Morden Hall Military Hospital
Morden Hall is a fine Georgian property situated on land near the River Wandle. It was built c.1790 for the Garth family, lords of the manor of Morden from 1554 to 1872. George Garth QC then sold the property to Gilliat Hatfeild, who had amassed a fortune from snuff manufacture, having leased a watermill on the estate for a number of years.
When Gilliat died in 1906, the Morden estate passed to his son. The last squire of Morden, Gilliat Edward Hatfeild was still in residence at Morden Hall when war broke out. Unmarried and with no immediate heirs, he offered the property to the War Office c.1915 for use as a military convalescent hospital and moved into Morden Cottage, a more modest property on the estate.
Morden Hall became a 68 bed annexe of the London Hospital, staffed by a mixture of regular and Volunteer Aid Detachment nurses. Patients benefited greatly from the picturesque surroundings and were granted ready access to the house and gardens, They could even take punt-rides in the adjoining Wandle Watermeads.
The hospital cared for a wide range of British and Commonwealth troops, including Australian soldiers. All convalescent servicemen were required to wear a light blue felt jacket and a red tie. This distinctive uniform was easy to spot and was meant to deter unruly behaviour and unauthorised absences. It also identified the wearer as a serviceman recuperating from injury, at a time when young men seen out of uniform could be accused of cowardice and subjected to abuse.
After the Great War, Morden Hall retained its medical status and was used as a convalescent hospital for the care of women and children. When Gilliat Edward Hatfeild died in 1941, the estate was bequeathed to the National Trust. It is now a popular and much-loved visitor attraction. The house itself was used as council offices for a number of years, before being converted into a restaurant. Having recently been refurbished, it is now a venue for weddings.