, and remained in
the tenure of doctors until the 1990s.

In the intervening years the villa had many occupants, some of whom
left little trace of their activities in the village, whilst others had a
considerable influence on the lives of their contemporaries. Typical of
the latter was Winifred Simpson who, in 1852, established a small
Catholic school in Elm Lodge, the forerunner of the present day SS
Peter and Paul school on the opposite side of the Cricket Green. This
is not the place to embark upon a history of the renaissance of the
Roman Church in Mitcham, although the story is an unusual one.8
Suffice it to say that in 1846 the Revd Richard Simpson, son of William
Simpson the patron of the Anglican church of St Peter and St Paul and
nephew and son-in-law of the late vicar of Mitcham, Richard Cranmer,
resigned the Church of England after a short ministry. Richard Simpson
had been instituted in 1844 on the presentation of his father, and by all
accounts his action was considered little short of scandalous by the
great majority of his parishioners. Local directories for 1855 and 1859
give the address of his elder brother, William (who also converted to
Catholicism), as Lower Mitcham Green, and according to Tom Francis’s
lecture notes, William was resident for a time at Elm Lodge before
moving to the Manor House, Lower Mitcham.9 Research by Dr R A
M Scott into the events surrounding the re-establishment of Roman
Catholicism in Mitcham tends to confirm a local tradition that it was
actually at Elm Lodge in the 1850s that, for the first time since the
Reformation, Mass was celebrated again by a visiting priest before
members of the public, rather than as hitherto in the privacy of a family.

In 1869, together with Mitcham Court, which was then vacant, Elm
Lodge was bought by Julius Caesar Czarnikow, a London sugar broker.4


During the 1870s and ’80s the villa was the residence of Robert Ellis, a
mineral water manufacturer. In 1875 he took a lease of the tall
weatherboarded house Casabianca, adjoining the Surrey Arms in Morden
Road, and established a small factory at the rear for the bottling of
mineral waters.10 Water was drawn from the “Ravenspring”, one of
many artesian wells in the parish sunk deep into the underlying chalk of
the London basin and producing water of great purity. His son sank
another deep bore, at the side of the works they owned in Western
Road.11 The latter building stood until the 1980s, bearing high on its
gable end a stone tablet inscribed with the date 1877 and the name
Ravenspring Works. The Ellises ceased production at the Morden
Road bottling works by 1882, when the premises were acquired by
Gilliat Hatfeild of Morden Hall, and their Western Road business was
taken over by the Chemists Aerated Mineral Water Association Ltd
probably in about 1896.12 For many years thereafter the old building
housed the Mitcham Plating Works, but it was demolished in the 1980s.

The local directory shows that in 1895 Elm Lodge was the residence of
the Revd William Marcus Coghlan McAlister BA, a curate,13 and the
last 19th century occupant to find a place of note in local annals was
the artist Sir William Nicholson, (1872-1949), a trustee of the Tate
Gallery from 1934 to 1939. His wife Mabel, whom he married in 1893,
purchased a five-year lease of Elm Lodge in about 1896, but it appears
their stay in Mitcham did not last for more than a few months.14 Elm
Lodge was purchased by Harry Mallaby-Deeley of Mitcham Court from
Caesar Czarnikow’s son and daughter in 1911, and remained in his
possession until acquired by Mitcham Corporation in 1937.4

It was from Sir Harry Mallaby-Deeley that Dr Ivor Evans rented Elm
Lodge when he and his wife, Dr Ulned Evans, established a joint practice
in Mitcham in 1929, the year after Dr Ivor had arrived in Surrey as one
of the original members of the staff of the new Wilson Cottage Hospital.
Dr Ivor Evans worked at the Wilson until 1964, and was also police
surgeon at Mitcham for many years. His wife, who was a magistrate
and a borough councillor, died in 1953, but Dr Evans was joined by his
daughter Judith and son-in-law Alan Prowse, both of whom were doctors,
and the family practice continued until 1968, when they left Mitcham
for Cliftonville.15


Elm Lodge, photographed in 1972

Aesthetically Elm Lodge is a minor treasure, and an example of a small
‘Regency’ villa, quite common elsewhere in the country but rare in
Mitcham. It would, in fact, be hard to find its equal for unspoilt simplicity
and charm, certainly in this part of London. The proportions of the
front elevation are pleasing, and the low-pitched roof, wide eaves
overhang with its paired soffit brackets, and finally the distinctive hood
to the front porch are all of the period and add character to the
composition. As so often happens, the interior of the house has
undergone considerable alteration, and it appears that, except for the
staircase with its turned balusters, few original features remain. The
setting of Elm Lodge, overlooking the Cricket Green, provides a natural
enhancement of its qualities, whilst at the same time presenting a major
threat to its survival for, incredible as it may seem, demolition was at
one time seriously considered by the borough highway engineers in
connection with yet another road-widening scheme to improve traffic
flow. Elm Lodge is now included in the Cricket Green Conservation
Area, and one hopes that its unique character will continue to be
appreciated, and its maintenance not neglected.


In the summer of 1998 a “For Sale” board appeared outside Elm Lodge,
a decision having been taken by the Borough Council to sell the freehold.
A buyer was evidently not difficult to find, and the board was changed
to “Sold” by early November. New ornamental cast iron gates and a
boundary wall topped with railings were erected, and in January the
Town Planning Department received notification of change of use, the
house no longer being considered suitable as a doctor’s surgery in view
of the restricted accommodation.

Mitcham Court 1972

Chapter 9


Mitcham Court, used as offices by Mitcham Borough Council from
1937 until 1965 and by the London Borough of Merton until 1983, after
which it reverted to private ownership, dates in part from the 1820s.
The building occupies an important site overlooking the Cricket Green,
and although hardly of great age, has witnessed the complete
transformation of Mitcham from a picturesque Surrey village ruled by
the local gentry, firstly to an urban district and then to a fully fledged
municipality with borough status, and finally, to being merely a district
within a London Borough. But for the outbreak of war in 1939 the
Court might well have been demolished, and the cleared site used for
the erection of a new town hall for Mitcham, surrounded by public
gardens. Events dictated otherwise, and for nearly 50 years the property
remained largely neglected, its potential for redevelopment awaiting
exploitation whilst its grounds became increasingly derelict.

The early history of the site is obscure, although there are indications
that it was part of a larger tract of land enclosed from Mitcham heath
during the Middle Ages. Mitcham Court itself stands back from what
was evidently once the eastern boundary of the Green, and the grounds
which surrounded it until the latter part of the 20th century probably
originated as an ‘intake’ or ‘assart’ made during the period of expansion
that saw the creation of the meadows to the rear. Here enclosures of
pasture known variously as Cold Blowes or Cold Blow(er)s as far
back as the 17th century extended eastwards to Commonside West.
They formed the southern part of a triangle of land, the apex of which
is at Fair Green, on which was a ‘messuage’, or substantial house with
its associated outbuildings. This was standing in 1623, but nothing is
known for certain of its history during the rest of the 17th century.1
One can see from mid-19th century maps that the remainder of the
triangle, abutting “Cold Blow Lane”, comprised large, roughly rectangular
meadows. The time of their formation is not known, but they might
well have dated from, or before, the late 15th century, when a John
Perrys was mentioned in the manorial records as being in occupation
of land to the north of the lane.

We are told by Edwards that towards the close of the 18th century the
south-west corner of this triangle, abutting the Green, was occupied by


“a good brick house” in the possession of “Mr Cochran, surgeon”.2
The age of this house is unknown, but the owner can be identified from
local records as Robert Cochran, brother of the David Robert Cochran
who, at a general court baron of the manor of Ravensbury in July 1758,
was admitted to the customary tenancy of “Cold Blowers”.3 The latter
were described in the court rolls as two parcels of land amounting to
ten acres, and the date of Cochran’s admission was probably around
the time he either purchased, or had built for himself, the “good brick
house” Edwards noted. This, we have shown in the previous chapter,
stood on the site of Mitcham Court and was demolished in about 1822
or 1823.

David Cochran, who is described as a surgeon in the inscription on his
tomb in Mitcham churchyard, died in February 1767 aged 57, and at a
court baron held later that year the copyhold tenure of the ten acres of
Cold Blowers was granted to Robert, his brother. Having resided but a
short time in Mitcham David Cochran left little record in the parish
archives. Of Robert, on the other hand, we have somewhat more
information. Like his brother, he was a surgeon, but he was also active
in the property market. Evidence for this comes from several deeds,
now in the care of Surrey History Centre.

The first, a document dated March 1764, records the sale to Robert
Cochran by Archibald Stewart and William Myers of a messuage with
garden and yard belonging, two closes of pasture containing three acres,
the millhouse and three water corn mills therein, three small messuages,
and the Island, all in Mitcham, together with the Long Meadow in
Morden, all occupied by Edward Nash, formerly by Charles Perry, as
well as a new copper mill, a piece of meadow and part of the watercourse
in Carshalton occupied by Edward Foster.4 The premises occupied by
Nash lay immediately upstream from Mitcham bridge, and included
land on the north bank of the river as well as part of the present
Watermeads property of the National Trust. The copper mill in
Carshalton occupied by Foster was at Willow Lane.

Archibald Stewart, described by Boswell as “formerly the noted provost
at Edinburgh”,5 had left that city in disgrace having refused to oppose
the entry of the Highland army in the rebellion of 1745. In the 1760s he
was living at Mitcham Grove, an impressive house on the banks of the


Wandle which he held on lease from Myers, a member of an old Mitcham
landowning family. William Myers, an arts graduate of Lincoln College
Oxford, had inherited an estate in Mitcham on the death of his father, a
London attorney, in 1742. In the 1760s Myers was living, with his wife
Elizabeth, daughter of James Cranmer the squire of Mitcham, in the
large house in Lower Mitcham later known as the Manor House.6

Another document at the Surrey History Centre, dated August 1765,
concerns the granting by Robert Cochran, in this instance described as
“an apothecary” and acting jointly with John Marlar, a London merchant,
of two leases of land and mills on the Wandle to Edward Nash, the
miller. The Marlar family came from Wallington, and had long been
associated with the calico-printing industry. Following William Myers’
death in 1774 John Marlar took a lease of the Manor House, and
remained there until his own death in 1790. His daughter, Amelia Ann,
married Archibald Stewart’s son John, member of parliament for Arundel
from 1771 until 1774, who had been an aide and supporter of Lord
Clive in India, where he was employed with the East India Company. A
third document, dated October 1768, records the conveyance of the
freehold of the land by Mitcham bridge to Rowland Frye of Wallington.7

Precisely what lay behind these transactions, apart from the prospect of
financial advantage, is unknown. There is nothing whatsoever to suggest
Cochran was in any way concerned with the actual processes at the
mills, and with evident access to capital and having wealthy associates,
he was obviously speculating in the buying and selling of leases. The
association of Cochran – his name suggests he was of Scottish descent

-with the Stewarts leads one to suppose he was one of the “half-
English gentry” Boswell met in London, and so despised. How long
Cochran and his brother had lived in Mitcham has not been ascertained,
but it would seem likely that, like Stewart, they were relative newcomers
to the parish.
Whatever satisfaction Robert Cochran may have derived from his dealing
in real estate, it is evident that he and his wife Bridget had a tragic
family life, for no fewer than ten of their children died in infancy, whilst
the eleventh, Robert, only survived to the age of 15, and was buried in
1758. The children’s names can still be found inscribed on the family
tombstone in Mitcham churchyard, but the causes of their deaths are


not recorded. Robert Cochran himself died in October 1789, soon
after Edwards’ visit to Mitcham,2 and thereafter the name of Cochran
disappears from in the parish records.

Early in the 19th century what seems from the position of the relevant
entry in the land tax books to be the Cochrans’ former residence emerges
as a medium-sized house, rated at £30 per annum, owned by H Cooper
and leased to John Parrott, another surgeon.3 Exactly when Parrott
moved into the property has not been ascertained, but his son John was
born in Mitcham in 1790, which provides a clue, and suggests it must
have been soon after Robert Cochran’s death. In the old churchyard on
the northern side of the parish church there is a chest tomb covering a
brick vault in which lie interred the mortal remains of Mary Parrott, “a
virtuous wife and tender Mother”, who died in 1798 aged 36 “esteemed
by her friends and acquaintancies”. This, one concludes, was John
Parrott’s wife.8

At this time the Upper and Lower Greens were separated by meadowland
and the grounds of the Firs, a large house built in 1788. For several
years the only buildings in the vicinity of Parrott’s house were the three
small cottages at the corner of the Cricket Green and Whitford Lane
belonging to Mr Spencer. As we have seen, one of these was demolished
shortly before 1808, to be replaced by the new villa which John Parrott
bought and moved into around 1817.

Cooper, his former landlord, thereupon leased the Cochrans’ old house
to Edwin Tipple, yet another surgeon. Five years later Tipple moved to
the larger Manor House, south of the Cricket Green.6 Parrott purchased
from Cooper the property vacated by Tipple, but continued to pay land
tax on the villa until 1826, by which time a transformation had taken
place next door and a new house, the centre of today’s Mitcham Court,
was ready for occupation.3 On stylistic grounds alone one would date
the core of Mitcham Court to the early 1820s, and a new, larger, building
is confirmed by the increased assessments for land tax. Support for
dating the house more closely to around 1823 is given by a plan of the
estate belonging to John “Perratt Esq”, dated 13th January 1824, to be
found amongst a collection of plans of estates in the manor of
Ravensbury.9 This shows a rectangular building, complete with a porch,
which is recognisably the central portion of Mitcham Court.


John Parrott’s new residence, three bays wide and of two main storeys
plus basements and attics, had a pleasantly symmetrical front elevation,
typical of many villas of the late Regency period, and was accompanied
by a brewhouse, toolhouse, chaisehouse, gardens etc. Construction
was in yellow stock bricks, then much in vogue, and interest was added
to the front façade by the restrained use of stucco for string courses
and window surrounds. As a final touch, an Ionic-columned porch lent
emphasis and a touch of Neo-classicism to the front entrance doorway,
approached by a flight of steps. Parrott died in July 1832, aged 68, and
was buried beside his first wife within the shadow of the parish church
where for many years he had held office as churchwarden. Dorothy
Parrott who, since she was described as John Parrott’s widow on her
tombstone, we have to assume was his second wife, was still living at
the house in 1851, having reached the ripe old age of 85,10 but she was
no longer there in 1855. John Parrott junior, like his father, became a
surgeon. He died in 1860 at Clapham but was buried in the family vault
at Mitcham.

After John Parrott junior’s death the house had a succession of
occupants,11 probably leaseholders, until it was sold by Charles Coles,
a London colonial broker, to Julius Caesar Czarnikow for £4,800 in
1869.12 Elm Court is mentioned in the directories of 1862 and 1866,
and is shown by name on the 25-inch OS map of 1867. By whom the
name was given is not known, but the choice was obviously prompted
by the group of massive old trees then standing at the edge of the
Green outside the house.

