Get to Know Merton
Yeah-yeah, we know Wimbledon… Merton is home to the world-famous All England Lawn Tennis Club, where the Wimbledon Championship takes place every year, bringing an extra 500,000 people into the borough for the tennis extravaganza. We know that you know merely everything, that we can tell you about the most famous and prestigious tennis tournament in the whole world, that’s why we decided to skip that part. Even when you leave Wimbledon aside, there’s much more that Merton can offer. Actually, there’re lots of things that we have to say about this south-west borough, but below you’ll see our top picks, which simply cannot be missed.
Colour House Theatre
The Colour House Theatre is a small art theatre, situated at the picturesque setting of Merton Abbey Mills, a riverside oasis in South Wimbledon. The Grade II listed building has a history of over 500 years, which includes being used by Arthur Liberty to mix his fabric dyes in the early 1900s. Today the venue is open for a variety of stage plays, events, music gigs and comedy shows. The Colour House has also been a local cinema in its time. Although the cosy place can fit less than 100 people, the theatre also hosts a well-established monthly Blues Club for over 20 years, Comedy Club and Chamber Concerts.
Among the theatre’s wings is the Colour House Children’s Theatre, which has produced over 100 musical shows for children. They can easily charm your kids and you as well if you decide to give it a shot. There are shows running every weekend throughout the year. The children’s theatre received charitable status in 2008 and still produces shows every Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm and 4 pm. The first ever show to hit the scene in The Colour House Theatre was “Goodnight Gilda” in the summer of 1995, since then, more than 150,000 children have been enchanted by the stage performances. In 2016 the Colour House Children’s Theatre celebrated its 100th production of original musical adaption of famous fairytale.
We hope to see you soon among the spectators! And if you’re dazzled by the acting, it’s pretty likely to find the cast heading to the William Morris pub to enjoy a post-performance drink.
Merton Abbey Mills
Merton Abbey Mills is a picturesque Arts & Crafts Village on the river Wandle, with a bustling weekend market, live music, fantastic places to eat and exciting activities. To put it shortly – this place is heaven for creativity. Shops are open daily, selling crafts, furnishings, jewellery, and pottery – all range of unique hand-made wonders, that you’ll be happy to take home or to use as a special gift to make someone smile. The relaxing sound of the fully restored waterwheel, heard in the background, will carry you over in a majestic place, whilst different kind of alternative session and events await you ready to change your life for good.
There is more – on site you can find a Hair & Beauty Salon, Tattoo Parlour, Personal Training Studio and Picture Framers. Even the most pretentious taste will be satisfied, since the wide range of food offers dishes from all around the world, including Caribbean, Brazilian, Thai, Italian and a traditional carvery. So maybe this is the right place for every gourmand. Have in mind that even though the stores are open every day, the market is open only during the weekend – Saturday and /Sunday 10am-5pm.
Merton Abbey Mills is also the home of Abbeyfest! This is an annual two-month festival, which runs through July and August and offers free live music every Friday night on the bandstand, stage plays every single night of the week inside The Colour House, and special events for all the family to enjoy! The festival, organised by The Colour House management, is now nearly in its 20th year!
Some extra facts:
- Merton Priory (known locally as Merton Abbey) was once visited by Kings and Queens alike and also takes a significant part in the history of England since Henry VI was crowned here.
- The Wheelhouse's famous Water Wheel was manufactured in 1850 and was used, among other things, as a rinsing house for the printed calico material.
- Merton Abbey Mills was established on the site of Merton Priory in 1538. The River Wandle’s fast-flowing waters proved to be perfect for the emerging textile industry in the 17th century. Here is where fabrics were washed, dyed and printed.
- At the beginning of the 19th century, there were up to 100 water mills in the area, used by the textile industry or others, such as snuff production. Only four mills survive to this day — the fully restored and working wheel at Merton Abbey Mills is one of them.
