Last weekend I visited the little village of Shere in Surrey, which has a reputation of being one of the most picturesque in the whole county. Well, I haven’t visited every village in Surrey so can’t compare, but I can certainly confirm its immense prettiness, and say it is one of the loveliest villages I’ve ever visited. If you have ever wanted to feel like you have stepped into a Miss Marple novel, this is the place.
The village is very old, appearing in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Essira and Essire. Within the centre there are 34 listed buildings, most being stone or timber-framed houses from the 16th and 17th century, and at the end of the main street is a Norman church. What is most fascinating about the church is the store of ‘the lady in the wall’: in 1329 a local woman made a vow to devote her life to God, and the Bishop of Winchester gave permission for her to be enclosed in a narrow cell built in the church walls. She received food through a small grate in the outer wall, took communion from a hole within the chancel wall, and her only view was of the altar.
One of Shere’s claims to fame is that it is the place where the game of baseball was first recorded. William Bray, the Lord of the Manor at the time, wrote about a Guildford game of Base Ball in his diary of March 31, 1755. One of the two village pubs is now named after this same William Bray. The second pub of the village, The White Horse, is rather older, dating from 1450. It was used as a base for a local sheep stealing and poaching gang in the 1830s, but more recently appeared as Jude Law’s local in 2006 film ‘The Holiday’.
Shere doesn’t have a train station and is best reached by car, but those travelling from London via public transport can either get the train to Guildford and then a taxi, or make a train change to go on to the station at Gomshall, from where it is only a one mile walk to Shere.
All photos courtesy of my uncle, Richard Davidson.