The Allure of Camberley's Past
Nestled in the Surrey Heath area, Camberley boasts a rich history dating back to Neolithic times and the Bronze Age. Archaeological excavations in nearby Lightwater have revealed the presence of a Romano-British settlement that persisted into the Saxon era.
During the middle ages, the region became an integral part of Windsor Forest, a royal hunting ground established by Henry III and frequented by subsequent monarchs until the forests' perambulation. The area was also a bustling route for travelers as the main turnpike road connecting London to Exeter passed through it. Once called the "Great Road to Land's End," the road, now known as the A30, was a notorious hunting ground for highwaymen like William Davies and Claude Duval.
In the late 18th century, the Royal Military College (now RMA Sandhurst) opened its doors, leading to the development of a community around its gates called Yorktown. Captain Charles Raleigh Knight, a local landowner, recognized an opportunity for growth east of the college, constructing The Cambridge Hotel and an accompanying settlement. Initially named Cambridge Town, the community was renamed Camberley in 1877 to differentiate it from the University town in the north. The name Camberley combines the "Cam" stream (which flows through the town, mostly underground), the nearby "Amber" Hill, and the traditional suffix "ley," indicating a pasture or clearing, possibly referencing the area's hunting ground heritage.
Camberley's Vibrant Shopping Scene
The SQ shopping centre in Camberley is a hub for retail therapy, featuring popular high-street brands and independent shops. As the precinct undergoes a significant renovation, shoppers can also indulge in a variety of dining options, ranging from well-known chains to unique eateries like El Pic tapas bar, which Gordon Ramsay ranked among the top five Spanish restaurants in the UK.
Leisurely Pursuits in Camberley
For a touch of extravagance, Pennyhill Park Hotel is just a stone's throw away, offering lavish spa treatments and delectable afternoon teas. Golf enthusiasts can take advantage of the area's numerous courses, enjoying friendly competition amidst the beautiful scenery. Culture aficionados will appreciate Camberley Theatre's dynamic schedule of events, encompassing traditional ballets, musicals, and comedy shows.
The Green Oasis of Camberley
Surrey's reputation as a verdant county is upheld by the numerous parks and open spaces in and around Camberley. Frimley Lodge Park, the largest recreational space in the area, spans 24 hectares and features a miniature railway, picturesque walking routes along the canal, a pitch and putt green, and BBQ facilities for hire. The park has also earned a Green Flag award for public accessibility.
Camberley Park is home to a unique brick structure known as The Obelisk. Of the structure's original 100 feet, only 30 feet remain standing on a hilltop, sparking curiosity among locals about its original function. Theories suggest it could have been a signalling tower, a watchtower against highwaymen, a spectator platform for local hunts, or a beacon for travelers and huntsmen. However, it might have served no practical purpose, existing solely as an ornamental structure for a wealthy individual. The enigma of The Obelisk persists.
Camberley's Thriving Industry
Camberley has evolved from its military origins to become an economically significant area. Its proximity to London makes it an appealing destination for large corporations. Watchmoor Park's expansive industrial estate houses prominent companies such as Telent, Novartis, and Jaegermeister. Siemens has established its UK headquarters in Camberley, while other notable UK head offices in the area include Oracle (previously known as Sun Microsystems) and Krispy Kreme.
Beyond the Town Centre: Exploring Camberley's Surroundings
In addition to its urban attractions, Camberley serves as an excellent base for exploring Surrey's enchanting countryside. With its picturesque landscapes and charming villages, the area offers ample opportunities for leisurely strolls, cycling excursions, and family picnics. You can also visit nearby towns and villages such as Bracknell, where you can visit the town centre and enjoy a meal in a nice Bracknell restaurant.
A notable nearby attraction is the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), a protected region spanning over 420 square kilometers of breathtaking landscapes, woodlands, and heathlands. The AONB offers a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the area's natural splendor.
Another popular destination is Virginia Water Lake, a vast man-made lake within Windsor Great Park. The lake's serene setting provides a perfect backdrop for leisurely walks, birdwatching, and photography, while the park itself features a variety of attractions, including The Savill Garden, a beautifully curated collection of ornamental gardens.
Camberley's Community Spirit
Camberley's thriving community is known for its friendly atmosphere, welcoming residents, and visitors alike. The town hosts various events throughout the year, such as the Camberley International Festival, which showcases an array of music, film, and theatrical performances. Additionally, the Camberley Farmers' Market offers a fantastic opportunity to sample and purchase local produce while supporting regional farmers and artisans.
Camberley's Unique Charm
Camberley's rich history, bustling shopping scene, diverse leisure activities, and verdant landscapes make it an attractive destination for both residents and visitors. Its thriving industry and excellent location contribute to the town's continued growth and development, while its community spirit ensures a warm and inviting atmosphere. From the enigmatic Obelisk to its exceptional dining scene, Camberley offers a unique and unforgettable experience for all who visit or call it home.