Gorringe Park, Merton
Gorringe Park Avenue was the site of Biggin Farm in the 15th century, with fields extending over what is now Streatham Road and east towards the present railway line. To the west, its land bordered that of Pound Farm.
Biggin Grove was a grand house occupied by various illustrious owners during the 17th and 18th centuries, including Sir Nicholas Carew and Sir John Mitford, later 1st Baron Redesdale.
After several failed attempts to find a buyer, Biggin Grove (latterly called Tamworth House) was pulled down in 1821. Its grounds were returned to agricultural use and occupied by tenants until the late 1860s, by which time their farmhouse had gone and a three-storey Italianate villa named Gorringe Park had replaced it. The new dwelling was presumably named in honour of (and by) the man who commissioned its construction, but this author has been unable to identify him despite research.
By 1898 the villa was owned by the Wilson family, who progressively developed their estate with suburban housing. The shops of Streatham Road’s Grand Parade were built to serve the new residents.
The Wilsons sold an acre of their land for the erection of an ‘iron room’, and later a mission hall, where church services were held. These were soon replaced by St Barnabas church, which was designed by local architect Henry Philip Burke-Downing. His imposing Gothic structure on Gorringe Park Avenue is now Grade-II listed.
At the same time as the church was being built the institution now called Gorringe Park primary school opened at the junction of Sandy Lane and Streatham Road.
After the Wilson family moved away, Gorringe Park served as a convalescent home during the First World War, then as the Barbican (Christian) Mission to the Jews and subsequently as an orphanage. The villa was demolished around 1930, by which time the process of filling the entire Gorringe Park estate with housing was virtually complete.
Having moved here from Blackfriars early in the 20th century, the Pascall confectionery company was a major local employer until its closure in 1971. Mitcham industrial estate now occupies its site.
The Gorringe Park pub is located on London Road, just by Tooting station. Charles Wells acquired the property from Young’s brewery in August 2012 for an undisclosed sum. Working with the Yummy Pub Company, the new owners refurbished and reopened the Gorringe Park in December 2012.
Tooting and Mitcham United football club used to play on land belonging to the Gorringe Park estate. The site of the club’s ground is now a housing estate, with roads named after former players, including Mitcham-born Alex Stepney.
Postcode area: Mitcham CR4