Old Malden is now a ward of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames in southwest London, 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Charing Cross--A point for measuring distances from central London). Along with Coombe and Kingston Vale, it is one of the more affluent areas in the borough. At the 2001 UK Census its population was 9,012, out of a total of 147,273 for the whole borough.
The area has a long history as the ancient parish of Malden, derived from the Old English mæl duna, meaning "the cross on the hill".
Malden appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Meldone, held partly by William de Wateville and partly by Robert de Wateville. Its domesday assets were: 4 hides and 3 virgates; 1 chapel, 1 mill worth 12s, 6½ ploughs, 5 acres (20,000 m2) of meadow, woodland worth 1 hog out of 7 hogs. It rendered £7 12s 0d.
St John the Baptist Church, close to the Hogsmill, dates back to Saxon times. In 1611 the chancel's old flint walls were repaired and the nave and the tower rebuilt in brick. In 1875 a new nave and chancel were added, and in 2004 a two storey extension was completed.
The Grade II listed Manor House, next to St John's, is also mentioned in the Domesday Book; in 1264 Walter de Merton, Bishop of Rochester, founded a college here that was later moved to Oxford as Merton College. The house was later used as a court in the reign of Henry VIII, and in the mid 18th century the house was the home of Captain James Cook (1728-1779). In 1852 the Hogsmill River was the setting for the background of Ophelia painted by John Everett Millais.
Malden became Old Malden in 1870, with the development of New Malden, two miles (3 km) to the north. Together with Coombe they made up the Malden and Coombe Urban District from 1894 and the Malden and Coombe Municipal Borough from 1936 (new title bestowed because of size and new duties).