Wimbledon: where to eat, shop and visit
PUBLISHED: 17:07 18 May 2012 | UPDATED: 19:10 20 February 2013
Home to one of the world's best known tennis tournaments, Wimbledon is also the perfect place to escape to at the weekend, whether it's exploring the diverse range of interesting shops, taking a stroll on the famous common or visiting a museum
A brief history
WIDELY regarded as the home of British tennis, the first mens singles tournament was held at Wimbledon in 1877. The highly informative Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, on Church Road, features further details on its history and you can also see the winning outfits of last years champions, Roger Federer and Serena Williams.
The town itself, however, dates back much further than the tennis indeed, on Wimbledon Common, there is evidence of a prehistoric settlement, with flint arrowheads and tools having been discovered there.
More recently, Wimbledon developed from a quiet village into a vibrant town with the coming of the London and South Western Railway line in 1838 initially stretching just as far as Woking.
Today, Wimbledon is also well-known as the home of the Wombles, the fictional creatures who lived on the Common, created by childrens novelist Elizabeth Beresford. In the mid-1970s, the Wombles came to our television screens, promoting the environment with their motto Make Good Use Of Bad Rubbish.
Another childrens favourite who hails from Wimbledon is Raymond Briggs, the author and illustrator of much-loved book The Snowman, who was born there and attended Wimbledon College of Art and author Michelle Paver, writer of the Wolf Brother books, lives there today.
Looking to the future, Wimbledon will also host the tennis tournaments during the 2012 Olympics.
Shop till you drop
Name any high street shop, and chances are, youll find it in Wimbledon. The length of the Broadway and the Centre Court Shopping Centre has plenty to keep even the most ardent enthusiast entertained! For some outstanding independent stores, visit Wimbledon Village where you can find gems such as Senti (0208 947 5179), stockists of fragrances, candles and soaps; bespoke jeweller Michael Platt (0208 947 4772); and Wimbledon Books & Music (0208 879 3101), a fantastic independent bookstore.
Grab a bite
Combine a walk on the Common with a visit to the Windmill Caf and Tea Rooms (0208 788 2910). Nestled in the heart of the Common on Windmill Road, its open 363 days a year. If youre in Wimbledon Village, make a stop at Maison St Cassien (0208 944 1200) on the High Street a favourite haunt of tennis players during the summer championships, you can find a great selection of European style snacks there as well as breakfasts. For high quality, Mediterranean-inspired food and a friendly atmosphere, the Light House Restaurant (0208 944 6338), on Ridgway, is well worth a visit, too.
Close to South Wimbledon station, Merton Abbey Mills is a great place to take the family on the weekend. Famous as one of the areas finest alternative arts and crafts markets, with indoor and outdoor stalls selling an enormous range of hand-crafted goods, gifts, jewellery, fashion and more, there is also a farmers market as well as shops selling books, prints and local pottery.
Meanwhile, Abbeyfest, one of Londons best summer arts festivals, will be back for the 13th year running with everything from free jazz concerts to great comedy shows. Its on until the end of August so theres no excuse to miss out! You can even cheer on England in the World Cup as the games will be shown in high definition on an open air screen by the bandstand.
Out & About
Wimbledon Common is awash with beautiful woodland, grassland, ponds and streams. A favourite location for film-makers, its also a great place for walking, cycling and picnicking. If youre a keen rider, Wimbledon Village Stables (0208 946 8579) offers escorted hacks between Tuesdays and Fridays. And dont miss out on a visit to the Windmill Museum (0208 947 2825) on the east of the Common. Found inside a windmill built in 1817, and back in full working condition today following a period as residential accommodation, its also where Lord Baden Powell wrote the Scouts Handbook.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine March 2011
A weekend in...
Home to one of the worlds best known tennis tournaments, Wimbledon is also the perfect place to escape to at the weekend, whether its exploring the diverse range of interesting shops, taking a stroll on the famous common or visiting the fascinating Lawn Tennis Museum
Words by Matthew Willliams
Shop till you drop
A place of two halves the town and the village both easily hold a weekends worth of exploration.While the town offers pretty much what youd expect from a major London suburb, the village is a world of its own and offers more exclusive shopping, boasting a Diane von Furstenberg, a Question Air and many other clothes, shoes and luxury goods shops. Individual enterprises such as Wimbledon Fine Art, The Mint Source (a fantastic gift shop) and the family-run Wimbledon Books and Music store give the village its unique feel. Local stables mean its not unusual to spot horses strolling through the High Street, too!
