The early owners of the Morden estate
Morden Hall Park hasn’t always been open for the public to enjoy. Back in 1066 it was little more than marshland owned by the Abbey of Westminster. Its early owners changed with the altering political backdrop of the Tudor period.
The traceable story of Morden Hall Park began with a famous love affair. When Henry VIII fell in love with Anne Boleyn he made himself head of the Church to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. This led to the English Reformation and the dissolution of the monasteries. As a result, the Crown sold the land that now makes Morden Hall Park to Edward Whitchurch and Lionel Duckett.
Edward Whitchurch was one of the early publishers who produced the Bible in English. He was the first person to build a grand manor on the estate, a Tudor house called Growtes (which was later demolished). A proud Protestant, Whitchurch was forced to sell his estate at Morden in 1553 following the death of the Protestant king Edward VI and rise of Mary I, a Catholic, who did not care for publishers of religious English works. Whitchurch sold the estate to the first of two families key to Morden Hall Park: The Garths.
The Garths' country retreat
The Garths were the first family to own the estate at Morden. Five generations of the family enjoyed Morden Hall Park as their country seat away from the city. They were an important family for the estate, as they built the Morden Hall that stands today and laid out the kitchen garden.
Richard Garth V was the first Garth at Morden. He was a young lawyer employed as a clerk of the Petty Bay at Chancery. He bought the estate as a country retreat in 1553 to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. In 1770 Richard Garth V built Morden Hall to replace the old-fashioned Tudor mansion Growtes, with a modern Georgian building which still stands in the park today.
The Garths desert Morden
Following Richard Garth V’s death in 1787 his three daughters Clara, Elizabeth and Mary inherited the estate. To them, Morden Hall was the ‘wilds of Surrey’ and they decided to relocate to London leaving Morden Hall empty. It was then tenanted for a period of 80 years, until the property changed hands again and the second key family came into ownership: the Hatfeilds.