Gardeners Arms

107 London Road, Mitcham, CR4 2JA.

Currently (in 2019) open as a pub. The present building, with its two Dutch-style gables, was built in 1891. It was added to the local list in July 1993 (pdf).

Image courtesy of Collage - The London Picture Library -

1973 Image courtesy of Collage – The London Picture Library –

A photo from the 1920s/30s is in Bulletin 170 (pdf) of the Merton Historical Society.

Built on the site of a pair of Dixon’s Cottages in London Road and was originally called The Jolly Gardeners. According to Eric Montague in his book Mitcham Histories : 14 Upper Mitcham and Western Road, page 7:

Samuel J Oxtoby granted a lease of seven years in 1873 to John Beard, a beer retailer. This had not run its full term when, in 1878, a new lease for 16 years was agreed and signed by Oxtoby and Beard. The Gardeners Arms Tavern is mentioned by name in the records for the first time in 1881, when Beard negotiated a mortgage with Charles Hanbury, Brewer. A new leaseholder, Thomas Lee, took over in 1883.

It was rebuilt in 1891, after permission was sought from the licensing magistrates.



At the Croydon County Police Court on Saturday morning on application made to the magistrates for permission to re-build the Gardeners’ Arms in London-road, Mitcham, a beer-house in respect which applications were made at the recent annual licensing sessions.

The present application was made by Mr. Forrest Fulton, M.P. (instructed Mr G. W. Dennis), who reminded the magistrates that the house was very old and built of brick and tile, and that it was in such a condition as to be scarcely safe for people to carry on business therein. He therefore applied on behalf Mr. John Clarke, the assignee of the lease, for permission to re-build.

Counsel passed on to remind the magistrates that in law, as a matter of fact, there was no obligation on a licensee to obtain the consent of justices to rebuilding his premises, although the custom had grown up as matter discretion, otherwise the justices might and very probably would subsequently refuse to grant the license, considering that they had not been treated with proper respect. Having quoted the leading case of the “Queen v. Raffles.” the learned counsel proceeded to show that the house was at present almost uninhabitable, and that Mr. Clarke desired to replace it by a fitting modern structure. There would be no addition of any kind at all to the area of the house, with the exception of the yard, which it was proposed to cover in and use as a room for cyclists, a very large number whom visited the house.

Sir T. R. Edridge — The interior the house, in fact, will be no larger; it may be differently arranged but it will be no larger.

Mr. Fulton — No, in fact it will be a little smaller as it is proposed to give up a small piece of the area to widen the footway.

Sir Thomas — Is there any increased storage?

Mr. Fulton — No, sir.

He then called Mr. Bruce Capel, the architect, who explained the details of the plans to the Bench. Mr. Fulton added that there would no material alteration in the elevation of the premises, and concluded by respectfully submitting that this was a reasonable application, and by asking the magistrates to signify their consent to the plans.

The magistrates granted the application, intimating that a surveyor from the Bench would visit the premises from time to time and see that the building was being erected in accordance with the plans now before them, and would report to them at the next annual licensing sessions.

Dr. Carpenter expressed an opinion that when the owners of licensed houses were about, as in this case, to lay out large amount of capital on the improvement of a house, the matter would have come before them in a much more advantageous way if they had proposed to transfer to the new premises the license of one or other of the unnecessary houses in the neighbourhood.

Mr. Fulton said he would take care that this expression of opinion should be forwarded to big clients, and remarked that this had been the practice in the county of Essex, with which he was most nearly connected, for a long time past. The licensing justices in Essex would never grant a new full license unless the license of two beerhouses or one fully licensed house and one beerhouse were transferred with it, and he was very glad to hear from the remarks of the Bench that the same practice was likely to obtain in other counties.

Source: Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 25 April 1891 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

In the 1903 Licensed Victuallers report, the Gardener’s Arms is listed as having been licensed before 1869 and is a beer house with an on and off license. The owner is named as Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co., Ltd., Spitalfields. The licensee, residing on the premises was Stanley Peter DALE. The pub was tied to the brewery for draught beer. It served bread and cheese as refreshments, had no accommodation for the public, but did provide stabling for 2 horses, and had a urinal and WC. Nature of Trade was listed as Ordinary class trade.

In the 1892 Licensed Victuallers report, the owner was stated as Samuel OXTOBY, of 23 John Street, London. The licensee was John CLARKE.

