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Morden Hall Park

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by Bryony 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 goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published September 13th 2012
Heritage, History, and Nature
Morden Hall Park

The River Wandle


Part of the National Trust since 1941, Morden Hall Park is 'an oasis in the heart of suburbia'. With 125 acres, there is a lot to explore. From the meadows to the garden centre, the park is a place full of beauty, and provides a number of activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Morden Hall
Morden Hall


Morden Hall was first 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. Milling ended in 1922, but the old Snuff Mill is still there today. It no longer runs, but one of the grindstones is on display outside.

Mill Stone
Mill Stone


Hatfield was a generous philanthropist and during the First World War he allowed Morden Hall to be used as a hospital for wounded soldiers.



In recent times, Morden Hall has been a restaurant; it was a fantastic place to have Christmas lunch, with Father Christmas coming round to every table giving out gifts. The restaurant switched hands many times before closing down, and now the building is abandoned. The land surrounding it, however, is still open for public use, and makes a great picnic area.

In his will, Hatfield left the estate to the National Trust and asked it to be used 'as an open space and public park to benefit primarily those living in its neighbourhood'.

The Park



The park is incredibly beautiful. When I walk down its many lanes, the tranquil sounds and scenery makes me forget all my troubles. I love hearing the crickets in the meadow, or just looking on at the wetlands (which admittedly, in summer, are pretty dry).

There are many paths to explore, and between the 27th October and the 4th November 2012, Morden Hall is offering a number of walks and tours, exploring the park.



If you are really enthusiastic, you can follow the Wandle Trail; it is a 14 mile route along the River Wandle from Croydon to Wandsworth. Covering the heritage of the area and giving you the chance to experience nature, it is a relaxing way to spend the day, and keep fit.

If you prefer to stay within the grounds of the estate, why not enjoy a stroll through the rose garden? Open from May till September, it has 25 varieties of roses across 38 flowerbeds.



My favourite feature of the park is its bridges; it might sound pretty strange, but they have a lot of charm are great stopping places to just take in the scenery.

Fun for Families and Kids

Kids' Play Bench


Parks are a great place to take kids; it gets them some fresh air, much needed exercise, and gives them a chance to let loose that excess energy.

New Play Area


You can create your own fun with footballs and frisbees, take the kids to the newly built playground, or buy one of the Park's adventure packs.

Secondhand Bookshop


You can get all you need at the secondhand book shop. 50p will get you an 'I-Spy' sheet; there are list of things to look out for in the park such as wildlife and attractions. Tick each one off as you go.

Test the family's navigation skills with the orienteering challenge. For a 1 you can buy a map and start your scouting mission. Make it a friend and family gathering and see which group can reach all the check points first. Or for a small deposit, you can borrow an explorer pack, giving the kids all they need to learn about the history and wildlife of the estate.

There is a new Family Ranger Club that takes place the first Sunday of every month at 10am. It is specifically designed to get families working together by taking part is conservation tasks and learning new skills.

Group Activities



For 20, you can book a tour for between 6-20 people. You will be taken round all the sites of interest and learn not only about the history of the park, but also the current development projects. For example, The National Trust is dedicated to living green, and over the past year or so have completed a number of renovations to the park for sustainable living. This includes the renovation of the watermill, and a hydroelectric turbine.

There are also youth groups in the evening, a fishing club, community groups if you want to volunteer, and a group for the over fifties, where people will get the chance to socialise (and drink lots of tea).

Food and Shops

Stable Yard


In the recently renovated Stable Yard, there is now an arts and crafts stall, small cafe, and a picnic area. It opened on the 5th November 2011, and is all about sustainable living. The Stable Yard itself is very energy efficient, with solar panels, wall insulation, a heating pump, and wood burning stove. Although it is using modern technology, the Stable Yards retains its period setting.

Garden Centre




The most modern building on the estate is the garden centre, which was built over what used to be the kitchen garden. Inside you will find garden furniture, pet supplies, and even candles and decor for home living. Outside has a beautiful display of plants, and garden ornaments.

Aquarium


There is also a small aquatics centre where you can buy fish, sleek looking tanks, and pond supplies.



Next to the garden centre is another cafe that makes delicious cakes and hearty sandwiches using locally grown ingredients. After lunch you can then pop into the National Trust gift shop, where they sell a number of quirky (and terribly British) mementos, books, and preserves.
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Why? Fresh Air
Phone: 020 8545 6850
Where: Morden
Cost: Free Admission
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