Growing up in London, it was quite common for my family and I to spend time in Surrey. In fact, quite a few of my childhood memories and experiences in the UK are based on my time spent in towns and places in the county.
Surrey is traditionally a more affluent area of the UK, and usually sees many mid-to-senior level corporate workers living in Surrey and commuting into London for work. Anything further south-west of Kingston was jokingly referred to as “Gin and Jag” country, or the “Gin and Jag belt”. This is a colloquial term used to define the upper-middle class, characterized by drinking gin and tonics as well as driving luxury cars such as Jaguars. Although perhaps not as common a phrase nowadays, it does give one an idea of what to expect in the area. Of course, the common attraction factors for families have always been present in the area: great schools, well-suited to quiet family lifestyles with plenty of open space and an easy commute into London for those working in the City.
There would be many times that my family and I would spend some of the summer holidays in the more relaxed countryside of Surrey. I fondly remember my time spent in Oatlands Park Hotel, which has an amazing history behind it. Standing on the original site of the grand royal palace built by Henry VIII, the hotel is a Grade II listed hotel that has been carefully restored. The land was acquired by Henry VIII in the 1540s to build a Royal Tudor Palace and was home to many of Henry VIII’s wives. The hotel itself was built in 1853. Thinking back, I remember spending my time here walking the massive grounds and eating incredibly traditional British meals (Sunday Roast, afternoon tea etc.).
The nearby town of Weybridge is also quite popular with commuters and those looking to settle down in detached house with backyards to enjoy some private greenspace. Of course, ultra-prime areas are also present in Surrey with St. Georges Hill perhaps being the most famous. Other highly sought-after areas include Cobham and Esher, known for its many golf courses and the latter being close by to Sandown Racecourse. On the family side of things, the excellent choices of both private and state schools are surely another big pull. For those looking for a taste of home, The Good Earth in Esher has been a family favorite for high-end Chinese food, with the crispy duck as their signature dish. Nowadays, The Good Earth has quite a few locations across Surrey and London, so be sure to give it a try on your next visit.
Personally, I spent a decent amount of time with family friends who lived in Walton-on-Thames, a quite traditional suburban town close to Wimbledon. During the summer months, our families would get together to enjoy the sunshine and catch up. If I were to visit Surrey today, I would be sure to visit the Surrey Hills. Designated as an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” (AONB), a nationally protected landscape that stretches across the county. The area includes many woodlands, walking/running/cycling paths as well as horse-riding and arts & culture attractions to its visitors. The Surrey Hills, which spreads over 422 square kilometers, encapsulates the natural beauty of Surrey with its gently rolling hills and greenery captivating all that visit.
Ultimately, the county Surrey spreads across South East England and will remain a popular and sough-after choice for affluent families in England. With its combination of great schools, tranquil lifestyle and generally easy commute into London make it easy to see why it is a family-friendly and popular place for London-based commuters.
Author: Michael Wong, Senior Sales Consultant, JLL International Residential