MERTON (anciently called Mere-tune, or Mere-town) is a parish on the road from Watton to Thetford, 2 miles south from Watton station on the Bury, Thetford and Swaffham section of the London and North Eastern railway, 10 north from Thetford and 12 north-west from Attleborough, in the Southern division of the county, hundred, petty sessional division and rural district of Wayland, county court district of Thetford, rural deanery of Breccles, archdeaconry of Lynn and diocese of Norwich. The church of St. Peter, situated in the park, about 300 yards north-east from the Hall, is a structure of flint, consisting of chancel, nave, south aisle, north and south porches and a circular Norman western tower ciontaining 3 bells: the chancel and nave are Decorated, and have windows with elegant tracery: the nave is divided from the chancel by a carved oak screen, on which is an iron bracket for holding an hour glass; the pews are of oak, with carved poppy heads: the chancel retains a double piscina and graduated sedilia; the doorway and steps to the rood-loft still remain, and there is a fine hagioscope: many of the windows are filled with modern stained glass: there are two very fine brass shields, with the deGrey quarterings, and tablets to Edmund deGrey, ob. 1548, and Thomas deGrey, ob. 1556, and his wife Elizabeth, as well as a mutilated brass effigy, with inscription, and one shield out of three, to Thomas deGrey esq., 1562, and his two wives Anne (Everard) and temperance (Carewe); a portion of the inscription is palimpsest, and exhibits on the reverse the feet of a man resting on a lion, c.1390; it is probable that the whole brass, which is made up of fragments, is palimpsest; there are besides the blank matrices of many other brasses: in the porch is a tablet in memory of the men of the parish who served in the Great war, 1914-18; there is also a tablet commemorating those who fell in that war: the handsome font canopy of carved oak, executed by Captain Kitto in 1843, and presented by the late Lord Walsingham, reaches nearly to the roof, and is a copy of the old cover, which had fallen into decay: in 1885 a carved oak reredos, with a representation of the Last Supper, was erected by Lord and Lady Walsingham as a memorial to the rev. George Crabbe B.A. rector of this parish for 33 years: over the north doorway is a figure of an angel, erected as a memorial to Mrs. Locke, mother of Lady Walsingham, by her daughter and grand-daughter: in 1889 a new organ was presented by Lady Walsingham: there are 174 sittings. The register dates from the year 1564. The living is a rectory, net yearly value £205, with 16 acres of glebe and residence, in the gift of Lord Walsingham D.S.O., J.P., and held since 1930 by the Rev. Ernest Stanley Thomas, of Durham University, who is also vicar of the united livings of Sturston, Thompson and Tottington. The rectory house, erected in 1851 by Lord Walsingham, is 1 1/4 miles north-east of the church. The rents of 5 acres of town land and 4 cottages are applied to parochial purposes, and there are 12 free allotments of 10 rods each for the poor. Merton HallM/a>, the property of Lord Walsingham D.S.O. J.P. is a noble Jacobean mansion of red brick, completed in the year 1609, on the site of a house which had been in possession of the de Grey family since the middle of the 14th century, and previously of their ancestors in the female line, the Baynards, to whom the property was granted at the Conquest: some portion of the older buildings still remain: additions were made to the house in 1843 and 1876, and extensive stabling and a coachman's house were erected in 1889 or 1890. 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; a noble oak of great antiquity, which measured 23 feet 4 inches in circumference at 6 feet from the ground, fell in Oct. 1892 and proved to be hollow. The Merton estate comprises the whole village of Merton, with the adjacent villages of Tottington, Sturston, Stanford and Thompson, and part of the parishes of Watton, Griston, Little Cressingham, West Tofts, Stow Bedon and Caston. Lord Walsingham D.S.O. J.P. is lord of the manor and sole landowner. The land is generally of a somewhat light character, with a marl and clay 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 in the past, but the practice has been discontinued of late years. The parish comprises 1,388 acres of land and 6 of water; the population in 1931 was 135.
Letters through Thetford, viâ Watton, which is the nearest M.O. & T. office.
© Transcribed by R.C. Tuck, January 1999; links updated January 2010.
© R.C. Tuck January, 1999; links updated February 2010.
1891 Census Names Index
White's 1845 [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
Paddy's home page