What to do and see in Wimbledon

Wimbledon is located in the South West suburbs of London. It is about 6 miles (10 kilometres) away from central London. Wimbledon comprises of two distinct parts; Wimbledon Village is very chic and fashionable and is on top of Wimbledon Hill on the edge of Wimbledon Common, one of London's large areas of attractive open space.

Wimbledon Windmill

Wimbledon Town Centre is at the bottom of Wimbledon Hill and is a major shopping and transport centre though not as attractive as nearby Kingston or Richmond that benefit from being on the River Thames. Both locations support many restaurants, bars, pubs and night clubs. Wimbledon is a pleasant area of London to visit, live and work in.

Wimbledon Theatre

Wimbledon is lucky to a have a beautiful Edwardian theatre that puts on West End plays, musicals, operas and ballet before and after they have their run up in Central London. The tickets are cheaper than if you went to see the same show up in the West End. Most of the shows are only on for a week before they tour around the rest of the country. In November and December Christmas Pantomime shows are put on for the children. You will find Wimbledon Theatre on The Broadway at the junction with Russell Road.

Wimbledon Theatre

Wimbledon Polka Theatre

If you are a tourist, with young children or teenagers, visiting London or you are in Wimbledon for the Tennis check out the show list at the Polka Theatre. At the far end of The Broadway in Wimbledon you will find the Polka Children's Theatre. It puts on shows aimed at children from Toddlers to Teenagers. The shows are enchanting. Make sure you book in advance, as tickets are popular. Coaches can often be seen outside the Polka Theatre delivering large groups of excited children on organised days out from all over southern England.

Wimbledon Multi screen Imax Odeon Cinema

Broadway not far from the railway station near Morrison's supermarket. It has a number of IMAX screens which you pay extra for but for films with lots of special effects it is worth it

Eagle House Wimbledon

Indian History - The British East India Company & Eagle House, Wimbledon Village.

One of the finest examples of a Jacobean Manor house to survive in London can be found in Wimbledon Village and is called Eagle House. You will find it near the junction of Marryat Road and the High Street Wimbledon Village next to the Rose and Crown Pub. It is set slightly back from the road and has a gated entrance. The Dutch style double gabled roof sets it apart from other buildings in the 'Village'. Eagle House is a very pretty building. It was built about 1613 for Mr Robert Bell Esq, co-founder and a director of the British East India Company. They traded mainly in cotton, silk, indigo dye, saltpetre, tea, and opium. However British East India Company also came to rule large areas of India, exercising military power and taking over government administrative functions. This man had a big influence on the companies activities which eventually lead to Britain running the whole of Indian until just after World War II.

Eagle House was purchased by the Rev Thomas Lancaster in 1789 who used it to house the Wimbledon School for Young Gentlemen and Noblemen. Lord Nelson and Lady Emma Hamilton visited the school in 1805, after which it was renamed the Nelson Academy. Many of the original features including fine ceilings and 17th century Delft tilework have been retained

Since 1989, it has been home to the Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation who have completed extensive renovations. The Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation aims to document and preserve the Islamic written heritage. It pursues this aim principally through its work in surveying, cataloguing, editing and publishing Islamic manuscripts covering jurisprudence, logic and philosophy, as well as mathematics, botany, biology, poetry and literature, and art and crafts. The Library does not collect manuscripts but it holds microfilms and CD-ROMs for some thousands of manuscripts in the Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Bosnian and Indonesian languages. It is now being turned into expensive appartments.

Shopping in Wimbledon

Next to Wimbledon Railway Station is a shopping mall called 'Centre Court'. It has a large, three level, Debenhams Department store, M&S food hall, Boots, Superdrug, and lots of well-known clothing stores. On the top floor there is a food hall which includes McDonalds. The main shopping street spreads out either side of the railway station and down the length of the main high street called 'The Broadway'. One shop that deserves special mention and support is Copperfields, Second-hand Book shop, 37 Hartfield Road. It is a great place to pick up a bargain and that 1st edition you were looking for.

Many of the huge houses around Wimbledon Village are owned by the super rich. A number of the houses cost over 4 million pounds. The type of shops found in Village reflect the sort of moneyed clients that frequent them. They are mainly boutique style with only a few of the major chains, which is rather refreshing. Many of the designer clothing shops do not have prices on display. The old adage 'if you have to ask then do not enter' applies.

