Escape to the country with some of Surrey’s prettiest villages

(Clockwise from top left) Betchworth, Bramley, East Clandon (Photo: Kotomi Yamamura), Godstone, Cran

(Clockwise from top left) Betchworth, Bramley, East Clandon (Photo: Kotomi Yamamura), Godstone, Cranleigh, Brockham (Photo: Paul Englefield) and (centre) Chobham - Credit: Archant

Take a journey through some of Surrey’s prettiest villages, from countryside retreats to hillside havens. Here are a selection of our favourite places that will have you plotting your escape to the country

East Horsley, Limpsfield, Shere, Wonersh, Thames Ditton, Lingfield and (centre) Ockley

East Horsley, Limpsfield, Shere, Wonersh, Thames Ditton, Lingfield and (centre) Ockley - Credit: Archant

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1. Abinger Hammer: Watched over by its famous blacksmith clock sculpture, the focal point of the village (certainly on a sunny day) is the stream that trickles through its heart and attracts families to wade in its shallows. Abinger Cookery School, Abinger Hammer Tea Rooms, Kingfisher Farm Shop (established 1854) and the nearby Abinger Hatch pub also help to attract visitors with their foodie offering.

2. Betchworth: Famously featured in the classic comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral, the historic village of Betchworth retains plenty of olde worlde charm. It’s home to a couple of cosy pubs, The Red Lion and The Dolphin, the Victorian grandeur of the Hartsfield Manor hotel and, just down the road, the ruins of Betchworth ‘castle’ (more of a manor house in reality, but now part of the Deepdene Trail).

3. Bramley: Surrounded by some of the most spectacular country estates in the area, and a haven for those looking for peaceful contemplation, Bramley is a quaint village that retains a comforting nod to the past. The former railway line (still marked by the old crossing gates) is now part of the Downs Link, which offers the opportunity to explore all the way to the coast.

4. Brockham: The village of Brockham can be found at the foot of the North Downs, between Dorking and Reigate. This one is actually a little more chocolate box than most, as Princess Anne’s visit to Brocks Chocs (yes, a small, independent chocolate factory!) proved earlier this year. Stretching out around a large village green, there’s great pubs and country walks on the doorstep.

5. Chiddingfold: With top pubs, historic homes and spectacular countryside, Chiddingfold villagers have every right for a celebration – it’s fair to say that some of the residents over the years have known how to party too! Normally a peaceful place, however, most of the pretty properties around the green date from the 14th to 16th centuries.

6. Chobham: With Chobham Common, the largest national nature reserve in the southeast, on its doorstep and a high profile equine-related shop, plenty of polo clubs and much in demand stables, Chobham is a horse-lover’s dream. Stovell’s restaurant flies its foodie flag but you’ll also find a selection of excellent pubs here.

7. The Clandons: The name Clandon became national headlines with the disastrous 2015 fire at the National Trust’s Clandon Park, but with restoration plans coming together apace there the neighbouring villages of East and West Clandon are back to their normally peaceful selves. You’ll find the 2015 Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards pub of the year, The Onslow Arms, a short walk from Clandon station.

8. Coldharbour: Said to be the highest community in the south of England, it’s only a reasonably relaxed amble to the top of Leith Hill once you’ve got here (and you’ll spot the high altitude cricket pitch on your route to the tower). There’s a lovely pub in the village, The Plough, which has just had a refurbishment – but continues to also brew its own great beer.

9. Cranleigh: Packed full of independent cafés, boutiques and pubs, Cranleigh is an expansive village with a thriving High Street. surrounded by beautiful countryside, it’s a great place to explore on foot, bike or horse. On the surface, a pretty, pristine and serene village, but underneath you’ll find a serious case of rock ‘n’ roll - largely led by Cranleigh Arts Centre and Kenney Jones’ Hurtwood Park Polo Club.

