- Wimbledon, London
infobox UK place
country = England
map_type = Greater London
postcode_district= SW19, SW20
Wimbledon is a
suburbof London, part of the London Borough of Mertonand located convert|7|mi|km|1 south west of Charing Cross.
For most of the past one hundred years, Wimbledon has been internationally known as the home of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships.
The name Wimbledon means "Wynnman's hill", with the final element of the name being the
Old English"dun" (hill). [Room, Adrian: “Dictionary of Place-Names in the British Isles”, Bloomsbury, 1988] The current spelling appears to have been settled on relatively recently in the early 19th century, the last in a long line of variations.
The village is referred to as "Wimbedounyng" in a charter signed by King Edgar the Peaceful in 967 and is shown on J Cary's 1786 map of the London area as "Wimbleton".
Wimbledon has been inhabited since at least the
Iron Agewhen the hill forton Wimbledon Common is thought to have been constructed. The original centre of Wimbledon was at the top of the hill close to the common - the area now known locally as "the village".
In 1087 when the
Domesday Bookwas compiled, Wimbledon was part of the manor of Mortlake. The ownership of the manor of Wimbledon changed hands many times during its history. The manor was held by the church until 1398 when Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterburyfell out of favour with Richard II and was exiled. The manor was confiscated and became crown property.
The manor remained crown property until the reign of Henry VIII when it was granted briefly to Thomas Cromwell,
Earl of Essexuntil Cromwell was executed in 1540 and the land was again confiscated. The manor was next held by Henry VIII's last wife and widow Catherine Parruntil her death in 1548 when it again reverted to the monarch.
In the 1550s, Henry's daughter, Mary I, granted the manor to Cardinal Reginald Pole who held it until his death in 1558 when it once again become royal property. Mary's sister, Elizabeth I held the property until 1574 when she gave the manor house (but not the manor) to
Christopher Hattonwho sold it in the same year to Sir Thomas Cecil, Earl of Exeter. The lands of the manor were given to the Cecil family in 1588 and a new manor house was constructed and gardens laid out in the formal Elizabethanstyle.
Wimbledon's convenient proximity to the capital was beginning to attract other wealthy families and in 1613 Robert Bell, Master of the
Worshipful Company of Girdlersand a director of the British East India Companybuilt Eagle House as a home at an easy distance from London. The Cecil family retained the manor for fifty years before it was bought by Charles I in 1638 for his Queen, Henrietta Maria.
Following the King's execution in 1649, the manor passed rapidly through various parliamentarian ownerships including
LeedsMP Adam Baynesand civil war generalJohn Lambert but, following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, was back in the ownership of Henrietta Maria (now Charles I's widow and mother of the new King, Charles II).
Dowager Queensold the manor in 1661 to George Digby, Earl of Bristolwho employed John Evelynto improve and update the landscape in accordance with the latest fashions including grottos and fountains. On his death in 1677 the manor was sold on again to the Lord High Treasurer, Thomas Osborne, Earl of Danby.
The Osborne family sold the manor to Sir Theodore Janssen in 1712. Janssen, a director of
The South Sea Company, began a new house to replace the Cecil-built manor house but, due to the spectacular collapse of the company, never finished it.
The next owner was
Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlboroughwho increased the land belonging to the manor and completed the construction of a house to replace Janssen's unfinished effort in 1735. On her death in 1744, the property passed to her grandson, John Spencer, and subsequently to the first Earl Spencer.
The village continued to grow and the introduction in the 18th century of
stagecoachservices from the Dog and Fox public house made the journey to London routine, although not without the risk of being held-up by highwaymen such as Jerry Abershaweon the PortsmouthRoad. The 1735 manor house burnt down in the 1780s and was replaced with Wimbledon Park House in 1801 by the second Earl. At this time the manor lands included Wimbledon Common(then called a heath) and the enclosed parkland around the manor house. The area of the park corresponded to the modern Wimbledon Parkarea, The house was situated to the east of St Mary's church. Wimbledon House, a separate residence close to the village at the south end of Parkside (near present day Peek Crescent), was home in the 1790s to the exiled French statesman Vicomte de Calonne, and later to the mother of writer Frederick Marryat. Their association with the area is recorded in the names of nearby Calonne and Marryat Roads.
