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History of Tooting Graveney


History of St Benedicts

History of Tooting Graveney

Historic Art of Tooting

Historic Maps of Tooting

Tooting Graveney

Tooting Graveney is about 6 miles south-south-west of the centre of London. It was always in the historic county of Surrey until it became part of Greater London in the local government re-organisation of 1965. It was originally an area of swampy meadow land with watercourses draining into the River Wandle, which itself flows into the river Thames at Wandsworth. It remained a distinct country village until the mid 19th century. The historic parish of Tooting Graveney was bounded by those of Wandsworth, Streatham and Mitcham, with some of the latter boundary defined by the River Graveney, before its course was altered.

The name 'Tooting' is thought to originate in Saxon times and derive from 'Toot', meaning to look out, and 'ing', meaning meadow. The look out may have arisen from its location at the crossing (now Tooting Broadway) of two historic routes, between Clapham and Merton and between Wandsworth and Mitcham. In olden times, spellings often varied between records, including 'Totinge', 'Totyng', 'Towting', 'Tutin' and 'Tootting'.

'Graveney' derives from the name of the Gravenel family, which had large land holdings in the area in the 12th and 13th centuries. Tooting Graveney was used to distinguish that manor from Tooting Bec, named after the monks of St Mary de Bec to whom the latter manor was given.

St Nicholas Church

Old St Nicholas Church

Worship in the area is recorded from the 7th century. St Nicholas church is named after the bishop of Mycra in Lycia (now in southern Turkey), who is also the patron saint of Russia. The church was mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086 and evolved with a mixture of Romano-British, Saxon and Norman styles with a round tower and a shingled steeple.

When the population grew too large to be accommodated by 1814 consideration was given to extending it, but it was replaced instead by a new church built nearby and consecrated in 1833. The new church was extended several times over the period 1873-1889. Further relief was provided by All Saints Church, consecrated in 1907.

The parish of St Nicholas transferred from the diocese of Winchester to the diocese of London in 1846. It transferred again to the Diocese of Rochester in 1877 and is now in the Diocese of Southwark.

The old St Nicholas Church

Chronology of Tooting Graveney

  666Charters of the Abbey of Chertsey refer to the area as Getinges.
1086The Domesday book refers to 2 or 3 manors in the Brixton hundred (county sub-division) with the name Totinge. The manor of Tooting Graveney, assessed as 6 hides (90-180 modern acres or 36-72 hectares depending on its fertility), was held by Haimo, Sherriff of Surrey, for the Abbot of Chertsey, containing a church (St Nicholas). The manor of Tooting Bec was given by Richard de Tonbridge to the monks of St Mary de Bec. One manor, assessed as 4 hides (60-120 modern acres or 24-48 hectares), was held by Odbert for the Abbot of St Peter's, Westminster. This was joined to one of the other two manors.
1157-1189Hamo de Gravanel, descendent of Haimo, gave church land in the manor of Tooting Graveney to the Priory of St Marie Overie, under the protection of the Bishop of Winchester.
1216King John gave De Gravenell land to his chaplain, Denis, but it was later restored.
1314The manor of Tooting Graveney was held by the de Lodelowe family.
1394The manor of Tooting Graveney passed by marriage to the Dymocke family, which held it for around 200 years.
16th centuryCourt records refer to the extraction of gravel and loam, the removal of furze (gorse, presumably the source of the name 'Furzedown') and the grazing of cattle on two commons (now Tooting Bec Common and Tooting Graveney Common).
1536-1541Although not described in the references, presumably King Henry VIII confiscated the manors in the ownership of the church during the dissolution of the monasteries.
1555Parish registers started in 1555, with originals available from 1603.
1593-1600Queen Elizabeth I granted the manor of Tooting Graveney to James Harrington then Henry Maynard (later Sir Henry), secretary to Lord Burghley. In about 1600, the Queen visited and an avenue of trees was planted on the common.
1688Protestant dissenters founded the non-conformist congregational church. Daniel Foe, later Defoe (author of Robinson Crusoe), and a leading non-conformist was reputed to be a prime mover and to have lived in Tooting shortly after his marriage in 1684. However, no record of his living in the parish has been found. Rumours that he lived in Hill House are unlikely to be correct, since it was not built until 1784, after Defoe's death in 1731. The congregational church was incorporated into the Presbyterian Church of England in 1881.
1694The manor of Tooting Graveney was held by Sir Paul Whichcote, Bart, who obtained a private Act of Parliament allowing the grant of leases on the manor land.
1700By now, land ownership was set out more clearly, distinguishing land held of the manor and land owned outright, not as tenants.
1714-1725The manor of Tooting Graveney was sold several times, to James Bateman, Bart, Abraham Atkins and Percival Lewis, of Putney.
1744Court records refer to the sign of The Mitre. There were four inns: The Mitre (on Mitcham Road), The Castle (on Tooting High Street), The Angel, which was demolished in 1889, and The Rising Sun, which burned down in the late 19th century.
1752Percival Lewis split the land of Tooting Graveney manor, selling some to Joseph Salvador.
1767The manor was purchased by Morgan Rice, a distiller, for £770 and then passed down through his family.
1784Hill House was built on the manor land (see drawing below).
1802-1861The manor was sold several times.
1833A new church was built nearby and consecrated in 1833 to replace the old St Nicholas church when the population outgrew it. The new church was extended several times over the period 1873-1889.
1846The parish of St Nicholas transferred from the diocese of Winchester to the diocese of London in 1846. It transferred again to the diocese of Rochester in 1877 and is now in the diocese of Southwark.
1861W James Thompson, who lived at Tooting Lodge, bought the manor for amounts variously recorded as about £2,000 and £3,650. It now had 22½ acres of land. He sold the manorial rights to the Metropolitan Board of Works. When he attempted to enclose parts of the common, local land owners took legal action, which was found in their favour in 1869. The common was held in trust by the County Council to preserve it as a common from 1872.
1893Pressure from nearby land owners prevented erection of a proposed fever hospital.

The later history of the St Benedicts site is on the History of St Benedicts page.

Tooting Hall c1786 Hill House c1784

Tooting Hall, around 1786 (on left)

Hill House, around 1784 (on right)


  • The History of Tooting-Graveney, Surrey – William Edward Morden – 1897 (from which the drawings on this page are taken)

Text © 2011 Kevin Herrmann, St Benedicts (Tooting) Management Company Limited, with acknowledgement.


Click this link to download the History of Tooting Graveney (PDF, 135kb - please only download this large document if you want your own copy).

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© St Benedicts (Tooting) Management Company Limited - 23 February 2013