Today’s exercise in this current pandemic was in Morden Hall Park, which has the River Wandle wandering through it, on its way to Wandsworth, the river being enjoyed today by children, splashing dogs, and the occasional father having a paddle.
The estate was owned by Westminster Abbey until the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII when it was sold off, only to be sold again to the Garth Family who became Lords of the Manor of Morden and owned the estate for four centuries until 1872. The Park and adjacent Garden Centre is now owned by the National Trust and includes watermills where tobacco imported from Virginia was once ground into snuff alongside the River Wandle – at that time the main economic enterprise that enabled the estate to prosper. The National Trust also has its first Garden Centre here – which was stripped bare over the weekend, suggesting a pent-up demand for gardening which the government did not appreciate.
The last owners of the park, the Hatfeild family, established a rose garden in the Park, which still exists today and donated the estate to the National Trust in 1941. With many gardeners furloed in the current situation, roses have proved that they are robust parts of any garden, able to take benign neglect and abuse…a lesson for us all to learn.
The 18th century Morden Hall which can be seen across the river is now privately occupied and is available for weddings, once such opportunities are available.
A fantastic asset to this part of London, hopefully reminding politicians and planning officers of the importance of natural landscapes to enjoyment and wellbeing.