A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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The parish of Morden is one of the smallest of the ancient Surrey parishes, containing only 1,475 acres, of which 255½ acres are arable land, 632¾ permanent grass, and 33 woods. (fn. 1) It is one of the few examples of the situation of the village and entire parish on the London Clay. On the north it is bounded by Merton, the line passing through fields; on the south-east it is bounded by the Brighton road from Sutton to Mitcham which separates it from Carshalton (although some yards before the cross-roads near Rose Hill House the boundary goes up into the fields again); the Ewell and Merton road separates it from Sutton and boundaries across the fields from Cheam and Malden on the west, while the River Wandle separates it from Mitcham. The parish, which is still quite rural, includes the greater part of Ravensbury Park, which is now being cut up for villas. There is also a large park called Morden Park and a small wood called Chesny Wood. Morden Park was inclosed by Mr. Ewart in the 18th century. The house, which was also built by him, is now the seat of Mr. John Wormald. Morden Common was on the western border of the parish. The high road from Clapham to Ewell, Epsom and Letherhead passes through Morden at a point 9 miles from London.
A by-road branches off to the north-east in the direction of the adjoining village of Mitcham; on reaching the western border of the grounds of Morden Hall a cross-road from Mitcham again connects with the main road, a triangle being thus formed with its apex towards the west, where the church and the main portion of the village are situated.
Mrs. Gladstone's free convalescent home is situated in the parish. The school, built in 1731 and enlarged in 1872, was endowed by Mrs. Elizabeth Gardiner, whilst the land was given by Mrs. Elizabeth Garth (see Charities). An infants' school was built in 1889. The Sunday school was started by subscription in 1791.
The railway line in course of construction from Wimbledon to Sutton passes through the parish.
The first mention of MORDEN is in 968, (fn. 2) when Edgar confirmed previous gifts of lands to Westminster Abbey, including Morden. Edward the Confessor also confirmed 10 mansae to the abbey. At the time of the Domesday Survey the manor belonged to St. Peter, Westminster. In the time of King Edward it was rated at 12 hides and in 1086 at 3 hides. (fn. 3) In 1234 (fn. 4) the Abbot of Westminster granted to Matilda the daughter of Baldric 1 virgate of land in Morden at a rent of 4s. a year. (fn. 5)
At the Dissolution the £10 rent of assize proceeding from Morden was appropriated to the office of the extrinsic treasurer of the monastery. (fn. 6)
The manor was sold to Lionel Duckett and Edward Whitchurch, (fn. 7) but the next year licence was given them to sell to Richard Garth. (fn. 8) In his family the manor, rectory and advowson remained until 1872. (fn. 9) Richard Garth, who died in 1787, left three daughters, and the manor was entailed to each for life and to the second son of each in turn. The eldest, Mrs. Meyrick, (fn. 10) had no sons; the second, Mrs. Lowndes Stone, had two; the third, Lady Frederick, had several sons. About 1872 Sir Richard Garth, (fn. 11) grandson of Mrs. Lowndes Stone, formerly Chief Justice of Bengal and M.P. for Guildford, sold the manor to Gilliat Hatfeild, (fn. 12) the father of the present owner, Mr. Gilliat Hatfeild. Morden Hall, which seems to be on the site of the old manor-house, was occupied as a school about 1840. (fn. 13) Mr. Gilliat Hatfeild, lord of the manor, now resides there. The house has some good wrought-iron entrance gates.
