The Manor

In the Middle Ages Wimbledon was part of the extensive estates of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The name Wimbledon may derive from the Saxon Wunemannedun (Wynnmann’s Hill). It is not listed separately in the Domesday Book of 1086 as it was then part of the large Manor of Mortlake along with all the other farms and hamlets whose inhabitants owed services and rents to one landlord - the Archbishop. Such services included:

  • Tenants had to work for certain periods on the land which supplied the Archbishop's household
  • They had to pay a toll to grind their corn at his mill on the Wandle
  • Heirs had to give their best beast to the lord before they could inherit
  • Tenants had to supply provisions for men and horses when the Archbishop's officers visited

There was a manor house at Mortlake which housed the lord's bailiff but there was also a "hall" or "grange" with a stable and granary in Wimbledon. There was a Manor Court to enforce rules made up of the Archbishop's bailiff and certain tenants as the jury. For example, it fixed the boundaries of all plots in the fields, noted changes in tenancies, repaired the roads and dealt with minor offences. Crimes such as robbery and murder though were left to the King's Judges.

Between 1300 and 1536 Wimbledon became more important than Mortlake and so gave its name to the manor which also started to evolve in other ways. Some tenants increased their holdings to the extent that some became separate manors. Also tenant started paying rent rather than giving services and the Archbishops began to lease out land so a land market developed.