Tag Archives: Mitcham Parish Church

A Romance of Evacuation

From the Norwood News – Friday 24 August 1945

A ROMANCE OF EVACUATION

Bridegroom 75, and Bride 77

LATEST tenants at Mitcham’s hut town at Wide Way, are a 77-years-old bride and her 75- years-old bridegroom. The wedding at Mitcham Parish Church of these two old-age pensioners was notable for several reasons. First, the bride arrived with no-one to give her away, and then it was found that the bridegroom had been equally forgetful — he had not brought a best man.

The quandary of Mrs. Flora Sarah Farr, Rodney-road, Mitcham, and Mr. Hadyn Douglas Sanders, Bruce-road, was solved by Mr. A. E. Champion, who in nearly fifty years as parish clerk has attended thousands of weddings and has unriddled many such knotty problems.

He not only became best man but persuaded Mr. Joseph Stevens, gallery keeper, who happened to be in the vicinity, to give the bride away. All four members of the bridal party who assembled before the vicar, the Rev. G. S. Lubbock, were over seventy years of age.

The ceremony over, Mr. and Mrs. Sanders sought a wedding luncheon at several local hotels. but it being Sunday they were unsuccessful, and so they went to their new hut home, where the bride opened a tin of corn beef.

EVACUATION ROMANCE.

The romance of Mr. and Mrs. Sanders began when a party of Mitcham old people were evacuated during the flying bomb raids to a country mansion at Great Barrington, Oxfordshire. Their first meeting was last summer, when they packed into cars at the Mitcham Citizens’ Advice Bureau for their journey into the country. During their nine months stay at the mansion Mr. and Mrs. Sanders sat next to each other at meals, and took walks in the country lanes together. When they returned to Mitcham they decided they would like to continue the companionship and arranged to get married. Both were so anxious to keep the wedding quiet that they did not tell their families the date on which it was to take place. “We were sure that it would leak out and that there would be someone we knew at church who would be able to act as witnesses. But no-one turned up and we had to rely on the good offices of Mr. Champion,” said Mr. Sanders.

Mr. Sanders lost his home in an early blitz, when his wife, son and daughter were killed. As a bombed-out person he qualified for a hut. Both he and his wife like their new home. Mr. Sanders managed to save enough furniture from the ruin of his old home to make the hut comfortable. Its walls are hung with pictures of his family, of whom he is very proud. Among them are portraits of his mother, Grace Armitage, who achieved fame as an actress in the latter part of the last century. His sister, Grace Noble, following in her mother’s footsteps, also became an actress and won renown in Australia.

Mr. Sanders’ father was an opera singer and appeared at Covent Garden, but his early death brought hardships to the family who had chosen Tooting as their headquarters. His mother continued her career and sang at a Manchester theatre on the night her son, Haydn, was born — to help bring up her family of four boys. As soon as he was old enough Haydn went out to work in the shoe trade.

“If there had been enough money for training I should probably have followed in my father’s steps and, become a singer,” said Mr. Sanders, “But as it was I spent a life-time in the shoe trade, starting at a Tooting shop and working in many parts of the country. Now, with Mrs. Sanders, I am going to enjoy a well-earned rest, free from bombs,” he said.

Notes

The original news article had the spelling Saunders instead of Sanders, which is the spelling used by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission (CWGC) website and records on Ancestry.

Mr Sander’s wife, son and daughter died during the Blitz, on 11th October, 1940, at 29 Bruce Road. Below are links to the CWGC casualty records:

His wife, Minnie Sanders, aged 69. His son, Reginald Frederick Sanders, aged 44, an A.R.P. Stretcher Bearer. His daughter Ella Marjory Dunn, aged 31, wife of Charles Dunn.

Flora Sanders died later that year. Her death is registered in the last quarter of the year, in registration district Surrey Mid Eastern, Volume 2a, Page 268.

Haydn Douglas Sanders died the following year, on 11th November 1946. His address was 35 Wide Way.

1819 : John Chart seeks funds for rebuilding the parish church

From the Morning Chronicle – Saturday 08 May 1819, via the British Newspaper Archive

MITCHAM CHURCH-.-Notice is hereby given, That PROPOSALS may be delivered at my house in Mitcham, on or before Thursday, the 13th instant, for LENDING MONEY by ANNUITIES on the Life of the Nominee, or otherwise, or upon Interest, for the purpose of the proposed REPAIR and ENLARGEMENT of MITCHAM CHURCH; the regular payment of which will be secured by is an Act of Parliament, by a rate upon the Parish. The expences attending the securities will be paid by the Parish. By order of a Public Meeting of the Inhabitants, Mitcham, May 6, 1819. JOHN CHART, Vestry Clerk.

Rigid rules of the almshouses in old days

Clip from Merton Memories photo, reference Mit_​Almshouses_​1-2, copyright London Borough of Merton. This early drawing shows the original enclosing wall.

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 13th May, 1960, page 3.

TWELVE middle-aged women, protected from the cold winds by woollen capes that reached their ankles, wended their way to Mitcham Parish Church in 1829.

