Merton Abbey Mills has a long history taking in many unexpected twists and turns. The site is located on the route of the ancient Roman Road known as Stane Street. This 'street' was the primary thoroughfare between London and Chichester.

Merton Priory was established on the site in 1117 and stood for some 400 years until the reign of Henry VIII. Under the dissolution of 1538 the Priory was demolished with much of the building materials being used to construct Nonsuch Palace to the south. 

With industrialisation the site became established as a major centre for the textile printing and dying industry. The river provided a source of clean water and power in the form of a watermill which is still working today. William Morris moved to the site in 1881 and established production there. Following this, the site was used by Liberty & Co. to print textiles for most of the 20th Century.