Morden Hall Park * (Merton)
* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens
Morden Hall Park is part of the grounds of Morden Hall. Once a deer park, the estate was owned from mid-C16th to latter C19th by the Garth family, for whom the moated Morden Hall was built c.1750-65. From 1867 Gilliat Hatfeild began to purchase parts of the estate and created the park from lands surrounding the Hall. He made changes to the Hall's gardens including replacement of the boundaries to leave lawns sloping down to the moat, but retained a fountain and formal walk. His son inherited the estate in 1906 and made few changes apart from planting a new rose garden. A philanthropist, he also allowed the Hall to be used as a convalescent home. In 1942 he left the park to the National Trust, which did not directly manage it until 1980. The park has survived largely intact and includes a number of historic buildings. The former walled vegetable garden is now the main entrance to the public park.
- Site location:
- Morden Hall Road, Morden
- SM4 5JD
- Type of site:
- Public Park
- Open to public?
- Opening times:
- unrestricted (car park/buildings: gates close 6pm); shop/café 10am-5pm
- Special conditions:
- Toilets, Riverside Café, refreshment kiosk, NT shop, second-hand bookshop, craft workshops, car park
- Guided walks & events, Snuff Mill Environmental Centre educational activities, craft fairs, Apple Day, performances in park
- Public transport:
- Tube: Morden (Northern). Tramlink: Morden Road, Phipps Bridge, Belgrave Walk. Bus: 93
- Research updated:
- Last minor changes:
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Full Site Description
Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list. The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England was established in 1984 and was commonly called English Heritage. In April 2015 it split into 2 separate entities, Historic England (HE), which continues to champion and protect the historic environment, and the English Heritage Trust, whose role is to look after the 400+ historic sites and monuments owned by the state. HE manages the National Heritage List for England (NHLE) that includes over 400,000 items ranging from prehistoric monuments to office blocks, battlefields and parks, which benefit from legal protection.
Morden Hall Park is part of the former grounds of Morden Hall dating from C17th and early C18th. Prior to the Dissolution of the Monasteries the land was owned by the Abbey of Westminster and was a deer park, created by draining the marshland and canalizing the river Wandle. In 1553 the land was initially bought by Messrs. Duckett and Whitchurch, then sold the following year to Richard Garth, son of a lawyer and a Clerk of the Petty Bay at Chancery. By that time the estate had a 'newly built mansion house' called Growtes to the south of the present Hall and close to Morden Lodge. The Garth family held the property until the late C19th; Morden Hall was built for the fifth Richard Garth in between 1750-65, within a moated enclosure created from water from the Wandle. From 1782-1873 various tenants occupied the Hall; in 1816 it had become a boys boarding school.
The present park was formed when the Garth family estate was broken up. From 1867 Gilliat Hatfeild, the son of a wealthy merchant and partner in the Morden Snuff Mills had begun to purchase parts of the estate, having been brought up at Morden Cottage next to the mills powered by the river Wandle. Morden Cottage may have been built as a hunting lodge in the C18th. He finally purchased the Hall in 1873 and created the park from its surrounding lands, removing field boundaries and cottages, planting trees along east and west boundaries and supplementing retained field trees with new planting, predominantly chestnuts and willows. Several new bridges were built across the existing watercourses; Hatfeild also made some changes to the Hall's gardens, and built a new stable block and lodges, Gate Lodge and South Lodge. The Hall had pleasure grounds to the north, east and south contained within its C18th moat; Hatfeild downgraded the entrance from Morden Hall Road when he made a new entrance at Gate Lodge. He replaced the boundaries of the Hall's gardens to leave lawns sloping down to the moat, punctuated with a few large trees but he retained an existing fountain and formal walk. The OS of 1866 shows a path leading south from a fountain or statue at the centre of the turning circle on the south front, across the south garden, which was laid out as an orchard, dividing to cross the southern arm of the moat via two bridges. The only surviving way across the moat is an ornate iron bridge with gate and railings to the east of the Hall. The court today to the south of the Hall is surrounded by railings and has a central fountain that probably stood in the centre of the circular pool in the turning circle until the 1950s.
Upon Hatfeild's death in 1906, his son Gilliat Edward Hatfeild inherited the property and returned from Virginia to run the estate. During WWI the Hall was loaned to the London Hospital for use as a military convalescent home and after the war it became a convalescent home for women and children, funded by Hatfeild and run by the Salvation Army. Other examples of his philanthropy included allowing the grounds to be used for school treats and Sunday School outings. His only major alteration to the park landscape was to lay out a randomly designed rose garden in 1922 by Morden Cottage where he lived in preference to the Hall. On his death in 1942 Hatfeild left the property to the National Trust in order to preserve it intact although the Trust did not directly manage the estate until 1980.
