10 of Surrey's most intriguing history havens
PUBLISHED: 10:17 27 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:07 27 March 2017
From spectacular architecture to humble historical dwellings and romantic ruins, Surrey wears its heritage proudly on its sleeve. Here are 10 history havens to intrigue, entice and delight
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HAMPTON COURT PALACE
Okay, so there’s not an awful lot hidden about Hampton Court Palace you might say – but that’s where you’d be very wrong. While there’s plenty of the tried and tested and internationally renowned, did you know, for instance, that you can take tours across the roofs of Henry VIII’s favourite home? Drink in the views.
This is one of those places that you’re likely to have passed a million and one times, presuming it’s among Surrey’s more elaborate private homes. Built by architect Edwin Lutyens as ‘a home of rest to which ladies of small means might repair for holiday’, you can enjoy a staycation here today with the Landmark Trust. Its garden was laid out by Lutyens’ high profile friend Gertrude Jekyll and the place also boasts a bowling alley. This property is available for group bookings only.
The likes of Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles have graced the rooms and halls of the magnificent Great Fosters hotel near Egham over the years. Among a host of distinguished owners, they list Judge Doderidge, solicitor general to King James I, and Sir Robert Foster, Lord Chief Justice of the King’s Bench and Common Pleas (and they say wordy job titles are a modern plague!) to King Charles II. The property has been owned by the Sutcliffe family since the 1930s. Their Tudor Room restaurant has a Michelin star, too!
GREAT TANGLEY MANOR
A dwelling for more than 1,000 years, Great Tangley Manor celebrated its history with a spectacular son et lumière show last year. A Grade I listed property first mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086, as a royal hunting lodge, in 1582 alterations were carried out that led to some of the timbers from the Armada fleet being incorporated into its design. Signatures of King George VI can also be seen on the windows of the master suite. This property is available for group bookings only.
MAGNA CARTA MEMORIAL
On the meadows of Runnymede, more than 800 years ago, history was made. It remains a revered spot, not only for the citizens of Surrey but for people around the world. While 2015 saw huge celebrations, visitors consistently visit in their droves to see where the ‘Great Charter’ was sealed on June 15, 1215, by King John.
There’s perhaps a tendency, certainly among outsiders to our county, to think of Surrey as a place largely lost to modernisation – but hopefully these pages are helping to highlight what a disservice this is. How about this simply furnished, timber-framed cottage, which was lived in up until the mid-1980s but dates all the way back to the 16th-century as a labourer’s dwelling? The National Trust open Oakhurst Cottage on select days between April and November.
Built in the 19th century by one of this country’s most influential architects, Augustus Pugin, Oxenford Grange sits on the edge of a farm among other pieces of his great work. As well as looking absolutely spectacular, you can in fact stay at this property with the Landmark Trust! Well you can’t say it’s not unique. While you can holiday here, it’s not open to general visitors.
At the complete opposite end of the spectrum to Oakhurst Cottage, the National Trust’s Polesden Lacey is famously where Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, chose to honeymoon. It was home to high society Edwardian hostess Mrs Greville, who entertained royalty and the celebrities of her time. Their are plenty of secret corners to be found still too.
Founded by the Victorian entrepreneur Thomas Holloway in 1886, Royal Holloway is surely among Surrey’s most spectacular pieces of architecture. A self-made multi-millionaire from patent medicines, Holloway took his wife’s advice that a college for women would prove ‘the greatest public good’ for his fortune. Inspired by the Château Chambord in the Loire Valley and opened by Queen Victoria in 1886, The Founder’s Building looks like it has been taken straight off of the screen from a historic fantasy movie. Opens to the public for select days and events throughout the year.
ST CATHERINE’S CHAPEL
Established in the 14th century as a chapel of ease, St Catherine’s Chapel was abandoned by the end of the Middle Ages. It’s now Grade I listed, offering beautiful views over Guildford and the River Wey from its perch a short stretch of the legs away from the town centre. Free to visit at any time.
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