Parishioners who saw the women demurely stepping out each Sunday, knew by their dress that they lived at the newly-erected almshouses at the Cricket Green, Mitcham.

For in 1829 the Tate’s Almshouses were constructed to provide “a residence free from rent, taxes and outgoings for 12 poor women who shall be respectively widows or unmarried women … members of the Church of England and who have a legal settlement in the parish.”

TRUST FUND

For generations the Tate families had been benefactors in the parish and in this early part of the 19th century decided it was time to build houses for the poor and set up a trust fund.

The building, familiar to residents today, was built to designs by a Mr. Buckler on the site of a former house belonging to the Tates who lived nearby. When completed a board of trustees was set up to choose applicants for admission to the house and to organise the administrative side.

These well meaning gentlemen included the Rev. James Henry Mapleton, Vicar of Mitcham, who acted as clerk to the trustees; George Matthew Hoare, of Morden Lodge; Sir John William Lubbock, of Norfolk, and William Simpson, squire in Carshalton.

Each of these ebullient figures invested some money in the project as did the foundress, Mary Tate who gave £5,000.

EXPENSE

The almshouses, whose exterior has altered little, are built in the style prevalent in the latter part of the 16th century and were erected “ at considerable expense.”

For the poor of the parish there was considerable competition to be allocated a room or small flatlet in the almshouses and when, at last, they were successful in gaining admission, there were some fairly rigid rules to be observed.

A copy of the rules was presented by Worthing Public Library to Mitcham Library in the early 1930s.

One of the main stipulations was that the “almswomen” were to be 50 years old and upwards and were not to have received poor relief in the five previous years. They were to be selected by Mary Tate during her life and subsequently by the trustees.

The women forfeited their weekly allowance of three shillings if they remained outside their home for more than 24 hours without official leave.

They were expected to “ behave civilly and orderly and to live orderly and religious lives,” attending the church each week and receiving the sacraments four times each year.

The gates, inset in the high brick wall round the building, were locked at 11 p.m. and an hour earlier during the winter months.

No strangers were allowed into their homes without special permission and on receiving the weekly allowance, the women were “enjoined to discharge all debts contracted in the last week.”

They were also not allowed to keep dogs or alter their apartments without permission.

From this early record, it would seem that the establishment was run on rather austere lines with the matron keeping a book with the names of the women and reporting ” for infraction of the rules ” to the trustees.

The women also benefited from “Smith’s charity.” Smith was an eccentric retired London jeweller who travelled Surrey on foot accompanied by his old dog. He was dubbed “ Dog-smith ” and was reputed to leave sums of money where villages received him well.

Some of the correspondence between William Simpson and Mary Tate, who moved to a country house at Loughborough, shows how the women were chosen to live at the almshouses.

SAME COURSE

In February, 1837, he wrote. . . ” our course at the last vacancy was to give notice of it at church and invite each candidate to send in her grounds of admission to the trustees … if it is your pleasure we should follow the same course on the present occasion, will you do me the honour to communicate with me.”

Then again he wrote to Sir Lubbock asking if he considered it suitable to ask applicants to go to the almshouses 44 when particulars of each case be laid before Miss Tate for her decision on the next vacancy.”

But now a proportion of the old rules have been changed and a recently completed modernisation scheme has resulted in a transformation within the building.

The residents — still all women who have lived in the locality for not less than five years—have had their two-room flatlets redecorated in pleasant light colours. Electric light has been
installed, inside toilets, baths and new gas stoves in some of the apartments.

There is a new roof and drainage system and other renovations completed by a Mitcham firm to make the homes more comfortable.

The women, who now pay a small nominal rent, are chosen by a seven-man committee of trustees. Following former custom. Rev. John Thorold, Vicar of Mitcham, is the ex-officio trustee.

The memory of the Tate family is carried on, however, for there are several tablets and plaques in the parish church commemorating various members of the family.

Among them is a white marble monument erected to George Tate, “a gentleman of aimiable and accomplished manners,” father of the foundress, who died at the age of 77 in May, 1822.

Mortuary Chapel in parish churchyard

In 1882, the parish church’s burial ground was enlarged and a mortuary chapel was built by Crockett at a cost of £1,761, as referred to in an advertised tender in the Surrey Mirror. (Adjusted for inflation, this was the equivalent of around £200,000 today.)

An entrance from Church Road was made, opposite the post office (later 71 Church Road). A path from this entrance led to a circular path in front the chapel.

The new burial ground was consecrated on 15th January 1883 by the Bishop of Rochester.

This 1910 Ordnance Survey map shows the entrance to the chapel as being opposite the letter box on the west side of Church Road. Another building is shown north east of the chapel, along the wall with Miles Road. The entrance that is there today is not shown and it is not known whether this building was related to the mortuary chapel.

