A condensed history of Morden and St Lawrence
Morden gets its name either from the Saxon words “Mawr” (high) and Don (a hill), or possibly “The Den
on the Moor”. Most of Southern England was a great forest, and where the Romans cut Stane Street through the trees from Chichester to London, 10 miles from London would have been the lunch stop for legionaries, a 1/2 day’s march between London and Leatherhead. The George, which is now a Harvester, could have served refreshments to them.
After the Romans came the Saxons. The first church building here was possibly wooden – churches dedicated to St Lawrence were usually Saxon in origin. The mound in Morden park may be a Saxon burial mound. Augustine who was sent by Pope Gregory of Rome was the first Archbishop of Canterbury, Lawrence was the second – and was martyred. Ethelstan the Etheling, son of Ethelred (the Unready), left “land at Mordune” to Christ and St Peter in 1015.
The first stone and brick church would have been built soon after the Norman conquest. Merton Abbey was nearby, so Morden would not have been very important – until Merton Abbey was closed down by Henry VIII and the estate sold. Edward Whitchurch and Lionel Dutchet, printers of the first England Bible, bought it, but had to flee to Europe when Queen Mary took over, and the estate went to the Garth family. See the “Ecclesiae Amicus” (Latin for Friend of the Church) inscription on the gravestone of Richard Garth by the Communion table.
By the 1630’s, the Garth’s were Puritans, and St Lawrence church was rebuilt in Protestant style – i.e. no places for images of saints, or reservation of bread and wine. In the Civil War, villagers would have been for Parliament against the King.
St Lawrence’s Building and Churchyard
There is a large Queen Anne coat of Arms preserved on the south wall, with an inscription above: “Fear God and Honour the Queen.”
Other features to note are: the plain Communion table
The Pulpit itself has a sounding-board over it (1700’s
amplification). The monument opposite to Elizabeth Gardiner
commemorates a benefactor to the first Morden school – which was in the Old School House (now part of the Parish Hall ) over the road.
The coats of arms along the ceiling are called Hatchments – in the 1700’s families liked to display their coats of arms, in a funeral procession. Where there is a half-black and half-white background, that shows there was a surviving spouse.
The gallery at the back used to have a pipe organ in it, but was originally built for a Sunday School.
In the tower are three bells, which can only be tolled, i.e. not swung
right over – English Heritage won’t let us renew the frame.
Our Church services each Sunday are at the heart of our being the living church – hopefully inspiring people to know Christ for themselves, to grow in their faith in Him, and to live for Him in their lives.
Augustus Shermuly – died 1929, inventor of the pistol rocket life-saving apparatus. On the gravestone the inscription “Homeward bound” with a sailing ship engraved.
Gilliat Hatfeild – Morden’s last Squire – 1861-1941. The inscription “Faithful to his trust” reminds us not only of his foresight in protecting Morden Hall Park and Morden Park for our enjoyment, but challenges us to be faithful to our trust.
Captain Alexander Maconochie – he was one of the first governors of an Australian penal settlement, Morden obviously made a comfortable place to retire to!