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  HISTORY OF THE ATKINSON MORLEY'S SITE
 

Historical landscapes

Prospect Place

Atkinson Morley Hospital

The Firs

Campaign Archive


 

 
Copse Hill was for centuries only “a very narrow lane”. Until the 1850’s, it ran between woods and meadows with hardly a house in sight… These woods, which account for the name Copse Hill, were certainly old.  The one north of the road was part of the Old Park, which had been used for hunting and shooting since the Middle Ages.  The other to the south was part of “the Wild Land”, a large area mentioned in a document of 1481 as “from ancient time arable, but for many years overgrown with bramble, thorn and furze”, a result of frequent outbreaks of plague in the previous 130 years and the lack of men to till the fields. Parts of the Old Park and the Wild Land were under cultivation by the early seventeenth century, but the full recovery of the land south of Copse Hill took nearly another 200 years*.         

                                                                                              

Map of the Atkinson Morley site with historical notes by Richard Milward.

The original Prospect Place was a Victorian home built in 1757 and  named for its beautiful south-facing views. For a hundred years, the house and gardens were expanded and developed by a succession of eminent owners. In the 1850's, however, the land was being sold off to developers, and some of it was acquired to build Mr. Atkinson Morley's Hospital, the large Victorian edifice that still stands on Copse Hill.

Remains of the original buildings have been incorporated into the new Prospect Place estate. Elsewhere, residential homes were built, including The Firs, which housed the author of Tom Brown's Schooldays. The original house was demolished in 1957 in order to build the nurses' flats which have kept the same name.

Historic map of the Cottenham Park estate, which extended to approximately 30 acres in its heyday, and hence most of what is now known as West Wimbledon. For further historical and other maps of the area, click here

 

 

 

Aerial view of West Wimbledon 1919, showing the Atkinson Morley site, Cottenham Park and Wimbledon Common.

 

 

Although under different ownership, it is expected that both the hospital buildings and the nurses' flats will be sold simultaneously this year for redevelopment, along with the surrounding land.  The open spaces have, however, been designated as Metropolitan Open Land and a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation.
 

*The above has been reproduced with the kind permission of local historian Richard Milward, from his book “Historic Wimbledon: Caesar’s Camp to Centre Court” (Publ: The Windrush Press and Fielders of Wimbledon 1989).