CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Surrey Life today CLICK HERE

Historical interpreter Mark Wallis on his perfect Surrey weekend

PUBLISHED: 10:54 12 July 2013 | UPDATED: 10:56 12 July 2014

Mark Wallis

Mark Wallis

Archant

One day Dickens, the next a knight; life must get confusing at times for Witley resident Mark Wallis. As artistic and managing director of historical interpreters, Past Pleasures, he loves nothing more than throwing himself into our county’s history

Originally published by Surrey Life magazine June 2013

***

I’ve been running my own business for 25 years and have only relatively recently had the luxury of time off to enjoy holidays and weekends; the heritage sector demands a seven-day week, therefore we work whilst others play (including on weekends).

But thanks to an excellent team, I can now take time for myself, and, if not working alongside my team of costumed interpreters at Hampton Court Palace, I find plenty of ways to beguile the time in my native county of Surrey (well, my birthplace Wimbledon was in Surrey before the boundary changes).

As an historian, I am drawn to the places that evoke the past, from St Catherine’s Chapel outside Guildford to Loseley House, from Clandon Park to Painshill’s rococco gardens, and from Guildford Castle to Waverley Abbey’s ruins. And the museums in Guildford, Godalming and Haslemere are full of fascinating objects that unlock equally fascinating human stories...

Quirky and chaotic

When I lived in Guildford, there were two splendidly quirky and chaotic antiquarian bookshops that were everything Amazon is not, but they have now sadly vanished; but I continue to seek out the odd and unusual on my weekend jaunts.

Thus, one of favourite Surrey places is Watts Gallery and Chapel - not to mention the delightful Tea Shop. I take my foreign friends to this enchanting place and they can’t believe that it is just off the A3; a seemingly undiscovered gem. You can almost feel the ghost of GF Watts and his devoted wife hovering near; I feel sure they must approve of how the site is presented and interpreted (I’m looking forward to the planned opening of their house, Limnerslease).

I am incredibly fortunate to turn my love of history into my career. My company holds Europe’s largest contract for professional costumed interpretation (or people in period costume in period places!), so this means that we work at Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London daily; whilst I travel internationally advising museums and heritage sites.

As an inveterate antique collector I spend weekends at fairs and markets, and though many antique shops have closed due to rising rents, a fair is held in Milford’s quaint village hall - I’ve found the odd bargain there, as well as at Dorking Halls’ larger fair.

Although I am always busy and active, I’m aware that I need to get fit, a project which my girlfriend has taken in hand!

Thus we go horse riding near Woking and walking around Enton Lakes in Witley, which is where I live.

On occasion, we borrow my brother’s dog and exhaust ourselves - though not the dog - on Box Hill: I’ve loved the place since tobogganing down it in the 1960s as a boy.

Theatre fascinates me, so I know I can always see excellent performances at Kingston’s Rose Theatre and Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud, though I never go as often as I would like. Indeed, some of my costumed interpreters trained at Guildford School of Acting.

And whilst in Guildford, I treat myself to a meal at the Thai Terrace, where the food is sublime and you can pretend you’re looking down on paddy fields and temples, not the rather more prosaic house tops of Guildford!

I haven’t been to the newly-reopened Bel & The Dragon in Godalming but I always enjoyed dining in there, in a converted church. It’s a shame the move to turn its neighbouring building into a theatre was stopped.

I recall reading once that a seventeenth century antiquarian claimed that Surrey was “God’s own county, the one He made last and made best.” Who am I to disagree with this?

***

Find out more about at pastpleasures.co.uk

More from Surrey Life

16:06

Education expert Dr Ryan Hinchey, Coordinator of College Counselling at ACS International School, with campuses in Cobham, Egham and Hillingdon, answers your questions

Read more

Surrounded by reservoirs and located on the banks of the famous river from which it takes its name, Staines-upon-Thames (as it is now called) is a town working to reshape its future and celebrate its picturesque riverside setting

Read more
Yesterday, 16:30

She may have recently moved to the seaside, but Surrey still holds a uniquely “precious” place in the heart of legendary children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson – not to mention the crucial role the county played in bringing everyone’s favourite and newly-returning feisty foster-kid to life

Read more
Yesterday, 11:59

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend (23, 24 and 25 November): art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

Surrey is full of secret hideaways and hidden gems. Slades Farm on the Wintershall Estate is definitely one of them

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The new hotel is set to open in spring 2019 and will be located in the heart of the vineyard, offering sweeping views over the North Downs Way.

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

From Santa’s Grottos, to Victorian Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Surrey this season

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Whether you're looking for fine dining, pub grub or exotic dishes, eating out in Surrey has something for everyone. Here's our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Having bloomed in Brighton’s restaurant scene over the past decade, The Chilli Pickle opened its second site in Guildford this summer

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

Historic Royal Palaces and IMG have announced that Kylie Minogue is the first headliner confirmed for Hampton Court Palace Festival 2019. These will be her only London shows of summer 2019. Here’s how you can get tickets

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

Enjoy this linear rail to ramble section of the Thames Down Link route taking the short train-ride from Box Hill & Westhumble to Ashtead before walking back

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It’s that time of year when our beautiful countryside is alight with the colours of autumn. Here, we pick out some of her favourite spots to enjoy the seasonal splendour – as well as some perfect places for a post-walk refresher

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 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

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

Verity & Violet are Loui and Jess – a singing duo from Surrey who specialise in blending vintage classics with modern favourites. The two have achieved success in the capital, but are now hoping to attract an audience closer to home

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search