We walk past our local sites again and again, day after day. They are familiar landmarks that after a while we begin to ignore because we know them so well. But do we?
Sure we know what they do today, but what about their history? How much do we know about what these structures were used for in the past? When it comes to famous sites such as Tower Bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral, etc., there is endless amounts of information to be found in books, online, or through visits, but our more local buildings don't always garner the same attention.
Take Modern Hall, for example. A quick Wikipedia search tells me that this historic house was built in 1770 by Richard Garth, who let it out as a boys' school in the 1830s. By the 1870s, the land was bought by Gilliat Hatfield who ran a tobacco mill with his family to create snuff. When Hatfield died in 1941, it was then bequeathed to the National Trust.
But this tidbit of history misses out a massive portion of history, namely the First World War. Not everything can be found out through a Google search; it took lots of hunting down of archive material, old newspapers, and interviews with local residents to find out what was going on at the Hall during this period.
It was all worth it though, because Merton's Attic Theatre Company have put all the pieces together to create a play featuring the lives of real people and events. Fields Unsown reveals the untold story of life at Morden Hall Park during the First World War. The play will be performed between the 17th - 21st September in the Stable Yard at 2pm & 6pm. Tickets are £12 for adults or £10 children/concessions, and can be bought from the National Trust Park or by calling 08442491895.
When war broke out in August 1914, Gilliat Hatfield offered Morden Hall to the War Office as use as a military hospital. Watch the story of two gardeners who left the park to fight on the front line, the shell-shocked soldiers who stayed on the grounds, and the young daughter of an MP who exchanged society balls for life as nurse.
In addition to the play, you can also visit the exhibition centre, where you can learn more and view archival material. It will remain open until the 4th November.