Things to do in Weybridge, Surrey
The town is a desirable commuter area of London and in 2008 six of the ten most expensive streets in the UK, excluding Greater London, were in Weybridge.
What began as a settlement on a river crossing developed in 1537 when Henry VIII built Oatlands Palace where he married Catherine Howard, his fifth wife. Queen Elizabeth I spent a great deal of money making it a comfortable hunting lodge and there was a grand house in the gardens.
John Tradescant the Elder was appointed "Keeper of his Majesty's Gardens, Vines and Silkworms". He introduced many rare plants which became the first collection called "Tradescant's Ark".
Oatlands Park Hotel now stands on the site of the palace which was demolished in 1650 under Oliver Cromwell's reign. The bricks from the palace were put to good use lining the Wey Navigation Canal which runs for 20 miles from Weybridge to Godalming in Surrey.
It was Charles I who planted the cedar tree in front of the hotel as a celebration of the birth of his son, Henry of Otelands.
The River Wey was one of the first rivers to be made navigable by adding stretches of canal to allow barges to transport goods to London.
The smaller house survived and had a variety of royal residents including the Duchess of York, estranged wife of Prince Frederick.
In 1838 Weybridge Railway Station opened, transforming the village into a town with many grand houses.
In 1901 Weybridge was the site of the world's first leisure campsite which developed into the Camping and Caravanning Club.
Local landowner Hugh Locke King developed the first motor racing circuit at Brooklands. It was also used for early powered flight and led to the development of Weybridge's aviation industry.
Present Day Weybridge
Weybridge is made up of various areas: St George's Hill, Brooklands, Monument Hill/ Queens Road and Oatland Village.
Outside the Ship Inn at the bottom of Monument Hill is a monument to the Duchess of York, a well-loved local resident. Her tomb is in St James's Churchyard. At the opposite end of Monument Hill is the war memorial.
Weybridge is famously the setting for the science fiction battle in H.G. Wells The War of the Worlds.
The town has had many famous residents including Beatles members, John Lennon and Ringo Starr, singer Tom Jones and writers Nina Bawden and E.M. Forster.
Things to Do Around Weybridge
Weybridge Heath is known for its rare birds, insects and insectivorous plants. The ant colony was once studied by entomologist Horace Donisthorpe. It is currently in the care of the Surrey Wildlife Trust whose mission is to protect and regenerate this wildlife area.
The former Brooklands Aerodrome and Motor Circuit is now the site of the Brooklands Museum which has many aviation and motoring exhibits from giant racing cars to the Concorde Experience.