Wimbledon is a leafy and peaceful village in southwest London that dramatically changes its tranquil character every June and July. This annual transformation has been happening since the 19th century when the Wimbledon tennis championships started.
The first signs that something really big is about to happen in Wimbledon becomes noticeable about one month before the tennis tournament begins in the last week of June. Driving down Church Road past the All England Lawn Tennis Club, you can see construction work on a huge staircase and walkway which will eventually enable tennis fans to safely cross this extremely busy and hazardous road, during the tennis fortnight.
A short distance away in Wimbledon Village, shops, restaurants and pubs begin sprucing up their facades. Hanging baskets with beautiful floral displays are suddenly suspended from every lamppost and equally impressive flower boxes adorn every possible windowsill. Wimbledon is ready for visitors.
Wimbledon Station, situated in the main commercial part of Wimbledon, sees the first visitors arriving several days or even a week before the tournament. Everywhere you look, you can see tourists wheeling suitcases, waiting for buses and taxis, en route to their many pre-arranged short-let flats, houses, hotels and guesthouses in and around Wimbledon. You can’t help feeling the charged atmosphere; everyone is full of anticipation, just waiting for the tournament to start.
Whatever the weather, there is always something for visitors to see and do in and around Wimbledon. The variety of attractions together with the superb selection of shops, bars, multi-complex cinema and theatres await tourists who get spoilt for leisure choices. Apart from the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, there is the Wimbledon Society Museum of Local History and the Windmill Museum, depicting the history of windmills.
Home to the Windmill, Wimbledon Common, forms a vast expanse of woodland and open grass area that is very popular with walkers and leisure seekers. On the common’s edge you can visit the beautifully landscaped, hilly Cannizaro Park, enjoy its beautiful pond with wild ducks and stroll along many paths among rhododendrons.
Want to go to another park? Visit Wimbledon Park, the 18th century Capability Brown creation, with a manmade lake and join nature lovers strolling in the park. The National Trust offers you Morden Park. It is again in the London Borough of Merton, just south of Wimbledon. The River Wandle meanders on its way to the River Thames through the park’s beautiful woodland, meadows and wetlands.
Visit Merton Abbey Mills – an exciting craft market complex with a historic, fully working Victorian water mill, just south of Wimbledon. Close to the craft market there are restaurants and a pub where you can sit and relax on the bank of River Wandle.
Merton Abbey Mills is an important archaeological site of Merton Priory, now referred to as Merton Abbey. Merton Priory was founded in 1117 as an Augustinian priory and was taken by Crown forces in 1538 during the dissolution of the monasteries. Subsequently, the Priory buildings were destroyed and today only the foundations remain. The site is accessible only on special occasions.
Visitors seeking shopping can go to Wimbledon High Street, a delightful olde worlde area full of small independent shops, selling everything from food to high fashion. The High Street also contains many pubs, restaurants and bars. Wimbledon Town, by Wimbledon Railway Station, offers a large shopping centre plus many good shops in the surrounding streets. Wimbledon doesn’t disappoint those seeking entertainment either. The New Wimbledon Theatre stages many top quality shows and operas. There are also two theatres for children: the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon Broadway and the Colour House Theatre in Merton Abbey Mills.
Wimbledon, one of the most attractive and safe of London’s suburbs, has lots to offer. Spend some time exploring it: Culture, sport, relaxation, shopping, great scenery and excellent accommodation. Great memories will always be with you once you leave Wimbledon – and they don’t have to be anything to do with tennis.