16.7.10

HISTORY AT OUR
DOORSTEP

The list of applications for the UK’s new
Tentative List of sites for World Heritage status
has been published and Colliers Wood's very
own Merton Priory is one of them.

It's about a ten minute walk from our house
and I've gone past it millions of times on
the way Abbey Mills market by the river.

Kieran Long writes in the
The Evening Standard:


One of the most significant religious buildings in
Britain from the 12th century until its destruction
during the dissolution of the monasteries
in 1538, the abbey remains an important
medieval archaeological site.


Thomas Becket was educated here in the late 1120s,
and he wore the black cowl of the Augustinian
canons of Merton when he was elected Archbishop
of Canterbury in 1162. The monastery expanded
during the 13th century, and was a favourite
place of King Henry III.

In 1217, Henry held a peace conference with
Louis, Dauphin of France, in the chapter
house, and later in the century stayed
several times a year in private
apartments at the priory.


These episodes attest to the importance of
the place and while today it is in suburban
south London, the remains also tell
archaeologists much of rural life
in the medieval period.

More than 700 bodies were found on the site and
their analysis has shown people here lived
longer, and were healthier, than the
comparable urban populations.

Merton Priory's remains are up there in significance
with a few medieval remains at Westminster Abbey
and remains at St Mary Spital, which are now
preserved underground and out of sight.
At Merton the remains are visible and
above ground, despite being concealed
in the sarcophagus of the A24.


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