Czarnikow is the first owner-occupier of Elm Court about whom we
have a little more of interest to recount. He was the founder of C
Czarnikow Ltd, a major firm of sugar, cocoa and coffee brokers, still
trading in the City of London, and prior to his arrival in Mitcham had
been living at Brook House, Clapham Common.13 It was almost
certainly Czarnikow who was responsible for building the two additional
wings to Elm Court we see today,14 trebling the size of the original villa,
and transforming it into a small mansion. Unlike the house, the grounds
remained unaltered in extent from the Parrotts’ time until they were
drastically reduced by redevelopment in the 1980s.


Czarnikow had already moved to Mitcham by the time he completed
purchase of Elm Court, and was soon deeply involved in village affairs,
becoming a member of the local school board and a parish waywarden.
When growing concern at the deterioration of Mitcham Common erupted
in a public outcry, notably amongst newcomers to the village, Czarnikow
was elected chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Common
Lands and Open Spaces in Mitcham, Beddington, Wallington and
neighbourhood, which in 1883 petitioned the Court of Common Council
of the Corporation of the City of London to secure the preservation of
the Common as a public open space.

At the time of Czarnikow’s arrival in Mitcham the parish fire-fighting
equipment consisted merely of a temperamental hand-operated pump,
derisively known as “the squirt” and worked, if they could be found at
short notice, by a gang of men or boys under the eye of the parish
beadle. The alarming inadequacy of this ludicrous contraption,
emphasised by a series of disastrous fires which it was obviously
incapable of quenching, resulted in Caesar Czarnikow and W S Reading,
a local surveyor, calling a public meeting in November 1883. The
outcome was that a new fire-fighting force, the Mitcham Volunteer
Brigade, was formed from an enthusiastic band of local men, led by
Robert Masters Chart as superintendent, and under the captaincy of
Caesar Czarnikow. A public donation and subscription list was started,
and within two months sufficient money had been raised to purchase an
almost new Merryweather fire engine for £325.

In January 1884 the magnificent horse-drawn fire engine, equipped
with a boiler and steam-operated pump, was paraded around the village
in a procession headed by Caesar Czarnikow on a horse, and comprising
detachments representing brigades from the surrounding villages. As
we have mentioned briefly in an earlier chapter, the celebration
concluded with a naming ceremony outside Elm Court, the new engine
being christened “Caesar” in acknowledgement of Czarnikow’s
generous financial support. To cheers from the crowd, and with a nice
sense of occasion, a bottle of champagne was broken over the engine
by Czarnikow’s daughter wielding a fireman’s axe. All then retired to
Elm Court to enjoy a celebration dinner provided by the captain of the
new brigade.15 The fire engine was housed temporarily in a building


near the Cricketers on Lower Green West, but four years later, when
the Vestry Hall was finished, it had its own purpose-built accommodation
within the new building. Motive power was supplied by two ’bus horses
from Samson’s stable behind the White Hart, and for 24 years the
engine remained the pride and joy of the village. With its red paint and
gleaming metalwork, manned by local worthies transformed into
supermen by their impressive uniforms, it was an essential element in
any local procession or carnival, and a guaranteed centre of attraction.

Towards the end of the 19th century Elm Court was occupied by a Mrs
Ridgeway, followed by the Peat family16 who within a few months moved
to The Cranmers, a larger house, now demolished, standing on the site
of the former Wilson Hospital and the Cranmer Middle School. By
1903, re-named Mitcham Court, their old house had become the home
of Harry (later Sir Harry) Mallaby-Deeley, the last private owner of
the estate. The actual sale of the Court to Mallaby-Deeley did not take
place until 1911, however, two years after Caesar Czarnikow’s death.17

Harry Mallaby-Deeley, MA, LLM, JP, was born at Curzon Park in
Cheshire in 1863, the son of W Clarke Deeley. He was educated at
Shrewsbury and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated in
law with honours in 1885. He married his first wife, Joan Parson-
Smith of Abbotsmead, Shrewsbury, in 1890, and soon established a
nationwide reputation as a skilled negotiator in property transactions,
becoming famous for his purchases of huge estates in Piccadilly and
Covent Garden. He acquired the lordship of the Mitcham manors of
Ravensbury, and Biggin and Tamworth, and became the patron of five
livings. For 25 years Mallaby-Deeley was chairman of the Mitcham
Common Conservators, and as principal founder and chairman of the
Prince’s Golf Club he jealously guarded the privileges enjoyed by
members of what was at that time a very exclusive gentlemen’s club.
A Conservative “of the militant type”, he was elected member of
Parliament for Harrow in 1910, and served that constituency until the
election of 1918, when he was returned as member for Willesden.
Always a great public benefactor, he gave large sums to charity and
for the war effort. His public service and generosity were recognised
and rewarded by a baronetcy in 1922.


Success did not always attend Sir Harry’s financial ventures, and the
failure of a scheme for the production of cheap ready-made suits, which
he promoted in 1920, is said to have cost him £40,000. Apparently well
able to sustain a loss of this magnitude, he bought Call Boy, winner of
the 1927 Derby, for £60,000 to prevent the horse leaving the country.17

Lady Mallaby-Deeley died at Mitcham in 1933, and three years later
the Mitcham News and Mercury reported that Sir Harry had offered
Mitcham Court and its grounds on very favourable terms to the Borough
Council, an offer which they were happy to accept. The sum finally
agreed for the freehold property was £10,000, the only condition
stipulated by Sir Harry being that the land should not be used for housing,
but for the erection of public buildings.18

Whilst retaining many connections with the district, Sir Harry moved
to Milton Court, a large house with extensive grounds which he had
purchased near Dorking. At the age of 72 he secretly married his former
secretary, Edith Shoebridge, but his life was nearing its close, and in
February 1937, at the Chateau des Fayères near Cannes, he died of
pneumonia. He was succeeded in the title by his only son, Guy Meyrick
Mallaby-Deeley, of Slater’s Oak, Effingham, who in 1920 had married
Marjorie Lucy Peat, daughter of James E Peat of The Cranmers.

Understandably the purchase of Mitcham Court, followed by news of
Sir Harry’s marriage and then of his death, caused a local sensation.
The awe with which the house was regarded by many is typified by a
local columnist who was so far carried away that he reported hearing it
said that the dining room was the largest and most gorgeous in any
mansion house in London! Within a month of the completion of the
sale, spurred by curiosity to see the house and its grounds, local people
flocked to a garden party held at Mitcham Court to raise funds for the
local Catholic Church. Opening the proceedings, the mayor, Alderman
J P Turner, invited visitors to wander around and to explore the nooks
and corners so that they could see for themselves what a lovely place
it really was. He expressed the hope that the property might become a
centre for the whole of the Borough, and a place where the people
could meet and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. His sentiments were
shared by his audience, and cheers greeted his comment that it “would
be a thousand pities if the grounds were interfered with in any way”.18


Provisional plans were soon announced for the development of the site.
The opportunities presented by its commanding position were obvious,
and it was felt to be admirably suited to the building of new municipal
offices, so badly needed by the growing community. Recognising the
value of the London Road frontage, the Borough Council proposed that
this should be utilised for the erection of good class shops and business
premises which, in the immediate vicinity of the new municipal buildings,
were seen as a sound commercial proposition. The grounds of Mitcham
Court were to be retained as far as possible, and laid out as public
gardens. As a purely temporary measure, the house itself was converted
into offices for the borough’s medical officer of health and his staff, and
for the valuation and air raid precautions departments.

The outbreak of war in 1939 put an end to any immediate prospect of
new buildings on the Mitcham Court site. The basements of the house
were strengthened to withstand air attack, and partitioning to adapt the
gracious rooms for use as offices soon transformed them almost beyond
recognition. In the grounds the coach-houses and garages were modified
to accommodate ambulances, and the former billiard-room became the
duty room for ARP staff and ambulance crews. Greenhouses and
potting sheds, shattered by bomb blast and shrapnel, rapidly fell into
dereliction, and whereas the rear lawn and tennis court largely survived,
part of the shrubbery was sacrificed for the erection of a mock ruin in
which rescue workers and other civil defence staff could be trained.
The paddock and orchard, extending back to Whitford Gardens, were
pressed into service as allotment gardens and used for the growing of

For some 40 years after the War there was little real change in the
Mitcham Court estate. Adaptation of the interior of the house to meet
the changing needs of the Council’s services continued, supplemented
by the erection of various outbuildings in the grounds. Deterioration of
Mallaby-Deeley’s gardens began even before the war, and apart from
keeping the front lawn and flower beds trim little was done in the postwar
period to halt their reversion to a semi-wild state. The re-organisation
of London government in 1965 saw the transfer of the central
administration of the new London Borough of Merton first to Wimbledon
Town Hall, and then to Morden, whilst other departments were initially


relocated in premises inherited from the former authorities, scattered
throughout Mitcham, Merton and Morden. The health department staff
were transferred to the Vestry Hall, which they shared with the school
medical services, whilst Mitcham Court became the offices of the
borough housing department. This remained the situation until 1977,
when the housing department was moved to the Vestry Hall, and staff
of the area health authority and the council’s social services department
moved into the Court and hutments in the grounds. Eventually alternative
permanent accommodation was found for both these departments, and
by August 1983 the Court was again empty. Almost immediately, the
building was broken into, and anything of value and removable was
stolen. Repeated boarding-up took place in efforts to prevent further
trespass, but not before much damage was done.

Meanwhile, negotiations were in progress between the London Borough
of Merton and Sir Alfred McAlpine Homes, to whom the freehold of
Mitcham Court and the land to the rear was sold on 3rd July 1985. The
ground floor of Mitcham Court was reoccupied as offices, this time by
Alfred McAlpine Retirement Homes. Concurrently work commenced
on setting out the new roads of Chatsworth Place and Kingsleigh Place
across the former kitchen gardens and paddock of the Court, and
construction of an estate of new houses and flats was soon under way.
Plans prepared by McAlpines architects Norman and Dawbarn for an
administration building in the grounds of Mitcham Court between the
house and Cold Blows were approved in 1985, and the building was
sufficiently advanced for the formal opening ceremony to be performed
by Kenneth Baker MP in August 1986. Brook House, the name given
to the new office block, which for some ten years served as the
headquarters building for various divisions of the McAlpine organisation,
was chosen by the staff in a small competition. The fact that this was
the name of Caesar Czarnikow’s house at Clapham from which he
moved to Mitcham in the late 1860s was purely coincidental.

Once vacated by McAlpines, the refurbished Mitcham Court was leased
as offices, and by 1997 was occupied by Proctor and Lavender Ltd,
brick distributors, and Choice London, who are suppliers of dance dress

Chapter 10


The most conspicuous of the houses overlooking the Cricket Green, No
7 has a history that has proved to be somewhat disappointing to research
in that comparatively little can be said with certainty of its origins or its
early occupants. Several buildings are indicated on this side of the Green
in Rocque’s map of 1741-5, and rent rolls of the manor of Vauxhall in
1767 and 1771/2 list a William Waghorne as the copyhold tenant of a
house which seems to have been the forerunner of No 7. Waghorne
paid six pence annually as a quit rent, which shows the plot of land he
occupied was relatively small. His name is not included in the next
surviving rent roll, produced in 1799, but the same property was held by
a Mary Waghorne who was, presumably, his widow.1

The Mitcham land tax book for 1795 shows the house occupied by a Mrs
Lynn, but it fell vacant the following year. From 1797 (when the
assessment for tax was raised from £11 to £14 per annum – perhaps an
indication that a new house had been built on the plot) until 1813 we find
a James Phillips in occupation and paying tax. Up to the turn of the
century the “proprietor” ie landowner, was still recorded as “William
Waghorne” by the official responsible for collecting the land tax, probably
because the book he was using had been prepared in advance by copying
entries in earlier books (a not uncommon practice). Thereafter Phillips,
who probably held the property on lease, experienced several changes
of landlord.2

No 7 comprises three storeys, terminating in a parapet hiding the roof
from view, and is three bays wide with a centrally placed front entrance
doorway. It is thus a typical house of the late 18th century, and could
well be dated to the 1790s, ie around the time James Phillips became the
occupier. The austerity of the basic design is alleviated by the use of
semi-circular headed boxed-sash windows on the ground floor – a common
enough architectural feature of the period – but the bow porch with its
neo-classical Greek Doric columns (somewhat pretentious for Mitcham),
may have been added a little later. The stucco rendering and string
courses also give a distinctly “Regency” appearance and, together with
the architrave mouldings, so similar to those of Mitcham Court, it is easy


The White House, No 7 Cricket Green. 1972


to believe “modernisation” of the front elevation took place in the early

It is in the land tax book for 1817 that we first find reference to Alfred
Collett Bartley, a local physician who initially occupied the house as
the tenant or leaseholder of a “Mr Etchcombe”. Dr Bartley appears to
have become the owner in or about 1820, since from that year onwards
he paid tax himself as the “proprietor”. The deeds of the property are
said to commence in 1823,3 and it remained in the family’s possession
until the death of Dr Bartley’s youngest daughter, Emma Jane, in 1919.
It thus seems more than likely that the doctor was himself responsible
for ordering the work to the front of the house soon after becoming its

Doctor Bartley’s interest in improving his newly acquired property did
not stop at the house itself. The front garden then, as now, was extremely
small, a shortcoming which he set about rectifying by having the front
fence moved forward to enclose a strip of waste opposite the house.
Such action was quite a common practice at the time, when all over
Mitcham there were odd parcels of land to which no-one had clear title.
Unfortunately for the doctor, newly arrived in the parish, the “waste”
he enclosed was on the edge of the Cricket Green. As a copyholder of
the manor of Vauxhall, and had the waste been somewhere else, Bartley
might have persuaded the steward to agree to a grant of enclosure, on
payment of a small fee. Encroachment on the cricket field, however,
even if only marginal, was viewed by the cricketing fraternity as a very
different matter, and unless dealt with firmly might well have created a
precedent which others would follow.

Strictly, Mitcham vestry had no jurisdiction in the matter, but pressure
was brought to bear and at a court baron of the manor of Vauxhall, held
on 20th November 1820, Alfred Collett Bartley of Mitcham Green was
formally “presented” with having enclosed some “waste land” in front
of his house. The evidence having been heard, and the jury’s views
expressed, the steward recorded the decision of the court that “the
encroachments should be thrown down unless the fence be lowered
and thrown back”.4 In the middle of the 19th century the public footpath
skirting the north-eastern margin of the Green was extended to Cranmer


Green and became a roadway. Inevitably, this took some land from the
cricket field, but it effectively stopped any further attempts to enlarge
the front garden of No 7 or the neighbouring properties, all of which
remain minuscule to the present day.

