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Merton, Surrey

Historical Description

Merton, a village and a parish in Surrey. The village is bounded on the E by the river Wandle, 5 miles E of Kingston, 5½ NW of Croydon, and 8 from London, and has stations on the L. & S.W.R. and L.B. & S.C.R., called Merton Park and Merton Abbey. It was known to the Saxons as Merendun or Meretun, is a scattered place on low ground, carries on silk printing-works, art painting on glass, and tapestry carpet-making. It has two post and money order offices;'telegraph offices, Merton Abbey station and Wimbledon. It gives the title of Viscount to Earl Nelson. The parish comprises 1765 acres; population, 8360. The parish council, under the Local Government Act, 1894, consists of twelve members. The manor belonged to the Saxon kings, was probably the deathplace of Cynewulf of Wessex, murdered in 784 by Etheling Cyneheard, and was the place where Etheling himself and eighty-four of his followers were slain. Merton Place was the residence of Lord Nelson from 1801 till 1803, was bequeathed by him to Lady Hamilton, was sold by her in 1808, and has disappeared. The grounds around it were laid out by Lady Hamilton, were traversed by a streamlet in artificial windings called the Nile, and are now covered with small buildings. Lord Nelson used to angle in the Wandle, which is described by Isaac Walton as having " fishful qualities," but has almost wholly lost them through the effects of mills and factories; the former is commemorated by Nelson Place and Nelson Grove in the village. An Augustinian abbey was founded at Merton in 1115 by Gilbert Ie Norman, " Vicecomps" of Surrey; obtained a grant of the manor of Merton from Henry I.; educated Thomas a Becket and Walter de Merton, the founder of Merton College, Oxford; gave sanctuary to Hubert de Burgh in 1232 from the displeasure of Henry III.; was menaced by about 20,000 of the citizens of London brought down to take De Burgh by force, but eventually restrained by the king; was the meeting-place in 1236 of the parliament which passed the statutes of Merton and replied to the ecclesiastics who wished to introduce the canon law-" We will not change the laws of England;" had revenues at the dissolution amounting to £1039, appears to have been occupied in the Civil Wars of Charles I. as a garrison, was advertised to be let in 1680, became a factory for calico printing, and is now represented by only a portion of the outer walls. Walter de Merton was a native, and on resolving to found a college he designed to place it at Maiden, in the vicinity of Kingston, but ultimately placed it at Oxford. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Winchester; gross value, £180 with residence. The church is partly Norman but mainly Early English, comprises a narrow nave and chancel, with a low W spire, was enlarged with addition of N and S aisles, and generally repaired in 1866, and contains a painting by Luca Giordano, and some old dilapidated tombs. The churchyard contains the tomb of Francais Nixon, who introduced calico printing into the neighbourhood. There are Congregational and Wesleyan chapels. The Butlish School of Science was built in 1895 for the benefit of Merton and the adjoining parish of Wimbledon. Merton, Wilts. See MARDEN. Meshaw, a parish, with a village, in Devonshire, 5 miles. SE by S of South Molton, and 9 NE of Eggesford station on the L. & S.W.R. It has a post and money order office under South Molton; telegraph office, Whiteridge. Acreage, 2095; population of the civil parish, 169; of the ecclesiastical, 158. The manor is divided. Meshaw House, or Barton, was anciently the seat of the Courtenays, and is now a farmhouse. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Exeter; gross value, —£220 with residence. The church was rebuilt in 1838, retains the tower of a previous edifice of 1691, consists of nave and chancel, and contains a memorial window to T. H. Karslake, who fell at Sebastopol, and a monument of the Oourtenays. There is a Bible Christian chapel.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountySurrey 
Ecclesiastical parishMerton St. Mary 
Poor Law unionCroydon 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records, in association with Surrey History Centre, have images of the Parish Registers for Surrey online.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Merton from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Surrey is available to browse.


Online maps of Merton are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Surrey papers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of Surrey, 1662-1668 is available on the Heraldry page.

CountyGreater London
Postal districtSW19
Post TownLondon