Cannon Hill

Cannon Hill, Merton

The green and pleasant south-eastern corner of Raynes Park, some of which lies above the 70 foot contour – about 30 feet higher than most of its surroundings

Cannon Hill Common and Parkway - geograph-4119534-by-Stefan-Czapski

For cen­turies this was part of the ‘waste’ land of Mer­ton manor, wild and uncul­ti­vat­ed. When the canons of Mer­ton Pri­o­ry acquired the manor in 1121, they set about improv­ing the land and even­tu­al­ly sold it for farm­ing.

In 1763 William Tay­lor built Can­non Hill House, an impres­sive stuc­coed man­sion with sur­round­ing park­land adjoin­ing Can­non Hill Farm. A City busi­ness­man, Richard Thorn­ton, bought the estate in 1832 and lived in the house until his death in 1865.

Edward Rayne, mean­while, acquired most of the neigh­bour­ing farm­land as part of his West Barnes estate. Thorn­ton left over £3 mil­lion in his will, the largest for­tune of his times, which was pro­gres­sive­ly dis­si­pat­ed through­out an ever-extend­ing fam­i­ly. The Can­non Hill estate remained in the hands of the execu­tors until the First World War. The grounds con­tin­ued to be used by the Thorn­ton fam­i­ly for game shoot­ing, while the house became dilap­i­dat­ed and had to be demol­ished.

In the 1920s the coun­cil built the pleas­ing What­ley and Can­non Hill estates, while builder George Blay laid out a series of roads, includ­ing those branch­ing off Grand Dri­ve, and fol­lowed this with devel­op­ments around Can­non Hill Lane dur­ing the 1930s. Blay’s prop­er­ties were most­ly afford­able but well-pro­por­tioned ter­raced hous­es sup­port­ed by coun­cil sub­si­dies, some for sale and oth­ers to let.

With the co-oper­a­tion of Blay and the coun­cil, and the gen­eros­i­ty of bene­fac­tors – notably Joseph Hood MP – much of Can­non Hill was saved from devel­op­ment and remains open space. Can­non Hill Com­mon was opened as a park in 1927, and has a cen­tral area des­ig­nat­ed a wildlife reserve.

Accord­ing to the 2001 cen­sus, the typ­i­cal Can­non Hill res­i­dent is like­ly to be a white, mar­ried own­er-occu­pi­er who is a lit­tle old­er than the aver­age Lon­don­er.

Postal district and postcode area: SW20 and Morden, SM4
Population: 9,249 (2011 census, showing a fractional decline on 2001)
Further reading: Evelyn M Jowett, Raynes Park with West Barnes and Cannon Hill: A Social History, Merton Historical Society, 1987
See also: Bushey Mead


* The photograph of Parkway, SW20 at the top of this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Stefan Czapski, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.