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Merton Abbey Mills

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by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
Published September 10th 2012
A Place of History and Entertainment
Merton Abbey Mills

Textile Factory Workers

Merton Abbey Mills is a heritage site besides the River Wandle. It was originally a textile factory in the 18th Century and by the 19th Century textile designer, William Morris, made it suitable for textile printing and stained glass works.

River Wandle

There used to be almost a hundred watermills operating along the River Wandle, but there are now only four, and The Abbey Mills is the only one that still works. You can see the water wheel working every weekend, and it is a place where many visitors throw coins to make a wish. On a summer's day, it is also a lovely place to have a picnic. I've often seen families with young children, sitting on the river bank, watching the wheel go round as they eat their sandwiches.

Water Mill

In 1989, The Abbey Mills was turned into a visitors' centre, where you can learn about the history of the Mill and at weekends shop at the market. There are also a number of shops and eateries open throughout the week.


Wooden Carved Rocket Ships

The Market is open every weekend at Merton Abbey Mills. It used to be held inside the Long Shop, and had a number of interesting stands such as a stall selling doll house accessories, a stall selling cigarette cards, toys stalls, and several different styled jewellery sellers.

Now the Long Shop has turned into a restaurant and the market is held outside. This is great during the summer, but at winter time there isn't really much point in going.

Jewellery Stall

There are still quite a few stalls there, but not as many or as wide ranging. Most of the stalls are either part of the farmers' market, selling jewellery or artwork. Much of the charm and browse appeal has gone now.


If you want to visit the Abbey Mills the weekend is really the best time to go, but if you are walking by during the middle of the week it is worth popping over to look at the shops.

Over the past several years the types of shops there have changed several times, but here are the shops there right now:

The Craft Gallery

The Craft Gallery is a co-operative, and all the products in the shop are made by its members. The items are unique and often one time only purchases, so you won't find them anywhere else.

The artists makes anything from glassware for the home, to watering cans for the garden.

Cocoon Butterfly


A Chinese fashion stall that merges traditional designs with with modern styles. They specialise in silk outfits, and sell men's, women's and children's clothing.


This is an aromatherapy shop that sells essential oils, herbal teas, cooking spices, and handmade soaps. It is quite expensive, but there are a number of things there that I have not seen in other health shops, so it is worth a look.

Charlie's Rock Shop

The only shop still there that opened at the same time as the Abbey Mills was restored. It sells a huge range of precious and semi-precious gemstones, as well as fossils and crystal books.

These are the main shops, but they also have a tattoo parlour and a place where they do Yoga.

Places to Eat

My first memory of the Abbey Mills was as a child and the smell of fresh doughnuts. There was a mobile stalls where you could watch the doughnuts being made, and then choose which topping you wanted them dipped in. Yum.

The William Morris Pub

Sadly the doughnut stall disappeared many years ago, but the number of places to eat has vastly increased. When Merton Abbey Mills first became open to the public, there were two places to eat: The William Morris Pub, named after the founder of the textile printing factories, and the Watermill Restaurant.

Mama Rosa

But now there are more places to eat than there are places to shop. There are restaurants with cuisines from all over the world: Italian, Chinese, Belgian, Brazilian, and the Carribean.

I've been to Mama Rosa's, and the food there is very good.

If that's not your thing, then there are also a KFC and Pizza Hut in the car park.



During the week there isn't much to see but at the weekend there is fun for all the family. You can listen to live music at the band stand or take the kids to the theatre.

The Colour House

The Colour House puts on children's theatre every weekend. There are also comedy shows, workshops, and a chance to listen and perform jazz.

Pottery Class

You can also take pottery classes at the Wheelhouse for 15. You can book up to four people at a time, and lessons are on offer to anyone over the age of six.
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Why? Weekend fun
When: Weekend Market 10am-5pm, the rest open all week
Phone: 020 7287 1766
Where: Merton Abbey Mill
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Thanks Bryony - I live not too far away and this is a good reminder of an interesting site. You may also be interested to know that the Priory Chapter House is open later this month for an art exhibition - I gather it's not normally open, so will be interesting to see it (as well as what sounds like a good exhibition). Details here:
by victo (score: 0|8) 3542 days ago
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