September 12, 2017 / Property Spotlight

Virginia Water: England's Crown Jewel

Explore quintessential English charm in Virginia Water, Surrey, and find peace, privacy, and royal prestige

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Leafy Virginia Water in Surrey, England, is less than an hour’s drive southwest of central London, and a 20-minute hop from Heathrow. Yet, surrounded as it is by rolling green fields and woodland, the town and its historic neighbor, Windsor Great Park, feel a world away from a busy airport.

The picturesque Cascade waterfall at Virginia Water lake. Banner image: Windsor Great Park’s Long Walk to Windsor Castle. Photographs: Getty Images“It’s an oasis,” says James Mackenzie of Strutt & Parker, the UK's exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. Created as a royal pleasure ground, William I hunted here a thousand years ago and Queen Victoria entertained parties of friends on the shores of Virginia Water lake. Today, royal connections remain strong, with HRH The Duke of Edinburgh holding the office of ranger of Windsor Great Park.

One of the top five polo events in the world, the Cartier Queen’s Cup is traditionally attended by HM The Queen. Photograph: Getty ImagesThe wooded shores of the lake are a popular place with walkers, runners, and painters. Yet, “despite the stillness, in the summer months the area becomes the center of the universe” for locals and visitors, says Mackenzie, as it plays host to an array of prestigious events.

William I hunted in Windsor Great Park a thousand years ago

There’s Ascot, just five miles away, and the BMW PGA Championship at one of the finest golf and country clubs in the world, Wentworth Club. Here, a famous clubhouse is joined by three championship golf courses, a tennis and health club, elegant contemporary dining in The Grill, and an active social calendar.

The BMW PGA Championship takes place at the renowned Wentworth Club. Photograph: Adam JacobsAlso nearby is the Guards Polo Club, where the Cartier Queen’s Cup draws royals and celebrities. For following the polo action or planning your visit, PoloLine covers all the latest polo news and recaps each game.

Some of Virginia Water’s most exclusive addresses can be found on the Wentworth Estate and nearby Callow Hill (pictured). Photograph: Alamy“Most people who live here are part of the golfing community,” says Mackenzie. “You’re likely to bump into all kinds of well-heeled people at the Club. But it’s also a very discreet and private place.” It’s just one of the many draws of Virginia Water’s Wentworth Estate, one of the most coveted addresses in the country.

Cherry Hill is situated on four acres at the heart of the Wentworth Estate, backing onto the prestigious golf course, in one of the finest locations in the UK. Renovated in 2016, the home was originally designed in 1935 by renowned British architect Oliver Hill.Originally created in the 1920s, the estate is still home to some of its original Arts and Crafts houses, although most have been redeveloped into modern luxury homes. “Price per square foot here is higher than anywhere else in the country,” says Mackenzie. Occupying 1,750 hilly, wooded acres, the estate offers a high degree of privacy, which attracts international buyers as well as the cream of English society, including Sir Elton John.

Great Fosters country house hotel is set within 50 acres of gardens and parkland.But despite its illustrious connections, with just 3,000 residents Virginia Water remains a quintessential English country town, with a quaint main street that serves its community well. The Wine Circle is an independent boutique with a fine selection of excellent bottles; the adjoining restaurant has a friendly, personal feel and a modern British menu.

The Estate Grill Room is the more contemporary of two superb restaurants at Great Fosters hotel.“For many, though, it’s the appeal of the surrounding area that draws people here,” says Mackenzie. “There’s Bray, Merton, Windsor, and all kinds of pretty villages along the Thames Valley with many five-star restaurants.” The fabulous Grade I-listed Great Fosters hotel serves an exquisite cream tea. “And, of course, it’s just an hour’s drive from London and all the capital has to offer.”

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Ellie Fazan
is a freelance lifestyle writer and stylist, based in London

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