The ever-developing spot has managed to carefully balance contemporary growth whilst preserving its historic character. The town, with the potential to bid for city status in the future, has a vibrant and thriving cultural scene making it a desirable spot for those in the south-east. It even holds the title of happiest town in Surrey!
Over the years it also attracted a wide range of famous names, do you recognise any of the famous residents in Woking, past or present? Find out more in our blog post below on why Woking could be the right relocation for you too.
“I wheeled about the district marking down suitable places and people for destruction by my Martians.” One of the most famous residents in Woking was the late H.G. Wells, renowned as the nation’s greatest science fiction writer. Inspired by his move to the town after escaping busy London, the most successful of his books, the War of the Worlds was born out of his imagination and features several locations in the area. Statues of both the author and his fictional martian characters are dotted throughout the centre, making for an other-worldly walking tour around the town.
Originally marginalised due to her gender when coming to light as a composer, Ethel Symth spent her later years in Woking. She became heavily involved in the suffragette movement, fighting for recognition within the world of classical music and one of her pieces, The March of the Women, was actually adopted as the anthem for the Women’s Social and Political Union. After the war, Ethel received multiple awards in recognition of her compositions.
During the same period, the first purpose-built mosque in England (completed in 1889) was built in the town and also features in H.G. Wells’ writing. The Shah Jahan mosque is instantly recognisable with its exquisite architectural detail, the community worshipping on the grounds promotes both understanding and harmony providing Woking with a friendly, neighbourly feel.
If you pay a trip to the Brookwood Cemetery, at one point the largest cemetery in the world, you may find yourself spending hours exploring the huge grounds and discovering some of the notable plots.
The town has always been one to support developments, the WWF also has its headquarters in the area, a charity promoting a greener future. The wildlife charity not only operates from the site but also offers educational experiences and in 2013, Sir David Attenborough officially opened the headquarters saying it was “a fantastic eco-building”.
Formed in the early ’70s, The Jam originally began their journey to success in Woking, putting the town on the map for music. Playing the Walton Road Working Men’s Club to eventually touring on a global scale, the band is attributed as one of the defining acts of the British new wave and punk era. There have been rumors their 1982 single ‘Town Called Malice’ was cruelly inspired by their youth spent in Woking, but this has been debunked by Rick Buckler, the band’s drummer. The trio are still strongly linked to the town today, returning for a hometown gig in 2010 in support of Woking Hospice. Have you listened to their music yet? Try our Seymour Woking partner, Zo Khan’s favourite: Floorboards Up.
Rick Parfitt, singer and guitarist in Status Quo, was also amongst the musicians beginning their career in the market town, describing his upbringing there as ‘wonderful’. Joining the band in 1967, his success spans over nearly 50 years and Status Quo still holds the title for the most appearances on Top of the Pops! You’ll find a blue plaque in Jubilee Square in tribute to the late musician’s roots.
Did you know, another of the famous residents in Woking is Queen guitarist Brian May, who lives with his wife, actress Anita Dobson. The couple have been happily settled in the area for several years, and they even have an animal rescue centre in the garden. From music royalty to our own monarch, to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 60-year reign, the town’s council created a new public space, known as ‘Jubilee Square’ for visitors to enjoy high-quality dining and shopping.
Comedians Harry Hill, Sean Lock, and Rufus Hound were all born in Woking. You may even see a hometown show from one of the Woking-born trio with the New Victoria Theatre hosting a calendar of large-name comedy acts throughout the year. Opening in 1992, the theatre has established itself as one of the foremost performance venues in the South East. Boasting state-of-the-art facilities and seating for up to 1,300 the theatre not only welcomes national touring comedians, but also the likes of the Royal Shakespeare Company and showcases a huge selection of popular west-end musicals.
Co-writer of the comedy series, The Inbetweeners, Iain Morris also spent his childhood in the town. The writer is still a loyal supporter of Woking FC to this day!
How to Cook
One of the most influential and iconic celebrity chefs, Delia Smith was a resident in Woking for sixteen years. Her no-nonsense style of cooking has even led to the creation of her own phrase, ‘The Delia Effect’, referencing a shortage of a certain ingredient, though the shelves of your local store are well-stocked today!
The town has certainly not lost its appetite for cooking! Voted the Best Local Food Event three years in a row, the Woking Food and Drink Festival is an annual event worth marking in your diary. Over three jam-packed days, visitors will have the chance to interact with their favourite famous chefs and try a variety of delicious dishes. Gordon Ramsey has even been rumoured to be opening a new cooking school in the area.
A different kind of spice! Did you know The Spice Girls first recorded in Woking? The band regularly rehearsed in the Trinity Studios, now known as the Woking Youth Arts Centre.
Both The River Wey and Basingstoke Canal run through the borough, offering some unmissable, picturesque riverside walks, perfect for a casual stroll or Sunday bike-ride. Why not try the Seymour Woking team’s favourite by Horsnell Common, with a range of terrain routes to suit all the family taking you by the river. One of the famous residents in Woking inspired to take to the waters was rowing champion and double Olympic gold medalist James Cracknell. If you fancy a dip to cool off in the summer sun instead of a long walk by the canal, the town has a fantastic leisure centre with a range of different swimming activities available from private lessons, to public sessions and even disco nights.
From the fastest rower to one of the world’s fastest cars. The McLaren headquarters is also based in the town, and you’ll also find the futuristic production building just outside the centre – should you be driving by at the right time, you may even spot the latest supercar!
Other Reasons We Love Woking
A great place to bring up your family, the schools in the district score highly in recent Ofsted reports – Hoe Valley (secondary) and Knaphill Lower (primary) both achieving an ‘outstanding’ grade. Furthermore, Woking’s event calendar is one of envy! From pantomime performances to Chinese New Year and Diwali celebrations, the town showcases a wide variety of cultures. The Lightbox, an interactive museum can make for a great day out with your children but also offers interesting evening exhibitions for an unusual date night.
Did you know, Woking has also been voted the happiest place to live in Surrey by its residents? Owed in part to its green spaces and village-feel, the town’s easy commute and investment in regeneration mean it scored an average of 8.0 of 10.0 when the study was conducted.
Famous Residents in Woking
Though perhaps previously overshadowed by Guildford, Woking’s history and culture alongside the new town developments has seen it become a hugely popular area for those wishing to escape London’s busy centre. With a wide selection of activities and events available to the community, there’s something for everyone.
Woking boasts an extensive list of famous faces taking up residence in the area, both past and present. As it continues to grow, the modern town can be the ideal alternative to the crowded streets of the capital for those looking to move.
Thinking of moving to Woking?
Are you looking for your next home? Get in touch with us here for advice from our real estate experts and to find out more about the Seymour properties we have currently available in the area.
Our expert team operates only in West Surrey, and as residents of the county themselves, you can rest assured you’ll receive reliable information about the area. Be it the nearest public transport link for your daily commute, or where the closest playground for your children is, we have the knowledge to ensure you feel comfortable with your new move.