Ten Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Surrey

1. Surrey County Council sits in Kingston which hasn’t been in Surrey since 1965 when it was incorporated into Greater London.
Bonus fact: County Hall has a disused courtroom (above) which is a popular filming location appearing Eastenders and Downton Abbey.

2. Surrey is the most wooded county in England with 22.4% coverage compared with the national average of 11.8%. Box Hill has the oldest untouched area of natural woodland in the UK.

3. Leith Hill is the second highest hill in Southern England. From the top of the tower it is claimed that 13 counties are visible on a clear day.

4. Brooklands was the world’s first purpose built motorsport circuit and some of the original banking still exists. It is now home to a motorsport and bus museum as well as a Concorde.

5. Clandon Park which was almost completely destroyed by fire in 2015 has a Māori meeting house in the grounds.

6. Denbies Wine Estate near Dorking is the largest vineyard in Britain. Its 265 acres accounts for 10% of vines in the whole of the UK yielding on average 300,000 litres of wine per year.

7. A chamber discovered under Guildford High Street is considered to be the remains of a 12th century synagogue, one of the oldest in Western Europe.

8. Not necessarily a fact but an urban legend is that a female blue-and-yellow macaw named Charlie living at Heathfield Nurseries near Reigate used to be the property of Winston Churchill who taught her to curse Hitler. Her owner claims she hatched in 1899 making her 118!

9. Oatlands Park Hotel is located on the site of Oatlands Palace which was built by Henry VIII for Anne of Cleves, his fourth wife. Following the annulment of their marriage she lived there with the title “King’s Beloved Sister”. It was later used by other royals including Charles I after whose beheading in was demolished.

10. In 1881 Godalming was the first town in the world to have a public electricity supply generated by a waterwheel at Westbrook Mill on the River Wey.

11. Yes, I know it’s titled “Ten Facts” but we couldn’t leave this one out. On Box Hill is the grave of a man who was buried head first!

Know something interesting about Guildford that may be of interest to others? Let us know by tweeting us at @TIOTGuildford

Feature photo: Surrey County Council