In 1544 Henry VIII granted a mansion and farm called SPITTELL, stated to have belonged to Merton Priory, to Sir William Forman, Sir William Roche, Sir John Coote and William Fernley (fn. 14); in 1602 the same was granted to John Roche (for whom see Cheam) and Thomas Roche and the heirs of Thomas. (fn. 15)
In 1562 Laurence Stryfe and Thomas Reve were granted a mansion and farm called HOBBALDES, lately belonging to the House of Jesus of Bethlehem, by grant of Philip and Mary, and formerly parcel of the monastery of Merton. (fn. 16)
The church of ST. LAWRENCE consists of a continuous chancel and nave, a vestry at the north side of the chancel, a south porch and a west tower. (fn. 17)
The church was entirely rebuilt in the year 1636 in a pleasant Gothic style, largely through the liberality of Richard Garth, who died in the year 1639, and is buried in the chancel. A general collection was also ordered to be made in the year 1635, towards the cost of rebuilding the church, in many of the southern counties and in the cities of London and Westminster. The gallery at the west end was erected in the year 1792, the vestry in the year 1805 and the south porch within comparatively recent years. The church is built of red brick with stone quoins and dressings and tiled roofs.
The east window of the chancel is of four cinquefoiled lights with vertical tracery of a somewhat eclectic character within a two-centred head. In the north wall of the chancel and nave are five windows, the easternmost now altered to form a doorway to the vestry. These are of two acutely pointed cinquefoiled lights within a two-centred head with a pierced and foliated spandrel. In the south wall are three similar windows, with doorways at the east and west end. All the windows have external labels.
The tower is of three receding stages, with an embattled parapet; the window mullions and dressings are of stucco. The tower arch is plain and twocentred. In the south wall of the ground stage is a square-headed doorway, and in the west wall a squareheaded window of three trefoiled lights. The bellchamber is lighted on all four sides by square-headed windows of two trefoiled lights. The ringing chamber is lighted by single trefoiled lights on the north and south.
Externally the walls of the nave and chancel are crowned by a plastered frieze with a small moulded brick astragal and fillet by way of architrave, the cornice being formed by the projecting eaves of the roof. The east and west gables have moulded stone kneelers.
The roof is finished with a plaster barrel vault, the tie-beams and king posts being exposed. The tiebeam against the east wall of the chancel is cut away to clear the window and joined by arched timber with a carved pendant at the apex. The two south doorways of the nave retain their original panelled doors and ironwork.
In the east window of the chancel is some 17th-century glass. In the two side lights are figures of Moses and Aaron surmounted by canopies of mixed Gothic and Renaissance design, supported by Corinthian columns. The ground upon which the figures stand is paved with alternate squares of green and yellow, and the background to each is formed by a window of three round-headed trefoiled lights. Below the figures are square panels containing appropriate scriptural texts. The two centre lights are inscribed with the Commandments upon a yellow ground.
Below this, and occupying the lower part of both lights, is a design of uncertain subject, which has been variously taken to represent Zacharias coming to the High Priest, the Pharisee and the Publican, and St. Paul and the Gaoler. The dexter figure wears a brown vestment, while the sinister figure has a robe of blue. The head has disappeared and been replaced by a helm, evidently taken out of a piece of heraldic glass somewhat earlier in date. The walls of the apartment in which the figures are placed are of masonry, and there is a bay window in the centre. The pavement is of green and yellow squares. The upper portion of the lights containing the Commandments was renewed in 1828, but is said to have been exactly copied from the originals. The lead-lines follow the contours of the design. The cherub heads lights were pained at the same date, but form no part of the original design.
The altar-table, which is of somewhat unusual type, and the rails are of 18th-century date. The pulpit, a 'razéed' three-decker, bears the date 1720 and the initials of the donor, Elizabeth Gardiner, who also gave the altar-cloth, which is of crimson velvet with a border of gold braid. The font is modern.
