Some of the best things to see and do in Esher
PUBLISHED: 10:25 30 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:25 30 April 2019
National Trust/Andrew Butler
Surrounded by beautiful countryside and affluent estates, Esher is a town that has an identity all of its own. From brand new restaurants and wine bars to gorgeous gardens perfect for a little relaxed contemplation, it's a pristine blend of town and country
One of Surrey's most cosmopolitan towns, Esher is part of a golden triangle with Weybridge and Cobham and surrounding villages.
Having originally developed as a coaching town on the London to Portsmouth route, it became a wealthy area in the 16th century when Henry VIII commandeered the area as a hunting ground. It's still a draw for the rich and famous today and it doesn't stand still for long, either…
From Bernard Boutique, which has had its finger on the pulse of all the latest ladies' fashion trends since 1969, to Garsons, which has been growing the freshest fruit and veg since 1871 and is home to the UK's largest pick-your-own farm, there are independent businesses here that set the trends and attract people into the area from far and wide.
Another to add to that particular list is The Art Agency, whose fresh approach to art buying and working with artists has made the whole process fun again.
These – and the many high-quality international restaurants that are found in Esher – are set to be joined by Spanish chef and restaurateur José Pizarro, who recently took the keys of The Swan Inn. He's taken over from former proprietor, the two Michelin-starred chef Claude Bosi, who ran the place as an informal countryside foodie retreat during his tenure.
José, we're told, is set to transform it with his flavours of Spain when the exciting new chapter begins this month. One to keep an eye on then, as it's only a 15-minute walk outside the town centre.
Back onto that High Street and just a quick step to the side takes you to the town's almost secretive village green, which is overlooked by The Wheatsheaf pub and the 165-year-old Christ Church, with its impressive spire.
St George's Church, meanwhile, is found tucked behind The Bear coaching inn in another 'hidden' corner of the town. Princess Victoria (as she would have been then) attended services at this quaint Tudor church when visiting her uncle at Claremont and later, as Queen, visited with Prince Albert. It's the oldest public building in Esher.
In a pop culture nod, meanwhile, a blue plaque commemorates Beatles guitarist George Harrison's time living in Esher at his former home, Kinfauns.
There was a time when George, John and Ringo all lived in Surrey and, in 1968, they recorded a selection of demos at the house. These became known as the Kinfauns or Esher Demos and some of these tracks made it onto the world-famous, The White Album.
If you're looking to pick up a few musical tips these days, then ABC Music has been serving local musicians since 1967.
With its blend of town and country and fantastic transport links, it's no surprise that Esher's affluent private roads and estates continue to make it highly-prized for people looking to move out of London as well as a source of great pride to those already lucky enough to live there.
24 hours in
• Morning - Enjoy a slow, steady and indulgent start to the day at Seven Bluebirds for brunch (their Croque Monsieur comes recommended – and we hear they often do free flowing prosecco on weekends, but best to check before visiting for that one!). Then, rather than rushing off, take a short stroll along the High Street to browse the wares of The Art Agency.
• Afternoon - Depending on the pace of life you enjoy, you can escape to the country at the National Trust's beautiful Claremont Landscape Garden or strap in for high speed thrills at Daytona Sandown Park karting in the afternoon. Presumably the latter will be firmly off the agenda if the prosecco has been flowing, however. So, Claremont it is, with a rug and a good book/natter in preparation for the evening.
• Evening - Finally, don your finest glad rags for a visit to the sophisticated bar and restaurant Cuvee VIII, where you can enjoy some of the best wines around while enjoying a grand bite to eat. It could almost be Paris. Whether you're indulging in a bottle of the finest Champagne or English sparkling wine, or are just looking to sample a glass or two of something new to you, this place fits the bill.
• Sandown Park Racecourse - Just a short trot from the town centre is one of the UK's best-known racecourses, Sandown Park. Founded in 1875, its 2019 jump season ends in April with the Bet365 Jump Season Finale and then the flat season begins in May. It's not just about the racing these days – Madness, Jess Glynne and Pete Tong will be providing the musical backing this summer.
• Garsons - While pick-your-own season falls later in the year, how about packing up a hamper full of goodies from Garsons' ample farm shop and heading off to find yourself a spot for an early spring picnic on the village green or at Esher Common and Black Pond, which is a five-minute drive from town?
• Everyman Esher - While we're told that many of the footballers, film stars and international business people who live in the area choose to get cinemas built inside their homes these days, there's clearly enough of us mere mortals to keep the town's cinema thriving. Of course, this is no ordinary cinema, however, and you can enjoy a sharing platter of olives and chorizo with a bottle of Bolney Estate bubbly while you watch the latest hits.
• Claremont Landscape Garden - An oasis found only moments outside the town, Claremont Landscape Garden is steeped in more than 300 years of history. Many of the great names in landscape design played a part in the creation of the estate and, in 1866, Queen Victoria acquired the estate to save it from development. It's now in the hands of the National Trust and, with its turf amphitheatre, serpentine lake, grotto, Camellia Terrace and Belvedere Tower, it's a wonderful destination to while away an afternoon.
• Hampton Court Palace - Another of Surrey's gems can be found less than 10-minutes' drive from the town centre, Hampton Court Palace is a must if you happen to be spending a weekend in the area. The Great Hall, gardens and maze are sure to inspire and, until mid-March, you can view costumes from the film, The Favourite.
• Things to do in Surrey this month - We round up some of the best events and things to do across Surrey this month