Top 5 historical attractions in Surrey

Godalming, photo by Davind Howard

Surrey is one of the ‘home counties’, counties arranged around London which are notorious for having towns filled with commuters who go to London every day, and not much else. But Surrey is the complete opposite of this stereotype – not only does it have beautiful examples of the typical British countryside, but also a great number of historical attractions. Surrey has been the site of many important events in the history of the British Isles, and there is a lot of heritage left over from these days of glory. Surrey is covered in a network of rivers, scenic woods and lovely footpaths and bike trails, but if you want to get to the beating heart of the country and its tales, then visit the top 5 historical attractions in Surrey.

The Spike, Guildford

Guildford, one of the most historical cities in Surrey, is home to one of the best preserved workhouses in the country. In Victorian England, workhouses (colloquially known as spikes) were institutions were society’s undesirables, such as vagrants or beggars, were sent to be housed and to be given work. The Spike functioned as such until the 60’s, and now it is fully restored and functioning as a heritage center.

Epsom Derby

Epsom Derby, photo by monkeywing on Flickr

In order to see this particular attraction, you have to travel to the historical town of Epsom in June, because that is when the famous Epsom Derby has been held for over two and a half centuries. The Epsom Derby dates back to the 18th century, and it has become one of the the most treasured traditions in Surrey. The horse races are an occasion for many of the UK’s rich and wealthy to congregate and show off, as well as for thousands of race-fans to come and watch the events.

Godalming

Godalming is a quaint and very old market town, that has existed since Saxonvtimes. Although there are not many important attractions in the town, the streets lined with buildings dating back to medieval and Victorian times create a special atmosphere that you can’t find in many other places in the UK. One of the most famous institutions in Godalming is the Charterhouse, a prestigious boarding schools whose former pupils include W. M. Thackarey and John Wesley.

The Great Barn, Wanborough

The Great Barn, photo by Helen Hanley

In the 13th century, the Cistercian monks at Waverley Abbey built the Great Barn as part of grange that supplied the abbey. The barn has survived to this day, and it is the largest and most important medieval barn in England. On open days, you can visit the barn, the surrounding hamlet and and church guided by a steward, who will tell you more about the history and customs of the site.

Painshill Garden, Cobham

History did not happen only on battlefields and castles, but also in more pleasant places like parks. Painshill Garden is a stunning Georgian park dating back to the 18th century, laid out over more than 150 acres. Lakes, follies that range from the charming to the plain bizarre, a crystal grotto and a collection dedicated to the 18th century fascination with exotic plants make this park one of the top 5 historical attractions in Surrey.

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