10. Godstone: A popular village springing from an expansive green, Godstone is well stocked for coaching inns, has its own vineyard and, perhaps most famously, a family farm that attracts thousands to the area. A short walk from the main green, you’ll find the quaint Church Town section of the village, dominated by St Nicholas Church and its postcard perfect almshouses and cottages.

11. Holmbury St Mary: On the slopes of Holmbury Hill, this village is one of those off-the-beaten track places that still take your breath away years after first finding it. Very much a type of village that’s not necessarily associated with Surrey, it winds its way through the Surrey Hills and you’ll feel like you’ve taken a wrong turn down our county’s country lanes and popped out somewhere alpine.

12. The Horsleys: As with the Clandons, this is a two-halves treat and among Surrey’s most prestigious addresses. The infamous Lord Lovelace left his architectural signature stamped all across the area – at the centre of which is his former home, Horsley Park (now a De Vere venue), but you’ll find plenty more examples dotted about.

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13. Limpsfield: Located in the shadow of the North Downs near the Titsey Estate, Limpsfield is a picturesque village with easy access to three important national rights of way: Vanguard Way, Pilgrims’ Way and Greensand Way. It feels miles off the beaten track, but it’s barely off the A25!

14. Lingfield: If you’re looking for a pub with a spectacular lakeside view or a flutter on the horses, the east Surrey village of Lingfield could be the place for you. Make sure you head to the Old Town, where the Old Guest House of the College for Secular Chaplains, built in 1431, is now home to a public lending library.

15. Mickleham: Nestled on the side of Box Hill, lies the charming little village of Mickleham. Steeped in history, you can expect delightful period properties, attractive woodland views and short walks to two top end pubs – The Running Horses, an old coaching inn, and the King William IV, which boasts arguably one of the best pub views in Surrey.

16. Ockley: Picturesque in its own right, Ockley boasts the spectacular Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden on its doorstep – a real ‘hidden’ gem for anyone hunting for inspiration. This village has a history of unearthing treasures: in 1983, an amateur fossil hunter discovered the almost intact skeleton of a previously unknown species of dinosaur there – its skeleton is displayed at the Natural History Museum in London.

17. Ripley: The village of Ripley and Surrey Life have long enjoyed a strong bond, which has only increased with their Food & Drink Awards success. It’s a tranquil place, blessed with a gorgeous High Street. Home to Ripley Cricket Club since the 1870s, the huge village green is the centre of the action. Among other local highlights, it hosts the award-winning Ripley Farmers’ Market, The Ripley Event and Ripley Bonfire.

18. Shere: Perhaps Surrey’s most famous village, thanks to its film appearances, Shere is chocolate box pretty, with plenty of picturesque properties and a lot of duck feeding. In parts a time capsule, it remains the star attraction today. It’s home to the award-winning and beautifully appointed, Kinghams restaurant.

19. Shepperton: Bounded by the River Thames, the picturesque village of Shepperton is an ideal location for those looking to tinker about with boats and take riverside walks. The village lends its name to the world famous Shepperton Studios, meaning that many a blockbuster film and Hollywood A-lister have passed through over the years.

20. Thames Ditton: A beautiful riverside village within striking distance of Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace, Thames Ditton is the perfect place to while away a day strolling along the river banks, admiring the historic homes and relaxing in one of the great pubs – oh, and make sure to get some chocolate from Bachmanns, an award-winning patisserie and chocolaterie.

21. Woldingham: Enjoy views of London, as well as beautiful countryside, with walks from the North Downs village of Woldingham. One area, known as Woldingham Garden Village, was founded by scrap merchant, Henry Fuller Morriss, who built “homes for heroes” after the war. Some of these bungalows still stand to this day.

22. Wonersh: The quintessentially English village of Wonersh has the historic Great Tangley Manor, which recently celebrated 1,000 years of its history with a son et lumière show, on its doorstep. As regular Surrey Life readers will know, the beautiful The Grantley Arms has been making more recent waves…