Wimbledon Broadway at the bottom of the hill is very different. Here you will find most of the same franchised stores that can be found in most UK shopping centres. If you are looking at Wimbledon Railway station side entrance opposite the Prince of Wales Public House you will see two statues of over weight lady shoppers known locally as the two fat ladies. Behind it is the entrance to a large pleasant shopping centre Mall called 'Centre Court'. Inside you will find many well known branded shops and at the back there is a big department store, a branch of Debenhams. On the third floor is a MacDonalds and other eating establishments. At the bottom of the hill is another large department store. This one is called Elys. It is opposite the Argos store and Starbucks. At the crossroads of Wimbledon Hill Road with Alexandra Road.

Eating in Wimbledon & Wimbledon Village

The range of eating and drinking establishments is immense. The Village has some very posh nuevo cuisine restaurants like the Lighthouse and of course there is the restaurant attached to Cannizaro Hotel on Wimbledon Common. There are also some mid range priced restaurants as well. I know it is a chain but I like Cafe Rouge. Try the Beouf Borginoing. The beef just melts in your mouth and the sauce is outrageous.

If you are on a budget go down the hill to The Broadway in Wimbledon. There are restaurants and fast food shops to suit every bodies tastes. You can eat food from around the world: Chinese, Indian, Thai, Portuguese, Mongolian, Spanish, Italian, French, Turkish, Cornish, South African and English.

Both the 'Village' and Wimbledon Broadway down at the bottom of the hill are full of drinking establishments ranging from wine bars, themed pubs, night clubs to traditional public houses selling proper English bitter. My favourite old pubs are the Crooked Billet and Hand in Hand pub on the small green just off Woodhayes Road. The other is the Fox and Grapes Pub in Camp Road. All three are away from the main shops of the 'Village', just a short walk over the common.

Wimbledon Common & the Windmill

The common is a glorious place to explore at any time of the year. You can get lost as it is so large. When you are walking through the woods and moor land you could be excused in believing you were in the New Forest. You certainly do not get the feeling you are near the centre of London. The only thing that reminds you of how close you are is the constant stream of large aircraft coming into land at Heathrow Airport flying over the northern section of the common.

There are always people using the Common; dog walkers, golfers, horse riders, joggers and mothers get fit groups. The symbol of the common is the beautifully preserved Wimbledon Common Windmill. Lord Baden Powell founder of the Boy Scout movement spent time here writing his famous book 'Scouting for Boys'. The Windmill is open for a limited time at the weekend, There is a great Tea Room next to the Windmill and Car Park.

Cannizaro Hotel and park

There is a hidden landscaped secret garden full of flowers and spectacular specimen trees on the other side of the Wimbledon Common from Wimbledon Village. It is called Cannizaro Park. It is a vast and beautiful landscaped garden on the edge of Wimbledon Common and adjacent to the Cannizaro Hotel. I highly recommend it for a relaxing walk. When you enter the park there are flower beds either side of you as walk towards a strange looking green fountain that looks like a green teapot with too many spouts. The path then takes you to the main lawn at the back of the Cannizaro Hotel.

In front of you will be a white bird aviary which the children will like. Turn right away form the main lawn and follow the path through the woodland area down to the duck pond. Take some bread with you to feed the ducks. Behind you is the old walled kitchen garden. It is now used to put on open air theatre shows in the summer. Walk through the kitchen garden to the other gates that lead to the azalea and rhododendron garden by a little stream. At the far right of this section of the garden is a path that takes you up hill. Follow it around to the left and it will lead you to a Greek folly with columns set on a balcony. Now walk back on the higher path and head towards the main lawn and Cannizaro Hotel.

Before you sit down on the hotels terrace to have a cup of tea or coffee and admire the view check out the two small formal gardens to the side of the hotel. In the summer special events and theatrical productions are organised for part of the Cannizaro Park Festival. The mansion took its name from the Sicilian Duke of Cannizaro and his Scottish wife who lived here from 1817 until 1841. When the Duke of Cannizaro first took the house, it was already over a hundred years old, having been built in the reign of Queen Anne. Cannizaro Park had a distinguished visit by the exiled Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. He was a refugee after the Italians invaded his country in 19355. He stayed with a local Seligman family. In honour of his visit a statue can be found in the park. The Emperor is best known for his revered position at the heart of the Rastafari faith

Black History - Wimbledon & the Abolition of Slavery

There is a house in Wimbledon that played a very important part in the global history of black Slavery. William Wilberforce was the main driving force in passing legislation in the British Parliament that lead to the abolition of Slavery. It was a hard battle and took over 30 years. He lived near Wimbledon Common for a while during his teenage years. He was born in Hull on August 24th, 1759 and was brought up with all the advantages that wealth and position.