To the south of the common, the early 18th century Warren House (called Cannizaro House from 1841) was home to a series of grand residents.
The first decades of the 19th century were relatively quiet for Wimbledon, with a stable rural population coexisting alongside nobility and wealthy merchants from the city, but renewed upheaval came in 1838 when the opening of the
London and South Western Railway(L&SWR) brought a station to the south east of the village at the bottom of Wimbledon hill. The location of the station shifted the focus of the town's subsequent growth away from the original village centre.
For a number of years
Wimbledon Parkwas leased to the Duke of Somerset, who briefly in the 1820s employed a young Joseph Paxtonas one of his gardeners, but, in the 1840s, the Spencer family sold the park as building land. A period of residential development began with the construction of large detached houses in the north of the park. In 1864, the Spencers attempted to get parliamentary permissionLondonGazette|date=25 November 1864|issue=22915|startpage=5834|endpage=5835] to enclose the common for the creation of a new park with a house and gardens and to sell part for building. Following an enquiry, permission was refused and a board of conservators was established in 1871LondonGazette|date=25 November 1870|issue=23682|startpage=5244|endpage=5245] LondonGazette|date=18 August 1871|issue=23768|startpage=3643] to take ownership of the common and preserve it in its natural condition.
Transport links expanded further with new railway lines to Croydon (Wimbledon and Croydon Railway, opened in 1855) and Tooting (Tooting, Merton and Wimbledon Railway, opened in 1868). The Metropolitan District Railway (now
London Underground's District Line) extended its service over new tracks from Putney in 1889.
In the second half of the century Wimbledon experienced a very rapid expansion of its population. From a small base of just under 2,700 residents recorded in the 1851
census, the population grew by a minimum of 60 per cent each decade up to 1901 increasing fifteenfold in fifty years. During this time large numbers of villas and terraced houses were built out along the roads from the centre towards neighbouring Putney, Merton Parkand Raynes Park.
The commercial and civic development of the town also accelerated during this period. Ely's
department storeopened in 1876 and shops began to stretch along the Broadway towards Merton. Wimbledon got its first police station in 1870, situated in Victoria Crescent. Cultural developments included a Literary Institute by the early 1860s and the opening of Wimbledon Library in 1887. The religious needs of the growing population were dealt with by a church building programme starting with the rebuilding of St Mary's Church in 1849 and the construction of Christ Church (1859) and Trinity Church (1862).
The change of character of Wimbledon from village to small town was recognised in 1894 when, under the
Local Government Act 1894, it formed the Wimbledon Urban District with an elected council.
Wimbledon's population continued to grow at the start of the 20th century, a condition recognised in 1905 when the urban district was incorporated as the
Municipal Borough of Wimbledon, with the power to select a Mayor.
By the end of the first decade of the new century Wimbledon had established the beginnings of the
Wimbledon School of Artat the Gladstone Road Technical Institute and acquired its first cinema and the theatre. Somewhat unusually, at its opening the theatre's facilities included a Turkish baths.
In 1931 the council built itself a new red brick and
Portland stoneTown Hall next to the station on the corner of Queen's Road and Wimbledon Bridge. The architects were Bradshaw Gass & Hope.
By the 1930s residential expansion had peaked in Wimbledon and the new focus for local growth had moved to neighbouring
Mordenwhich had remained rural until the arrival of the Underground at Morden station in 1926. Wimbledon stationwas rebuilt by Southern Railway with a simple Portland stone facade for the opening of a new railway branch line from Wimbledon to Sutton. The Wimbledon to Sutton line opened in 1930.
