Have you ever wished you could step into the sleepy village scenes on a holiday card? If you long for snow-covered lanes dotted with cozy cottages and snuggling up in front of a fire with a cup of warm cocoa, there's no better place to visit than the idyllic village of Shere, Surrey, an hour from London by train.
With its half-timber buildings and cobbled streets, the picture-perfect English hamlet has served as a backdrop for many movies, including the 2006 film "The Holiday." From quaint shops and pubs to the quiet lanes and town square, the quintessential British town created the perfect scene for a fun and fantastical Christmas vacation. If you're aiming to walk in the footsteps of the stars and create your ideal holiday getaway, here are few places to linger in the ambiance and soak in the peaceful magic of Shere.
The Town Square
When Cameron Diaz's character Amanda first arrives in Shere, her driver takes her through the town square and past the church before he leaves her at the graveyard. The town's Church of St. James has been in existence since 1190 and contains ancient brass plaques dating to the 1400s. Take a stroll by the Lych Gate, designed by architect Edwin Lutyens, and step across the square to browse the shops.
The White Horse
You'll recognize The White Horse as the fire-lit pub where Jude Law and Cameron Diaz enjoy drinks together one evening. It's situated on the square, and the food, drinks and atmosphere make it a favorite with both residents and visitors. To help make the season merry, the White Horse offers special holiday fare, with unique menus for Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.
The shops and storefronts from Cameron Diaz's famous driving scene are actually in the neighboring town of Godalming. About 8 miles from Shere, the village offers quaint shops and scenic walkways that make for a perfect day trip. Observant visitors may recognize portions of Church Street, particularly its intersections with Mint and High Streets, from the film.
The Rookery Nook
Though Rose Hill Cottage, the home of Kate Winslet's character, Iris, is not a lodging option, The Rookery Nook is one of a few loding options that make excellent substitutes. The bed and breakfast in a 15th-century building is located in the heart of Shere, and proprietors Chris and Jill take great joy in sharing their knowledge and love of the area with guests. One bedroom boasts a breathtaking view of the Downs that looks much like the movie's opening panoramic scenes.
Part of being in Shere is enjoying the sheer beauty of the town and surrounding countryside. Cross the wooden or cobblestone footbridges across the Tillingbourne River, which runs just north of Lower Street. Then, stroll by the 17th-century prison house or walk past the working forge on Middle Street. No matter the season or which way you turn, the beauty of Shere is a feast.
by Zoe Bauer