Wimbledon is a suburb of South-West London, which was originally a small village of its own before the railways connected it to the surrounding areas. In fact it is one of the longest-inhabited parts of London, with history dating back to the Iron Age – indeed the remains of a Hill Fort are still visible on the Common.
Although quiet and mainly residential, Wimbledon is by no means boring; there is a lot to do, with places and activities suitable for all ages.
Getting to Wimbledon from Central London is easy enough as the suburb’s tube station is at the end of a branch of the district line. There is also a mainline station and plenty of buses ply the various south west London routes passing through Wimbledon. London and Gatwick airports are both within about an hour’s drive.
Anyone for Tennis?
The thing Wimbledon is perhaps best known for is the annual tennis championships which take place at the All England Club. The Championships are usually known simply as Wimbledon, and, over a fortnight, the best tennis players in the world will compete on fine English grass courts for the chance to win the oldest tennis competition in the world. Although ticketing is extremely competitive – thousands of people apply for just a few hundred seats at popular matches – there are certain seats reserved for those who book last-minute. Even though not everyone can get into the grounds to watch the matches, you can still soak up the (usually) sunny weather and enjoy the strawberries and cream!
Game, Set, Match
To keep with the theme of tennis, which has been a part of Wimbledon for almost 150 years, the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum – located on Church Road – is a must-see for everyone interested in the game. You can even book yourself in on a tour of the All England Club, including the famous Centre Court where British players such as Andy Murray and Tim Henman have played in recent years. Those under 5 are free to enter the museum, and the rates for adults and children are very reasonable for families to afford. Therefore even if you can’t get a place to see a real match, you can still get some of the experience.
However much Wimbledon may be remembered as the home to British tennis, we cannot forget about Elisabeth Beresford and The Wombles. It is said that her children referred to the area as “Wombledon”, and, when on a walk through Wimbledon at Christmas, she came up with the idea for the book series. It’s not all about tennis in Wimbledon: it’s also about cute, furry ferret-like creatures who love human rubbish! (That’s not an excuse for leaving your litter lying around – there are by-laws and fines for littering throughout London).
A Walk on the Wild Side
If you are interested in picturesque walks, then Wimbledon Common is the place for you. There is over a thousand acres of woodland and grassland, frequented by locals who enjoy walking in the summer sunshine. There are also bicycle rental shops in the town, so if you prefer to cycle then you need not bring your own bike. Also of interest is the Wimbledon Windmill – at the northern end of the Common, it’s now a small but charming museum. As well as being enjoyed as a walking and gathering place by Wimbledon’s residents and visitors, the Common also hosts a Village Fair every June.
The busy high street of Wimbledon is often the place where most locals spend their time, neglecting the historical Wimbledon Village. The Village has retained much of its antique charm, with a relaxed atmosphere provided by the small cafes and traditional shops. Visiting the Village makes a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the busy centre.
Time for Play
Wimbledon Theatre is located on The Broadway and is a beautiful old Edwardian venue that provides a full calendar of events throughout the year.
A Well Kept Secret
Cannizaro Park is not well publicised but that doesn’t stop it being a little gem and well worth a visit. It is a Grade II listed garden spreading over 34 acres containing a labyrinth of paths that meander through beautiful sculptured landscapes. The well-cared for gardens are a fine place for a picnic and there are various open stage events during the year.
If you want to enjoy some local colour and shop like the locals, Plough Lane on a Sunday is the place to head.
A Taste of Wimbledon
When in Wimbledon you will never go hungry of thirsty. Like most parts of the UK, the service industry is booming in this part of London, so you won’t be surprised that there are plenty of cafes and restaurants which serve traditional British food. However although there is a definite British feel to Wimbledon, the area is very cosmopolitan, with Indian and Italian restaurants being very popular. Whether you want a gourmet steak or a simple burger and chips, there is something for everyone. Pubs, clubs and bars litter the area also, so you will find somewhere that works for you!