10 Rea­sons to love...

Found on the stretch of the River Thames be­tween Wey­bridge and East Mole­sey, Sunbury- on-thames is blessed with a vil­lage feel where it meets the wa­ter. From an­tique hunts to the joys of river life, here are a few of our favourite rea­sons to visit

Surrey Life - - Inside - WORDS: James Knighton PHO­TOS: Lucy Atkin­son Home to the Sunbury Em­broi­dery

Sunbury on Thames

1 KEMP­TON PARK RACE­COURSE Staines Road East TW16 5AQ. Web: kemp­ton.the­jock­ey­club. co.uk

Just 15 min­utes down the road from the world-fa­mous home of Eng­land rugby, Twick­en­ham Sta­dium, Kemp­ton Park Race­course has been mak­ing its own sport­ing head­lines since 1878. It was the dream of busi­ness­man Sa­muel H Hyde, whi is even said to have built a royal box in 21 days in 1889 to cater for a visit from the Prince of Wales. Heav­ily af­fected by both World Wars, Kemp­ton Park be­come a pris­oner-of-war camp dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. The jewel in its rac­ing crown is the King Ge­orge VI Chase, which was first run in 1937 and now takes place on Box­ing Day.

2 SUNBURY AN­TIQUES MAR­KET Kemp­ton Park Race­course, Staines Road East TW16 5AQ. Web: sun­buryan­tiques.com

Those in the know have been flock­ing to Sunbury An­tiques Mar­ket since 1979. Now es­tab­lished as one of Europe’s pre­mier an­tiques mar­kets, they spread their wings ear­lier this year and now also host in­door and out­door stalls at Sandown Park Race­course in Esher each month. If you’ve got an eye for a hid­den trea­sure or fu­ture An­tiques Road­show star item, then this is a must visit with its vast col­lec­tions of fur­ni­ture, vin­tage fash­ion, clocks, art etc. It’s a huge event but still, some­how, a bit of a hid­den gem to those who don’t fol­low the trade.

3 SUNBURY WALLED GAR­DEN Thames Street TW16 6AB. Web: sun­bury­gallery.org

Gallery and the Sunbury Mil­len­nium Em­broi­dery, a won­der­ful three me­tre by one me­tre de­pic­tion of the vil­lage that has even been vis­ited by The Queen, Sunbury Walled Gar­den is a gor­geous 18th cen­tury haven. A place that is per­fect for a lit­tle quiet con­tem­pla­tion, the Lendy Me­mo­rial is its im­pres­sive cen­tre­piece. There is also a lovely lit­tle café at the gallery, which is a unique spot for a morn­ing cof­fee, light lunch or af­ter­noon tea. From Oc­to­ber 1 to March 31, the gar­den opens seven days a week from 7.30am to 6.30pm. The café opens Tues­days to Sun­days, 10am to 4pm.

4 SUNBURY LOCK AND ‘ROYAL SWAN UP­PING’ River Thames

Sunbury-on-thames is found off Thames Street, and so, as you might have guessed, river life is an im­por­tant part of the area. One of the main fea­tures of this stretch of the river is Sunbury Lock, which is ac­tu­ally two locks – an old hand-op­er­ated lock orig­i­nally built in 1856 and a new lock that was opened in 1927. The Royal Swan Up­ping, where num­bers of mute swans are recorded each year, starts in Sunbury, with ‘up­pers’ adorned in the scar­let uni­form of Her Majesty The Queen. If you’re look­ing to en­joy a cruise along the river, French Broth­ers’ Run­nymede to Hamp­ton Court boat ser­vice calls at the lock.

5 IS­LANDS OF THE THAMES River Thames

While Sunbury train sta­tion and its sub­ur­ban sur­round­ings are ap­prox­i­mately a 10-minute drive from the river, it’s the vil­lage-like Lower Sunbury and the is­lands of the Thames dot­ted along­side that are per­haps the main draw for in­quis­i­tive vis­i­tors to the area. With the al­lur­ingly-named Grand Junc­tion Isle, Sunbury Court Is­land, River­mead Is­land, Sunbury Lock Ait and Wheat­ley’s Ait along this stretch, there’s plenty to in­spire the imag­i­na­tion. Mid­dle Thames Yacht Club is based on Sunbury Lock Is­land and its boats can easily be seen across the wa­ter on the Sunbury side of the is­land.

