10 reasons to love Cranleigh
PUBLISHED: 10:57 06 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:57 06 March 2018
Professing to be the largest village in England, Cranleigh sits on the southern tip of Surrey and is known for its independent restaurants, cafés, shops and flourishing art scene
We thought we’d kick off with one for the kids with this activity centre, just outside the village on the Ewhurst Road. With 56 acres of woodlands, ponds, meadows and fields, there is more than enough space to keep your energetic youngsters going. The emphasis is on individual challenge with groups supporting each other in the experiences. From pond dipping to wall climbing there are personal instructors always on hand to help. Lots of places still available in March and April at the time of writing, but check the website for full details. Full weeks, weekends and half weeks available.
This beautiful church at the far end of the village dates back to the 12th century when the Lord of the Manor provided a place of worship. There are loads of interesting facts and features surrounding the church, including the magnificent Cedar of Lebanon tree by the path – apparently planted by John Sapte in 1850 on his return from his honeymoon in the Holy Land. One of the tombs in the churchyard is reputed to be a smugglers’ tomb where illicit contraband was hidden. One feature worth spending time over is the beautiful Jubilee Window in the tower – based on The Tree of Life it is filled with incredible detail.
As you come out of the church, turn to your left and admire the famous obelisk planted firmly in the middle of the road junction. A well-loved feature of the village, this Grade II Listed building was erected in 1794 by a Dr Jacob Ellery to commemorate the opening of turnpike road through Cranleigh. Standing 20 feet high, it has mileages attached to the sides. Apparently the reason Windsor and Brighton are included was for the benefit of the Prince Regent, who travelled to Brighton’s Royal Pavilion along this route years before he was crowned George IV.
If you are standing looking at the obelisk then right next you is Cranleigh Arts Centre, a lively hub of the village offering film, music, theatre and more during the year. There is an Art Tea House next to the exhibition centre offering speciality teas, coffees, snacks and locally made cakes. This month, you can catch the DIY chef George Egg, the stand up comic who uses power tools, gardening equipment and office supplies while preparing a breakfast, lunch and dinner during the show. Show is at 8pm on Thursday, March 15. If your taste is more relaxed, then grab a seat at the Poetry Workshop on Thursday, March 1. As part of the Cranleigh Literary Festival you will engage with others to write your own pieces.
Here at Surrey Life we know and love this Indian restaurant opposite the green near Stocklund Square. Describing themselves as bringing the opulence and quality of London restaurants to the leafy picturesque village, the Rania is a very popular place. Authentic Indian flavours combine with a contemporary edge and with very friendly staff the restaurant offers classic dishes (balti, madras, korma) as well as specials – we’ve tried the intriguingly named Railway Lamb, an “old world dish slow cooked with pickling spices” and it’s good. With clay oven grills, vegetarian dishes and a takeaway service there’s a lot to love!
Bit of a hidden gem this one with not just a polo club, but a whole venue for social and leisure events all year round. Owned by pop star Kenney Jones, ex-drummer with The Small Faces, the club offers a warm welcome to everyone whether an experienced polo player or simply anyone interested to get to know the sport. With six polo fields there’s plenty of action from May onwards when the season opens with the first chukka. A whole range of activities complement the club with corporate hospitality facilities, catering for parties and weddings, or simply a meal at the restaurant – Friday nights are two for one fish and chips by the way. The club is a 10-minute drive from the village, or if your travelling is a bit more sophisticated there’s plenty of room for a helicopter.
Smack in the centre of the village (oh, by the way, don’t ever call Cranleigh a town – it prides itself on being the largest village in England) you can find this superb pub offering all you need for a relaxed drink or meal after a hard day’s shopping. Loads going on here with a regular Monday Quiz Night (thinking caps on please), a Mother’s Day special menu – Sunday March 11 by the way, don’t forget – and a special Easter weekend, when breakfast can be had from 9.30am on Sunday April 1, and a “roast rollover” on Monday to cure the hangover! Apparently the Bloody Marys will be ready and waiting...
After that lot you need the exercise, and as it’s a long time since you made that New Years Resolution to keep fit, time to wheel out the bike and follow this trail through some of the prettiest parts of the county.
Cranleigh once benefitted from a rail link from Guildford that ran to Horsham in Sussex, but was shut down in 1965 due to cuts. However, this has meant that there is now a superb track (without the rails) that makes a fabulous safe, off-road cycle path. This particular route (see above) takes you from Guildford along part of the old railway to Horsham. It is pretty flat too, so if you’re not good at hills this is the one!
Time for a bit of shopping in the village and as usual we like to find the independents rather than the chain stores. This store has dominated the shopping scene here since 1887, when the doors were first opened by David Mann – the same year as Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee no less. Having expanded, the store now offers the lot in terms of home interiors, furniture, toys and gifts. A couple of years ago the historic cottage part of the store was transformed into the M Café where you rest your feet (and credit card) to have a coffee and a cake.
Talking of coffee and cakes, Cromwells prides itself on being a family-run business in a beautiful beamed building dating from 1560. If the weather is up for it, you can eat outside on a lovely flower-filled patio, or if it’s a bit nippy there is always the cosy inglenook fireplace. A quick look through the menu reveals a glorious sticky toffee pudding laced with clotted cream or ice cream – back on your bikes after that – as well as delicious savoury meals. Apparently, Cromwells is famous for its macaroni cheese made with vintage cheddar, so whatever your fancy chances are they’ll have it. Bon Appetit!