Damage to housing stock in Wimbledon and other parts of London during the Second World War led to the final major building phase when many of the earlier Victorian houses built with large grounds in Wimbledon Park were sub-divided into apartments or demolished and replaced with apartment blocks. Other parts of Wimbledon Park which had previously escaped being built upon saw local authority estates constructed by the borough council to house some of those who had lost their homes.
In 1965, the
London Government Act 1963abolished the Municipal Borough of Wimbledon, the Merton and Morden Urban Districtand the Municipal Borough of Mitchamand in their place created the London Borough of Merton. Initially, the new borough's administrative centre was at Wimbledon Town Hall but this moved to the fourteen storey Crown House in Morden in the early 1990s.
54 Parkside is home to the Papal Nuncio (
ambassador) to Great Britain.
During the 1970s and 1980s Wimbledon town centre struggled to compete commercially with the more developed centres at Kingston and Sutton. Part of the problem was the shortage of locations for large anchor stores to attract custom. After a number of years in which the council seemed unable to find a solution The Centre Court shopping centre was developed on land next to the station providing the much needed focus for retail expansion. The shopping centre incorporated the old town hall building. A new portico, in keeping with the old work, was designed by Sir George Grenfell-Baines who had worked on the original designs over fifty years earlier.
As it was in the 16th and 17th centuries, Wimbledon's attraction remains its combination of convenient access to central London with the benefit of plentiful recreational facilities. Strong demand for homes, especially the larger properties in the Wimbledon Village and Wimbledon Park areas, has seen prices increase to amongst the highest in the outer London area.
Wimbledon Village provides a good collection of bistros, restaurants and pubs and during the fortnight of the
tennischampionship the streets are crowded with visitors enjoying the facilities. The newly reopened New Wimbledon Theatreon the Broadway is also popular throughout London, bringing in a large number of West End productions.
There is a Buddhist temple where on
15 Augustof every year a chariot festival takes place, open to the general public.
Although now best known as the home of tennis, this was not the first sport to bring Wimbledon national fame.
Wimbledon has also been well known for another period of sporting fame. From a small, long-established non-League team, Wimbledon Football Club had, starting in 1977, climbed quickly through the ranks of the football league structure, reaching the highest national professional league in 1986 and winning the
FA Cupagainst Liverpool in 1988.
However, the close proximity of other more established teams such as Chelsea and Fulham and its small ground, meant that the club never developed its fan base to the size needed to maintain a top flight team. In 2000 the team was relegated from the top division of English football after 14 years - the start of a rapid decline.
Having already played their matches outside their home territory at neighbouring Crystal Palace's
Selhurst Parksince 1991 when their former Plough Laneground was left for financial reasons, an FA commission controversially allowed the owners of the club to relocate 70 miles north to the town of Milton Keynesin Buckinghamshire, despite vehement fan protests. This repesented a previously unheard-of acceptance by the FA of American style sports team franchising, and the decision was universally criticised.
As soon as
The Football Associationapproved this move in May 2002, former Wimbledon FC supporters founded their own replacement club, the semi-professional AFC Wimbledon, and the club's support overwhelmingly shifted to the new team, who in their second and third seasons of existence earned successive promotions to the First then Premier Divisions of the Isthmian League. The club also won the Combined Counties League Premier Challenge Cup in 2004 and the Surrey Senior Cup in 2005 to complete consecutive league and cup doubles, one of which finishing the season unbeaten in the league. Another great achievement by the Wimbledon Independent Supporters Association(WISA) saw the return of the Patrimony of Wimbledon F.C. in 2007 to care of Merton Council There is now a permanent display in Morden Library. In 2008, AFC Wimbledon earned another promotion, this time to Conference South, placing them two promotions away from The Football League.
