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Lettings Unpacked – Countdown to MEES Compliance

July 14, 2023

Lettings Unpacked: Countdown to Compliance – MEES

Our Head of Lettings, Mark Blakeway discusses the new Minimum Energy Efficient Standards (MEES) which are set to come into force in April 2025 and what they mean for rental properties. He also outlines how landlords can get ahead of the game to ensure they are not caught out by the new legislation.

From 1st April 2025, all newly rented properties must have an EPC (energy performance certificate) rating of Band C or above, under the new Minimum Energy Efficient Standards (MEES). Fortunately for existing tenancies these changes won’t apply until 2028. The changes to the EPC centre around the Government’s net zero emission target and are focusing on creating more energy efficient homes. Previous research suggested 60% of UK properties predicted to have an EPC or lower, so it’s expected many properties will need upgrading to comply with MEES.

Although these changes aren’t coming into force until 2025, it’s worth being ahead of the game. This is not only beneficial in terms of assessing what may need to be changed within a property, but also securing a contractor to undertake the work. If we look back to the changes to EICR back in 2020, labour costs increased massively in the lead up to enforcement as landlords rushed to ensure their properties complied. Ultimately, undertaking work sooner rather than later is more cost-effective.

As with previous property reforms, the cost of upgrades is an initial outlay, but rental properties should be look at as a long-term investment. Modifications to achieve a Band C or above rating may include upgrading to LED lighting, proper insulation for roof and walls, and double or even triple glazing. There are certainly long-term financial benefits to MEES too. Energy efficient properties are more beneficial in the way they require less energy to heat and power them, incurring lower energy bills which is more attractive to potential tenants.

It is important to note that if the upgrades aren’t undertaken in time and the property does not receive a rating of Band C or above, it cannot legally be rented out. And, in the worst scenario, landlords could face severe penalties if they continue to rent out the property via a new tenancy. 

Ultimately, landlords have an obligation to comply, but with just under two years until the changes come into effect, there is still plenty of time to make the provisions and ensure properties are upgraded to conform to MEES.

Key points

  • 1st April 2025 for new tenancies, or 2028 for existing tenancies
  • 60% of UK properties have an EPC rating of D or lower 
  • Landlords could face loss of rental income or fines

Find out more:

If you have any further questions around lettings, please contact Mark Blakeway for more information on

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Jo Deal

Jo Deal

July 14, 2023

Jo Deal

Jo Deal is a dog behaviourist and trainer based in Chilworth. Following a career as a Royal Marine and stints in private security in Iraq, Africa and London, Jo returned to his home county of Surrey to launch Jo Deal Canine Behaviourist, a service which provides tailored support to dog owners on how to manage problem canine behaviour. From puppy socialisation through to tackling excessive barking and disobedience, we had a chat with Jo to find out how he’s supporting dog owners in Surrey and beyond with some of the common challenges of dog ownership…

Why did you launch your behaviour training?

I initially adopted my Rottweiler’s George and Dottie over 20 years, and noticed after adopting my most recent Rottweiler, Beau - dog training had changed significantly in the past two decades. With a previous focus on dominance and aggression, it’s now all about understanding how a dog is feeling and identifying why they are behaving in a certain way by reinforcing positive behaviours to counteract unwanted behaviours.

Fast forward a couple of years and having undergone rigorous training with the Institute of Modern Dog Training and an accreditation from the British College of Canine Studies, I officially launched in January.

Dog ownership has increased by 3.2 million since the pandemic, do you think this had any bearing on puppy behaviour?

Yes, for sure. Due to lockdowns, dogs missed out on prime socialisation opportunities whether that was through a trainer or frequently socialising with other dogs. Puppies who have never experienced being alone are now facing owners returning to the office, and this has naturally led to an increase in behavioural issues.

In addition, owners didn’t have the usual puppy network to learn their part in the relationship, whether that was meeting fellow dog walkers or attending puppy classes.

What type of training can you offer?

I work with dog owners across Surrey and beyond and can even host sessions via Zoom. I specialise in positive reinforcement methods providing owners with practical skills and guidance to tackle problematic canine behaviour. Whether that’s a training course over a period of time where I’ll work with a dog one-on-one offering tailored support or puppy socialisation classes.

I also host a monthly workshop in West Horsley which aims to provide owners with the skills and confidence to tackle certain behavioural issues. As well as tips and techniques on establishing boundaries and identifying triggers of bad behaviour.

Are there any common misconceptions around puppy training?

There is a misunderstanding that puppies can’t socialise until 12 weeks due to infection risk, however the prime socialisation period for exposure to other people, horses, cars etc. is actually between eight and 12 weeks. My courses run during this initial period and are in a fully sanitised environment, enabling dog owners to rest assured their puppies are training in a safe environment.

Are there any success stories which you’re particularly proud of?

I started working with a black Labrador who was scared of people, particularly men and would bark and lunge forward when out for walks as well as not like having people come into their home. After one-to-one training, which involved ignoring the negative behaviours and replacing it with positive reinforcement, the lab is now calmer and no longer pulling on the lead and barking at others.

Do you have any advice for owners struggling with canine behaviour issues?