As we have observed, the deeds of No 7 are said to commence in
1823, and the following year Dr Bartley was still busy securing greater
privacy and security for his family. The evidence can be seen today in
the high brick walls surrounding his former back garden, where Bartley
had his builder insert limestone blocks bearing the initials ACB and the
date the wall was built – 1824.5

Bartley was born in about 1787, and we have a hint that in his youth he
may have seen service under Wellington during the Peninsular campaign,
for his wife, Charlotte O’Hara, was born in Spain.6 One wonders if the
doctor’s various activities in the early 1820s were directed at improving
his Mitcham home for his young bride and the children they undoubtedly
anticipated. At the time of the census 20 years later the household
comprised the doctor and his wife, their two surviving daughters,
Charlotte, who was then five, and Emma aged four, and three servants.
Alfred Bartley died in 1845, having ministered to the needs of the
villagers for some 30 years. He clearly left his family adequately
provided for, and when the next census was conducted in 1851 his widow
could afford to employ a governess as well as servants living-in.
Charlotte O’Hara Bartley lived on in widowhood for 27 years before
being interred in the family grave in Mitcham churchyard in 1872. Here
their impressive limestone chest tomb can still be seen on the northern
side of the church, protected by iron railings.7

Charlotte, the Bartleys’ elder daughter, died unmarried in 1869 aged
33, and was buried with her parents. Emma Jane, her younger sister,
also remained a spinster, and lived in the family home for the whole of
her life, dying there in 1919 at the age of 81. She was well known in
the village, and when a booklet on Old Mitcham was published in 1926
to commemorate the centenary of rebuilding the parish church, it
contained an article by “BD” entitled “Miss Bartley; A Mitcham
Portrait”.8 Now no longer readily available, this study deserves
reproduction in its entirety:


“Lord Nelson once remarked to my Father,” – that is not a sentence that
is to be heard from the lips of many people now-a-days. And yet it is
only a few years ago that there passed from our midst a lady from
whom they fell most naturally in the course of ordinary conversation.
All but the most recent inhabitants of South Mitcham will remember
well the little figure in the dress of fifty years ago that might be seen
daily, in all weathers, tripping across the green, daintily holding up
the voluminous skirts belonging to a bygone age, and intent on works
of kindness and mercy, for all Miss Bartley’s thoughts and energies
were given to the performance of “good works” in the sense to which
those words were understood in the age to which she belonged.

“She lived at the white house upon the cricket green (now called
‘Ramornie’), where her father, the doctor, had set up his practice 100
years ago. Seated in her ground-floor parlour opening into the garden,
on a summer afternoon, with sunshine lighting up the little strip of
green bordered with old fashioned flowers, there were moments when
a sympathetic listener could lure the little lady away for a brief hour
from the engrossing round of her present activities, and encourage
her to live again among the memories of the past, which, when allowed
to hold sway, were evidently as vivid and real to her as was the present.
In a dreamy voice she would begin to discourse on some bygone event,
and once the floodgates of memory were unloosed it needed very
slight encouragement from her hearer to induce a continual gentle
flow of reminiscences.

“Very often these began with an account of the marriage of the heiress,
Miss Cranmer, to Mr Simpson – a great event in the village, marking the
introduction into Mitcham of the Simpson family, subsequently so
well known to us. Then there might come a mention of her friendship
with the second wife (very much younger than her husband) of the
Revd Strensham Myers who had been Vicar of Mitcham for over fifty
years, and was born in the reign of George II. Of course, she was
acquainted with the Revd Richard Simpson, Rector (sic) of Mitcham,
and officiating in this office until he turned Roman Catholic and
relinquished the living to a Vicar. The coming of Canon Wilson, Vicar
for nearly sixty years, was spoken of by Miss Bartley as a very recent
event, connected in her mind with certain changes made by him in the
Sunday School, of which she was very critical, regarding them as
unnecessary and too modern.


“Many of Miss Bartley’s possessions had histories attached to them,
which she delighted to unfold, and which she related with refreshing
naiveté. The blind which could be let down before the large window
in the garden room was of rich Chinese silk, painted with Oriental
designs. It had been given to her mother early in the nineteenth
century by an uncle who was a sea-captain, and had brought it home
on one of his voyages. Pulling it down to display it, she regarded its
slightly frayed edges with anxious eyes, wondering ‘if it was going to
wear well.’

“The wood-work of the garden room was grained like oak and
varnished. The durability of this also exercised her mind sometimes.
‘You see, my mother had it done by the firm who had just decorated
the Pavilion at Brighton for the Prince Regent, and it seems to me as
if it would soon need doing again.’

Time and space do not allow of the quotation of more of these quaint
echoes from the distant past; but there were also other unconscious
revelations coming, perhaps, in those confidence-begetting moments
when the long shadows of evening creep across the garden; or perhaps
on a winter afternoon over the fire, before the lights were lit, when
the flickerings on the walls may have shaped themselves for her into
forms and scenes from her departed youth. Stray words, half-
suggestions, breakings off, silences more eloquent than words would
be followed with a sigh and a murmur. ‘After all, it was a very long
time ago.’ To the sympathetic listener it seems as though the shadows
were filling the old lady’s mind with the fragrant memories of some
long-dead romance.

“Miss Bartley and her world are gone, but the memory of her gentle
presence lives on in Mitcham, where her days were spent, ‘like sweet
airs passing by’.”

Nearly 80 years have passed since Emma Jane Bartley was laid to rest
beside her parents and sisters, and although nobody living in Mitcham
today can remember her, she is not entirely forgotten, for in 1909, with
a fund of local lore to recount, she published privately a little book
entitled Mitcham in Days Gone By and, posthumously, supplied a chapter
“Rural Mitcham. Recollections of an Old Resident”, published in Old
Mitcham II in 1926. Now that so much more source material is available
to the serious student of local history it is possible to fault Miss Bartley


on many points of detail, particularly where she drew from secondary
sources which in themselves are sometimes inaccurate, but her
memories of the village of her childhood still make an invaluable
contribution to our knowledge of Mitcham in the mid-19th century. Miss
Bartley’s sister Charlotte left no mark in local records, and since the
Bartleys seem to have had no relatives in Mitcham, the family’s long
association with the village ceased shortly after the Armistice in 1918,
when the village they had known and loved moved into a period of
rapid transformation.

Ramornie saw a succession of owners following Miss Bartley’s death,
and in 1939 became the home of Lady Worsfold, formerly of Hall Place,
the large Victorian gothic house which stood at the corner where Lower
Green West joins Church Road. Born Louisa Jeffree, the daughter of a
prominent surgeon, Lady Worsfold was the widow of Sir Cato Worsfold,
member of Parliament for Mitcham, whom she married in 1900. She
was active in many aspects of local life, leading the local paper to
comment in 1934 that

“Lady Worsfold is much more than a loyal comrade in her busy
husband’s activities. Most ably she acted as Sir Cato’s lieutenant in
most of his public offices, but she has been a Mitcham leader in her
own right so to speak. Always she has wielded a great influence for
good in the district. For many years Lady Worsfold was chairman of
the women’s section of the Mitcham Conservative Association. She
rendered yeoman service, and since Wilson Hospital was built taking
the lead in the Women’s Guild. Her interest in ambulance work, the
Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, and the multifarious offices in connection
with Mitcham Parish Church and other local organisations, are well
known and much appreciated. As one of the managers of Mitcham
elementary schools, she has played her part faithfully and well.

“Lady Worsfold stands second to none in her love for the welfare of
Mitcham and its inhabitants.”9

Lady Worsfold was, of course, still living at the time the local reporter
penned these words, but they were none the less sincere for all that.
Four years later the country was plunged into preparations for war, and
with them, air raid precautions. As one might expect, Lady Worsfold
was again to the fore, organising and encouraging her contemporaries


to serve in whatever capacity they were fitted. She is remembered
particularly for her tireless work in the Women’s Voluntary Service
which, during the war years and afterwards, played such an important
role in the relief of suffering, and also in many other activities connected
with the war effort and the gradual return to normality that followed.

In 1945, the year after Lady Worsfold’s death, Mitcham Borough
Council requisitioned Ramornie, and used it for housing purposes for
15 years before returning it to private ownership. During this period of
municipal management the original fireplaces were removed, various
alterations were carried out, and most of the early 19th-century fixtures
and fittings were either defaced or replaced. The local press
commented in 1960, after the property had been de-requisitioned, that

” … although the interior has been converted into flats with reasonable
care, there is little of interest except original shutters, the staircase on
the second floor, and the entrance porch … At the rear, where an old
well has been discovered against the wall of the house, all except one
of the windows had to be renewed, as the woodwork had rotted beyond

Happily, except for a relatively modern front door, the wrought ironwork
of which matches the garden gate, the front of the house has remained
virtually unaltered, and probably looks much as it did in the early 19th
century. The attractive simplicity of the design, and its importance
architecturally, earned the house a Grade III classification in Mitcham
Borough Council’s supplementary list of buildings of note, compiled
under the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947. This early accolade
has since been endorsed by statutory listing, and the house now has the
additional protection of being included within the Cricket Green
Conservation Area.

Chapter 11



In the preceding chapters we have dealt at some length with the history
of the larger houses and certain other buildings of interest around the
Cricket Green and, of course, with the Green itself. In this concluding
chapter it is left to record what is known by the writer of the smaller
properties, and to comment on one or two remaining features of general

It will soon become apparent to the reader that in the case of most of the
remaining dwellings the writer’s knowledge of their histories and of
their owners and occupiers is very sketchy. This is certainly not to say
that further research is impossible, or that it will necessarily prove
unfruitful. Most of the buildings date from the first stages of Mitcham’s
final suburbanisation – a period when local directories were published
every two or three years, census returns and accurate large scale maps
are available, and the local press was beginning to flourish. Here are
four potentially rich sources to be investigated, and then perhaps
augmented by enquiries of the present occupiers followed, if this is
practicable, by study of the title deeds. Unfortunately, although likely
to produce some interesting information, research at this level can often
be very time consuming, if only because of the volume of material
available. The writer has therefore identified as a first priority the
bringing together of what has been gleaned already during the course of
30 years work on the history of Mitcham.

Finally, it needs to be acknowledged that several important aspects of
local history still await specialised research, and are therefore missing
from this collection of studies despite their need to be included for obvious
geographical reasons. These include the foundation and subsequent
flourishing of the Roman Catholic schools and the Roman Catholic
parish church of Saints Peter and Paul, on which an excellent start has
been made by my fellow member of Merton Historical Society, Dr R A
M Scott, in a monograph produced in 1981. The history of law
enforcement from the days of the manorial headborough and constables
to the arrival of the ‘Peelers’ and the establishment of the Metropolitan


Police Force, similarly had to wait until an exhibition at the Canons
Heritage Centre in 1998 caught the interest of someone able, by personal
knowledge and with the necessary enthusiasm, to do adequate justice to
the subject. (See Appendix) Finally, although 1985 saw the publication
of Tom Higgs’ highly readable 300 Years of Mitcham Cricket, a definitive
history of the national sport on this most ancient of greens has yet to be

Probably the most convenient way to review the remaining features of
the Green is to take an imaginary walk round the Green in a clockwise

The Eastern Side of the Green

We start at the junction of the road known as Cricket Green (formerly
Lower Green East) with the pathway now called Cold Blows. As we
have remarked earlier, those in authority towards the end of the 19th
century sought to change the name to St Mary’s Avenue, but the old
tag has persisted, as it should, for this path had its beginning as an
ancient bridleway connecting the original early Saxon settlement by the
parish church with the unfenced East Field lying beyond Mitcham Heath.

Brampton, the first house on the corner, is a pleasant 1920s-style
property, believed to have been built by the local firm of Wilson Brothers,
and named after their birthplace near Carlisle. Once the home of a
local medical officer, it was for some 20 years or so after World War II
occupied by Mrs Buse, a German lady, and her son Werner. Although
a relative newcomer to Mitcham, Mrs Buse soon became an enthusiastic
local historian and an authority on the life and works of George Pitt, the
eccentric member of the Society of Friends who, in the middle of the
19th century, was the highly successful proprietor of London House,
the village emporium standing halfway between the Lower Green and
the Fair Green. Accompanied by his wife Priscilla, George Pitt travelled
widely in Europe and Asia Minor at a time when facilities for the tourist
were often primitive and conditions dangerous. He subsequently
published accounts of his travels, and was also a poet and philanthropist.1

Mrs Buse was a connoisseur of Worcester china, and was also proud of


her collection of hand-carved Bavarian furniture, but she was probably
best known to many people in Mitcham for the way in which she cared
for injured wild birds brought to her door. Her cage-filled front room
had the air of a little hospital or sanatorium, each of her patients, often
amazingly tame, seeming to respond to the nickname given it by its
temporary hostess. With a long back fence abutting Cold Blows and
affording easy access to the rear of the house, Brampton was
unfortunately vulnerable to burglary, and more than once whilst Mrs
Buse was living there the house was ransacked.

Sir Isaac Wilson and The Cumberland Hospital

Avoca, next to Brampton, is another detached house, probably built a
little before its neighbour. The site had been occupied by a pair of
semi-detached three-storeyed houses, possibly late Georgian, which
had been demolished by 1897. Nothing more is known of them.

Beyond Avoca lies The Birches, a large double-fronted residence
standing well back from the road, and approached by a tarmac drive.
Designed in the “Queen Anne” style and built in the late 1920s, it was
for many years the home of Isaac (later Sir Isaac) Henry Wilson and
his first wife Sarah Anne who, it is said, personally supervised the
building work. Isaac was born in 1862 at Milton, in the parish of Farlam
near Carlisle, one of four sons of a Cumbrian farmer. He was persuaded
by his brothers to forsake the successful drapery business he had
established in Durham and to join them in London, where their building
firm was flourishing.2 Isaac and his wife lived at No 2 Gorringe Park
Avenue from 1905 until 1913 before moving to St Columba’s House
and then The Cedars, off Commonside East. Their final move was to
The Birches, where Sarah Wilson died.

A quiet, unassuming man, Isaac Wilson was at various times chairman
of the Mitcham bench of magistrates, and a borough and county
councillor, but he is mainly remembered today for his extraordinarily
generous benefactions to the growing township. He financed the building
of Mitcham’s cottage hospital at a cost of £60,000 in 1928, and the
Garden Village Estate for the elderly in 1929/32. By the time Mitcham
received its charter of incorporation as a borough in 1934 the Wilson


benefactions to the district totalled a little over £100,000,3 and were
eventually to amount to over £200,000. In 1934 Isaac Wilson paid for
the provision of two additional wards to what had become known as the
Wilson Hospital, doubling its capacity, and on 24th May 1937 was made
an honorary freeman of the borough as an expression of gratitude for
his work and in appreciation of his remarkable generosity to the township.
The ultimate recognition of Isaac Wilson’s public work came with a
knighthood, received from the hand of King George VI in 1939. Sir
Isaac Wilson died in September 1944 in the hospital he had given to
Mitcham, and was survived by his second wife, the former Miss Elsie
Eaves, who had been the first matron of the Wilson Cottage Hospital.4

The Cumberland House Hospital (named after Isaac Wilson’s native
county) was built in 1930 on part of the grounds of The Birches. The
foundation stone was laid by Sir Kingsley Wood, then Minister of Health,
and it is interesting to note that the clock turret which topped the main
hospital building, facing the entrance from Whitford Gardens, came
from the stable block of Ravensbury Manor, Lt Col Harold Bidder’s
house off Wandle Road overlooking the Wandle and Ravensbury Park.

