Merton Priory


Our building work has now commenced and will continue until mid-2018.

Details of Phase 1 of the new development, fully funded, can seen in the design and access statement here.

Phase 2, which will follow in 2017-18 subject to funding, involves recreating a medicinal garden on the site of Merton's Infirmary Garden, one of the first two recorded medicinal gardens in England. Details will be posted soon.

Chapter House Works.

Planning permission has been granted for the Chapter house works which are due to start on site in November 2017. The development will replace the existing brick wall at the south of the enclosure with a new glass wall as part of a programme of general improvements to make the Chapter House more visible and improve the setting of the monument. Further details and plans are on the planning portal here.

Archived News

900 years of Merton Priory

12 July 2014 - 31 August 2014

Exhibition at The Wimbledon Museum, 22 Ridgway, London SW19 4QN

From 12 July 2014 - 31 August 2014,

Saturdays and Sundays 2.30 -5pm, and Wednesdays 11.30am - 2.30 pm.

The exhibition displays the life of Merton Priory from its founding in 1114 until the present day. It tells the story of many important events that took place in the Priory, where both both the only English Pope, Adrian IV and Saint Thomas Becket were educated. Twenty years after Magna Carta, in 1236, Parliament met at Merton Priory to prepare the written parliamentary law in the form of the eleven chapters of the Statute of Merton, the very first Statute of England. The Merton Priory Trust will display plans of the wonderful extensions to the Chapter House Museum, being funded by the National Lottery.

Rivers and Relics Exhibition -

3 - 4 May and 10-11 May 2014

at the Chapter House

Opening times in 2014 are as follows. All 10 am to 5pm

Colliers Wood Arts Festival               26-27 April 2014
River and Relics - Art Exhibition     3-4, 10-11 May
Open weekend                                    7-8 June
William Morris Weekend                  28-29 June
Archaeology Weekend                       26-27 July
London Open House                           20-21 September 2014

HLF Funding secures Chapter House phase 1 go-ahead.

On 19 June 2013 the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) confirmed almost £2million of funding to revitalize the natural and historic features of the River Wandle. The river runs through 12 sites of Nature Conservation Interest but there is also rich cultural,religious and industrial heritage including the sites of Merton Priory, a number of former mills, and associations with William Morris and Liberty Printing Works.

As part of Wandle Partnership Scheme, Merton Priory will receive £200,000 towards the Chapter House project. The HLF grant, added to section 106 monies already set aside for the purpose, means that phase I of the Chapter House project is now funded and will go ahead in 2014.

Merton Council Cabinet Member for Community and Culture Cllr Nick Draper said: "This is great news.  At last we’ll be able to properly celebrate Merton as one of the most important cultural, religious and political centres of medieval Britain."

The Wandle Landscape Partnership will help give the Priory context, and help community participation and engagement. The seperately funded urban design improvements in Colliers Wood will also come on stream at about this time, leading to a significant visible and tangible improvement of the area in the next 2 years. The HLF Landscape Partnership Scheme brings together the London Borough councils of Wandsworth, Croydon, Sutton and Merton with the National Trust, Wandle Trust, Groundwork London, London Wildlife Trust, Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust and Wandle Valley Festival.

Click here for the project plans

Plans for the Chapter House phase 1 project are out for consultation details here.
The first phase will replace the southern wall of the chapter house enlcosure with a new glazed wall and provide WC, kitchen and dedicated storage for the centre. It will be part funded by the HLF Living Wandle project and part by Section 106 monies held by LB Merton for the purpose. Work is due to start July 2014... watch this space for more.
News From Nowhere: Art @ Merton Priory 29 & 30 September and 6 & 7 October 2012
'A wonderful exhibition. Given its dark strangeness, the place was totally transformed by the art, and everyone made some truly interesting pieces in response to the brief. We had upwards of 600 through the doors each day, this location clearly attracts enormous interest and presents us with a privileged opportunity to share with the great British public a slice of our local history, and our 12 artistic responses to it.' Wendy Bliss - Merton Arts Trail

13 September 2012 - Merton Priory Latest Plans.

The aim of the Merton Priory project is ‘to establish and maintain in perpetuity an education centre on the site of the Chapter House of Merton Priory.’ A long term view.

Several aspects to this:
- physical building and remains
- friends of the Priory and community engagement
- education, scholarly, and web resources.

