Wandsworth is my everyday place, where I spend most of my free time getting to know its nooks and crannies.
It’s one of London’s biggest Boroughs, which makes it great for days of both lofty wandering and intrepid exploring. You can feel its character shift from as you walk through its villages and play tic tac toe with its vibrant patchworks of parks and high streets.
If you fancy an escape from the inner city and London’s tourist traps, Wandsworth is calling with its quiet cornucopia of pubs, historical sites and leafy commons.
by Sarah Fletcher;
Sarah has been living across London for 10 years. In her spare time, she enjoys visiting libraries, walking her dog and stopping into pubs to try new ales.;
What to see and do in Wandsworth?
1. Take in some of the art at the Pump House Gallery
Hidden within the leafy pathways of Battersea Park is Pump House Gallery, where contemporary art provides an exciting contrast with the industrial Victorian building that hosts it.
Overlooking the lake, Pump House Gallery used to be a Victorian building that supplied water to the ponds of Battersea Park. Even if you think contemporary art isn’t your cup of tea, it’s well worth a visit.
One of their missions is to make their art accessible through hosting a wide-range of work and plenty of education.
Check the website and see if there are any upcoming lectures at night. These are often interesting — and free — ways of finding out more about contemporary art. Take a stroll along the river after for the ultimate romantic, and cultural, evening!
— Sarah Fletcher
2. Discover the History of St. Mary’s Church
One of London’s joys is knowing that centuries of history are woven into the very fabric of the city.
It may be easy to walk past St. Mary’s Church, which is tucked behind the trendy bars and restaurants that surround it, but it’s beautiful interior makes it worth a peek inside.
Take a leaflet to uncover some of the church’s history and learn about some of the unique characters that worshipped beneath its clocktower.
3. Challenge Your Friend to a Game of Mini Golf at Putt in the Park
Fancy trying your hand at a game of mini golf? Go to Wandsworth Park and navigate the tunnels, bridges and twists that make up its winding course.
Rain or shine, Putt in the Park is a guaranteed quirky way to spend a free afternoon. For extra fun, I suggest you up the stakes: loser buys the next round.
Luckily for the winner, there’s a café serving a range of beverages right next to putting ground.
4. Get in Touch with your Inner Nature Lover at the Children’s Zoo
The Children’s Zoo in Battersea Park may be geared towards youngsters, but the animals inside are sure to delight visitors of all ages.
See wildcats, otters and even monkeys as you discover the range of beasts that lurk among the colourful flora of the zoo.
This is a great spot for city-bound nature lovers to visit during a sleepy weekend.
Check out their website to see which times the animals are fed. Watching the monkeys feast is a special experience in itself!
— Sarah Fletcher
5. Visit 575 Wandsworth Road
575 Wandsworth Road is one of London’s secret treasures. Enter a seemingly average Georgian townhouse and be transported into a different world of Moorish inspired fretwork.
Owned by the National Trust, this building was once the residence of Kenyan-born poet Khadambi Asalache, who spent over 20 years adorning the residence with intricate, wooden embellishments.
Now, each corner of the house is an ornate feast for the eyes. This is definitely worth the visit — just remember, no photos allowed!
6. Take a Walk Along Albert Bridge at Night
Wandsworth boasts miles of beautiful riverside and, consequently, many bridges. Albert Bridge is one of the most striking of the bridges.
While it’s a striking site itself during the day, the bridge is illuminated with 4,000 LED lights at night. No matter the season, it’s a romantic walk.
Watch boats glide through the Thames and the city bustle from one of the most privileged spots, with the knowledge that Londoners of times past have stood in that very place for over a hundred years, holding the hand of a loved one or just feeling at one with the city.
7. Walk the River Wandle
One of my favourite things to do on a lazy Sunday, those ones where you wake at ten and don’t even think about eating breakfast until one, is to walk from the River Wandle path into Earlsfield.
Follow the historic river, passing large stretches of park towards Earlsfield. Watch children play, dogs walk and families picnic beneath the treetops.
By the time you get to the end, you’ll have earned a pint in one of Earlsfield’s bustling pubs.
