Elmbridge's gated estates - St George's Hill, Burwood Park and Whittets Ait Island
PUBLISHED: 13:32 14 November 2011 | UPDATED: 09:50 23 June 2014
Won the lottery? Gained a promotion at work? Come into a large sum of money? EMMA WARD finds out why moving to one of Weybridge's exclusive gated estates might just be the ideal way to celebrate your new-found wealth
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine March 2008
Picture the scene. Five of your lottery numbers have come up. You wait with baited breath for the sixth - and it's yours! After jumping up and down for joy, your thoughts turn to how you might spend your fabulous winnings.
For many, first priority would be a new house, complete with top-of-the-range perks such as a swimming pool, sauna and cinema. And, of course, it would have to be set in beautiful surroundings with plenty of luxury shops and services nearby to cater to your every whim. So where better to start looking for that dream home than in the elegant commuter town of Weybridge?
Famous for its exclusive gated estates, this is undoubtedly the place to come if you want to enjoy the epitome of luxury living away from prying eyes.
St George's Hill...
Tucked away behind a formidable gated barrier on Brooklands Road, the most famous of the town's gated estates is undoubtedly St George's Hill, which boasts its own golf course, comprising three nine-hole loops, a tennis club with over 30 courts, and a gym, swimming pool, sauna and beauty spa. The luxurious properties on this salubrious estate fetch literally millions of pounds - not least because of their prestigious address.
"Houses towards the more expensive end of the scale will be exclusive detached properties with a minimum of four or five bedroom suites," says Jonathan Dyson, sales manager at the Weybridge office of UK estate agents Jackson-Stops. "Most will have the latest technology, such as cinema rooms, multi-room sound and light systems, sophisticated security systems and so on, and some will have a pool, gym and fitness complex. The rising star of the moment is the climate controlled wine cellar (with different sections for red and white wine). I've yet to see a 'panic room' but I've been assured that they do exist!
"However, the houses in Weybridge's gated estates do range in price fairly dramatically. The smaller 'new build' developments would obviously cost quite a lot less if you were to compare them to the properties in St George's Hill."
There are so many advantages to living in Weybridge that the area has long-attracted famous figures looking for somewhere to enjoy their privacy, while maintaining the fantastically high standards expected of a celebrity lifestyle. St George's Hill, for example, has been home to the likes of Sir Cliff Richard, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Sir Tom Jones and Sir Geoff Hurst.
If, however, you prefer to follow in the footsteps of royalty when spending your lottery winnings, you could consider Burwood Park in nearby Walton-on-Thames - another magnificent private residential estate. Sited in a former deer park that belonged to Henry VIII, wildlife is prevalent across its 360 acres and it contains one of England's oldest oak trees. More than 150 species of birds and animals have been recorded in the woods and parkland around the estate's lakes and communal areas.
Burwood Park Residents Limited was set up in 1991 to protect the park's environment and to look after members' interests. Wildlife co-ordinator Sophie Parker is charged with the welfare of the four-legged and winged residents - wild and domestic. Four generations of her family have lived in Burwood Park, spanning more than 40 years.
"Burwood Park is a very special place to live," she says. "We were attracted initially by the number of semi-rural areas around the estate, including the woodland and lakes that are just teeming with wildlife. I love to see the tree-lined vista right outside our windows, and to catch glimpses of the deer that sometimes come to graze in our garden, as well as all the other wildlife, such as rabbits, foxes, squirrels, waterfowl, owls and many other kinds of birds as well.
"It's a wonderful environment for children to grow up in, and like many of the families who live here, we appreciate how lucky we are to be able to go cycling directly from the house without having to worry about heavy traffic, and to be able to walk just a short way down the road and straight into the park's beautiful woodland."
Whittets Ait Island...
For those who wish their winnings could whisk them away to their very own island paradise, Weybridge can even offer something akin to this. Another impressive gated estate has been created on a small island at the point where the river Wey meets the River Thames at Weybridge. Whittets Ait Island is a recent development of luxury apartments that are connected to 'mainland' Weybridge by a bridge. Each new home has a lovely view of the river and there are the ever-popular attractions of exclusivity, privacy and security within the secluded riverside community.
