MERTON (anciently called Mere-tune, or Mere-town) is a parish 2 miles south from Watton station, 10 north from Thetford and 12 from Attleborough, situated on the road from Watton to Thetford, in the Western division of the county, Wayland hundred and union, Attleborough county court district, rural deanery of Breccles and archdeaconry and diocese of Norwich. The church of St. Peter is situated in the park, about 300 yards north-east from the Hall; it is a structure of flint, consisting of chancel, nave, south aisle, tower and north and south porches: the chancel and nave are in the Decorated style, and have windows of uncommon beauty: the tower is circular and probably Early Norman; there are 3 bells: the pews are of oak, with carved poppy heads, and afford 160 sittings, many of the windows are filled with modern stained glass: there is a very fine brass still remaining, and also the blank matrices of many others, which tell of spoliation and neglect: the font cover (a handsome canopy of carved oak, the gift of Lord Walsingham) reaches nearly to the roof and is a copy of the old cover, which had fallen to decay. The register dates from the year 1564. The living is a rectory, yearly value £174, with 16 acres of glebe, and rectory house, a mile and a quarter north-east of the church, erected in 1851 by Lord Walsingham, the patron of the living; the present rector is the Rev. George Crabbe B.A. of Queen's College, Cambridge, who was presented in 1851. There are 5 acres of town land and 5 cottages, the rent of which are applied to parochial purposes. Merton Hall, the seat of Lord Walsingham, is a noble mansion of red brick, in the Elizabethan style, built about the year 1613, on the site of a house which had been in possession of the de Grey family since the middle of the fourteenth century, and previously of their ancestors by the female line, the Baynards, to whom the property was granted at the Conquest: some portion of the older buildings still remains: the house stands in a park about 2 miles in length, which, near the mansion, is studded with fine timber: the grounds are chiefly remarkable for the large collection of pines and firs, and for a noble oak of great antiquity, which measures 23 feet 4 inches in circumference at 6 feet from the ground. The Merton Hall estate comprehends the whole village of Merton, with the adjacent villages of Tottington, Sturston, Stanford, and part of the parishes of Thompson and Watton. Lord Walsingham is lord of the manor and sole landowner. The land in this parish is naturally light and poor, on an average, perhaps, two feet of sand, with a clay or marl subsoil; but by bringing clay to the surface (for which purpose there is a clay pit in nearly every field), the soil has been much improved. The parish comprises 1,964 acres; rateable value £1,575; and the population in 1881 was 170.
Letters through Thetford, viâ Watton, which is the nearest money order & telegraph office.
Infants' School, Mrs. Sarah Herring, mistress
© Transcribed by E.C. ("Paddy") Apling, January 1999; links updated February 2010.
1891 Census Names Index
White's 1845, 1864 and 1883 [all GENUKI-NFK]
Merton History pages
Merton postmill [Jonathan Neville]
Merton Church (and audio tour) [Wayland and Watton info]
Merton archeology [Norfolk Heritage Explorer]
Wikipedia on Merton
More on Merton [GENUKI-NFK]
More Parish Information [Geoff Lowe & Andrew Rivett]
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Paddy's home page
1891 Census Names Index