Merton – London’s Country Parish (’til 1900 at least).


What do you get if you merge the municipal boroughs of Wimbledon and Mitcham, along with the Urban District of Merton and Moredon? The answer is The London Borough of Merton. Formed under the Local Government Act in 1965, the story goes that Wimbledon and Mitcham could not agree on the name – Merton was suggested as a compromise – and everyone was happy.

But Merton is not as recent an addition to the London Landscape as the 1965 act might suggest. It had long been around as a parish. It also includes some notable people calling the borough their home.  So here’s our potted history of Merton, including a couple of it’s larger than life characters…

The parish of Merton itself dates back to at least the 7th Century – where documents record the name Merton – thought to mean Farmstead by the Mere (a mere is a small lake). By 1086 “Mertone” appeared in William the Conquerers Doomsday book – which was effectively his stock take of his newly captured Kingdom.

For the next 600 years or so much of Merton life centred around the priory – built around 1117 – and Merton remain a small agricultural community. By London standards Merton was a late comer to industrialisation. Whilst the river Wandle had driven water mills at the Abbey for centuries, even in 1801, the population was just 813 and by 1901 had only risen to 4,510. By 1950 it was just shy of 40,000.

Famous residents don’t come more embedded in our national psyche than Lord Horatio Nelson. He moved to Merton in 1801, having purchased a 160 acre estate from the newly widowed Mrs Greaves (wife of wealthy printer Charles).  The house was demolished around 1850, and, since the 1950s the site has been covered by the High Path Estate.

With his big country pad, storage for Nelson when he was away at sea wouldn’t have been an issue. But in 2015, Merton is typical of London housing where space will almost certainly be an issue. If it’s your neck of the woods and that’s the case – our Wandsworth store might be the answer to your storage needs.


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