Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Boundary Markers and Milestones

There's something about a boundary that makes you want to straddle it. I suppose it's a throwback to the 'half of me here, half of me there...' feelings of childhood so I always get a little frisson when I see a marker by the roadside. Of course what you really want to know is exactly what is being delineated - a parish, a borough or even a county. Of course if you're really lucky you might find something dividing two things that no longer exist but few of us are granted that privilege...

Here are a few local markers I've spotted over the last few weeks and then, because they have their own charm and unique appeal and accompany the boundary markers so well, an assemblage of my milestone posters, with the odd new one or two -

These first few are all parish boundary's around Morden. I assume it was important to maintain these boundaries for a number of reasons, not just which church you should go to. For a start the church used to collect a local tax or tithe. It would have been important to know in which parish something like a water mill fell (as below, for example). Secondly there would have been the issue of Poor Relief that was issued to the destitute of the parish. You wouldn't want them lingering in your neck of the woods if you could help it, and thirdly births deaths and marriages were organized by parish. As it was therefore important to know where the limits were there used to be annual processions known as 'Beating the Bounds' where choirboys were taken to these markers and given a beating to make sure they could remember where they were!

Canterbury Road, Morden SM4
This one sits as perky as you like down a suburban street that was constructed in the 1930's. Strange to think that this parish marker had already been sat there for 50 years!
I'm not sure if H. Knight was the parish councillor or the manufacturer.
Morden Hall Park SM4
Butting up to the banks of the Wandle , just behind the Snuff Mill the Mitcham Parish is still legible but you have a hard time making out Morden Parish on the other side. Still just about there though...
Morden Hall Park SM4
Not more than 15 yards away from the riverside marker is this example under a fine and expansive tree. Mitcham were obviously very keen to keep the poor of Morden off of their Poor Relief!
Cambridge Road KT1
This is an interesting example of a civil marker which also happens to be outside of Kingsmeadow Stadium, home of mighty AFC Wimbledon and the not-quite so mighty Kingstonian FC. There's even a Wimbledon supporter in the background for added local colour...
The boundary is between Malden & Coombe on the left and Kingston Upon Thames to the right. As it seems to be built into someone's front drive you could easily miss it.
Beverley Bridge, Kingston Vale (A3)
Bridges are always good places to stick a boundary marker and you get two for your money on the Beverly Bridge by Richmond Park. The top section shows the boundary between the Borough of Wandsworth on on side and the Borough of Malden & Coombe on the other. It just also happens to be where the London County Council met the Surrey County Council
Brighton Road Sutton
I found a string of milestones that I presume once ran along the main road down to Portsmouth or Southampton (or even Brighton?). This one was to the south of Sutton. Looks nice and clear, although it's a pity the number isn't clearer. XII possibly? I believe that the symbol at the bottom of the stone - the arrow under a line - was the sign of the War Office so it might tie in with some military function. The date looks nice and clear here ...

...but around the side is this inscription and date. Was it freshened up and re-engraved in 1892?
Rose Hill Sutton SM1
Just the other side of Sutton sits what must be one of the most pampered milestones around. They've given it its own park, flower-beds and railings.No mention of the Cornhill here nor any War Office markings. Instead were measuring our way to theRoyal Exchange and Whitehall.

Moeden Hall Road SM4 following on the same route as the two above, a couple of miles down the road is this remnant. Badly weathred and with no discernable markings sadly...
London Road SM4
About a mile away and on a convergant route, this milestone leans drunkenly to one side. Still nice an legible though.
And finally, up near London Bridge
Off Tooley Street The 'S' is for south but I haven't really cracked the mystery of the 'O & I' yet. We will though...


Dub said...

There used-to-be one on Clapham Common (Nr Clapham Common Tube, IIRC) - Might have been a milestone, though

Anonymous said...

I'm fascinated by these - there's an old Surrey/Kent border post on a street in Brockley (forget the name, sadly) which is well-maintained, and another one on Plough Way in Rotherhithe.

There's also a few boundary markers dotted around Blackheath, either marking an old London County Council boundary (these also exist at the egde of Oxleas Woods, Shooters Hill) or the Greenwich/Lewisham borough boundary.

Jol Martyn-Clark said...

Like you, just amazed at how much of the past just refuses to go away. There is so much to do. My efforts are here. Very much enjoyed reading your posts - find lots of interesting stuff. The "War Office" carving is a bit of an enigma - one of mine has the same carving - doesn't make sense!
It all started with my family history! GREAT BLOG!

Pickle said...

The "War Office" carving is a simple cut bench mark, cut and used by the OS when mapping the UK. These two sites Ordnance Survey and Benchmarking give more info. Plenty of milestones have this marks, often with "rivets". Hope that helps.

Mike said...

In the parish boundary photo described as "Off Tooley Street" the 'S' is offset from centre and almost certainly is 'St' (Saint) and I think O and I refer to Olave (St Olave) and John (St John Horsleydown). The letter I was often used to represent J. Please can someone tell me exactly where this is (I can't find it) and I will confirm what the letters mean and a bit more about the history. I have methodically sought these markers out and have recorded 200 so far. I suspect about 1000 survive in London area. Mike

Roland Sparkes said...

In enjoyed your piece and especially the photos of the two Cornhill milestone obelisks in Sutton.


Roland Sparkes


Keshuggeneh said...

I love these! I'm gonna look for one marking the St Johns/Lewisham boundary later today. It's marked on Pokémon Go. I can't believe living round here over 20yrs and with an interest in history I didn't know it was there!