Towns and villages

Ashford

Ashford has a charming town centre with a number of speciality shops, amenities and a magnificent war memorial.

The Queen Mary Reservoir opened in 1925 and is ideal for racing or just having fun and the Queen Mary Sailing Club is arguably one of the country's premier inland dingy and windsurfing racing clubs.

The Town Tree, Ashford

Many of the town's buildings have an interesting heritage including St Matthew's Church, dating back to 1293; the Old Fire Station, which was used as headquarters for the Civil Defence Corp until the 1960s and St James School for Boys, designed by Henry Clutton for the Welsh Schools and set in 30 acres of pleasant landscape. Ashford also has mainline trains into London Waterloo.

For a long time the village was always associated with the nearby town of Staines, Ashford has enjoyed genuine growth in recent years, with a thriving high street and strong transport links.

Shepperton

Shepperton Shepperton takes its name from Scepertone, meaning "the habitation of Shepherds" (Saxon). In 54 BC records maintain that the Catuvellauni tribe which ruled the area now known as Spelthorne, fortified the banks of the River Thames near lower Halliford in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the Romans (under the leadership of Julius Caesar) from crossing. More recently, legend has it that Dick Turpin was a regular visitor at the Anchor Hotel and his pistol, inscribed with "Dick's Friend", was found in the building.

Shepperton is a pretty riverside village which has retained its charm. Many of the public houses and hotels in the town and particularly in Church Square (a picturesque conservation area) are steeped in history, with parts of buildings dating back to the 1600s. Shepperton also has a wide range of open spaces including the Thames Path National Trail, linking up Shepperton with the riverside towns of Sunbury, Laleham and Staines and a variety of parks with facilities for all.

Passenger boat trips run from Shepperton Marina to Weybridge, on the other side of the Thames, to Hampton Court and Staines, and the town is also well served by mainline trains into London Waterloo.

The town has also been referenced by H G Wells in 'War of the Worlds', which describes the town's (fictional) utter destruction and J G Ballard was also once a resident and set several of his novels in the town, including 'The Unlimited Dream'.

Stanwell

Stanwell was the home of Sir Thomas Knyvett, 1st Baron of Knyvett, who is best remembered for arresting Guy Fawkes. In his will, he also left provisions for a free school to be constructed within the town of Stanwell, a building that still exists today, although it is no longer a school.Lord Knyvett's, Stanwell

Stanwell still manages to maintain the atmosphere of a village with the leaning spire of St Mary's Church at the end of the green forming a distinctive landmark. Within the church lies a marble tomb of Lord and Lady Knyvett, who both died in 1622. Lord Knyvett was granted the Freehold of Stanwell Moor in 1603 and in 1605 was credited with arresting Guy Fawkes, leader of the gunpowder plot, after an attempt to assassinate James I.

Stanwell Moor has the character of a rural community and borders the River Colne. Mills were located in this area and surrounding land has traditionally been used for agriculture.

Staines and Laleham

Staines and Laleham Romans settled in Staines in AD43 and named the town "Ad Pontes" meaning "at the Bridges" in reference to the bridge they constructed across the Thames (at the site of the current Staines Bridge). They were attracted to Staines because of the River Thames, the town's close proximity to London and the geological make up of the town.

Romans settled in Staines in AD43 and named the town "Ad Pontes" meaning "at the Bridges" in reference to the bridge they constructed across the Thames (at the site of the current Staines Bridge). They were attracted to Staines because of the River Thames, the town's close proximity to London and the geological make up of the town.

The Domesday name of 'Stanes' is understood to refer to a ring of 9 stones that is believed to have existed in Staines, known as the 'Ningen Stones'. It is believed that they was once a boundary marker. In fact, there are many boundary stones along the River Thames in Staines, dating from neolithic times to the present time. A more recent example is the 'London Stone' which marked London's western boundary (the original of which can be found in the Spelthorne Museum (external link) whilst a replica exists at the original location). The museum also exhibits many archaeological findings from the Roman era along with a range of prehistoric discoveries.

Staines is now a bustling town which attracts scores of visitors to it's impressive retail areas of The Elmsleigh Centre and Two Rivers daily.

Staines offers a wealth of activities for all age groups. Beautiful walks along the Thames Path link up Memorial Gardens to the Lammas Recreation Ground and Laleham Park, both equipped for spending a relaxing day by the river and Staines town centre with its pedestrianised shopping area offers a wide range of shops, caf├ęs, restaurants and pubs. Close to Laleham Park, Laleham village centre has a range of 18th and 19th century buildings and country-style pubs.

Travel to and from Staines is simple. Staines railway station is on a direct line with London Waterloo, Richmond and Windsor and there is a coach link from the railway station direct to Thorpe Park. Riverboat trips connect Staines with Windsor, Runnymede and Hampton Court, with stops at Shepperton and Sunbury. Staines also has a bus station with connections to many local towns and villages.

Sunbury on Thames

The name Sunbury derives from the 10th Century Saxon Lord Sunna, who built a Burgh, or settlement on the Sunbury riverside. A conservation area exists in Sunbury covering numerous historic buildings, restaurants and pubs and a beautiful stretch of Thames river bank leading up to the church.

Thames Street, Sunbury

Riverside Sunbury, locally known as Lower Sunbury has many links with the past. The Parish Church of St Mary, overlooking the Thames has a tower and nave dating from 1752, but is on the site of a 14th Century building.

A yew tree within the churchyard was mentioned in the Dickens' classic "Oliver Twist" and the town was further mentioned in Jerome K Jerome's 'Three Men in a Boat' in regards to the difficulty of rowing up the Sunbury portion of the Thames. Riverside Sunbury is also the home of the Sunbury Millennium Embroidery, crafted by locals, the embroidery reflects the history of the town and the world we live in so that it may be enjoyed by future generations.

In 2006 the embroidery was moved to it's permanent home alongside the Sunbury Walled Garden, which is set out on classical formal lines including traditional knot gardens, parterres and a Victorian rose garden along with a special bed dedicated to the Princess of Wales. Alongside the Walled Garden is Orchard Meadow, an attractive village green for the town.

Sunbury is also the home to Kempton Park Racecourse (external link), also known as "London's Racecourse" which holds regular race meetings throughout the year.

Along with pretty walks along the river, you can hire a boat from Wilson's Boat Yard to enjoy the scenery and enjoy the riverside attractions. Sunbury railway station connects to both London Waterloo and Shepperton, and also Kempton Park station that operates on race days.