Project has already started
- lowering of chapter house floor
- improvements to exhibits and display
- tidying up outside areas.
- Friends database of over 200 people.
- basic web site
- opening discussion with Merton Coll Oxford, Notre Dame University and local schools..

Community archeology at its best’ (Current Archeology Aug 2012)

Two things.
- the plans for the priory - concentrating on the physical capital works.
- where we are with delivering them.


Site plan
The site is in green  and within this the Chapter House in yellow
- Wandle and its earlier course, to the east,
- Roman Road
- Merton Priory remains in purple and the precinct wall fragments.
- the orientation of Merton Priory and its placement.  None of the modern buildings follow the Priory geometry.
We have identified a phase 1 to be carried out over the next 5 years.
The aim of phase 1 is to make a few simple moves to transform the chapter house so that it becomes:
- a much better visitor experience with a ‘wow’ factor
- more visible and making a positive contribution to the area as a whole
- more usable.

The proposals include:
- taking down the engineering brick wall that encloses the chapter house enclosure from the south
- putting a new glass wall in its place, flooding the place with light and warmth
- putting in a new block to contain WC, kitchenette and storage
- lowering the chapter house floor and installing a new level, heated floor so that it can be used in autumn and spring evenings
- relaying the cloister floor
- improving the displays
- creating a new entrance pathway from the south
- creating a new community garden on the site of the infirmary Garden
- site wide signage and interpretaion.
Click here for plans.
The north wall and the area of the church will be left for a later phase.


Ownership of the site is now with LB Merton, together with section 106 monies of about £400k.

The works are to be delivered in sub phases as follows:
Phase 1A.  The glass wall, storage block
Phase 1B  Other improvements within the chapter house
Phase 1C the community garden.

Phase 1A is likely to cost about £280-300K and be delivered 2014.
LB Merton are to be lead partners with MPT acting as agents.
It will be funded 20/80% between S106 and HLF.
that is approx. £80K from section 106 and £200K from HLF Living Wandle bid.

Phase 1B and C will be funded by other sources, and will follow on shortly after this, funded either by
-  a larger HLF grant
-  other smaller grants with the work in phases.
The aim is to achieve 20/80 leverage for all S106 monies.

What you can do to help

Comment on the proposals preferably in writing to

29 October 2011 - Merton Priory Land Transfer

The Merton Priory Trust welcomes the land transfer which brings the Chapter House and south garden into public ownership. We look forward to working with the local community, the Borough of Merton and Wandle Valley partners to bring the Merton Priory project forward.

What's going to happen next? See the conservation plan policies here.

Merton Arts Trail Exhibition in the ruins of the Chapter House at Merton Abbey Mills. This historic place, under the road between the Savacentre and the Mills, is newly open to the public, and the exhibition has been scheduled to coincide with the Arts Trail, sponsored by Marcus Beale Architects. Items displayed on loan from the Museum of London alongside the 10 planned art installations, which are being made in response to the site.

Participating artists

  • Robert Aldous
  • Jane Bailey
  • Wendy Bliss
  • Sue Evans
  • Maxwell Flood
  • Fiona Long
  • Helen Newhouse
  • Maxine Pringle
  • Chris Rowe
  • Fiona Leighton-Crawford

Further information at

A page on Robert Aldous's installation 'It is written in water' is at

9 July 2011 - The Chapter House was specially prepared by DS/JH for a highly successful musical celebration, attended by nearly 100 parishioners, part of a “pilgrimage” along the Wandle on Saturday 9th July, ending in a service in the Chapter House and picnic in Wandle Park.
11 May 2011 - Magna Carta Tour History buffs' rare chance to see Magna Carta - see article in Wimbledon Guardian here.
2 May 2011 - Magna Carta A replica of the Magna Carta will be exhibited at local churches and places of worship over the next few weeks to raise awareness of the Priory. The original Magna Carta has long been lost. However, an unknown number of copies were made shortly after its completion four of which survive today. By kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury Cathedral, the first authentic copy (other than photographs) to be made of this document since 1215 has been completed by a College of Arms calligrapher on vellum under the supervision of Bluemantle Pursuivant Herald. The Worshipful Company of Ironmongers and the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, the joint owners of this document, have kindly allowed this work of art to be displayed by Merton Priory Trust for the benefit of the people of Merton. They have also agreed to 90 percent of all the net proceeds raised from the sale of copies of this document to be retained by the Merton Priory Trust for the purchase of similar documents and the putting together of an application for inclusion on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

