Merton History Project

Merton has a rich and fascinating history, to see some of the information that has been gathered so far in this life long project follow this link

Merton History Link


Our local historian Philip Collins is constantly looking for more pictures (already has an archive of over 1500 pictures) as well as stories, memories, maps artifacts to add to his growing collection. Do contact him on local history e-mail but please remember to put a title like 'Merton History' as this goes to his day job!

Has Merton links with Romans? All Saints Church was named St Martins before its major restoration in Victorian times. It appears that of churches named after St Martin there was often some Roman influence. There may well be a site of a Roman Fort in Merton (yet to be investigated) but here some information about St Martin - once a Roman soldier kindly suppled by a friend of Merton Priory.

'In 385 AD when he was about twenty-three years old Ninian walked to Rome where he remained for ten years studying, and serving as a priest. On the return journey he spent approximately a year at the monastery at Tours in France, where St Martin, once an officer in the Roman army, was abbot.

Arriving home in Whithorn in 397 AD with a number of monks he built his first tiny chapel, the Candida Casa, which he dedicated to St Martin. Like St Martin Ninian wanted to build a monastery to train the monks he recruited. Ninian built the first monastery in the British Isles. Its fame spread rapidly and Christians made their way to Whithorn for training and inspiration. The students included St Finnbarr, the teacher of St Columba,(521-597)_ and Caranoc who baptised St Patrick. Pupils who had trained at Whithorn carried the message of Christ to the Picts of the far North, and even to the Shetlands, where there were already churches dedicated to St Ninian before St Columba arrived in Scotland.'

Link to more info re Romans and Merton

Do you know of any link with Merton London?

"For several years researchers connected with Merton Priory have been trying to find a link with Merton in Devon. There seems to be no direct connection. But any Augustinian foundation near to Merton, Devon, will be connected with Merton Priory. Merton Priory was the most important of all the priories in England and the landed gentry will be mentioned in the Merton Priory Records (pub.1898).

The research is still ongoing and has led in various directions - Oare church for example is a church of Merton's. Bodmin was a priory of Merton's as was Taunton and Cirencester.
Any church named after St Thomas a Becket has its roots in Merton Priory as Thomas trained there and kept in touch with the canons. He went to Merton on retreats and a canon from Merton Priory stood with him the night he died. He had lived in St Gregory's Priory, Canterbury, which was also a "daughter" house of Merton's.

An annual enactment has taken place since 1998 in the Chapter House remains of the priory. This year thirteen of the churches attached to Merton Priory and several "daughter" priories have also said Nones "with" us at the same time - 3pm. 120 connected with us in this way this year. This has become a real incentive towards researching local history. This year's Nones will be on Sunday 5th May at 3pm.

If Merton, Devon, would also like to say Nones "with" us on 5th May, contact me on

Sheila, Friend of Merton Priory."