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Football is a major passion in English life but long before it gained a grip on the nation other sports held sway. Cricket, tennis and polo are still immensely popular while other sports struggle to regain their former popularity.

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Sports

Wimbledon

Every June, life stops as the nation hopes for an English winner at Wimbledon. Ticket demand always exceeds supply but a public ballot ensures fairness. However, you must apply by December.

Church Road SW19
Tel: +44 20 8971 2473
Tube: Southfields/South Wimbledon
Rail: Wimbledon
www.wimbledon.org

Ascot Racecourse

Royal Ascot week in June is noted for its high society turnout, with fashionable hats always in evidence. But there are many other events during the racing year where you can enjoy the facilities and see top class horse-racing – and perhaps even win a bet.

Ascot, Berkshire SL5
Tel: +44 (0)870 727 1234
www.ascot.co.uk

Herne Hill Velodrome

London's home of track cycling since 1892 is the last remaining venue from the 1948 Olympic Games still in active use. Its annual Good Friday meeting sees the world’s top cyclists competing in the open air.

Burbage Road SE24
Rail: Herne Hill/North Dulwich
www.vcl.org.uk/hernehill
www.goodfridaymeeting.org.uk

Lord’s Cricket

The 'home of cricket' is the base of the Marylebone Cricket Club, the guardian of both the Laws and the Spirit of Cricket. There’s a state-of-the art indoor school and a museum that houses the famous Ashes.

St John’s Wood NW8
Tel: +44 (0)20 7616 8595/6
Tube: St John’s Wood

tours@mcc.org.uk

www.lords.org

Henley Royal Regatta

July sees one of the biggest events of the social calendar. Dating back to 1839, the action lasts five days with up to 100 races a day on the water. On land, the race might be one to down the most champagne.

Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
Tel: +44 (0)1491 572153
Rail: Henley-on-Thames
www.hrr.co.uk

Polo

The sport of kings (and, with Prince Charles and now William and Harry competing, the sport of kings-to-be) is a perfect way to spend a summer day. A picnic, chilled drinks in a beautiful country setting, what could be more English? At Ascot Park, you can even have lessons.

www.polo.co.uk

www.hurlinghammedia.com

www.rcbpoloclub.com

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