Until the reform of health services under the National Health Service
Act of 1947 the Cumberland House Hospital was run by Surrey County
Council, and catered mainly for mothers and children. For the next 30
years it continued its work under the Area Health Authority, becoming
a 56-bed unit, 40 being reserved for chest cases, and the remainder for
geriatric patients. Hidden away behind The Birches, which became a
nurses’ home, the Cumberland, although supported by a small but devoted
League of Friends, was to a large extent “out of sight out of mind” as
far as the majority of Mitcham residents were concerned.

In the autumn of 1979, when the proposed closure of Cumberland House
Hospital was announced, quite suddenly, by the Sutton, Merton and
Wandsworth Area Health Authority, there was the predictable outcry
from staff and others who were opposed to what the AHA claimed were
unavoidable measures necessary to resolve the financially unsound
position in which the administration found itself. For a brief period the
hastily mounted campaign and a petition to “Save the Cumberland held
the attention of the local press, but the protests were of no avail, and


having moved the patients to other hospitals in the district, the authority
closed the hospital on 30th November 1979.5

By early 1992, with the main hospital building demolished and the site
cleared, evaluation excavations were undertaken by the Museum of
London Archaeology Service.6 No evidence of occupation prior to the
erection of the hospital was produced in the three trial trenches, each of
which showed the natural sands and gravels of the Wandle flood plain
to exist relatively undisturbed at a depth of roughly 1 metre below ground
surface level.

Redevelopment by the Area Health Authority followed shortly
afterwards, and the site of the Cumberland House Hospital and what
was the back garden of The Birches is now occupied by a complex of
buildings all caring for people suffering from a range of mental illnesses
and disabilities.

The main building, facing the entrance from Whitford Gardens, is the
Cumberland Nursing Home, the property of the National Health Service,
but run by Haven Health Care. To the left of the entrance gate is
Cumberland House, accommodating the Cumberland Day Centre for
the elderly, run jointly by Merton Mind and Merton Social Services
Department. Cumberland House was officially opened on 26th June
1996 by Lady Wilson of Rievaulx, the widow of the former premier,
Harold Wilson, who himself was a sufferer from Alzheimer’s disease
towards the end of his life. Facing the Cricket Green, The Birches
remains, unaltered but now known as Birches House. It provides
accommodation for a team of workers from Merton Social Services
Department responsible for patients with learning disabilities, and is
also used by the community teams of pyschologists and doctors from
the Area Health Authority. To the rear of Birches House, abutting Cold
Blows, lies the Freshfield Day Centre for patients with severe learning
and physical difficulties, and there is a chiropody clinic in a separate
building. Also to the rear of Birches House is Birches Close, a small
estate of houses and bungalows providing sheltered residential
accommodation for the mentally disabled, and finally the newly opened
Poly Clinic.


Chestnut Cottage

Beyond the White House, the history of which was the subject of Chapter
10, one comes to Chestnut Cottage, No 9 Cricket Green. This charming
little 18th-century house is listed Grade II in recognition of its
architectural and historic interest. Structurally the building is complex,
and it has been adapted and extended several times, the last occasion
being in 1996/7. The oldest part is at the front, and may possibly date
from around 1740, although examination of the interior by representatives
of English Heritage in 1995 led to the view being expressed that the
property was not much earlier than 1790. This does, however, seem to
be a conservative estimate, for Rocque, in his map of 1741-5, indicates
buildings then standing along the north-eastern margin of the Green as
far as Chestnut Cottage. By 1789 the map published with Edwards’
Companion shows that development of the area now covered by houses
on this side of the Green was virtually complete.

The house one sees today embodies two cottages, with extensions of
various dates to the rear. The original cottage is believed to have been
of four rooms, two up and two down, with an outshut or single-storey
back addition extending the full width of the building.7 The latter
contained the kitchen and scullery and was covered by the slope of the
main roof, which was carried down to ground floor eaves level. This
was a common arrangement in Britain in the 18th century, and although
now becoming rare on this side of the Atlantic, houses of this type can
still be found throughout New England, where they are dubbed “salt-
box” houses by reason of their shape.

In 1996, during the course of work to the roof above the front half of
Chestnut Cottage (mostly hidden from view behind the front parapet in
the fashion of the 18th century), evidence was found that it had once
been thatched. This form of roof covering had disappeared in Mitcham
before the advent of the camera in the 1860s, but in the past was
probably quite common amongst the smaller houses and cottages as an
alternative to the otherwise ubiquitous pantiles. It was also found that
the rear of the front parapet was weatherboarded behind the lead
flashing. This suggested that the whole of the front elevation may
once have been clad with timber, after the fashion of many houses built


Chestnut Cottage, No 9 Cricket Green. 1972


in north-east Surrey and Kent during the 18th century. Multicolour
local stock bricks are in evidence on the flanks and were used in the
construction of the chimneys, but the front façade is now covered with
white-painted roughcast rendering. This was probably applied as a
replacement of the original weatherboarding, lathing being first fixed to
the softwood framing (the house was never brick-fronted) to support
the rendering.

The somewhat pretentious porch, carried on fluted columns with Ionic
capitals, cannot be original, and on close examination can be seen to
have come from another building, for there is evidence of its being cut
to fit! Finally, the boxed-sash windows on the front elevation are set
well forward in their reveals, the moulded wooden architraves being
flush with the exterior face of the wall, an early-to-mid, rather than
late, 18th-century feature. Internally, as one might expect from its long
history of occupation and modification to suit the needs and tastes of its
various owners and occupiers, few original details remain. Here and
there items such as vertically sliding shutters to three of the windows,
hand-made door hinges and cast-iron firegrates, plus a multitude of
nooks and crannies and two separate staircases, combine to create a
delightful “cottagey” atmosphere.

Identification of individual small dwellings in the land tax and poor rate
books (one of the local historian’s first lines of enquiry when researching
the story of a house) is made difficult due to the low valuation of the
average cottage. An added hindrance is the absence of any street
numbering or house names in the 18th and early 19th centuries. This
means it is hard to distinguish one dwelling from another with certainty.
Consequently the names of the early owners and occupiers of a house
like Chestnut Cottage are often likely to remain unknown.

The exception is where the title deeds of a property are available for
study. This is indeed the case with Chestnut Cottage where, with the
kind assistance of the owners, John and Rosemary Davis, it was possible
in 1996 to extend the history of this interesting house considerably.

Documents in the possession of the Davises show that on 11th
November 1806, upon payment of the agreed sum of £16 10s 11d by
James Simons of Morden, the owner of the “two messuages or


tenements” overlooking the Cricket Green, a certificate for the
redemption of land tax was issued. At this time both cottages were let,
one being in the occupation of a tenant with the surname Hutchinson,
and the other John Bowyer. The dwellings were quite small, rents of
£5 and £7 pa respectively being paid, and until 1806 Simons had been
obliged to meet the land tax of 6%, or 15 shillings per year.

Of Hutchinson nothing is known at the present time, but Bowyer’s son,
also named John, who probably spent much of his early life in the larger
of the two cottages overlooking the Cricket Green, was a cricketer of
more than local fame. He was born in Mitcham in 1790, when his
father was tenant of the Kings Arms, at the Upper Green. John soon
showed promise as a cricketer and, as a left-handed batsman, was
already playing for the village club at the age of 15. A calico printer’s
block-cutter by trade, he went on to play for Surrey and the South of
England between 1810 and 1838. In a remarkable match at Lords in
1810, when Surrey beat All England, John Bowyer was one of five
Mitcham men on the county side. When past playing active cricket he
stood umpire for Mitcham for another 30 years. In recognition of his
services, the village club gave John a benefit match, and when he died
in 1880, in his 91st year, a cricket bat was placed on his coffin as he
was carried to rest in Mitcham churchyard.

Local historian Tom Francis, who was born at his family’s London
House general stores in London Road where he spent much of his life,
used to recall during his lantern slide lectures that in John Bowyer’s
later years the old cricketer lived in one of the two weatherboarded
cottages then standing between the shop and Fair Green. John died
whilst Tom was still a boy, but he remembered the old man vividly as a
familiar figure, leaning over his garden gate smoking a churchwarden
pipe. Tom held Bowyer in high esteem and, a life-long devotee of cricket
himself, was accustomed to attribute his appreciation of the finer points
of the game to John’s coaching.8

Sir Cato Worsfold, another old Mitcham resident who remembered
John Bowyer from his youth, wrote

“His chief claim to respect in my early years was that he had seen and
spoken to the great Lord Nelson. John was never tired of telling us


how well he remembered the great Admiral coming over from Merton
with the beautiful Lady Hamilton to see the lads play cricket on the
green on summer evenings, and then giving them a shilling to drink to
the confusion of the French.

“On a certain occasion John Bowyer was one of the team of
professionals whose names began with “B” matched against the Rest
of England, and he was very careful to tell me that they knew how to
dress in those days. This, I think was true. On the historic occasion
of this match, John and the other members of the team were arrayed in
top hats, blue swallow-tailed coats with brass buttons, and nankeen
smalls, finishing with white silk stockings and pumps.”9

Like much of the land to the rear and extending northwards beyond
Cold Blows towards the Fair Green, the two tenements owned by James
Simons in 1806 were copyhold of the manor of Ravensbury, lordship
of which had been in the hands of the Carew family of Beddington
since 1531. Ownership of the property seems to have changed around
1830, this date being suggested by a limestone block, which can still be
seen today, inscribed with the initials “CB” and “1831”, and inserted
in the brick boundary wall between Nos 9 and 11. Although it has not
been confirmed, there is little reason to doubt that the wall was erected
for the new owner, Dr Alfred Collett Bartley, who lived with his family
at Ramornie, the three-storeyed house next door.

The 1841 census records indicate that the cottage was the home of
George West, a coachman, his wife Clarissa and their children Clara
and George. West’s employer is not known, but he could well have
worked for the Bartleys. The doctor died in 1845, after which
presumably West’s services were dispensed with. Round about 1850 the
date suggested by the first floor fireplaces – the cottage seems to
have been almost doubled in size by the construction of a first floor
above the ground floor back addition. This necessitated constructing a
new roof at the rear and forming a central valley. By or for whom
these alterations were made, we do not know. The census books of
1851 make no mention of the West family, however, and in their place
record a Miss Matilda Marton, described as “an Annuitant with funded
property”, living at the house with her sister and their servant at what
we have to assume was the Wests’ former home.


In 1872, following the death of her mother, Emma Jane Bartley became
the owner of the house and in November that year was duly admitted as
a copyhold tenant of the manor of Ravensbury. In September 1890, the
required sum of £90 having been received by Frank M M Hallowell
Carew, the lord of the manor, through Miss Bartley’s solicitor, the
premises were “enfranchised”. By these means they became freehold,
Miss Bartley and subsequent owners being released from “all fines
heriots quit rents suits services and other incidents” which it was the
obligation of copyhold tenants to meet. (It is interesting to see the
Indenture of Enfranchisement referring to the Green opposite as
“Wickford” Green, using the form current in the 12th century and not
“Whitford”, which had been adopted mistakenly during the 19th century).

The property was occupied as two separate tenements in the 1890s
(one of the two staircases and a side entrance door are thought to date
from this period),7 and as a means of identifying it the schedule to the
indenture of enfranchisement recited the names of former occupiers James
Phillips and William Brownsell, then Thomas Haniel and John
Nightingale, and finally George West and a Miss Sharp. The list was
almost certainly not intended to be comprehensive, nor are the names
necessarily in chronological order, but it was sufficient to confirm the
dwellings involved. James Phillips’s name is familiar from the land tax
records as the owner of the new-built Ramornie next door from 1797
until 1813 and, as we have seen above, George West was living in the
cottage in the early 1840s.

Emma Bartley died in January 1919, leaving her estate in the hands of
the Public Trustee who, the following August, sold Chestnut Cottage
(which appears to have become one house and acquired its present name
sometime during the preceding 30 years) for £265 to Isaac Henry Wilson.
Wilson was then living at The Cedars, Commonside East, and his firm
was already busily engaged in the erection of some of the housing estates
that were fast transforming Mitcham from a Surrey village into a suburb
of London. Wilson retained ownership of Chestnut Cottage for four
years before selling it for £400 to Charlotte Sarah White, widow of
Albert White, the former tenant. Mrs White subsequently moved to


Sutton, and in August 1947 Chestnut Cottage, once again divided into
two and numbered 9 and 9a Cricket Green, was sold for £500 to Robert
A Brinkworth of Wimbledon Broadway.

Brinkworth, who was described as a company director, seems to have
retained the property as an investment. It was still described in the
conveyance as “formerly known as Chestnut Cottage” but “now” as 9
and 9a Cricket Green when, in 1958, he sold it for £1,300 to Aubrey
Dyer, a police inspector with the County of Surrey Constabulary. Dyer
appears to have been already in occupation, in which case he would
have purchased as a sitting tenant. Before her marriage Mrs Dyer,
then Kitty Tilly, brought renown and reflected glory to Mitcham through
her successes in the field of international athletics.

The present owners registered title to what had again become one house
in August 1993.

Following the road along the edge of the Green one next comes to Nos
11 and 13 Cricket Green, a pair of semi-detached early 19th century
villas about which little can be said.10 It will be noticed that both have
“chinoiserie” porches in the style so much in vogue from the late 18th
century onwards, and popularised by its adoption by the Prince Regent
at Brighton. (Another example can be seen over the front door of Elm
Lodge, at the corner of the Cricket Green and London Road.) The bay
at No 11 would have been added perhaps 50 years after the houses
were erected.

Nos 15, 19 and 21 are of the 20th century, again probably of the late
Edwardian or early inter-war period. Nineteenth-century photographs
and maps show a number of small houses and cottages overlooking the
Green at this point, but all must have been demolished 80 or more years
ago. Several look as though they were of 18th-century date, and one
of them, a two-storeyed, three-bay house with hipped tiled roof is
understood to have been the childhood home of Mrs Gutteridge, wife of
the cornchandler and seed merchant whose shop was such a familiar
and picturesque sight until the 1960s on the eastern, side of the Upper
Green, at the corner of Montrose Gardens.


In 1995 an archaeological evaluation was carried out at the rear of No
21 Cricket Green in advance of a planned redevelopment by Regent
Homes plc.11 Once again, the archaeologists encountered an
undisturbed stratum of sand and gravel at slightly less than one metre
below ground level, with no significant intrusions. However, a single
sherd of London-type ware, a common glazed pottery of mid-12th to
mid-13th century, was recovered from the top soil where it may have
been introduced during manuring of the land in the middle ages. Neither
this excavation, nor that conducted by the Museum of London in 1992
on the Cumberland Hospital site, provided an opportunity to examine
the narrow margin of land immediately adjoining the Cricket Green. It
may be that little or no house building took place on this side of the
Green until the late 17th or early 18th century, but there remains the
possibility that more evidence of medieval activity would come to light
if ever the opportunity arose to test land closer to the frontage.

