Abinger Hammer: Surrey village life

PUBLISHED: 22:28 21 February 2014 | UPDATED: 22:28 21 February 2014

An idyllic Surrey village

An idyllic Surrey village

Pete Gardner

Located in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, on the winding road between Dorking and Guildford, it’s well worth stopping off at this idyllic Surrey village

Village Voice...

It is said that watercress is very good for you – and one person who really should know is Barry Arminson who runs the Kingfisher Farm Shop in the village with his wife and daughter. “We used to grow 19 acres of watercress,” says Barry, “but sadly the supermarkets have all but killed off the trade.” These days, they still produce watercress at the farm but have also branched out into other produce in order to survive. “We grow the watercress in a natural and traditional way using spring water from our own artesian wells,” adds Barry.

Talking about village life in Abinger, Barry laughs, “The locals all know me more than I know them – they all say hello to me!” But what impresses him the most is the way the community is prepared to do its bit for the village. “There are volunteers who get out and clear the ditches, strim the verges, keeping the drains clear – you know, all the stuff Surrey County Council should do!”

Barry enjoys the social side of Abinger as well. “We have the occasional jazz night in the village hall to raise funds and of course there’s the pig racing…” Pressed further Barry explains: “They are battery operated pigs that race along the floor – you take a lucky dip from a bag for the batteries so there is no advantage, and off they go! They stop to wag their tails,” he continues,” and everyone has a bet on the winners.”

Grab a bite…

Now that the Abinger Arms is gone, you are left with a choice of the nearby pub at Abinger Common – the Abinger Hatch – or a more genteel experience at the Abinger tea rooms next door to the village shop on the main A25.

Rather surprisingly, the nearby Abinger Hatch advertises its menu as having ‘dinner to die for’ – hopefully you’ll survive long enough to enjoy the desserts. One way or another, we love the sound of the Peterhead cod and the meat platter looks delicious as well.

Don’t fancy the pub? Okay, it’s the tea rooms then. Described as a quintessentially English tea room serving generous portions, you really need to forget the diet just for a while and sample some of the lovely items on the menu. From a full cooked breakfast to a pot of tea and scones, you’ll need that walk in the Surrey Hills 
to even out the calorie count.

Did you know?

For those visiting the area, it can be slightly confusing to discover there are actually three Abingers – namely Abinger Hammer, Abinger Common and Sutton Abinger. All located in the same parish, it is Abinger Common that is home to the parish church of St James.

The most famous and recognisable feature of the village is the clock on the main A25. The blacksmith strikes the hour with his hammer underneath the motto “By me you know how fast to go” – a testament to the modern day traffic on the road that speeds past – the occasional high-sided lorry having been known to hit the clock tower.

The Tillingbourne stream runs through the village at the edge of the cricket green with the tiny wooden bridge being perfect for the game of ‘Pooh Sticks”, particularly when the annual Teddy Bears’ Picnic is in full swing.

Oh, and did you know, the road sign in the middle of Abinger has the wrong spelling of the nearby village of Westcott…

Making the headlines…

Well, you can’t do a lot better than claiming to have hosted an Olympic sport. Okay, so maybe we’re cheating a little bit with that, but the 2012 Olympic cycle road race passed right through the village on its route round London and Surrey. Bet the worldwide audience watching on TV must have been impressed with those neatly strimmed verges and clean drains too...

Dates for your diary…

If you’ve been hooked on the BBC’s Masterchef series or The Great British Bake Off, then Abinger will soon be the place for you to hone your cookery skills… the old Abinger Arms on the main road near the clock has been turned into no less than a residential cookery school. Having opened in the New Year, the school will be offering courses ranging from Seafood Secrets to Chalet Cooking and Dinner Parties. The website is at abingercookeryschool.com, so if you fancy yourself as the next Michel Roux this could be the place.

Getting there…

Well, if a hundred or more Olympic cyclists can find it, it can’t be too difficult. A few miles west of Dorking on the A25 and on a regular bus route (Arriva 32 from Redhill to Guildford), Abinger Hammer is not far from Gomshall train station either. There is a small village car park just off the main road.

Coming up...

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Next month: We will be visiting the village of Bisley

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