1 May 2011 - The Chapter house laid out ready for the 14th annual service of Nones. About 20 people visited the site, some expecting to hear the 14th 'Friends of Merton Priory' service of nones, remembering the day on which the priory was formally founded. This is how Heales describes the foundation, in his book The Records of Merton Priory (1898):

"... all... authorities concur in fixing the date of the foundation as 1117, except one manuscript [College of Arms; Arundel MS. 28], which gives so full and circumstantial an account of the proceedings that we may properly commence the the year 1114. Henry (I) King of the English, gave the Ville pertaining to the Crown, called Meriton, or Merton, to Gilbert the Knight, formerly Sheriff, to possess freely in hereditary right: ... [who] most liberally built a church at his own cost, and handsomely decorated it with paintings and other images... dedicated to the honour of the Most Blessed Mother of God, ...Mary. ... Gilbert had previously been Sheriff of the Counties of Surrey, Cambridge, and [probably] Huntingdon in which latter County the Order of Canons regular had flourished for some years in the church of St. Mary ... it occurred to him to seek there advice and aid... [from] Rodbert, at that time sub-Prior [who]... accompanied by a few brethren was introduced to Merton and the church...endowed with adjacent land sufficient for two ploughs, and with a mill bringing in 60s. per annum. ... Gilbert, the founder and patron, continued actively occupied for the benefit of the place.... The Convent was now transferred to [a] new building in ... 1117; and many hastened thither. ... The prior entered the on the fifth of the nones of May (May 3), being the day on which the Lord's Ascension was celebrated, the Brethren, who were now fifteen in number, entered the place of their new habitation, singing

'Salve, festa dies, toto venerabilis aevo, Qua Deus infernum vicit, et astra tenet,' Chorus: 'Salve, festa Dies' "

[ The beginning of the sequence on Easter Day, on bringing back the Host from the Sepulchre where it has been deposited on Good Friday. Sarum processional; York Manual ( Surtees Soc. Ed. p. 175).]

April 2011 - The Chapter house is being improved by redecorating the surrounding walls, reorganizing the displays of archaeological finds and the explanatory notice boards, improving lighting and signage. Shortly the sand laid between the foundations will be removed and the levels reduced to give a greater impression of the layout of the building.
After many years of delay the land transfer of the chapter house and surrounding site is due for imminent completion, and the Trust will lease the site from new owners London Borough of Merton to begin the implementation of the new education and information centre. The precise work will be confirmed following further study and consultation. It may include:
- opening up the enclosure to increase views from the surrounding areas
- further improvements to the chapter house interior
- planting a medieval garden in the area to the south of the chapter house
- improved exhibitions and displays
- improved web site and on-line historical resources relating to the priory.

The Trust will also be displaying facsimiles of two remarkable historical documents, the Magna Carta(1215) and Statute of Merton (1235), which are being reproduced by hand by the calligraphers of the Royal College of Arms. Special thanks to the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury Cathedral, the House of Lords, the Museum of London, and City livery companies who have made these reproductions possible.

The Trust has also acquired original fabrics printed at Merton Abbey by Morris and Liberty, which will be conserved and displayed.
1 March 2011 - Wimbledon Guardian Historic Colliers Wood site should aim for United Nations backing
Hidden History Under Sainsbury's Car Park

Published: 14 July 2010
Merton Priory is not a landmark known to many in London. One of the most significant religious buildings in Britain from the 12th century until its destruction during the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538, the abbey remains make it an equally important medieval archaeological site.

The Priory is now on a tentative list, drawn up last week by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, to become a World Heritage Site, a classification endowed by Unesco and reserved for the most significant sites of historical, architectural or ecological interest in the world. If it is to be successful after a long assessment process (which could take a couple of years) it will put Merton alongside the capital's four existing World Heritage Sites — the Tower of London, Westminster Palace and Abbey, the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew and Maritime Greenwich — as well as some of the world-famous attractions such as the Acropolis, the Taj Mahal and Stonehenge.

click here for the article.

23 July 2010 Wimbledon Guardian article 'Merton Priory still in running for global landmark list'
Click here for older news....