Banstead village guide 2015
PUBLISHED: 15:08 11 July 2015 | UPDATED: 11:05 19 August 2015
An unassuming village, tucked off the A217, Banstead became a tourist destination of sorts over the centuries thanks to the “wholesome air” that made it an escape from the city – for tired travellers and residents alike
Originally published in A Celebration of Surrey Life
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Did you know?
1 Is Banstead a town or a village? 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.
2 It is said that the area was recommended as a ‘resort’ by some London doctors for their patients in the 1600s because of its reputation for “wholesome air”. Such was its attraction by the 1900s that there are large numbers of Banstead postcards that survive from the era.
3 These days, tourists mainly flock to the fields of Mayfield Lavender, which are just outside the village. You’ll smell them (in the summer months) before you see them. Breathe in and relax – and take advantage of their great café.
4 By the late 19th century, Banstead had gained a reputation for big houses with sprawling gardens. Among these, Shaw House was designed by Norman Shaw, the Victorian architect responsible for New Scotland Yard.
5 In-the-know mustard fans may already be aware that a certain Mr Colman, of Colman’s Mustard fame, lived near to the village in the Nork and Great Burgh Estate. His family stayed on after his death until 1923.
6 Kingswood Warren became most famous as home to the BBC’s Research Department. It was here that DAB radio, Teletext, Nicam Digital Stereo, Freeview, the “red button” and HD TV, among others, were all developed. The estate has since been sold and is now luxury housing.
7 The town used to have a psychiatric hospital named Banstead Asylum, which was open for over 100 years from 1873 to 1986. After being involuntarily committed to the Asylum in the late 1960s, Vincent Crane of the band Atomic Rooster wrote the song Banstead, which featured on their eponymous 1970 album.
8 Most famous for his Woking connections (more on which later), novelist HG Wells used Banstead as a destination in his 1895 novel, The Time Machine (the Palace of Green Porcelain is found here) and the town also gains a brief mention in The War of the Worlds.
9 In the 17th and 18th centuries, Banstead Downs was a well-known sports venue where horse riding and hunting thrived.
10 Believed to have been owned by Anne Boleyn, Banstead Woods are an ancient woodland that once formed a medieval deer park.
A pocket guide:
Drink at: Out in the countryside near Banstead Woods, you’ll find the sprawling Rambler’s Rest on Outwood Lane.
Eat at: Get a taste of the Mediterranean at the Galu or Ciao Italia restaurants.
Stay at: Head into the hills at Warlingham, where you’ll find Chez Vous – an excellent French restaurant with rooms.