Morden, can anything good come from Morden? This is what I used to think, along with, "One does not simply walk into Morden." (no, you take the tube). Then I recently stumbled across Morden Hall Park, which totally changed my outlook. This park, belonging to The National Trust, is a hidden gem of South London, one which makes Morden worth a visit.
I chanced upon it cycling around the area, and was caught by surprise. Walking and cycling routes meander through it and there is a wide range of habitats. On the weekday I visited, most of the people were those with young children, happily running around, or splashing in the streams. I have definitely put it on one of my places to go back to, and think it is ideal to take a group with a picnic, and chill out (weather permitting).
The park covers some 125 acres, split into various parts ranging from wet meadowlands to open fields and woodlands. Through it wanders the River Wandle, on its way through south London from Croydon to the Thames. Several footbridges cross the river, which played an important role in the formation of the park and the industry around it. It is open to all, and is free. There open play areas, bird watching, bookshops, educations centres, bridges for playing Phoosticks Poohsticks or relaxing with a picnic.
Throughout the year a number of different activates and events are held here. Many are specific to the various seasons and cater for either groups or families. However, some of the best times can be had simply by making your own plans. Bits of the park worth considering include:
The Stableyard built in the 18th century, this contains the National Trust offices, a café with outdoor seating either in the courtyard or by the river, and a second hand bookshop.
Snuff mill waterwheel there are two waterwheels in the park, one powered by London's first Archimedes screw turbine.
Rose Garden next to the old snuff mill, the garden dates back to the 18th century and beside the River Wandle
Watermeadows part of the park has been preserved as watermeadows with a broadwalk, great for bird watching
South and North Parks open parklands, great places for various sports or just crashing out.
River Wandle Trail this 14 mile long trail follows the route of the river and passes through the park, with both walking and cycling routes
Sadly, Morden Hall itself, built in the 1600's has long been unoccupied and is currently boarded up. The grounds around the house are open.
Morden Hall Park A Brief History Historically, like many parts of London, this marshland belonged to Westminster Abbey. It became crown land when Henry VIII dissolved all the monasteries in around 1540 and was then sold to Edward Whitchurch (who produced the first English Bible) and Lionel Duckett. However, their ownership was short lived. The ascendence of Catholic Queen Mary I. 1553 forced these Protestant landlords to sell the estate to the Garth family, who owned the park for nearly 300 years, selling it in 1834 to the Hatfield family.
The Hatfield family, owned the estate from 1834 to 1941. It is this family that built the Stableyard and the Rose garden Eventually, in 1941, the property was left to the National Trust, who now manage the site.