The Borough of Merton is a more recent creation, born out of the historic parishes of Wimbledon, Merdon, Mitcham, and Merton by the London Government Act of 1963. For centuries, each parish had been part of Surrey, and like much of Greater London, industrialization brought a population and economic boom that saw the future borough swallowed up by the ever-expanding city. Today, the city is a mixture of ancient history and future renovation, of rural roots and urban sophistication. We’ve outlined ten of our favorite places to visit in the Borough of Merton, and you can let us know your own top spots in the comments.
Morden Hall Park
Managed by the National Trust, Morden Hall Park has the great benefit of being along the River Morden, adding to its beauty. It started off as a deer park attached to the estate of Morden Hall and the river still brings plenty of wildlife for visitors to see. The remains of the parks former life also include the snuff mills from which the park earned its income and is available to visit along with other former parts of the estate that are now learning centers.
And speaking of learning, the Wimbledon Windmill is another excellent opportunity to learn about the borough’s history. The windmill opened in 1816 but was only in operation until 1864 when the lord of the manor on which it sat decided he wanted to enclose the space for his own use. Now it acts as a museum that details its own history as well as that of other windmills in the area.
Deen City Farm
Bringing a bit of country to the city, Deen City Farm like many of its contemporaries in London offers an opportunity for visitors to learn about how farms work in the middle of a bustling metropolis. In addition for the chance to interact with goats, rabbits, horses, alpacas, and other farm critters, Deen City also offers riding lessons and will board smaller animals such as hamsters, rabbits, and guinea pigs. Of course, this is just the beginning of what the farm offers and you can learn more about them at their website.
New Wimbledon Theater
Despite the name, the New Wimbledon Theater isn’t really that new, having opened in 1910. It is a Grade II listed structure from the Edwardian period that is absolutely gorgeous on the inside thanks to its baroque and Adamesque designs. It sees a number of different events this year including plays, one-person shows, concerts, and workshops. You can check out the schedule to see what’s coming up
Museum of Wimbledon
One of the biggest names in London’s districts is Wimbledon for reasons that will be covered later, and the Museum of Wimbledon is the local history museum that details everything from the earliest settlements to the present. The museum’s collections include artifacts, books, portraits, and maps that all tell the story of how life developed and changed in Wimbledon over the centuries.
Now a ruin, Merton Priory was founded in 1114 as an Augustinian priory (similar to a monastery) by Gilbert Norman, who served as Sheriff of Surrey under King Henry I. As with many Church buildings across Britain, the priory was a victim of King Henry VIII’s “Dissolution of the Monasteries” in the 16th Century. As a result, it fell into ruin and today stands as a museum to its former greatness as well as an archaeological site.
The Wat Buddhapadipa is the first Thai Buddhist temple built in London is and not only a magnificently beautiful place of worship, but it is also a chance to learn about and engage in another culture. It serves as a home to Buddhist monks and nuns as well as being a place open to visitors who maintain a respectful approach to the temple and its beliefs.
Unquestionably the most gorgeous piece of nature in the Borough of Merton, Wimbledon Common is about 347 hectares of green space that represents the largest expanse of heathland in the city. A large amount of pure nature includes areas of Special Scientific Interest, Special Area of Conservation, and a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation. The Common has a number of features including the previously mentioned Wimbledon Windmill, memorials, cafes, and trails that make it worth your time to visit.
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
Anyone who thinks of Wimbledon unquestionably likens it to tennis and with good reason. While we’ll get to that in the next entry, the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum represents an excellent place to delve into the history of one of the world’s oldest sports. You can see artifacts that date back as far as 1555 and exhibits dedicated to some of the sport’s greatest players. Guided tours are available with a 3D projection of tennis legend John McEnroe and a 360-degree VR experience if you can’t go to our next entry.
Known most everywhere else as Wimbledon, in England the world’s biggest tennis competition is known as simply “The Championships”. In addition to being the biggest, The Championships is also the oldest tennis tournament in the world, going back to 1877. Played annually in mid-July at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, it is absolutely a must-visit, provided you can get tickets. Even if you can’t make it in, as noted above, tours of the grounds are still available for tennis lovers and sports fans who just want to know more about this great contest.