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10 reasons to visit Reigate

PUBLISHED: 21:19 12 December 2015 | UPDATED: 10:28 14 December 2015

Reigate, Surrey

Reigate, Surrey

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A historic market town set against a hilly backdrop, Reigate is brimming with interesting independents, foodie delights and unusual places to visit...

The jewel in the town's crown, the historic Reigate Priory (Photo Pete Gardner) The jewel in the town's crown, the historic Reigate Priory (Photo Pete Gardner)

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine November 2015

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Reigate Caves

Entrance in Tunnel Road RH2 0AA and the Castle Grounds: wcms.org.uk

Hidden away out of sight, an astonishing maze of underground tunnels stretches east and west from Tunnel Road while to the north is the historic Baron’s Cave in Castle Grounds. The castle itself was demolished in the 1600s but there is a mock medieval gateway nearby built in 1777. Maintained by the Wealden Cave and Mine Society, the caves are open to the public from May to September, but private tours can be arranged at a cost of £5 per person (minimum fee, £50), so you don’t have to dig deep to visit them. Details from the website.

Pilgrim Brewery

11 West Street RH2 9BL: 01737 222651 / pilgrim.co.uk

Now that you’ve come up for air, it’s time for a pint! Reigate’s very own brewery, started 30 years ago by Dave and Ruth Roberts, has developed, via the hugely popular Pilgrim’s Progress, into one of the top independent breweries in the county. Although there are no official tours at the moment, Ruth and Dave are always happy (“depending on the workload!”) to chat with their customers about the beers. Try the autumn brew – Vulcan Alia – a 4.3% rich dark ale just right for quaffing by the fireside. Open weekdays, 8am to 4pm, and Saturdays, 10am to 12noon.

Priory Park

Bell Street RH2 7RL: reigate-banstead.gov.uk

The jewel in Reigate’s crown, the historic Priory Park offers beautiful gardens, an expansive lake and stunning mature trees. Great for families, there is also an excellent play area, with huge wooden ship, a café and a skatepark – or you could join in the ‘Bumps, Buggies and Bundles’ walking group every Friday at 10am. For the energetic, there is the Park Run every Saturday morning – and look out for the popular ice rink returning this winter. Now, we know you like our little challenges so see if you can find the pet cemetery with six tiny tombstones dating from 1903. These were the dogs owned by the grandchildren of Lady Henry Somerset (daughter of the 3rd Earl Somers who owned Reigate Priory). We found ‘Sam the Fox Terrier’ – answers on a postcard for the rest please…

Tony Tobin @ The Dining Room

59a High Street RH2 9AE: 01737 226650 / tonytobins restaurants.co.uk

Celebrity chef Tony Tobin, of BBC Ready Steady Cook fame, has made his restaurant, The Dining Room, one of Surrey’s leading places to dine out. In fact, you’ll often spot a well-known face diving into the discreet side door that takes you up to the gourmet haven upstairs, which has gone from strength to strength since he joined as head chef in 1994. The latest development at the restaurant is a newly-opened exclusive gin bar; count us in...

Everyman Cinema

Bancroft Road RH2 7RP: 0871 906 9060 / everymancinema.com

Looking very smart following a facelift earlier this year, this bijou cinema has long been a much-loved fixture in the town – with local resident, TV newsreader Nicholas Owen, citing it as one of his favourite places for an evening out. Running until Thursday November 5, be sure to catch the latest 007 thriller, Spectre, which sees our hero on a rogue mission to Mexico and beyond. Not your cup of tea? Okay, how about Kenneth Branagh’s Theatre Live: The Winter’s Tale on Thursday November 26 – starring none other than James Bond stalwart and Surrey resident Dame Judi Dench.

Chalk Hills Bakery

75 Bell Street RH2 7AN: 01737 669116 / chalkhillsbakery.com

“You can’t beat a good, honest loaf…” Not our words this time, but those of this independent artisan bakery run by Rosie and Chris Robinson who are celebrating their 5th anniversary this month. The delicious bread, teacakes, buns and croissants made in their South Nutfield bakery are as far removed as you can get from the spongey white slices that pass for bread in the supermarkets. So, do you know the best loaf for those egg-dipping soldiers? Or what makes the best bacon sandwich? Well, you’ll have to call in to find out…

Cullenders

13 Bell Street RH2 7AD: 01737 240800 / cullenders.com

A finalist in this year’s Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards, Cullenders is an independent delicatessen and café – and, having joined forces with local wine merchants The Vineking, now a pop-up evening wine bar and diner too. From their original shop in Redhill, owners Marc and Joelle, who gave up the daily grind of the London commute to pursue their dream, opened their second outlet in Bell Street in 2009, moving across the road to their current, larger premises in 2013. Offering delicious fare and a relaxed vibe, what’s not to love!

Miwk Comics

45a Bell Street RH2 7AQ: 01737 243271 / miwkpublishing.com/store

It all happens in Bell Street – when you’ve bought your freshly-baked loaf at Chalk Hills and browsed Cullenders’ deli, wander a few yards up the road to this magical little shop that has everything from sci-fi titles, comics and fantasy fiction to graphic novels and collectible toys. Owned and run by Matthew West and Robert Hammond, they have been trading online for three years now, specialising in film, TV, music and drama-related books, and now through their recently-opened treasure trove of a shop. Anything to do with Star Wars and Dr Who is always popular, they tell us, so you can’t go wrong there.

Reigate Heath Windmill

Flanchford Road, Reigate Heath RH2 8QR: 01737 221100 / stmaryreigate.org

A unique claim to fame for Reigate, this is the country’s only windmill church. Built around the mid-1700s, it was a working mill until the late 19th century. Later converted to a chapel of ease, it is now part of St Mary’s Church. Services are held every Sunday during summer, but you can ask for the key at the neighbouring golf club, sign the visitors’ book and have a look round. A note for your diary: there is a carol service held in the mill at Christmas so check out the website and toddle along for carols with a difference.

Lesbourne Road Shops

Lesbourne Road RH2 7JX

Almost a village in its own right, Lesbourne Road and West Road is an intriguing area just south of the town. If you’ve just had a stroll round Priory Park, turn right up Bell Street and, after a few hundred yards, Lesbourne Road is on your left. The charm of this place lies in the eclectic selection of shops that have built up over the years. Among the highlights are specialist wine merchants The Vineking at 4 West Road; Gracie’s Dress Agency at 56 Lesbourne Road, selling new and nearly-new designer clothes; and independent bike shop and general cycling hub, Maison du Velo, at 31 Lesbourne Road, to name but a few.

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