With rolling hills, affluent towns and captivating villages, Surrey has long been the alpha commuter address for the gin and Jag set. But don’t let its stockbroker belt image put you off. You’ll certainly need deep pockets to move to one of the county’s best villages but Londoners will be pleasantly surprised by the prices of homes in some very picturesque Surrey villages that also enjoy great commuter links.
FOR HORSEY TYPES
Where is it? Five miles north-east of Haslemere, and within the South Downs.
What it costs: a two-bedroom cottage in Chiddingfold costs about £600,000, and a four-bedroom period house is about £1.25 million. If you dream of a country house with five or six bedrooms, you will need up to £2.5 million.
The commute: Witley, a couple of miles away, has trains to Waterloo from 55 minutes. An annual season ticket costs £4,512.
Schools: Ofsted rates the village primary, St Mary’s, “good with some outstanding features”.
Who would it suit? With its picturesque village green nestling around St Mary’s Church, this is the archetypal English country village. There are useful shops, and several traditional pubs including one owned by DJ and TV host Chris Evans that’s for sale.
Horsey types will love the racing at Sandown Park, polo at Hurtwood Park and Cowdray Park, and excellent bridleways and footpaths, particularly on the edge of the South Downs National Park. There are numerous golf courses throughout the area.
And the downsides? Summer tourists. The A283 bisects the village, slightly marring the peace. Plans for 1,800 new homes at nearby Dunsfold Park could add to road congestion.
FOR COMMUNITY SPIRIT
Where is it? Between Dorking and Reigate, just south of the Surrey Hills.
What it costs: a two-bedroom cottage in the heart of the village is about £585,000. A four-bedroom period family house is £850,000-plus. For a larger country house with good gardens and maybe a paddock you would need to budget at least £1 million.
The commute: Dorking station is two-and-a-half miles away, with Waterloo 51 minutes away. An annual season ticket costs £3,124.
Who would it suit? Brockham is renowned for community spirit. This busy little place is already preparing for the all-singing, all-dancing Bonfire Night festivities on the village green. Locals get together for fêtes, fairs, and film screenings in the village hall. Facilities are good — there’s a butchers, a post office and GP surgeries, and a couple of pubs. Dorking Rugby Club is based in Brockham.
FOR COUNTRY VILLAGE CHARM
Where is it? Twenty-five miles south-west of central London, just beyond the M25.
What it costs: budget about £550,000 for a two-bedroom cottage, and in the region of £950,000 for a four-bedroom house. A country house with five or six bedrooms would have a price tag of about £1.5 million.
The commute: Chobham is three-and-a-half miles from Woking and from there it is only a 25-minute hop to Waterloo. An annual season ticket costs £3,828.
Who would it suit? Despite being so close to the capital, Chobham retains a really villagey vibe. Unlike so many other rural villages, its high street is thriving and charming. Local pubs include the Four Horseshoes, where drinkers can sit and watch horses being shod at the nearby farrier’s.
The village sits on the River Bourne, with the 1,400 acres of Chobham Common on its outskirts, so it passes the green space test with flying colours, and there are active football, rugby, and cricket clubs.
“Chobham is a fantastic village with beautiful properties and great transport links,” says John Fisher, head of the country office at Sotheby’s International Realty. “It has some superb pubs and restaurants as well as a church in the centre and a great primary school — everything you could want from a village.”
And the downsides? Popular schools, such as Valley End CofE Infants School and Gordon’s School, have catchment areas just as tight as those around good schools in London.
FOR OUTDOORSY TYPES
Where is it? Seven miles south east of Guildford, in the heart of the Surrey Hills.
What it costs? A four bedroom family house would cost around £750,000 to £850,000. Greg Nickson, sales manager of Foxtons in Guildford, points out that there is a real lack of smaller (and thus more affordable) property. If one of the gorgeous little village centre two bedroom cottages does come up expect to pay around £500,000.
The commute? Gomshall Station is a mile and a half from the centre of the village, and trains to Victoria take from 56 minutes. An annual season ticket costs £4,220.
Who would it suit? Nickson describes Shere as the “crown jewel of the Surrey Hills”. It is pretty enough to be a popular film location. The Holiday, starring Cameron Diaz and Jude Law was shot there, as were scenes from the second Bridget Jones movie. And its facilities are top rate – there is a shop, post office, and two cracking pubs including The William Bray which is owned by Stig, formerly of Top Gear fame.
The area is also popular with walkers, which means it is busy enough to sustain a tea shop, ice cream, parlour, and restaurant, so you won’t go hungry. The village primary school is rated good by Ofsted.
Buying agent Mark Crampton of Middleton Advisors says the village is great for outdoorsy types. “The surrounding countryside is perfect for walking, mountain biking and horse riding,” he said.
Katherine Watters, associate at The Buying Solution, is another Shere fan. “The village has a strong sense of community and village spirit with many having lived in the village for years and property is in great demand when it becomes available,” she said.
And the downsides? The narrow winding streets make Shere slow going by car at times, particularly when walkers and cyclists descend in summer. Parts of the village are susceptible to flash flooding.