This year marks the 10th year of the Investec International Musical Festival and the Surrey Hills Society was delighted to be invited to integrate interesting walks into the festival. This is hopefully the beginning of a long-term collaboration between the Festival and the Society.
The walk started in the beautiful village of Shere. We strolled through the village, along the side of the Tillingbourne River and into the ancient woodlands, where we were told how the woods are managed, and onto Albury Park.
On arriving at the church, we were met by a volunteer from the Friends of Albury Saxon Church, who informed us that the church dates back to Saxon and Norman times. The large front door dates from the 13th Century and she opened the door with the original key, which is quite ornate and around a foot long and really rather heavy. Inside, the church is light and airy and the works of refurbishment have been carried out leaving many of the original features being enhanced. There is a rather bizarre painting depicting St. Christopher with Jesus perched on his shoulders.
On the side of the church is the Drummond Memorial Chapel, commemorating Henry Drummond who bought Albury Park in 1819. This is so different from the main Church. The main part of the church is very understated and plain in its appearance, but the Chapel is incredibly ornate with wonderful colours and a stunning stained-glass window. It actually feels rather out of place in such an old and modest church. We were lucky enough to have this part of the church open to us.
After our very interesting talk, we were offered refreshments of tea and coffee and wonderful homemade cakes. We were delighted to be serenaded by Kim Collins and Stephen Petch, a soprano and tenor of exceptional quality, providing us with a short but varied programme. The acoustics of the church augmented their truly fabulous talent.
On our circular walk back to Shere, we were shown the Catholic Apostolic Church and there was talk of the priest-holes and underground tunnels. Our morning was completed by a lovely lunch in Shere village. I think integrating the Music Festival with the Society was such a wonderful idea and I look forward to seeing what will be on offer next year.