21/02/2013

A BIT OF 
HISTORY

The village of Merton was located on
the Roman road Stane Street which
connected London to Chichester.

Locally, the road ran in a direct line from the current
Colliers Wood High Street to London Road, Morden,
crossing the site of Sainsbury's. The name dates
back to least to the 7th century when
documents record its use.

The translation of the name is usually given as
Farm by the Pond" or "Maera's homestead".

Merton appears in Domesday Book of
1086 as Meretone. It was held by
William the Conqueror.



Merton Priory (or Abbey) was founded
by Gilbert Norman in 1114 on a site
close to the Sainsbury's store.

In 1117 it became an Augustinian establishment and
developed a high reputation for scholarship. It is
believed to have been the birthplace of Walter
de Merton, founder of Merton College, Oxford.

In 1235, it was the location of Henry III's negotiations
with his Barons for the Statute of Merton. The Abbey
was also responsible for the educations of St.
Thomas Becket and Nicholas Breakspear,
the only English Pope.

Merton Abbey was closed in 1538 during the
Dissolution of the Monasteries. Its buildings
were dismantled and the materials
removed for re-use elsewhere.



It is believed that in 1496 a hospice for travellers was
erected opposite the site of Sainsbury's store (above).
An inn was built there in 1594 and beer was sold there
from that date until 2004, when the King's
Head, Merton was finally closed.

The existing building dates only from
1931, but it has been designated as a
Local Listed Building.



In 1802, Merton's most famous resident, Admiral
Horatio Nelson (above middle with Thomas Becket
(left) and William Morris (right)), purchased Merton
Place from the widow of Charles Greaves with
its large estate, for £9,000.

Nelson expanded the estate with the purchase of
additional land and south of his house until his
Merton property covered most of the area west of the
Wandle and north of Morden Hall Park and also
included the whole of the area between
Merton Road, South Park Road
and Haydons Road.

Between trips to sea, Nelson lived at Merton Place with
his mistress Emma Hamilton (below) and her husband
Sir William Hamilton, although Sir William
died at his London house in 1803.

Unfortunately, Nelson had only a short time to
enjoy his new home before his death at the
Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805.



Continuing the long association of Merton with textile
printing, Arts and Crafts designer William Morris
opened a works at Merton Abbey Mills in 1881.

Close by, the firm of Edmund Littler was known for
its high quality printing and was by the 1890s
sending its entire production to Liberty & Co. in
Regent Street. Liberty & Co. subsequently took
over the production at Merton from Littler.



Further industrialisation followed the extension
of the railways and the underground.
(Above: the station in 1927)

The last of the water-powered industries survived into
the mid-20th century, and the character of the
area is now predominantly residential, with
a strong retail component.

A book on the history of Colliers Wood is
available from Merton Historical Society

14.7.2010: An article in The Evening Standard
about Merton Priory which was listed
as a candidate to become a World
Heritage Site: Hidden history under
Sainsbury’s car park

3.11.2011: Historic site Merton Priory
gets £400k for redevelopment


11.2.2013: Was your street hit by a bomb during 

the during the second World War? Check 
where bombs fell in Colliers Wood 
on this interesting page






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