In the chancel floor is a ledger slab to Richard Garth, who died in the year 1639. On the slab is a shield of his arms with the crest of a goat. Below the main part of the inscription is inscribed Ecclesie Amicus, in reference to his services to Morden Church in contributing largely to its rebuilding, and restoring the great tithes of which it had been deprived. In the floor at the east end of the nave is a slab with brasses to Thomas Hicks, merchant, of London, and his wife Ellen, who died in the years 1634 and 1667 respectively; William Booth (called primus rector hujus Ecclesiae, in reference to the restoration of the great tithes), who died in the year 1670, and Edward Booth, his son, a succeeding rector, who died in the year 1682. In the floor of the nave, a little distance to the westward, is a small brass, now partly covered by the pewing, to Anne the infant daughter of the above-named Thomas and Ellen Hicks, who died in the year 1623. In the nave floor are also slabs to Dorothy the wife of Richard Garth, who died in the year 1628; Mrs. Jane Garth, the daughter of Sir Humphrey Bennett, kt., the widow of George Garth, who died in the year 1699; and to William Burrell, rector, who died in the year 1704. There is also a slab, partly covered by the pewing, to the husband of Frances the daughter of George Garth, Zachary Highlord (the Christian name is now illegible), who died in the year 1653.
On the north wall of the chancel is a mural monument to Mrs. Anne Garth, the wife of George Garth and daughter of the Hon. St. John Carlton of Holcombe in the county of Oxford, who died in the year 1655. Hung on the walls is a fine series of hatchments of the Hoare and Garth families.
There are three bells: the treble is inscribed 'R. Phelps 1717'; the second, 'R. Garth 1604' by WS or SW; the third, 'Gloria Deo in Excelsis 1637' by Bryan Eldridge.
The communion plate consists of a silver-gilt cup of 1633, inscribed 'St. Lawrence Church at Morton Surry Anno Do[min]i 1633,' a silver-gilt paten of the same date, two silver flagons of 1699 inscribed 'St. Laurence Church Mordon in Surry. Anno Do[mini] : 1700,' a silver paten, with foot, of 1711, inscribed 'Parish of Mordon, Surrey . 1843,' and a silver cup of 1841. There is also a pewter plate, and a modern alms-dish, recently presented, set with enamels.
The registers previous to 1812 are contained in four volumes: (i) baptisms from 1634 to 1809, burials 1634 to 1809, marriages 1634 to 1751 (the entries in the early 18th century are somewhat fragmentary); (ii) marriages 1754 to 1789; (iii) marriages 1790 to 1812; (iv) baptisms 1809 to 1812, burials 1809 to 1812.
The advowson of the church belonged with the manor to the Abbot and convent of Westminster. In 1283 the abbey attempted the appropriation of the church, but did not complete it until 1300. (fn. 18) This was effected without licence from the king, for which a pardon was granted by Edward II in 1319. (fn. 19) A vicarage was ordained in 1331. (fn. 20) After the Dissolution the advowson and rectory were granted with the manor to Whitchurch and Duckett. Richard Garth in 1631 endowed the vicarage with the great tithes, from which time the living has been a rectory. (fn. 21) The advowson descended with the manor until the sale of the latter by Sir Richard Garth about 1872. It was then acquired by the Rev. Preston Kensall Winlaw, the father of the present rector. (fn. 22)
There is an inscription in the church recording the following charities:
1625. Henry Smith, as in other Surrey parishes. 1718. Mrs. Elizabeth Gardiner, daughter of George Garth by his second wife Jane daughter of Sir Humphrey Bennett, £300 for building and endowing a free school in her native place, besides gifts to the church (see monument in church).
1731. Mrs. Elizabeth Garth, lady of the manor, land for the building of the school.
1776. Mrs. Elizabeth Garth, the same as above, by will, £100 towards the master's salary.
1787. Mrs. Mary Garth, £100, the interest among six poor housekeepers at Christmas.
1795. £300 in addition to the Gardiner bequest, apparently increase of the original gift by sale of property.
1810. Mrs. Mary Bates, £7 10s. per annum for the poor.
1822. Mr. John Francis Fuller, the interest of £125 in meat and peas for the poor.
1825. Mr. Owen Pretland Meyrick, the interest of £118 for the same purpose.
1826. Mr. Edward Polhill, £1,000 for the Sunday school.
1827. Mrs. Clara Meyrick, lady of the manor, £228 for blankets at Christmas.