Merton Abbey Mills update February 2002

John Hawks reports:

Perspective viwe from market place

Perspective viwe from market place [Full image 32.5kb]

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"Twelve years after their last dig archaeologists have again been busy on the banks of the Wandle at Merton Abbey Mills. More foundations of the medieval Merton Priory have been found (perhaps the Prior's Dining Hall), a ghost of the great Augustinian pile that once dominated the river valley. Hard to believe there was a church the size of Westminster Abbey where now the Savacentre stands!

And, as a reminder of another era of the river's rich heritage, the bases of two watermills - one originally medieval, showing clearly that the original course of the Wandle was where "Bennett's Ditch" backs Runnymede to the North; the other a sizeable relic of the eighteenth century "Bennett's Mill" near the William Morris pub.

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The present dig is now done, but there have been three well-attended public open days to catch a tantalising glimpse of history beneath the ground. Now the finds are recorded the trenches will be filled again, the land developed, and the underground relics left for another generation to do as it will."

The plan shows the area for which detailed planning permission has been given, and an artists impression of the perspective from the market place, looking between the 1929 Block and the Long Shop. To comply with English Heritage requirments, the foundations must miss the newly rediscovered Bennetts Mill, hence the re-positioning of these three blocks

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