Virginia Water

Coordinates: 51°24′07″N 0°35′20″W / 51.402°N 0.589°W / 51.402; -0.589
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Virginia Water
Aerial view of Virginia Water
Virginia Water is located in Surrey
Virginia Water
Virginia Water
Location within Surrey
Area5.71 sq mi (14.8 km2) (2011, Ward)[1]
Population5,940 (2011, Ward)[1]
• Density1,040/sq mi (400/km2)
Protected areasMetropolitan Green Belt, Thames Basin Heaths
OS grid referenceSU982679
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtGU25
Dialling code01344
AmbulanceSouth East Coast
UK Parliament
List of places
51°24′07″N 0°35′20″W / 51.402°N 0.589°W / 51.402; -0.589

Virginia Water is a commuter village in the Borough of Runnymede in northern Surrey, England. It is home to the Wentworth Estate and the Wentworth Club. The area has much woodland and occupies a large minority of the Runnymede district. Its name is shared with the lake on its western boundary within Windsor Great Park. Virginia Water has excellent transport links with London–Trumps Green and Thorpe Green touch the M3, Thorpe touches the M25, and Heathrow Airport is 7 miles (11 km) northeast.

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 1998—General 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 village is named after the nearby artificial Virginia Water Lake, which forms part of 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.

To the east of the lake is the Clockcase tower, a Grade I listed, triangular belvedere built in the Great Park during 1750s.[6] It is three-storey Gothic style construction.[6] George III made it into an observatory and Queen Victoria occasionally had tea there.[6] 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.[6]

Virginia Park[edit]

Entrance to Virginia Park

Virginia Park is a gated housing development occupying the site of the former Holloway Sanatorium, a mental asylum constructed in 1885 to the design of William Henry Crossland. This was a private institution where patients paid for their own treatment.[7] 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 by a developer, Octagon.[8] Octagon produced 23 residences in the main building and built 190 new houses and apartments on the grounds.[9] Properties are expensive and typically reach beyond the £1 million mark.[7]

The main building is Grade I listed, the highest category of recognition and protection.[10] The sanatorium chapel is Grade II* listed, meaning in a constrained mid-tier of the statutory scheme.[11] The gated estate includes a spa, gymnasium, multi-purpose sports hall, and all-weather tennis court.[7]

Wentworth Estate[edit]

A manicured street on the estate

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, luxury apartments, woodland, several golf courses and a leisure club. It also includes part of the River Bourne, Chertsey.

The estate, due to its high walls and electric gates, has been compared to a "fortified suburb" found more commonly in South Africa and a place "where money disappears from view".[12] Famous residents have included Elton John, Bruce Forsyth, Diana Dors and various professional golfers.[12] Properties on the estate are regarded as "super prime" and have sold for as much as £50 million.[12]


Physical geography[edit]

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

Housing and socio-economic geography[edit]

The 2011 census stated that the Virginia Water postcode district (post town) had the following dwellings, thus making up the relative proportions shown: [13]

Type Number Proportion
Whole house or bungalow: Detached 1,175 49.9%
Whole house or bungalow: Semi-detached 478 20.3%
Whole house or bungalow: Terraced (including end-terrace) 247 10.5%
Flat, maisonette or apartment: Purpose-built block of flats or tenement 346 14.7%
Flat, maisonette or apartment: Part of a converted or shared house (including bed-sits) 52 2.2%
Flat, maisonette or apartment: In a commercial building 33 1.4%
Caravan or other mobile or temporary structure 26 1.1%

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.[14]


The village 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.[15][16][17]

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).


Invicta Cars of Virginia Water Surrey were based in the village between 1946 and 1950[18]

Notable people[edit]


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  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. ^ a b c '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. ^ a b c d 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.
  7. ^ a b c Atkins, David (2 August 2020). "Surrey's former asylums and mental hospitals and what they are now". SurreyLive. Retrieved 11 February 2023.
  8. ^ Compton, Nick (5 April 2012). "Welcome to 'Fortress London'". Evening Standard. Retrieved 11 February 2023.
  9. ^ Saltmarsh, Abigail (11 August 2009). "In England, a Victorian Town House". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 February 2023.
  10. ^ Historic England. "Building at Virginia Park, former Sir T. Holloway Sanatorium (1189632)". National Heritage List for England.
  11. ^ Historic England. "Chapel at Virginia Park, former Sir T. Holloway Sanatorium (1119659)". National Heritage List for England.
  12. ^ a b c Anthony, Andrew (22 May 2022). "'The haves and have-yachts': on the trail of London's super-rich". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 February 2023.
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  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ "Virginia Water infant school to close as its no longer financially viable - Surrey Live". 11 November 2020. Archived from the original on 14 January 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  16. ^ "School History – Christ Church Infant School". Archived from the original on 21 February 2020. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Facebook. Archived from the original on 22 January 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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  19. ^ "Exclusive interview: Susie Amy on her starring role in Fatal Attraction". Great British Life. 16 March 2022. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
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  26. ^ Historic England. "tomb of Ramón Cabrera, 1st Duke of Maestrazgo and of the Duchess (1028903)". National Heritage List for England.
  27. ^ "Gilbert Cannan : Biography". Archived from the original on 18 July 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
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  30. ^ "Joan Adeney Easdale". Helga Kaschl: Frauen in Virginia Woolfs Hogarth Press 1917-1941. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
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  40. ^ "Naseem Hamed: Prince returns to give the kiss of life". independent newspaper. 28 November 2010.
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  52. ^ "From the archives: An obituary of Vaslav Nijinsky". The Guardian. 10 April 1950.
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  55. ^ "The rich v the very, very rich: The rebellion at Wentworth golf club". 2 March 2021.
  56. ^ "BBC News | World | Pinochet retreats to luxury estate".
  57. ^ "UK mansion once occupied by Rama VII for sale". Bangkok Post. 29 July 2023.
  58. ^ "Sir Cliff Richard on why he'll always love Surrey, 50 years in show business and staying in shape". Great British Life. 4 April 2022.
  59. ^ "Sir Cliff Richard fails in conservatory appeal". Surrey Live. 4 April 2022.
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External links[edit]

Media related to Virginia Water at Wikimedia Commons