The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2012
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.merton.gov.uk/environment/openspaces/parks/parks_in_the_wimbledon_area
Site on English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, for Register Entry see http://list.english-heritage.org.uk
The majority of the park is in LB Merton, the authority with responsibility for the park, with the northernmost quarter in Wandsworth. Wimbledon House was built in the C16th, and extensively enlarged for Sir Thomas Cecil in c.1588, at which time it was known as Wimbledon Palace. In 1639 Charles I bought it for Queen Henrietta Maria, for whom it was remodelled by Inigo Jones and Nicholas Stone. It had formal gardens designed by Andre Mollet, and John Evelyn is known to have given advice. In 1717 it was purchased by Sir Theodore Janssen who demolished the house, but the estate was sold in c.1723 before his new house was finished, and it was demolished by the new owner Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough who built a new house in 1733. The Royal Gardener Charles Bridgeman was consulted on the gardens in 1731-2. After the Duchess's death in 1744, the estate was inherited by her grandson, John Spencer, who died only 2 years later, leaving the estate to his 12 year old son, also John Spencer.
John Spencer came of age in 1755, by then the owner of extensive lands in Surrey, and was created a Viscount and then in 1765 became Earl Spencer. From 1761 Spencer had begun to improve his estate and in 1765 commissioned Lancelot 'Capability' Brown to design a landscape for the park to the north of the house. He also commissioned architect Henry Holland to rebuild Wimbledon House, which was undertaken between 1799-1802. By the early C19th the estate comprised some 480 hectares surrounding the 12-hectare lake created by Brown in c.1760. This had been formed by building a dam to hold water from two streams that emanated from Wimbledon Common (q.v.).
From the 1870s much of the estate was sold for housing and the mansion was demolished in 1949, by then separated from what was left of the park. The east side of the estate was cut off by the construction of the South Western Railway's Wimbledon to Wandsworth line in the late C19th. In 1914 the northern part of the park, including the lake, was purchased by the Borough of Wimbledon for public open space. A private golf course was laid out over part of the remaining parkland and in 1922 the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (q.v.) was established on its new grounds to the west. Wimbledon Park today comprises the private golf course of 29 hectares, a private sports club of 3 hectares and 19 hectares of public park, with the lake now 9 hectares.
The public park has its main entrance at Wimbledon Park Road, and contains an area of woodland, Horse Close Wood, that predates Brown's landscaping. Various amenities were provided for recreation in the C20th, including sports pitches, bowling greens, tennis courts and playgrounds. Municipal planting includes a lime avenue, and formal gardens were laid out by tennis courts. Forthcoming projects in Wimbledon Park resulting from consultation in March 2012 are the creation of two beach volleyball courts and a picnic area.