Two years later the erection began of Cricket Green Mews, a row of
seven two and three-bedroomed houses in a ‘back-land’ development
behind No 21. Interestingly, although inside the dwellings have all the
customary modern facilities, externally the architects have very
successfully re-created the style prevalent in the 1870s. In October
1997, when the terrace had been completed by Oakdene Homes for
the owners, Wandle Housing, local residents were consulted as to an
appropriate name. That finally chosen, Chart Close, was widely
supported in view of the Chart family’s long association both with
Mitcham and the Cricket Green.

The remainder of this side of the Cricket Green is now taken up by the
Methodist Church, the history of which has been outlined in Chapter 7,
and the grounds of the Canons Leisure Centre. As we have noted
earlier, the old church was demolished in the 1950s. With it went St
Mary’s, the home of Robert Masters Chart from 1911 until his death in
1942. Chart was a remarkable character who in his long life filled
many roles, always at the centre of village administration and
professional life. A scion of an old Mitcham family with a record of
continuous service as parish and vestry clerks since the mid-18th century,
Robert Masters Chart was the son of Edwin Chart, architect and


surveyor, and grandson of John Chart, head of the local building firm
resonsible for the new parish church, completed in 1822. “RM” was
born at Mitcham in 1850, educated privately, and entered his father’s
office, subsequently joining him in partnership. He was the architect
for the new Vestry Hall on Lower Green West, opened in 1887, and
upon the death of his father in 1888 R M Chart took over the business
and established himself at Union Bank Chambers in Croydon, where he
was later joined by his two sons, Christopher and Steven. Chart was a
fellow of the Surveyors’ Institute, a member of the Society of Architects
and of the Royal Sanitary Institute. He was architect to Croydon Rural
District Council, the local authority for the Mitcham area until the creation
of the Urban District in 1915, and was responsible for many private
and public buildings in Surrey and other parts of the country. When
Mitcham acquired borough status in 1934, the 84-year old Robert
Masters Chart, who had been a member of Surrey County Council for
many years, became the Charter Mayor, and in February the following
year he was made an honorary freeman of the new borough.

View of the ‘Causeway’, Lower Green, looking south-east
(From an old postcard 1905)


The Western Side of the Green

Just beyond the south-eastern corner of the Green, next to the Roman
Catholic parish church of SS Peter and Paul, built in 1889 and the
subject of a separate study by Dr Scott, is the Cranmer Service Station,
which began life as Cole’s Garage. Here, just within living memory,
George Hart carried on a business for many years as a cycle dealer and
repairer. Here also stood a little weather-boarded building, single-
storeyed and green-painted, which survived into the late 1940s as a
café catering for local workmen. Although lacking many of the
refinements one would expect today – hot water, for instance, had to be
scooped when needed from a coal-fired copper in one corner of the
kitchen – it was kept spotlessly clean, to the credit of the elderly
proprietors. An adjacent early Victorian slate-roofed cottage in dark
stock-bricks had been a casualty of the bombing, and was demolished
soon after the end of the war.

The Queen’s Head is a comparatively modern building as far as Cricket
Green public houses go, and dates from the early part of the 20th century,
when “mock-Tudor” was becoming popular in Mitcham and elsewhere.
Possibly its best known landlord in recent years was Sam Leney who,
like Fred Cole from the garage, took a great interest in, and played
cricket for, the Mitcham Club.8 Old photographs show that the site of
the inn, and that of Brown’s, the tobacco and confectionery shop next
door (also built in mock-Tudor and now converted to purely residential
use), was once occupied by a number of small cottages.12 Several of
them had jettied first floors, hinting that they might have been timber-
framed structures, and possibly, therefore, late medieval in origin. For
reasons long forgotten, one of these groups of cottages is said to have
been known as Coronation Cottages, and the one behind as Piccadilly.

From examination of the 1867 and 1894 OS maps it is clear that all
these buildings, from the Catholic church to the Queens Head inclusive,
were standing on what was once waste land, the original limits of which
can be seen coinciding with the rear boundaries of the garage, the former
tobacconist’s shop and the public house. As we have suggested in
Chapter 1, this was originally defined by a ditch – “Cranmer’s ditch” which
is now confined underground and forms part of the surface water


sewerage system. A short section was uncovered recently at the side
of the Catholic church during building work. When the ditch was open
it would easily have become choked, leading to flooding of the adjoining
land. In the past it was not at all unusual for roadside waste such as
this, unsuitable for anything but rough grazing, marshy and certainly
unattractive for building, to have become occupied by squatters. Their
hovels, if left undisturbed, established for their builders proprietorial
rights, and would eventually be replaced by more substantial dwellings,
It is probable that many of the cottages Emma Bartley could remember
standing here in the 1840s and ’50s had such humble origins. “A great
many old cottages were to be seen in every part of Mitcham”, she wrote,
recalling her childhood, “Most of them have been condemned and
destroyed – a few even of these still remain – some in an alley on the

The term “Causeway”, commonly abbreviated to “Causey”, was still
occasionally heard as late as the 1940s, although its origins were largely
forgotten. Levels on the 1894 OS map show the road northwards along
the side of the Green from the church to its junction with the main
London Road to have had a fall of some five feet, with a slight dip
outside the Queen’s Head. In days gone by the ground either side of the
carriage way must have had a tendency to become very wet, and the
road probably flooded quite frequently after periods of wet weather.
The surface of the footpath would accordingly have been raised, forming
a “causeway” along which pedestrians could make their way and remain
reasonably dry-shod.

Bramcote Avenue, leading off the Causeway by the Queen’s Head, dates
from the early 1930s, the estate being built over the fields and orchards
of Cranmer Farm, which survived until comparatively late in Mitcham’s
history. Today one early 19th-century cottage, No 62 Cricket Green,
“improved” and thereby considerably altered, can be found between
Bramcote Court flats and the entrance to Mitcham Park. Close by,
until perhaps 80 years ago, there was a small smithy and forge. Near
the entrance gate to the farm, and demolished during the construction of
Bramcote Avenue, was a quaint little shop called “George’s”, where in
the 1930s local children could buy brandy balls, acid drops and sticks
of hard toffee for a farthing.


Mitcham Park, or The Park, as it was formerly known, is an estate of
houses slightly larger than average for Mitcham, the development of
which commenced in the 1890s, but was not completed until just before
the outbreak of war in 1939. The estate was laid out in the extensive
grounds of Mitcham Hall, a substantial house dating from the late 17th
century which remained standing until shortly after the death of its last
owner, Sidney Gedge, in 1923.14 One of the lodges can still be seen,
set back some 50 yards or so from the junction of Mitcham Park with
The Causeway. Originally the Mitcham Park estate was a private one,
with large gates hung from substantial brick piers either side of the
entrances. One pair was set at the Cricket Green end, and the other
where Mitcham Park joins the London Road near what was Mitcham
Station. Once a year the gates were closed for a day to bar access to
the general public. Both sets of gates had gone by the early 1930s, but
their piers remained, notably those near the police station, until about
50 years ago.

Before completion of McAlpine’s Brook House, Mitcham Police Station
was the most recent building to have been erected overlooking the
Cricket Green. It was completed in 1965 to the design of the chief
architect and surveyor’s department of the Metropolitan Police and
replaced a typical Victorian building in red brick and sandstone that had
become quite inadequate for the mid-20th century. (see Appendix)

Next to the old police station, and demolished in November 1947, there
stood a group of rather picturesque three-storeyed red brick and pantiled
properties, dating, as far as one can tell now, to the 18th century. Their
passing was regretted by many, not least members of Mitcham’s Civic
Society, who were striving in the post-war years to safeguard as far as
possible what still remained of “Old Mitcham”. When asked if the
buildings could not have been preserved, the borough’s chief sanitary
inspector commented that they might have Queen Anne fronts, but
they also had ‘Mary Ann’ backs, and were not only unfit, but not
repairable at reasonable expense! His attitude was typical of the period.
During demolition the structural timbers attracted some curiosity since,
being of extremely well-seasoned oak, they proved almost impossible
to cut with hand saws.


One of these houses, No 54 Cricket Green, was the home of Thomas
William Thompson who, until his death in December 1943, was a familiar
figure in Lower Mitcham. Like his brother, councillor Jack Thompson,
who had died some 20 years before, T W Thompson had been a
dairyman all his life, carrying on the business of the Hall Farm Dairy
established by their late father.15 The business claimed to be the oldest
dairy in Mitcham and, until stopped by legislation in the 1920s, old Mr
Thompson always delivered his milk in open pails, usually suspended
from a yoke over his shoulders. The Thompsons turned their cows out
to graze on the Cricket Green, claiming to exercise the rights of
copyholders, until the practice was stopped by the Common
Conservators. Bread and some provisions were sold from the
Thompsons’ shop at No 54 in the 1930s, and the milk distribution
business was carried on by a sister, Miss M F Thompson, until the
early 1950s, but by this time the milk was obtained wholesale and came
already bottled and heat-treated from a modern dairy at New Malden.
Miss Thomson made her deliveries by bicycle.

The two houses beyond the former Wesleyan chapel (No 46, the subject
of an earlier chapter) are difficult to date stylistically. Their appearance
has been much altered in recent years, but the original size and design
are unusual. Both properties can be identified on the 1846 tithe map,
and buildings are shown by Edwards to have existed here in the late
18th century, but his map is too roughly drawn to be relied upon, and
one could not say from the cartographical evidence alone that Nos 42
and 44, as they are now known, were standing at that time. In 1846 the
pair were owned by Henry Fry, and described in the tithe survey as
“Houses, carpenter’s yard, garden and buildings”. The occupiers were
Francis Milbourne and William Bowler, the latter also appearing in
contemporary directories as a cornchandler and a coal and wood
dealer.16 Tracing the two properties back from 1831 through the land
tax records (the assessment was based on a rental of £10 per annum
which remained unchanged for 40 years) it would seem that they were
built in the 1780s. Their unusually tall roofs are likely to be replacements
of the originals, which in all probability were of the usual central valley
type, barely visible behind the front wall, which would have been carried
up to form a parapet. In about 1818 the right-hand house of the pair


became for a short while the home of Tom Shearman, honorary treasurer
of Mitcham Village Cricket Club, and a player of more than local repute.

No 40 Cricket Green, Belle View, was for many years the Britannia
Inn. Today it could be passed by without notice, but in fact it is an
interesting little house with a history dating back to about 1785. Prior
to this, the plot had been occupied by a very small cottage, valued at
only £2 per annum, demolished to make way for the new building. The
landowner at this time was Thomas Atkyns, and the first occupant of
the newly-erected house was Thomas Watson Burnett. Strangely, both
names disappear from the tax records within a year, the landowner in
1786 being “Mr Frye” and his tenant and lessee David Chesterman.
Fry and the Chesterman family were no strangers, and Samuel Fry was
the owner of three watermills on the Wandle upstream from Mitcham
bridge, two of which had been occupied by the Chestermans since the
1770s. Until 1784 David seems to have been the tenant of one of a
number of small houses in Lower Mitcham owned by his mother. He

Houses overlooking Lower Green, photographed in1993


died shortly after moving into the house on the Cricket Green, but his
widow, Ann, remained there for some 40 years. We have already
encountered another Chesterman, Thomas, who in the 1780s was
constable of the manor of Vauxhall, but his precise relationship to David
and Ann has yet to be established. In 1828 a new occupant appears in
the tax books, Thomas Miller, followed by a “Mr Wood” in 1829.

The conversion of the house from a private residence to an inn took
place in the 1830s, probably encouraged by the passing of the Beerhouse
Act of 1830, which was intended to wean the English labourer away
from the evils of gin drinking by reintroducing him to the more
wholesome national beverage of ale. Licensing records for this part of
Surrey are unfortunately incomplete, and the exact date of opening of
the Britannia is not known. As the Britannia public house it was,
however, mentioned in an agreement for the sale of land in Mitcham by
Mary Tate to William Simpson on 23rd October 1839.17 It is from a
local directory of 1839 that we also have the name of William Turpin,
who is the first recorded proprietor of the establishment. He was almost
certainly the same William Turpin who, from 1829, had been living
next door but one, at what is now No 44. Turpin was followed by
Thomas Lowe (1845), Nathaniel Cook in 1846, and Edward Nathaniel
Newman in 1851. Their successors can, of course, be traced through
the later editions of the directories, and more personal details could be
found in the census returns.

During the closing years of the last century the Britannia was the
headquarters of the ‘Old Buffer’s’ Cricket Club, which played on the
Green opposite. The club took its name from the nom-de-plume of
Fred Gale, who wrote on cricketing topics for Bailey’s Magazine and
other sporting journals.9 The Britannia closed down many years ago,
and the house was subsequently occupied by Joe Shepherd, a wood
merchant. A weatherboarded barn, at the rear of No 40, used by the
riding school run by Sheila Shaw in the 1960s, helped to preserve the
rural atmosphere of this side of the Green, but was demolished in 1974.
Happily today the façade of the house still preserves the typical
symmetry of a late-18th century building, and whereas now the original
brickwork is covered with pebbledash rendering, there remains a


The former Britannia public house, Lower Green, photographed in July 1993

decorative cast-iron balustrading to the first floor balcony extending
across the whole width of the front elevation. Somewhat rare in Britain
(there is one good example in Purley Way, Waddon) cast iron ‘lace’ is,
of course, an extremely common feature of Australian houses of the
late 19th century, and a sine qua non for all pubs ‘down-under’, including
several still to be seen around Mitcham, near Adelaide. It was no
doubt from the balcony of the Britannia on summer days a century ago
that members of the Old Buffer’s club would have taken their ease,
watching their beloved game in progress just across the road, and
debating earnestly the form shown by the visiting Aussies, over here to
show the “Poms” how the game should really be played.

Three more buildings on this side of the Cricket Green remain to be
mentioned – the others (the Tate Almshouses, the pair of houses built
for the master and mistress of the National School, and the old King’s
Head) having been considered in some detail already. The Roman
Catholic primary school of SS Peter and Paul was rebuilt in 1974,
replacing the original chapel and school building erected in 1861 on


land given by William Simpson junior. Beyond the former school houses
is No 6, Greenview, an early 20th-century house which from about
1905 was the home of Stephen Chart, son of Robert Masters Chart.
Lt Col Stephen Chart DSO, OBE, as he was to become, was clerk to
the Urban District Council, and subsequently the first town clerk of
Mitcham. He had served in the Boer War, and received the
Distinguished Service Order during the 1914/18 War. When he retired
from local government service in 1946 Stephen Chart was honoured,
like his father, with the freedom of the borough. His departure from
Mitcham ended a phase in the town’s history, for it was the first time in
nearly 200 years that a member of the Chart family was not holding
office as the senior administrative officer either to the vestry or local

Next to Greenview we come to Mitcham Cricket Club’s pavilion, also
built nearly a century ago and most inconveniently located on the opposite
side of the busy road from the cricket field. Visiting players are said to
be as much in fear of being struck by passing traffic as by the bowling
of the home side!

