Surrey – area guide
Area size: 1,663 km2
Average house price (based on 3-bed semi): £431,780 (Source: Zoopla)
Key towns: Guildford, Woking, Ewell, Camberley, Epsom, Ashford, Farnham, Staines-upon-Thames, Redhill
Surrey is located in the south east of England within easy commute of London (approximately 25-60 minutes from most major towns) and neighbouring counties. Due to this proximity to the capital, Surrey is has a high population density and is one of the wealthiest counties in the UK.
The North Downs cut through the county and over 70% of Surrey sits within the Metropolitan Green Belt, which protects agreed areas of land from development. As well as the North Downs, local countryside attractions include the Surrey Hills and River Thames.
Surrey’s top five
- Transport links: Wherever you live in Surrey, you’re within easy commute of London. You’re also close to major motorways including the M25, M1, M11, M20, M26, M4, M40, M3 and M23. There are bus services throughout the region. Heading out of the UK? Heathrow, Stanstead, Luton and Gatwick are on your doorstep too.
- Quality of life: Elmbridge, Waverley, Mole Valley, Surrey Heath and Guildford all appear in the top 25 places to live in the UK in the 2014 Halifax’s Quality of Life. Surrey is one of the wealthiest counties in the UK and residents enjoy an excellent quality of life.
- Time out: With attractions such as Hampton Court Palace, Thorpe Park and Epsom Downs Racecourse within its borders, Surrey is ideal for family days out.
- Parks and spaces: Approximately 70% of Surrey sits within the Metropolitan Greenbelt, which means that the stunning views are protected from further development.
- Education opportunities: There are a number of outstanding state and independent schools in the region, as well as grammar schools, prep and boarding schools. Higher education is well represented in the county.
With Surrey’s proximity to London and its symbiotic relationship with the capital, it goes without saying that transport links to and from London are excellent. Key commuter towns include Woking (just 28 minutes from London Waterloo and 11 trains per hour at peak times); Godalming (46 minutes from London Waterloo, four trains per hour at peak times); Haslemere (52 minutes from London Waterloo, three trains per hour at peak times); Farnham (54 minutes from London Waterloo, two trains per hour at peak times); and Ascot (56 minutes from London Waterloo, three trains per hour during peak times).
Staines, Woking, Guildford, Walton-on-Thames, Epsom, Ewell, Reigate and Redhill are all described as ‘rapid-transit’ commuter towns for Central London.
Living or working in Surrey will give you access to some of the UK’s biggest motorways. The M25 runs through the county and connects to motorways including the M1, M11, M20, M26, M4 and M40. The M25 also runs close to London Heathrow and Gatwick airports, and offers easy access to Stanstead and Luton airports, as well as the Channel Tunnel motor vehicle service.
The M3 crosses the north west of Surrey, connecting London to Southampton and the south west of England. In addition, the M23 can be found to the east of the county, connecting Croydon to Brighton and the Sussex/Surrey border.
Major Surrey A roads include the A3, A24, A31 and A331.
There are comprehensive bus services in the region, including a number of park and ride services designed to minimise single occupancy car journeys.
Points of interest
Surrey’s rich history can be traced back to before the Roman times when the region was occupied by the Atrebates tribes. The Atrebates were allies of the Romans at the time of the Roman invasion in 43 AD and these strong ties are evidenced by several Roman roads that traverse the county.
During the fifth and sixth centuries, the area that was become Surrey was conquered and settled by the Saxons, and many of the town and village names have Saxon origins. Since those time, Surrey has changed hands and borders several times. It had little economic or political importance in the Middle Ages but this meant it was largely left alone.
Runnymede at Egham is the site of the sealing of the Magna Carta in 1215.
Until 1889, the county of Surrey stretched right up to the banks of the River Thames across from the city of London but with the creation of London City Council, areas such as Lambeth, Camberwell, Southwark and Wandsworth were lost from its boundaries.
Some of the greatest names of English literature are associated with Surrey including writers such as John Donne, Daniel Defoe, Benjamin Disraeli, Alfred Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Robert Browning, George Eliot, Lewis Carroll, George Bernard Shaw, Arthur Conan Doyle, JM Barrie, HG Wells, John Galsworthy, EM Forster, PG Wodehouse, Aldous Huxley, and Douglas Adams.