Southside House is a must-see. It is often described even by connoisseurs as an unforgettable experience. The whilom Pennington Mellor Munthe’s home truly represents the spirit of the 17th century. Back in time, John Pennington's daughter Hilda married Axel Munthe, the charismatic Swedish doctor whose most famous book, The Story of St Michele, briefly outsold the bible and remains amongst the ten best sellers of the 20th century. Maintained in a traditional style without intrusive refurbishment, while nearly all family possessions of centuries are still on their spots and put on display, Southside offers a wealth of fascinating stories, which brings the time hundreds of years back. Entering the house you’ll be fascinated by the enchantingly eccentric backdrop to the lives and love of generations of the Pennington Mellor Munthe families.
Southside has associations with Queen Natalie of Serbia and her son Alexander, and the family also has mementoes from the Duke of Wharton, Lady Hamilton and others. The rooms look almost untouched - much of their tasteful, original furniture is still there, plus you can take a peek at the superb collection of art and historical objects, reflecting different talents among the centuries.
Southside House and Hellens, the family's country home in Herefordshire, which is also open to the public, both serve their communities by hosting concerts, lectures, educational activities, workshops and literary evenings, as well as guided tours.
The experiences offered by this magical house and gardens can inspire the unusual, adventurous and unexpected talents. Sixth form A level art students use the house as a creative resource and the building is a setting for an annual nine-month series of poetry workshops for senior school students. Local young talents can easily call this place their second home, since often this is their first stage ever that continues to bring them inspiration – so essential for art. The house is often used as a location for feature films and commercials as well.
Southside House is still run by Robert Pennington's descendants, serving partly as a residence but also as a museum, administered by the Pennington-Mellor-Munthe Charity Trust, and hosting tour groups as well as educational activities, cultural events such as lectures, concerts, and literary discussions. Southside House participates in local festivals and also hosts many charitable events. It is used as a location for feature films, commercials and stills shoot.
Those were our top 3 picks if you find yourself in Merton, still, there’s always a place for some memorable mentions. Have in mind that all tennis-related places are out of the list, not because we don’t admire this legacy – the reason is that we want to show you places that you may not know so well and to represent you something, which is valuable in other ways – plus there won’t be so crowded.
New Wimbledon Theatre
Welcome to one of the biggest theatres in London. We are obligated to tell you that this place will waive its magic at the moment you cross the doorstep. The gorgeous Grade II listed building consists of a beautiful Edwardian auditorium, decorated in both Georgian and Italian renaissance styles across three levels of seating. So many famous names, who left a mark in the world’s theatre and movie history, walk the stage of Wimbledon Theater, that we are scared to mention just a few, simply because we will leave so many behind and this list is pretty long.
Since 1910 the venue continues to play host to numerous touring productions of musicals, ballets, operas and plays, as well as an annual pantomime each Christmas. Actually, New Wimbledon Theatre is hugely proud of its reputation as “the Home of London Pantomime”. This dazzling place fits even for royalty, since in 2008 it was chosen as the venue for HRH the Prince of Wales’ 60th Birthday Gala.
We are not going to reveal you lots of this impressive memorability’s history, simply because there’s no better way to learn it than to visit the museum it hosts. You’ll be surprised how much a small building like this can reveal but what you’re about to learn and see is precious. Except for its own fascinating story, this place tells the history of windmills in general. The Windmill has been a distinctive landmark since it was built in 1817 to serve the local community. More than 200 years later, it successfully fulfills its purpose although in a different way. And did you know that you can still see the sails running on windy days?!
Museum of Wimbledon
It's considered a great honour to be among the residents of the borough of Merton, especially if you’re happy enough to end up in Wimbledon. The local Society Museum of Local History will be more than pleased to guide you through the 3000 years of local history. All you need is a bit of curiosity since the admission is free. The museum is described as small, friendly, and very unusual. One of the most impressive things for us though is that the place is entirely run by volunteers. Local people from the community are willingly spending their spare time in order to show you their quondam history, which is impressive to anyone who cares enough to listen. Every Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon from 2.30 to 5 pm the doors are wide open so all you need to do is to enter and relive Wimbledon’s past.
We would like to tell those of you who are on a tenancy or have a private property in the area, that we offer professional cleaning services in Merton to all who are interested in maintaining a neat household.
One more thing before leaving Merton behind our backs and head to somewhere else – don’t forget to smell the roses! Literally. Every year from May to September Morden Hall Park becomes one of the most magnificent places in London. That’s when in its garden you can see over 2000 roses bloom.