Loseley Park's Michael More-Molyneux reveals his home truths
PUBLISHED: 13:33 01 September 2009 | UPDATED: 12:17 21 December 2014
In the second of our new series, in which we find out people's favourite things about the county, we meet chairman of Visit Surrey, Michael More-Molyneux, who is also the proud owner of the stunning Loseley Park, near Guildford
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine August 2009
What was it that brought you to Surrey?
My family first came to Surrey in 1506! Sir Christopher More, a lawyer by trade, was asked to sort out a dispute between the two families that owned Loseley - the original house and some 1,500 acres of land. Sir Christopher obviously fell in love with the place, as he convinced both families that they should sell it to him! Loseley, as it stands now, was built between 1562 and 1568, and it remains very much a lived-in family home. Being an only child, I have had the privilege to live here all my life, and my parents live in one of the wings. I married Sarah, in 1980, and we had four children - Alexander, 26, Katrina, 25, Christopher (1985-1997), and Tristram, 22 - and from December 31 we welcome Sophia into our family, Alexander's fiancée.
We may be a small county, but we punch well above our weight - with Michelin-starred restaurants, great places to visit and our amazing countryside. What's your favourite thing about the area?
The county is one of the most misunderstood and underrated in the country. People who have not visited presume that the majority of it is covered either by housing or tarmac. I love the variety of beautiful countryside, its stunning views, its woodlands... We are the most forested county in the country, a fact that people cannot believe.
Is there anything you don't like?
Sitting in traffic jams, but then it's a small price to pay, with all the many benefits Surrey has to offer.
It's Sunday morning and you've got the day free - how would you spend it?
Weekends for our family don't often mean free time! Living at Loseley is very much like living above a shop. We have over 130,000 visitors a year, whether it's to look around the house and garden, attend a family celebration or perhaps visit the Richmond Dog Show, which is one of the biggest and oldest in the country. We also do around 80 weddings a year and obviously weekends are a popular time for 'show-rounds'. There's always something going on!
If you were heading out for a pub lunch, where would you choose and why?
We are very fortunate that on the edge of the estate we have a pub called The Withies Inn, which is even older than Loseley. It has a lovely garden and you can sit outside, even on a lovely autumn day in wellies and Barbour, and have bangers and mash with the dogs! They also do a really good Sunday lunch.
It's your wife's birthday coming up. Where will you be taking her for dinner?
Sarah and I love Thai food, as do the rest of the family. We have been going to Rumwong in Guildford for 30 years and have never had a bad meal yet; it's always delicious food and wonderful service. If Rumwong is full, then its sister restaurant, the Thai Terrace, both run so well by the Poonum family, would be my other choice.
And your favourite place to sit and read the paper with a coffee and a brownie?
Favourite place to read the paper would be on our back lawn with views across the Surrey countryside. On a summer's morning, it takes some beating.
You decide to go for a country walk... Where would you choose?
There are so many wonderful walks to choose from, especially in the Surrey Hills, which has a vast area to enjoy and explore, including well-known beauty spots such as Box Hill, Hindhead Common, the Devil's Punchbowl, Leith Hill - which is the highest point in the South East - and Newlands Corner, a popular beauty spot a short distance from the centre of Guildford. The River Wey has some lovely stretches, too.
Is there a hidden treasure in the county you think we should all know about?
Dating back to pre-Norman times, St Nicholas Church in Compton is beautiful. It has many unique features, including an upper sanctuary, and is one of those very splendid places to visit and enjoy its history and architecture.
What do you think is the biggest single issue facing the area today?
One of the biggest concerns is the requirement for more housing in the county. The green belt has been such an excellent fence against the building of houses in the countryside. If we give up our countryside, the qualities of living in Surrey will be slowly eroded, not just for us but for generations to come. The other major problem is the roads. We all know that if a lorry breaks down in the centre of Guildford, we have a traffic jam for nearly the rest of the day.
Finally, if Surrey had a symbol, what do you think it should be and why?
I think an oak tree is ideal, to represent strength, age and stability.
- Loseley Park, Guildford GU3 1HS. Tel: 01483 304440. Upcoming events include the Surrey County Agricultural Society Ploughing Match and Country Fair on Sunday September 27. www.loseley-park.com