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By Sara Hardy– 7th December 2020

We are relatively new to the National Trust, having joined just a few months before the first lockdown. I have found that it really does offer something for everyone, and these beautiful locations are a fantastic way to enjoy the great outdoors, learn a little about the history of the local area, and make for a fantastic family day out.


Little adventure seekers will love exploring beautifully maintained gardens and winding pathways, following mystical trails, breathing in beautiful scenery, playing in woodland playgrounds and ending up in a cosy café with a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Each National Trust location offers such variety and continues to be a part of living history for all to enjoy.


Here are my top six National Trust properties to visit in Surrey.

1. Polesden Lacey, Great Bookham

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother once said, “This is a delicious house”. You will find it impossible to disagree with her; this beautiful Edwardian country house is a feast for the eyes. It has a glamourous history too; previously owned by a female Mayfair socialite who threw lavish parties for royalty, politicians and celebrities in the early 1900s. The Queen Mother and King George VI even began their honeymoon here. The views across the Surrey Hills and the vast gardens offer something for every season. You may also recognise the house from many period dramas including Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple.



2. Hatchlands Park, East Clandon

Since its construction in the 1750s Hatchlands Park has housed a number of wealthy families. Being one of the largest country estates in the area, the 400 acres of woodland and parkland give plenty of opportunities to roam and enjoy the seasons. With resident donkeys, hollowed oak trees and a few animal carvings, together with two cosy cafés and a playground under the trees, a visit to Hatchlands makes a great day out.


3. Clandon Park, West Clandon

This 1730s Palladian mansion at Clandon Park was built with one intention, to impress and entertain. Artists, architects, sculptors and materials were bought in from all around the world during its construction, most of which was heavily funded from the owner’s links to the transatlantic slave trade. The Onslow family were well known in both law and politics and wanted to make their mark socially in Surrey. Unfortunately, much of the house was stripped bare during a fire in 2015, but the restoration is underway and historians are discovering many new things about the building as the project continues. Keira Knightly starred as The Duchess in the Nextflix period drama in 2008, much of which was filmed at Clandon Park.


4. Claremont Landscape Gardens, Esher

This Grade I listed eighteenth century landscape garden was previously the country retreat of queens and heirs and a place that they could enjoy the simple outdoor pleasures the gardens had to offer. Over its three hundred year history, landscape designers have added unique features such as the amphitheatre with its sweeping views over the serpentine lake, the grotto, Camelia Terrace and Belvedere Tower.


5. Winkwork Aboretum, Godalming

Winkworth Aboretum is one of nature’s hidden gems and is where beautiful landscapes are reflected throughout the year. Winkworth is home to over a thousand species of trees and shrubs and you can enjoy a different visual experience each time you visit. During wintertime, the scenery at Winkworth is dramatic, crisp, and incredibly photo worthy. You may even recognise a few scenes from the BBC’s Cranford drama that were filmed here.


6. Runneymede and Ankerwycke, Windsor

It is here that the signing of the Magna Carta took place in 1215 and you will find references to the fight for freedom throughout the area. The peaceful riverside setting is a great place to relax and unwind, enjoy a picnic or go for a bike ride. On the opposite side of the River Thames are the woods and fields of Ankerwycke. Here you will find the National Trust’s oldest tree at 2500 years old; this is also where Henry VIII is rumoured to have courted Anne Boleyn.



In addition to these fascinating historical locations, there are numerous National Trust walks and trails for all the family to enjoy across the county. Do have a look at the National Trust website to choose the right one for you. If you are interested to learn which other Surrey locations and starred on the big and small screens, you can read my blog.



Sara x

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