Since 1978, the village of Shere in Surrey has opened it’s gardens to raise funds for local charities. On Sunday 28th June, Shere once again threw open it’s garden gates to enable the general public to nose around some of the most beautiful backyards in Surrey.
Nestled at the foot of the North Downs, midpoint between Guildford and Dorking, with the Tillingbourne stream running through the centre, Shere ticks all the boxes if you are looking for a picturesque village to while away a Sunday afternoon. Easily accesible from the M25 and A3 and with a handy station only a mile away at Gomshall, there is no excuse to not visit this beauty spot.
The village owes much of it’s charm to the fact that many of the cottages are still owned by the Shere Manor Estate, presided over by Handa Bray, the current ‘Lord’ of the Manor, who firmly believes in housing for local people, which reflects in the village atmosphere, and despite being in the centre of the Surrey commuter belt, the area still retains a community feel.
ON TO THE GARDENS
A wide range of gardens are open to view, from the allotments (complete with ‘over the wall’ Gardener’s Question Time chat), to small cottage gardens through to larger and splendid spaces at the edge of the village. Home-made teas in the village hall and a Pimms stall in the centre of the village provide more than adequate refreshment opportunities!
At only £6 for adults (£5 for OAPs and under 16’s free), it seems a total bargain to view over 20 private gardens. Many visitors do not quite manage to take in all the gardens but a must see is certainly the neat allotments, complete with scarecrows, situated at the edge of the Tillingbourne stream. These are so lovingly tended they look as though they should be part of a film set! Sayers, a Georgian gem beside St James’ Church, has a traditional walled garden leading down to the stream, with wide borders overflowing with generous planting. My favourite though was Old Netley Mill, a short walk along the A25. Hidden behind a belt of trees, the garden is hardly visible to the passing traffic on the main road but the glorious lake, complete with ‘wind in the willows’ style picturesque boathouse is quite magical. The restored mill house features a walkway across the stream to the newly created gravelled courtyard garden beyond. Add to this a high brick wall covered with rambling roses and an enclosed vegetable plot with resident tortoise and pet rabbit, The Old Netley Mill sums up many people’s idea of a dream garden.