The Hall, along with Morden Cottage and the kitchen garden, was leased to Merton and Morden Urban Council for council offices and cattle grazed the park until 1972. When the Trust proposed to let the land for gravel winning, local outcry resulted in a re-think and the subsequent revival of the estate was undertaken in conjunction with commercial use of its buildings; the Hall becoming a Beefeater Restaurant, the walled garden let as a garden centre and outbuildings as craft workshops. A section of the estate isolated by building of the railway line, now Tramlink, has been let for Deen City Farm.
The park has survived largely intact and includes a number of historic buildings: an ice house, a windmill, farm buildings, encircling wall and handsome gates. The tree-lined avenue from the gates at the new South Lodge in Morden Road leads first in a northerly direction then turns through a right angle towards the house and was the grand carriage entrance formed by the Hatfeilds. The southern part is largely alternating lime and horse chestnut, with common lime to the north west. Decimated in the storms of October 1987, replanting of the avenue's trees has taken place in recent years. Other trees in the park include hornbeam, London plane, tree of heaven, false acacia, and sycamore and three large oriental planes overhang the northern moat of the Hall. The extensive grounds range from water meadows in the north to woodland in the south. Near the house are lawns, a rose garden and vegetable plots. Beyond the house to north and east are meadows on either side of the river Wandle, which enters the park at its most southerly point and then divides, the western branch following the south-west boundary of the park for c.150m before turning around the boundary of Morden Lodge.
The Lodge was once within the estate, reunited in 1929 when G E Hatfeild purchased it, but now returned to private ownership. The eastern branch of the river divides around an island referred to on a Tithe map of 1840 as the Wilderness; north of the island the two branches of the river rejoin for a stretch before dividing once more. On the Survey plan of 1750 the area between the two branches was fields and osier beds with a number of small islands, known as Stielhams and Mount Nod. After 1873 a connecting channel between Mount Nod and Stielhams was filled in and the area connected to the park by bridges, creating a circular walk ornamented with a stature of Neptune. In the early C19th part of this area was within Morden Lodge Garden but later was leased out with the kitchen garden. By the late C19th this area was managed as a wildlife sanctuary, the rectangular water body having been in-filled and the bridges removed in the 1960s.
The former walled vegetable garden has walls that are buttressed and battered in some sections. It is now the main entrance to the public park. It probably dates from the late C18th and for most of the C19th was a tenanted market garden with four glasshouses and a central conservatory. G E Hatfeild managed it as part of the estate with 14 gardeners employed in the 1920s producing food for the hospital in the Hall, selling the small surplus. It was converted from a nursery first to a car park in the early 1960s and later converted for a garden centre, tea room and car park in 1991-2. It is an example of a working courtyard garden of one of the few surviving Georgian mansions in Morden. The Wandle Trail runs through the park.
J K Bellamy, Green Heritage Consultancy Proposal; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South (Penguin) 1999; E M Jowett 'The History of Merton and Morden' 1951; LB Merton Local History Archive; The Wandle Trail, Wandle Industrial Museum (n.d.); Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); 'The Wandle Trail' produced by The Wandle Industrial Museum, LB Merton, 1992; K Fretwell, Report on Morden Hall for National Trust, 1994.
Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
- Grid ref:
- TQ261684 (526093,168554)
- Size in hectares:
- Site ownership:
- National Trust
- Site management:
- National Trust; Friends of Morden Hall Park
- c.1750-65; 1870s
- Listed structures:
- LBII: Morden Hall; Gates and gate piers to Main Entrance to east of Hall including attached wall to north; Morden Cottage; walls of walled garden to south of Hall; Snuff Mills eastern block; Snuff Mills western block; pedestal and statue of Neptune; pedestal and statue of Venus and Cupid; Morden Lodge; Cast-iron Bridge
- On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:
- NHLE grade:
- Grade II
- Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:
- Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:
Local Authority Data
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
- On Local List:
- In Conservation Area:
- Conservation Area name:
- Wandle Valley
- Tree Preservation Order:
- Nature Conservation Area:
- Yes - Borough Importance I (with Deen City Farm)
- Green Belt:
- Metropolitan Open Land:
- Special Policy Area:
- Yes - Archaeological Priority Zone
- Other LA designation:
- Urban Green Space. Historic Parks and Gardens. Green Corridor
Morden Hall Park - Bridge - Photo: Colin Wing
Date taken: 13/06/14 15:00
Click a photo to enlarge.
Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and is subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.