Windlesham: Surrey village life

Home to one of the world’s most expensive houses, Windlesham has also been rated recently as one of the nation’s richest villages

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2011


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Making the headlines… Recently named as the 13th richest village in the country, according to research by Savills estate agents based on sales of houses valued at more than �1million over the past four years, Windlesham has become known as a ‘millionaire village’. One property in the area that has continually failed to sell, however, is the now infamous 103-room Updown Court (pictured above), now priced at around �50m (significantly down from its original ‘in excess of �70m’).

Village voice… “Windlesham is a village of two halves, as our footballers might put it,” says Andrew Monk, deputy headmaster at Woodcote House School. “The huge Field of Remembrance provides a green divide between the shops scattered along Updown Hill and the largely residential area leading up to the A30.

“It was around this now busy commuter cut-through that the highwayman Captain Snow held up the commuters of the 16th century as they made their way to the Pelican inn. Legend has it that Snow had a deal with the barman of the Pelican who agreed to leave the cellar hatch open after last orders. Snow was able to sneak in, climb the creaky staircase and relieve slumbering guests of their valuables.

“The boarders at the school still suspect that Captain Snow can be heard walking up those old stairs late at night, though it is more likely to be tutors returning from The Bee!”

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Did you know? Every year, Windlesham’s streets are shut for a Boxing Day fancy dress pram race – the charity event sees runners complete a three-and-a-half mile course through the village stopping at local pubs for a drink along the way.

@ the village hall… The Windlesham Club and Theatre is at the centre of the community, offering sports to drama via live music.

Grab a bite… Formerly a workmen’s pub converted to a stylish place to eat and drink, The Bee (01276 479244) is featured in the Michelin Guide, receiving a Bib Gourmand award (good food at moderate prices). The Brickmaker’s (01276 472267) pub has attracted Hollywood stars, while The Windmill (01276 451 330) dates back to 1892 and also sits comfortably in the stylish gastropub bracket. The independent Half Moon (01276 473329) has been in the same family since 1909.

Something to take home… There is an historic link between the north east ‘Nursery End’ at Lord’s Cricket Ground and Windlesham Garden Centre. The site in Marylebone began life growing soft fruit trees and was bought by the Russell family during the Great War. Eventually, they sold it and bought the Windlesham site in the 1950s. These days, the horticulturally inclined will find all they could wish for at WGC; except, possibly, test cricket.

In the spotlight…

Queen guitarist Brian May has long lived in the area. Hollywood stars Bruce Willis and Demi Moore were said to have been interested in buying Updown Court back at the start of this millennium. Russell Crowe was a regular face while filming Robin Hood, although one story that made national headlines – his barring from The Brickmaker’s in Windlesham – was untrue.

Getting there: Just to the north west of Woking, off the M3, Windlesham is most easily reached by road, but the nearest train station is in Bagshot.

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