Famous contributors to the Arts and Sciences who have lived in the region include scholastic philosopher, William of Ockham; pioneer of demography, Thomas Malthus; mathematician, Ada Lovelace; garden designer, Gertrude Jekyll; architect, Edwin Lutyens; composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams; actor, Laurence Olivier; artist, Tracey Emin; mathematician and pioneer of computer science, Alan Turing; and actress, Alex Kingston.
Surrey has had more than its fair share of musicians too, including Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, The Stranglers, Paul Weller, The Jam, Norman Cook, Justin Hawkins, Mike Rutherford, and Peter Gabriel. Other famous residents include – according to Country Life -the Crown Prince of Dubai, the Duchess of York and Brian Blessed.
A fun fact is that Harry Potter’s house – Number Four, Privet Drive, Little Whinging – is a fictional address in Surrey.
The county is packed full of things to do and see. These days, it is part of the Metropolitan Green Belt, which means that many of its open spaces are protected from future developments.
Important country houses and buildings of interest in the region include Loseley Park, Clandon Park, Hatchlands Park, Guildford Castle, Polesden Lacey and the breath-taking Hampton Court Palace.
Living in Surrey
The Surrey district of Elmbridge ranked as the second best place to live in the UK in the 2014 Halifax’s Quality of Life annual survey, jumping from sixth place in 2013. In previous years, Elmbridge – where average weekly earnings stand at £1,104 – has topped the survey four times. Halifax says that the people in the survey’s most popular regions reported that they are more satisfied, happy and less anxious because of where they live.
Waverley, Mole Valley, Surrey Heath and Guildford all also appeared in the top 25 places to live in the UK in the same survey.
Country Life says that Haslemere, Farnham, Chobham, Dunsfold, Windlesham, Frensham, and Shamley Green are the best places for commuters to live in Surrey. Apparently, Haslemere has the highest concentration of First Class ticket holders in the UK!
Shopping in Surrey
Surrey offers an appealing mix of small independent shops and stylish boutiques alongside high street brands. From modern shopping centres to quaint cobbled streets, there’s definitely something for everyone.
VisitSurrey.com recommends West Street in Dorking, which is renowned for its fine antiques and art galleries; Experience Guildford shopping centre, which is home to more than 240 shops, 100 bars and restaurants, three theatres and one cinema; Market Walk in Woking, a walkway of 15 purpose-built permanent kiosks for a range of quality traders; Camberley Town Centre’s Mall and Atrium; Woking town centre; and Norbury Park Wood Products, which is a speciality sawmill, workshop and shop that sells products made from locally sourced sustainable timber.
Working in Surrey
Surrey’s proximity to London means that is very much part of the ‘commuter belt’ and one of the wealthiest counties in the UK (it apparently has the highest proportion of millionaires). In fact, its Gross Value Added per head (a measure of contribution to the UK economy) is 27% ahead of the UK average, with disposable income ahead of the UK average by a similar amount. This may be because so many people work in financial services (earning the region the nickname of ‘stockbroker belt’).
On the flip side, this wealth also means that Surrey has the highest cost of living of any county outside of London.
Surrey has a predominantly service-based economy that is very much tied to the needs of the capital. The county is also home to more organisation and company headquarters than any other county in Britain. This includes household names such as Nixon, Whirlpool, Canon, Toshiba, Samsung, Philips, Future Electronics, Kia Motors, Toyota UK, Pfizer, Esso, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Superdrug, Nestle, SC Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive, WWF UK, and Compassion in World Farming. Motorsport is big news too as the McLaren Formula One team is based in Woking.
Education in Surrey
Surrey has a comprehensive education system, which includes 37 secondary schools, 17 Academies, seven sixth form colleges (more than half the state schools have their own sixth form) and 55 state primary schools. There are also 41 independent schools in the region, including world-famous schools such as Charterhouse and the Royal Grammar School, Guildford.
Outstanding state primary schools in the region include Pewley Down Infant School, St James the Great Roman Catholic Primary and Nursery School, South Farnham School, West Thornton Primary School, and Marshgate Primary School. There are also plenty of state secondary schools or academies rated outstanding, including Coombe Girls’ School, Glenthorne High School, Glyn School, Harris Academy Purley, Harris Academy Merton, and All Hallows Catholic School.