1910 OS map


When Mitcham became part of the London Borough of Merton in 1965, the Coroner decided that autopsies and inquests would be performed at Battersea for both Merton and Wandsworth. This decision was recorded in the minutes of the Parks, Cemeteries and Allotments Committee dated 26th May 1965:

612. Mitcham and Wimbledon Mortuaries

The Director of Parks reported

(i) that following the reorganisation of the London boroughs, H.M. Coroner had decided that as from the 1st April, 1965, he will hold all inquests for both the London boroughs of Merton and Wandsworth at the Battersea Coroner’s Court and that consequently all autopsies on bodies will be carried out at the Battersea Mortuary; and

(ii) that no request has been made to use the Wimbledon and Mitcham mortuaries which had been kept in readiness since the 1st April in case local funeral directors wish to use them as Chapels of Rest, and

(iii) that consequently there seemed to be no necessity to keep the mortuaries available particularly as some financial arrangements would have to be agreed with the London Borough of Wandsworth for bodies admitted to the Battersea Mortuary from this borough.

Source: Minutes of proceedings of the council and committees, London Borough of Merton Council Minutes, 1965-66, volume 2, part 1.

On page 68 of Mitcham Histories: 12 Church Street and Whitford Lane, by the late Eric Montague, is a photograph of the building he took around 1990. The colour version of this photo can be seen on the Merton Historical Society’s website, although it says that it was taken in the 1970s.

Today, nothing is left of the chapel building, although the circular path remains. It is currently not known when it was demolished.

Photo taken 26th April 2017 of plot where mortuary chapel once stood.

Measurements made using the online map show the length of 45 feet along its east-west side, and its depth of 30 feet along its north-south side.

Inquests were held at the Mortuary Chapel. Here are links to some newspaper articles that reported them.

1895 Death from pleurisy
1910 Miss Ellen Peerless, of the Ship Laundry


Maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.


Minutes of meetings held by the London Borough of Merton are available on request from the Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre at Morden Library.

Queen Anne’s Bounty

To help with the income of poor clergy, the Queen Anne’s Bounty was a sum of money used to buy land. This land was then rented out and this rental income was used to support the clergy.

In 1734, £200 of this Royal Bounty was used to buy an area of land from Charles Dubois in Mitcham, to support the vicar at the parish church.

Source: An Account of the Augmentation of Small Livings by “The Governors of the Bounty of Queen Anne for the Augmentation of the Maintenance of the poor Clergy” published in 1856, by Christoper Hodgson, M.A.

Source: An Account of the Augmentation of Small Livings by “The Governors of the Bounty of Queen Anne for the Augmentation of the Maintenance of the poor Clergy” published in 1856, by Christoper Hodgson, M.A.

Eric Montague, in his Mitcham Histories : 12 Church Street and Whitford Lane, page 107, said that more land was bought in 1762 from Mary Gellibrand.

This OS map of 1867 shows areas marked as ‘Glebe’. Note that the London Road was, as shown on this map, known as Whitford Lane.

1867 OS map

1867 OS map

Later, parts of this land was sold off to developers to build houses. Montague, page 108, ibid., said that in 1790 a substantial plot was sold to build a house which became Glebelands.

In the Land Registry title for a house in Preshaw Crescent for example, a conveyance was made in 1897:

A Conveyance of the land in this title and other land dated 2 September 1897 made between (1) The Reverend Frederick Wilson Clerk (the Incumbent) (2) The Governors of The Bounty of Queen Anne for the Augmentation of The Maintenance of The Poor Clergy (the Governors) (3) The Right Reverend Father in God Edward Stuart (the Ordinary) (4) Francis Charles Simpson (the Patron) (5) The Right Honourable and Most Reverend Frederick By Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of Canterbury (the Archbishop) and (6) Richard Arthur Bush (the Purchaser) contains covenants details of which are set out in the schedule of restrictive covenants hereto.

See also Queen Anne’s Bounty on wikipedia.


Maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

Rev G.S. Lubbock

Vicar of Mitcham, 1941 to 1952. Well known for his restoration of the Parish Church after the second world war, according to this article of his death in 1969:

Former vicar killed in crash

A former Vicar of Mitcham, the Rev. George Sutton Lubbock (aged 74), was killed last week when the car he was a passenger in, was in collision with a lorry at Chaumont, just outside Paris.

Father Lubbock, a bachelor, became Vicar of Mitcham Parish Church in September, 1941, until 1952, when he left to become Vicar of St Mary’s, in Sanderstead. He retired in 1963 to live at Blackheath, where he was the honorary assistant Vicar of All Saints’ Church.

The driver of the car, Miss Elizabeth Jenkins, a neighbour of Mr Lubbock, was also killed in the crash. Aged 58, Miss Jenkins, the daughter of a clergyman, was an old family friend of Mr Lubbock, and used to live at St. Mary’s, a house at the Cricket Green, Mitcham.

On Sunday, the present Vicar of Mitcham, the Rev John Thorold, paid tribute to Father Lubbock, and on Monday morning, a requiem mass was held at the church, which was very well attended.

“During his incumbency at Mitcham, he was noted for his restoration of the Mitcham Parish Church after the war,” the Rev John Thorold said.

“There was considerable damage to the building, although not directly hit, and he organised the restoration, under the supervision of Mr S.E. Dykes Bower, from Westminster Abbey.

“He will always be well known for this, and he was a man of cultivated tastes and interests,” added Mr Thorold.

The funeral took place on Wednesday in Norfolk.

Source: Mitcham News & Mercury, 6th June 1969, page 1.