The Monastic Road Names in the St Helier Estate
Most of the estate's roads are named after old religious houses in all parts of Britain. But why? Apparently, at the planning stage, the powers at the London County Council decided that, as Morden had been for some centuries the property of Westminster Abbey, a monastic theme for road-names would be appropriate.
It was in the 1950s that Bill Rudd, who has lived on the estate for most of his life, first conceived the romantic ambition to visit the complete list of sites represented. After a few somewhat haphazard forays he began seriously to plan his expeditions - which all had to be fitted into his holidays from his job as a postman. He took photographs and slides, progressing, over the years, from a Box Brownie to more sophisticated equipment, with wide-angle lenses. And he made notes.
He stayed at Youth Hostels, and mostly travelled by bicycle, typically averaging 60 miles a day (in latter years the train or bus has taken some of the strain). Some of the monasteries have remained remote; some have dwindled into ruins; some have become private houses; some are represented only by their surviving churches; some have seen these churches become cathedrals; and some have become money-spinning tourist attractions. Bill's list of 105 sites took him to Scotland, Wales, all over England - and even across the water to Quarr in the Isle of Wight. Having spent his youth in Easby Crescent, and moved to Glastonbury Road later, he made sure to visit both North Yorkshire and Somerset to see those two abbeys.
The orders represented by Morden's abbeys, priories, convents and so on are mainly Benedictine, Augustinian and Cistercian, but include Cluniac, Premonstratensian (as difficult to spell as to pronounce!), Trinitarian and more.
Bill met with friendliness everywhere on his travels, whether from the young lad who pointed him to the overgrown ruins of Sibton in a wood, Major Callener at Combermere or Gerard de Lisle at Garendon. He has also seen some stunning sights - the huge frater building at Easby; the great Jesse window at Selby; the awe-inspiring size of Benedictine Peterborough; and the wonderful views still enjoyed by some of the sites.
Bill is now assembling his vast collection of photographs, and editing his notes with a view to publication.