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Esher town guide 2015

PUBLISHED: 12:17 25 August 2015 | UPDATED: 16:48 25 August 2015

Claremont Landscape Garden (Photo: NTPL / Andrew Butler)

Claremont Landscape Garden (Photo: NTPL / Andrew Butler)

©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Not only can you travel the world via Esher’s restaurants, but you’ll be walking in royal footsteps wherever you go. A cosmopolitan town bustling with boutiques, there’s so much more than just a day at the races on offer

You can travel the world on Esher's High Street - or feel firmly at home (Photo: Matthew Williams)You can travel the world on Esher's High Street - or feel firmly at home (Photo: Matthew Williams)

Originally published in A Celebration of Surrey Life

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Did you know?

1 Esher grew up as a stopping point on the London to Portsmouth road. There are several links to royalty, with King Henry VIII using the area as a hunting ground in the 16th century.

2 There are some interesting churches too. In the town centre, Christ Church is a Victorian Gothic building over 150 years old with a magnificent spire and tower. Across the green in nearby West End is St George’s – the little church built on land donated by Queen Victoria to save locals a walk into town. Last but not least, the original church of St George in Esher is over 900 years old and is now looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust.

3 Just a short trot from the town centre is one of the UK’s best known racecourses, Sandown Park. Founded in 1875, it was also the Queen Mother’s favourite course. As well as horse racing, there’s karting, skiing and snowboarding to enjoy.

4 Founded by George Henry, after he moved to West End village in 1871, Garsons Farm is now the biggest pick-your-own in the UK.

5 Originally created in the early 18th century for Claremont House (which is now home to Claremont Fan Court School), the garden there is one of the earliest surviving examples of its kind, dating from the reign of Queen Anne. Many famous horticultural names, including Sir John Vanbrugh and Capability Brown, lavished their love and skills upon it, to turn it into a creation designed to be adored.

6 What is more, Claremont also has its very own royal love story. Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg married Princess Charlotte in 1816, and the couple moved into Claremont House shortly afterwards. Tragically, the princess died in childbirth after just 18 months of marriage, but the Prince, who went on to become King of Belgium, owned Claremont for the rest of his life.

7 One of the National Trust’s more unusual properties, The Homewood was built in 1938 and reflects the style and ethos of the Modern Movement. A fascinating place, booking is required to visit this extraordinary tenanted property and it is accessed by minibus from Claremont Landscape Garden.

8 Some say that Jimi Hendrix brought parakeets to England for the first time and, however unlikely that story might be, they’ve certainly brought their own particular style to towns like Esher.

9 The town also has a link to The Beatles too. George Harrison once had a house in Esher (complete with a recording studio, of course). He painted the outer walls of ‘Kinfauns’ with psychedelic patterns.

10 It’s easy to see why so many professional families move to the town. Esher College was attended by actress Keira Knightley, until she concentrated on acting full-time.

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A pocket guide:

Drink at: There’s plenty for the craft beer lovers at The Albert Arms.

Eat at: Esher is spoilt for choice when it comes to high-end and exotic independent restaurants, with Chinese at The Good Earth and the Orient, Japanese at Maru, Lebanese at Layla and Thai at the Siam Food Gallery, among those vying for attention.

Stay at: The Bear is a traditional coaching inn in the centre of town.

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