Gilliat's children's parties at Morden Hall Park

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Gilliat Edward Hatfeild, who owned and lived at Morden Hall Park until his death in 1941, was a modest man. He liked to share his fortune and land with the local children who were not as well off. To them Morden Hall Park was an extremely special place, like it is now for so many.

Seasonal fun

Gilliat Edward loved the land here and was keen to share it with his local community. In the 1920s and 1930s he annually opened up his private land  to the local children. There were opportunities in the summer to spend an afternoon cooling off by the river, taking turns with punting and generally enjoying some real escapism. Many of the children who came to visit Gilliat Edward’s estate were from poor backgrounds and to them Gilliat Edward was a local celebrity. The parties offered a pocket of countryside for many of the children who were from the busy crowded city centre. The parties didn’t stop when summer finished. Gilliat Edward sponsored Christmas parties with food and entertainment.

Memories from party guest, Allan Vinal

'We always remember the excitement of being allowed in Morden Hall for Mr Hatfeild’s parties. We called him Squire Hatfeild, and how we enjoyed the boat and donkey rides, the hoopla, other games and the special tea of sandwiches and cake in a large marquee with trestle tables. He gave us all an unforgettable day.

'At one of the parties in the park I was one of the unfortunate ones. You used to have mats to go down the slide, but I couldn’t wait so went down without one and tore my trousers. I had to report to the headmaster the next day to say I was one of the urchins that had ripped his trousers! Mr Hatfeild stumped up to buy me a new pair! He was a wonderful, generous man, and we should not forget [him].'