Surrey is home to a number of respected independent, boarding and prep schools, including Charterhouse School, Cranleigh School, and King Edwards School, Witley. The Good Schools Guide and Ofsted reports provide excellent starting points for more information.
In addition, the presence of several grammar schools in the region means that children are able to take the 11+ exam to establish whether a secondary school or grammar school would best meet their needs.
The ACS International Schools at Egham and Cobham, and the TASIS American School at Thorpe exert a strong international pull.
Higher education also has a high profile in and around Surrey with the county offering easy access to Surrey University; University for the Creative Arts; Royal Holloway, University of London; Brunel University; Kingston University; and UCL space laboratory on Holmbury Hill.
Sports and leisure in Surrey
Cricket has long been a popular pastime in Surrey (there are records of a game at the Royal Grammar School in Guildford back in the 16th century). Surrey County Cricket Club represents the historic county of Surrey, although its main ground – the world-famous Oval in Kennington – is located in Greater London. The Club has won the County Championship 18 times, a record only beaten by Yorkshire.
Horse-riding and related sports are incredibly popular due to the landscape of the county. One of the most famous sporting venues in the country is Epsom Downs Racecourse, which has been home to the annual Derby since 1780 and attracts people from around the world. You can also find Lingfield Park Racecourse, Kempton Park Racecourse and Sandown Park Racecourse in Surrey.
Football is popular in the region, although Surrey is one of the few counties in England not to have a team in the top 92. At the moment, Surrey’s top teams are Woking (in the Conference Premier, fifth tier of English football) and Staines Town FC (in the Conference South). Chelsea FC do train at Cobham Training Centre, bringing at least a taste of the Premiership to the region.
Ice hockey, basketball, volleyball, netball and rowing are well represented in the region, and cycling has seen a surge in popularity since the 2012 London Olympics.
Places to visit
In addition to country houses such as Loseley Park, Clandon Park, Hatchlands Park and Polesden Lacey, and the magical atmosphere of the ruins at Waverley Abbey, there are plenty of other things to do and see in Surrey.
The magnificent Hampton Court Palace is set in stunning gardens and costumed guides bring history to life as they take people through Henry VIII’s state apartments and those of King William III.
Dapdune Wharf in Guildford commemorates the work of the Surrey canal system and is home to a restored Wey barge, the Reliance. Other popular tourist destinations include Shalford Mill – an 18th century water mill now owned by the National Trust – and Brooklands Museum, which celebrates the home of British motorsport, aviation and Concorde.
One of the biggest tourist attractions in the region is Thorpe Park, while Chessington World of Adventures is just over the county line in Greater London.
Country Life recently ran an article about Surrey’s top five hidden gems, recommending visits to Ramster Hall Gardens, The Haslemere Cellar, Silent Pool near Albury, Watts Gallery and Wisteria Tearoom at Loseley Park.
Over 70% of Surrey falls within the Metropolitan Green Belt and the Surrey Hills are an area of outstanding beauty, so there are plenty of acclaimed gardens, green parks and nature reserves throughout the county.
In fact, Surrey is the perfect place to live or work if you want a taste of country life. There are a variety of stunning green spaces, many of which have a rich history. Check out Richmond Park; Chobham Common Nature Reserve, which is the largest in the South East and one of the finest remaining examples of lowland heath in the world; Box Hill near Dorking; the Devil’s Punch Bowl; Leith Hill; Witley Common and Thursley Common.
Popular manicured gardens include Claremont Landscape Garden, Winkworth Arboretum, Windlesham Arboretum, the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens and more than 80 Surrey Wildlife Trust reserves. The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and the National Archives were historically part of Surrey but are now recognised as part of Greater London.
Surrey offers a good mix of property types, including 16th and 17th century cottages, large Georgian country houses, Victorian villas with stunning walled gardens, an abundance of 1930s semi-detached homes, and modern suburbs.
The average price for a three-bed semi-detached property is currently £431,780, a value that has risen by £35,842 over the past 12 months. The average monthly rent for a similar size property is currently £1,758 pcm (Source: Zoopla).
Again, according to Zoopla, the highest value towns in Surrey for property are Weybridge, Virginia Water, Godalming and Leatherhead.
About Kempton Carr Croft
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