Virginia Water

Virginia Water is a commuter town or village in northern Surrey, home to the Wentworth Estate and the Wentworth Club. The place has much woodland and occupies a large minority of the Borough of Runnymede. Its name is shared with the lake on its western boundary with Windsor Great Park. Parts of the ward and post town touch motorways. Trumps Green and Thorpe Green touch the M3; the Thorpe part of Thorpe Green and Stroude touch the M25. Heathrow Airport is seven miles to the north-east.

Virginia Water

Aerial view of Virginia Water
Virginia Water
Location within Surrey
Area14.79 km2 (5.71 sq mi) (2011, Ward)[1]
Population5,940 (2011, Ward)[1]
 Density402/km2 (1,040/sq mi)
Anglican dioceseGuildford
Protected zonesMetropolitan Green Belt; Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area; Conservation Areas
Alternative population and area5,448 across 10.39 km² (2011, postcode district)
OS grid referenceSU982679
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtGU25
Dialling code01344
AmbulanceSouth East Coast
UK Parliament
List of places
51.402°N 0.589°W / 51.402; -0.589

Many of the detached houses are on the Wentworth Estate, the home of the Wentworth Club which has four golf courses.[2] The Ryder Cup was first played there. It is also home to the headquarters of the PGA European Tour, the professional golf tour. One of the houses featured in a headline in 1998General Augusto Pinochet was placed under house arrest having unsuccessfully resisted extradition, the facing of a criminal trial in Chile.[3]

In 2011 approximately half of the homes of the postcode district, which is narrower than the current electoral ward, were detached houses. In 2015 Land Registry sales data evinced Virginia Water's single postcode district as the most expensive as to the value of homes nationwide.


The town is named after the nearby artificial Virginia Water Lake, which forms part of the Windsor Great Park.


The Devil's Highway Roman Road, running from London, through Staines-upon-Thames (previously Pontes) to Silchester is thought to run through Virginia Water. Some of the local course has been lost, disappearing at the bottom of Prune Hill, and reappearing at the Leptis Magna ruins in the Great Park.

Nicholas Fuentes has argued that defeat of Boudica's insurrection by the Romans in AD 60/61 took place at Virginia Water, with the landscape between Callow Hill and Knowle Hill matching the battle landscape described by Tacitus, and the battle commencing roughly where the railway station lies.[4]

The area was for centuries similar to the Strode or (also written) Stroude tything, one of four divisions of the very large "ancient" parish of Egham. Egham the Domesday survey valued at £40 per annum.[5] Egham was in the original endowment of Chertsey Abbey in 666–75. The manor was included in all subsequent confirmations of the abbey land, and was held until the surrender of the abbey in 1537, since which time all its vestigial rights remained with the Crown, which thus sold much land piecemeal and controlled who could build major developments for centuries.[5]

Christ Church, in the Church of England was completed in 1838 and established as a parish the same year.[5]

The Duke of Wellington's brother-in-law lived at the 'Wentworths' house; this building now forms the Wentworth Club. In 1850, the house was bought by Ramón Cabrera, 1st Duke of Maestrazgo, an exiled Carlist general. During the Second World War, plans were put into place to move the government to the house, with tunnels dug underneath what is now the club carpark.

Holloway Sanatorium was constructed in 1885. The building was designed by William Henry Crossland and funded by Thomas Holloway. In 1948, it was taken over by the newly-established National Health Service, and closed in 1980. After years of neglect, in 2000 the building and grounds were converted into private sector housing, Virginia Park. The main building is Grade I listed, the highest category of recognition and protection[6] and has been used for films, television, and music videos. The sanatorium chapel is Grade II* listed, meaning in a constrained mid-tier of the statutory scheme.[7]

To the east of the lake is the Clockcase tower, a Grade I listed, triangular belvedere built in the Great Park during 1750s.[8] It is three-storey Gothic style construction.[8] George III made it into an observatory and Queen Victoria occasionally had tea there.[8] The building is inaccessible to the public, lying within a private part of the park. It is still owned by the Royal Estate and when listed in 1984 used as a residence.[8]

1,750 square kilometres (680 sq mi) of Virginia Water is owned by a members' trustee body, known as the Wentworth Estate. Founded in the 1920s, this estate comprises private sector houses, a few luxury apartments, woodland, several golf courses and a leisure club. It also includes part of the River Bourne, Chertsey.


