Ever visited Surrey before? One of the lushest and most desirable counties to live in in the south of England, Surrey is close enough to London for commuting, but far enough away for noise to never be an issue. It’s hugely popular as a country retreat in many cases, while being the perfect hideaway for commuters who want to avoid living in the hustle and bustle of the capital city.
But how much do you actually think you know about this county? It’s time to crack out our fact file and to take a closer look at what you can expect and its various delights. It’s haunted, it’s green, it’s full of history! Here’s 18 interesting facts about Surrey…
- Back in the 1800s, Surrey was actually known as a hotbed for highwayman attacks. In fact, stagecoaches driving up and around the Devil’s Punchbowl, towards the south west of the county, was particularly infamous for being a stomping ground for robbers on the road.
- Surrey is home to the oldest windmill in the country which is still operating to this day – it’s the Outwood Windmill, and it’s been in operation since 1665.
- If you’re a native of Surrey, you may well have heard the old stories about the treacle mines! Ssh – don’t tell anyone, but the stories aren’t real. It’s thought that jokes about digging molasses out of the ground in Surrey have been around since people started digging up soldiers’ stashed tins of treacle in the countryside.
- Ever read or watched an adaptation of HG Wells’ ‘War of The Worlds’? Don’t let the Tom Cruise adaptation fool you – the original story was set in Horsell, Surrey!
- Famous people to hail from Surrey include authors Aldous Huxley and HG Wells, as well as oil tycoon John Paul Getty and enigma code legend Alan Turing.
- Much of the classic Jane Austen novel Emma was written in Great Bookham, Surrey. Who knows if the area had any kind of influence?
- There are legends in West Clandon which state that a dragon once blocked the road leading in from Guildford. This story dates all the way back to the 18th Century, and to this day, it’s honoured with a large chalk dragon, a 1977 creation made to honour the Queen’s 1977 Silver Jubilee.
- Horror movie legend Boris Karloff – perhaps most famous for his turns as the mummy – was cremated in Guildford.
- It’s thought that Godalming was the very first town to start offering electricity both inside and outside the home. That dates all the way back to 1881, though Newcastle beat the town to the punch with the first streetlights and lamps two years prior.
- Surrey is the site of the signing of the Magna Carta by King John. This document, of course, helped to devolve powers from the monarchy down towards government.
- Many movies have been filmed in Surrey, and one of the most famous is horror movie The Omen – which was filmed near Guildford Cathedral.
- There are plenty of Dukes and Duchesses based up and down the country. However, there has only ever been a single Duke of Surrey – Thomas Holland, who was executed after threatening to betray King Henry IV. Funnily enough, the title’s been left well alone since – wonder why?
- Surrey is home to the UK’s biggest vineyard, which you will find out in Dorking.
- Ever heard someone call woodlice ‘cheesy bobs’? Maybe it’s a southern thing – as it’s thought the odd nickname derives from Surrey.
- Surrey is perhaps a little more divided than you may imagine. It’s home to around 11 different districts.
- Surrey is thought to be pretty haunted. Plenty of people claim that they have seen ghosts in homes, on streets and even on the A3.
- Surrey may also have been the birthplace of car manufacturing in the UK. Dennis Cars set up shop in Guildford as one of the first purpose-built factories for private automobiles. However, it’s since gone on to build fire engines for the local area and beyond.
- The county has a Maori meeting house – Clandon Park’s space is unique in the UK and has been in place since the late 19th Century.
Do you know any interesting, strange or fun facts about Surrey that we’ve not mentioned? Share them here in the comments section below!