Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …
Thames Ditton was first recorded in an Anglo-Saxon charter of 983, granting land to Ethered’s minister Ethelmer. By early Norman times, four homesteads or small-holdings had been built here, and a further twenty-two in immediately adjoining – and later amalgamated – manors, together with a mill, as indicated in the Domesday Book of 1086. It remained a comparatively small settlement throughout the remainder of the Medieval period, but began to increase in importance after Hampton Court Palace was built nearby in the early post-Medieval. It is now a pleasant suburban village, and although technically in Surrey, lying on the opposite side of the demarcating River Thames from the outermost Borough of London (Richmond), is within the Greater London Urban Area as defined by the Office for National Statistics.
Parts of the riverside Olde Swan Inn date back to the thirteenth century.
Church of St Nicholas
What is now the church of St Nicholas was probably originally built in timber in the Saxon period, and subsequently rebuilt in stone in the Norman period, sometime in the twelfth century, and extensively remodelled in the fourteenth, fifteenth and nineteenth (*).
Some surviving parts of the chancel and tower date back to the twelfth century, the north chapel to the fourteenth, and the north aisle to the fifteenth. The font, with its four faces depicting the lamb of God, a goat, a star and a cross, also dates back to the twelfth century, around 1120. The so-called “Doom Pictures” above the chancel arch – crude paintings that are believed to depict the Day of Judgement – date back to the sixteenth century, around 1570.
Among the memorials is a fine stone one, in the form of a sedilia, to Erasmus Forde (d. 1533), and a brass one also to Erasmus, his wife Julyan, and their eighteen children.
(*) In the twelfth century, during the reign of Henry I, it was given to Merton Priory, and in the sixteenth, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the reign of Henry VIII, it was taken back, thereafter serving as a parish church.