Nelson 2005 update

Air-fix model of the HMS Victory

Air-fix model of the HMS Victory [34.4kb]

A Glimpse of the Past

The damaged windows at Ravensbury
Connolly's leather works in Colliers Wood were a landmark in Merton for many years. Although they have gone now, forced out by changes in industrial practices, their name lives on. This example of early advertising, illustrated by the famous W. Heath Robinson, is a nice reminder.

The programme of events for celebration of the bicentary of Trafalgar is being co-ordinated by the LB Merton, with regular meetings of those planning their own celebrations.

In the next newsletter we would hope to print a summary of these, but, in the meantime would hope that anyone not already in touch, but planning an event of their own, will contact Nicola Meza or Sophie Heath at London Borough of Merton.

In the meantime, we hope to have our own booklet out on Merton Place in the near future, as a reprint of the 1995 article by Peter Warwick, together with hand outs, badges and bookmarks - all to be ready by the May Fair at the latest. More on this next newsletter, but, to keep the pot boiling, print our own provisional Merton Place time line below.

Merton place - timeline


Roque's map shows a man-made watercourse cut at right angles to the River Wandle.


June, Henry Pratt buys the site and subsequently constructs the original house (insured 1753)


Sept. Nelson and Emma meet in Naples.


Nov. Nelson and the Hamiltons arrive back in England.


Jan. Horatia born.


Nelson writes to Emma "I am very anxious for a house ...only do not have it too large, for the establishment of a large household would be ruinous". Nelson also fancied land suitable for farming, because it would be a source of income once he had left the Navy.


In July, a purchase of a house in Turnham Green fell through. Then Emma found Merton Place, only eight miles, or a one hour carriage drive, from Westminster.


Nelson first heard of their discovery on the 20th. August. The asking price was 9,000 for the house and 52 acres, with furniture at valuation (about another 1,000).


September 13th. The purchase of Merton Place is completed.


September 16th. Letter of congratulation sent by Sir William Hamilton.; "We have now inhabited your Lordp's (sic) premises some days.."


October 23rd. A Friday, Nelson's first visit to Merton Place.


Nelson was at Merton from 23rd. October, 1801 to 18th. May, 1803, and between 20th. August and 13th. September, 1805.


Lord Minto's first visit to Merton in March, 1802. Lord Minto was struck by the museum atmosphere.


July/Aug The initial building work appears to have been carried out during the six week tour of the Midlands, Welsh borders and South Wales. The remainder was undertaken during Nelson's long absence some time between May, 1803 and August, 1805


November Nelson buys the whole of William Axe's farm of 115 acres for 8000 to extend the estate eastwards towards Merton Priory.


April 6th. Sir William Hamilton dies.

1803 - 1806

Thomas Baxter, a young artist, went on a number of occasions between 1803 and 1806. His paintings are now in the National Maritime Museum.


Horatia established at Merton.


August 20. Nelson arrives for the last time.


September, 13th. Nelson leaves "dear, dear Merton" for the last time.


October 21. Death of Nelson at Trafalgar. Emma inherits the house and 70 acres at Merton Place.


A deed dated 4th. March, 1806 includes a drawing which shows the 70 acres that Emma selected for herself plus two acres that she bought from Lord Nelson's trustees, Earl Nelson and William Haslewood.


An indenture dated 5th. May, 1807 between Emma and Francis Giffard of Upavon, a moneylender, was purchased by Wimbledon Museum in 1991. Emma borrowed 1,000 to pay debts.


Emma was at last forced to leave Merton and moved to Heron Court in Richmond.


Asher Goldsmid acquired the estate in April 1809, and it was still possible to "stroll through the deserted rooms" as Nelson had known them, "and admire the beautiful furniture".


January Emma dies in poverty in Calais..


March 22nd, Advertisement that appeared in The Times is probably the best single description of Merton that exists. It did not sell.


16th. September. The estate was eventually auctioned 'into lots adequate for detached villas' at the White Hart, Merton. Some villas were built, and Merton Place probably demolished.


The traditional date for demolition. The earlier date is now preferred.

Related Ne;sion article

Meg Thomas

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