Wimbledon is famous for its beautiful houses, great town/country feel and boasts many cultural attractions, as well as great bars and restaurants.
It’s no wonder this stunning part London is so popular with those looking to buy properties in south west London. Wimbledon also has a fascinating history – here’s a look at the story behind this cosy corner of SW19…
A suburb of London, Wimbledon is located some seven miles south west of Charing Cross. The name ‘Wimbledon’ actually means “Wynnman’s Hill” and the village is referred to as “Wimbedounyng” in a charter signed by King Edgar the Peaceful as far back as 967! It’s shown on J Carys 1786 map as “Wimbleton”. Wimbledon has been known across the globe for being the home of the Wimbledon Tennis Championship for the last 100 years.
People have been living in Wimbledon since at least the Iron Age, when the hill fort on Wimbledon Common is believed to have been constructed. The centre was initially at the top of the hill near the common – now this area is known as “The Village”. The Domesday book shows that Wimbledon was part of the manor of Mortlake and that the ownership of the manor changed many times during its history and was held by the church until 1398. The manor was confiscated and bestowed to the crown when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel, fell out with King Richard II.
The 19th Century
The population at the start of the 19th century was rural and coexisted alongside rich merchants and gentry. In 1838 the London and South Western Railway opening meant a station was situated to the South East of the village at the bottom of the hill. The station moved the town’s growth away from The Village. Wimbledon Park was leased to the Duke of Somerset, but later the Spencer family sold the park off to be built on. Big detached houses were built in the north of the park. In 1871, a group of conservators took over the common to preserve it in its natural condition.
Wimbledon also experienced a massive population boom during the 19th century. This was partly due to the fact that transport links expanded further with new lines to Croydon and Tooting, as well as Putney. The population grew by 60 percent in each decade up to 1901 and other terraced houses and villas were built on roads from the centre to Putney, Raynes Park and Merton Park during this period.
The area also began to develop culturally and commercially in the 19th century. There was a new Literary Institute built, a library was opened and Ely’s department store popped up in 1876. Wimbledon got its first police station in 1870 and a church building programme began with the rebuilding of St Mary’s Church in 1849 and Christ Church (1859) and Trinity Church (1862). The growth in entertainment and shops meant that Wimbledon changed status from village to small town in 1894, when it formed the Wimbledon Urban District with an elected council.
The 20th Century
The population continued to grow at the beginning of the 20th century. Establishments such as the Wimbledon School of Art at the Gladstone Road Technical Institute were constructed and the area built its first cinema and the theatre – including a Turkish Baths! During the 1930s, focus was moved to Morden, which had received a boost after the underground was built in 1926. The station was built by Southern Railway and the Wimbledon to Sutton line opened in 1930.
Second World War
During the Second World War, there was some damage to housing stock. This led to the final major building phase and many Victorian houses were sub-divided into apartments. New local authority estates were also built to house some of those who lost their homes.
The Centre Court
Many people know Wimbledon for tennis as well as The Centre Court shopping centre, which was developed on land next to the station. The idea was to make Wimbledon compete commercially with the more developed centres in Kingston and Sutton.
Wimbledon remains attractive to so many people due to its amazing location and the fact that it is quite rural in a town setting. Prices have increased due to strong demand for homes – particularly in Wimbledon Village – which has a vast collection of bistros, pubs, restaurants and, of course, there’s two weeks of grand slam tennis in June!