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Surrey Area Guide

Reigate Priory, Surrey. Image courtesy of Flickr user Nigel Clifford

One of the home counties, Surrey sits just outside of London. The county had been quite rural until the railways were built in the 1830s. As it became easier to commute into London from throughout the county, the population began to explode, and eventually London came to absorb areas like Croydon, Putney and Brixton within its boundaries.

It has remained closely linked to London, as rail lines have only increased in frequency and speed. Despite its commuter reputation, Surrey has more company headquarters than any other UK county. These include Nikon, Pfizer, Esso, Colgate-Palmolive and Samsung, and this is why Surrey has a higher GDP per capita than any other county in the UK.

Surrey is broken up into 11 boroughs and districts: Spelthorne, Runnymede, Surrey Heath, Woking, Elmbridge, Guildford (the county town), Waverley, Mole Valley, Epsom and Ewell, Reigate and Banstead, and Tandridge.


Home to around 1,132,000 people as of 2011, Surrey has a population that in terms of age is very similar to England. Around 19.3% of the population of Surrey is aged 15 and younger, compared to 18.9% in England. In Surrey, about 17% of the population is aged 65 and over, close to the 16.4% in England.

It is slightly less ethnically diverse than England, however. Over 90% of the population of Surrey describe their ethnic background as white or white British, and of that, over 83% are white British. Comparatively, over 85% of England describe their background as white or white British, and of that just under 80% are white British. The next largest group describe their ethnic background as Asian or Asian British, and with 5.6% of the population of Surrey and 7.7% of the population of England describing themselves that way.

Surrey does have a lower unemployment rate, at about 3.26%. England's unemployment rate is 4.4%.


Surrey is remarkably well served by fantastic education options. Surrey residents do not have to travel far for primary schools rated "good" or "outstanding" by Ofsted, and those rated "outstanding" include St Cuthbert Mayne Catholic Primary School, Cranleigh, Guildford Grove Primary School, Gosden House School in Bramley and Horsell Village School in Woking.

There are a great many secondary schools rated "good" and "outstanding" by Ofsted. "Outstanding" schools include St John the Baptist Catholic Comprehensive School in Woking and The Ridgeway Community School in Farnham. There are also several academies that had been rated "outstanding" before converting to academy status, like George Abbot School in Guildford and Weydon School in Farnham. The several independent schools with excellent exam scores include the Duke of Kent School in Ewhurst and King Edward's School in Wormley.

Eight sixth form colleges and six further education colleges are scattered throughout Surrey.

University of Surrey in Guildford has around 13,700 undergraduates and postgraduates enrolled. The University of the Creative Arts has campuses in Epsom and Farnham, and the University of Law has a campus in Guildford.


Surrey has a great deal of transport options, many of which go into London. It benefits from three motorways: the M25, the London Orbital; the M3 from Surrey to Southampton via London; and the M23 which connects Surrey to West Sussex. There are also other main roads, including the A3, which goes from Portsmouth to London. The A24 runs from London to Worthing in West Sussex. The A31 was built along one of the ancient routes from Winchester to London, and it splits off of the A3 at Guildford.

Surrey has some of the busiest rail lines in the country, most of which go to London. With 84 rail stations throughout the county, residents are never very far from connections to the rest of the country. As a result, towns including Staines, Woking, Guildford and Epsom have become well-established commuter towns to London. In terms of passenger numbers, the largest stations in the county are Guildford, Woking, Epsom and Redhill. Guildford and Redhill both have daily services to Manchester.

Surrey is also close to both Gatwick and Heathrow Airports, connected by the M23 and the M25, respectively.

Amenities and Shopping

Surrey has many museums and galleries, and there are several shopping districts throughout the area. Still, a great deal of the best amenities and shopping can be found in Guildford.

Museums and Galleries

Surrey has a large number of museums focusing on local history, including Surrey History Centre, Guildford Museum, the Museum of Farnham and Elmbridge Museum. The London Bus Museum shares an entrance with Brooklands Museum and has the world's largest collection of working London buses. Brooklands Museum explores the history of motoring and aviation in the area. Haslemere Educational Museum is one of the largest natural history museums in the area. Guildford has a few museums which bring the past to life. Guildford Union Workhouse is a restored workhouse, and the Great Barn is one of the largest medieval barns in the south east.

New Ashgate Gallery in Farnham celebrates contemporary arts and crafts, and The Lightbox in Woking hosts regularly rotating exhibitions from local and international artists. Watts Gallery in Guildford has five galleries dedicated to Victorian painter G.F. Watts, and Guildford House Gallery is an exhibition space in a 17th century Grade I listed building.

Theatres and Venues

Dorking Halls has a little bit of everything, from films and comedy to panto and concerts. The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford is a regional theatre that put on their own shows, has a youth theatre and also hosts touring productions.

Guildford has most of the music venues in the county. The Boileroom features live acts playing alternative, indie and other styles of music. The Electric Theatre is an arts centre that is home to the Guildford International Music Festival. G Live host legendary bands, tribute acts, comedy, traveling performances and much more. Dusk and Flares are nightclubs that have regular club nights.


Historically the first location cricket was ever played, Surrey is crucial to the sport. The Surrey County Cricket Club represents the historical county in the County Championship, though they play in London.

Surrey is also great for horse racing. The Lingfield Park, Kempton Park and Sandown Park Racecourses are in the county, and Epsom Downs Racecourse holds the prestigious Derby Stakes in Epsom.

The Surrey rugby and football teams are less high-profile. Rugby union's Esher RFC play in the National League One. In football, Woking play in the Conference National, and Staines Town compete in the Conference South.

The county is also home to an ice hockey team, the Guildford Flames, and a basketball team, the Guildford Heat. The Surrey Volleyball League has twelve teams throughout the area. Surrey has also grown several internationally successful rowing clubs, including Molesey Boat Club, Walton Rowing Club and Guildford Rowing Club.


Guildford might well be considered the primary shopping destination in Surrey. On North Street, The Friary Centre has 60 shops, like A|X Armani Exchange, Nine West and Muji. The street also hosts a street market on Fridays and Saturdays, offering food, gifts and homewares to shoppers. Just a street over on the High Street, Tunsgate Shopping Centre in Guildford has 25 shops which include high street brands like Heal's and Clarks and independent boutiques. Between North Street and the high street, Chapel Street and the Lanes are cobbled, medieval streets lined with upmarket boutiques and independent specialist shops.

Woking's town centre also has a lot of shopping to offer. The two shopping centres, The Peacocks and Wolsey Place, have joined together to create a gigantic mall with more than 150 shops, including Debenhams, H&M and Bon Marché. Woking also has two squares, Market Square and Town Square, which feature seasonal, continental, farmers’ and general markets all throughout the year.

Antiques objet d’art hunters adore West Street in Dorking. There, the many antiques shops and art centres are located in many of the town's 16th century listed buildings, making the shops as beautiful as the objects they sell.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact

All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.

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