5 ideas for a rainy day in Surrey

PUBLISHED: 12:54 20 August 2018 | UPDATED: 12:54 20 August 2018

Raindrops by Crishna Simmons (CC BY-NC 2.0) via flic.kr/p/afut7q

Raindrops by Crishna Simmons (CC BY-NC 2.0) via flic.kr/p/afut7q


We pick out five Surrey-based itineraries, each packed with great places to visit indoors, to get you through a rainy day.

For the heritage hunter

From ancient castles to cathedral tours via museums and teddy bear shops

1. Start off with a trip to Farnham Castle’s fascinating 12th Century Keep, which was re-opened in 2010 following a near £1million restoration programme. The Scheduled Ancient Monument was originally built as a classic motte and bailey construction and formerly used as a defensive residence for the Bishops of Winchester.

2. A 25-minute drive takes you to Godalming Museum, where you'll find exhibitions on local history, people, images of the town and more.

3. Enjoy a delicious lunch at the famous and very beautiful Withies Inn, Compton – a short 20-minute drive away from Godalming.

4. Then it’s back in the car again and a 20-minute journey to the county town of Guildford. Why not head to the cobbled High Street, take in the town’s historic clock and potter around quaint side streets like Jeffries Passage, which is full of unusual shops including The Bear Garden – one of the UK’s leading teddy bear shops. It’s also worth poking your head around the gate at Abbott’s Hospital for a stunning piece of architecture.  

5. Visit Guildford Cathedral which sits proudly on Stag Hill. A comparatively modern cathedral, building started in April 1933 when a cross was erected on Stag Hill to mark the site – it was made out of teak timbers from the battleship HMS Ganges and still stands outside the cathedral at the eastern end. The Second World War brought a halt to proceedings and for many years the cathedral sat empty – the post-war lack of capital led to a ‘buy a brick’ campaign in 1952, with subscribers (including the Queen, who visited in 1957) inscribing their donated bricks. The cathedral was finally consecrated in May 1961.

6. Why not end your day with a tasty meal at The Refectory eatery at the cathedral.


For the arts lover

From children’s book illustration to a famous Victorian painter, with a little theatre thrown in along the way

1. Arrive at Woking’s award-winning art gallery and museum, The Lightbox, and enjoy a tasty lunch at their lovely café (closed Mondays).

2. After more than a decade of planning, The Lightbox opened its doors to the public in 2007, and has since gained a national reputation. Exhibitions at the time of writing include Young Contemporary Talent from The Ingram Collection, Sidney Francis: Photographs of Working in the 1920s & 1930s and Woking’s Story.

3. Take the 40-minute drive down to the Watts Chapel. The gallery is a monument to eminent Victorian artist GF Watts and the chapel was created by his wife Mary. Pop into the tea shop for a brief rest, too.

4. Then it’s back up the A31 to Surrey’s county town and Guildford House Gallery (which shouldn’t take much more than ten minutes) to have a quick explore before its 4.45pm closing time.

5. After a few hours of rushing about enjoying three very different Surrey art experiences, settle down for a glass of wine at The Albany, on Sydenham Road, a short walk away from Guildford House Gallery, in preparation for your evening’s entertainment. If the rain is too heavy or feet are sore, you can always head straight to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre and their Riverside Restaurant.

6. Check out the latest listings and see a show at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.


For the local produce fanatic

From elevenses and brewery tours to foodie treats and sommeliers’ dreams

1. Start the day with elevenses at Eliza’s Tea Shop, a delightful recreation of a 1930s tea room situated next to Secretts Farm Shop in Milford. Set in the heart of the Surrey countryside, Secretts is a producer of salads and fruit for many of the county’s pubs and restaurants (as well as those further afield). The stables that once housed the farm’s shire horses now operate as the Farm Shop.

2. Just down the road (20 minutes in fact) is one of Surrey’s top breweries, Hog’s Back. Though their weekday tours usually run in the evening, earlier sessions are available on weekends and you can pop in to their shop whatever time you visit. Pick up a few bottles of Gardeners’ Tipple, Brooklands Gold Star or the ever-popular TEA.

3. No Surrey produce tour would be complete without lunch at The Parrot in Forest Green – few pubs can make as much of their own produce, meaning it’s well worth the 45-minute drive. After your meal, browse their farm shop or pop over to Village Greens in nearby Ockley to pick up some extra treats.

4. Then it’s on to England’s largest vineyard, Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, where tours (starting at £11.50) are available indoors. Sample their award-winning wine and take a few bottles home from their shop, too.

5. Still room for a bite to eat? If you choose not to eat at Denbies’ own Conservatory Restaurant.


For the family

From painting pottery and visiting tree-houses to giant dragons and farm fun

1. Pick a pot and get painting in Purley at Get Fired. Aimed at all ages, it’s a great way to make a special birthday gift or just unleash your creativity.

2. The community owned and not for profit The Arc in Caterham offers everything from drama, dance and arts workshops to a kids’ soft play centre and a café. There’s even a giant dragon as well!

3. If there’s any energy left in the little limbs then a 20-minute drive takes you to Godstone Farm. Despite being best-known for its animals, if the weather is still a little grotty then the indoor play area and undercover sandpits should see them happily off to sleep by the end of the day. The tea room provides sustenance for the adults, too.


For motor racing madness

From sporting history to state-of-the-art track days and back to basics karting

1. Start your day at the birthplace of British motorsport, Brooklands Museum, near Weybridge. Packed full with motoring history, and a wonderful range of vintage vehicles, it all started back in August 1926, when the RAC organised the first-ever British Grand Prix and race days at the track. Today, as well as all the classic cars, there is plenty of aviation history, too… not least an original Concorde.

2. Take time out to refuel at the Sunbeam Café at Brooklands Museum.

3. Go through the gears and swerve over to Mercedes-Benz World just across the road. Pre-book one of their driving experiences to get behind the wheel of something a bit special – their AMG Driving Experiences aren’t cheap but are a lot of fun. For something a little more relaxed, the original track once ran through where the Brooklands Hotel now stands and is marked in quartz and granite in the reception area.

4. About a half-hour’s drive away is Sandown Park Racecourse in Esher, but we’re not pointing you towards the gee-gees. To keep the high octane thrills riding high – if you’ve still got the energy – Daytona offer the thrills and spills of karting.

5. With walls adorned in motor racing memorabilia, where else to head for a late evening meal after a hard day behind the wheel than The William Bray, in Shere, which is about a 40-minute drive away from Esher.

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