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Page last updated at 13:32 GMT, Thursday, 11 February 2010
The most romantic places to visit in Surrey
By Heather Driscoll-Woodford
BBC Surrey

Painshill Park
Fairytale magic in the world of follies, lakes and grottos at Painshill Park

"Lets go somewhere really romantic this weekend" I suggest to my husband.

"The football?" he asks hopefully, before turning back to the cricket on TV, still in his pyjamas with a beer in hand, at three in the afternoon.

I look at the dog. "Just you and me again this year, then." He wags his stumpy little tail with enthusiasm, which is more than my other half does.

So now, come Sunday, the dog and I will be enjoying the delights of one of the many romantic places in Surrey.

While my other half will be lolling on the sofa watching re-runs of Only Fools and Horses, in a pair of old holey pants, wondering why I'm not speaking to him.

And why there are two suitcases on the doorstep containing all his possessions?

All, that is, apart from his golf trophies which will be heaped in a smouldering pile of melting plastic on the barbecue.

So before the rot of familiarity sets in, crowbar your nearest and dearest off the couch and into the fresh air.

I have a few suggestions of where to go to keep that love light burning, instead of his sports awards!


Painshill Park
Painshill Park, once derelict but now in the care of a charitable trust

Disregard everything I have just said!

Even my husband (minus sofa) was blown away by this 18th century landscaped park, which is full of picturesque follies, grottos and other surprises.

The park was the brainchild of romantic visionary and painter, the Honourable Charles Hamilton.

Sadly, his ideas were far bigger than his budget and he eventually had to sell up, but not before he had created this extraordinary landscape.

Open daily throughout the year including bank holidays (except for Christmas Day and Boxing Day). Call 01932 868113 for more details or visit www.painshill.co.uk

And dogs are welcome, if kept on a short lead!


Leptis Magna ruins at Virginia Water
Romantic ruins of Leptis Magna tower over the man-made lake

Another man-made landscape, this time adjoining Windsor Great Park, on the Surrey/Berkshire border.

It started when Prince William, Duke of Cumberland and the younger son of George II, decided to dig a small lake on the site in 1753.

This grew in size and was for a time the largest man-made body of water in the British Isles.

A playground for the rich originally, the area surrounding the lake is now free for all hopeless romantics to explore.

Spend time gazing at real ruins which were taken from Leptis Magna, an almost intact Roman site in Libya, in the days when Brits abroad were able to help themselves to other folk's heritage with gay abandon.

Or wander along the shore watching the mating dance of the Great Crested Grebes, before embarking on one of your own.

The path which follows the circumference of the lake takes about 90 minutes to walk, which is more than enough time to decide whether you are compatible or not.

The site is overlooked by Fort Belvedere, the house where Edward VIII abdicated the throne, giving up the entire country for the woman he loved. And you don't get much more romantic than that!

Open all year from dusk to dawn. Free to enter on foot, but parking charges apply. Find out more at www.theroyallandscape.co.uk

Dogs welcome too. Lead restrictions in some areas, so check for signs.


Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court where you can fall head over heels, without losing it

Home to notorious royal love muffin Henry VIII, who was famed for his romantic propensity to marry all his girlfriends.

And for his not so romantic notion, that it was ok to execute them when he got bored.

What's less well known about him is that Henry was also a great lover of buildings, owning 60 houses at the time of his death.

But Hampton Court Palace was always his favourite.

And it was where many a royal romance was played out in the corridors, pleasure gardens and possibly even in the Great House of Easement, which was a communal lavatory seating 28 people at once.

Now who says romance is dead? Apart from Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, of course.

Get lost in each other's gaze or in the famous Palace gardens maze, depending on how your date is going.

For details ring 0844 482 7777 or go to the Historic Royal Palaces website.

Dogs are allowed in the informal gardens and area around the cafe.


Follow in the footsteps of Hollywood's great and good

Head for the Hollywood Hills, or at least the Surrey Hills version, for a bit of silver screen romance.

