Here be Dragons: Merton – Deen City Farm and Morden Hall Park

By NikitaNemygin, February 24, 2017

Deen City Farm

City farms are a curious invention. They are, let’s be frank here, in the business of cuteness rather than actual farming.

Farms have all the “Moo” and “Baaah” here and “Neigh” and “Quack” there, but of course they keep it a cleaner than I keep my writing desk, although it does not say a lot.


Deen City farm successfully gives this low-fat taster of a pastoral Idyll. Toddler oriented, toddler-equippped – with all the changing rooms, a party shed, pony riding amusements, criss-crossing paths in a overgrown garden and hand-washing propaganda.


It is connected by Wandle path to the Morden Park and families are flocking from one to the other all weekend long. Comfortably busy, exciting, full of screaming happy kids, equally pleased, but much quiter parents, eagerly enjoying their five seconds of relief.
As for the animals, we cannot know. Perhaps we can give an overwhelming attention to some goats in order to teach kids to appreciate nature.

Children’s playground

Or maybe not: in a dark detour just on the field where cows graze, there is a full-scale plastic cow figure with all the meats painted on the respective part its body. There is no explanation board, no message to accompany it. Just like this: hey kid, like this peaceful-looking animal here which you can pet?
Well, don’t forget to enjoy your meal!

Cow parts

Morden Hall Park

Of all the treasures that Outer Boroughs hold, Morden Hall park appeared the first on my mental map in 2011. My ex girlfriend who was involved in making a presentational video about this place for the National Trust, which manages this park.

I never enjoyed coming into the park from the Morden station side, it gives itself out too much straight away as an unwrapped gift. Very anticlimactic. It is better to access it from the Deen City Farm side, through Wandle trail that crosses tram lines. Here you have to chase shadows for a little bit before you figure out what is going on.

Tram Lines

To cross a few bridges, to make a few turns and twists. Bogs and meadows impede your vision, but not imagination. Wandle that crosses the whole of the estate makes you meandre, take you time, sedates you. From here there are more more hints and features actual than things here. It is ghostly, suspended above the wetlands.

Suspended above the wetlands

We never actually came here when we were together, but she talked a lot about it. She would tell me her woes making the video, she would be annoyed about not being featured in the credits. I would be reasonably supportive, but uninvolved. It had become THAT park for a few weeks.

Moden Hall fence

Now, over the river, I join some aimless wanderers to stare across the fence at the wedding in the Morden Hall which is not opened to casual visitors. Two river branches come together to form a few separated strips of land and serve as a reason to have a light white bridge that contrasts with the greenery around. Children’s playgrounds , flowers, playing fields.
Elsewhere, there is a wheel, which, I can presume is THE wheel immortalised on the Borough’s logo – because it is so near to the Council buildings and so quite big. It is permanently suspended above the water, more of a ghostly reminder, than a thing.

Watermill wheel

The Park and the buildings look as it stopped short of a museum and decided to go in for the park instead. There is a mansion, but only available for events hire. A stable yard, which is a cafe and a shop. Would-be exhibits, old wheels and rusty tools have retrained to be undercover everyday objects, mistaken for decorations and features of the courtyard. I should have came here when I my ex girlfriend when she was involved with it, now I would be able to contemplate the changes and the years passed. But now it is too easy to untangle the memories.

Stables are now a place for cafe,

We broke up cordially – on the Thames, near the Globe about two years after Morden Hall video happened.

All I have – is a starting point for the my Outer Borough mindmap. Pavlovian conditioning of great boozy nights, good dates, first kisses, break ups, new meetings leads us into the web of London streets. We are cocooning: in this web city becomes human-sized, “ours” without owning a thing. We go credit-hunting, job-hunting, flat-hunting. The bullets we fire on those hunts never stay in the city fabric, but they stay in ours. We are shooting ourselves anyway.

Morden Hall park

This unlikely bead of the Wandle necklace got a name of “THAT park” in my mind because I fired a shot. For many years the reference stayed just a reference, a faint line on the sand, somewhere in the indiscernible out-lands.
But then I got to relive the discovery of London – in the form of Outer Boroughs.
I went on to theatre-hunt, museum-hunt. I fired more shots, one of them landed in the known land. I cannot escape my mindmap – I am shooting myself anyway.

Moden Hall Park