Morden has been, since 1965, an area in the London Borough of Merton. It is located approximately 8 miles (13 km) south-southwest of central London between Merton Park and Wimbledon (to the north), Mitcham (to the east), Sutton (to the south) and Worcester Park (to the west).
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.
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. The Garth family owned the land and maintained their connection with the parish for the next four centuries, living at Morden Hall Park 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 Morden and the former Garth School.
Despite the rapid suburban development of nearby Wimbledon 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 Wimbledon 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 with the small village clustered around St Lawrence’s church at the top of the hill on the road from London to Epsom (now London Road/Epsom Road). Approximately half a mile to the west of the main village and the grounds of Morden Park stood the hamlet of Lower Morden. Close to the church were two public houses and a school.
In the late 19th century the principal industry remained agriculture, although some industrial activity did exist along the River Wandle 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 brickworks on the site of Mostyn Gardens in Martin Way (then called Green Lane).
Under the Local Government Act, 1894, the parish of Morden formed part of the Croydon Rural District of Surrey. 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 Merton 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 station 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 London opened up the village for residential development.
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 Merton and Morden South. 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. Helier estate, built by the London County Council (LCC) to house workers from Inner London and named in honour of Lady St. Helier, an alderman of the LCC. The estate was at the time the largest local authority development in South London and has its road names arranged in alphabetical order, from the north-west corner (Abbotsbury Road) to the south-east corner (Woburn Road). Reflecting the previous ownership of the land by Westminster Abbey, all are named after religious establishments.
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 Wimbledon and the Municipal Borough of Mitcham to form the present-day London Borough of Merton in Greater London, England.
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