8. Go Gravespotting at Putney Vale Cemetery
While far from the most famous cemetery in London, Putney Vale Cemetery is an interesting graveyard on the outskirts of Wandsworth.
At the edge of Putney Heath, wander through the tall grass and stones at your leisure.
From Egyptologists and actors to Victorian strongmen to Iranian poets, there are plenty of stories to be found lurking amongst the morbid inscriptions.
9. Spend a Day at the Sewing Machine Museum
Open on the first Saturday afternoon of each month, the Sewing Machine Museum is worth planning a weekend schedule around.
Some of the machines have fallen into the laps of famous owners, while others are interesting for their strange shapes and unique design.
Regardless of the reason, this museum is clearly a project of love by the owner, who curates the room meticulously. What it may lack in size and grandeur is made up with passion and knowledge.
10. Take a Boat Ride off Wandsworth Pier
Londoners are well versed in the art of commuting, and the tube or double decker bus are integral parts of our planning. But why not spice up your journey with something new?
I particularly enjoy getting the TFL River Bus from Wandsworth Pier into town on a Saturday dusk. Watch the sun turn the river gold as it sets over the Thames and you pull into Vauxhall.
Take some cash with you on the boat! The River Bus has a small shop where you can purchase hot and cold drinks as well as assorted snacks. I like to sip on a gin and tonic while I pass the diverse banks of London.
— Sarah Fletcher
11. Explore Your Creative Side at the Battersea Arts Centre
With its arches, high ceilings and dramatic hallways, Battersea Arts Centre is a beautiful venue that hosts theatre nights, contemporary art, a quaint café and metropolitan bar.
The centre is always bustling with young creatives, and it’s not uncommon to hear whispers of new experimental instillations or art market predictions amongst its visitors.
Check out what’s on for night of culture or simply swing by the café during the day. Be sure to bring a notebook if inspiration strikes!
12. Shop till you drop at Southside Shopping Centre
Wandsworth was known for its hat industry in the Victorian period, and while hats may not be the borough’s crowning glory today, you can still be a dedicated follower of fashion if you visit the many shops that make up Southside Shopping Centre.
Get the high street brands you want while avoiding the Oxford Street crowds. As the day nears an end and your arms can no longer fit another bag, why not take a break and dine at one of the many upstairs restaurants?
13. Enjoy the architecture at Battersea Power Station
One of the largest brick buildings in the world, Battersea Power Station is an imposing present that looms over the Thames. Once a coal power station, Battersea Power Station has been out of use for decades and its future still remains in flux.
Regardless of its fate, it’s an iconic British structure that’s worth examining up close. I like to bring my camera to try to capture unique angles and updates on the structure.
14. Play a game of bingo at Gala Bingo
Have you ever played bingo in a 1930’s art deco theatre once frequented by the Rolling Stones? I didn’t think so.
For a truly quirky time, Gala Bingo is in the Tooting area of Wandsworth and hosts bingo games every day beneath its glittering chandeliers and marble arches.
Expert players and beginners alike can lose themselves in the game. Order a drink, get your pen ready and strap yourself in for hours of fun.
Be sure to climb to the balcony for the best view of this building’s luxurious interiors. I can promise you this is something you’ll want to Instagram! The dim, dramatic lighting is its own filter.
— Sarah Fletcher
15. Laugh, Listen or Dance at The Bedford in Balham
While it may look like an ordinary pub on the outside, The Bedford is known for hosting legendary gigs from up-and-coming artists as well as nights of comedy and cabaret.
Famous contemporary singer-songwriters like Ed Sheeran have graced the stage as well as older punk favourites like The Clash.
I never quite know what I’ll get when I walk into The Bedford, but it rarely ever disappoints if you’re in the mood to jump around to something loud.
16. Visit the Gardens of the Battersea Flower Station
The Battersea Flower Station is potentially the most instagrammable site in Wandsworth. Even if you aren’t after a bouquet, take a stroll through the grounds.