His father was a wealthy merchant but when William was just nine years old his father died. He was sent to London, into the care of his uncle who lived in Wimbledon. Here, he became influenced by his Aunt Hannah's interest in John Wesley and the early Methodist movement. She passionately believed in the abolition of slavery, as did most Methodists. Aunt Hannah introduced him to John Newton, the former slave trader and composer of such hymns as Amazing Grace who was to influence him later.

The house he spent his informative years in can be found along the southern boundary road of Wimbledon Common called Southside Common. The house is on the corner of Southside and Lauriston Road. The outside wall has a blue plaque on the outside commemorating that William Wilberforce lived there.

The Princess Diana connection to Wimbledon

Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles. She came from the Spencer Family. 300 years ago the family were the largest landowners in Wimbledon. Their private country estate covered all the land to the east of Wimbledon Common including the area that is now known as Wimbledon Park and the All England Tennis Championship grounds. As their wealth increased they out grew their Wimbledon Estate. It was sold and the family moved to the grander Chatsworth Estate in Derbyshire. The land was sold to building developers.

The Lord Nelson Connection

The elderly ex-British Ambassador to Naples Sir William Hamilton, lived in South Wimbledon with his young wife Lady Emma Hamilton and her lover Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson. It was a very open menage a trios that fascinated the public. They lived in a Georgian style building set within its own landscaped garden called Merton Place. Nelson purchased the house in 1801. In his love letters Nelson says that he was never more content as the time he spent with his Emma at Merton House. It was their love nest. Sir William died in 1803 and Nelson returned to sea soon after

After Nelson's death in 1805 at the battle of Trafalgar, Emma quickly spent the small pension Sir William had left her. She fell deeply into debt. Nelson's estate passed to the next male heir which was his brother. He he gave Emma Nelsons house in South Wimbledon . She depleted her finances trying to keep the house as a monument to her love. Even though Nelson was a national hero, the government ignored instructions he left to provide for Emma and and his daughter Horatia. They showered honours on Nelson's brother and wife instead of his mistress. William, was made an earl, and parliament voted him £99,000 with an annual pension of £5,000 a year. Frances, still formally Nelson's wife, was granted £2,000 a year. This was in the days when an income of £100 a year was deemed to be very good. Emma and Horatia got nothing. She was so in debt that Emma spent nearly a year in a virtual debtor's prison, in the company of Horatia, before running away to France to try to escape her creditors.

She became an alcoholic and died in poverty in Calais in January 1815. A number of local pubs are named after the pair. The Nelson trading estate off Morden Road and Hamilton Road, Hardy Road, Nelson Road, Victory Road and Trafalgar Roads off Merton High Street are all built on land once part of the Merton Place estate.

Lord Nelson's and Lady Emma's pew remains in the parish church of St Mary, the Virgin, Church Lane, SW19 and on the wall of the north aisle of the church are the funeral hatchments of both Nelson and Sir William Hamilton. Outside the church, on Church Path, are 'Nelson's Steps' (now some what overgrown) which Nelson used to climb onto his horse

Merton Abbey Mills, Merantum Way, SW19

At the weekend there is a craft market held at the old William Morris workshops, in lovely riverside setting on banks of River Wandle. The watermill is still working. It provided the power for the workshops. There are shops, restaurants, and a riverside pub. It was built on the site of Merton Abbey, which was a very important monastic medieval building that held the investiture of Kings and parliaments. King Henry VIII had it knocked down in 1538 as part of the dissolution of the monasteries. Nothing is left above ground anymore. The site of the huge church is now the petrol station and car park of the Sainsbury and M&S Savacentre shopping centre

Merton Abbey Priory became nationally important as it was used for royal councils and conferences. In 1236 King Henry III met his Barons at the priory to agree the Statutes of Merton, which became an important foundation piece of legislation for the modern English Common Law. King Henry III also brought his Queen Eleanor to be crowned at the priory in the same year. Henry VI, was the only king of England to be crowned outside of Westminster Abbey in the last 1,000 years . In 1437 his coronation ceremony was held at Merton Priory. Thomas Becket and Nicholas Brakespeare, who was the only ever English Pope. Adrian IV (Brakespeare) were educated at the Merton Abbey Priory. As Pope he granted lordship of Ireland in 1155 to the English King Henry II. Walter de Merton, the founder of Merton College in Oxford University, Lord Chancellor of England and Bishop of Rochester was also educated at Merton Abbey.