"Weybridge has always benefited from an exclusive image, offering superb amenities in a country-style atmosphere, despite being so close to the capital," concludes Jonathan Dyson from Jackson-Stops, summing up Weybridge's on-going appeal. "It benefits from good schools and restaurants, a good standard of living and low crime rates. Oddly enough, though, there are few really decent butchers, bakers or fishmongers to be found in the town - however, I suppose deliveries from Harrods' food hall are never out of the question..."
They say that the sudden acquisition of a large sum of money comes hand in hand with huge responsibilities and difficult decisions about how to spend your winnings. This is never more so than when it comes to deciding which of Weybridge's classy gated estates you should make your home. In fact, if it wasn't for the thought that you could end up enjoying such a fantastic lifestyle in Weybridge, it would almost be worth hoping that your final lottery number didn't actually come up, just so that you wouldn't be faced with such a hard decision. Almost worth it, that is.
Gated estates in Surrey... A history
- Weybridge's gated estates are not a modern phenomenon but date back nearly a century.
- It all began with the opening of the London & Southampton Railway in 1838, which meant Weybridge suddenly became within easy and inexpensive reach of the capital.
- Mobile commuters looking for a peaceful haven from their work in the City soon began moving to the town and had large mansions built for their families on St George's Hill - one of the town's most attractive and sought-after areas.
- In 1911, local developer W. G. Tarrant established the area as one of Weybridge's first private residential estates, intended to provide 'large country retreats for the wealthy gentlemen of London'.
- So it remained, and St George's Hill became so popular that newer gated estates also began to spring up nearby.
Get the lifestyle
If you fancy getting a taste of the Elmbridge lifestyle, but don't have a few spare million to invest in a house, you could always join one of the area's prestigious clubs, many of which welcome non-residents, or visit one of its many attractions
St George's Hill Golf Club
Designed by Harry Colt in 1912, St George's Hill comprises three very individual nine-hole loops, all starting and finishing by the clubhouse. Prospective members must be sponsored by two existing members, as well as produce letters of support from a further six. Non-members are permitted to play at the club on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays by prior arrangement with the assistant secretary and on payment of green fees that vary according to the time of year. Membership enquiries should be directed to the club secretary on 01932 847758.
St George's Hill Lawn Tennis Club
Set in a 16-acre lakeside, St George's Hill Lawn Tennis Club boasts superb sporting and social facilities that include 15 artificial grass tennis courts (eight floodlit), 15 grass and two indoor tennis courts, four squash courts, a gym, an air-conditioned studio, a 20m swimming pool, steam and sauna, bar and restaurants, creche and beauty spa. Membership is not dependent on residency and all ages and standards of playing are accepted. Prospective members are welcome to go and look round prior to joining. The club. Tel: 01932 268954
Burhill Park Golf Club
Close to the town centre, yet set in expansive grounds, this friendly golf club has been a crucial part of Weybridge for just over one hundred years. Its clubhouse is based in a beautiful 18th-century manor house, which has inspired the designs of several of the nearby houses. Several tiers of membership are available from a full year's subscription to beginner or social levels. Application forms for membership can be downloaded from the website. Burhill Golf Club also runs several open golf meetings throughout the year. Tel: 01932 227345
Weybridge Health Club
The newly-opened Weybridge Health Club, on Walton Lane, is set in 150 acres of attractive countryside and is the ideal place to relax and take a break. Opened last year, the club offers a relaxing spa pool, a range of beauty treatments and high tech gym equipment. Membership packages for individuals and couples are available to all. The club also offers corporate membership, preferential rates at the Mulberry Dental Clinic and Sports Orthopaedics Spinal Centre and has an association with Burhill Golf Club. Tel: 08452 700 200
Once you have secured your dream home, and signed up to your chosen golf club, the next thing on your list is probably a fast car to park in the driveway. If you can't decide which one to choose, then Weybridge is the ideal place to seek inspiration as the town was home to England's first professional motor racing circuit at Brooklands, constructed in 1907 by wealthy local landowner, Hugh Fortescue Locke King. While the racetrack itself closed at the start of the Second World War, Brooklands Museum remains on the site and has a magnificent collection of vintage racing cars, as well as historic motoring, engineering and aviation memorabilia on display. The museum is open every day from 10am to 4pm (5pm in the summer).