Hosting a blend of grand 19th-century townhouses and art deco courts alongside the more recent addition of residential semi-detached housing, it’s made even more desirable by its inviting green open spaces and proximity to the River Thames.
Today, Surbiton is a friendly and upmarket spot with an enviable location, attracting its fair share of famous faces – now and throughout history. When out discovering a new local coffee shop you may even bump into one or two. Do you recognise any of these famous residents in Surbiton? Find out more about current and former residents of the town in our latest blog post below.
A Work of Art
If you’ve paid a recent visit to the Tate Britain you may have gazed upon Ophelia, a renowned painting by Sir John Everett Millais that depicts one of literature’s most poetic deaths. Whilst set in Denmark, the river is actually based on the Hogsmill which is located in the Surbiton district of Tolworth, and has therefore become a quintessentially English piece of artwork. For a lazy afternoon stroll, choose the Hogsmill Valley taking you right past this iconic scene, full of flora.
Rupert Bear, the British comic strip character featured in the Daily Express, was also sketched out from a home in Surbiton. Taking over from the original illustrator, Alfred Bestall brought this much-loved character to life for a whole generation and secured this little bear a long-lasting name in history. Did you know, Bestall even included three Surbiton girl guides on one occasion after they approached him personally in 1947, asking to feature in one of Rupert’s adventures.
Whilst not a visual piece, Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Madding Crowd has long been considered one of the classic and must-reads. Hardy wrote and published the book whilst residing in the suburban neighbourhood. Although, his blue plaque to commemorate the success of his novels is actually found in Tooting where he later moved to.
In modern times, you’ll find contemporary artwork dotted throughout the streets including the Out Of Order installment by David March. This sculptural piece features twelve unused red telephone boxes tipped over against one another to create an arrangement resembling dominoes.
“Barbara, I can’t get my wellies off.” Perhaps the most famous residents in Surbiton previously were the characters portrayed in the comedy series The Good Life; the turbulent tale of two forty-somethings escaping modern life by becoming completely self-sufficient, much to the amusement of their neighbours. (Although, the show was actually filmed in a house in Northwood, north-west London!) Did you know ‘Surbiton’ is actually coined off an old English term: Sūth Bere-tūn which means ‘southern grange’ or ‘outlying farm’, making it the ideal setting for this beloved British series. For a taste of your own farmer’s lifestyle and to give back to the local community, be sure to visit the popular Farmers Market taking place every third Saturday, offering a selection of gourmet game, homemade preserves, and delectable cakes.
Harry Potter fans may also recognise Surbiton station from its brief appearance in the sixth installment of the film series, The Half-Blood Prince. Although not shown in the film, the outside of the train station is a beautiful art-deco building sure to brighten up your daily muggle-commute and with its enviable location, you’ll be able to reach central London in just thirty minutes.
An array of popular comedians have chosen to settle in Surbiton, from the IT Crowd’s Katherine Parkinson, to Live at the Apollo’s Andy Parsons and 8 Out of 10 Cats’ Jon Richardson. The flamboyant Julian Clary also calls the district home, with a love for pantomime and performance he may well feature in productions at the Rose Theatre, the largest theatre in South-West London. As the name suggests, the theatre was modelled on the original Elizabethan Rose theatre and is home to everything from classical plays to stand-up comedy gigs.
Were you a Wombles fan back in the day? Record producer Mike Batt wrote and performed several successful hits under the novelty children’s pop group ‘The Wombles’ – the band even went on to play to mammoth crowds at Glastonbury Festival! Whilst the furry, pointy-nosed friends made their underground-homes in Wimbledon Common during the hit TV series, Batt has instead settled in leafy-Surbiton. (And to our knowledge, not in the holes favoured by his companions!)
David Essex also called Surbiton home for sixteen years, living at 104 Ditton Road. The singer-songwriter was hugely popular in the ’70s with two number-1 singles and went on to also have a successful acting career.
Although no longer a resident, iconic blues songwriter Eric Clapton purchased one of his first guitars in the neighbourhood in a music shop called Bells and at just sixteen could be found busking around the local areas. Rich in musical roots, a move to Surbiton may have you picking up an instrument of your own or discovering a new band to enjoy at one of the popular venues across the town.
On Your Marks, Get Set
If you’re a keen sports-person, be on the lookout for fitness coach Joe Wicks running around the likes of Claremont Gardens and Bushy Park. The personal trainer, also known as The Body Coach, has come to the forefront of the fitness industry with his charming personality and effective HIIT methods. Inspired to take up a challenge? The beautiful ever-changing trees in Claremont Gardens offer the perfect background, the park is also one of the earliest surviving landscape-designs of its kind still centered around its 18th-century layout.
Football fans will no doubt be familiar with Roy Hodgson, the current manager of Crystal Palace and who oversaw the England team between 2012 and 2016. The football manager calls Surbiton home, yet football stadiums are not the town’s most renowned sports facility. The hockey club, established in 1874 is not only one of the oldest in the world but has also trained some of the sport’s most notable players in history.
Just a short stroll away from Surbiton district, you’ll find even more famous residents within the borough. These include children’s authors Jacqueline Wilson and Enid Blyton, presenter and best-known as her husband’s ‘magicians assistant’ Debbie McGee, radio DJ Clara Amfo and spiderman actor Tom Holland. The town boasts a long list of celebrities, both present and past, choosing to settle in the town.
Kingston Upon Thames offers up a vibrant and diverse scene, it has even been linked to a Saxon heritage, the site where the Kings of old were crowned. You’ll be able to visit the Coronation Stone, found in the Guildhall, that dates back to 838 making it over 19,000 years old. A short drive away, you’ll also find Hampton Court, seeped in Tudor history.
Other Reasons Why We Love Surbiton
The busy town centre of Surbiton is home to a wide range of shops that spread across Brighton Road, Victoria Road, Claremont Road and beyond including independent boutiques and coffee shops such as the bustling Clocktower Café, The Press Room and Pickled Pantry, perfect for whiling away an hour or two on a Sunday afternoon.
Should you suddenly see residents sliding on ice cubes, they are probably getting some early practice in for the annual Surbiton Ski Sunday held in October which raises money for local charities in the area. The organisers behind the event also host the British Bread Golf Open in November (a dough ball throwing competition at a target in the Thames) and the monthly Homage de Fromage cheese club at The Lamb pub.
Famous Residents In Surbiton
Living in this suburban district has many an advantage; with its idyllic surroundings, bustling high street, and sense of community it has become a desirable south-west London location for both families and individuals. You certainly won’t be short of things to do, with cultural activities at the heart of the borough and strong transportation links connecting to you to the buzzing hive of London.
The neighbourhood has long been favoured, and has therefore given way to a long list of famous residents in Surbiton making it an ever-interesting place to call home. Whether you are interested in the arts, enjoying the great outdoors, or exploring new eateries there is something on offer for everyone in this stunning location.
Thinking of moving to Surbiton
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