10 reasons to love Oxted
PUBLISHED: 12:06 30 October 2017
Head to the far east of the county and you'll find a charming town with a big personality set at the foot of the North Downs
Billing itself as ‘Surrey’s oldest community theatre’ this lively centre of the arts has two local groups – Oxted Operatic Society and The Oxted Players, so there should be something here for everyone’s taste! Built in 1924 there have been more than a few famous thespians appearing – Dame Flora Robson, Christopher Fry and Roy Castle numbering amongst them. Seating 244 and run solely by a volunteer staff, the theatre has some splendid shows coming. Check our their website for details: barntheatreoxted.co.uk
A beautiful Grade I Listed building that is nearly 1,000 years old, St. Mary’s church is the hub of the community in Oxted offering many events and group meetings. The building is worth a visit for the architecture alone but the essence of the church is the family. St. Mary’s Monkeys and the Junior Church cater for all ages while the under fives can enjoy the “Messy Church” get-together where, in partnership with St. Peter’s, Tandridge, the kids are let loose in a ‘fun and creative’ way…just make sure there’s plenty of soap and water afterwards.
Unfortunately you may have just missed Titsey House and Gardens this year (the house and gardens are open until September 27) but we had to mention as one to put on the to do list for when it repens on May 17 2018). A large manor house dating from the 16th century and with walled gardens, landscaped lakes, parkland, woods and even a herd of pedigree Sussex cattle, there’s plenty to keep you occupied. The kitchen garden in particular is not to be missed – restored in 1996 as an example of the Victorian era it is one of the best surviving examples. The old dairy buildings were converted to a lovely tea room by the way, so plenty to refresh you when you’ve done the tour!
A very special place this one with more than meets the eye… Kids are welcome here to look for the little houses built in the woods by the trust’s volunteers – there’s Peter Rabbit’s Post Office (where they can even post a letter to him), Fox Villa and Hedgehog amongst others. For the more grown up kids –and adults – there is a fascinating bit of history showing the now renovated air raid shelters on the common that once protected Limpsfield School children in the Second World War. There’s even remnants of the old mortar stations that were to be used by the local Home Guard in case of invasion. Another lovely snippet is that apparently Major Baden-Powell and Colonel Cody used the common to test fly man-lifting kites in the pioneering days of aviation!
5. Robertsons Tea & Coffee Shop
An archetypal English tea-room at its best – a huge selection of special teas to give the connoisseur a real treat. Freshly roasted ground coffee, delicious snacks and lunches and the most fabulous selection of cakes – Surrey Life has been (a couple of times!) and our favourite is the cinnamon and honey teacake by the way! We love the place. Plenty of things to browse over too – you can buy yourself a teapot, coffee beans and chocolates all beautifully displayed in the shop, so time to for a little indulgence perhaps…
6. Hop Stop
Beer. You either love it or hate it…but this is an Aladdin’s Cave of the stuff – and the staff are ready to help you if you are wondering what beer is all about. A fabulous little independent shop, tucked away near the station, but stocking a vast choice of ales from all over the world. Lagers, bitters, Belgian beers and pale ales – they’re all here with cask beers available to take away too. Some wonderful names: “Dark Star Hylder Blonde” and “ “Surrey Hills Gilt Complex” caught our eye recently… Loads of browsing to do so pop in for a beery experience!
The Surrey Life team know and love this “little corner of Italy” and we are happy to make it one of the 10… Stone-baked pizzas and classic Italian dishes served in a lovely old half-timbered building just down the road from the station. Plenty of starters as well as risotto, pasta and calzone. We fancied the gamberoni – tiger prawns with white wine, chilli, garlic, tomatoes and more (how do the Italians do it?) – served with a grilled ciabatta. Oh, and before you dive in to the food how about a cocktail – the Italian Love should get you going – vodka, Amaretto, peach liqueur, fresh orange and cranberry juice. Help!
Definitely one for the adults as well as the kids – and on one special day this month (October) an added extra when Grannies and Grandads get free entry to celebrate National Grandparents Day. (Yes, there is one! It’s on Sunday October 1 believe it or not!). Where to start? There are animals, outdoor and indoor play areas, a dino trail, a gift shop and even pets for sale. Creepy creatures in a darkened room and animal handling just add to the fun here and apart from the usual farm critters, you can see llamas and alpacas, chinchillas and degus (hands up if you know what THAT is…).
Yes, we know this isn’t actually in Surrey but when visiting this side of the county, it is well worth just popping over the border for this. Just 10 minutes by car down the road from Oxted town centre is the much-loved family home and gardens of Sir Winston Churchill at Chartwell. Now owned and managed by The National Trust, Chartwell is steeped in the history of this famous man with many of the rooms in the house remaining much as they were when he lived here. As a writer, painter and family man he planned and created many areas of the gardens including a delightful playhouse for his daughter, Mary. Plenty to see and the extensive woodlands with trails should keep the kids busy too!
A gently sloping lagoon pool with waves, water features, a 70m slide and bubble pool sounds like an expensive Mediterranean holiday, but in fact it’s all here in Oxted’s very own leisure centre. There’re four 25m lanes in the fitness pool and loads to keep you trim with a sauna and steam room, Fitness Place Gym and Studio. Bring the kids – there’s an activity room with childcare facilities and a café with snacks and drinks too so you can meet up with your friends while planning the next dip in the lagoon...