Merton Priory 1117-1558
Merton Priory was built by Gilbert the Norman, who had been granted land in Merton by Henry l. Begun in 1117, it was a place of importance and royal patronage. Henry's daughter Matilda brought her son on many visits during its early construction. It was visited frequently by royalty and leading churchmen over its 400year history. But in 1558, it fell victim to Henry Vlll's dissolution of the monasteries. Stone was removed and used to build Nonsuch Palace in Nonsuch Park. This too has gone.
The priory has played an important role in history. The council of 1236 was held in the priory; this was the forerunner of our parliamentary legal system. It provided the first entry in the Statute Book. Merton has had a close connection with many reigning sovereigns. It was also the place where Thomas Becket and Walter de Merton (who founded Merton College, Oxford) were educated. A fuller history of the Priory is found in the Museum.