10 things to see and do in East and West Horsley
- Credit: Archant
Home to outstanding architecture, ambitious community projects and arts ventures that are putting these villages firmly on the map, East and West Horsley are among our county’s most desirable addresses
If you’ve ever seen a picture of Horsley Towers, you’ll already be aware of its fairy tale qualities. It’s a majestically unique creation hidden in the heart of Surrey. Built by Lord Lovelace, who left his architectural signature stamped across the area, it’s now part of De Vere’s Horsley Estate business retreat and hotel. With a ‘secret chapel’ and beautifully tiled cloisters, it’s no surprise that it’s also a perfectly picturesque wedding venue.
Ockham Road South, East Horsley KT24 6DT
Lurking in the undergrowth only as few minutes’ walk from East Horsley village, the mysterious Lovelace Bridges have a magical and mysterious air to them. Built in the latter half of the 19th century by Lord Lovelace, he went to a great deal of effort to build this series of individuall-designed, uniquely decorated, handcrafted bridges. They range from about six feet wide at Meadow Plat to the 18-foot Dorking Arch. One minute you’ll feel as lost in the woods as it’s possible to feel in Surrey, the next you’ll stumble across ornate architecture.
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At the heart of West Horsley Place is a grade I Listed medieval manor house that only really came into the wider public imagination in recent years, when television presenter Bamber Gascoigne inherited the historic home – and realised how much work needed to be done to preserve it. To this end, The Mary Roxburghe Trust was formed as a charity in December 2015. Part of its mission is to rescue and restore the property, but it’s also establishing an ambitiously vibrant cultural centre there. Grange Park Opera relocated to the estate’s newly built Theatre in the Woods in 2017 and its opera programme is much-anticipated each summer.
Epsom Road, West Horsley KT24 6AN
Yet another building in the area owing its striking appearance to Lord Lovelace’s passion for decorative brickwork, the Duke of Wellington must be among Surrey’s most instantly recognisable pubs. Taken over by The Peach Pub Company towards the end of 2016, it opens for breakfast and serves top notch pub grub throughout the day – expect tempting specials, seasonal ingredients and guest ales, cocktails and magnums of Prosecco. Vintage car meets are the norm here and the car park can often resemble a high-end car dealership – speaking of which…
Guildford Road, East Horsley KT24 6AA
If you manage to beat the traffic, then a weekend drive in Surrey can seem a little like the latest Top Gear adventure – and the independent Bell & Colvill has been helping to add to the steady stream of motoring beauties for nearly 50 years. You’ll find a startling range of distinctive wheels here, from high-performance Lotus Elise to modern takes on vintage classics like the Morgan Roadster. Sadly, one of the founders, Bobby Bell, passed away at the end of 2017, and a memorial service for him was held at Guildford Cathedral earlier this year. Despite long being retired, Martin Colvill still takes an active interest in the business.
Epsom Road, West Horsley KT24 6DG
Opened nearly 30 years ago and having barely changed in that time, La Meridiana has long been a stalwart of the Surrey restaurant scene for those who have happened across it. With new owners taking over at the turnover of the year, we’re told that it’s been a case of quiet evolution rather than revolution at this independent Italian institution. Love it when surf and turf is taken up a notch? Well, every Wednesday at La Meridiana is steak and lobster night. £25 per person with half a bottle of wine.
Ockham Road South, East Horsley KT24 6QU
Said to be the oldest family butchers in Surrey, F Conisbee and Sons is currently run by the ninth generation of the Conisbee family. Based in the area for over 250 years, they source their meat from their family farm near Fetcham and other trusted farms locally. If you’re longing for a top-quality roasting joint, succulent steak or brilliant homemade bangers, then head to one of their two East Horsley shops on Ockham Road South or Station Approach. They also rear their own turkeys, for anyone already looking ahead to Thanksgiving and, say it quietly, Christmas. In 2016, one of their birds sold for £900 in a charity auction!
Park Corner and 15 Station Approach, East Horsley
Having exhibited all over the world and with his work found in the private collections of royalty and rock stars, glass artist Adam Aaronson made his name in London before escaping to the country and an old agricultural building in West Horsley in 2012. Inspired by the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, he throws open his workplace for Surrey Artists Open Studios every year and you’ll often find his work at sculpture exhibitions in our county. The best bit though, is that he’s an enthusiastic teacher and, if you’re fascinated by the art of glassblowing, you can attend courses at his studio.
Foxbury Barn, Epsom Road, West Horsley KT24 6AR
Originally relying on the living rooms of residents and any other space they could find to create productions, The Nomad Theatre Group has had a permanent home in East Horsley village ever since a barn was donated to the group in a villager’s will in the 1950s. Nowadays, this community-led, not-for-profit theatre group is housed in a professionally designed space with all the mod cons.
Bishopsmead Parade, East Horsley KT24 6RT
Ten years ago, the congregation of St Mary’s Church in West Horsley was challenged to devise a project that would benefit the whole community. Inspired, founder Su Johnston and her team set about transforming a three-acre, derelict walled garden belonging to the National Trust into a community space. They planted their first crops in 2010 and haven’t looked back – even winning Surrey Life’s Pride of Surrey award in 2013. Crops grown are distributed to those working on the project, those wishing to buy through local retailers and 10 per cent is set aside for people in the community who do not have access to fresh produce.
Dene Place, Ripley Lane, West Horsley KT24 6JW
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