Landlords from street directories and other sources
1858 : William CRESWELL (news article)
1862 : Frederick LEWIS (news article)

1891 : William CLARKE
1898 : S. P. DALE
1902 : Stanley Peter DALE
1915 : Peter DALE (from electoral register)
1930 : DALE brothers (listed as beer retailers, pub name not shown)
1938 : Harold Henry DALE
1971 : F.J. ELLIOTT (telephone directory)

When the pub contributed to the Explosion Relief Fund in 1933, the landlord was H. H. Dale

Occupants from Censuses


John BEARD, aged 39, born in Mitcham, occupation ‘retailer of beer’, with his wife Catherine, 35; daughters Alice, 15, barmaid; Frances, 13; Lily, 8, born in Mitcham, Florence, 3 months; sons John, 11, born in Crayford, Kent, Arthur, 2, born in Mitcham.

A some point, the pub had a heraldic style sign, which has gone missing.

Newspaper Articles
Annual Licensing Meeting of 4th March 1876

Earliest mention found so far in the British Newspaper Archives is from 1858

William Creswell, keeper of the Gardeners Arms beerhouse, Mitcham, was summoned for permitting drunkenness in his house

— P.S. Francis Baker deposed that about five o’clock in the afternoon of the 29th ult. he with another policeman visited defendant’s house in London road, Mitcham, and saw three men drunk in front of the bar; they had beer before them ; them were also eleven men in the parlour, three of whom were under the influence of liquor. Defendant told him the men had got drunk at the Swan; defendant was nearly drunk himself.

— He was fined £3 and 10s. costs.

Source: West Middlesex Herald – Saturday 24 April 1858 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

2nd January 1862


Frederick Lewis, landlord of the Gardener’s Arms beerhouse, Upper Mitcham, was summoned on the charge of opening his house far the sale of beer before the hour of five p.m. on Christmas day last, other than for the reception of travellers. The defendant, who did not appear, was represented by his wife.

John MacKay, sergeant in the P division, stated—On Christmas day I visited the Gardener’s Arms beershop, at Upper Mitcham, accompanied by Ford, 294 P. It is kept by Fred. Lewis, who opened the door to me. I went into the parlour and there found a man named James Brooke, who was at that time a police constable. He had a quart pot by him, about three parts full of ale. The landlord was present. I asked the man if that ale was his. He said it was, and that he had paid sixpence for it. I asked Mrs. Lewis if she had received the sixpence, and she said she had. I then left the house.

Mrs Lewis — It is false; the sixpence was never mentioned, nor the beer paid for. James Ford, 294 P, deposed to accompanying the last witness and finding James Brooke, then a police constable, in the house, and hearing Mrs. Lewis say that she had drawn the beer. Brooks called out, “And I paid for it.” Mrs. Lewis said that Brooks (the ex-constable) had been keeping company with her niece, and he had visited them on the afternoon of Christmas-day, for the purpose of taking a walk with his sweetheart. No money had been paid for the ale nor was it expected. The word sixpence was never mentioned in the room, it being never dreamt of Brooks paying for the ale. There no one in the house, with the exception of herself and family, and the constable Brooks, who was in his private clothes and off duty.

James Brooks, the young man alluded to, stated — I was a police constable on the 25th December last. It being Christmas-day, I went to the Gardeners’ Arms by special appointment. After taking a walk on the marsh I went to the house a second time, shortly before five o’clock. I inquired of Mrs. Lewis for her niece, and being told she would only be a few minutes, I said that I might as well wait. I then went inside and said I might as well have a little ale. Mrs. Lewis fetched me some in a mug, and I had not drank any of it before Sergeant Mackay made his appearance. Seeing me he said, “Hallo, Brooks, what are you doing here?” I answered, “I suppose you know.” Mackay said “Whose beer is this?” I said, “It is mine.” He asked if I had paid for it. I said I had, and Mrs. Lewis, knowing it was against the regulations for a police constable to take beer from publicans, to screen me, also said I had paid for it. But no money had passed, and the beer was never paid for.

The Chairman told Mrs. Lewis that the bench ordered a fine of 5s. and 12s. costs — Paid.

Source: Surrey Gazette – Tuesday 07 January 1862 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

The rear beer garden was created in 1990, as shown in this planing application 90/P1154, applicant Mr F. Elliott.

change of use of rear garden to small beer garden formation of patio doors and erection of 1.8 m high close-board fence on southern elevation adj. to no. 109 London Road Mitcham.

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