Surrey has a rich and diverse arts scene and here are some of the best venues to visit. One of Surrey’s prominent art galleries is Guildford House Gallery, which sits within a fascinating 17th-century Grade 1-listed town house on the pretty High Street and has been home to the Borough Art Collection since 1959. Guildford also has its museum, as do most other towns and larger villages across the county including Dorking, Godalming, Haslemere and Farnham – check their websites for individual exhibition programmes, many of which are free to visit. Talking of Farnham and the town and surrounding area is often considered England’s craft town. It is home to the Surrey campus of the University of the Creative Arts, which houses The Crafts Study Centre – England’s museum of modern arts.
Nearby, Farnham Maltings is another great place to get your culture fix. Situated in a former tannery-turned-brewery, the creative arts centre has six resident theatre and dance companies, 15 artist studios and a pottery and programme of theatre, film, craft, music, festivals, children’s theatre and much more. Theatres in Surrey worth a visit are The Rose Theatre in Kingston, which was founded by the late Peter Hall and enjoys artistic and critical acclaim from its own productions and co-productions; The Harlequin Theatre in Redhill, which hosts a variety of touring shows throughout the year; and the New Victoria in Woking, which is part of the famed Ambassador Theatre Group.
There is also a number of literary and classical music festivals, such as Guildford Book Festival each October and the Surrey Hills International Music Festival each May. So, whatever your taste, Surrey offers an interesting and diverse selection of art and culture to enjoy, whether you’re in one of the county’s bustling town centres or in the tranquillity of the countryside.
The Sculpture Park
Jumps Rd, Churt, Farnham GU10 2LH
The Sculpture Park is the most atmospheric sculpture exhibition in Britain. More than 300 internationally-renowned sculptors exhibit hundreds of sculptures for sale within ten acres of arboretum and wildlife inhabited water gardens. Visit website
Stag Hill, University Campus, Guildford GU2 7UP
Guildford Cathedral is the country’s most modern cathedral which, from its commanding hilltop position, is an imposing landmark that can be seen across the town. Visit Guildford Cathedral and find out more about its heritage and see its wonderful, spacious interior on a guided tour. Visit website
Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village
Down Ln, Guildford GU3 1DQ
Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village is a unique Arts & Crafts gem nestled in the Surrey Hills. Discover stunning Victorian paintings and sculpture in the historic gallery before treating yourself to lunch or a cream tea in the tea shop. Wander to the nearby Grade 1-listed Watts Chapel, taking in the beautiful woodlands and grounds, or find out more about the lives of GF and Mary Watts at Watts Studios before taking a tour of the artists’ home, Limnerslease. In the pottery building there is art for sale in the Watts Contemporary exhibition along with a wide selection of gifts, books and homewares in the shop. Visit website
School Rd, Grayshott, Hindhead GU26 6LR
Grayshott Pottery is a Surrey business that has been hand-crafting exclusive ceramics for over 60 years. There is an extensive gift emporium, an inspiring studio gallery showcasing the designs of the talented artists and the Kiln Café offers a wide selection of refreshments to round off your visit. Come and be inspired by the beautiful range of ceramics, and discover much more. Visit website
Church St, Petworth GU28 0AE
Petworth House is a magnificent country house and park with an internationally important art collection. The vast late 17th-century mansion is set in a beautiful 283-hectare (700-acre) deer park, landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown and immortalised in Turner’s paintings. Inside, the house contains the National Trust’s finest collection of pictures, with numerous works by Turner, Van Dyck, Reynolds and Blake, ancient and Neo-classical sculpture, fine furniture and carvings by Grinling Gibbons. The servants’ quarters contain fascinating kitchens (including a copper batterie de cuisine of more than 1,000 pieces) and other service rooms. Visit website
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