Physical geography

The River Bourne runs from the artificial Virginia Water Lake through the long southern half of Virginia Water.

Housing and socio-economic geography

The 2011 census stated that the Virginia Water postcode district (post town) had the following dwellings, thus making up the relative proportions shown: [9]

Whole house or bungalow: Detached1,17549.9%
Whole house or bungalow: Semi-detached47820.3%
Whole house or bungalow: Terraced (including end-terrace)24710.5%
Flat, maisonette or apartment: Purpose-built block of flats or tenement34614.7%
Flat, maisonette or apartment: Part of a converted or shared house (including bed-sits)522.2%
Flat, maisonette or apartment: In a commercial building331.4%
Caravan or other mobile or temporary structure261.1%

Government data in terms of sales of homes from Autumn 2014 to 2015 showed Virginia Water to be the most expensive post town nationally (i.e. excluding any part of London). The recent averaged sold price for its homes was just over £1.1m.[10]


The town has a junction railway station, built after the first line opened in 1856 to Ascot. Frequent South Western Railway trains run to London Waterloo, Weybridge, Twickenham, Richmond, Staines, Feltham, Clapham Junction, Vauxhall and Reading.


Christ Church school was built by the National Society in 1843 on land given by Saint George Francis Caulfeild of The Wentworths. He attempted to bind the land with "all buildings thereon erected or to be erected to be forever hereafter appropriated and used as land for a School for the Education of Children and Adults or Children only of labouring manufacturing and other poorer classes". The school was built for £716. 16s 7d. In 2020, due to loss of intake, Surrey County Council set underway closure, moving attendees to consolidated Englefield Green Infant School by 2023.[11][12][13]

St Ann's Heath Junior School is on Sandhills Lane.

Trumps Green Infant School is on Crown Road in the south of the ward and the postcode district (the only of post town in this case).

Notable people


  1. "Runnymede Ward population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original on 20 March 2017. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  2. "Virginia Water community website - your source for local information". Archived from the original on 29 December 2003. Retrieved 13 January 2004.
  3. "Pinochet retreats to luxury estate". BBC News. 2 December 1998. Archived from the original on 16 July 2004. Retrieved 13 January 2004.
  4. Fuentes, Nicholas (1983). "Boudicca Revisited". London Archaeologist. 4 (12): 311–317.
  5. 'Parishes: Egham', in A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3, ed. H E Malden (London, 1911), pp. 419-427. British History Online
  6. Historic England. "Building at Virginia Park, former Sir T. Holloway Sanatorium (1189632)". National Heritage List for England.
  7. Historic England. "Chapel at Virginia Park, former Sir T. Holloway Sanatorium (1119659)". National Heritage List for England.
  8. Historic England. "THE ROYAL ESTATE, WINDSOR: VIRGINIA WATER (INCLUDING FORT BELVEDERE AND THE CLOCKCASE), Grade I park and garden listing (1001177)". National Heritage List for England.
  9. Key Statistic KS401EW - Dwellings, household spaces and accommodation type by postcode district
  10. Olivia Blair (26 October 2015). "The UK's first 'million pound towns' outside of London". The Independent. Archived from the original on 20 August 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 January 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2021.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 February 2020. Retrieved 13 January 2021.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 January 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2021.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. Historic England. "tomb of Ramón Cabrera, 1st Duke of Maestrazgo and of the Duchess (1028903)". National Heritage List for England.
  15. "Virginia Water: the village where houses cost £1m and up". The Week. Archived from the original on 12 May 2018. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  16. "From the archives: An obituary of Vaslav Nijinsky". The Guardian. 10 April 1950.