There are plenty of things to see in London's SW19 that have nothing to do with balls...
1. The Buddhist temple
Wat Buddhapadipa was the first Buddhist temple in the UK and is the only one built in the traditional Thai architectural style. Originally in Richmond, it was moved to Wimbledon’s Calonne Road in 1976. The grounds of the temple cover an area of approximately 4 acres and feature an ornamental lake, a small grove, flower-garden and orchard. Don’t miss the colourful Thai New Year celebrations every April.
Many types of bat can be found on Wimbledon Common – Daubenton’s bat, Pipistrelle, Brown Long-eared bat, Serotine and Noctule bat. There’s also a possible recording the Whiskered Bat. If you want to find out more, there are guided bat walks led by local volunteer experts.
3. Lord Nelson
For a short time in the early 1800s, Nelson shared Merton Place, close to what’s now South Wimbledon, with his lover Emma Hamilton and her husband, Sir William. This bizarre domestic arrangement was a huge scandal at the time. There’s now a Nelson Trail, starting at South Wimbledon tube station, which allows you to walk in his footsteps.
4. Dog racing
You can’t actually do this any more but it’s worth a mention. The last place with a London postcode where you could see greyhound racing closed earlier this year. Wimbledon Stadium also hosted speedway and stock car events. It was used as the scene for part of the music video for the Queen song Bicycle Race, in which 65 professional models, all naked, rode bikes. Now it’s all being levelled to make way for AFC Wimbledon football team’s new stadium.
5. The Pope
Well, you never know! Parkside, by the common, is the location of the Apostolic Nunciature – the home of the Pope’s representative in Britain. It’s the equivalent to an embassy for the Holy See but don’t expect it to issue visas. In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI stayed at the house for three nights during a visit to the UK, attracting crowds of wellwishers.
The Windmill on the common is a well-known landmark. Have a drink at the cafe, take a walk and if you’re lucky you might spot one of the pointy-nosed, furry creatures that live in burrows known as Wombles. Otherwise, look out for the black, white and red kit of the Windmilers, the local running club. If anyone knows the local area, they do.