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Morden is a district in the London Borough of Mertonmarker. It is located approximately South-southwest of central London between Merton Parkmarker (to the north), Mitchammarker (to the east), Suttonmarker (to the south) and Worcester Parkmarker (to the west).

Origin of name

Morden might get its name either from the British language words Mawr (great or large) and Dun (a fort), or possibly "The Town on the Moor".


Early history

Human activity in Morden dates back to the prehistoric period when Celtic tribes are known to have occupied areas around Wimbledonmarker, but the first significant development in Morden was the construction of the Roman road called Stane Street from Chichestermarker to Londonmarker.

The route of Stane Street through Morden followed the current A24, London Road up Stonecot Hill from the south west crossing Morden Parkmarker to the west of the current dual carriageway road and passing through the pitch and putt golf course and the grounds of St Lawrence's Churchmarker. The road then descended the other side of the hill towards the town centre passing west of the Underground stationmarker and crossing the north corner of Morden Hall Park heading in the direction of Colliers Woodmarker and Tootingmarker. Small Roman artifacts, mainly coins and pottery, have been found at various locations within the area although there is no evidence of any settlement.

Ethelstan the Etheling, son of Ethelred the Unready, left "land at Mordune" to the abbey of Christ and St. Peter in his will of 1015, which became the site of the first Saxon parish church of St Lawrence.

In 1086, the Domesday Book recorded the manor as Mordone, part of Wallington Hundred. It was held by Westminster Abbeymarker and its assets were: 3 hides; 1 mill worth £2 and 7 ploughs. It rendered £15. in total. Fourteen people were recorded as living in the area.

The Garth family

The manor and village remained abbey property until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in Henry VIII's reign when the manor was sold to Lionel Ducket and Edward Whitchurch. Together, they sold it on the following year to Sir Richard Garth who became Lord of the Manor. 'Parishes: Morden', A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 4 (1912), pp. 235-37. The Garth family owned the land and maintained their connection with the parish for the next four centuries, living at Morden Hall Parkmarker until the manor was sold by another Sir Richard Garth in 1872.

The prominence of the Garth family is recorded locally in the name of Garth Road, Lower Mordenmarker and the former Garth School. The two lions included in the present civic arms of the London Borough of Mertonmarker are adopted from the arms of Sir Richard.

19th century

Morden's Population
19th century 20th century
1801 512 1901 960
1811 549 1911 1,202
1821 638 1921 1,355
1831 655 1931 12,618
1841 685 1941¹ war
1851 628 1951 35,417
1861 654 1961² 68,011
1871 787 1971² 62,872
1881 694 1981² 61,108
1891 763 1991³ n/a
  1. no census was held due to war
  2. includes Merton
  3. census data no longer relates to parish boundaries
source: UK census
Despite the rapid suburban development of nearby Wimbledonmarker occasioned by the arrival of the new railways constructed in the mid 19th century, Morden remained a rural parish throughout the 19th century. While the population of Wimbledonmarker grew hugely from 1,591 in 1801 to 41,652 in 1901, the population of Morden was 512 in 1801 and, one hundred years later, had grown to just 960.

In 1871, the area of the parish of Morden was Ordnance Surveymarker map, 1871 edition with the small village clustered around St Lawrence’s churchmarker at the top of the hill on the road from London to Epsommarker (now London Road/Epsom Road). Approximately half a mile to the west of the main village and the grounds of Morden Parkmarker stood the hamlet of Lower Mordenmarker.

Close to the church were the George Inn, a 17th century coaching inn (now modernised and part of a national pub restaurant chain), the estate of Morden Parkmarker and a school.

The other main public house in the village was the Crown Inn, located to the north east of the village with a small cluster of cottages on Crown Road. The rest of what is now the commercial centre of Morden was fields.

