There are towns which although small hold a big reputation and whose traditions define some or even all of the local lifestyle. Sometimes such towns can have a boom and bust atmosphere, which means the town is at full tilt part of the year and deserted or even unkempt at other times. Wimbledon is certainly a town with a famous annual swarm. This small London suburb takes center stage in the world of tennis for a few weeks every summer and really comes to life. What is nice about the town as well is that it maintains a lively atmosphere year round. The town is handsomely manicured and delightfully antique. It possesses a charm year round for any tourist and is of course a Mecca for those looking for a tennis match. The area is mostly flat and quite lovely. Small townhouses and shops crowd the downtown while more spacious homes and mansions line the outer streets. Many parks and tree lined streets radiate outward from the center of town.
Reaching Wimbledon is quite easy. First off the closest major rail and airport epicenter is London. The town itself is within the greater London area and one take any number of buses from all over the city. Most directly take the Victoria station train to Clapham Junction. Outside the station there are numerous buses to Wimbledon and the journey is about twenty five minutes. Upon arriving to the central bus station you will find yourself surrounded by Victorian era shops with modern apartments on top. The shops present quite a variety of brands and options since a major tourist sector swoops on the lawns of this fair city every summer. The shopping attractions continue at the well designed Centre Court Shopping Center. The center of town is based around high street. This area is built over the medieval and ancient portions of the town. This area is also known as the village by locals. There is typical of most English towns a field like park at the center of town known as the common. This is a concept very similar to a park in the United States or a Plaza in Spain or Piazza in Italy. It is similar as a public place for leisure, to gather and to enjoy the outdoors. Just adjacent to this inviting greenery sits historic St. Mary’s Church. It is a grey faced stone structure very typical of 12th century English architecture. The structure has various stages of building visible within. It has a medieval component, Victorian architecture, Georgian architecture. Some of the more interesting treasures are the beams from the original roof which are adorned with a chevron and flower pattern. The church is listed in the famous Domesday book found in the national archives.
Another of the town’s quaint attractions is the New Wimbledon Theater. This is a classic Edwardian structure with a beautiful layout. Here the theater continues much as it has for years. Many shows which have gone on to higher fame such as Oliver! got their start here. Besides fine arts, the town offers a kind of nontraditional hotel style, especially in high season. The town hosts many luxurious manors and houses held by the aristocracy in times past. Nowadays many of the homes in Wimbledon are up for grabs every summer. While it can be an expensive place to live, even more so to rent! Many residents don’t wish to be around for the annual summer craze and so they rent out their homes to competitors and fans alike for all sorts of prices. So if you are looking for the experience of a world class tennis match, why not go all in for the British manor experience as well?
The great tennis matches are played just a short walk from the town center. Heading up a small hill one finds oneself on Worple road that quickly seems rural and at the same time is definitely going somewhere based on all the traffic and other visitors. The location is the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. This place was originally dedicated to Croquet but when lawn tennis rose to prominence the club decided to add it and it was quite a success. Even should one visit outside of the busiest time of year, there is much to see here. In fact it’s arguable that going on a tour out of season one can get more up close and personal with the grounds and facilities than when everything is in full swing. The shop and museum are open all day. Here one can view many displays of tennis history, see interactive videos on the sports and its mechanics as well as listen to the reflections of many of the greats to play the game. The shop sells all of the official apparel for the event. At the shop one can pay for the tour of facilities which is well worth it and very entertaining. There are 19 permanent courts to see and 16 grass courts. You get an up close view of the big action courts known as court 1 and center court where the champions are made. The tour includes a view of the media rooms, players lounge and many sites which would be private access during the tournament.
While Wimbledon is a town known for its tennis it is not just that which dominates its horizon. It is a fascinating small town with lots of beauty, character and charm all its own. It is a place that attracts the visitor, a place with open fields and fresh air bordering on lush Victorian estates and a quaint town center full of fascinating architecture and attractive shops. Don’t miss this worthwhile daytrip from London!