SOUTHALL: A Brief History

Mediaeval manors and their owners

Although the manor of Hayes was the property of the archbishops we have little evidence that they actually lived there. One of the few reliable records is of the occasion when William II ordered Anselm to stay there in 1095 so that the king’s messengers could more easily reach him from Windsor. Many bishops met Anselm at Hayes and tried to persuade him to agree with William’s demand that the Archbishop cease to recognise Urban II as Pope, but Anselm stood his ground and William was forced to give way.

The history of the manor lands in the centuries following this is sketchy and rather confusing. At some time soon after the conquest other manors were built on the estate and leased to laymen who thereby acted in most respects as lords of the manor but who remained finally responsible to successive archbishops. We are not concerned with the manors in Hayes but only with those two in the precinct: Southall and Norwood.

The first manor of Southall may have been in the Waxlow area – a ward of the modern borough is, in fact, called Waxlow Manor, but it is quite probable that there was only ever a manor farm there and not an actual manor.

The more likely site of the manor of Southall was Dormans Well. We know that there was a moated manor of some size built comparatively early which must have stood somewhere near the junction of Dormers Wells Lane with Telford Road. Near here was a well producing chalybeate water (containing iron, that is) which was considered beneficial to the health of the drinker.The mineral content in underground waters is so strong that crystals can actually be seen at times and have been reported as recently as 1946. Naturally, there would have been other water sources for ordinary use. There is a tongue of land now surrounded by a now dry ditch which is clearly marked on a large scale map of 1816 when the ditch was water filled. This feature lies to the south of the site of Dormers Wells Farm demolished in 1963, and is of just the right size and shape to contain a fortified mediaeval manor house, but whether this is the correct site or not is impossible to say.

We are in similar difficulties in trying to identify the particular Deorman or Deormund who gave his name to the well. In the second charter that William I gave to the City of London in, or perhaps before, 1070 there is mention of Deorman ‘the King’s man’, who was the owner of extensive property in Essex. He is known to have been a friend of Archbishop Anselm and may perhaps have leased some of Anselm’s land in Hayes. We cannot, however, be sure that this is the same man. The modern form Dormers Wells dates only from the first large scale Ordnance Survey map of 1863. The surveyors claimed that they had based it on local information, but all maps and other records before that date gave Dormans or Dormands Well.