In the late 19th century the principal industry remained agriculture, although some industrial activity did exist along the river Wandlemarker where watermills ground tobacco to snuff and a varnish works existed close to the site of Poplar Primary School. By 1898, the varnish works had gone and there was a brickworksOrdnance Survey map, 1898 edition on the site of Mostyn Gardens in Martin Way (then called Green Lane).

20th century

Arms of the former Merton and Morden Urban District Council (1907-1965) granted 1943
Under the Local Government Act, 1894, the parish of Morden formed part of the Croydon Rural Districtmarker of Surreymarker. The first two decades of the 20th century saw little change in the village, with industry still mainly agricultural in nature; however development in the parish of Mertonmarker to the north led to that area being removed from the rural district to form the Merton Urban District in 1907. Morden was merged with the Merton Urban District in 1913 to form the Merton and Morden Urban District. It was not until 1926 when Morden Underground stationmarker opened as the terminus of a new extension of the City & South London Railway (now part of the London Underground's Northern Line) that the fast and direct route to central Londonmarker opened up the village for residential development.

To complement the new station, a garage was constructed on the other side of London Road, adjacent to the railway cutting and, in 1932, Morden Cinema was built next to it on the corner of Aberconway Road. Around the station a new commercial centre grew quickly as shops sprang up along London Road and Crown Lane, including a rebuilt and enlarged Crown public house (opened in 1932) my merton, issue 17, June-July 2006, p. 17 and a large Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society (RACS) department store (opened in 1940).

Away from the new commercial centre of Morden, the existing rural roads were widened and rebuilt and the fields were rapidly divided into building plots and laid out for new housing. Further transport improvements came with the construction of a new Southern Railway branch line from Wimbledon to Sutton via stations at South Mertonmarker and Morden Southmarker (so named to differentiate it from Morden Underground Stationmarker and Morden Stationmarker (now Morden Road tram stop) although it was actually north east of the original village centre). The new line opened in January 1930. As a result of the new transport links, the population of Morden increased rapidly from 1,355 in 1921 to 12,618 in 1931. In the next fifteen years the population continued to grow, as most of the parish was covered in new suburban homes.

One of the main residential developments in the 1930s was the St. Heliermarker estate, built by the London County Council (LCC) to house workers from inner Londonmarker and named in honour of Lady St. Helier, an alderman of the LCC. The estate was the largest local authority development in south London and has its road names arranged in alphabetical order, from the north-west corner (Abbotsburymarker Road) to the south-east corner (Woburn Road). Reflecting the previous ownership of the land by Westminster Abbeymarker, all are named after religious establishments. Much of the St. Helier estate now lies in the London Borough of Suttonmarker.
A map of Morden from the 1920s
A map of Morden from 1944
In 1943 the council was granted a civic coat-of-arms incorporating lions from the Garth family arms and the fret from the arms of Merton Abbey. The motto, "In Libertate Vis", means "Our Strength is our Freedom". In 1965, under the London Government Act 1963, the Merton and Morden Urban District Council was abolished and its area combined with that of the Municipal Borough of Wimbledonmarker and the Municipal Borough of Mitcham to form the present-day London Borough of Merton.


Little of the earlier rural character of Morden survived the suburban expansion, although the area has excellent provision of parks and playing fields, many of them created from remnants of the former country estates. It is, for the most part, a suburb.

The Crown public house was demolished in the early 1960s to make way for the fourteen-storey office block Crown House and a large supermarket (the supermarket was in turn demolished in the 1980s and replaced by the Civic Centre/Library). The RACS closed in 1985, and it, the cinema and the garage were all demolished in the 1980s or 1990s.



Morden Underground station
Nearest tube station:

Nearest railway stations and tramlinkmarker stops (in approximate order of proximity):

Notable people associated with Morden

Nearest places


Image:Morden.gif|Morden town centre: London Road looking east from Crown Lane to site of former Cinema and station garageImage:Morden baptist church.gif|Morden Baptist Churchmarker, Crown Lane


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