History of Morden Hall Park
Morden gets a bad rep. It’s the end of the dreaded Northern Line, the butt of jokes and is compared with ‘Mordor’. But one excellent reason to make a trip there is to soak up the beauty (and history) of Morden Hall Park.
History of Morden Hall Park
In the hands of Westminster Abbey until the mid 16th century, the manor of Morden was bought by Richard Garth in 1554. It would stay in his family right up until 1872.
On the map from 1746 you can see how rural the area was compared to the present day, Morden Hall Park is literally on the edge of John Rocque’s London 10 miles Round map.
Image Credits: Maptiler and OpenStreetMap contributors – John Rocque 1746 / Present Day
Throughout the centuries, successive members of the Garth family lived in Morden Hall and the present one dating from the 18th century (but altered and covered in stucco around 1840).
Around this time it was also split, with one part used as a school while the other remained a family home.
Today it’s mainly used as a wedding venue and you can find out more on their website here.
The Garth family finally end their tenure in 1872 with the arrival of the Hatfeilds. Gilliat Hatfeild was a tobacco merchant who utilised the River Wandle and two existing mills on its banks to grind dried tobacco leaves between two large stones to form a fine powder.
They produced 6000lbs of snuff every month, sniffed by Gentlemen and Ladies across the UK and providing a nicotine hit. In 1922, following decades of declining profits, the mills closed.
The conserved waterwheel can still be seen although it no longer works.
Back to Morden Hall, in 1906 it fell into the hands of Hatfeild’s son (also called Gillliat) but the younger man preferred to live in Morden Cottage and so the grander hall was used as a military hospital during the First World War.
After the War it continued to be used as a hospital but this time for women and children, run by the Salvation Army. During The Second World War it suffered some bomb damage and the park itself was dug up for use as shelters.
In 1941 Morden Hall was left to the National Trust and its still in their care with a cafe and bookshop in the former Stableyard and the National Trust’s Garden Centre on the site of the estate’s Kitchen Garden.
More in Morden Hall Park
Across the 125 acres of park there’s a lovely range of scenery.
From the pretty rose garden and pergola by Morden Cottage,
to a peaceful boardwalk among the wetlands which opened in 2017.
Perhaps not the most visually stunning section as first, but along the hay meadows I happily stumbled across a shire horse at work!
It’s one of a small number of shire horses employed across London’s major and Royal Parks. They’ve been at Morden Hall Park since 2018.
When asked about their work they explained they carry out crucial conservation work in a more sustainable way than heavy machinery. The horses mean there’s no tractors leaking oil, compressing the land to limit drainage or polluting the air.
Plus, they look spectacular.
So, aside from the slight rumble of the tram in the distance (and the odd pylon) You could forget you were in London!
Read more about visiting Morden Hall Park on the National Trust website here.
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I live in Merton Park. You should go to St Mary’s Church. It was Lord Nelson’s church. The bench he sat on is there and outside the church there is also the remnants of the step that was built for him so he could get on his horse after church. He attends the church before setting off for The Battle of Trafalgar. The church has been used for tv series – the Wimbledon Poisoner wanflomed there. It is also ha the grave of the first person to set foot on Australia.
I’ve been! You’re quite right, it’s fascinating. Just need a chance to write it up for the blog as it ties in nicely with my blog about the Merton Priory ruins here; https://lookup.london/merton-priory/
Such a beautiful location!