I’d advise anyone who is experiencing canine behaviours that they’re worried about or ones that are affecting their relationship with their companion dog to seek support. There is no reason why a dog can’t be the perfect companion as long as their owners are offered the right information and

As part of the training, I focus heavily on positive affirmations and encourage owners to ignore bad behaviour. But while the key focus is the dog, sometimes it’s just as important to work in collaboration with the owner and give them the confidence to be consistent to ensure results.

Finally, is there a local business you particularly admire?

Silent Pool is a great local business. I took one of my dogs-in-training to the coffee shop recently to help expose her to public spaces. What’s more, their story is pretty huge, and the gin is fantastic too.

Find out more:

Visit the website: or email

Follow Jo on Instagram: or on Facebook:

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Haslemere Hall

July 14, 2023

Haslemere Hall

Haslemere Hall is an independently run Arts Venue in Haslemere town centre that hosts musical theatre and live music performances, plus cinema screenings. We chatted with Haslemere Hall’s General Manager, Howard Bicknell, to find out more about what goes on there and a glimpse into its colourful history.

Tell us a bit about Haslemere Hall

Haslemere Hall is a fully equipped theatre seating approximately 340 in the main auditorium with an upper balcony. There are regular cinema showings of current films and live streamed events, plus a popular annual panto. It is also used for lectures, meetings and events. Not to mention a licensed bar!

What are some of the things we can expect to see at Haslemere Hall?

For several years now, Haslemere Hall has been able to stream events via satellite from a wide variety of venues and production companies from the UK and worldwide, including the UK’s very own National Theatre, so that visitors can see the performance live, in real time.

This allows them to literally have the best seat in the house. It also means, of course that the audience can see a big show from their local area at a fraction of the West End prices. We also have a packed schedule of music from live bands to tribute acts, plus orchestral and choral concerts.

And it’s become a popular destination for watching the latest cinema releases?

Yes. When the Rex cinema in Haslemere closed its doors, the Trustees decided to introduce film shows in conjunction with Southern Cinema Services. All the latest releases are shown on several days each month and the Hall has also branched out to include specialist screenings and started to show more independent films and documentaries as well as foreign films that are subtitled. We’re committed to showing films that don’t necessarily have big backers and budgets but have a great story with an important message.

It’s quite a multipurpose space, isn’t it?

Yes, the Hall also provides the home for many local societies, clubs, charities and theatre schools. It offers them a place to meet, rehearse, listen to guest speakers, dance and host parties and award ceremonies.


Can you tell us a little about its history?

The Hall was founded in 1912 by local benefactor Barclay Lewis Day. He decided to build a Hall with his own money and invited well-known architects to submit their plans in a competition for the best design. The winning design was by Annesley Brownrigg F.R.I.B.A. The early 1900s saw the tail end of the Arts and Crafts Movement in England, and the design reflects this influence, such as a particularly fine curved stone staircase leading to the upper Rotunda sitting out area and balcony.

The Hall was officially opened in January 1914. The opening coincided with the outbreak of World War I and for the first four years of its life, the Hall was requisitioned by the War Office and used as drill hall for the troops.

How did your involvement with the Hall come about?

I was born and brought up in Haslemere and when I moved back in 2010 I found myself drawn back to Haslemere Hall, which for me had been a bit of a home from home in my teenage and early twenties. I had enjoyed both rehearsals and performing on the stage with the Haslemere Players, and with the Haslemere Thespians in musicals, plays and pantomimes.

Coming on board as Manager has been both amazing and challenging. We have a great team here and work with some brilliant volunteers too. Since updating and upgrading the facilities and also rebranding, I feel like we are now rising like a Phoenix after Covid - working and developing our knowledge of our customers and what they would like to see. It’s a fantastic place to work and every day is different.


What are the main challenges with running this kind of venue?

A building that is over 100 years old constantly requires attention in the form of repairs and renewals. Improvements and modernisation work are undertaken as funds permit. The ‘Friends of Haslemere Hall’ was set up as a way for local people to contribute to its upkeep and hopefully a flourishing future.

Give us a flavour of what is coming up at Haslemere Hall this year?

There will be live screenings from the National Theatre, opera from the Royal Opera House, Shakespeare, ballet, drama, thrillers and all-time family favourites. Plus, we’ll be welcoming live bands alongside choral concerts and showing a mix of all the latest cinema releases. There really is something for everyone.


Finally, can you share with us some of your favourite businesses in Haslemere

I’m a big fan of Charter Walk Kitchen Living – such a great team of people who provide an excellent service and product. They take the time to learn who you are and they’re specialists in all they do. You can count on Oliver’s Coffee Shop & Wine Bar for friendly, quick service and first-rate food. They’re also a caring, inspiring business, involved with the community. Finally, Couchman Hanson Solicitors – approachable, knowledgeable and always willing to give helpful advice.

Find out more:

Haslemere Hall, Bridge Road, Haslemere, Surrey GU27 2AS

Find out what’s on at


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Godalming Delights

Godalming Delights

July 14, 2023

Godalming Delights

Godalming Delights lives up to its name as one of our favourite neighbours on Church Street and always a total delight to visit. With its mix of retro sweeties and confectionery, ice cream, milkshakes, Barista coffee and all kinds of other indulgent sweet treats, it’s a world of pure imagination. We had a chat to Company Director Ewen Macnair to find out more about this sweetest of local shops...

