At first glance, Bookham, nestled on the edge of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and with some of the finest countryside on its doorstep, could be seen as a historic, tranquil, and endearing semi-rural village. And that it is. But what you will also discover is a community that is as exciting as it is warm, and as welcoming as it is vibrant. Bookham is in fact two villages: Great Bookham and Little Bookham.
It is believed that people have been settled in Bookham since prehistoric times, from which it developed into a traditional farming community, which it remained for most of its life. Evidence of this can still be seen today, with street names such as Barn Meadow, Sole Farm, and Merrylands Road after Merrylands Farm. You can’t talk about the history of Bookham without mentioning some of the wonderful characters that have lived and visited here and shaped who we are today.
One name that certainly springs to mind for many is wonderful Mary Chrystie, who moved to Bookham in 1858 at the tender age of twenty. A strong supporter of the Temperance Movement, her views on the evils of alcohol were fierce – she even succeeded in closing at least five pubs across the two villages. She replaced The Fox Ale House with the Little Bookham Village Hall, which she felt was far more appropriate and useful for the community.
During the Second World War, the King and Queen of Yugoslavia were evacuated to Little Bookham, where they lived in the Old Rectory. Records show they enjoyed their time here – in a way, they had the best of both worlds, as London was far enough away to avoid concern, yet they were close enough to not feel isolated.
We are not sure Mary Chrystie would be impressed with Bookham today, with its four wonderful pubs, including the charming Ye Olde Windsor Castle with its delicious traditional pub menu. The historic high street is filled with independent stores, plus the odd recognisable big name or two. You will find a chocolatier, butcher, baker, florist, fishmonger as well as cards, gifts, hardware and clothing stores.
Should you wish to grab a coffee and a bite, then there are a few choices, from cafes to takeaways. Carolina’s is a favourite with the locals and, according to one visitor, has the ‘best carrot cake ever!’ Krissi & Rob’s Crazy Bean exudes their passion for vegan food that tastes amazing, we recommend you give them a try.
If you enjoy an outdoor lifestyle, or simply want to enjoy the fresh air, then Bookham Common is a must. Mentioned in the Domesday Book, this ancient common with its majestic oak woods, grassland planes and tranquil ponds offers something for everyone. Designated a Site of Special Interest, there is an abundance of wildlife for you to discover and trails for your family to explore. From cycling, horse riding, dog walking, running, the common is a place to be enjoyed no matter what your age.
Another beautiful place to explore is the grounds of the 19th century stately home. Polesden Lacey within Great Bookham. There is an air of elegance to its design, from the manicured greens, the intoxicating rose garden and the yew tree-shaded Nun’s Walk. Just a short drive away is the working family farm, Bocketts Farm, where no matter what the weather there is something to do, whether you want to cuddle rabbits, watch the pig race or go crazy in the indoor play barns, it’s a great family day out.
In under 20 minutes you can be at the highly regarded Walton Heath Golf Club; this heathland setting has been ranked in the Top 50 UK and Ireland courses for more than 10 years. A short drive away is Leatherhead and everything the town has to offer.
Due to its location and ease of travel, there is a rich choice of schools for families to choose from, including the highly reputed Howard of Effingham Secondary School, and the Yehudi Menuhin School for Music is only a short distance away. Other local schools include St Lawrence Primary School, Polesden Lacey Infant School, and Eastwick School and Dawnay School, which are both primary.
Despite its serene location, nestled on the edge of the North Downs and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Bookham is just a stone’s throw away from the M25, A3 and the south coast, making the whole of the south of England very accessible, and the rest of the UK can be easily reached via adjoining major roads and motorways. Bookham train station has regular trains to Guildford and London Waterloo, should a city commute be a necessity.