An oasis in suburbia - Morden Hall Park walk
Take a stroll through this historic parkland, created by the Hatfeild family in the 19th century, and experience inspiring surroundings. Admission is free. Enjoy your walk and do let us know how you find it.
The Potting Shed Café, next to Garden Centre Car Park, grid ref: TQ262686
To enter Morden Hall Park, pass through the gate between the Potting Shed Café and the Garden Centre, under an archway. Turn right. On your right you will see workshops associated with the Hatfeild family's estate including a boiler house for heating the greenhouses in the kitchen garden, on the other side of the wall, potting and tool sheds and day stables for the working ponies. Some of these are now leased to local craft workers. Ahead of you the stables are visible. During 2010 the stable yard was renovated to be the most energy-efficient historic building in the country. It now offers new visitor facilities, including an exhibition space and a secondhand bookshop.
The stable yard
This building was constructed in about 1879 to house carriage and riding horses, and is a real demonstration of the Hatfeilds' wealth. Note the trout on the weather vane, reflecting the links with the River Wandle and fishing. Step inside to discover our new visitor centre, which houses the Stableyard Café as well as a community exhibition space, a secondhand bookshop, our offices and eco-toilets.
Follow the sign to the Snuff Mill, which is now a Learning and Community centre providing activities for groups from the local area. The millstones on display outside are originally from a spice mill, but show the edge turning arrangement of the stones used.
The Snuff Mill
The Hatfeild fortune came from drying and grinding tobacco (using the watermills) into a fine powder known as snuff, with this particular mill remaining in use until 1922. You can see the original waterwheel that once powered the huge millstones to crush the tobacco.
At the Snuff Mill proceed across a modern bridge over the main tributary of the River Wandle. You will pass a little building on the left where G.E. Hatfeild bred trout, then Morden Cottage on your right. The building is thought to have originally been a hunting lodge before becoming a permanent residence. Look out for the rose garden beyond the cottage.
The rose garden
The rose garden was planted in about 1920 by Gilliat Edward Hatfeild, who gave the Park to us in 1941. We have completed historical research into the garden and are undertaking work to restore the original look still further. The rose garden is at its fragrant best between mid-June and mid-July, but can often be still in flower in early autumn. There is also a patch of early flowering snowdrops at the far end of the garden, which bloom in mid to late January.
Walk along the path with the rose garden on your right and go through a gate, turn right, crossing over the tarmac bridge across a stream of the Wandle and take the first path to your right. Pass through a smaller gate and back into the rose garden, on the far side of the stream that divides it in two. Continue on this path out of the garden and into the arboretum. On the head of the closest island in the summer grows a plant called gunnera, or giant rhubarb. The 18th-century statues of Neptune and Venus can also be seen on an island in the River Wandle.
Statue of Neptune
The statue of Neptune has been placed on a plinth on the island in the River Wandle. The statue of Venus is on the same island; to see her, walk further along the path.
Follow the path along the course of the River Wandle, with the river on your right. When the path forks at a pond, stay left, on the hard standing. When you come up to the avenue of lime and horse chestnut trees near the gate by the Surrey Arms pub, turn left and walk along the avenue. Avenues of lime trees were a status symbol, and horse chestnuts were very fashionable trees.
Carry on walking down the avenue past the path coming up from Phipps Bridge tram stop. Re-cross the tarmac bridge and continue straight on. To your right, in the trees, we have created a natural play area for children.
Cross over the ornate white Victorian bridge, and in front of you will see a second white bridge with Morden Hall beyond, surrounded by a moat. Approach Morden Hall. Cross back over the bridge into the park, turn left following the path crossing over two small wooden bridges. Once over the second bridge turn right, following the signpost to the wetlands, which is flooded and is home to a rich variety of wildlife. (N.B. The boardwalk through the wetlands can be wet after rain and in winter. If you would prefer not to take this route, continue straight ahead and make a circuit of North Park before continuing from this point at point 9).
Water lies at the heart of Morden Hall Park. During your walk you will cross over the River Wandle several times and visit the lush wetlands, vibrant riverbanks and islands which provide homes to a variety of plants, animals, insects and birdlife. The park is one of the closest heronries to central London.
When you leave the wetlands you will reach a T-junction with a tram crossing to your right. Instead, turn left and follow the path with the wetlands on your left; North Park is to your right. Turn left at the end of the wetland boardwalk, cross over a wooden bridge, with glimpses of Morden Hall through the trees to your right.
Retrace your steps back over the two large wooden bridges to the white bridge over the Wandle. Do not cross it, instead pass straight ahead towards the Snuff Mill.
At the Snuff Mill turn right and retrace your steps back to the Potting Shed Café and our Garden Centre, where you started.
The Potting Shed Café, next to Garden Centre car park, grid ref: TQ262686
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