Reigate, at the foot of the North Downs which make a wonderful backdrop to the town. Although Reigate is only 21 miles from London, the presence of the North Downs means that the busy market town remains separate.
Quite a few things to see here - both in the town and out and about.
The historic settlement dates from from Saxon times. Following the Norman Invasion of 1066, the area was granted to William de Warene (later Ist Earl of Surrey) by William the Conqueror.
Reigate Castle was built by the 2nd Earl of Surrey, and in 1150 the de Warene family constructed a new town beneath the castle. By 1441 the castle was described as 'ruinous' and was demolished in 1648.
Reigate Caves lie beneath the remains of the castle and were excavated to connect the Castle Keep with the town below. The Reigate Castle Tunnel, constructed under the grounds of Reigate Castle in 1823, is believed to be Europe's first road tunnel. Today the castle grounds form an attractive public park.
Reigate's Old Town Hall, dating from 1708, is in a prominent position at one end of the High Street, on the site of the original market place.
Much of the town centre is designated a Conservation Area and there are specialist shops including crafts, antiques, furniture and clothing. Reigate also has a reputation as a gourmet area with a range of restaurants, cafes and pubs.
A short walk from the town centre lies Reigate Priory, founded in the early 13th century. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536, Henry VIII granted the estate to Lord William Howard who converted the building into a residence for his family. It's elegant Palladian facade seen today dates from 1779.
The Grade I listed Priory now houses both Reigate Priory School and Reigate Priory Museum. The museum's collection of local history artifacts, domestic items and period costumes are displayed in atmospheric settings. Reigate Priory stands in Priory Park, a 200 acre area, overlooked by the North Downs with a lake, beautiful gardens, woodland and recreational facilities.
Overlooking the town is Reigate Hill, owned by the National Trust, a place for walking, with spectacular views over Weald and South Downs. Standing on the hill is Reigate Fort, one of 13 mobilisation centres established in the 1890's to protect London from invasion.
Near Reigate Hill lies Gatton Park, the core 250 acres of a manor and park. In the 1760's the park was landscaped by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. The park comprises grasslands, woodland, ponds and a large lake and there are also formal gardens, including a Japanese Garden, added by Sir Jeremiah Coleman (of mustard fame). Gatton Park is now home to the Royal Alexandra and Albert School but the grounds are open to the public on the first Sunday of each month.
To the west is lies Reigate Heath, 130 acres of sandy heathland, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Local Nature Reserve.
Beside the club house of Reigate Heath Golf Club stands the recently restored Reigate Heath Windmill. Also known as the Heath Church, this is probably the only windmill in the world to have been consecrated as a church. The wooden windmill, dating from at least 1765, was mounted on a post which rotated on a stone base, allowing the sails to face the wind. In 1880 the brick roundhouse of the disused post mill was converted into a chapel. Services are still held in the tiny church. From the hill where the windmill stands there are views of the North Downs, including the chalk face at Betchworth.
Reigate Caves Take the chance to delve underground and see these caves.
Ladyland Farm 3.2 miles Have an educational time down at the farm.
Denbies Wine Estate 5.5 miles A large vineyard to look around and, of course, taste the wines.
Epsom Downs Racecourse 5.6 miles Enjoy an exciting day out at the races.
Bocketts Farm Park 6.7 miles Enjoy a day out with the animals at this working farm.
Towns Near Reigate To Visit - straight line distance:Redhill (1.58 miles) Earlswood (1.71 miles) Horley (4.91 miles) Dorking (5.41 miles)