Gilliat Edward Hatfeild: the charitable 'squire'
Gilliat Edward Hatfeild was the last person to privately own Morden Hall Park. He donated the whole estate to us on his death in 1941. Gilliat Edward was a kind man, and is remembered for his charitable acts towards local children, as well as his modest demands and way of life.
Despite inheriting Morden Hall, Gilliat Edward had modest desires. Although thought of as a gentleman (and remembered affectionately to this day by locals as ‘Squire’ Hatfeild), Gilliat Edward did not take up residency in the grand Georgian mansion. He decided Morden Hall was too large for a bachelor like himself and instead moved into Morden Cottage, a smaller house on the land.
However, he didn’t let Morden Hall sit empty gathering dust but put it to good use for the community. During World War One, Morden Hall was used as a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers; after the war's end in 1918 Gilliat Edward paid to keep it running as a Salvation Army hospital for women and children.
Gilliat Edward was a keen gardener and is fondly remembered as deadheading his flowers in the rose garden at dusk and keeping a basket, secateurs and gloves stowed in a hollowed tree.
A fair employer
Not only a friend to nature, Gilliat Edward was also a fair boss. In 1922 some of his staff at a snuff factory in east London went on strike to support others in the industry who were demanding better wages. Following this strike Gilliat Edward decided to close both the factory in east London and the snuff mills at Morden. However, Gilliat made sure every member of staff at Morden kept a job on the estate and stayed in the same home.