A wander along the Wandle in Merton – and the Abbey that never was
This guided walk follows the River Wandle in Merton and explores the hidden history and rich industrial heritage hereabouts.
The Roman road from London to Chichester crossed the river Wandle at Merton and in the 12th century a priory was established here. With the dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s, the priory was destroyed and much of the stone was taken to Cheam to build King Henry VIII’s Nonsuch Palace.
According to the History of the County of Surrey (Vol 2 – 1967: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/surrey/vol2/pp94-102) it was around 1535 that Merton Priory was misdescribed as an Abbey, which is of a higher status than a Priory. This area has been known as Merton Abbey ever since even though there never was an Abbey church here.
The area became an important industrial district in the 18th and 19th century harnessing the power of the river to run mills, two of which we will see on this walk. And it was here Liberty had much silk and cloth printed and where William Morris also set up a print works.
The walk explores all this and continues along the river into Morden Hall Park – a little known survival of a gentleman’s country estate marooned in suburbia. Now owned by the National Trust, there is of course a tea room where we can stop for refreshment at the end of the walk!
So why not join Stephen on 30 April or 3 May to learn more about this little known but historic corner of London.