6 IN­DIAN ZEST 21 Thames Street TW16 5QF. Web: in­di­anzest.co.uk

A reg­u­lar in­clu­sion in the Miche­lin Guide since it opened in 2008, In­dian Zest re­mains one of Sur­rey’s star In­dian restau­rants. Run by Bhanu Pratap and Manoj Va­saika, the fo­cus here is on cel­e­brat­ing the flavours of In­dia in a con­tem­po­rary and re­fined set­ting. If you’re look­ing for some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, its Re­gal Room comes com­plete with a fire place and, we’re told, your very own ded­i­cated but­ler. If you’re in the area around mid­day, the two-course lunch menu is an ab­so­lute bar­gain at £12.75 – seven days a week.

7 THE FLOWER POT

Thames Street TW16 6AA. Web: the­flow­er­pot­sun­bury. co.uk

Hav­ing walked the Thames or re­laxed in the walled gar­den, you may be look­ing for a lit­tle re­fresh­ment and The Flower Pot coach­ing inn is a de­cent spot to head to. Re­lax with a pint of cask ale or a tip­ple off their cock­tail menu or en­joy a bite to eat – the meat comes from East Mole­sey’s Bent­leys of Sur­rey. You can al­ways book a room too, if you can’t tear your­self away from the town. You might also like to try The Mag­pie, The White Horse or The Flower Pot’s sis­ter pub The Phoenix, which are all in easy walk­ing dis­tance.

8 QUEEN MARY SAIL­ING CLUB Queen Mary Reser­voir, Ash­ford Road TW15 1UA. Web: queen­mary.org.uk

Found on the western bor­der of the town, Queen Mary Sail­ing Club is based at the largest reser­voir in the south east. Raised from the sur­round­ing coun­try­side, it’s a pop­u­lar lo­ca­tion for sail­ing or wind­surf­ing. From Oc­to­ber to March, the club is open Wed­nes­days to Sun­days from 9am. It is also home to the Bloody Mary Pur­suit Race, which is the largest in­land dinghy race held in the UK and, while beached due to low wa­ter lev­els in 2018, is all set for its next run on Jan­uary 2019.

9 LON­DON IR­ISH RUGBY CLUB Hazel­wood Drive TW16 6QU. Web: lon­don-ir­ish.com

De­spite play­ing home games at the Made­jski Sta­dium in Read­ing, Lon­don Ir­ish has been based in Sunbury-on-thames since the 1930s. Pre­vi­ously at The Av­enue, the club now trains at the state-of-the-art Hazel­wood, a 63-acre com­plex that was cre­ated from a nine-hole golf course in 2014. The fa­cil­ity can even be hired for wed­dings th­ese days. Lon­don Ir­ish com­peted in the Premier­ship for 20 years but cur­rently sits in the sec­ond tier RFU Cham­pi­onship. The likes of Jonathan Joseph, Topsy Ojo and Delon Ar­mitage have come through the academy and gone on to play for Eng­land.

10 THE RIVER­SIDE ARTS CEN­TRE 57-59 Thames Street TW16 5QF. Web: river­sidearts.co.uk

Opened in 1982, the River­side Arts Cen­tre is a com­mu­nity venue sup­port­ing the lo­cal arts scene. The Sunbury & Shep­per­ton Arts As­so­ci­a­tion, which formed in 1967, was in­stru­men­tal in the for­ma­tion of the River­side Arts Cen­tre and con­tin­ues this close as­so­ci­a­tion to­day. Other groups tak­ing ad­van­tage of the cen­tre in­clude Manor Play­ers; Shep­per­ton Play­ers; River­side Play­ers; and River­side Youth Theatre. Dates for the di­ary in­clude The Spelthorne & Run­nymede Drama Fes­ti­val from Oc­to­ber 23 to 27.

‘De­spite play­ing home games at the Made­jski Sta­dium in Read­ing, Lon­don Ir­ish Rugby Club has been based in Sun­buryon-thames since the 1930s’

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