A lot of Surrey is in
the Metropolitan Green Belt and among its many notable beauty spots are Box
Hill, Leith Hill, Frensham Ponds, Newlands Corner plus Puttenham and Crooksbury
Commons. With a woodland coverage of around 22.4% Surrey is well above the UK
average and is one of the most wooded counties in the country. The oldest
untouched woodland area in the UK is located at Box Hill and this is also recognised
as one of Europe's oldest wooded areas. Surrey woodland represented Germany in
the opening scene of Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe and it was filmed at the
Bourne Woods near Farnham in Surrey.
All of the 11 Surrey
boroughs contain at least one Wildlife Trust Reserve and there are currently 80
in total within Surrey. Surrey also houses England's principal concentration of
lowland heath which is on the sandy soils in the west of the county. Leith Hill
is the highest point in Surrey.
Meaning southern region,
Surrey is taken from the word Suthridge. Guildford Castle, one of many
fortresses originally built by the Normans as part of the method of subjugating
the country, was developed as a royal palace in the 12th century. Farnham
Castle was built during the 12th century as a residence for the Bishop of
Up until 1889 Lambeth,
Wandsworth and Southwark were within the Surrey boundaries and until 1965 so to
were Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Sutton, Barnes and Richmond; however these now
form part of Greater London.
Elmbridge, Epsom and
Ewell, Guildford, Mole Valley, Reigate and Banstead, Runnymede, Spelthorne,
Surrey Heath, Tandridge, Waverley and Woking make up the 11 boroughs and
districts of Surrey.
traditional nickname for people from Surrey is 'Surrey Capon', as it was well
known in the later Middle Ages as the county where chickens were fattened up for
the London meat markets. Surrey mills were one of England's leading makers of
gunpowder during the 17th century and one of England's first canal systems
opened in 1653 called The Wey Navigation.
Culturally, Bankside in
Southwark, then part of Surrey, was the principal entertainment district of
early modern London. This area was the location for the golden era of Jacobean
and Elizabethan theatre and the principal region for the city's theatres, with
the work of playwrights including William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Ben
Johnson and John Webster being performed in playhouses along the south bank of
heritage also includes one of the earliest Middle England poems, The Owl and
the Nightingale which was probably written by Nicholas of Guildford, as he is
mentioned within the verse. Charles Dickens (1812-70) wrote part of The
Pickwick Papers in Dorking, and mentions the town in the novel. Lewis Carroll
(1832-98) died and is buried in Guildford, due to the fact that he had lived at
his sister’s home for a considerable period of time.
H.G. Wells (1866-1946)
wrote The War of the Worlds while living in Woking and much of northern Surrey
is laid waste in the course of the story. Laurence Olivier (1907-89), actor,
was born in Dorking.
Surrey has played its
part in pop music. The Rolling Stones created their music at Crawdaddy Club in
Richmond. Eric Clapton (born 1945) was born and grew up in Ripley. The
Stranglers were formed in Guildford. Woking was the birthplace of Paul Weller
and the influence behind the hit song Town Called Malice. The Jam were formed
at Sheerwater Secondary School in the town.
The motoring heritage of
Surrey is showcased at the Brooklands Museum and Surrey is also home to the
theme parks Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures.
Surrey was the scene for
the earliest appearance in history of cricket being played, a reference to
games at the Royal Grammar School, Guildford in the 16th century. The world’s
oldest cricket club was Mitcham Cricket Club and they played games within
Surrey until 1965. Horse racing’s most famous flat race is The Derby which has
been held at Epsom Downs Racecourse annually since 1780.
Manicured landscapes can
be seen at Claremont Landscape Garden, south of Esher (dating from 1715).
Windlesham Arboretum and Winkworth Arboretum are other, later, examples from
the 20th century. Wisley is home to the Royal Horticultural Society gardens.
Kew, historically part of Surrey but now in Greater London, features the Royal
Botanic Gardens, Kew, as well as The National Archives for England & Wales.
The Tudor mansion of
Loseley Park, built in the 1560s and Clandon Park, an 18th-century Palladian
mansion in West Clandon. Nearby Hatchlands Park in East Clandon, was built in
1758 - with Robert Adam interiors and a collection of keyboard instruments - are
among the many outstanding country houses located within Surrey. Polesden Lacey
south of Great Bookham is a regency villa with extensive grounds. A 16th
century worker's home has been restored in Godalming at Oakhurst Cottage.