How and when did Godalming Delights come about?

Godalming Delights is a family run business. My sister, Gillian Akroyd, opened our original shop, Shere Delights, 10 years ago. Gillian had worked in banking before and this was a way to find a more work/life balance. The shop turned out to be more successful than she’d ever anticipated. I’d been working overseas and, looking to return, she invited me to step into the business with a view to seeing if it had ‘legs and arms’ to grow. It did! We started looking at locations to complement Shere and we settled on Godalming. Five years later, our family business is thriving!

What is it you loved about Godalming?

There’s a sense of community in Godalming and running a business here during the pandemic really showed it. As well as the local small and independent business community pulling together, we were able to provide a bit of a lifeline by putting our Truly Scrumptious Delights online with delivery both locally and throughout the UK. Especially helpful for lockdown gifting when people were unable to see loved ones in person. Our gift boxes and other gift options were a sweet hug, well received.

Of course, Godalming is a beautiful town too with a historic feel. Our 2 Church Street premises pretty much perfectly fits our idea of customer experience. It’s a Georgian listed building that sits on the curve of the road in what used to be a tiny pub called The Skinners Arms. People tell us they come to Godalming just visit to our shop, which is lovely!

Godalming Delights - Smoothies

Who is your typical customer?

We have a total mix of customers. Some come as an occasional treat, some pop in daily, others even more than that! We offer something for everyone – young and old alike – and it’s the ideal place for a family outing with retro sweeties for kids and an extra special coffee or ice cream for grown-ups.

Godalming Delights

What are you particularly known for?

We have four main product offers: An amazing chocolate selection; hot drinks; retro sweeties and ice cream. Everything we sell is top quality with natural provenance and nothing but the best ingredients. We focus on ethical sourcing and brand heritage. Although we’re not a coffee shop, I still say we serve the best coffee in Godalming – Illy – with the best barista equipment and skills training to ensure a perfect cup. And our Hot Chocolate is not to be missed – It’s made with French 33% cacao.

Our Ice cream is made for us by a pair of Argentinian / Italian brothers who have their own Ice cream Parlour, and, we’re in good company because they also supply to one of the most prestigious stores in London. Our flavours feature the finest ingredients – our best-selling chocolate Ice cream is made from single source cacao from the Congo with proceeds going to help protect the last remaining Mountain Gorillas in the Virunga Park. Our Honeycomb Ice cream is made using honey from the City bee hives of the London Honey Company located on London rooftops.

And tell us more about the sweets…

We sell over 100 varieties of retro sweeties, all presented in glass jars. Everything we sell is handpicked to be the very best tasting you can buy – but even if someone pops in with just £1 or even less to spend, we’ll make sure they find something to suit their budget. We’ve a fantastic choice from classics like Jelly Babies to ever populars like Giant Strawberries and, my personal favourite? Anything covered in chocolate!

You’re known for your visual displays at Halloween and Christmas. How do you come up with the ideas for those?

We have our very own Brand Manager – Estelle of est. Creative who designed our brand concept and guides our overall look. Each shop comes up with its own displays and we use a wonderful local window artist twice a year to paint our windows freehand.

Godalming Delights - Sweets

What are your favourite things about being in Godalming?

Music in the Park is a summer season of live music at the bandstand in the Phillips Memorial Park. With all kinds of amateur and professional bands and performers to choose from, the free concerts run at the weekends all the way from the end of May until September. There are also some fantastic community events run by Godalming Town Council, culminating in the annual Town Christmas Lights switch on. Apparently, the original lights were bought with the proceeds from Godalming’s use as a location in the filming of the movie 'The Holiday'.

Can you share some of your other favourite businesses in Godalming town centre

We’ve teamed up with West Stanton for some great joint ventures, including this year for Halloween. It’s a destination lifestyle store, big on style and conscience, selling independent toys, books, clothes, gifts, blankets… Lots of nice to have and essentials for life with kids. To be honest, all the Church Street businesses work hard at what they do – Wattle & Daub, The Salon, which champions sustainable, biodynamic haircare, and then there’s The Star, which is a proper traditional pub – my favourite in Godalming!

Find out more:

Godalming Delights, 2 Church Street, Godalming, Surrey GU7 1EH

Visit their website:
Follow them on Instagram @godalmingdelights and Facebook @Godalming Delights.


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Hampton Estate

July 14, 2023

Hampton Estate

Hampton Estate comprises 2000 acres of historic parkland, grazing meadows, arable fields, heathland, hop gardens, award winning woodlands and traditional farm property in between Seale and Puttenham, near Farnham. Hampton Estate produces Pasture for life beef, wild roe venison, timber and hops. The team hosts a range of events throughout the year, from Open Farm Sunday to monthly meat collection days. The Estate also has a restored dairy farm which can be rented out for events and has recently opened a campsite. We chatted to CEO & Estate Manager Bill Biddell to find out more ...