In the 1860s, the newly formed National Rifle Association held its first competition on Wimbledon Common. The association and the annual competition grew rapidly and by the early 1870s, rifle ranges were established on the common. In 1878 the competitions were lasting two weeks and attracting nearly 2,500 competitors, housed in temporary camps set up across the common. By the 1880s, however, the power and range of
rifles had advanced to the extent that shooting in an increasingly populated area was no longer considered safe. The last meeting was held in 1889 before the NRA moved to Bisley in Surrey.
In the 1870s, at the bottom of the hill on land between the railway line and Worple Road, the All-England Croquet Club had begun to hold its annual championships. But the popularity of
croquetwas waning as the new sport of lawn tennisbegan to spread and after initially setting aside just one of its lawns for tennis, the club decided to hold its first Lawn Tennis Championship in July 1877. By 1922, the popularity of tennis had grown to the extent that the club's small ground could no longer cope with the numbers of spectators and the renamed All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Clubmoved to new grounds close to Wimbledon Park.
Wimbledon historian Richard Milward recounts how King George V opened the new courts. "He gave three blows on a gong, the tarpaulins were removed, the first match started - and the rain came down..." The club's old grounds continue to be used as the sports ground for
Wimbledon High School.
In 1792 the Rev.
Daniel Lysonspublished "The Environs of London: being an historical account of the towns, villages, and hamlets, within twelve miles of that capital" in which he wrote: "In the early part of the present century there were annual races upon this common, which had then a King's plate." However, he gives no further details and does not say how successful the horse racing was or how long it lasted.
Motorcycle Speedway at Wimbledon Stadium
For many years
Wimbledon Stadiumhas been host to Greyhound racing[http://www.lovethedogs.co.uk/wimbledon/home.php] as well as Stock car racing[http://www.spedeworth.net/events/default.asp?raceway=1] and Speedway.
Speedway began at
Wimbledon Stadiumin 1928 and the local team, the "Dons" [http://www.wimbledonspeedway.co.uk/] , was very successful over the decades. The team started out in 1929 as members of the Southern League and operated unti the Second World War. The track re-opened in 1946 and the Dons operated in the top flight for many years. In the 1950s the track was home to two World Champions in Ronnie Moore and Barry Briggs.
In the Dons' last season, 2005, the team finshed 2nd in The National Conference League. However, following the collapse of lease renewal talks between the speedway promoters and the Greyhound Racing Association (the owners of the stadium) due to the high increase in rent required by the GRA, the team were wound up. Greyhound racing and Stock car racing continue to take place.
In the world of literature, Wimbledon provides the principal setting for several comic novels by author Nigel Williams (including the best-selling "
The Wimbledon Poisoner" and " They Came from SW19") as well as for Elisabeth Beresford's series of children's stories about the Wombles.
Wimbledon was also the site where the sixth
Martianinvasion cylinder landed in H.G. Wells' book "The War of the Worlds" and is mentioned briefly in his books, " The Time Machine" and " When the Sleeper Wakes".
Bob Astles- English-born former associate of Ugandan presidents Milton Oboteand Idi Amin
*Lord Baden-Powell - founder of the Scout movement; wrote parts of
Scouting for Boyswhile staying at the windmill on Wimbledon Common
Michael Ballack- Chealsea FC footballer
Ben Barnes- actor in The Chronicles of Narnia:Prince Caspian
Joseph Bazalgette- civil engineer; his creation in the mid 19th century of the sewer network for central London eliminated the incidence of choleraepidemics
Alex Best- Ex-wife of footballer George Best
Adrian Borland- Musician, singer and songwriter
Raymond Briggs- cartoonist
Josephine Butler- feminist campaigner of the Victorian era. Blue Plaqueat 8 North View, Wimbledon Common
Charles Alexandre de Calonne- French statesman
George Edward Cates- World War I Victoria Crossrecipient [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=9788247 Findagrave.com] ]
*Duke & Duchess of Cannizaro
Ernst Boris Chain- joint winner of the 1945 Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of penicillin. Blue Plaque at 9 North View, Wimbledon Common [http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.001002006005/chooseLetter/B English Heritage - List of Blue Plaques, B] ]
Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, close friend of Queen Anne
Vernon Corea- The BBC's Ethnic Minorities Adviser and broadcaster, was a Lay Reader at Emmanuel Church in Wimbledon Village and lived in Sheep Walk Mews.
