Actress Finty Williams reveals her home truths

Having lived just outside Redhill for the past ten years, actress Finty Williams, the daughter of Dame Judi Dench, knows Surrey as well as anyone. Here we put her under the spotlight

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine November 2009


What was it that brought you to Surrey in the first place? My parents bought our house 25 years ago – having moved to Surrey from Stratford-upon-Avon. My son, Sammy, and I moved down here permanently in 1999 and we all lived together until my dad, Michael Williams, died in 2001. Now it’s just the three of us… and a dog, six cats, two goldfish, ducks and moorhens, and a hamster called Biscuit.

We may be one of England’s smallest counties, but we punch well above our weight – from Michelin starred restaurants and great places to visit to our amazing countryside. What’s your favourite thing about living here? I love the space of Surrey and that you can be in London within an hour. It is wonderful to be in the calm of the countryside after being in town all day.

Is there anything you think isn’t quite so great? Driving to our local Waitrose the other day, we noticed that all the beautiful chestnut trees had been pollarded – cut right back – as they were considered to be dangerous. It made me feel really sad and angry. It all looks so bare now.

It’s Sunday morning and you’ve got the rest of the day free – how would you choose to spend it? If I had a free Sunday, it would be spent with my mother and Sammy, and my boyfriend, Amit, and his son, Callum. We would have a huge roast, probably beef, and then go for a long walk followed by tea next to a roaring fire; with no homework in sight! Perfect.

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If you were heading out for a pub lunch, where would you choose? We are lucky to live close to two of the best pubs I know – The Bell and The Castle – both in Outwood, near Redhill. Both have delicious food – far too tempting!

It’s your partner’s birthday coming up… Where will you be taking him out for a slap-up meal? If it was Amit’s birthday, I would take him to Rock & Rose in Kew. It has the most amazing d�cor and the food is marvellous. The boys love it, too. They also have the most beautiful pink leather sofa, which I adore.

And your favourite place to read the paper with a coffee and a brownie? In my opinion, Lamington’s in Bletchingley is the only place for coffee and cakes. It is very close to Sammy’s school so perfect for after-school tea!

You decide to go for a country walk… Where would you choose? We all go for walks and bike rides in Richmond Park and Bushy Park. We like trying to spot the white deer.

You’re telling your friends about the county where you live… how would you describe it? People tend to have a slightly pre-conceived idea of what Surrey is like; but if you head off the beaten track, you can find some really pretty villages and National Trust properties, and beautifully unspoilt countryside.

Is there a hidden treasure in the county that you think everyone should know about? There are several hidden treasures in Surrey: The Rose Theatre in Kingston; The Anglers at Teddington; Nicky C’s in Godstone for presents and clothes; Brockham for the fireworks; the Oxted and Edenbridge Show; the Jack Wills shop in a beautiful preserved Georgian house in Reigate; and the Priory Farm Shop in South Nutfield.  

Okay, so there are some things that aren’t so great... What do you think is the biggest issue facing the area today? We are all concerned about the threat of an extra runway at Gatwick. It would mean so much of the Surrey Green Belt area would be destroyed.

Finally, if Surrey had a symbol, what do you think it should be and why? If Surrey had a symbol, it should be an oak leaf – firstly, because it would symbolise all the beautiful and historic trees in the area and, secondly, and quite selfishly, Oak is a family name and Sammy’s middle name!