Bill, tell us about Hampton Estate

Hampton Estate is a third generation, family-run, rural business. Over 600 acres of the Estate is open to the public via footpaths and we actively manage these areas for everyone to enjoy. The ethos of everything we do is to support the local community whilst also enhancing the environment and sharing Hampton’s natural beauty. We are incredibly proud of our surroundings and we focus on regenerative and restorative land management in order to preserve and enhance it. We have a huge commitment to the stewardship of the land and the part it plays in enabling thriving local communities.

Hampton Estate is known for its rich and diverse habitats. Give us a taste of what kind of wildlife and vegetation we could expect to see.

All of the Estate sits within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it has a variety of biodiverse habitats. Key habitat types include chalk downland, acidic grasslands, heathland and ancient semi-natural woodlands. We are about to embark on a big restoration project for our valuable heathland, which hopes to increase biodiversity and encourage new wildlife.

We’re also home to a wide range of wildlife with bird species including nightjar, nightingale, woodlark, red kites and buzzards. There is a wonderful diversity of plant species on the estate – some of our favourites are Shepherd’s Cress, Squirrel Tail Fescue, Hounds Tongue and Smooth Cat’s Ear. Our fungi have brilliant names too – Turquoise Elfcup, The Flirt, Stinky Knight and Chicken of The Wood.

You were awarded the Duke of Cornwall’s Award for the best multipurpose woodland in the UK – what makes the woodland so special?

We have a range of different types of woodland, from productive coniferous woods which we actively manage, felling the timber when the trees are fully grown, and then selling the timber to saw mills across the UK. We are constantly replanting woodlands, and planting trees in new places too. We have beautiful semi ancient broadleaf woodlands, and sell fire wood from coppicing. One of our woods is also home to a local Forest School, which is great!

Environmental stewardship is clearly important at Hampton Estate, can you tell us a bit more about that?

Hampton has a long tradition of opting into environmental schemes. 90% of our agricultural land and woodland is in Countryside Stewardship, which recognises our low input, conservation-based land management. We are also active members of the West Surrey Greensands Cluster group and the Estate is in a woodland bird assemblage, a designation of national importance. We are really excited to be part of several nature-based finance and restoration pilot schemes with several other stakeholders across Surrey, including the Surrey Wildlife Trust.

We believe that Hampton Estate has been used as a filming location for some big film and TV productions. Can you tell us more about that?

Yes, over the years, the Estate has been used as a location for films starring the likes of Ralph Fiennes, Kate Winslet and Colin Firth. Possibly the biggest project was the Ridley Scott production of Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe. It took place over almost two years and they constructed a whole village on the Estate. We welcome these opportunities, but make sure film crews are aware of the long-term cultural and environmental value of the land – we make sure everything is put back just so after the filming!

Your hop gardens in Puttenham are the last remaining commercial hop gardens in Surrey.

Yes, that’s right, hops have been grown in the estate’s hop gardens on the southern slopes of the Hogs Back overlooking Puttenham for hundreds of years. We grow just one variety - Fuggles hops, which are revered by brewers and renowned for their distinctive, well-rounded ale flavour. As well as supplying the hops locally to The Hog’s Back Brewery, they also go further afield to Adnams, Timothy Taylor, Harvey’s of Lewes and plenty of other UK hop merchants.

As well as many events throughout the year, your beef days are particularly popular.

We breed pedigree 100% Pasture Fed Sussex beef cattle and sell the meat direct from the Estate. We are all about producing the best beef – not just delicious but also naturally reared in a way that enriches the environment our cows live in. We operate a mob-grazing system – in effect the cows are our four-legged lawnmowers! We sell the beef directly from the Estate at our monthly beef collection days. As well as fresh Hampton prime beef, wild roe venison, handmade steak pies and sausages of all varieties are available to order.

You even have a campsite – tell us about that.

Yes, we set up Waggoners Campsite during lockdown as a way of encouraging people to access nature and the outdoors. The first year went really well and we’ve extended the season from April through to October so more people can enjoy it. It’s super environmentally friendly and it’s completely off grid. All the structures we’ve built at Waggoners were constructed by our forestry team, using our own wood. We have compostable loos and the woodland showers repurpose our old hop tractor tarpaulins.

What else can we expect to find on the Estate?

There is Manor Farm Craft Centre, which is housed in traditional farm buildings next to the church in the centre of Seale. It’s home to Manor Farm Tea Room, Pip of Manor Farm Wine Shop, Seale Craft Shop, and Seale Natural Health. Our award-winning rural offices at Shoelands Farm provide a state-of-the-art space for working, with renewable heating, unlimited broadband, spacious parking and beautiful views of the Surrey Hills.

Find out more:

Hampton Estate Office, Elstead Road, Seale, Farnham, Surrey GU10 1JE

⁠Tel: 01483 810465 | email:

Find out more at
Follow Hampton Estate on social media at @hampton_estate.


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MB Cyclery, Haslemere

MB Cyclery, Haslemere

July 14, 2023

MB Cyclery, Haslemere

MB Cyclery is an independent, rider owned cycle shop in Haslemere run by self-confessed
bike-aholics Mike Smith and Ben Marks. As well as selling mountain, road, electric, gravel, commuting & leisure bikes, it also runs a servicing, repair and custom build workshop.

