How village nostalgia became a Shere delight – Notes from a Small Village
PUBLISHED: 19:24 28 June 2017 | UPDATED: 20:08 28 June 2017
In this month’s column, author Miriam Wakerly heads to Shere and meets the man behind the picturesque village’s enlightening website
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2017
Share your Shere photography at www.surreylife.co.uk/photos
In the 60s, every summer, Tristan Greatrex used to visit Shere on the bus with his grandmother, from nearby Dorking. He always loved it and in 2011 fulfilled his dream of living in this picturesque, historic English village. Now his grandchildren come to visit.
He built up a collection of 615 postcards and found the pictures and words penned on the back stirred his imagination.
As a graphics designer – creating album covers and promo material for 70s rock-band UFO – he decided that it would be a pleasure to share these wonderful postcards by creating a village website. In no time, people began to send him old photos and thus the village website grew.
Certainly Tristan fits in with my theme of people who help to bring a small community together. I met up with him at the delightful Dabbling Duck café in Shere and he stressed that the website is dedicated to the village and villagers of Shere. He says, “I have a real passion for the village and the people who live here.” Tristan feels that the website ‘belongs to the village’.
People make contact from all over the world, partly because they spot Shere in films! It has been used many times as a location for James Bond stars, Sir Sean Connery and Sir Roger Moore and many Hollywood greats, such as Sir Michael Caine, Peter O’Toole, Deborah Kerr, Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet. The whole glittering list is on the website so please do take a look and be amazed!
Notes from afar
Messages come from America, sometimes people asking where they can stay, and one day Tristan was delighted to receive old photos from an Australian lady, taken in 1970, showing the house by the church and with her young family feeding ducks on the River Tillingbourne.
Shere’s history is fascinating, with some of its cottages dating back to the 15th century. It has its own special museum in Gomshall Lane and St James’ church, seen in the Bridget Jones film The Edge of Reason was built in 1190. Did you know about the Battle of Shere in 1258? No? Well neither did I until I browsed the website. I also learnt that, in 1875, Lady Arthur Russell had a swimming pool built in the middle of Shere so that her six sons could learn to swim. Then it opened up for the villagers and is still in use today, probably the oldest open-air swimming pool in Britain.
Parish Magazine covers go back to 1892 and the editor, Tim Austin, writes an astonishing 90-plus pages every month. The village website just celebrated 100,000 page visits. Aside from statistics, I learned a few quirky facts too. Two white Aylesbury ducks that don’t fly have to be put away safely at night in their duck-house to protect them from Mr Fox. Thus Shere has a village ‘duck rota’.
If you fancy a visit to Shere, Open Gardens, will take place on June 25. Meanwhile, do visit: sheredelight.com
- Miriam Wakerly’s novels are set in the fictitious Surrey/Hamsphire village of Appley Green. Visit miriamwakerly.blogspot.co.uk for more.