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Banstead 2014: where to eat, shop and visit

PUBLISHED: 13:41 29 April 2014 | UPDATED: 13:41 29 April 2014

Banstead

Banstead

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Home to a bustling High Street that's still battling to hang on to its independents, Banstead also retains a taste of the countryside, surrounded as it is by beautiful bluebell woods and rolling lavender fields...

A potted history...

So is Banstead a town or a village? There seems to be some disagreement over the status – the 1086 entry in the Domesday Book lists the name as Benestede, when the word stede referred to a place without town status. A town status meant a settlement had a charter to hold a market, which Banstead doesn’t. However, Banstead is 
a post town as required by the Post Office when addressing letters. Nevertheless, at the risk of antagonising residents in another part of Surrey, many locals describe Banstead not only as a village but as the largest village in England – a title that is also proudly claimed by Cranleigh. So, dear readers, what do you think? Why not let us know by sharing your thoughts with us at facebook.com/surreylife and twitter.com/surreylife. In any event, Banstead is known today for its long, bustling high street, beautiful surrounding countryside and its lavender.

Out and about…

One thing Banstead does have is a well-loved camel. Yes, a camel. There is a question over how many humps it has, as all you can see is its head, but you’ll find it in a beautiful stained glass window at All Saints’ Church in the centre of the village.

Banstead has five churches in all; as well as All Saints’, there is St Ann’s RC, St Paul’s, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed.

A helper with the church choir, librarian Faith Collins has this to say of the area: “Banstead is a great place to live; there are lots of things going on – whatever you are looking for, you’ll find it here.”

There certainly seems to be a strong sense of community everywhere you go. For example at Greenacre School for Girls, they are proud of their involvement in the community. Headmistress Lindsay Redding says: “At Christmas, senior girls visit the four residential homes and in the summer the residents are invited to the school for tea and music. In the spring, the juniors take part in the Banstead May Fayre Parade. We are proud of our place in the village!”

Speaking of May, another big event that month is the Banstead Arts Festival, a two-week extravaganza featuring concerts, exhibitions, talks, coach visits and more, providing local people with the opportunity to hear artists of national standing and to perform themselves in a professional atmosphere (see bansteadarts.co.uk).

For now, head into Banstead Woods, off Outwood Lane, to see some of the best bluebell displays in Surrey.

Famous tales…

In years gone by, the area was known for its lavender production, and today this ancient tradition is continued at Mayfield Lavender. Located on the borders of Banstead, the 25-acre lavender farm reopens to the public on Sunday June 1 (for now, check out their online shop at mayfieldlavender.com).

Banstead Cricket Club, whose First XI competes in the Surrey Championship Premier Division, hosted a match with the great WG Grace in the early 1900s.

Whether he is famous or not depends on how fond you are of mustard, but Mr FE Colman of Colman’s Mustard fame lived nearby on the Nork and Great Burgh Estate. His family stayed on after his death until 1923.

Food & drink…

There are certainly plenty of well known chains here, from Costa Coffee and Zizzi to Prezzo, but if you’re the independent type then try the aptly-named Edibles (01737 359149) at number 125 High Street.

A family-run business for 27 years, they have a catering service as well as a waitress attended café. The menu is huge and it could take you a while to decide – but how about the Surrey Muffin with a poached egg, bacon and mushrooms? Yes, very Surrey (the Londoner Brunch has a fried egg by the way, so now we know the difference between them and us…).

Staying in The High Street, The Woolpack Inn (01737 354560) offers a daily specials board and traditional Sunday roasts. There is also a Live Jazz Club on the first Tuesday of each month – apparently The Woolpack was the local of Humphrey Lyttelton’s trombonist, Pete Strange, so if you are a jazz lover this is definitely the one…

Getting there…

Car: A few miles north of junction 8 of the M25 and with good town centre parking.

Train: Banstead has a railway station that serves nearby Nork as well on the Epsom Downs line.

Bus: A 166 Arriva bus and the 317 and 318 from Buses Excetera will take you there – the first via Epsom to Croydon and the 317 from Epsom via Langley Vale.

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