We spoke to co-founder Mike to find out what he’s learnt from his own time out on the road and trails and to get his insider tips on the best bike routes in the area.

How and when did MB Cyclery come about?

Ben and I had been working, racing and playing with bikes of all kinds for many years - since we were boys. For me, growing up, cycling was always what I was into – it was my escape and they say you should do something you love. In 2017, we had the opportunity to buy Cycleworks, the business we worked at and set up as our own independent shop under our own name.

How would you describe the shop?

We wanted to create the kind of bike shop you’d find in Morzine. A bit like a surf shop, it just has a cool atmosphere – a place with likeminded people where you want to hang out. We have an incredible crew working with us and we all get on really well, it’s like a family. Everyone works hard and is super knowledgeable.

What are the most popular kind of bikes you sell?

High-end mountain bikes are our biggest seller, but electric bikes are also massive now – they’ve taken off in a big way. The attraction of them is that if you have limited time or you’re not quite as fit as you’d like to be, you can still get out and enjoy everything that cycling has to offer. They’ve opened up a whole new world of cycling to people.


MB Cyclery

Has the market for custom build bikes increased?

Custom building bikes is a service we’ve always offered and we can accommodate anything from small modifications to a fully bespoke bike. The secret is listening to what customers really want, I think we do that well and because of that, we’re known as a brand rather than just a shop.

You’ve clearly got to know the local cyclists of Hampshire, Surrey and beyond very well. Who is your typical customer?

We cater for everyone from entry level right up to those competing at a high level professionally. We certainly have lots of customers who are hardcore enthusiasts, passionate about the sport.

We’re very blessed to have many incredible bike routes in Surrey. What makes it such a good area for cyclists?

Surrey is a mecca for cyclists. It’s got plenty of off-road routes, common land, a mix of terrains, great hills – everything you could ask for, really.

Did lockdown tempt a whole new legion of cycling fans to take to their saddles?

Big time. When we first heard about lockdown, we thought we would have to close the business but quite the opposite – because we were one of the few outdoor activities allowed, it opened up a whole new customer base for us. As the days went on, we got busier and busier and everyone seemed to be getting into cycling. Then of course the industry became sold out due to factories being closed but even so, we had our best year ever.

What would an ideal ride look like to you?

I’d be out on my favourite local, home trails. It would be a sunny day, I’d be with friends and it would be perfect dirt. I’d also be on my favourite ride – a Pivot Firebird, which is the best of the best. Made from carbon, it’s fitted with every kind of bike bling you can imagine.

What are your top cycle routes in and around Haslemere?

Many of my best rides don’t follow a particular route but if I had to choose, I’d say the Devil’s Punch Bowl at Hindhead. It’s not too extreme and the scenery is stunning. Plus, there’s a great National Trust café there. Queen Elizabeth Park is also a good shout for any kind of level from families and novices to more advanced cyclists.

And where would be your favourite places for a bit of post-ride refreshment?

Either The Rising Sun in Milland – a classic country pub with great food, drinks and atmosphere – it has a heated ski lodge marquee and with huge gardens and terraces, - it’s a pub for all seasons and all occasions. Guido’s in Liphook is another favourite for a post ride meal. It is an authentic family run, craft pizza and wine restaurant serving the best pizza ever. Or I’d stop for a coffee at Hemingways on Haslemere High Street, sit outside and watch the world go by.

Find out more:

Find MB Cyclery at 19-21 West Street, Haslemere, Surrey GU27 2AB.

Visit the website:

Follow them on social @mbcyclery.


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Kings Head, Holmbury St Mary

Kings Head, Holmbury St Mary

July 14, 2023

Kings Head, Holmbury St Mary

Nestled at the foot of Holmbury Hill in the beautiful Surrey Hills, The Kings Head in Holmbury St Mary is a popular spot in this picturesque village. Its local owners have turned this newly refurbished freehold country pub into a hidden gem.

You can relax and explore the menu inspired by seasonal, local and fresh ingredients in one of its cosy sofa nooks or sample a selection of real ales from local breweries at the traditional standing bar. We spoke to manager Katy Bowker to find out more…

Tell us about The Kings Head

The historic building dates from the 17th century, and rumour has it that smugglers travelled through the area on their way from the coast to London with their contraband. We don't know a great deal more about it – but if only the walls could talk!

The current owners took it on around three years ago and set about refurbishing it, which took around two years. They're local and wanted to put something back into the community and create a place where people could gather and enjoy good food, a sociable atmosphere and a warm welcome..

What can anyone expect when they visit The Kings Head?

We pride ourselves on offering an exceptional fine dining experience as well as a beautiful, landscaped country garden, a private function room and accommodation so you can stay overnight. Everything has a luxury feel - the refurbishment was completed to a high standard, but at its heart, there's a friendly feel and our bar has a traditional rustic English country pub feel with many original features.

Who is your typical customer?

For the most part, it's still locals. We're a bit of a community hub and a place where people are enjoying coming back together. Word of mouth is spreading though, as well as walkers and cyclists stopping on their journeys, it's becoming a destination and people are travelling to find us.

Sofa Nook

Tell us a bit about your background Katy and how you came to The Kings Head.

