Surrey Day 2020

By Maggie Burghuber

2nd May 2020

We’d like to celebrate our county’s 2nd Surrey Day, promoted by Visit Surrey in partnership with Surrey Life and BBC Surrey, marked this year on the 2nd May 2020.

Surrey’s beautiful hills, woods, stately homes and gardens, can be seen in many a film, such as the ancient and unspoilt woodland of Bourne Wood in Gladiator (2000) and Robin Hood (2010). Whilst Virginia Water has featured in several Harry Potter films, Clandon Park featured in The Duchess (2008) starring Keira Knightley. Albury Park was the location for one of the churches in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

In recent history there has been much tampering with the borders of Surrey or Suthrige which originally referred to the southernmost part of the Saxon area of Middlesex.

Then along came the Normans who built a castle overlooking the River Wey, which flows through Guildford (golden sand ford) now the county town with a cathedral and university. And it was at Runnymede where The Magna Carta was sealed.

Surrey’s most famous palace is Hampton Court, gifted to H VIII by Cardinal Wolsey. Equally imposing on a smaller scale is the magnificent Jacobean Abbot’s Hospital, in Guildford founded in 1619 by Guildford born George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Did you know that King George VI and The Queen Mother spent part of their honeymoon at Polesden Lacey owned by the famous society figure Margaret Greville?  The playwright and poet Sheridan had lived there once in 1804. The house was later updated by Thomas Cubitt, the famous builder who finally retired to a house he built for himself on the Denbies Vineyard site.

Surrey’s stunning scenery attracts many people to the area. The chalk landscape of The North Downs with the Surrey Hills lying to the south of its flanks, together with the heathlands and The Weald. Many people are familiar with Box Hill, made famous by The 2012 Olympic Games, and Surrey’s highest spot Leith Hill (294m).  Josiah Wedgwood, whose wife Caroline was Charles Darwin’s sister, once owned Leith Hill Place. Ralph Vaughan Williams, a descendant, spent his childhood there, too.

Once Hindhead was a renowned spot for highwaymen who lay in wait for the cumbersome stage coaches as they wound their way uphill. Gibbets Hill near The Devil’s Punchbowl was erected to deter such acts!             

Nowadays Surrey is renowned for its horse racing at Epsom, Sandown Park and Kempton Park. But one of my favourite areas is Newlands Corner with its magnificent views. Nearby is the evocative Silent Pool whose spring-fed waters are linked to a tragic accident caused by none other than Prince John.

We have so much we want to show you and tell you about.

Maggie is a SE England Blue Badge Guide based in Surrey and Chair of SE England Tourist Guides Association