Things to do in Thames Ditton – village life

Thames Ditton has a beautiful riverside setting

Thames Ditton has a beautiful riverside setting - Credit: Pete Gardner

With its attractive riverside setting, historic houses and interesting independents, Thames Ditton is a lovely place to while away an afternoon

Manager of the beautiful Bachmanns patisserie, Jay Xiradakis

Manager of the beautiful Bachmanns patisserie, Jay Xiradakis - Credit: Pete Gardner

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Ye Olde Swan pub in Thames Ditton

Ye Olde Swan pub in Thames Ditton - Credit: Pete Gardner

Village voice…

The village of Thames Ditton enjoys a fabulous position next to the river having grown up along the banks of the Thames over the centuries.

One man who knows the village well is Chris Bachmann who this month is celebrating 25 years of business at his now internationally recognised patisserie and chocolate shops here and in Weybridge.

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“It’s a lovely little place – so close to London – but it keeps its village feel”, says Chris. “We have plenty of customers who are fiercely loyal to the local shops. They are friendly and supportive and we are very grateful to them.

A Blue Plaque paying tribute to local resident Hannibal Speer

A Blue Plaque paying tribute to local resident Hannibal Speer - Credit: Pete Gardner

“There are open spaces here and you can stroll down the riverbank nearly all the way to Kingston. There is the local cricket green and Hampton Court just around the corner too!”

Jay Xiradakis, who manages the Thames Ditton shop, agrees: “The village is very family orientated,” she adds. “I know loads of regular customers – they are all so friendly.”


Did you know?

Thames Ditton has three islands – the largest of which is a residential area with 47 homes accessed by a footbridge. The island was created by Henry VIII who frequently travelled upstream from Westminster to Hampton Court. However, the twisting turns of the river were difficult to navigate and it was straightened out leaving large mud flats that were later built on.

• St Nicholas Church in the centre of the village has an early 12th century font still in use today. The building itself has a Grade I listing – but at the moment no vicar… a replacement is currently being sought. However, Head Server Roger Cowdery is happy to assure everyone it is “business as usual” at the church and is looking forward to a busy Christmas.

• Last but not least, there is a bit of motoring history here too – a site in the middle of the village was once occupied by AC Cars who developed the incredible Cobra sports car in 1963.


A bite to eat…

No need to go hungry here – the village has a great selection of little independents catering for anything from a take-out sandwich to a full à la carte lunch or dinner.

The Lime Tree is a lovely little café and deli very near the, er, lime tree in the High Street. Sit and enjoy a coffee or lunch and browse the shelves of delicious looking cakes, cheeses, pasta and more. Highly recommended is the Bollo de Arroz – the best and lightest sponge you have tasted and perfect with a latte.

Just around the corner is Osteria Di Mucca Felice – an Italian restaurant at 16 High Street (tel 0208 398 2121). Describing their cooking as a collision of ideas, cultures and techniques, they have a daily à la carte and a tasting menu.

If you’re more of a pub person, you’re well catered for too – the Red Lion, George and Dragon, Albany, King’s Head and Ye Olde Swan are all within staggering distance.


Making the headlines...

Poor old Thames Ditton was badly hit by the flooding in February of this year – the river was recorded as being at its highest since records began and many homes were flooded. A rather more pleasant side to the river is the annual Thames Ditton Regatta. Held every May since 1948, it attracts top crews who race over a 1,050 metre course, which makes for quite a spectacle.


Something to take home...

You can’t leave Thames Ditton without some chocolate. Seriously, Bachmanns is a treasure trove of all things coco-related – from cakes and truffles to biscuits, pastries, desserts and… a seasonal chocolate Christmas pudding? Oh yes! We defy you to come out empty-handed.

Looking for an idea for Christmas? Stitchery, at 6 High Street, has got it all bagged up for you with their Personalised Santa Sack. For £24.95, the kids (or even a grown-up…) can have their own name crafted on the sack to keep for a lifetime.

Lastly, why not take home some fabulous memories after a day on the river. Ditton Cruisers and Harts Cruisers offer boats for hire by the hour or day – and they are happy to help newcomers to boating too. Contact them on 0208 398 2119 or at Taggs Boatyard, 44 Summer Road.


Getting there…

Lying on the old A3 between Esher and Kingston, the village is easy to find. Satnavvers need to type in KT7 0RY to find the High Street and bus travellers need the 458, 459, 514 or 515 – call Traveline on 0871 200 22 33. Thames Ditton Railway station is served by South West Trains and is in Travel Card Zone 6.