I started out as a chef and began my career at another King's Head – in nearby Cuckfield. That gave me the passion for a great career in the industry, which has enabled me to travel extensively, cooking in Switzerland, France and Canada.

I worked at South Lodge when Tony Tobin was Head Chef, then I got a taste for the pub industry and discovered a love for front-of-house. After that, I had various other adventures before finding myself here with an opportunity I couldn't refuse. I didn't think I'd find myself back in the pub trade, but here I am again – privileged to be heading up such an exciting project with a great team of people.

Tell us about the menu.

Seasonal, local and fresh ingredients inspire all our food. The owners have a kitchen garden and so much of our produce, such as leaves and vegetables, comes from there. Our Head Chef, Ryan Cain, is really enthusiastic about the local area and what he can create from what's on the doorstep. So the menu is forever changing depending on new discoveries, what's in season and what the gardeners bring down to the kitchen.

Local food and drink are clearly an important objective. How did you go about sourcing the various suppliers?

Yes, making sure everything is as local as possible was an important objective for us. We went to local artisan markets, food fairs and farm shops to see exactly what was available. It's so important to look after local producers, and we're lucky to have so much quality and variety surrounding us.

What are some of your favourites?

Surrey Hills Coffee Roastery simply allows us to make the best cup of coffee, and it couldn't be more local – there's even a Holmbury Hill espresso blend. They're so knowledgeable and they seek perfection in every cup. They'll only send us new coffee when our stocks run out as they're so scrupulous about making sure it's all freshly ground.

Firebird Brewing Company over in Rudgwick is another fantastic local business that provide us with some of our local ales. The beer's great, it's a friendly service, and the company has a real community feel about it. There are so many others, but Taurus Wines also allow us to serve up a fantastic wine list. Again, they have amazing knowledge and provide an excellent service.

Tell us about the shop at The Kings Head.

Its run by Anastasia, who comes from Ukraine and is 100 per cent passionate about coffee. Anastasia trained as a Barista and knows everything about how to choose the right bean and grind to make the perfect cup. So as well as serving up consistently good coffee, we also stock a hand-picked selection of local produce and essential groceries from our artisan producers, such as bakery items, beer, cheese or just a pint of milk.

Find out more:

The Kings Head, Pitland Street, Holmbury St Mary, RH5 6NP.
To book a table online, go to


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Heritage Wardrobe Company

Heritage Wardrobe Company

July 14, 2023

Heritage Wardrobe Company

Expert designers and creators of bespoke wardrobes, The Heritage Wardrobe Company has built a reputation for its handcrafted luxury furniture for bedrooms, dressing rooms and walk-in wardrobes. With stylish storage being one of the most desirable features in a dream home, a tailor-made space is the ultimate in function and style. Who doesn’t want clutter-free organisation and easy access to all their shoes, clothes and accessories? We spoke to Delphine Drouin, Head of Sales & Marketing to find out more.

Tell us about The Heritage Wardrobe Company

The Heritage Wardrobe Company was started 10 years ago by our founder, Laurent Drouin. He had spotted a gap in the market for luxury wardrobes and dressing rooms. It started out as just two team members, today there are around 30 of us and we’re still growing. We install throughout the UK and now have our own factory, based in Feltham. We don’t have a showroom, instead we take the ‘showroom’ to our prospective customers, which allows them to get an up-close look and feel of what we offer.

What is it about a walk-in wardrobe that has become such an interior must-have?

The way I sometimes describe it is, if you drive a Ferrari you’d want to park it in a nice garage. Same goes for your clothes and treasured possessions. Having a dressing room creates a space that’s luxurious and turns getting ready into a special moment in your day. The popularity of the walk-in wardrobe has definitely grown in recent times as people look to social media and influencers for home inspiration.

Your furniture is all handcrafted in the UK. Tell us a bit about the process.

The most important thing is that our wardrobes and dressing rooms are all entirely bespoke. The first part of the process involves finding out exactly what items our customer wants to store, down to the last detail. For instance, how many shoes, bags, suits, long dresses etc they have. We tailor it all to the individual so that everything fits.

Following that, one of our designers draws it up and presents a design, which can then be finessed to the customer’s requirements. Finally, the components and doors are cut to size in our factory and then fitted on site, with a decorator adding the final touches.

What kind of things can you add to a dressing area that makes all the difference?

LED lighting within a wardrobe is great. It illuminates the space so you can see everything but also gives a real luxury look. Recently we’ve been asked more to create ‘secret doors’ where you walk through to a dressing area. These are fun projects to create.

Heritage Wardrobe Company

What are the key things people should consider when planning storage to really make the most of the space?

  • Whether your walls are contoured, you have awkward alcoves or sloping ceilings, bespoke wardrobes enable you to utilise every corner of your room and maximise every last inch of space. They’re the best way of enhancing the space you have and finding a home for everything you have.
  • It’s important to think about what you’ve got and what you use the most. The best schemes organise items so that your everyday items are always within easy reach. You want it to have the wow factor, but you also need it to be functional.
  • Mirrors are of course an effective way to make a small space feel bigger. If you position a mirror opposite a window, it will bring extra light into the room.
Heritage Wardrobe Company

Where do you look for online inspiration? is a lovely website with stacks of interior inspiration. There’s a light, bright feel to their styling and they’re always coming up with fresh ideas. has such beautiful photography and is a great source of inspiration online and on social. With a real mix of styles, @condenastproperty is total house goals! Whether it’s a traditional English character home or a stylish French bolthole, the houses are always incredible. For lighting, I love checking out and for more general interior decor inspiration, has fantastic ideas for dressing a room.


