A town guide to Oxted
- Credit: Archant
With the North Downs looming nearby and glorious countryside surrounding it, Oxted is a town with real “escape from London” appeal and character
Beautiful Tudor-style timber-framed buildings and scenic countryside make Oxted a charming east Surrey town to visit at the foot of the North Downs.
Found off the A25, between Godstone and Westerham just over the Kent border, the town has excellent rail links and has thrived as a commuter launchpad in recent decades.
While the fondness of Londoners to move down to this part of the world has forced house prices up, it is easy to understand the appeal as there is plenty to discover on the doorstep too.
Station Road East and Station Road West spring out from either side of Oxted Station, and it is on these roads where you will find opportunities to eat out, shop and relax.
The railway came to town in 1884 and, in essence, instigated the growth of this “new” Oxted centre. You will find the older version just down the road.
Browsing the architecture, you might feel like you have taken a journey back in time until your eyes sweep around to find the very modern shopping and lifestyle options on offer.
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For example, with its gorgeous front garden, Elements lifestyle salon is an eye-catching destination for a pamper on Station Road East. It forms a picturesque parade, sandwiched between Toast, a stylish brunch destination, and Cucina, a popular Italian restaurant.
There are plenty more opportunities for the dedicated follower of fashion and Surrey style too, with the likes of Jules Boutique, Fusspots, Number 44 and Mint Boutique for the ladies, and Woodward Menswear for the gents.
With reports suggesting that people are planning for the festive season a little earlier than usual this year, you might also like to keep an eye out for Paul James Jewellers for something with a little sparkle, the family-owned Lorimers for toys and crafts, and Pinnacle for interiors inspiration.
Food and drink wise, visitors and locals are spoiled for choice too with Thai Pad, Gurkha Kitchen and Cattle & Cocktail to name a few.
The Deli on Station Road East is a great place to grab a tasty bite and a cup of coffee during the day. Run by Matt and Lauren, who until recently worked as a private chef on superyachts, it is a friendly place with plenty of delicious international flavours to sample.
For a more traditional offering, you will find Robertson’s tea and coffee shop on the west side of the station. They also specialise in fine chocolates, so why not spoil yourself?
While evenings out may end a little earlier these days, the place to go for a cocktail in Oxted is undoubtedly The Ginistry, where they have nearly 150 different gins. Just across the road, you will find the Hop Stop bottle shop, which is a craft beer lover’s delight, and The Secret Cellar for that perfect drop.
Something of an icon of the town, the Everyman Cinema dominates Station Road West and, while things are understandably a little different these days, it is still a leisurely place to enjoy a classic film or the latest releases.
Back out on to the streets and it is only a quick shuffle over to Master Park. It is a joy to just stand there and watch the hills as they change through the seasons. The ancient St Mary’s Church, which has a tower dating back to the 12th century, adds a particularly picturesque quality to the scene.
It is home to local sports teams (football, cricket and tennis) and a children’s playground, and is a key gathering place for the local community – usually for numerous events in normal years.
The charity that manages the park is currently in the process of fundraising for a new pavilion for their sports teams, and it will also include a tearoom for the public.
While we briefly touched on Old Oxted earlier on in this piece, it is worth more of a mention now here. Only a 15-minute walk from the modern town centre, Old Oxted is a lovely little jaunt down memory lane if you are a fan of these things.
Despite being just off the bustling A25, it is a blink and you will miss it place with several pubs, including the 16th century The Crown Inn and its family-friendly garden. The Crown is a venue that always aims to bring a little cheer to the local community, whether it is hosting a socially distanced theatre company or live music talent.
If you want to escape to the country entirely, there are always the likes of the popular Botley Hill Farmhouse up at Titsey Hill, The Bull at Limpsfield (see Limpsfield section) and The Haycutter at Broadham Green. You could even book a cosy stay for two people at the North Downs Shepherd Huts, which are only a five-minute drive away in a secluded countryside location.
Head into the hills from here and you will quickly find the North Downs Way, a long-distance footpath from Farnham to the Kent Coast at Dover, should you be looking to explore further afield.
Otherwise, just settle down, relax and enjoy watching the world go by from one of the restaurants or coffee shops.
It is a tough time for theatres, whether they are the huge West End sort up in London and major towns, or those that appeal to a smaller local crowd. Opened in 1924, The Barn on Bluehouse Lane claims to be Surrey’s oldest community theatre. It is largely constructed of timbers from a local 13th century sawmill and home to two local groups in particular, Oxted Operatic Society and The Oxted Players. The Barn is planning to reopen with small events, but there was a need to fundraise even before this year’s rollercoaster began. So, it is worth keeping an eye on this piece of cultural heritage, if you have an interest in the subject.