Merton Priory Chapter House
London Borough of Merton
From 1117 until the dissolution in 1538 Merton Priory was one of the country’s biggest and most influential monastic houses. Following the dissolution no visible signs of the Priory were left above ground and its exact location remained a mystery until the 1920s. In the 1970s archaeological excavations by SW London Archaeological Field Team (funded by DoE and administered by the Surrey Archaeological Society) revealed the foundations of the historically important Chapter House. The Museum of London Archaeology Service revealed further extensive foundations of the rest of the priory in the 1980’s.
The Chapter House of Merton Priory was the location for the first comprehensive statute since the Great Charter (Magna Carta); the Statute of Merton was signed in 1236 by King Henry III, the first written parliamentary law; a landmark in English law-making.
The remains of this Chapter House were subsequently preserved in a chamber under a new road; Merantun Way, Colliers Wood. The project seeks to celebrate and announce the history and existence of these fascinating remains to a wider audience whilst stabilising and preserving their current condition.
The design is informed by the historical layout of the Priory; new build elements follow the line of archaeology and attempt to reinterpret the spirit of the original Priory buildings. The use of prefabricated lightweight elements will minimise disruption of the historical remains and provide glimpses of the archaeology and exhibition within; intriguing and enticing visitors to explore the Chapter House chamber and discover the significance of the original Priory. Conservation architect Rena Pitsilli-Graham is part of our team.
New facilities and amenities will be provided to improve visitor comfort whilst increasing the potential for the Chapter House to be made available for events, functions and performances. The project attempts to re-establish the Priory remains as a priceless piece of community heritage; providing a unique insight into a noble past.
Renders and sketches by Haverstock