Things to do in Virginia Water - village life
- Credit: Pete Gardner
It may be the most expensive place outside London, but there’s more to Virginia Water than just big houses
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Having lived in Virginia Water for 15 years, Annabel Sekhon, who also has her own shop in the village, knows the area well.
“There has been a lot of change to the village – but it’s a very positive thing,” she says. “It’s a diverse melting pot these days, with a lot of Americans here and Chinese and Russians too, but we welcome newcomers to our village!”
Annabel, who trained as a pastry chef at Le Cordon Bleu in London, used her passion for cuisine in creating her shop, Annabel’s Gifts and Cookware, at 13 Station Approach.
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“I have a lot of loyal customers – it’s really lovely,” she says, “I feel privileged to live here – it’s a fantastic place!”
John Henson, partner at Knight Frank estate agents a few doors along, echoes that sentiment.
“We have a lot of international buyers here in this area,” he says. “There are good rail connections to Waterloo, and then Terminal 5 at Heathrow is only nine miles away, but it’s also more leafy and semi-rural than London.”
Did you know?
Recently named as the most expensive place to buy outside London, Virginia Water boasts an average house price of just under £1.2 million. The nearby Wentworth Estate, home to the likes of Sir Bruce Forsyth, has many large properties with huge price tickets, and as John Henson at Knight Frank (see above) was happy to point out, they have just taken on a house there with an asking price of a cool £17.5 million.
What to see...
Created during the 1700s, Virginia Water itself is the largest man-made lake in Europe and is well worth a visit. On the south bank, you’ll discover an ornamental cascade from the 18th century and a ‘Roman temple’ built from columns and lintels brought over from the ancient city of Leptis Magna in the early 19th century, while on the north there is a 100-foot- high totem pole from Canada.
If you fancy a stroll, you can walk all the way from the centre of the village, which is situated to the east of the lake, through Windsor Great Park and on to Windsor – handy if you’re popping in on the Queen for a cup of tea.
In fact, Virginia Water, Windsor Great Park, the Savill Garden and The Valley Gardens together make up a unique area known as The Royal Landscape. This is a huge area – over 1,000 acres – showcasing some of the country’s finest horticulture.
The jewel in the crown though has to be the Savill Garden, located just a couple of miles from the village centre. With some 35 acres of interconnecting gardens, walks and woodland, all expertly planted and maintained to an incredible level, it will leave you breathless – an absolute must for a visit. Open all year apart from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, details can be found on their website at theroyallandscape.co.uk.
Grab a bite…
If you’re a fan of Italian food, then you won’t be short of choice in Virginia Water.
First up, there’s Piccolino on London Road (tel 01344 844756), where they pride themselves on their authentic Italian fare. Last month, executive chef James Gingell told us that the secret of their cooking is all down to using ingredients of the finest quality and handling them with minimal fuss.
Then there’s Casa Nova at 10 Station Approach (tel 01344 843407) where they have a huge selection on the menu all prepared under the guidance of head chef Pino. You could go for the Filetto di Maiale al Calvados (if you can pronounce it…) or how about the Sella di Agnello al Forno (we’ll tell you that one; it’s roast rack of lamb in red wine and rosemary…). Alternatively, you may well be tempted by the Peking cuisine at Lux ll, just a few doors up at number 16 Station Approach (tel 01344 845177). With a selection of dishes that includes the astonishing Lobster Feast (lobster, ginger, spring onions, fillet steak, prawns, grilled chicken and veg), you may be a while deciding…
Oh, and we haven’t finished yet… There is always The Spice Box, too, for a delicious take-away. How about their wonderfully named dish, Crocodile Tears? Chunks of chicken marinade in herbs and spices with honey and finished with a chef’s special sauce… phew!
Something to take home...
Given that Virginia Water is a bit of an expensive place, we really should be looking for something that will always remind you of your visit here… and we’ve found the very thing! At Patsy Blunt Interiors, at 7 Station Approach, they will be delighted to sell you an Ascot Champagne Bucket for an ice cool £180. Just imagine how it will look as you take the ice bucket challenge from that…
At the other end of the scale, it’s always worth a rummage in the charity shops as you never know what a local celebrity might not need any more. We can’t promise anything, but the Sam Beare Hospice shop, at 21 Station Parade, is certainly a favourite of ours.
Around an hour on the train from Waterloo and you’ll arrive in the village centre ready for that walk round the Great Park. A 566/567 bus will get you there from Staines-on-Thames via Egham and Thorpe, and with easy parking in the area you need to set your satnav to GU25 4DW if you’re in the car.