St Peter’s church is reached by going past an ornate flint lodge, through the gates into Merton Park. This is part of the estate of the de Grey family, who have held the manor of Merton since the early 14th Century when Sir Thomas de Grey of Cornard in Suffolk married the heiress Isabell Baynard. Isabell’s ancestor Ralph Baynard had been given Merton by William the Conqueror. In 1780 William de Grey was created 1st Baron Walsingham. The present Lord Walsingham still lives in Merton.
The houses of Merton village lie mostly half a mile to the north-west of the church. There were once houses nearer to the church, but as the Park was expanded the villagers, mostly estate workers in tied cottages, were moved further away.
Merton Hall, to the south of the church, was built in the early 17th Century, but sadly most of the original hall was destroyed by fire in 1956. From the churchyard one can see all that remains — a Victorian wing and the charming “Clock House”, or gatehouse, which was built in 1620.