WIMBLEDON PARK (District Line) LONDON TUBE RAMBLES (SHORT) WALK
As you leave the Tube, glance up at the classical doorway - not the kind of architecture you expect to see on the Underground .From the station turn left and walk up Arthur Road which is quite steep for a few minutes, but then levels out. The very large, (but not old) houses are a reminder that this area was once the park of Wimbledon Park House, one of the homes of the Spencer family. Ten minutes’ walk will take you past some impressive large residences (e.g. No. 55, a ‘Tudor’ house of the1920’s with a wonderful tiled roof). Then comes a real oddity – an eighteenth century artesian well converted into a house. When the octagonal well was first built in 1763 by the Lord of the Manor, Earl Spencer, it was only about thirty feet deep. A horse was set to turn the mechanism that pumped the water up to the storage tank under the dome for use in Wimbledon Park House. In 1798 the decision was taken to deepen the well in order to improve the supply but it took over a year to strike more water – the rush of which then nearly drowned the workmen. The well silted up in the early nineteen century and was finally converted to a dwelling in 1975. Just opposite the church is No. 2 Arthur Road with an interesting tower addition, which echoes the shape of the artesian well.
Next go through a small iron gate in a long hedge to see St. Mary’s Parish Church which has an elegant shingle spire. This medieval flint-faced church, with harmonious later additions and alterations, is in a beautiful setting, especially when viewed over the glebe land to the west where a tithe barn once stood. There are many imposing tombs in the churchyard, including a (to modern eyes) bizarre eighteenth century pyramid.
The most interesting memorial is the Bazalgette family vault at the east end of the churchyard (photo above, right). This is the final resting place of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, (d1891) to whom we are indebted for the first modern London drainage system. From the north side of the churchyard you can see the rambling Old Rectory. Although much altered, this is the oldest secular building in Wimbledon, dating back to the beginning of the 1500's. In the eighteenth century half of it was demolished and the remaining fabric used as a farmhouse – quite a come-down for a building that had once been used as a residence by the courtiers of Henry Vlll, the king himself having rested there on his way back to London from Epsom shortly before his death in 1547. The many re-vamps have produced a romantic jumble of varying roof-lines and turrets.
After leaving the church continue down Arthur Road until the junction with St. Mary’s Road. Turn right past Stag Lodge. This was built by Augustus Beaumont who had bought the Manor House and Park in 1846 and began developing the area. Stag Lodge was erected in 1850 as the lodge to Wimbledon Park House. The statue on the top of the building was not put there until 1881. In WWll it was taken down for safe keeping but unfortunately the contractors broke it in the process. A new stag finally appeared in 1988.
Continue down St. Mary's Road. Soon you will come to Church Road. Go left to reach Wimbledon Village. (If you wish to visit the Lawn Tennis Association Museum, turn right up Church Road – a short walk away) At first the houses in Church Road are on a grand scale like those in Arthur Road, but further along properties are smaller. There's a pretty dovecote with traditional weather vane at No.71 (corner of Lancaster Road), and artisan dwellings (1864) in Belvedere Square with pointed roofs in Victorian gothic style. Just before the High Street is an attractive area of cottages and old shop-fronts. At this point you can either turn left to walk/catch a 93 bus (frequent) to Wimbledon Underground station or go right to explore the Common (see main entry for Wimbledon)
click on photos to enlarge
This is just one walk from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and quirky buildings even in the most unpromising areas covered by outer London Underground stations. Usually the discoveries are within a mile of the Tube - often only five minutes walk away. If you reached this as an individual page via a search engine, you might like to go to www.londontuberambles.co.uk and see the other destinations explored. You'll be amazed at what's out there!