Dining with the stars
During The Championships, the tennis stars can often be spotted dining at the likes of the Cannizaro Hotel, which has a lovely terrace overlooking Cannizaro Park, and San Lorenzo Fuoriporta on Wimbledon Hill Road (in fact, Boris Becker ate steak there on the eve of his first triumph, aged 17). Visitors are, however, spoilt for choice with good restaurants, especially in the village The Light House, Butcher and Grill (a modern style butcher shop and informal bar and grill!), The Fire Stables, Maison St Cassien, Thai Tho and the Bayee Village all come recommended by those who live there.
Enjoy the rich cultural life
As well as any number of exhibitions and concerts, Wimbledon is host to the Polka Theatre for children and the New Wimbledon Theatre (Hairspray arrives in March, and there is also the intimate studio theatre, too). If planning your visit for later in the year, its worth bearing in mind Wimbledon Symphony Orchestra, which performs four times a year, with the next performance on SaturdayApril 2 at St Matthews Church in Raynes Park; Wimbledon Art Studios, which throws open its doors for a special four-day open studio event in May; and the week-long Wimbledon Bookfest every October.
Swot up on your tennis history
Opened in 1977, the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum is host to one of the worlds greatest collections of tennis memorabilia. This unique venue provides tennis enthusiasts from around the world with the opportunity to view items of historical importance, with some exhibits dating back to 1555, as well as plenty of clothing from recent tournament winners, too. Take the tour and enjoy the views from the top of Aorangi Terrace (aka Henman Hill), see where all the action happens on Centre Court and visit the main press room where the post-match interviews take place. For more information about the museum, see their website at www.wimbledon.com/museum
Multi-task at the mills
Located in a historic riverside setting, Merton Abbey Mills is famous as one of the areas finest alternative arts and crafts markets. With indoor and outdoor stalls offering an enormous range of hand-crafted goods, gifts, jewellery, fashion and more, as well as a farmers market and shops selling books, prints and local pottery, there is all you could possibly need for a lazy Sunday. Events are held throughout the year, but it is best known for its summer festival, Abbeyfest, which attracts over 20,000 visitors every year.
Womble around the common
The jewel in Wimbledons crown is undoubtedly the common the 1,000 acres of unenclosed open land that was the home of the famed Wombles and has the windmill as its focal point. On a sunny weekend, thousands of walkers and cyclists pass through, many visiting the Windmill Tearooms or museum. On the west side of Wimbledon Common, you can discover the pleasures of Cannizaro Park, which was once the garden of Cannizaro house now a hotel.
Ifyou could only do one thing on a weekend in Wimbledon, whatwould it be? E-mail email@example.com
Need to know:
Where to eat: If its good enough for Boris Becker, its got to be worth a try; give San Lorenzo a go on Wimbledon Hill Road.
Where to drink: Nearby Wandsworth was until recently home to Youngs brewery its site was said to be the oldest operational brewery in the country and there are still a host of great pubs in the area: the Rose and Crown, the Crooked Billet and the Dog and Fox are just a few of those worth a visit.
Something to take home: A souvenir from the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
Somewhere to stay: The Cannizaro House Hotel at Westside, Wimbledon Village, is a beautiful hotel with lovely restaurant and drawing room for coffee or afternoon tea.
Top tip: Unfortunately, Wimbledons hidden historic gem, Southside House, in Woodhayes Road, suffered a fire in November but is set to reopen this year a not-to-be-missed house and garden that deserves to be supported.
Getting there: Wimbledon Station has both overground and underground (District Line) railway connections. Wimbledon Village is a short walk or taxi ride from the station. Alternatively, Wimbledon is easily accessible via the A3 parking is about standard for a major urban shopping centre.
Get in touch: with what you most love about Wimbledon and how youd spend your perfect weekend there at firstname.lastname@example.org
Next month: Godalming
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2010
Wimbledon: where to eat, shop and visit
World-famous for its annual tennis championships, which take place later this month, Wimbledon is also a treasure trove of independent shops and bustling cosmopolitan life. Here, LAURA GODOLPHIN brings us the low-down on the area