The Hatfeilds at Morden

A view of the stableyard at Morden Hall Park from 1951 © Morden Hall Park

A view of the stableyard at Morden Hall Park from 1951

The second family to own Morden Hall and the surrounding lands that make the park, were the Hatfeilds. The Hatfeilds remained owners of the estate until it was donated to us in 1941. They were an eccentric family who added some iconic features to the park, such as the rose garden and the stableyard.

The business of snuff

The Hatfeilds' legacy at Morden Hall Park began in 1834. At this time there were two snuff mills on the land, powered by the River Wandle. In 1834 Alexander Hatfeild took over the running of snuff production on the estate. By this time both mills were leased by tobacconist’s Taddy & Co. John Hatfeild, Alexander’s father had married into the Taddy family, which owned a successful snuff-making company with tobacco plantations in Virginia. This marriage between John Hatfeild and Ann Taddy introduced the Hatfeilds to the snuff industry and led them to the snuff business at Morden.

Buying the estate bit by bit

Until 1867, the Hatfeilds' relation to the estate was business based but, bit by bit, the family began buying some of the houses and land around the estate. In 1867, Gilliat Hatfeild (Alexander’s son) bought Morden Hall itself from the Garth family. Morden Hall had been let out by the Garths for a period of 80 years, but finally once more Morden Hall was a family home.

The Hatfeilds who lived at the Morden Hall Park estate for over 100 years were real characters, especially Gilliat and his son Gilliat Edward. They can be credited for making the park what it is today and for leaving the local community with some wonderful memories.

A traditional eccentric

Gilliat Hatfeild was a traditionalist. He often traveled into London by horse and cart despite being able to use the railway. It isn’t surprising then that the large stableyard was built by him in 1879. He was a punctual man, who liked his staff to be too, and installed the clock above in the stableyard in the 1870s. It chimed every 15 minutes to ensure the estate ran like clockwork.

In 1906, Gilliat Hatfeild died and his son Gilliat Edward Hatfeild sailed back from tobacco plantations in Virginia to take up residency at Morden Hall and manage the snuff business. Gilliat Edward made few changes to the estate, and seemed to have inherited many of his father’s traditionalist quirks, such as a dislike of cars and modern technology.