Some of the best things to see and do in Walton-on-Thames
- Credit: Alamy Stock Photo
Found on the banks of the River Thames, Walton-on-Thames had an important role in the development of British cinema and today it offers picturesque riverside walks, a thriving arts scene and world restaurants
A town that played a part in the founding of the British film industry, Walton-on-Thames is found just down the road from the world famous Shepperton Studios, on the banks of the River Thames.
Its iconic bridge, which was opened in 2013 and cost £32 million, dominates the riverside panorama on the town's western border and is, in fact, the sixth bridge to link the town to the north side of the river. The first bridge, built in 1750, was featured in a painting by Italian artist Canaletto.
Walton-on-Thames is strongly connected to the arts - from ongoing community amateur dramatics, music performances and art exhibitions to its place in British film heritage.
RC Sherriff, the prolific novelist, playwright and screenwriter who wrote Journey's End, lived nearby and the charitable trust that exists to support the arts in his name today continues to fund projects and performance spaces in the borough of Elmbridge.
One of the venues they support is the Riverhouse Barn Arts Centre on Manor Road. Split into six spaces, including the Barn, the Robert Phillips Gallery, the Barn Kitchen café, the Toshiba Workshop, the Courtyard and the landscaped Sensory Garden, the Riverhouse is a place to visit for those looking to enjoy drama, chamber music, traditional and modern jazz, children's shows, cabaret, art exhibitions, musicals and comedy nights throughout the year.
Another community arts venue, the Cecil Hepworth Playhouse, is based in buildings that originally formed part of Hepworth Film Studios. Hepworth is considered to be one of the founders of the British film industry.
Visit the town and you may stumble across The Clock Tower, which is all that is left of Mount Felix. Once a wonderful Italianate residence and home to the Earl of Tankerville, Mount Felix was used during the First World War as a hospital for troops from New Zealand - an association that is still marked with references to the nation around the town.
A little-known fact for any film buffs out there: in 1903, the first ever film version of Alice in Wonderland was made in Mount Felix's grounds by Cecil Hepworth - at the time, it was the longest film in the world at 12 minutes long.
The Heart, with its shops, restaurants, monthly farmers' market and Ping Pong Parlour (a place you can play table tennis for free) dominates the centre of town today. If you want to see the latest blockbuster films, head for the luxury armchairs and sofas of the Everyman Walton cinema.
There's some very decent food and drink in town these days too. As well as the aforementioned farmers' market, which attracts stallholders from across Surrey and further afield, you'll find the flavours of Buenasado, Prima Fila, Cappadocia, Sushi Wakyo, KhaoSarn Restaurant and Khyber Pass. We could go on.
Down by the riverfront, on the banks of the River Thames for which the town is named, you'll find The Anglers, The Swan, and The Weir, which all have riverside beer gardens. They are lovely places to visit on a sunny day to watch the river life float by.
If you're feeling active, you could always have a word with Thames Valley Skiff Club about some skiffing or punting tuition. Stop by the club most Sundays throughout the year. Walton even has its own marina with a riverside pontoon, if you happen to be in a position to be visiting the town in your own boat…
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The town is also connected by the River Thames national trail, which means there are plenty of opportunities for brisk autumnal strolls.
So, whether you're looking to enjoy a relaxing meal out or a taste of river life, there's plenty on offer in the town of Walton-on-Thames.
24 hours in
- Morning - Oatlands Park, The Weir and Holiday Inn are all a short drive from Walton-on-Thames if you're looking to start your day already near the town. Head to The 1955 Club, which is found at The Heart, for breakfast or brunch - they've got everything from a full English to crushed avocado on sourdough, so should satisfy most appetites.
- Afternoon - If the weather is behaving itself, you can't go wrong with a riverside stroll - is there any better way to switch off?! You could always grab some sustenance for your adventures at Alio's Delicatessen on Hurst Road too. When the time comes, head back to one of those riverside pubs to watch the world go by.
- Evening - Finally, take a look at the line-up at the Riverhouse or Everyman and catch a show/film. Make sure to book in a meal at a restaurant too. While these things are constantly changing, three of the highest rated in town at the moment are Prima Fila, Cappadocia and Sushi Wakyo, so plenty of choice to be had.
- The Heart, New Zealand Avenue - It's no exaggeration to say that The Heart completely transformed central Walton-on-Thames when it opened. It hosts the popular farmers' market, a monthly vegan market and seasonal events throughout the year - as well as offering national chains, independent shops, restaurants and cafés.
- Burhill Golf Club, Burwood Road - If you're a lover of pristine fairways and immaculate greens, then a visit to Burhill Golf Club is a must. The Old Course is rated among the best in Surrey (which puts it pretty high nationally too) and you don't have to be a member to play. It's a golf course with a fascinating history.
- St Mary's Church, 36 Church Street - Parts of St Mary's Church, which is found in the town centre, date back to its Norman origins of around 1150. These include a series of pillars and part of the west wall. Look carefully and you can still spot marks left by firebombs during Second World War on the floor near the Chancel steps. In the tower, there are eight dated bells with the oldest being from 1606. Imagine the occasions they've helped to ring in throughout history.
- Riverhouse Arts Centre, Manor Road - There's always something happening at this artistic hub. Among the events you might enjoy checking out this month are the Mock Tudor Comedy Club on Friday October 4, singer songwriter Odette Adams on Friday October 11, An Evening with Cecil Hepworth on Saturday October 19 and Walton Folk with Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar on Sunday October 27.
- Thames Path National Trail, River Thames - While we're not suggesting you tackle the entire Thames Path National Trail - it's 184 miles long from the Cotswolds to the Thames Barrier in London after all - there's so much to explore locally, and walks from the town to Weybridge/Shepperton westwards and Hampton Court Palace are picturesque and fairly light work depending on your energy levels.
While history tells it rather differently, it's easy to wonder whether it wasn't balls bounding down the fairways (or maybe across water hazards) at Burhill Golf Club that inspired Barnes Wallis' eureka 'Bouncing Bomb' moment. Either way, it was here that the scientist's idea formed following The Ministry of Aircraft Production's requisitioning of the club in 1940. Things are a little more relaxed these days, with two 18-hole courses settled among leafy parkland.
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