Buddhapadipa Temple

London, England

Out of approximately 150 temples in London, the Buddhapadipa temple was the first Thai Buddhist temple to be built in the UK.

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- LuciAH

Discovering Buddhapadipa Temple in Wimbledon

Initially constructed between 1979 and 1982, the Buddhapadipa Temple was the first Thai Buddhist temple built in the UK. Crafted in a traditional Thai style the temple is a unique landmark outside of Asia. It has white walls with gold and red accents, along with statues and ornate roofs.

As well as allowing for worship the Buddhapadipa Temple is a place of education for Theravāda Buddhism. There are courses on Buddhism and meditation available for the Thai community and anyone else seeking spiritual guidance. Open to the public daily from 9 am to 5 pm, the Buddhapadipa Temple also offers guided tours by appointment.

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- Jessica Mulley

Over the years, the temple has fostered deep connections with the Royal Thai Embassy but visiting the temple will offer insight into the spiritual heritage common across Asia especially in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. As Buddhism continues to gain prominence in the UK, with a significant increase in believers according to the 2011 census, the Buddhapadipa Temple has become an important place for spiritual worship for many people in and around London.

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- Jo.

Origins of the Buddhapadipa Temple in Wimbledon

The story of the Buddhapadipa Temple, also known as Wat Buddhapadipa, begins with its establishment in 1965 at 99 Christchurch Road, East Sheen. Initially purchased by the Thai government for £17,000, the temple welcomed its first monks on 15th November the same year.

The temple was formally inaugurated by King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit on 1st August, 1966, receiving the name "Light of the Buddha" from King Bhumibol himself. However, the temple's expansion plans led to its relocation in 1975 to the Barrogill estate at 14 Calonne Road, Wimbledon, providing ample space for growth and development.

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- Mark Auer

Creating the Buddhapadipa Temple in Wimbledon

The relocated Buddhapadipa Temple in Wimbledon Village of South London, was designed by Thai architect Praves Limparangsri. It was finished in 1982 at a cost of 33 million Thai baht (£825,000).

Ordination Hall

Central to the temple's expansion was the construction of an ordination hall. After the temple’s completion the hall received a royal consecration on 3rd April 1982, with Princess Galyani Vadhana overseeing the setting of boundary stones.

Inside the hall is a small open space for meditation and three important Buddha statues: the ancient Black Buddha, the Golden Buddha, and a replica of the Emerald Buddha from Wat Phra Kaew.

Buddhapadipa Temple
- Jo.

The Murals

One of Buddhapadipa Temple’s most impressive features is its murals, which narrate the life journey of the Buddha with a contemporary twist.

Painted by a team of 26 young Thai artists between 1984 and 1992, these murals blend traditional Buddhist imagery with modern-day references, including figures like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

Artists Chalermchai Kositpipat and Panya Vijinthanasarn infused the paintings with vivid colours and surrealism, creating a visual masterpiece.

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- Jo.

Temple Grounds

Contained within the grounds are 4 acres of ornamental gardens featuring ponds and bridges that provide a peaceful space for contemplation and reflection.

Symbolism and Spiritual Significance

Buddhapadipa Temple is fortified with countless forms of symbolism and spiritual elements. The murals about Buddha's life are representative of Buddhist teachings, guiding believers on a journey of enlightenment and self-discovery.

Above the main entrance, a painting of Buddha meditating amidst the forces of Mara shows the eternal struggle between enlightenment and delusion—a recurring theme in Buddhism.

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- Jo.

Abbot Leadership at Buddhapadipa Temple

Phra Thepphawanamongkhon served as the abbot of Wat Buddhapadipa from 1994 until his passing in 2022 at the age of 96. Following his death, Chao Khun Laow Panyasiri was appointed as the new abbot by the Sangha Supreme Council on 30th January, 2023, after having acted as the interim abbot since 25th November, 2022.

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- Jay

Exploring Buddhist Philosophy and Practice

Exploring the Grounds

During Sunday practice and religious celebrations, Wat Buddhapadipa welcomes nearly 100,000 worshippers. While weekday services within the temple and shrine require appointments, the temple grounds are freely accessible. Explanatory placards thoughtfully placed around the grounds will provide information on Buddhism and its teachings. But visitors are encouraged to respect those engaged in worship by wandering peacefully.

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- Jay

Practising Meditation

Meditation classes and Dhamma talks are held every Saturday and Sunday from 3 pm to 5 pm and all are welcome, regardless of faith or background. Typically these classes will include chanting and talks in English as well as walking and sitting meditation.

Festivals at Buddhapadipa Temple

In November the Loy Krathong festival is held. This is a huge celebration of the full moon day of the 12th lunar month. There will be performances, dance, and Thai food stalls.

Another highlight is the Songkran festival, Thai New Year, observed annually on 16th April. In Asia this is considered the biggest water fight in the world, at Buddhapadipa, it’s the next best thing! Buddhists believe that the water symbolises renewal, and so pouring (or full on spraying) each other with water will cleanse the past year and welcome the future.

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- Jessica Mulley

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What you need to know

Buddhapadipa Temple
14 Calonne Road, Wimbledon SW19 5HJ
51.430695, -0.220585
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