Greenview and Mitcham Cricket Clubhouse (Copy of postcard c1920)


On the street corner opposite the Burn Bullock (the former King’s
Head) is a granite water trough, the last to survive in Mitcham, erected
by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association
to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. Nearly
a century later it was still functioning, and although horse-drawn traffic
was almost a thing of the past, there were still perhaps half a dozen or
so regular patrons, belonging in the main to Mitcham’s Romany families
who followed their traditional pursuits of dealing in scrap metal or
“totting”. In 1993 the historic interest of the trough was recognised by
the Department of National Heritage, and it was added to the statutory
list and placed in Grade II. No longer supplied with water, the trough is
today planted with flowers.

Beyond the Cricket Green railings and hedge, on the Green itself, is
one of Mitcham’s few outdoor monuments – a simple limestone memorial
to the memory of Tom Ruff (1897-1962), for many years a local
councillor, who was elected mayor in 1961. Tom Ruff was a much
respected local trader (he had a shoe repairing shop at Fair Green)
who, sadly, died during his term of mayoral office. Outside his family
he had two great loves – Mitcham itself and Mitcham cricket. He was
captain of the Wednesday side of Mitcham Cricket Club for many
years, and with Burn Bullock was one of those whose efforts kept the
club together during the war years. In 1953 he caused great amusement
by organising a match on the pitch once used by the Old Buffer’s Club,
in the style and costume of 1853.

Finally, one cannot conclude an account of the Cricket Green without a
further mention of the elm trees, once such a prominent feature around
its edges. Their size could have been imposing had they been allowed
to grow naturally, but over the years they had been pollarded unmercifully
with the result that by the 1950s and ’60s they were strangely gnarled
and mis-shapen. Three standing opposite Barclays Bank were felled
in December 1967 to enable the road to be widened near the traffic
lights, and the last were removed in September 1973 after an attempt
to halt an infection with Dutch elm disease by injecting Benkit failed to
save them. The trunks were completely hollow, and the trees were in
any case nearing the end of their normal life-span when removal became


unavoidable. Their girth was such that they could well have been
between 150 and 200 years of age, and they were probably standing
when James Malcolm, writing his Compendium of Modern
Husbandry, published in 1805, commented on the profusion of elms in
Mitcham, observing that the elm

” … delights in a deep loam, or a soil that is of a gravelly tendency; …
and in this county” (Surrey) “it will be more particularly seen to the
northward of Croydon, … north of Guildford, etc. At each of these
places there is very fine elm growing spontaneously in the several
hedgerows; … Many of the trees I am alluding to are very large and
handsome and would cut into scantlings of almost any dimensions.

“In the parishes of Lambeth, Streatham and Mitcham, there have
been very large breaks in consequence of the great demand for the
navy, and the several waterworks throughout the kingdom. Those of
Liverpool particularly have, I am informed, been from the county of
Surrey; and when to these we add the immense consumption for the
London waterworks, those at Clapham, Lambeth and the New River …

“Elm is converted into planks for the navy and for large builders, into
coffin boards, and for carts and waggons, and also cut into naves for
wheels; the lesser trees are purchased by the pipe borers who are
satisfied with them at small sizes.”18

A hollow section from one of the felled Cricket Green elms was reserved
for a local wood carver, and was displayed in the entrance to Hall
Place Old People’s Home in Church Road before it closed. With great
ingenuity W C Ross, the craftsman, adapted the extraordinary shapes
created naturally by the decay of the wood to portray an imaginary
scene on the river Wandle. It is now in the Civic Centre.


The last of the Cricket Green elms being removed in December 1967



Ex-Sergeant BERNARD BROWN, editor of the Metropolitan
Police History Magazine, has kindly contributed the following


When Robert Peel’s ‘New Police’ force was formed in April 1830 the
Metropolitan Police District (MPD) extended only as far as the boundary
of the parish of St Peter and St Paul, Mitcham, (population 4,381) with
Tooting and Streatham, and it was to be another decade before the
parish was placed under the jurisdiction of the ‘New Police’.

The road through Mitcham had been turnpiked under the Act of 1718
(Cap 4 Geo 1) between Southwark and Sutton to secure repairs to the
highway, which was often impassable in inclement weather and the
haunt of highwaymen, especially on lonely Figges Marsh, where a
turnpike gate and tollhouse was subsequently erected. These early toll-
keepers were, in fact, sworn in as parish constables, and would detain
felons within the toll-house, or else the parish ‘cage’ or ‘lock-up’, which
was situated near the Cricketers public house in the London Road.

Despite the passing of the Watching and Lighting Acts, it was found
necessary in 1805 for a detachment of the Bow Street Horse Patrols
to be established at Colliers Wood, where the station survived, backing
onto Wandle Park, until it was demolished in the early 1980s. A replica
now stands in its place. The Horse Patrols were absorbed into the
Metropolitan Police in 1839.

As the Surrey Constabulary did not exist until 1851 the parish of Mitcham
was included in the MPD from January 1840, as part of the vast ‘P’ or
Camberwell Division. Two sergeants (one mounted) and five constables
were deployed in the 2,893 acre parish from Streatham police station.
However directories from 1841 onwards record the presence of a
station-house in Mitcham.

Development was already taking place, with the opening in May 1838
of the London & Southampton Railway, with a station in nearby
Wimbledon. Mitcham finally got its own railway station in October
1855 when a branch line opened from Wimbledon to Croydon.


The population now stood at 4,641, while the police station on the
Causeway (overlooking the Cricket Green) was under the charge of
sergeants John Thorpe and Francis Bates and ten pc’s, within the
Carshalton Sub-Division. The Figges Marsh toll-gate was finally swept
away in late October 1865 amidst rejoicing. The gate had always
attracted much criticism, especially during Derby Week when police
reinforcements had to be called in to preserve order. At the same time
Mitcham ceased to be part of ‘P’ Division, and the two sergeants and
14 pc’s were transferred to the newly created ‘W’ or Clapham Division
with headquarters at Brixton (then still in Surrey).

The freehold having been acquired in 1877 for £650, a new police
station containing two cells and with a one-stall stable was built on the
Causeway at a cost of £994 18s 8d (£994.93) and opened on 1 January
1885. Provision was made to house one married sergeant and his family
at 4s (20p) per week and six single men at just 1s (5p) per week. The
new station was equipped with the latest thing in communications – the
telegraph – and was identified by the station-code letters ‘MC’.

Mitcham’s first purpose-built police station, erected in 1885


A new County of London was formed in April 1889 which included the
neighbouring parishes of Tooting and Streatham. Mitcham thereby
became the new boundary between Surrey and ‘The Smoke’, and the
aforesaid parishes became part of the Metropolitan Borough of
Wandsworth a decade later, in 1900. As a result of the London
Government Act 1899 a detached part of the civil parish of Mitcham
was ceded to Tooting Graveney parish as part of London, the population
(1901) now having reached 14,904. At the turn of the century the
Causeway (by now known as Lower Green East) police-station was
complemented by Station Sergeant John Jenkins (who had four stripes),
four sergeants and 19 pc’s, the districts of Upper and Lower Mitcham
being bounded by Wykford Lane. By the outbreak of war in 1914 the
constable strength had risen to over 30. Mitcham became an Urban
District the following year, having been part of the vast Croydon Rural
District since 1894.

The inter-war years saw many boundary changes, both police and civil,
as a result of which Mitcham and Tooting police-stations became part
of the Streatham Sub-Division. However, in October 1931 the latter
was transferred from ‘W’ Division to ‘Z’ (Croydon) Division, and as a
result Tooting was enhanced to sub-divisional status, with poor old
Mitcham maintaining its usual role, as a mere sectional outpost. The
present station at Tooting dates from July 1939.

The Surrey Review Order 1933 extended the Urban District of Mitcham
to include parts of Wimbledon Borough and Beddington Urban District,
and in exchange part of Mitcham was ceded to Croydon and Wimbledon
Boroughs, together with parts of Merton and Wallington parishes. (The
author has in his possession a road sign for London Road, Mitcham
Junction, bearing Wallington & Beddington UDC thereon.)

Although Mitcham became a borough in 1934, one final change took
place, under the County of London and County Borough of Croydon
(Alterations to Boundaries) Order 1936, with an equal exchange of
area between Mitcham civil parish and the County Borough of Croydon.
In December 1936 it was proposed to purchase the adjoining premises,
known as Causeway Cottages for £1,750 to extend the police-station,
but plans were suspended at the outbreak of war in 1939. The old 19th


century telegraphic station code was changed at this time from ‘MC’
to ‘WM’, ie ‘W’ Division, station: Mitcham.

Unfortunately Mitcham ceased to be part of the administrative County
of Surrey and became part of the new Greater London Borough of Merton
on April Fools Day 1965. The new sub-divisional HQ for Mitcham
(now coded VM) was changed from Tooting to Wimbledon at the same
time, where it has remained ever since. Mitcham had been part of ‘W’
Division for a century (1865-1965), but was now part of ‘V’ Division.
The present ‘modern’ police-station will itself be 35 years old in the
Millennium, having opened on 6 December 1965. The station address
was altered from Lower Green East to Cricket Green in October 1944.

The GLC, along with ‘V’ Division, was abolished in September 1985,
and Mitcham re-designated at last as a sub-divisional station, albeit
still an outpost of Wimbledon, which was temporarily administered by
‘Z’ (Croydon) District.

Up until 1985 all Mitcham officers had worn the single ‘V’ District
letter on their uniforms, together with a number first introduced in 1830,
but officers now wear the 2-letter Wimbledon Divisional code ‘VW’. A
brief temporary change to this system took place between March 1992
and April 1996, when officers wore the letters ‘ZM’ instead of ‘VW’.
Mitcham at this time had the temporary station-code letters ‘ZC’.

Sector policing was introduced in March 1992, when the Wimbledon
Division ‘VW’ was renamed Merton Division, ‘ZM’. Under this system
a new sector office at Morden, ‘ZE’, was taken into use, with even
less status than Mitcham.

By the arrival of the Millennium the Metropolitan Police will have
patrolled Mitcham for 160 years, and if we include the Horse Patrols,
for nearly 200 years! There are plans afoot for some Metropolitan police
stations in Surrey to be ceded to the County police. Mitcham, however,
will remain under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police for the
foreseeable future.

(Reprinted from Merton Historical Society’s Bulletin 129 – March 1999)



1 Morris J,Domesday Book: Surrey (1975) 21 1 & 2
2 Bartley E,Mitcham In Days Gone By (1909) 10
Ordnance maps of the 19th century mark the Green as “Lower Mitcham
Green”. “Lower Green East” and “The Causeway” were terms used for
the roads to the north and south of the Green in the inter-war period,
but “Cricket Green” had been adopted as the official address by the
time the London Borough of Merton came into existence in 1965.
3 Montague E,The Archaeology of Mitcham (1992) 14-22 and subsequent
work by the Museum of London Archaeology Service.
4 Birch, W de G,Cartularium Saxonicum I (1885) 64 Grant
of land to Chertsey Abbey, AD 727
5 The evolution of the place-name Whitford will be explored more fully
in a future volume on Lower Mitcham.
6 Merton Local Studies Centre. Montague E, ‘Church Road, Mitcham.
An Archaeological Assessment’ January 1995
7 Rocque J, Environs of London 1741-5 and in Edwards J, Companion
from London to Brighthelmston (1801)
8 Canterbury Cathedral Archives 70,436 (Transcribed by Roy Edwards
of the Streatham Society)
9 Surrey History Centre 470
10 British Library MS Add 6040 f1 No 1 (Transcribed by John Blair)
11 Under the Metropolitan Commons (Mitcham) Supplemental Act 1891
12 The Mitcham Urban District Council Act 1923
13 Bartley, ibid, 10
14 Hunt W, ‘Old Mitcham’ in The Advertiser January 1933
15 Merton Local Studies Centre. Tom Francis’s lecture notes.
16 Bowen R, Cricket: A History of its Growth and Development
Thoughout the World and Higgs T, 300 Years of Mitcham Cricket
(1985) 7
17 Alverstone and Alcock C, Surrey Cricket (1902)
18 PRO Prob 31/911/675


19 Barringer, J, ‘Tooting’s Village Days’ in Tooting, Balham, Mitcham and
Colliers Wood Gazette 16th May 1931. Article written by Barringer in
1884, when aged 70.

20 Merton Local Studies Centre. Tom Francis’s lecture notes pp 82-85 and
Montague E N (Edit) Old Mitcham (1993)

21 Merton Local Studies Centre. Tom Francis’s scrap book of news

22 Surrey History Centre. Register of Friendly Societies in Mitcham 17941829.
QS 6/9/3a


1 Additional support for the contention comes from a discrepancy
between the total hidage of the combined holdings ascribed to Mitcham
and Whitford in the survey, and the average total hidages of nearby
vills in the hundred of Wallington.

2 Morris J, Domesday Book 3 Surrey (1975) 17,3

3 Victoria County History of Surrey IV (1912) 55

4 Ibid, quoting G E C Complete Peerage

5 “The King may have taken some political comfort from the wedding.
The Earls of Devon had always been close to the Plantagenets.
Baldwin’s grandfather had been one of the four earls who carried the
silken canopy at the coronation of Richard Coeur de Lion. The
troublesome Gloucesters had come to heel, and Amicia might be seen
if not as a hostage then at least as a pledge of good faith.”

Gill, C, Buckland Abbey (1968) 8

6 Victoria County History of Surrey IV (1912) 234, quoting Feet of F
Surr 44 Hen III, No 18

7 BL MS Add 6040 (16). Charter of Confirmations of Henry du Blois,
Bishop of Winchester, dated c 1170.

8 Lewis, F B, ‘Pedes Finum’Surrey Archaeological Society Extra Volume
No 1 (1894) 39

9 Victoria County History of Surrey IV (1912) 231, quoting Feet of F Surr
45 Hen III, no 36
The other half interest in this mill seems likely to have come into the

priory’s hands as part of the Mitcham estate of William Fitz Ansculf.

