Surrey Area Guide

Surrey Area Guide | Bairstoweves

With a population of over 1.1 million, affluent Surrey is one of the most densely populated Home Counties on the fringe of Greater London in the southeast of England. It reportedly hosts the UK’s highest proportion of millionaires (many of its residents work in the financial services). It also contains bountiful metropolitan greenbelt – and many noted beauty spots: Box Hill is Britain’s oldest untouched woodland, and one of the oldest in Europe.

Surrey’s county town is Guildford – and it shares borders with Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. It hosts 11 districts: Elmbridge, Epsom and Ewell, Guildford, Mole Valley, Reigate and Banstead, Runnymede, Spelthorne, Surrey Heath, Tandridge, Waverley, and Woking. The county is split into two by the North Downs and bisected by the Wey and the Mole rivers (both tributaries of the mighty Thames).

More company headquarters are based here than any other British county – and Surrey also boasts the highest GDP per capita. It is home to some of the most prestigious property around. Despite its convenient proximity to the capital, rural leisure activities are popular in the area.

Much of HG Wells's 1898 novel The War of the Worlds is set in Surrey. Jane Austen's classic novel Emma is set here; the late Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman mentions Camberley in his poem A Subaltern's Lovesong. The county has also hosted notable film locations for movies such as The Omen, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, and Gladiator (starring Russell Crowe).

Transport Links 

Road: Three major motorways pass through the county: the M25 (London Orbital) runs close to Heathrow Airport; the M3 connects London to Southampton and the southwest; and the M23 links Croydon to Brighton. Other major roads include the A3, A24 and A31.

Rail: Lying within the London commuter belt, regular services run into Central London. Trains to London Waterloo are run by South West Trains, trains to London Victoria and London Bridge are operated by Southern, and services on the North Downs Line are operated by First Great Western. There are also numerous national rail routes.

Air: Both Heathrow and Gatwick airports have perimeter roads in Surrey. Redhill Aerodrome is also in Surrey.

Bus: Surrey’s excellent bus network allows you to get around the county in a sustainable manner, with various operators running services. Guildford has four Park and Ride facilities. 

Coach: Cheaper than travelling by train but taking longer, National Express offers affordable travel around the UK, including Surrey.

Water: The Wey and Godalming Navigations canal system is linked to the Wey and Arun Canal.

Property Intelligence

Surrey is a very desirable place to live – and its housing prices reflect the wealth of many of the county’s residents. That said, there have been numerous price reductions in Surrey of late – signifying a certain price inconsistency across the market. It’s also a varied scene: you sometimes pay more for the same type of property in a sought-after location in the south of the county than in a less attractive location in northern Surrey.

Country Life highlighted seven villages and towns in Surrey as among their best places to live near London. These were Haslemere town centre for its "particularly charming centre".  Farnham was included "for its picture-perfect Georgian Castle Street" and "musical, cultured ambience". Chobham was "a pretty village, very much a conservation area," Dunsfold village "enjoys a tranquility that’s difficult to find in this part of Surrey". Windlesham, the magazine noted, is home to The Crown Prince of Dubai, the Duchess of York and Brian Blessed. Frensham and Shamley Green also made the list. 

The supply of housing for sale in Surrey is relatively good. Naturally, buyers should always exert caution in assessing the value of a property. Surrey is a fantastic place to live – but a house is naturally only worth what someone is willing to pay for it at a certain time.

Shopping & Amenities

With a range of high street and independent stores, shopping centres and historic lanes, Surrey has it all. Guildford at the centre of the county is famous for stocking well-known brands and high-end boutique stores where you can treat yourself. Also within the town, three shopping malls provide yet more retail therapy. 

Kingston upon Thames has two large department stores: Bentalls offers almost everything; while the John Lewis opposite also provides browsers with a comprehensive range of departments. Woking’s redeveloped town centre now boasts a new central town square with cafes and restaurants. Next to it are the town’s two malls.

Surrey is well known for its historic market towns. Each provides a mix of reputable brands alongside many independent shopping experiences.  Combining a mix of cafes offering local produce, family run restaurants, and local attractions, the towns of Farnham, Godalming, Reigate, Dorking, and Epsom are worth visiting for a few hours.

Leisure & Entertainment

Sport: Epsom Downs Racecourse hosts the Epsom Derby – the most prestigious event in British horseracing. Lingfield Park, Kempton Park and Sandown Park racecourses are also here. Surrey County Cricket Club (est. 1845) represents the county (although its ground, The Oval, is in Greater London). Brooklands was the world's first motorsport circuit. Woking hosts the McLaren Formula One team. Surrey's leading rugby club is Esher and its primary football team is Woking. There’s ice hockey team the Guildford Flames; basketball team Surrey Scorchers; and the Surrey Storm netball team. Molesey, Walton Weybridge, Burway, Staines and Guildford all have rowing clubs.

Outdoors: The Surrey Hills are an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There’s Box Hill, the Devil's Punch Bowl at Hindhead, Frensham Common, Witley Common, Thursley Common, and Leith Hill. Manicured landscapes can be seen at Claremont Landscape Garden, Winkworth Arboretum, Windlesham Arboretum, and the Royal Horticultural Society. There are 80 Surrey Wildlife Trust reserves.

Cultural: Runnymede at Egham is the site of the sealing of the Magna Carta in 1215. Brooklands Museum commemorates Surrey’s motoring heritage. Numerous medieval churches exist in Surrey. Farnham Castle retains its medieval structure. Country houses include Loseley Park, Clandon Park, Hatchlands Park, and Polesden Lacey.

Family: Surrey is home to Thorpe Park and is nearby Chessington World of Adventures. Swing from the treetops at Go Ape! or Wild Wood. Other activities include paintballing, Topgolf, go-karting and trampolining. State-of-the-art sports centres, theatres and art attractions can keep everyone entertained – and have you considered taking a ghost tour?

Events: There’s the bi-annual Guildford Music Festival while the Frimley Lodge Live festival is great family fun. Other popular music fests include Weyfest at the Rural Life Centre. Guildford's Summer Festival runs for months. The Guildford Fringe Festival offers more alternative entertainment. The BBC Good Food Show presents a summer and winter showcase at Hampton Court, alongside food festivals in Kingston, Woking, Leatherhead and Godalming. Craft beer and cider festivals pay homage to the region`s brewing history. The annual Guildford Book Festival welcomes some of the country's best-selling authors to the town.

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