10 things to see and do in Sunbury-on-Thames
PUBLISHED: 11:09 06 November 2018 | UPDATED: 13:39 06 November 2018
Found on the stretch of the River Thames between Weybridge and East Molesey, Sunbury-on-Thames is blessed with a village feel where it meets the water. From antique hunts to the joys of river life, here are a few of our favourite reasons to visit
Just 15 minutes down the road from the world-famous home of England rugby, Twickenham Stadium, Kempton Park Racecourse has been making its own sporting headlines since 1878. It was the dream of businessman Samuel H Hyde, which is even said to have built a royal box in 21 days in 1889 to cater for a visit from the Prince of Wales. Heavily affected by both World Wars, Kempton Park become a prisoner-of-war camp during the Second World War. The jewel in its racing crown is the King George VI Chase, which was first run in 1937 and now takes place on Boxing Day.
Staines Road East TW16 5AQ
Those in the know have been flocking to Sunbury Antiques Market since 1979. Now established as one of Europe’s premier antiques markets, they spread their wings earlier this year and now also host indoor and outdoor stalls at Sandown Park Racecourse in Esher each month. If you’ve got an eye for a hidden treasure or future Antiques Roadshow star item, then this is a must visit with its vast collections of furniture, vintage fashion, clocks, art etc. It’s a huge event but still, somehow, a bit of a hidden gem to those who don’t follow the trade.
Kempton Park Racecourse, Staines Road East TW16 5AQ
Home to the Sunbury Embroidery Gallery and the Sunbury Millennium Embroidery, a wonderful three metre by one metre depiction of the village that has even been visited by The Queen, Sunbury Walled Garden is a gorgeous 18th century haven. A place that is perfect for a little quiet contemplation, the Lendy Memorial is its impressive centrepiece. There is also a lovely little café at the gallery, which is a unique spot for a morning coffee, light lunch or afternoon tea. From October 1 to March 31, the garden opens seven days a week from 7.30am to 6.30pm. The café opens Tuesdays to Sundays, 10am to 4pm.
Thames Street TW16 6AB
Sunbury-on-Thames is found off Thames Street, and so, as you might have guessed, river life is an important part of the area. One of the main features of this stretch of the river is Sunbury Lock, which is actually two locks – an old hand-operated lock originally built in 1856 and a new lock that was opened in 1927. The Royal Swan Upping, where numbers of mute swans are recorded each year, starts in Sunbury, with ‘uppers’ adorned in the scarlet uniform of Her Majesty The Queen. If you’re looking to enjoy a cruise along the river, French Brothers’ Runnymede to Hampton Court boat service calls at the lock.
While Sunbury train station and its suburban surroundings are approximately a 10-minute drive from the river, it’s the village-like Lower Sunbury and the islands of the Thames dotted alongside that are perhaps the main draw for inquisitive visitors to the area. With the alluringly-named Grand Junction Isle, Sunbury Court Island, Rivermead Island, Sunbury Lock Ait and Wheatley’s Ait along this stretch, there’s plenty to inspire the imagination. Middle Thames Yacht Club is based on Sunbury Lock Island and its boats can easily be seen across the water on the Sunbury side of the island.
A regular inclusion in the Michelin Guide since it opened in 2008, Indian Zest remains one of Surrey’s star Indian restaurants. Run by Bhanu Pratap and Manoj Vasaika, the focus here is on celebrating the flavours of India in a contemporary and refined setting. If you’re looking for something a little different, its Regal Room comes complete with a fire place and, we’re told, your very own dedicated butler. If you’re in the area around midday, the two-course lunch menu is an absolute bargain at £12.75 – seven days a week.
21 Thames Street TW16 5QF
Having walked the Thames or relaxed in the walled garden, you may be looking for a little refreshment and The Flower Pot coaching inn is a decent spot to head to. Relax with a pint of cask ale or a tipple off their cocktail menu or enjoy a bite to eat – the meat comes from East Molesey’s Bentleys of Surrey. You can always book a room too, if you can’t tear yourself away from the town. You might also like to try The Magpie, The White Horse or The Flower Pot’s sister pub The Phoenix, which are all in easy walking distance.
Thames Street TW16 6AA
Found on the western border of the town, Queen Mary Sailing Club is based at the largest reservoir in the south east. Raised from the surrounding countryside, it’s a popular location for sailing or windsurfing. From October to March, the club is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 9am. It is also home to the Bloody Mary Pursuit Race, which is the largest inland dinghy race held in the UK and, while beached due to low water levels in 2018, is all set for its next run on January 2019.
Queen Mary Reservoir, Ashford Road TW15 1UA
Despite playing home games at the Madejski Stadium in Reading, London Irish has been based in Sunbury-on-Thames since the 1930s. Previously at The Avenue, the club now trains at the state-of-the-art Hazelwood, a 63-acre complex that was created from a nine-hole golf course in 2014. The facility can even be hired for weddings these days. London Irish competed in the Premiership for 20 years but currently sits in the second tier RFU Championship. The likes of Jonathan Joseph, Topsy Ojo and Delon Armitage have come through the academy and gone on to play for England.
Hazelwood Drive TW16 6QU
Opened in 1982, the Riverside Arts Centre is a community venue supporting the local arts scene. The Sunbury & Shepperton Arts Association, which formed in 1967, was instrumental in the formation of the Riverside Arts Centre and continues this close association today. Other groups taking advantage of the centre include Manor Players; Shepperton Players; Riverside Players; and Riverside Youth Theatre.
57-59 Thames Street TW16 5QF
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