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Mitcham Common Merton
   
Summary: Mitcham Common is ancient commonland that once extended much further and before clearance in Neolithic times was oak woodlands. It was divided between four manors and was long used for agriculture and grazing, and from the early C19th for gravel extraction. In response to public concern about threat of development Mitcham Common was secured by Act of Parliament in 1891. Land south of Croydon Road became a public golf course in the 1890s, and land in the north was used for playing fields.
Previous / Other name:
Site location: Commonside East/Croydon road/Commonside West/Windmill Road/Cedars Avenue/Watney's Road, Mitcham
Postcode: CR4 > Google Map
Type of site: Public Open Land
Date(s): 1891
Designer(s):
Listed structures: LBII: Bidder Memorial on Croydon Road; Commonside East: No. 9 Prospect House; Commonside West: Newton House, Park Place
Borough: Merton
Site ownership: Mitcham Common Conservators
Site management: Mitcham Common Conservators
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: unrestricted
Special conditions:
Facilities: car park, Mill House pub/restaurant; Mill House Ecology Centre
Events: Various events organised by Mitcham Common Conservators (check website)
Public transport: Rail: Mitcham Junction. Tramlink: Mitcham Junction, Beddington Lane. Bus: 264, 118, 127
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/07/2005
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.mitchamcommon.org

Fuller information:

Mitcham Common adjoined Croydon Common, Beddington Farmlands and Waddon, and included the various greens that remain around Mitcham. There was a hunt here until the early C19th and James I complained that the 'lewd people of Mitcham did so much poaching that there was a great scarcity of game'. The Common suffered through lack of any overall control and in the later C19th local people, led by George Parker Bidder who lived at Ravensbury Park (q.v.), mounted a campaign that led to the Metropolitan Commons (Mitcham) Supplemental Act of 1891. There is a pond on the common named after Bidder and a memorial stone. The Act specified that the Common was to be administered by a Board of Conservators with representatives from neighbouring parish councils of Mitcham, Beddington, Wallington and Croydon. Today the LBs of Merton, Croydon, Sutton and the Corporation of London are involved in the preservation of the common, making an annual contribution to its maintenance costs. Some land has been lost to railway and roads over the years. In 1997 it was agreed that Mitcham Common and adjoining farmlands, and Beddington Park would form part of the larger Wandle Valley Country Park.

The Golf Course was established on the common in the late 1890s and until 1924, when the golf club's rights ceased, it covered a far greater area of Mitcham Common but it was then reduced to its current area by the Conservators. A number of the ponds on the common were created as a result of the gravel extraction, which continued until the 1980s, and some have since been infilled; among those that remain are Seven Islands Pond created post 1867; Bidder's Pond north of Croydon Road; and One Island Pond south of Croydon Road. During WWII ploughing took place in parts of the common and anti-aircraft batteries were temporarily installed here for the defence of London. There are a range of habitats with woodland and scrub, ponds and grassland. The Common was originally flatter than at present, some areas having been artificially landscaped, such as Tilbury Hill, which was completed in 1984, named after a former chairman of Mitcham Common Conservators. In 1995 Mill House Ecology Centre opened on the site of a C19th windmill, part of which remains in the grounds of The Mill House restaurant and pub, which also opened in 1995. The Ecology Centre has study facilities and is generally provided for educational use.

Sources consulted:

Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); 'Mitcham Common An Introduction', Mitcham Common Conservators, 1999; Ian Yarham, Dave Dawson, Martin Boyle, Rebecca Holliday 'Nature Conservation in Merton, Ecology Handbook 29', London Ecology Unit, 1998; The Parks Agency 'Commons, Heaths and Greens in Greater London. A short report for English Heritage', 2005
Grid ref: TQ286681 (Seven Islands Pond)
Size in hectares: 174 (216 inc Golf Course)
   
On EH National Register : No
EH grade:
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
Metropolitan Commons(Mitcham)Supplemental Act 1891
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
No
 
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
On Local List:
In Conservation Area: Yes
Conservation Area name: Mitcham Cricket Green (part)
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: Yes - Metropolitan Importance
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: Yes
Special Policy Area: Yes - Archaeological Priority Zone
Other LA designation: Green Corridor
   

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