They’re open 7 days a week and run by a small, friendly staff, who are happy to show you new stock and tell you more about the dizzying array of plants. The kitsch signs, lazy bumble bees and bright colours transport you to a new world, as if you’re Alice stumbling into Wonderland.
17. Go To A Talk At Wandsworth Town Library
Sometimes learning is a simple joy in itself. While a library may not be the first thing you think of when you think ‘fun night out’, many of the educational (and free) talks are as rousing and dramatic as any trip to the club.
From local history experts to professors in the French Resistance, you’re sure to learn something new and meet likeminded people if you decide to drop in to the library.
They also have regular creative writing groups, where you can show work of yours in a friendly and supportive environment.
18. Have a Picnic at Clapham Common
Picnicking is a British tradition that goes back centuries, and it’s easy for city-dwellers to feel they’re missing out on the easy joy of packing a lunch, hiking the countryside and sitting amidst miles of fields as they snack.
While Clapham Common isn’t quite that rural, it is one of the largest parks in London, with many ponds and trails to explore. Pack a blanket, bring some friends and spend a sunny afternoon eating, drinking and gossiping in the Common.
19. Reflect on Yourself at the Peace Pagoda
Overlooking the Thames in Battersea Park, the Peace Pagoda is a special site in London.
It was built by monks in the early 80s, when Buddhist pagodas were built around the world with the aim of spreading peace after the atrocities in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
A Buddhist reverend still lives inside the storeroom, living on donations and worshipping. Visit the gold Buddha and take a moment to reflect on the world in this respite of peace in the busy city.
If you visit in the morning, you’ll be able to hear the reverend chanting and circling the pagoda with his drum.
— Sarah Fletcher
20. Have a Curry On Tooting High Street
Called the ‘curry corridor’, Tooting is famous for its curry houses.
The diversity of East Asian communities living there means you can eat authentic food that challenges preconceived conceptions of what Indian and Pakistani food can be.
There’s plenty of choice, but don’t let the overwhelming amount of restaurants distract you — they’re all delicious and you can’t go wrong with walking into the first one that catches your eye.
21. Play a Game of Tennis in Wandsworth Park
Book a court out and challenge your friend to a game. All Star Tennis allows you to choose hour-long slots, meaning you’ll have plenty of time to work yourself into a sweat. New to tennis?
I suggest you book a training session with one of the coaches available at All Start Tennis. At the end of the day, it’s a more fun way to keep active than going to the gym.
22. Take A Boat Ride at Battersea Park
If you’ve ever wanted to take a paddle boat in the city, Battersea Park’s lake is a great alternative to the more touristy and expensive boats in Regents Park or Hyde Park.
Requiring a high level of teamwork and plenty of laughs, it’s a perfect first date activity. I suggest going on a sunny day before taking a walk along the Thames.
23. Grasp the Story of Wandsworth’s Huguenot’s at Mount Nod
Huguenot’s were knowing for their weaving skills and many, seeking religious freedom as Protestants, moved from Wandsworth in the 1700s.
Mount Nod is a unique cemetery where many of those travellers now rest forever, commemorating their lives with gravestones that are unlike the Christian-inspired ones you often see in England.
It’s currently padlocked and only enterable by request to the counsel, but it’s not hard to get a good look at the monuments inside through the barred gates.
24. Watch an Up-and-Coming Play at Theatre 503
If you’re a fan of fringe theatre and looking for some new writing, I recommend dropping into Theatre 503. Located on top of the Latchmere Pub, Theatre 503 is a laid-back, not to mention less expensive, alternative to the West End.
Grab a pint and bring a bookish friend for a cultural night of fun. Most of the playwrights who debut here end up pursuing successful careers, so you could very well be watching the work of the next Shakespeare on the stage.
25. Go Ape at Go Ape! In Battersea Park
You won’t feel like you’re in London when you’re dangling from a zip line amongst the highest treetops in the park! At Go Ape!, there are tree top walks, zip lines, rickety bridges and swings for you to navigate with your friends.
This obstacle course is great for adrenaline junkies of all ages and a perfect treat for adventure seekers. I suggest you book in advance and come in your comfiest clothes for the best time in this adult playground.
