Reigate town guide 2015
PUBLISHED: 13:07 18 September 2015 | UPDATED: 13:13 18 September 2015
A historic market town that's become one of the jewels in the east Surrey crown, Reigate has a real sense of its own identity - with independent delis, cafés and restaurants holding their own against the chains
Originally published in A Celebration of Surrey Life
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Did you know?
1 Following the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror awarded what is now Reigate to one of his principal knights, William de Warenne. The family built the castle (of which only secluded gardens remain) and then constructed the town around the focal point in 1150.
2 Reigate Priory School occupies a building that began life as a 13th century priory, before being granted by Henry VIII to Lord Howard of Effingham in 1535 following the dissolution. It’s at the heart of the lovely Priory Park.
3 The Tunnel Road caves, which lie beneath the beautiful Reigate Castle Grounds, are home to the local gun club but also open to the public – along with their more historic neighbour, the Barons’ Cave – several times a year.
4 The Cranston Library, founded on March 14, 1701, is situated in a small chamber above the vestry in St Mary’s parish church. It was the first public lending library in England.
5 Found on Croydon Road, the tiny museum run by the Holmesdale Natural History Club opens on selected days. It’s filled with a fascinating array of objects including a large number of stuffed birds and archaeological collections.
6 Reigate Heath’s quirkiest feature is the windmill, which was converted into a small chapel in 1880. Keys can be obtained from the nearby golf club.
7 Back in the 1940s, the headquarters of General Montgomery’s SE Command was based in caves deep inside the chalk slopes of Reigate Hill. These tunnels and offices have long since been blocked up.
8 Walk along West Street and you could be forgiven for never realising that it is home to a brilliant little brewery called Pilgrim. Started in 1982 in the publess Woldingham, they moved to Reigate in 1985.
9 While there are many opportunities to eat out in Reigate, it’s only recently that the town has again had a market to match its foodie aspirations: Reigate Street Eats is the thing to look out for, as well as the Eat Food Festival that has sprung from it.
10 Another hot ticket is The Vineking wine merchant’s regular pop-up restaurants with local chef Maxwell McKenzie – they sell out as quickly as they’re listed. They’ve also teamed up with independent deli, Cullenders, to host a regular wine bar from Thursdays to Saturdays.
A pocket guide:
Drink at: If you’re looking for unusual beers, head to The Venture Inn on Lesbourne Road. If you fancy stretching your legs, walk across the heath to the Skimmington Castle.
Eat at: There’s a whole host of independent cafés and delis, plus a number of high-end chains, but at the top of things remain The Dining Room and La Barbe.
Stay at: Head just down the road to the spectacular Nutfield Priory.