Find out more:

You can find out more about The Heritage Wardrobe Company and their services at or follow them on Instagram @theheritagewardrobeco.

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Hilltop Kitchen

Hilltop Kitchen

July 14, 2023

Hilltop Kitchen

Enjoying stunning views overlooking the Wintershall Estate and Hascombe Hill, Hilltop Kitchen serves up exceptional freshly made food and a menu boasting the best locally sourced produce. A joint venture between founders Alex Winch and Sam Fiddian-Green, it’s become the most talked about foodie destination in the area. We love it and we know you will too. We chatted to co-founder Alex to find out more…

Tell us about Hilltop Kitchen

Sam I are old family friends and our work in hospitality has taken us around the world. When we found ourselves back in the local area due to Covid, we decided to plan some pop-up events and the concept snowballed quite quickly. We opened Hilltop Kitchen in July 2021 and today as well as the pop-up events, we offer a daily changing menu that runs all summer long.

It’s a fantastic setting. How did you find it?

The site is located on Sam’s family’s farm and looks out over nothing but rolling hills. The space itself had been an office so we installed a kitchen and created a covered, heated area that makes the most of the amazing view. It’s a rustic, laidback feel - the tables are handmade and Sam’s mum is a potter so she made all the tableware.

Hilltop Kitchen

What is the philosophy of the dishes you create for Hilltop Kitchen?

Most of what we serve up is sourced from the local area, including meat, such as the Herdwick lamb that comes from the family farm or the wild garlic we pick from the woodlands down the road. Provenance is key and we’re very proud of the heritage of everything we serve. When we first came back to the area, we struggled to find food at a level we enjoy and so nothing makes it onto the menu unless it’s the absolute best.

Hilltop Kitchen

Talk us through some of the things we can expect on your menu and what are some of your most popular dishes?

We bake our Sausage rolls fresh every morning. They are made with the best ingredients money can buy including sausage mix using mince from John Murray butchers in Loxwood and wrapped in French puff pastry. Served warm with homemade brown sauce, they are pretty hard to beat!

Our Focaccia is baked in-house and you’ll find fresh cinnamon buns on the counter every morning. We’re influenced by what’s fresh and at its best, so for instance our Burrata (which comes from La Latteria in North London) may be served one week with shaved fennel, European citrus and olives and then the next with fresh peas and broad beans. We make our own tagliatelle – sometimes as little as 10 minutes before we open, so you know you’re eating it as fresh as can be.

Sam, who creates the menus has worked at a phenomenal level throughout his career and he spent six months in Rome, which definitely gives some of the dishes an Italian backbone, but always featuring the best of British.

You’re also known for serving up a cracking cup of coffee

At Hilltop, we take our coffee very seriously and a lot of research went into finding our favourite beans, which are supplied by Horsham Coffee Roaster. Horsham Roasters are obsessed not only with flavour but also about ethical coffee. They source directly from producers in long term commitments to the same farmer meaning they pay well above the fairtrade price. Back home the beans are roasted using a state-of-the-art low emission roaster and carefully blended to create its Workhorse coffee. To us, the ethics had to match up and be as scrupulously good as the taste.

Who is Hilltop kitchen popular with?

Hilltop Kitchen was set up with locals at its heart and we love the fact that our reputation has spread through word of mouth and we’ve become part of the Godalming community. We’ve become a regular haunt for walkers and cyclists who will stop off on their routes for a coffee or a cold beer.

Tell us about some of your own favourite local foodie hangouts and suppliers?

There are some great farm shops in the area. Sam is a fan of Secretts, close to where he lives, while I’ll tend to go to Kingfisher Farm Shop near my home in Abinger. We love what they’re doing at Greyfriars Vineyard and for beer, the Arctic Fox Pilsner from The Crafty Brewing Co. in Dunsfold is the best you could ever drink on a hot day.

Hilltop Kitchen

What’s next for Hilltop Kitchen?

We love doing our evening pop-up events, which run on a first-come, first-served basis every month. Although we close our daily menu at the end of the summer, as autumn and winter draw in, we’ll be offering banquet-style menus where you come along, eat seasonally and enjoy a hot toddy or a mulled cider. And apart from that, we’re talking about plenty of other plans too. It’s very exciting.


Hilltop Kitchen, Combe Farm Buildings, Alldens Lane, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4AP is open Thursday – Sunday from 9am serving coffee and fresh pastries, lunch from 12am, snacks, drinks and good times from 3pm to 6pm⁠

Find out more:

Follow Hilltop Kitchen on To book a table online, go to

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Shere Kitchens

Shere Kitchens

July 14, 2023

Shere Kitchens

Shere Kitchens is a Surrey based, bespoke kitchen maker. Established by Andy Driscoll, Ella Driscoll and Mike Hill, the company has built a strong reputation for outstanding craftsmanship skills and superb attention to detail combined with a flair for design. The team has worked on Surrey Hills Grade I and II listed homes in and around its base in picturesque village of Shere, including Albury Manor Estate. We spoke to co-founder Ella Driscoll.

