10 reasons to love Horley

Horley illustration

Horley illustration - Credit: Archant

Horley’s townsfolk are so keen on their Surrey heritage that there was uproar in the 1970s when boundary changes suggested the town should become part of West Sussex. We love it for its independent cafés and close proximity to the airport


Gatwick Aviation Museum

Situated near Gatwick, one of the busiest airports in Europe, what better place for a museum of aviation. Just north west of the village of Charlwood the museum houses some wonderful aircraft, mainly from the end of the Second World War and through to the 1970s, with names such as Avro, Hawker and Gloster in the collection. Planning the museum started in the early 1980s with the existing buildings being opened in 2016. If you are a real “aero-head” you can drool over displays of aircraft engines (many with beautiful evocative names – Turbomeca Artouste, de Havilland Ghost and Gipsy Queen) and the actual aircraft , including an ex-Swiss Air Force Venom FB4 and an Avro Shackleton Mk 3.

Web: gatwick-aviation-museum.co.uk


The Archway Theatre

As the name suggests, this delightful little theatre began life in 1952 under one of the arches created when the bridge was built over the railway line back in 1909. Extended in 1989 to provide more space and seating, the theatre puts on 10 varied plays a year – each with 10 performances, and produces musicals, drama and pantomimes.

Web: archwaytheatre.com


Tulleys Farm and Escape Rooms

Just over the county border and into West Sussex, there’s the astonishing Tulleys Farm, which we had to mention as it’s a lot more than just a farm. It’s actually a complete entertainment venue with loads of seasonal events to keep the entire family busy. How good are you at puzzles? A new attraction is Tulleys Escape Rooms designed to get that grey matter working – locked in a room with your friends you have to search for clues and solve the puzzles to escape. With a number of different scenarios to choose from you’ll need your wits about you. If all that is too much then there is always the tea room and a stroll round to gaze at the animals.

Web: tulleysescape.com


Gatwick Footgolf

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As the name suggests, it’s a game of golf with, er, a football. Don’t worry, the holes are a lot bigger – but there are still 18 of them. The best part of it is that you don’t need to lug a huge number of clubs around – just the ball and your sports kit will do. Tee off as normal with a well-aimed kick and see if you can beat your opponent with some skillful footwork. Kids’ Footgolf parties available and corporate days can be arranged too. There are other activities too, but you’ll have to check out Zorb-football and Footpool for yourselves…

Web: gatwickfootgolf.com


Smallfield Riding School and Liveries

So much to do in and around Horley and here’s one for anyone who loves riding, or anything horsey. Everyone is catered for here from the nervous first-timer to the experienced rider – so no excuses. With over 30 years’ experience, the team at the riding school will coach you in all aspects – livery, stable management and riding. There’s a lovely collection of resident horses, so you might meet Joe, the American Quarter Horse, Sparky, a Welsh pony who is particularly good with kids, and maybe Raven, the 15 hands high ex-racehorse. Lots going on with a Kids Club as well, so saddle up and trot off down.

Web: littleabbotsfarm.co.uk


Lets Race

This one’s a bit like Marmite – you’ll either love it or hate it, but the petrol-heads among Surrey Life readers should, quite simply, have the time of their lives here. It is as close as you could possibly get to driving a real Formula 1 racing car – you literally sit in a racing car, and, surrounded by screens of the track you pit your skills against your opponents. As they say on the website: “What’s behind you doesn’t matter” as you unleash the power and handling of a 200mph racing car. In a darkened room with nine other cars you really do feel the adrenalin!

Web: letsrace.co.uk


Ye Olde Six Bells

A really lovely olde worlde pub tucked away in a corner of Horley by the church. Not just a watering hole – the building itself is steeped in history and dates back more than 700 years when it was an ale house and place to eat. Still serving fine beers and food you can book a table online or buy a gift card for someone special.

Plenty of seasonal dishes to sample and at the time of writing you could go for the hunter’s chicken (with smoked cheddar, roast mushrooms, triple cooked chips and more), the fillet Rossini (steak on a duck liver parfait…) or the very special wagyu burger in a brioche bun with all the trimmings.

Web: vintageinn.co.uk/restaurants/south-east/yeoldesixbellshorley


St Bartholomew’s Church

Known affectionately as St Barts, this splendid church, is right next to the Ye Olde Six Bells. The oldest of the three Anglican churches in the Horley Team Ministry, the building dates from the 14th century and has many interesting architectural features as well as some surprises – take a look at the unique collection of medieval graffiti on the walls and doors with names and dates scratched into the jambs, and see if you can find the life size stone effigy of a knight of the Salaman family who were closely associated with the church in the 1300s.


East Horley Circular Walk

Time to walk off that wagyu burger with this six-mile trot around some interesting and hidden parts of Horley. Kicking off by The Farmhouse pub, in Ladbroke Road, you cross Burstow stream and pass a Second World War pillbox and on to a lovely bluebell copse (best to make this a spring walk). Other areas of interest are the remains of a 12th century double moat near what is thought to be Thunderfield Castle – keep your ears open for the sound of ghostly bells by the way, legend has it they tolled for an approaching army in 1066. Carry on along a woodland corridor and Langshott Manor, a moated Elizabethan building – now a hotel – can be seen on the left. Check out the iFootpath app or the website for more details.

Web: ifootpath.com/display-ifootpath-walk?walkID=4241

Il Sorisso

We love little independents and Il Sorisso, with its sister restaurant in West Sussex, has excellent reviews and declares itself “fiercely independent”. Original recipes are freshly cooked to order with pizza, pasta, risotto, daily specials and salads on offer as well as a menu for the kids. Lots of fish dishes too – Maltagliati crab, fritto Misto squid with whitebait, mussels in white wine and prawns in chilli… what’s not to love?

Web: ilsorriso.info

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