With good communications and mixing the best of both old and new, Claygate has a large and diverse selection of independent shops, pubs and restaurants. In 2016 it was runner-up in the Great British High Street Competition.
TOP IMAGE Claygate Holy Trinity PHOTO COPYRIGHT: TOBY RUMMERY
Claygate has always been a popular residential area. What now attracts residents and visitors alike are the 47 independent and family run shops, salons and cafes/restaurants and the incredible tally of five pubs. With pubs nationally on the decline that’s a notable feat, having five in such a small area means they must be doing something right.
Claygate has history, not just the distant past but much more recent history has been made. Over the past five years it has become a bit of a honeypot, attracting visitors throughout Surrey to sample the unique shopping experience that is now offered. Two years ago the village entered The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government’s Great British High Street Competition and perhaps harbouring modest expectations. Claygate was the runner-up – an incredible achievement representative of the hard work all the local businesses had put in over the recent years. It has earlier sampled fame in December 2014 when Sky News spent the day in The Parade in Claygate broadcasting about Small Business Saturday.
Claygate is famous for its Christmas lights switch-on event on the first Saturday in December (this year’s date is Saturday 1 December), and past celebrities have included Cliff Richard, Ronnie Wood, Elaine Page and Mick Hucknall.
• Claygate Dramatic Society: Two one-act plays Thursday 22–Saturday 24 November
• Claygate Christmas Lights Saturday 1 December, 4pm
• Claygate Carols on the Green Sunday 9 December, 4pm
• Claygate Choral Society: Handel’s Messiah Sunday 8 December
Claygate also is host to its very own music festival every two years. The festival lasts for two weeks in March and this year was another great success with artists including Mica Paris, Caravan and Soulrunners headlining, 2020 can’t come soon enough.
David Cameron’s Big Society initiative has been dismissed by some but in Claygate there has developed an old fashioned village atmosphere with a fantastic community spirit. This is borne out by the wealth of clubs and societies that exist and exemplified by the work carried out by Claygate Parish Council and Claygate Village Association.
The precise origins of the village of Claygate aren’t known precisely but its existence was recorded in the Domesday Book around 1080 as ‘Claigate’.
Things have moved on quite a bit with the village now being not only a very desirable place to live but also to shop and well just simply visit. It’s an oasis of calm in bustling Surrey. Benefiting from good road and rail communications, it still retains a quintessential English village atmosphere augmented but the many activities on offer.
As its name partly implies, the topsoil rests upon the youngest beds of the London Clay after which the village is named, capped in places by sandier Bagshot Beds. The clay pits in the village have provided bricks for a large surrounding area including some of Hampton Court Palace. The earliest reference to brickmaking is in Tudor times and this, along with agriculture, was probably the major land use for unbroken centuries before modern times.
Telegraph Hill is one of the highest spots in Claygate. Telegraph Hill, and the wood that has existed on its northern slope for many centuries, has had a variety of names. The oldest recorded name is Hengesteshill, or Stallion’s Hill, hengest being the Saxon word for stallion. Alternatively, it may have taken this name from a Saxon chieftain, Hengist, who with his brother, Horsa, is reputed to have led the Saxon invaders of south-east England in the middle of the 5th century.
At 167 feet (51m) above sea level, Telegraph Hill provided the site for one of the Admiralty’s chain of semaphore stations which linked Whitehall to Portsmouth. The building, called Semaphore House, was completed in 1822 and operated until the electric telegraph took over in 1847. Until then, weather permitting, a message could be transmitted from the Admiralty at Whitehall to Portsmouth in a matter of minutes.
In 1930, Esher Council bought Telegraph Hill for public recreation. Semaphore House subsequently passed into private ownership.
In about 1822 the Claygate Pearmain apple was discovered by John Braddick, growing in a hedge. In 1840 the Holy Trinity church was built of stone in 14th-century style, enlarged in 1860 and restored in 1902. In 1822 a semaphore station opened on the northern boundary of Claygate. This was part of the Admiralty chain of stations between London and Portsmouth and was in continuous operation until 1847.
The consecration of Holy Trinity Church in 1840 was followed a year later by the establishment of the parish of Claygate. The village then became popular as a place to build mansions, most of which have now gone. Agriculture and brickmaking continued to be the main source of employment along with domestic service.
Claygate’s entry into the modern world can be linked precisely to the coming of its railway station on the new Guildford line in 1885. A new village, built half-a-mile from the old centre, was created around the station and goods yard. Housing development followed on an organised basis, initially as a result of activity by the Hon Fitzalan Foley, whose new estate became popular in the 20th century with London commuters.
In 1903 the first Claygate Flower Show (it boasts to be the oldest in the UK) was held and remains a very popular annual event. This year the Claygate Flower and Village Show attracted 7,000 people. Next year’s event is on 13 July 2019 and promises to be another success and as happened this year, marquees will emerge on Claygate’s recreation ground filled with art, photography, crafts, food, plants, flowers, fruit and vegetables. Classic cars, a companion dog show, marching bands, gift stalls, children’s races, tug of war, fancy dress parade, fun fair, farmyard animals and arena events will all add to the fun.
The Game Larder
The Game Larder has been Claygate’s butcher for decades, starting life as a game meat specialist and evolving into a modern day butchers.
We maintain a seasonal-based product range including game and high quality UK sourced beef, lamb, pork and poultry. During the Christmas season we have a fantastic festive selection. Our delicatessen includes cheeses, cooked meats and pastry-based items.
Visit us: The Game Larder
24 The Parade, Claygate, Esher KT10 0NU
Telephone: 01372 462879
Claygate’s multi award-winning Brightwater Brewery Platform 3 offers speciality cask ales. This tiny pub – possibly the smallest in the UK – has featured in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide for the last three years is just the ticket for the commute end or a weekend cosy pint.
CAMRA Good Beer Guide
Claygate’s attraction as a commuter village gave rise to large areas of farmland and mansion sites being used for housing development in the first half of the 20th century, while in the 1960s new sites were provided when the brickworks closed. Claygate’s lack of main thoroughfares has been attributed to angle of the River Thames leading the A3 main road (from London) south-west instead through Esher (now instead between Claygate and Chessington) and historical conditions when through roads became impassable in wet weather because of the clay often close to the surface. Equally, mid-distance routes chose a line to avoid this land, before the advent of road surfacing.
Before the arrival of the railway in 1885, Claygate’s shopping facilities were far smaller than today’s myriad of choices. It’s unlikely that Claygate boasted more than six shops prior to the 1880s. The Parade had yet to be built, and there were only three shops around The Green.
Today these areas reflect a vibrant community thriving a in a world were digital and online are ace, king, queen and jack. We all need time to get away from our screens and reconnect with out past, take a bit of time out and spend it in an inviting, entertaining and peaceful place.
Claygate fulfils all those requirements so why not take some time out and come and see for yourself.
Williams and Bunkell Fishmongers
Fresh. Local. Sustainable. From boat to table in 24 hours, Williams and Bunkell is proud to provide a huge variety of ethically-sourced fresh fish and shellfish. Visit us:
Williams and Bunkell Fishmongers
17a The Parade, Claygate, Esher, Surrey KT10 0PDTelephone: