Sunday, 24 August 2014

The Museum of Wimbledon

I didn't actually know that there was a museum in Wimbledon, but then, it's not a part of London I know very well, except for the bit where it joins Raynes Park.  However, I discovered that this year marks the 900th anniversary of the founding of Merton Priory, and the museum had, until next weekend, a special exhibition devoted to the priory, so we decided to go.  It was free, and as we no longer pay for public transport in London, we had a very splendid afternoon that didn't cost us a penny!

We decided to go to Wimbledon via the Northern Line, which took us to South Wimbledon Station, and then we took a bus to Wimbledon Station.  It turned out that we ought to have stayed on the bus, or waited for another one, as the Museum itself was on Ridgway, some 15 minutes' walk from the station.  But a bus quickly took us there.

The museum itself is housed on the upper floor of some kind of club - sadly, there is no lift, so no good for those who must use wheelchairs.  We first went to the exhibition, which was really quite interesting.  By complete serendipity, we had driven over the remains of the priory yesterday, when we visited the big Sainsbury's in Colliers Wood - the remains are under the road that was built to service the superstore and, incidentally to move the A24 away from the junction by South Wimbledon station, which is still a bit of a bottleneck.  It was an Augustinian priory, and they know roughly where things were, but it was destroyed almost as soon as the monasteries had been dissolved because they wanted to reuse the stone to build Nonsuch Palace.

Most of the exhibition was photographs and writing, so not suitable for small people.  But quite interesting.  It comes off on 31 August - the museum is only open at weekends - so if you want to go, you only have next Saturday and Sunday.

The rest of the Museum is basically one big room, tracing the history of Wimbledon from a few big houses to the teeming suburb of today.  Apparently, not even the railway did much to cause the growth of the area, what made the difference was the provision of safe drinking-water!  Once you had both transport links and clean water, the population mushroomed exponentially!

Wimbledon continues to be a railway junction (South West Trains, First Capital Connect, District Line and Tramlink, if you are a transport geek, like I am), and we decided to go back on South West Trains.  Normally, platforms 6 and 7 are not in use, as they are the fast lines, but this doesn't seem to be the case on a Sunday, and that was where our train stopped.  We thought at first we would not be able to get on, as the platform was cordoned off (presumably they don't want people flinging themselves under the 8.53 from Waterloo), but someone opened a gate, and everybody rushed through.  The train came in on platform 7 at Clapham Junction - platforms 7 and 8 are set down only and you can't get on trains there - which I was not expecting, as I was used to trains on the slower lines that stopped at Earlsfield and then at platform 10.  We just missed a bus, but didn't have too long to wait for another one home....

No comments:

Post a Comment