The Augustinian priory at Merton was founded in 1117 on a 60-acre site on the banks of the River Wandle. Today, excavated remains of the Chapter House are preserved in an enclosure under Merantun Way.
There are some fascinating gems of historical detail associated with the priory, spanning the centuries.
Thomas Becket was educated at Merton Priory. He later became Archbishop of Canterbury and was murdered there in 1170.
The first recorded English parliament was held at the priory in 1236, under Henry III, when it was agreed that local lords of the manor could enclose common land as long as they left sufficient pasture for their tenants.
In 1538, during Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, the priory was handed over to the crown and most of its buildings were demolished.
In later centuries, the site of Merton Priory was used for a range of water-powered industries, for the most part associated with fabric printing, significantly William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts Movement, and Liberty & Co who continued to operate on the site into the 1970s.