26. Visit the Royal Victoria Building
You don’t have to travel to a magical world to feel like you’re at Hogwarts. The Royal Victoria Building is a dramatic, gothic building with a spooky past.
It used to function as an asylum for Crimean orphans during the Crimean War, meaning the walls echo with suppressed histories that will never be told.
Let your imagination run wild as you take in the grandeur of the building.
27. Get in Touch With Your Inner Child at Flip Out! Trampoline Park
London’s biggest indoor trampoline facility is definitely not just for kids: get in on the action yourself at Flip Out!
Trampoline Park, where you can bounce on over 70 interconnected Olympic sized trampolines. This is a great place to flip, run and jump.
Challenge your friends to see who can jump the highest, or dive from one of the diving boards into the massive foam pit. If all that exercise means you’ve worked up an appetite, there’s somewhere on-site to get a snack after jumping around.
28. Take a Trip To Wandsworth Prison Museum
Wandsworth Prison is the largest in London, and comes with a history soaked with drama and strife.
Operating for over 150 years, the Wandsworth Prison Museum may be small, but is packed with stories of famous inmates and penal artefacts.
You have to write to the museum to confirm your visit, but it’s worth the effort to see old nooses, execution boxes and escape plots.
Sometimes the Wandsworth Prison Museum hosts open weekends, in which the general public can easily drop by! Keep an eye out for these if you don’t want to go alone or request access through the prison.
— Sarah Fletcher
29. Take a Swim at Tooting Bec Lido
If you don’t want to shell out on an expensive gym membership, but still sometimes get the urge to splash around in the pool, visit the Tooting Bec Lido.
The Lido has been open for over 100 years and was one of the first open air pools in all of Britain, so is worth a visit for its history alone during the warmer months.
Relax beneath the gazebo, grab a cold drink and take the dip you’ve been waiting for!
30. Treat Yourself to a Slice of Cake on Wandsworth High Street
Just a stone throw from Wandsworth Town Station is Wandsworth High Street, where cute cafes are strewn across the street.
There’s plenty of options if you’re seeking coffee with a side of something sweet at a reasonable price.
Packed with bright young things talking about the newest startups, the high street cafes are quirky and quaint places to catch up with a friend or take a quiet moment to enjoy yourself.
31. Go Out to Dinner on Putney High Street
Putney High Street is the perfect place for a special date night.
As dusk starts to fall, grab a drink in one of the bars that overlooks Putney Bridge, which was only the second bridge in London to cross the river.
As the night draws on, settle into one of the many restaurants for a three course meal. Putney High Street is great for fusion food, so expect new combinations of flavour and countries you’ve not heard of before.
32. Take a Dance Lesson at the Royal Academy of Dance
Put on your dancing shoes and book a lesson. I’ve taken a few classes at the Royal Academy of Dance, from an introduction to classical ballet (let’s just say I was no natural swan princess) to street dance.
Even if my dance skills still left much to be desired, it was always fun and the instructors were always friendly!
The programme always has a range of classes and is especially affordable for Wandsworth residents — though those living outside the Borough still won’t break the bank with the good deals available.
33. Listen to Some Soul Music at Soul Brothers Records
Soul Brothers Records was always a mysterious, dusty-looking building I passed when walking from East Putney Station towards Wandsworth Town.
One day, when curiosity got the better of me, I had a look inside and was immediately greeted by sweet music and the colourful fronts of records.
Specialising in jazz, soul and funk, Soul Brother Records has been a fixture for music lovers in Wandsworth, running over 25 years.
Whether you’re a fan of the genre or can’t quite tell your Coltrane from your Motown, it’s worth a peek inside to discover old and new music alike.
34. Enjoy a Multicultural Performance at Tara Theatre
One of the best things about London is its spirit of multiculturalism.
This spirit comes seamlessly together in Tara Theatre, where playwrights from all backgrounds and literary traditions can put on their work.
Known for its blending of Eastern and Western cultures, Tara Theatre is a friendly and inclusive venue to hear a range of voices that truly represents the London of today.