St John’s Seminary

This visit was a real gem – to gain access to a building that has rarely been visited by groups such as ours. Father Jonathan, Director of Studies, gave us an insight into the history of the building and the reasons for it having been built. We were told about how the building had been extended in the 1960s to accommodate more students, with the heyday of student numbers being in the 1970s. Today there are only 20 students although the numbers can fluctuate quite quickly.

We then progressed into the Ambulacrum, an impressive open space 210 feet long and 19 feet wide which runs the full length of the main section of the building at ground floor level and contains a shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The next stop was in the Chapel, which is dedicated to the Sacred Heart. We were told about the changes that had occurred within the Chapel over the years and the various side Chapels were explained to us. One of the Priest’s robes was available for us to inspect.

IMG_2974IMG_2976 Upstairs in the library, we were given a summary of the courses currently provided and how the Priesthood is structured.

The visit finished with an opportunity for further questions over a very welcome cup of tea.

Peter Arnold

Winter walk in Gomshall

Thirty Surrey Hills Society members enjoyed a fantastic afternoon walk in the sunshine around Gomshall and Shere in the lovely weather on Saturday 16th January 2016. Chairman, Chris Howard and walk Leader, Steve Peacock led the walk from Gomshall Railways station to Shere.

At Shere the group split in two – one group taking a longer walk via Albury’s beautiful Saxon church, while the other enjoyed a shorter walk up onto Albury Heath. Gomshall walk Sat 16th Jan 2016

Everyone met back at Tillings Tea rooms in Gomshall for a delicious afternoon tea. Thank you Tillings for your friendly, accommodating service (and delicious cakes!).

A Tasting of Surrey Wines

Here are a few comments our members made about the evening: Marika talking on SH wines- Nov 2015

“Just wanted to say well done and thank you for a brilliant event. Really enjoyable and well run. Marika, you looked stunning and made a charming host. Ken, your double act with Marika worked really well….what a team! Thank you again for creating another really successful event for the Society.”


Wine bottles from SH wine tasting Nov 2015





“Thank you both for a very enjoyable, interesting and well run wine tasting event. Everyone seemed to have a very enjoyable and sociable evening.”

Identifying Trees in Autumn

On probably the wettest day in October – and for that matter one of the wettest days ever for a Surrey Hills Society event – a group of about 20 dedicated members met at Marden Park Woods near Woldingham to learn about trees.

Our expert was Pamela Holt who has spent her career in tree and plant related activities and who is a long standing member of the Society. Our intention had been to enjoy the autumn colour of the woods and surrounding countryside. We saw the nearby trees but the vistas were unfortunately lost in mist and rain. However, the main aim of the day was to learn how to identify trees in autumn and in this we had lots of success.

Within our 2 hour, 2.5 mile stroll through this predominantly broad-leaved woodland we saw and discussed 29 different varieties of trees and shrubs. Naturally we saw the more common species such as Horse Chestnut, Ash, Beech and Sycamore but we also spotted less common trees such as Spindlewood, Goat Willow, Purging Buckthorn and many more. Pamela has an amazing amount of knowledge about trees and other plants so this was a fascinating walk even if umbrellas, waterproofs and good boots were the order of the day.

Our members were more than happy to keep stopping and asking and learning more and more from Pamela. This event was a continuation of a series of seasonal identification walks which Pamela has done for us. She has also written a short article to help you learn how to identify some of the trees in winter when the clues are far more subtle.

Mayor of Waverley’s Sponsored Walk

I joined in recently with the Mayor of Waverley’s sponsored walk on the glorious Greensand Way long distance route. This was a fabulous opportunity to discover parts of Surrey’s countryside that I didn’t know existed from Haslemere to Ewhurst, while raising funds for a worthwhile charity, the Surrey Hills Trust Fund. We were very lucky with the weather over the two weekends which always helps and the colours and views were amazing. Lots of leg-busting climbs but the views and sense of achievement at the top always made it worthwhile. A great event organised by the Society – looking forward to the next one!