Wimbledon /ˈwɪmbəldən/ is a suburban district of southwest London, England, in the London Borough of Merton, south of Wandsworth, northeast of New Malden, northwest of Mitcham, west ofStreatham and north of Sutton.
It is home to the Wimbledon Tennis Championships and New Wimbledon Theatre, and contains Wimbledon Common, one of the largest areas of common land in London. The residential and retail area is split into two sections known as the "village" and the "town", with the High Street being the rebuilding of the original medieval village, and the "town" having first developed gradually after the building of the railway station in 1838.
Wimbledon has been inhabited since at least the Iron Age when the hill fort on Wimbledon Common is thought to have been constructed. In 1087 when the Domesday Book was compiled, Wimbledon was part of the manor of Mortlake. The ownership of the manor of Wimbledon changed between various wealthy families many times during its history, and the area also attracted other wealthy families who built large houses such as Eagle House, Wimbledon Manor House and Warren House. The village developed with a stable rural population coexisting alongside nobility and wealthy merchants from the city. In the 18th century the Dog and Fox public house became a stop on the stagecoach run from London to Portsmouth, then in 1838 theLondon and South Western Railway (L&SWR) opened a station to the south east of the village at the bottom of Wimbledon hill. The location of the station shifted the focus of the town's subsequent growth away from the original village centre.
Wimbledon town centre
New Wimbledon Theatre
The New Wimbledon Theatre is a Grade II listed Edwardian theatre built by J B Mullholland as the Wimbledon Theatre on the site of a large house with spacious grounds. The theatre was designed by Cecil Aubrey Masey and Roy Young (possibly following a 1908 design by Frank H Jones). The theatre opened its doors on 26 December 1910 with the pantomime Jack and Jill. It was very popular between the wars, with appearances by Gracie Fields, Sybil Thorndike, Ivor Novello, Markova and Noël Coward. Lionel Bart's Oliver! and Half A Sixpence starring Tommy Steelereceived their world première at the theatre in the 1960s before transferring to the West End.
The theatre was saved from redevelopment when it was bought by the Ambassador Theatre Group in 2004.With several refurbishments, most notably in 1991 and 1998, it retains its baroque and Adamesque internal features. The golden statue atop the dome is Laetitia, the Roman Goddess of Gaiety and was an original fixture back in 1910. Laetitia is holding a laurel crown as a symbol of celebration. The statue was removed during the Second World War as it was thought to be a direction finding device for German bombers, and replaced in 1991.
Polka Children's Theatre
Polka Theatre is a children’s theatre in Wimbledon, London Borough of Merton, for children aged 0 – 13. The theatre contains two performance spaces - a 300 seat main auditorium and a 70 seat studio dedicated to early years performances. As well as the theatre, Polka also has a creative learning studio, a garden, an outdoor playground, indoor play area, exhibition spaces and a cafe. Polka is a producing theatre which also tours shows nationally and internationally, and provides a range of education and community engagement programmes for children.
Polka Theatre is a registered charity and an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. It is also funded by the London Borough of Merton and a number of private charitable trusts and foundations, individuals and commercial companies.