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Mitcham

From Academic Kids

Template:Otherplaces

Mitcham
OS Grid Reference:Template:Gbmappingsmall
Administration
Borough:Merton
County:Greater London
Region:Greater London
Nation:England
Other
Ceremonial County:Greater London
Traditional County:Surrey
Post Office and Telephone
Post town:MITCHAM
Postcode:CR4
Dialling Code:020

Mitcham is now a town in the London Borough of Merton in south London. Historically, Mitcham was a town in the north of Surrey.


Contents

Location

Situated south of Central London (UK), nine miles south if credence is given to the 18th-century milestone on Figges Marsh, between the towns of Croydon and Morden. The River Wandle bounds the town to the southwest. The original village lies in the west, although expansion has pushed the eastern boundary the furthest. The common takes up the greater part of the boundary and area to the south. Mitcham has never been well serviced by railway, due to it being equidistant between the historic lines of Waterloo to Southampton and London Bridge to Brighton.

History

The name Mitcham is Anglo-Saxon in origin and is believed to mean big settlement. Even before the Romans and Saxons were present, there was a Celtic settlement in the area, with evidence of a fort being located in the Pollards Hill area.

The discovery of Roman-era graves and a well on the site of the Mitcham gas works evince Roman settlement.

The Saxon graveyard, located on the North bank of the Wandle is the largest discovered to date, and many of the finds therein are on display in the British Museum. The area is a possible location for the Battle of Merton, 871, in which King Ethelred of Wessex was either mortally wounded or killed outright.

The parish church of St Peter and St Paul dates back to the Saxon era. Although it was mostly rebuilt in 18191821, the current building still incorporates the original Saxon tower.

Mitcham was listed in the Domesday Book as a small farming community, with 250 people living in two hamlets; Mitcham, an area known today as Upper Mitcham; and Whitford, today known as the Lower Green area.

During her reign Queen Elizabeth I made at least five visits to the area. John Dunne and Sir Walter Raleigh also had residences here in this era.

When industrialisation occurred, Mitcham quickly grew to become a town, and most of the farms were swallowed up in the expansion. Remnants of this farming history today include: Mitcham Common itself; Arthur's Pond, sited on the corner of Watney's Road and Commonside East, and named for a local farmer; Alfred Mizen School, named after a local nursery man who was very charitable towards the burgeoning town; and the road New Barnes Avenue, which was named after the farm that stood on that site.

The industrialisation of Mitcham occurred first along the banks of the Wandle, where snuff, copper, flour, iron and dye were all worked. Mitcham, along with nearby Merton Abbey, became the calico cloth printing centres of England by 1750. Peppermint and lavender oils were also distilled, and Mitcham became home to many lavender fields, an association reflected today in Merton Council's Coat of Arms and the badge of the local football team, Tooting & Mitcham United F.C., as well as the name of a local council ward, Lavender Field.

The activity along the Wandle led to the construction of the Surrey Iron Railway, the world's first public railway. The collapse of the railway in the 1830s also heralded a change in industry, as horticulture gradually gave way to manufacturing, with paint, varnish, linoleum and firework manufacturers moving into the area. The work provided and migratory patterns eventually resulted in a doubling of the population between the years 1900 and 1910.

This industry made Mitcham a target for German bombing during World War II. During this time Mitcham also returned to its agricultural roots, with Mitcham Common being farmed to help with the war effort.

Post war, the areas of Eastfields, Phipps Bridge and Pollards Hill were rebuilt to provide social housing.

Mitcham became part of the London Borough of Merton in 1965, an effect of The London Government Act 1963, and this led to further expansion of the housing estates in Eastfields, Phipps Bridge and Pollards Hill.

Mitcham lays reasonable, although not definitive, claim to having the world's oldest cricket ground in continual use. The ground is also notable for having a road separate the pavilion from the pitch.

Local folklore also claims Mitcham has the oldest fair in England, believing it to have been granted a charter by Queen Elizabeth I, although this claim has not been proven.

Today

Mitcham is part of the Mitcham and Morden parliamentary constituency, as of 2005 a safe Labour seat.

Notable Buildings

  • The Canons, built in 1680 and now home to Merton Heritage Centre (http://www.merton.gov.uk/learning/libraries/heritagecentre.htm).
  • Eagle House, built in 1705.
  • Mitcham Common Windmill (http://www.nina.gemineans.co.uk/life/interest/windmills/mitcham.html), a post mill dating from 1806.
  • Old Mitcham Station. Now called Station Court, the building was a former merchant's home and is possibly the oldest station in the world.
  • The Tate Almshouses, built in 1829 to provide for the poor by Miss Tate.
  • The Watermead Fishing Cottages, now maintained by the National Trust.
  • Vestry Hall, the annex of which now houses the Wandle Industrial Museum (http://www.wandle.org/).

Nearest places

Nearest stations

External links

References

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