Steve Curtis- Eight-times World Offshore powerboat racingchampion
Sandy Denny- singer, born at the Nelson Hospital
Lawrence Doherty- Winner of thirteen Wimbledon tennis championships and two Olympic gold medals
Reginald Doherty- Winner of twelve Wimbledon tennis championships and three Olympic gold medals
*Hugh Dowding - commander of
RAF Fighter Commandduring the Battle of Britainin 1940. Blue Plaque at 3 St Mary's Road [http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.001002006005/chooseLetter/D English Heritage - List of Blue Plaques, D] ]
Viscount Melville- Home Secretaryand Secretary of State for Warto William Pitt the Younger, resident of Cannizaro House
Mark Edgley Smith- composer
Flora Gare- sculptor
John William Godward- painter
Charles Patrick Graves- journalist
Robert Graves- poet
Victoria Hamilton- actress
George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen- prime minister 1852-55; resident of Cannizaro House
Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia- guest at a house in Parkside while in exile from Ethiopiaowing to the Italian invasion; his statue stands in Cannizaro Park [http://www.cannizaropark.org.uk/nr_17.htm The Friends of Cannizaro Park - Statue of aile Selassie] ]
Mikel John Obi- Chelsea FCdefensive midfielder B. 1987
Georgette Heyer- novelist, was born and grew up in Wimbledon. She wrote her first five novels there. A later novel, 'Pastel', is set in a suburb very like Wimbledon.
Leslie Hore-Belisha, 1st Baron Hore-Belisha- while Minister of Transport, 1934-7, he introduced the driving test and the Belisha Beacon; then Secretary of State for War, 1937-40
John Horne Tooke- politician; imprisoned for a year for signing an advertisement seeking subscriptions for the relief of the relatives of the Americans "murdered by the king's troops at Lexington and Concord". Lived at Chester House on Wimbledon Common.
Thomas Hughes- author of Tom Brown's Schooldayswhich was written in Wimbledon
James Hunt- 1976 Formula 1 World Champion
Vinnie Jones- former footballer and film actor
*Don Lang - Britain's answer to
Bill Haley; with his band, a mainstay of Britain's first television rock and roll programme Six-Five Special
Glen Little- footballer
Frederick Marryat, author, lived at Wimbledon House
*Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer - English scientist and astronomer; joint discoverer of
John Lyde-Browndirector of the Bank of England; resident of Cannizaro House; [http://www.cannizaropark.org.uk/history.htm The Friends of Cannizaro Park - History] ] his collection of classical sculpture was acquired by Catherine IIof Russia in 1787 and is held by the Hermitage Museum
Thomas Ralph Merton- physicist
Lord Horatio Nelson- Admiral. Nelson's estate, Merton Place, included part of Wimbledon at the eastern end of the Broadway, [http://www.merton.gov.uk/leisure/history/nelson/nelsonhistory.htm London Borough of Merton, Nelson] ] though, strictly he was a resident of Merton the neighbouring parish.
Michelle Paver- Author of " Chronicles of Ancient Darkness"
Alan Pardew- football manager
Charles Pepys, 1st Earl of Cottenham- Lord Chancellor
Steve Punt- comedian
Oliver Reed- actor
Laura Robson- Junior Wimbledon Tennis champion
Margaret Rutherford- actress. Blue Plaque at 4 Berkeley Place [http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.001002006005/chooseLetter/R English Heritage - List of Blue Plaques, R] ]
Arthur Schopenhauer- Philosopher, Blue Plaque at Eagle House where he lived in 1803 [http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.001002006005/chooseLetter/S English Heritage - List of Blue Plaques, S] ]
Jay Sean- UK R&B Singer
Jack Stanley- Actor
Jamie T- singer/songwriter and musician
Joseph Toynbee- Surgeon. Blue Plaque at 49 Wimbledon Parkside
Arnold Toynbee- Economic Historian. Blue Plaque at 49 Wimbledon Parkside [http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.001002006005/chooseLetter/T English Heritage - List of Blue Plaques, T] ]
Steve-O- Jackass performer
Ralph Tubbs- architect; his buildings include the Dome of Discoveryand Charing Cross Hospital
Slick Rick- ( Richard Walters) A veteran hip-hop artist, born in Wimbledon and moved to The Bronx, also known as MC Ricky D and The Ruler.