10 Gill supra gives an account of the event.
11 Victoria County History of Surrey IV 55
12 Copy extract from an inquisition post mortem 47 Henry III No 32b
listed by W W Coombs in 1934 as being in a collection of deeds relating
to Mitcham in Croydon Library, and transcribed by W A Turner, the
former librarian in charge at Mitcham Library. Now in Surrey History
Centre, 599/.
13 Victoria County History of Surrey IV 55 quoting Chan Inq pm 20 Edw
I, file 63, no 16; Cal Close, 1288-96 p236
14 For a detailed account of the circumstances see Victoria County
History of Surrey IV 55 quoting Ct R portf 205, no 10-21
15 Heales A, Records of Merton Priory (1898) 189
16 Heales ibid, 157
17 Surrey History Centre 599/
18 A copy of an inquisition ad quod damnum (Chancery) 12 Edw II No
51 as to the extent of the manor of Vauxhall listed by Coombs (1934).
Quoted by W A Turner in notes compiled from the collection of deeds
relating to Mitcham seen in Croydon Library. (See note 12)
19 Surrey History Centre 599/
20 Shirley, J,Canterbury Cathedral (1973) 20 who comments:
Edward’s “earliest connection with Canterbury was at the age of three,
when his father (Edward III) and mother brought him in 1333. On
that occasion the monastery presented him with an alabaster cup worth
six shillings. Two of Edward’s sons were certainly educated here by
Prior Hathbrand, and if Prince Edward were one of them, his wish to
be buried in the Cathedral may have been due to his childhood days
in the Prior’s Lodgings”.
It was Joan’s garter, dropped during a ball following the end of the
seige of Calais, that gave Edward III the inspiration for the badge of
his newly founded order of knights.
21 Victoria County History of Surrey IV 232 and Manning O and Bray W,
History of Surrey II (1809) 505
22 Manning O and Bray W, History of Surrey II (1809) 505
23 Victoria County History of Surrey IV 233, quoting Chan Inq pm 16 Edw
IV, no 30


24 The land adjacent to Park Place, now known as The Canons, was
presented to the priory of St Mary, Southwark, before 1170 by the
parish of Mitcham. It also seems once to have been common grazing
land, and part of a continuous tract of “waste” extending from Church
Road to Commonside East.

25 Victoria County History of Surrey IV 233, quoting Feudal Aids v 125

26 Surrey History Centre 599/

27 Victoria County History of Surrey IV 233, quoting Exch Inq pm (Ser 2),

file 1069 No 1. The second Sir Richard Illingworth may have been the
Richard to whom the estate passed in 1476.

28 Rice R, Garraway, “On the parish registers of St Peter and St Paul,
Mitcham” in Reliquary xviii (1877) 143-4

29 Cant Cath Archives MSS 70432 and 70436

30 Ibid MSS 70436

31 Transcription by Roy Edwards of the Streatham Society, conveyed in

a personal communication dated 2nd Oct 1988:

A survey of the manor of Vauxhall was conducted in 1649 pursuant
to one of Cromwell’s early Acts, by which lands held by the Dean
and Chapter of Canterbury were sequestrated in October of that year.
(The lands were restored to the Archbishop after the Restoration).
(Ref Guildhall Library MS6912; Fishmongers Company Records)

Freehold and copyhold fines from Mitcham amounted to two shillings

There is a Court Baron kept yearlie in Easter Tearme
There is a Courte Leete usuallie kept in the month of October yearlie
for the said Manner

There are three Commons belonging to the said Manner of ffauxhall,
the one called Lambeth Comon, The other Mitcham, And the other

There are Three Comon Pounds belonging to the Manner maintayned
by the Lord there. Two of them in good repaire and other Mitcham
much decayed.

The fines upon Descent or alienation by the Custome of the said

Manner are Certain, vizt. Two yeares Quitt rent and A herriott att large.
Att Amerciament under Twentie Nobles are payable to the Bailiffe, if it
exceed then the Lord hath a moytie.
There is verrie little Timber or Wood growing in or upon the premises
not valuable.
The Rentall
16 “coppieholders Mitcham Lybertie” are listed, including “Lady
Senzhe?” (? a misreading of Lady Leigh?), Thomas Smyth, Richard
Farrant, Richard Knepp and Richard Keeling – all familiar names in
other contemporary records.
32 Surrey History Centre. Quarter Sessions Records
An order was made at the Christmas Sessions in 1770/1 for the
prevention and suppression of unlawful fairs in the County. The
justices’ committee established to enforce the order was active between
1771-1775, and met often at the King’s Head Mitcham. They acted
through the headboroughs and constables.
33 Constable: Richard Forster
Headborough: James Lovegrove
Assistant Constable: David Chesterman and
Pound keeper: Daniel Billings
34 The claim that the Vauxhall pound was the “parish” pound is
interesting, but was not strictly correct, since two other pounds are
known to have existed, one at Pound Farm, in Upper Mitcham
(possibly the pound of the manor of Biggin and Tamworth), and
another situated behind the Blue Houses on Mitcham Common, and
usually referred to as the pound of the manor of Ravensbury.
35 Canterbury Cathedral Archives Volume 124,455, transcribed by Roy
Edwards of the Streatham Society.
36 Merton Local Studies Centre. Transcript of evidence given in
Ecclesiastical Commissioners v Bridger
37 Surrey History Centre. 320/3/1/12. Henry Tanner giving evidence in
Ecclesiastical Commissioners v Bridger 1890
(The case seems to have opened in 1883, and proceedings continued
for some seven years or so)
38 Bartley E J, Mitcham in Days Gone By, published privately in 1909
39 Surrey History Centre. Mitcham Vestry Minutes 6781


40 Surrey History Centre, Mitcham Sunday School Minutes I (1788-1794)

William Pollard was one of the “gentleman subscribers” to the Sunday
School fund, and his objection would therefore appear to have been
against the enclosure of manorial waste, and not the proposed school.

41 Canterbury Cathedral Archives 70,436 (Transcribed by Roy Edwards)

42 Surrey History Centre. Mitcham Land Tax records.

43 Chief Executive, London Borough of Merton. Title Deeds of Mitcham


1 The old Buck’s Head (renamed in 1990 the White Lion of Mortimer),
the Three Kings and the White Hart also have histories traceable to
the 17th century.

2 Edwards J, Companion from London to Brighthelmston II (1801) 37

3 Surrey History Centre 212/73/3

The property leased was described as a “Messuage or tenement,
garden, orchard, barns, stables, yards, grounds and outbuildings in
Mitcham als Wickford, abutting South and West on the dwelling house
of Sir Julius Cesar, North on the farm house of Sir Julius Cesar, West
on the King’s Highway, occupied by Thomas Cesar esq”

4 Montague E N, and Turner W A, “The Residence of Sir Julius Caesar
Adelmare in Mitcham” in Surrey Archaeological Collections LXVII
(1970) 85-94

5 Enquiries by the writer in 1976 disclosed that it had probably been
removed by a former manager after Mrs Bullock’s retirement.

6 Chart R M, “Mitcham Parish Records” in Bidder H F (Edit) Old Mitcham
II (1926) 19

7 Surrey Record Society. Surrey Quarter Sessions Order Book XXXVI
(1935) 91

8 Surrey Record Society. Surrey Hearth Tax XVII (1940)

9 Surrey History Centre. Mitcham Poor Rate books. The series starts
in 1755, but is not continuous until 1770

10 Surrey History Centre. Land Tax Records: Mitcham
1785-1786 Mr Edwards
1787-1792 Mr John Onslow
1793-1799 Mr James Barker
1800-1806 Mr Thomas Smith
1807-1810 Mr Levi Bird
11 Canterbury Archives MSS 70432 – 36. Transcribed by Roy Edwards of
the Streatham Society.
12 Surrey History Centre. 413/9/1
13 Surrey History Centre. Vestry Minutes 6781
14 Surrey History Centre. The records of the manor of Biggin and
Tamworth, for instance, show that the general court baron and the
customary court of the lords of the manor was held there at 11 am on
13th March 1889.
15 Surrey History Centre. Quarter Sessions Records.
16 The date 1760 was put forward in Surrey County Council’s Antiquities
of Surrey (1939).
In comments appended to the list of historic buildings in Mitcham
compiled under the Town and Country Planning Act it is suggested
the front block is “Early mid-18th century”.
17 It was afforded Grade II status in the list compiled by Mitcham
Corporation under the Act of 1947.
18 A post card of c1910 shows the house unaltered. A rainwater head to
the right of the front elevation bears the date 1911.
19 Lambeth Archives. A sepia colour sketch of c 1827 by J C Buckler
shows a window where the door is now. The former side entrance
was to the left of the present doorway, in the older part of the inn.
20 Canterbury Archives. MSS 70436
21 He last appears in Pigot’s Directory for 1855.
22 Post Office Directory, 1870
23 As was so often the case, the beadle was the butt of much village
humour. After one royal visit, a village wag, obtaining official-looking
writing paper, wrote to the beadle, purporting to express “Our gratitude
for the services you have rendered.” The old man was completely
taken in, and proudly showed the letter around the village until he
was told he was the victim of a practical joke.


24 Surrey History Centre. Sale particulars, 2327/1/2-7. Lot 45 Plan No

25 For my information on Burn Bullock I am indebted to the late Mrs

Bullock, whom I interviewed in 1975.
An article by Joan Mulcaster entitled “Profile – Lilian Bullock”
published in the Mitcham News on 24th August 1973 makes pleasant
reading, but unfortunately is inaccurate in many details.

26 Stella was a bridesmaid at the writer’s wedding on 20th March 1948.


1 Edwards J, Companion from London to Brighthelmston Pt II (1801) 17

2 Wimbledon Library. In an Extra-illustrated copy of Brayley E W, History
of Surrey III
John Chessell Buckler (1793-1894) spent some time in the village in

1827 sketching several of the larger houses and other buildings of
interest, signing his drawings “J C B ”

3 Surrey Archaeological Society Library, Guildford. ” ‘The Recovery’
A House for Lunatics. Mitcham Green. Back View.” Ref No 23/10

4 Montague E N, and Turner W A, “The Residence of Sir Julius Caesar
Adelmare in Mitcham” in Surrey Archaeological Collections LXVII
(1970) 85-94

5 Montague E N, ‘Mitcham Hall’ and ‘The Manor House’ in an unpublished
volume of studies entitled “Lower Mitcham”.

6 Surrey History Centre. Acc 1486.
The family also seems to have owned land in Merton, for in 1748 Thomas
Hammond sold what was to become the site of Nelson’s Merton Place
to Henry Pratt. Hammond’s grandfather, William Hammond, had
purchased the land from Ellis Crisp in 1699. Hopkins P, A History of
Lord Nelson’s Merton Place (1997) 3

7 Canterbury Cathedral archives. MSS 70436

8 Ward W R (Edit) Parson and Parish in Eighteenth-Century Surrey.
Replies to Bishops’ Visitations (Surrey Record Society) XXXIV (1994)


9 Lambeth Archives, Minet ref. 1216

10 Burke B, The General Armoury (1884) 998

11 Matthews S H, “Burleigh Hall is Loughborough’s only Mansion”
Monitor 9th October 1953
12 Wake J and Pantin W A, Delapré Abbey, Northhampton (1975) 6
13 The late Evelyn Jowett, in a pers comm.
14 A marble monument to Henry Allcraft (1713-1779), formerly in the north
aisle of the old church, can be seen in Mitcham church where it was
refixed in the south aisle after the rebuilding of 1819/22. His mother,
Martha Allcraft (1685-1757) was buried between the pews of William
Tate and Mr Dubois, the previous owner of the Allcrafts’ house which
overlooked the Fair or Upper Green.
15 Surrey History Centre. The Court Rolls of the Manor of Ravensbury
16 Surrey History Centre. Account and Memorandum Book of James
Cranmer. 2400
17 Surrey History Centre. Mitcham Poor Rate Books
18 Surrey History Centre. Mitcham Vestry Minutes 6781
19 Mitcham Parish Church. Inscription on memorial tablet
20 Foster J, Alumni Oxoniensis 1715-1886 (1888)
21 Surrey History Centre. Mitcham Land Tax records
22 Colvin H, A Biographical Directory of British Architects (1660-1800)
155-6 (n.d.)
23 Lambeth Archives. Plan 62/1828
24 Beavan A B, The Aldermen of the City of London (1908)
25 The Rectory or Mitcham Villa (also known as The Cranmers’ ) stood on
the site of the Wilson Hospital, overlooking Cranmer Green
26 Surrey History Centre Visitors’ Minute Book 1813-1828 QS 5/5/4
27 Helen Lucette Owen (a descendant) in a pers. comm. 23rd February
28 Brayley E W, A Topographical History of Surrey IV (1841) 86
29 Merton Local Studies Centre. Copy indenture of the Tate Almshouses.


1 Merton Local Studies Centre. Copy indenture of the Tate Almshouses.
2 Colvin H, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects (16001840)
177-9 (Yale University Press 3rd ed. 1995)
3 Kelly’s Directories eg 1882
4 Crossland H A, ‘Henry Smith Charity’, Surrey Archaeological Society
Bulletin320 (1998) 13
5 Op cit, March 1830 Plate 1, 201
Surrey Archaeological Society possess a watercolour by E Hassell
dated 1830, ref PDB/MIT/1-13, entitled “Miss Tate’s Almshouses at
Mitcham on the site of The Recovery”.
1 They were added to the London Borough of Merton’s local (ie non-
statutory) list of buildings of historical or architectural interest in 1992.
2 Surrey History Centre. Mitcham Sunday School records.
3 Surrey History Centre. Mitcham National Schools Minute Book. P40/
4 They were used by Mrs C J Paveley in 1957 for her “A Short History
of the Lower Mitcham Junior Girls’ School”, a duplicated typescript
booklet, whilst she was headmistress of the Benedict Primary School.
A copy is held by Surrey History Centre, filed at P247 2412.
5 Merton Local Studies Centre. The Revd Herbert Randolph’s notebook.
6 Colvin H, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects (16001840)
362-3 (Yale University Press 3rd ed. 1995)
7 Pigot’s Directory 1839
8 Edmonds H J, a retired schoolmaster, writing of the 1890s. Quoted in
notes in the possession of Mrs C J Paveley (cf 4 above).
9 Information from Reginald Mather
1 Hubery, Douglas S, Methodism in Mitcham 1764-1944 (1945)
2 Nairn I, and Pevsner N, The Buildings of England: Surrey (1971) 370

1 Edwards J,Companion from London to Brighthelmston Pt II (1801) 16
2 Surrey History Centre. Mitcham Land Tax records
3 See also the 25 inch OS map of 1867
4 Title deeds, seen in the office of the Chief Executive of the London
Borough of Merton in 1980.
5 It was first included in a list compiled by Mitcham Corporation under
Section 30 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1947
6 Surrey History Centre. Apart from noting an annual rental assessment
of £14 for tax purposes, nothing more can be said about the Angel.
7 Public Record Office. Census Returns, Mitcham 1841
8 It has been told by Dr R A M Scott in his monograph “SS Peter and
Paul Roman Catholic Church, Mitcham” (1981)
9 The history of the Manor House, and its tenure by the Simpsons, will
be dealt with more fully in my volume of studies dealing with Lower
10 Surrey History Centre. Hatfeild Papers.
The sale in 1875 was handled by Henry Haines, surveyor and
auctioneer, then resident at The Rectory, Cranmer Road, Mitcham.
11 Merton Local Studies Centre. Mss notes LP 994 L2 (628.1) quoting
Lucas, London Wells (1913)
12 Merton Local Studies Centre. Tom Francis’s lecture notes, 76, 166
13 Kelly’s Directory 1895
14 Merton Local Studies Centre. Tom Francis’s scrap book. Newscutting
entitled “Lost on the Common” – article based on Margeurite Steer’s
biography of Sir William Nicholson
15 “Goodbye to a Family of Local Doctors”Mitcham News and Mercury
14th June 1965
1 The history of this house and Cold Blows will be dealt with more fully
in a future volume.
2 Edwards J,Companion from London to Brighthelmston Pt II (1801) 16
3 Surrey History Centre. Court rolls, manor of Ravensbury. 320/1/3


4 Surrey History Centre 303/21/4/1. To be dealt with more fully in a
future volume on Mitcham Bridge and the Watermeads.
5 Pottle F A, (ed.) Boswell’s London Journal (1950) 262.
6 It is intended that the history of the Myers family, Mitcham Grove and
the Manor House will appear in a future volume in this series.
7 Surrey History Centre. 303/21/4/4/

8 Tomb in the old churchyard, adjoining Mitcham parish church.
John Parrott was the “Dr Parrott” who was a friend of Nelson and Lady
Hamilton – Hardwick M,Emma, Lady Hamilton, eg p117.

