Things to do in Capel - village life
PUBLISHED: 07:30 12 April 2015 | UPDATED: 09:07 13 April 2015
Pete Gardner Photography
Located close to the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the idyllic village of Capel offers everything from nature trails to ancient gravestones and even Iron Age remains…
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine March 2015
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With more than 25 years at the helm of Capel Newsagent, Mukesh Patel has a wealth of knowledge about the village. Chatting about his time in the shop, he is continually interrupted by customers wishing him a good morning by name.
“Capel is a very pleasant village to live in,” he says with enthusiasm. “People look after each other here. Everyone is very down-to-earth and straightforward.”
As an example of the “village cohesion”, as Mukesh puts it, Capel recently fought back successfully after being blighted with the threat of a huge incinerator.
“Some 400 to 500 people turned up to object, and the plans have now been thrown out for good,” he says.
Local resident Jan Dagley, who has popped in for some shopping, agrees with Mukesh and adds that the village has also become well-known for a couple of annual events – the Capel Music Festival and the Capel Classic Car & Bike Show.
Did you know?
• Capel has a Scheduled Ancient Monument – the remains of a large Iron Age Fort constructed in the second and first centuries BC. For a precise location for this ancient hill fort, take a look online at ancientmonuments.info/en20186-anstiebury-camp-a-large-multivallate-hillf/osmap. There are also plenty of lovely walks in the beautiful surrounding countryside.
• The village church of St John the Baptist has some rather interesting features too. Look carefully and you can find the oldest surviving headstone belonging to an Alice Clarke who died in 1694. Part of the inscription is a skull and crossbones – a rather blunt reminder of human mortality no doubt…
• Oh, and while you are in the churchyard, here is a little challenge. There is a yew tree just inside the entrance that has been dated to around 1,700 years old! We’re told that if you walk around the tree 100 times at midnight then a ghost will appear. Let us know if it works… (though, frankly, after walking round a tree 100 times, anything is possible...).
Dates for the diary…
The two big events here are the annual Capel Music Festival and the Capel Classic Car & Bike Show, both now attracting hundreds of visitors.
The former is a day of live music to raise money for local causes while the latter is a showcase for everything from classic, veteran and vintage to racing and military vehicles.
Although the music festival and car show are both in August, you can check them out now at capelcarshow.com and capelmusicfestival.org.uk.
Coming sooner though, there is a Quiz Night at the Memorial Hall on Saturday March 14 at 7pm, so get your thinking caps on. Entry is £15.
Grabbing a bite...
Capel has just one pub, The Crown, smack in the centre of the village…(okay, it’s at 98 The Street RH5 5JY – we’d hate you to get lost!).
Describing itself as “a truly unique pub hidden away in the Surrey Hills”, this 17th century inn serves good pub fare as well as more exotic home-cooked Thai dishes (another challenge for you... the ‘Goong Ta-Ral’ spicy steamed tiger prawns has a three-chilli symbol attached, so be warned!).
Another place to eat is just up the road towards Dorking. Part of the Surrey Hills Hotel has now become The British Raj Indian restaurant offering a take-away menu as well as a full restaurant sitting. There is a ‘Menu of Discovery’ available for two at £44.95, which includes a bottle of house wine, or a Sunday Special at £8.95.
While you’re there…
“To the east of the village is a nature reserve of 86 acres, The Dairy House Private Nature Reserve, which is crossed by public footpaths,” says local resident Paul Garber. “A Designated Site of Nature Conservation Importance, the reserve has a number of nightingale nesting sites as well as superb flora and fauna. Sussex Wildlife Trust runs special walks for the nightingales and wildflower meadows.”
Sitting snugly between Horsham to the south and Dorking to the north, Capel is just off the A24. There are plenty of places to park in the village so set your satnav to RH5 5JY and you’ll end up right by the church.
Buses run through the village – the No. 93 Metrobus from Horsham to Dorking runs approximately every hour throughout the day Monday to Saturday.
Ockley railway station is also within a few minutes walk.