We are beginning to expand the electronic version of the Wandle Trail on our website. The intention is that for every site marked on the map, there should be a picture of the site today, one from the past, if possible, and text giving the historical context. As an example, below is a current picture of White Cottage (item 29 on the Map), with Monty's notes on it.
A three storey timber framed weatherboarded house next to the 'Surrey Arms'. Built in the late 18th century, it is shown on Edwards map c. 1789. The name 'White Cottage' or Casabianca' appears not to have been used before this century.
White Cottage [53.3kb]
Early in the 19th century it was the home of William Ness, a gentleman of independent means, and his wife Eliza. They probably leased the property from the Carew family. After William's death in the early 1840s, his widow lived on in the house for about another 10 years. William was well into his eighties when he died., and his wife was 30 years younger .
In 1855 the Carew estate was sold, and White Cottage was bought by Henry Haines. He was a wealthy auctioneer and surveyor who lived with his family and servants in the 1850s at 'The Rectory'. This was a large house in it's own grounds situated off Cranmer Green, Mitcham. The family moved away 10 years later, and there is no record of them ever living in White Cottage. Henry died c1873 and in 1875 his widow leased the house to Robert Ellis, who bought it 4 years later.
Ellis was a mineral water manufacturer, formerley of Elm Lodge, Cricket Green Mitcham. He sunk an artesian well behind the house, and built a small factory and A map of 1883 (kept in Morden Hall) marks the 'Ravens Spring'. Five years later, the factory which measured 54 ft by 25 ft, with a well and a well room are shown on another map now in the S.R.O. The well provided a good sunply of pure hard water.
In 1882 the property was bought by Gilliat Hatfeild, of Morden Hall, and the business was probably transferred to 'Ravens Spring works' Western Road, Mitcham, owned by the Ellis family.
From this time on White Cottage has been a private residence. As part of the Morden Hall Estate it became the property of the National Trust in 1941. During the second world war, 1939-1945, there was a Home Guard post established in the old factory building.
The house is now a Grade III listed building.
Eric Montague Typescript