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Surrey Hills Tops List of Best Places to Live, Says Sunday Times

Published on: 26 Mar, 2021
Updated on: 28 Mar, 2021

Albury from St Martha’s Hill

Surrey Hills has been named the best place to live in South East England. The area topped a list of 10 spots in the region chosen by The Sunday Times to represent the best of Britain in the annual Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide to be published this weekend.

The newspaper’s guide judges assess a wide range of factors, from schools, air quality, transport and broadband speeds to culture, green spaces and the health of nearby high streets.

Abinger Hammer

They looked for improving towns, villages or city centres, for attractive, well-designed homes and locations bursting with community spirit, which the pandemic has shown to be the most vital quality of all.

Other short-listed locations were: Amersham, Buckinghamshire; Charlbury, Oxfordshire; Deal, Kent; Hambleden Valley, Buckinghamshire; the Isle of Wight; Lewes, East Sussex; Petworth, West Sussex; Sevenoaks, Kent and Winchester, Hampshire.

Helen Davies, The Times and Sunday Times property editor, said: “This guide has never been so important. The pandemic has taught us just how much we rely on our homes, our communities and our surroundings.

“With working from home now common, it’s no surprise many of us are reassessing our priorities and thinking hard about where we really want to live.

“Our focus for this year has been community, countryside and convenience. It hasn’t been a year for big cities or small villages. Instead, small towns have shone, big enough to have everything you need within walking distance and small enough for everyone to feel connected.

Tilford Bridge

“With miles of ancient woodlands, panoramic views and timeless, picture-perfect villages such as Tilford, Shere and Abinger Hammer, life in the Surrey Hills is a gloriously romantic rural idyll and it’s all within commuting distance of London.”

Of the Surrey Hills the guide says: “It was impossible for the judges to choose just one of the idyllic villages in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“Everywhere you turn, there’s a hearty country pub, impossibly pretty village or a view to make the heart soar.”

The Crown Inn on the green at Chiddingfold.

Among the favourites were Tilford, with an excellent village shop, Chiddingfold where the green is home to big Bonfire Night festivities, or Abinger Hammer, with a lovely village shop and tearoom which sells delicious homemade cakes (£2 for a generous slice of lemon drizzle) and nets for children to fish in the stream, but many others are just as good.

“And the best houses, occupied by discreet celebrities and company chairmen, are the grand, detached homes tucked away in secluded locations down winding lanes and unmade private roads.

“Workaday needs for schools, supermarkets and stations can be satisfied near by. Weydon School in Farnham is, according to the Sunday Times Parent Power League, the best state secondary in the country without a sixth-form. Guildford is just 35 minutes from London by train.”

But average house sale prices are steep, £675,000, and the average rental, £1,800 pcm.

Cllr Diana Jones

Diana Jones, the Green Party R4GV borough councillor for Tillingbourne, who lives in the Surrey Hills, said: “The height of the Surrey Hills has been a blessing to the indigenous inhabitants, because the wildlife has been left in relative peace over the years.

“The area was one of the last to get piped water, and so has suffered least from the concrete and cement that inevitably follow human habitation. Ironically, we crave the same peace and quiet that wildlife does

“It is wonderful that we still have these precious places. They are home to many insects and some of Britain’s rarest birds, to orchids and more than half of butterfly species. Only we can protect them from the headlong race for GDP.”

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Responses to Surrey Hills Tops List of Best Places to Live, Says Sunday Times

  1. David Wragg Reply

    March 27, 2021 at 10:20 am

    I realise that this is probably the fault of the Sunday Times, but the Isle of Wight is not part of Hampshire. The confusion arises because the two counties share certain services, such as police.

    Editor’s comment: Thank you for pointing out this error, now fixed.

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