How and when did Shere Kitchens come about?

My husband, Andy and Mike have been neighbours and best friends since childhood. Andy is trained in classical joinery and was designing and creating bespoke cabinetry from his Wild Wood workshop in Shere. Mike was running a business renovating homes and listed buildings. They began working together on various projects and in 2017 ended up installing a beautiful, handmade kitchen in a home that was being converted from a three to a five bedroom house with an enormous kitchen space. It was a big success and while kitchens are the most complex and detailed part of a home, we have evolved into a bespoke kitchen business ever since.

Shere Kitchens Team

What sort of kitchens are you best known for, and can you describe the sort of projects you work on?

We’re most known for creating truly bespoke kitchens. Each one is individually made to order, considering the architecture of the property and how the family live. The design process is collaborative between us and the client as we don’t have any fixed ‘products’ or ‘ranges’. We specialise in preserving heritage in Period and Listed homes, working around wonky walls and beams, creating furniture with character and integrity. We are fascinated with wood and how beautiful it can make a home.

Understanding the character of a house and household is all-important and makes the most of our craftsman’s skills but that said, we create kitchens in new build properties and can bring character to a space that is lacking it. The kitchen is the heart of the home, and we love creating places where our customers will make their own memories.

Shere Kitchens

Your designs are tailor made from start to finish. Tell us a bit about the process.

Most of our business is word of mouth, which is lovely. We make one at a time and the entire process can last for up to 18 months. The first thing we do is assess the space, which can sometimes be just a sketch drawing from the client. Then, we look at budgets, have a consultation and begin the design phase, which involves CAD plans.

Each kitchen is designed individually as each space is unique and we don’t have ‘one size fits all’ cabinets. Once we’ve provided rendered images, we move onto the style and architecture, deciding on details such as mouldings, materials, colours, finishes and all-important technical considerations such as appliances.

Next, we hand make all the cabinetry at our workshop in Shere. Finally - the critical point - the kitchen gets installed and the very last detail, one final coat of paint happens on site. It’s an in-depth process and there’s lots of trouble-shooting involved along the way.

What trends have you seen emerging in kitchen design in recent years?

Hand painted kitchens aren’t going anywhere, but we are seeing more and more natural or oiled woods as a finish. There is something about the feel and look of wood that makes you feel grounded and connected to nature within your home.

Big islands always tend to be on people’s wish lists and one thing that’s become hugely popular is a walk-in pantry. It’s an absolutely brilliant element that can make a big difference and you can often just steal a small amount of space to make it work.

What are the key things people should consider when planning a kitchen redesign?

The most important thing over the style or how your kitchen will look is making it practical. Ask yourself what you have, what activities you do in the kitchen, maybe even what annoys you about your current kitchen and then think about what will work for you. Flow is all-important and you have to make sure everything is in the right place for how you’ll use it.

Figure out the things like where to put your bins and underfloor heating manifolds and then you can come onto the fun stuff like wine fridges, bars and plenty of spaces for people to sit.

How much is your location in the Surrey Hills an influence on the business?

We all grew up in the Surrey Hills area and have a deep love of the local landscape - from walking our dogs to exploring the chalk grasslands, letting the children run wild in the woods and enjoying the local vineyards. We view sustainability and appreciation for the local environment high among our values and as well as a scheme where we planted trees at Clandon nature reserve, we’re now involved with the Surrey Wildlife Trust and we make a donation, which goes towards plating trees or hedgerows for every kitchen we make.

We source wood and materials locally where possible and re-useable protection blankets are used to transport cabinetry rather than disposable plastic. We donate off-cuts to a local Design Technology college and we were involved in a project with Albury Vineyard where we created a bug hotel from our off-cuts of wood, which helped to educate local children about the nature around them.

Shere Kitchens

Tell us about the Gold Trade Mark Surrey Hills you received as a mark of local provenance and quality

We were hugely honoured to win this award in recognition of the work we did with Clandon Wood Nature Reserve. It was a joint project where we donated Elm trees to help provide a wildlife corridor for the endangered White-Letter Hairstreak butterfly. We wanted to do something to enhance the Surrey Hills and its landscape. We are so lucky to live and work here.

What local companies do you work with and would you recommend?

We’re very fortunate to work with some incredibly talented, local creatives such as Julia Currie who is our photographer and Karen McBain who styles our images. Jenny Branson is a colour specialist based in Dorking and she advises on many of our projects.

We love working with Cow-Shed Start-up who created our website & have been incredibly supportive since day one. They are integral to our team.

For a Friday team treat, we’ll head to the Dabbling Duck in Shere for breakfast baps and coffees and when it comes to celebrations or sending a special gift, we are very partial to the sparkling wine produced at Albury Vineyard, which is a wonderful local, family business. Another business we love is Kingfisher Farm Shop for local goodies for our homes, for gifts and for photoshoot food and flowers.

Find out more:

You can find out more about Shere Kitchens and their services at or follow them on Instagram @sherekitchens.