William Morris opened a factory at Merton Abbey in 1881. He producing high quality printed and woven fabrics, furnishings, stained glass, carpets and tapestry. William Morris is credited as the founder of the Arts and Craft Movement, which rejected the Industrial Revolution mass-produced goods and promoted craftsmanship. His company continued trading until 1940. Arthur Liberty, an eminent Victorian entrepreneur and founder of the famous Liberty's shops had his production base in Abbey Mills. The Liberty works produced thousands of yards of hand printed silks that made Liberty a household name.

Deen City Farm, Windsor Ave, Merton Abbey, London.

If you are spending time in Wimbledon with small children then take them to Deen City Farm where they can get up close to a variety of farm animals. There is also a stable where they can take horse riding lessons. If you take the tube or bus to Colliers wood walk towards the Sainsbury and M&S Savacentre shopping centre. It will take you about 10 -15 minutes to walk there from Colliers Wood Tube Station. Cross over the bridge that spans the fast moving waters of the river Wandle.

There is a footpath that goes along the river. Cross Merantun Way and carry on along the riverside path for about 300 yards. You will be walking past the Merton Abbey Mill shopping complex. At the next road called Windsor Ave you will see in front of you the TV studios where they film the police show called 'The Bill'. To the left of the TV studios the foot path carries on along the river. At the back of the studios is the entrance to Deen City Farm.

Buddhapadipa Buddhist Temple

This beautiful Thai Buddhist temple is in Calone Road off Wimbledon Common Parkside. To visit the Temple take the 93 bus towards Putney if you are in Wimbledon and get off at bus stop along the side of Wimbledon Common as you come out of Wimbledon Village. Calone Road is near the Parkside Oncology Clinic. Alternately take the District Underground tube to Putney Bridge Station and then catch the 93 bus towards Cheam and get off at the Wimbledon Common bus stop just after Parkside hospital.

Buddhism. The Temple is a complex of buildings set in four acres of parkland and is one of only two outside Asia. Make sure you examine the excellent mural paintings by Thai artists on the interior walls. They depict aspects of the Buddha's life.

As soon as you pass through the ornate Thai gates you feel like you've been transported off to Asia. You will see monks wandering the delightful grounds including an ornamental lake, a small grove, a lovely flower garden and an orchard. It is so tranquil that you cannot believe you are in the middle of London. Then right in the middle is the temple which is so detailed and ornate. The window and door frames are made of gold leaf gilded carved teak timbers and are also inlaid with coloured glass. It's not disabled friendly as there's lots of steps but there are toilets on site with disabled access. It's FREE to go in.

Wimbledon Greyhound and Stock Car Racing Stadium

If you want to try something different during your stay in Wimbledon you could go to a greyhound race meeting or a stock car, Hot Rods, Lightening Rods, Superstox and Bangers racing meeting at the same stadium. Look on their website for details of events via Google. You will find it in Plough Lane at the junction with a road called Summerstown in Wimbledon. Try to buy the more expensive tickets as the environment is more attractive and has more facilities like a bar and restaurant.

Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum

If your are in Wimbledon but out of the All England Lawn Tennis Championship two weeks you can still look around the complex including the famous Centre Court and No.1 Court. You must visit the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum. It houses an impressive display of tennis material relating to the long history of the sport, collections of tennis outfits, rackets, balls and other tennis memorabilia. Wimbledon championship trophies are also on display. There is also a coffee shop within the museum. Take the 493 bus from Wimbledon Railway Station as it stops outside the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum.

Southside House

This pre Georgian, William and Mary style country house is open to the public. It is at 3-4 Woodhayes Road, Wimbledon Common London SW19. It can only be viewed on a guided tour at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays, from Easter to September. An admission fee is charged. It has been maintained in traditional style with much of the original furniture still in place. You fell like you have entered a time warp and gone back 250 years.

Wimbledon tennis books