When war broke out 100 years ago, the owner of Morden Hall Park, Gilliat Edward Hatfeild, offered the Hall to the War Office for use as a military hospital. This year, to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, Attic Theatre Company brings the untold stories of the men and women who lived, worked and nursed at Morden Hall Park to life in Fields Unsown, a project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Families of Morden Hall Park: The Alderman Family

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Henry Alderman the Head Gardener at Morden Hall Park between 1909 and 1929. He was 60 years old when war broke out in 1914. He lived with his wife, Mary Sophia, and their sons, Harry, an electrician aged 23, and Alfred, a clerk in the Civil Service aged 26. Their daughter, Ethel, had married in Morden Hall Park in 1910. The Aldermans lived in the cottage with the cedar tree which faces Morden Hall Road.

The Aldermans' Entry into the 1911 Census

The Aldermans’ Entry into the 1911 Census

 

 

 

Ray Kane, Henry Alderman’s grand-daughter and Ethel’s daughter, recorded her memories of visits to her grandparents:

My earliest memories of Morden Hall date back to the latter years of the First World War. My parents were in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and stationed in the north of England, so I was sent to my grandfather, Harry Alderman, who was head gardener at Morden Hall. He had a house built for him which is identifiable by the large cedar tree in the garden and can be seen still from the main road. My mother, Ethel Alderman, was born there. At the time I remember, Morden Hall was given over for convalescent soldiers. They had the freedom of the garden and the orchards to walk in and relatives could visit them there. I was allowed the same freedom as long as I did not venture too near the Big House. For a small child the place was enormous and I enjoyed imaginary games – especially around the stables, the river and the little waterfall. The thing I most enjoyed was going into the shed to watch my grandfather engage in the mysteries of potting and repotting plants. The potting shed is still in use but as workshops now. The greenhouse, another magical place to me then, stood where the garden centre is now situated.

With thanks to Sheila Holden and Tony Kane, grand-children of Henry Alderman.

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