9 Surrey History Centre.
10 Post Office Directory 1851 and Census return 1851
In the Census 10 years previously, Dorothy Parrott’s age was recorded
as 75, which was probably an approximation. In 1851 she was living
alone, apart from two female servants.
11 For instance William Strange and John K Moseley are listed in the
Post Office Directory as residents of Elm Court in 1862 and 1866
12 Title deeds, seen in the office of the Chief Executive, whilst the
property was in the possession of the London Borough of Merton.
13 Smith E, Clapham – An Historical Tour 29
Czarnikow (mis-spelt Czarankow) first appears in the Green’s South
London Directory in 1869.
14 The 6 inch OS map of 1867 shows that at the time of the survey Elm
Court was still the three-bay villa with central projecting porch shown

on the tithe map produced 20 years before.
15 Merton Local Studies Centre. Various newscuttings of 1883/4
16 Kelly’s Directories:

1890 Ridgeway, Mrs, Elm Court, Lower Green
1899 Peat, Alfred Ernest, Elm Court, Lower Mitcham
Peat, James Ernest, ditto
17 Merton Local Studies Centre. Cutting from The Times l2 (920) LP 281,
Gaskell E, Surrey Leaders: Social and Political, undated, but c 1905.
18 Merton Local Studies Centre. Files of local newspapers – 1936

1 Canterbury Cathedral archives. MSS 70436
2 Surrey History Centre. Mitcham Land Tax records
3 Miss Jenkins, the owner, in a pers comm in the 1970s.
4 Merton Local Studies Centre. Extract from court rolls, transcribed by
A W Turner, former librarian-in-charge, Mitcham Library.
5 At the time of the tithe survey in 1846 the extent of the “House, garden
and buildings” was 11 poles (i.e. approx 2750 m2).
6 Mitcham Census returns, 1851
7 Tomb inscription noted in 1965:
Alfred Collett Bartley Esq MD, d 1845 aged 58
Charlotte O’Hara Bartley, widow of Alfred Collett Bartley,
d1872 aged 76,
Charlotte Eliza Mawbey Bartley, d 20th June 1869 aet 33, and
Emma Jane Bartley b 1837 d 1919
8 Bidder H F (Edit) Old Mitcham II (1926) 29-31
9 Mitcham Mercury Charter Day Souvenir 19th Sept 1934 15
10 Merton Local Studies Centre. Cutting from the Mitcham and District
Advertiser 1960
1 The story of the Pitt family of London House is explored more fully
in Old Mitcham (1993), based on the late Tom Francis’s lecture notes.
2 Merton Local Studies Centre. Brampton Newsletter (published by
the churches of Brampton, No 53 July 1972
The firm of Wilson Brothers was responsible for building whole streets
of houses in Mitcham
3 Mitcham News and Mercury Charter Day Souvenir 28th September
4 “Mitcham’s Greatest Benefactor” in Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser
28th September 1944.


5 Merton Borough News. Pleas by the South Mitcham Residents’
Association for the clock turret to be salvaged were rejected by the
Area Health Authority, who even refused to save the inscribed
foundation stone.
6 Saxby D, An Archaeological Evaluation on the Site of the Former
Cumberland Hospital, Whitford Gardens, Mitcham, Museum of
London Archaeology Service, (1992)
7 The view expressed by the late Ken Gravett, Chairman of Surrey Local
History Council, when he visited the property in June 1996.
8 Francis, T, Old Mitcham (edited by E Montague) (1993)
9 Worsfold T, Francis, T, Memories of Our Village (1932) 6
10 They are certainly pre-1846, since they are recorded in the tithe
commutation register and shown on the tithe map of 1847
11 Stevens S, An Archaeological Evaluation at 21 Cricket Green,
Mitcham, South Eastern Archaeological Service, (1995)
12 To be seen in plates 80 and 101 in Montague E N, Old Mitcham
13 Bartley E M, “Rural Mitcham” in Old Mitcham II (1926) 34
14 The history of the Mitcham Hall will be dealt with more fully in a
future volume dealing with Lower Mitcham.
15 Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser 30th December 1943
16 Post Office Directories 1845 and 1851
17 Cranmer/Simpson Papers – Surrey History Centre 599/18
Malcolm J, Compendium of Modern Husbandry III (1805) 211-2



Pigot’s Directory of Surrey 1839
Kelly’s Post Office Directories of Surrey 1850-1933
Metropolitan Police Orders and Notices 1830-1996
Turnpike notes and plans in the author’s collection
‘A-Z of Metropolitan Police Divisions 1829-1989’, articles by the author

published 1987-1989 in The Job, house newspaper



Aelmer, a Saxon thegn
Allcraft, Martha
Almonds – see Allmannesland
Angel brewhouse
Archaeological evaluations
Atkyns, Thomas – landowner

Baker, Mrs – tenant of the Tates
Baron, Oliver – magistrate
Baron House – home of Benjamin Tate
Bartley, Dr Alfred C, of the White House or Ramornie

enclosure of waste by
Emma Jane’s reminiscences
owner of Chestnut Cottage

Bassett, John – tenant of the Tates
Beckford, Maria – relative of the Tates
Belle View – see Britannia
Benefit Societies’ parades
Billings, Daniel – pound keeper
Birches, The
Black Prince, the
Boundaries of the Green
Bowler, William – corn chandler
Bowssar, John – London vintner
Bowyer, John
Bramcote Avenue
Breauté, Falkes de
Bridger, James – owner of the King’s Head
Britannia public house
Browning, William – tenant of the Tates
Brownsell, William
Buckler, John
Bullock, Burn (Burnett) and

Lilian – licensees of the Kings Head

4, 21, 22

97, 105

23, 33
87-8, 10287-889-9088-91, 134

95, 97
41, 46, 51, 129
11, 3939


Sir John, owner of Allmanesland

Burleigh Park, Northants

Burn Bullock inn (the King’s Head)
Burnett, Thomas Watson
Buse, Mrs – of Brampton

Robert – landowner
William – ditto
Butler, Dr Edward – at Oxford

Caesar, Sir Julius
farmhouse belonging to
mansion of

Cage – see Lock-up
Canons, site
Canterbury Cathedral

estate sequestrated
Card, baker’s shop
Catholic processions
Catholicism, re-established in Mitcham
Cesar (Caesar), Thomas – resident
Chart, Robert M – resident at St Mary’s

Stephen – resident at Greenview

family – millers
Thomas – constable

Chestnut Cottage
Christ Church, Canterbury
Church, advowson of

David – surgeon

Robert – ditto
Cold Blow(er)s – land at
Cold Blows Lane
Cole, Fred – garage proprietor & cricketer

43, 46, 53



42, 127



3, 106, 122

111, 126
23, 112
5, 17, 21, 22

76, 77, 78


Common Conservators – in charge of Green 5-6
Common lands, survival of 4
Commonwealth 22
disruption of manorial administration 3
Compton’s printing works 59-60
Conservation Area 16, 28
Cooke, Nathaniel – licensee of the Britannia 112
Coronation Cottages 107
Cranmer Farm 108
Cranmers House 48, 130
Cricket Green 1-16, 115-6
Cricket Green Mews 105
Cricket, heritage of (see also Bullock, Burn) 7-11
Cricket, 300 Years of 94
Cricketers inn 8
Cumberland House Hospital 95-7
Czarnikow, Caesar, and new fire engine 13-4, 80-1
buys Elm Court 79
buys Elm Lodge 71
John – licensee of the King’s Head 32
Susannah 32
Davis, John 100
Rosemary 100
Delapré Abbey 43
Dig for Victory campaign 15
Ditch alongside Green 3
Domesday vill of Witford 1
Drinking fountain and cattle trough 115
Dyer, Kitty, née Tilly – athlete 104
East Field 7
Easter sports 14
Ecclesiastical Commissioners 21, 27
Ellis, Robert & Son of Ravensbury Works 72
Elm Lodge 69-74
– built by Worsfold? 27, 70
Elm Trees around the Green 16, 115-6
Enclosure of waste 2, 25-8, 87-8


Epsom race days 14, 37
Evans, Dr Ivor & family at Elm Lodge 72
Everingham, Charles – landowner 47
Fair, suppression of 22-3, 32-3
Family Welfare Association 56
Farm overlooking Green 3
Fawkes Hall -see Vauxhall 18
Finden, Thomas – architect 58
Fire Station – on common land 25
Fortibus, Isabella de 20
Fry(e), Henry – landowner 110
Samuel 111
Gale, Fred – writer 112
Gedge, Sydney 109
George’s – confectionery shop 118
Grazing on the Green 5, 6, 23
Greenview – Chart’s house 114
Hall Place 22
Haines, Henry – surveyor and auctioneer 132
Ham(m)ond, Ann 43
family 42
Thomas 42
Haniel, Thomas 103
Hart, Henry – licensee of the King’s Head 36
Charles Hugh 54
George – Tate trustee 52
Holden, George – stage coach proptr 37
Houseley, Dr Charles, at Elm Lodge 71
Hubery, Rev Douglas – historian of the Methodist Church 61
Illingworth, Sir Richard 21, 22
William 22
King’s Head, the 29-39
held of the manor of Vauxhall 22


Lambeth South, manor of 17
Langdown, Southampton 46, 50
Leny, Sam

cricketer & licensee of Queen’s Head 107
Lisle, de 18
Lock-up, or cage 25, 28
Lowe, Thomas – licensee of the Britannia 112
Lubbock, Sir John – Tate trustee 52


biographical details 81-2

Harry – buys Mitcham Court 81

-sells to Mitcham Corpn 82
Manor of Ravensbury, land in 76, 102
Manor of Vauxhall 17-28
administration 5
admission of new tenants 5
court roll extracts 125-6
surveyor’s report 25-7
Mansell, William – owner of Elm Lodge 70
Mapleton, the Revd J H – Tate trustee 52, 53
Marlar, John – a London merchant 77
Martin, Matilda 102
Mathers, H G – printer 60
May Queen -crowning 15
McAlister, Rev William – at Elm Lodge 72
McMaster, Miss – of Park Place 67
Mental asylum 48, 49
Methodist Church 61-8
Micham (or Michelham) 1, 2
early evidence for 1,2
Middleton, John – surveyor 25
Milbourne, Francis 110
Miller, Thomas 112
Mills, Edward

-architect of Methodist Church 68
Mitcham Common Conservators 27
Mitcham Common – preservation campaign 80


Mitcham Court
site for new Town Hall
sold to McAlpine
used as Council offices

Mitcham Garden Village
Mitcham Hall
Mitcham Park estate
Mitcham Police Station
Moore, James – owner of King’s Head
Mortain, count of
Myers, William & family

National (Primary) School
Newland – landlord of Cricketers
Newman, Edward – licensee of the Britannia
Nicholson, William (trustee of Tate Gallery)

at Elm Lodge
Nightingale, John

Old Buffer’s Cricket Club
Oxford University – Tate connections

Park, The – see Mitcham Park

Parrott, Dr John
tenant of Cochran’s house
at Elm Court

Paths across the Green
Peat family – at Elm Court
Perrys, John – holder of land at Cold Blows
Phillips, James
Pippes or Phipps mill
Pitt, George

Potter and Moore, physic gardeners
Potter, James – owner of King’s Head

109, 118-21



112-3, 115

79, 133
81, 133
85, 103
19, 20, 22
32, 36


Pound, manorial
Pyner, Thomas – property owner

Queen’s Head

Ramornie – see White House
Ravensbury, manor of
Ravenspring Works
Recovery, The – an asylum
Redvers, de

earls of Devon & Wight

Rocher, William A
Roman Catholic Church

” ” School
Royal wedding
Ruff, Tom – cricketer and mayor (memorial)

St Mary’s Avenue
St Mary Overy, priory of
‘Salt-box’ house – example of
Samson, Phillip – coach & bus proprietor
Savile, Sir Henry – landowner
“Secret passage” below King’s Head
Settlement patterns
Sharp, Miss
Shearman, Tom – cricketer
Shepherd, Joe – wood merchant
Simons, James

proprietor of Angel brewhouse

Mrs Elizabeth M – at Elm Lodge
Rev Richard

-Tate trustee
Smith, Henry
Smith, Lord Mayor Alderman Thomas – resident
5, 22-3, 24, 126



71, 93
93, 113

4, 18, 125
37, 81


58, 71, 11452-4


Smith’s charity
Smyth, George – landowner
South Lambeth, manor of
Spencer – landowner

– owner of a “small neat house”
Sprules, William – pound keeper
Squatters, settlement by
Stage coaches
Stewart, Archibald – of Mitcham Grove
Sunday School building

Tate Almshouses
Tate bequests
family house

Elizabeth, née Wynn
the Revd Benjamin
Zouch of Delapré

Thatching, evidence of

Ebenezer – cowkeeper
Richard – licensee of Kings Head

Thorold, the Revd John
Tipple, Edwin – surgeon, of Lower Mitcham
Tithing of Mitcham
Town Hall – built on Green
Trott, John – tenant of the Tates
Turpin, William – licensee of the Britannia


49-5022, 40-50

44, 45, 46
43, 44, 45, 47, 51
44, 45
44, 46
43, 44
44, 45
44, 46
43, 44, 45



Upper Mitcham, or Fair, Green

Vauxhall, manor of
customary tenants of
extracts from court rolls
surveyor’s report on

Vestry Hall – built on the Green
Village playground

Waghorne, William

Watson, W R – licensee of the King’s Head
Wesley, John – visits Mitcham
West, George – at Chestnut Cottage
Westmacott, monument by
Whit Monday sports
White, Albert

White House, (7 Cricket Green)
White Hart inn
Whitford Cottage
Whitford Green
Whitford Lodge
Wicford (inc Witford & Whitford)

place-name derivation
Wickford Green
Wilson Brothers, builders
Wilson Cottage Hospital

Sarah Ann

Sir Isaac Henry
Winders, Jack – butcher
Workhouse on Common

Edward T – of Hall Place
Lady – at the White House


2, 4-5, 17-28

24, 85-92
27, 69
27, 69
1, 2
95, 130


95-6, 103

27, 69