The olde worlde village of Shere near Dorking has been used as a location in more slushy movies than you've had hot dinners.

A freezing cold February is a good time to visit too.

Come the warmer summer days, you will have to battle with tourists, Hollywood heart throbs and film crews, all jostling for space among the chocolate box cottages and tea shops.

You can re-enact the marriage scene from Will and Grace star Debra Messing's movie The Wedding Date, which was filmed at St James's Church.

Or recreate the wedding from Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, in the same church porch (don't forget to wear huge granny pants for authenticity).

Then as a cheap honeymoon, nip into the 15th century pub which featured in romantic comedy The Holiday, starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslett and Jude Law, for a liquid nip of something warm to toast your union.

Sadly Rosehill Cottage where Miss Diaz's character stayed was actually made of fibreglass and therefore does not exist, but the rest of the enchanting village should make up for it.

For more see Visit Britain's online entry for Shere.

Dogs welcome at both The White Horse and The William Bray pubs in the village.


King George VI and Queen Elizabeth
George VI and Elizabeth, the future Queen Mother honeymooned here

The story of Margaret Anderson, ex-owner of stately pile Polesden Lacey is romantic in itself.

The illegitimate daughter of an MP and Fountain Brewery multimillionaire, and the wife of one of his workers, Margaret was sole heir to her father's fortune.

She continued the family tradition in politics by marrying a Conservative MP, becoming the Honourable Mrs Ronald Greville in the process.

Margaret or "Maggie" as she was known, and her husband bought Polesden Lacey in 1906 and she turned it into an Edwardian society party house, where the rich and famous including royalty, came to let their hair down.

In fact, the hostess with the mostest was such good friends with the palace, that she loaned her house to the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth as their honeymoon venue.

The mansion was also one-time home to 18th century poet and dramatist Sheridan, who probably wandered the corridors in his wig, comparing romantic prose with friends, fellow poet Lord Byron, and royal fop, the Prince Regent.

Now in the hands of the National Trust, you can still wander the grounds and from 3 March, its rooms too, while wondering at the decadence of a bygone age.

For more details see the National Trust's website .

Dogs allowed on leads in designated parts of the grounds and car park.


Brookwood Cemetery
Not for everyone admittedly but still a quiet romantic place

A cemetery probably wouldn't be the first place you'd think of for a romantic stroll but this one is pretty special.

The Victorian necropolis has recently been given Grade I Historic Park and Garden status.

And after an amble through the sunlit wooded glades and leafy lanes of gothic funeral architecture, you can see why.

The cemetery is the final resting place of some, who when alive, were the epitome of love and passion.

For instance, Margaret, Duchess of Argyll was well known for her love of romance.

She had many affairs of the heart throughout her life, including marrying twice.

But scandal broke when her second husband divorced her for infidelity, a fact he could prove from nude photographs of his wife in a compromising position with an unknown male.

Ever the lady, she had kept her signature three strands of pearls on throughout. This meant she was easily identifiable, but not her partner who could have been any one of 88 suitors, according to her angry spouse.

She died in 1993 and is buried in Brookwood, reunited with husband number one, Charles, who is in the plot next door.

Also side by side for eternity are Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon and his famous fashion designer wife "Lucile", who were survivors of the Titanic disaster in 1912.

They had booked first class passage under the names Mr and Mrs Morgan possibly to escape press attention when they arrived in New York.

They escaped the sinking ship on the almost empty Lifeboat 1, an act which caused some controversy, due to suggestions they had bribed the crew not to overfill the boat.

It was later accepted by the official disaster inquiry that they were blameless and had not stopped the sailors from saving other passengers.

Sir Cosmo died in 1931, and she four years later, in 1935.

For opening times and more details see the Brookwood Cemetery Society website . Photography by prior permission only.

No dogs allowed, but let's face it, it's not really somewhere you'd want to take someone who has a penchant for bones, who enjoys digging large holes.




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