Commons Update Spring 2022

Commons Update Spring 2022

Windmill to re-open to visitors!

The Windmill Museum Trustees and the volunteer team are excited to announce that the Windmill Museum is finally re-opening and will be welcoming back visitors from Saturday 2 April. Opening hours are Saturdays 2pm to 5pm, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays 11am to 5pm.  Access remains free.  Do pop along and show them your support! More information on their website


Wimbledon Common Nature Club to restart

Auriel Glanville, who runs the Wimbledon Common Nature Club, is delighted to announce that the Club’s activities will start again on Sunday, 3 April, with a trip out for some pond dipping!

Based at the Information Centre near the Ranger's Office, the Wimbledon Common Nature Club runs nature sessions on the first Sunday of each month from 10-12 am for children aged 6 and upwards. Cost is a £2 (cash only) donation. Further details are available from Auriel via e-mail at or at their website: Wimbledon Common Nature Club 

Wimbledon And Putney Commons Levy 2022/23

The Commons Levy has been set for 2022/23 and for a Band D property, the Levy will amount to £32.14 per year, an increase of £1.14 compared to 2021/22.

A founding principle of the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Act of 1871 is that the Commons are principally financed by a dedicated levy on residential properties that “primarily benefit” from the Commons, defined by the Act as all those within three-quarters of a mile of Wimbledon Common (including Putney Heath) or within the Parish of Putney as it existed in 1871.

The levy area extends across three local authorities (Wandsworth, Merton and Kingston) to whom responsibility for billing and collecting the levy was transferred in 1990 from WPCC.  The levy appears as a separate precept on the annual Council Tax statements of the relevant properties.

150th Anniversary Picture Competition

Our Anniversary Picture Competition continues and we have been delighted and overwhelmed by both the number and standard of entries that we have been receiving each month - there are some very talented photographers and artists out there!

The March round closes at 5pm on 31 March and the April round will be open to entries from 1 April! Full details on how to take part can be found here - Anniversary Picture Competition

Celebration Games Day

Our delayed celebratory Games Day will now be taking place on the Commons on 22 May 2022.  Featuring the many sports that take place on the Commons, and some that have passed in to history but will be resurrected for the day, we hope you can join us for some fun and games!

More information to follow on our Games Page as and when details are confirmed.

Grand Houses of Rushmere - A Virtual Walk

Following on from the success of his virtual walk, the Nine Ponds of Wimbledon Common, local resident, Alan Blower, kindly invited us to join him for another virtual walk - this time to visit The Grand Houses of Rushmere.

Alan's fascinating talk revealed the history and residents of the magnificent houses and the labourers' cottages that overlook Rushmere Pond and the surrounding area on Wimbledon Common.  We learned about the homes of Dukes, Countesses, politicians and military commanders, and discovered the origins of a leading public school, historic public houses, and a luxury hotel.

If you missed Alan's talk, we have a recording which you can watch here: The Grand Houses of Rushmere - passcode W&2v*=uc

Out on the Commons

Pond Management

As is customary during this time of year, all of the Commons’ nine ponds are checked by Peter, our Conservation and Engagement Officer, for frog spawn.   Peter was delighted to report that large amounts of frog spawn were found at Scio Pond, 7 Post Pond, Rushmere, Bluegate Gravel Pit and Ravine Pond.

With females laying eggs in well vegetated, shallow ponds, all frog spawn was found amongst the protection of marginal vegetation but unfortunately, too many of the Common’s ponds are seriously lacking this vital component.

Whilst large areas of open water can be visually appealing, it provides very little in the way of habitat.  Most of the wildlife inhabits the margins of the ponds where a good source of vegetation and muddy ground can be found to provide protection.

We are therefore starting a project to help restore and protect these areas of important vegetation in some of the Commons’ ponds.  During the spring of 2022, temporary chestnut paling fencing will be positioned around a section of Scio Pond on Putney Heath and a section of Hookhamslade Pond on Wimbledon Common. The aim is to reduce the levels of disturbance in these two ponds to allow the marginal vegetation to grow and re-establish, and so providing more important habitat for our wildlife.  If the project is successful, it will be rolled out to other ponds in the coming years. 

Kingsmere Swans

Many of you will be aware that we have had a pair of swans living on Kingsmere Pond over winter, so you may be wondering why they are no longer there. 

Early in March, the cob took off and landed in Wildcroft Manor. Unfortunately he landed awkwardly and injured himself so with the help of our Keepers, he was picked up by the Swan Sanctuary and taken off to be treated and to recuperate before being released back on the Thames.   However, given his mate remained on Kingsmere, the decision was taken to pick her up today and reunite them at the Sanctuary.  

The pair are both about 8 and the cob is originally from Battersea. They are bonded but those who monitor the swans in the area have no idea where they go off to breed.  Hopefully they will be released by the weekend and will fly off to their secret nesting site!

Once again we are indebted to the Swan Sanctuary and their volunteers for all their help. They have kindly shared this video of them being reunited - not a dry eye in the Ranger's Office!


Bird Nesting season 2022

The recognised period for bird nesting in the UK is from the 1 March until the 31 July.  To ensure that disturbance to our nesting birds is minimised, all our major woodland operations are stopped until late summer.  Our team also lend a helping hand by providing a number of bird boxes, floating platforms and duck tubes for our resident birds to use.

During February 2022, six new bird boxes were positioned along the edge of Upper Gravelly Ride and these are designed to attract great tit, blue tit, coal tit, nut hatch and possibly wren – the entrance hole is sized so nothing larger than these birds can get in and predate their eggs.    In addition to this, we have two nest boxes that have been specifically designed to attract wrens and three bird boxes for robins that have been located at various points around the windmill complex, along with the assortment of bird boxes that have been positioned around various areas of the Commons in the past.

As with previous years, over 30 public notices have been placed around the perimeter of The Plain asking visitors to keep to the paths through the area and keep dogs on lead so that we can hopefully provide a suitable area for potential ground nesting birds to use – dog owners and dog-walkers please see our article here with additional information.

Perhaps one of the most novel nesting innovations that we tried during 2021 was the use of two duck tubes that were positioned close to the island on Kingsmere. With mallard numbers declining in the UK, off-ground duck nest tubes provide a simple and effective way of protecting nesting birds. Mallards normally nest on the ground, where they are vulnerable to flooding and predation, but by elevating nesting tubes on poles several feet off the ground, the eggs and ducklings are less at risk. Consisting of a wire mesh frame filled with hay, the narrow entrance of the tube provides a nesting site which is both protective and warm enough for the incubating female and her clutch of eggs.

And finally a reminder.....

.....for the benefit of everyone using the Commons, please be kind and courteous to other visitors; cycle responsibly and on the designated tracks; remember that BBQs are not permitted anywhere on the Commons, and if you have a canine companion, please do not let them disturb other visitors or our wildlife - and don't forget to pick up after them!

Thank you!