Young MC- (Marvin Young) Hip-hop artist born in Wimbledon, best known for his song Bust-A-Move.
Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham- twice Prime Minister
William Wilberforce- 19th century anti-slavery campaigner
Kingston upon Thames
Major public open spaces
* Cannizaro Park
* Donhead Lodge (Boys School), Edge Hill, Wimbledon
* Wimbledon Chase Primary School, Merton Hall Road, Wimbledon
* King's College School, Southside, Wimbledon
* Rutlish School, Watery Lane, Merton Park
* Ursuline High School, Crescent Road, Wimbledon
* Wimbledon College, Edge Hill, Wimbledon
* Wimbledon High School (Girls School), Mansel Road, Wimbledon
The Norwegian School in London (Norwegian School), Arteberry Road, Wimbledon
Hall School Wimbledon(Mixed School), The Downs, Wimbledon
Ricards Lodge(Girls School), Lake Road, Wimbledon
Places of worship
Shree Ghanapathy Templehttp://www.ghanapathytemple.org.uk/index.htm
* Emmanuel Church
* [http://www.qrc.org.uk/ Queen's Road Church, Wimbledon]
* Sacred Heart Church
* St. Andrews Church, Herbert Road, Wimbledon
* St. Mary's Church
* Buddapadapa Buddhist temple
* [http://www.8thwimbledon.org/ 8th Wimbledon Scout Group]
* Ninth Wimbledon Scout Troop, Edge Hill, Wimbledon
Nearest railway stations
Wimbledon Chase railway station
Raynes Park railway station
Nearest Underground stations
*Milward, Richard (1989). "Historic Wimbledon, Caesar's Camp to Centre Court". The Windrush Press and Fielders of Wimbledon. ISBN 0-900075-16-3
*Brown, John W. (1991). "Lysons's History of Wimbledon". Local History Reprints. ISBN 1-85699-021-4
* [http://www.merton.gov.uk London Borough of Merton]
* [http://www.motco.com/map/81001 Motco.com]
** [http://www.motco.com/MapImages/81001/81001034-w.jpg15 Miles Round London (First edition), J Cary, 1786, Wimbleton]
* [http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/bound_map_page.jsp?first=true&u_id=10037347&c_id=10001043 Vision of Britain - Boundaries of the Parish of Wimbledon]
* [http://www.mappalondon.com Stanford's 1862 Library Map of London and its Suburbs]
** [http://www.mappalondon.com/london/south-west/putney-heath.htm Wimbledon Village & west side of Wimbledon Park]
** [http://www.mappalondon.com/london/south-west/summerstown.htm East side of Wimbledon Park]
** [http://www.mappalondon.com/london/south-west/wimbledon.htm West Wimbledon]
** [http://www.mappalondon.com/london/south-west/merton.htm Wimbledon station]
* [http://wwwb.forbidden.co.uk/~forlive/wimbledon/F/index.html Live video of Wimbledon town centre.] from corner of Wimbledon Hill Road and St. Georges Road looking east
* [http://www.eleflat.co.uk/Wimbledon-241_SW19-2007-council-tax.htm Council Tax charges 2007/08]
* [http://www.mordencorinthians.org.uk/ Morden Corinthians Cricket Club (Home games played throughout Wimbledon and Raynes Park)]
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