(Based on excerpts from the Wimbledon Park Golf Club Centenary Brochure, available at £5 from the secretary's office).
Wimbledon Park was originally part of the manor of Mortlake and in the 11th century, was given by Edward the Confessor to Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury. Subsequently, the manor became property of the Crown under Henry VII and successively belonged to Thomas Cromwell and Queen Catherine Parr. In 1588, in the hands of Sir Thomas Cecil, the Elizabethan manor house was built between what are now the 14th and 12th greens. At this time the park was first enclosed and stretched from Parkside to Durnsford Road and from the village to Southfields station, totalling some 400 acres including eight fish ponds.
By 1744 Wimbledon Park was inherited by the first Earl Spencer and he and his family began spending summers there before the fourth Earl Spencer sold it to a developer in 1864. Somerset, Seymour, Arthur, Leopold, Home Park, and Lake Road were all in place soon after and when the extended District Line brought the first commuters to Wimbledon Park in 1889, developers were planning to drain the lake to turn it into more house-building land. Action was prevented by a local group of 'public spirited gentleman' who bought the park for recreational purposes.
The Wimbledon Park Sport Club, created in the park by the late 19th century, promoted cricket, curling, fishing, shooting and of course, golf. Although there is some evidence that golf was played at Wimbledon Park before 1898; all reliable records date the start of club's history on Saturday 2 April, when Horace Hutchinson drove the first ball of the tee at 3pm. At the same time the Wimbledon Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club moved over from Wimbledon Common and both clubs co-exist happily as neighbours today.
After some possible financial difficulties the new Wimbledon Park Golf Club replaced the old club in 1900 as a members' only club with a 10 year lease of the course. Over the years WPGC has seen many changes, most notably four clubhouses. A fire destroyed the first one in 1901 and a replacement built near the present 18th tee. By the 1930s when alterations to the golf course were proposed a new one was built by 1935 only to be destroyed nine years later during the Blitz. The World War II bombings also made changes to the golf course. A bunker near the 13th green was created after one of the numerous hits and Wimbledon Cricket Club was a generous host to golf members during the war years. Today's clubhouse was officially opened in 1952.