Copse Hill, Merton

A conser­vation area located south of Wimbledon Common; the hill itself lies towards the eastern end of the lane called Copse Hill

Wimbledon Hill Park ecological area - developer's enhanced image

The first and grandest mansion to appear on Copse Hill was Prospect Place, built in the mid-​​18th century by a London goldsmith, with grounds that were later improved by Humphry Repton. The estate was sold to developers in stages from 1851 and a handful of villas were erected on what was named the Cottenham Park estate. Among these was The Firs, which was commis­sioned by two barristers, the Christian socialists Thomas Hughes and John Ludlow. Hughes wrote Tom Brown’s Schooldays in the house in 1856.

Christ Church was built at the expense of the hill’s wealthy residents in 1860 and later enlarged. Prospect Place was pulled down in the 1860s to make way for the Atkinson Morley convalescent home, subsequently a hospital, which was funded by the bequest of a wealthy hotelier who had trained as a doctor. Terraced cottages with small front gardens lined Thurstan Road later in the 19th century.

Copse Hill was widened in 1925 and much of its present housing dates from around this time. The Wolfson neurosurgery unit opened within the hospital during the Second World War. The Firs was demolished in 1957 and replaced by nurses’ accom­modation that retained the same name. In 2003 the facilities of the Atkinson Morley hospital relocated to St George’s hospital in Tooting. The Wolfson rehab­il­itation centre closed in 2012.

The main hospital buildings are presently being converted to luxury apartments, with “a selection of prestigious bespoke family homes” in the grounds. The devel­opment is called Wimbledon Hill Park. The image at the top of this page is an “indicative computer enhanced view” of an ecological area at Wimbledon Hill Park (as seen from Plot 22), obtained from a Berkeley Group brochure.

Barham Road gives access to Fishponds Wood and Beverley Meads nature reserve, which has coppiced hazel and oak woodland, a pond system and acid grassland with a wide variety of species. Wimbledon rugby football club plays at Beverley Meads.

Postal district: SW20

 

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