Merton Priory

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Merton Priory
A ceiling boss from Merton Priory, discovered in excavations of Nonsuch Palace, on display in the Museum of London.
A ceiling boss from the Priory, discovered in excavations of Nonsuch Palace, on display in the Museum of London.
Merton Priory is located in Greater London
Merton Priory
Location within Greater London
Monastery information
Established 1114
Disestablished 1538
Founder(s) Gilbert Norman, Sheriff of Surrey
Important associated figures Adrian IV
Thomas Becket
Walter de Merton
Location Merton, Surrey, England
Coordinates 51°24′52.26″N 0°10′52.58″W / 51.4145167°N 0.1812722°W / 51.4145167; -0.1812722

Merton Priory was founded in 1114 by Gilbert Norman, Sheriff of Surrey under Henry I. It was in Merton, Surrey, England (now the Colliers Wood area in the London Borough of Merton).

Buildings and holdings[edit]

The priory was at the point where the Roman-founded Stane Street (Chichester) crossed the River Wandle, approximately 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from medieval London and in the Diocese of Southwark and held cultivated land and pasture holdings here and at other places in the much larger medieval version of the county.


By 1117 the foundation was colonised by Canons Regular from the Augustinian priory at Huntingdon and re-sited in Merton, close to Wandle.[1]

The priory became distinguished by ecclesiastics as an important centre of learning attracting Nicholas Breakspeare in 1125 (who became Adrian IV, the first English Pope, in 1154), and Thomas Becket in 1130.

Walter de Merton (Lord Chancellor, Bishop of Rochester, and founder of Merton College, Oxford) took his name from the Priory, having been educated there in the 1230s.[1]

In 1236 Henry III held a Parliament at the Priory at which the Statute of Merton was agreed allowing amongst other matters Lords of the Manor to enclose common land provided that sufficient pasture remained for their tenants. This was the first recorded statute of the first recorded English parliament, though not a particularly representative parliament compared to the Simon de Montfort's Parliament in 1265. Such meetings laid the foundation for the advancement of Magna Carta into statute in 1297.

Only a few stretches of wall, including this piece in knapped flint, now survive from the priory.


The Priory was demolished in 1538, under Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries, when it was valued three years before at a relatively wealthy £960 16s. 6d. in the Valor Ecclesiasticus which Henry ordered. Much of the masonry was reused at Henry's Nonsuch Palace.[1] The site of the Priory is now occupied by Sainsbury's Merton branch. Remains of the Priory's Chapter House are now underneath a major road and can be accessed from the foot tunnel under Merantun Way, between Sainsbury's and Merton Abbey Mills.


  1. ^ a b c 'Houses of Austin canons: Priory of St Mary of Merton A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 2, ed. H E Malden (London, 1967), pp. 94-102 Accessed 9 April 2015.

External links[edit]