Thursday, 31 October 2013

An Introduction to Real Estate Law

Image: Clker
There has been some good news for the property market in recent weeks. The BBC has reported recently that the housing market in the UK is seeing something of a 'meaningful recovery' with a rise in mortgage lending. It has also been estimated that the total value of all homes in Britain increased by 57 billion this year to 5.963 trillion. Though the property market has seen some stagnant periods in recent years, thousands of transactions are completed every year with individuals and businesses alike buying, selling and renting houses, flats, offices and buildings. Whether you are part of a business looking for new office space or simply an individual looking for a new home it is important to use the services of a solicitor or law firm that specialises in property or real estate law.

Why is it useful to engage the services of a real estate law solicitor? Isn't an estate agent all you need? The trouble with estate agents, from a buyer's point of view, is that an estate agent's main obligation is to the seller not the buyer. As a buyer it is important to get advice from someone who specialises in property law so that you can avoid the possibility of being ripped off or being taken advantage of. Property is expensive and it is important that all the small details are monitored so you can avoid losing out. Property lawyers (or real estate lawyers as they are sometimes known) deal with a wide spectrum of issues and tasks relating to property. In many cases it involves more than just organising the exchange of deeds.

Property lawyers will have a broad range of clients that encompass more than just residential buyers and sellers. They will also deal with landlords, tenants, developers, agents and even local councils. Real estate lawyers will deal with very different parts of the property market from the corporate side, to the public sector and the residential side. Often solicitors will pick a particular side of property law to specialise in and usually this divide will be between commercial and residential cases. Commercial real estate solicitors will often deal more with acquisitions, development and estate management among other tasks. On the other hand residential real estate solicitors will generally be involved with conveyancing on a residential level. Conveyancing is the transferral of ownership or legal title of property and is the foundation for selling and buying houses. Residential property solicitors may also be referred to as 'conveyancers'.

So what is involved in real estate law and conveyancing? Arguably the most important part of buying and selling property is whether the title on the property is legitimate and a conveyancing solicitor will carry out searches to ensure this is the case. This is hugely important because if no one checked whether a title was legitimate, people would be able to sell property without the owner's consent. A conveyancing solicitor will deal with all aspects of the buying and selling process on your behalf. They will deal with managing stamp duty charges, the transfer of payments between buyer and seller, and drawing up contracts. Commercial property solicitors will give legal advice on combining property, property investment and development. They may also be involved to some degree in planning and construction and may provide legal advice on these areas.

Real estate solicitors do not solely deal with the buying and selling of property. They may also take on cases that deal with renting and leasing property. A tenant or a landlord may require the services of a real estate solicitor if they have a disagreement over rent or fees. A real estate solicitor may also prepare the agreement for lease when a new tenant moves in and may deal with the negotiations involved.

There are many different types of cases that a real estate solicitor may be involved with. However, it is no longer essential to involve a lawyer in conveyancing transactions and some people do buy and sell property without legal input. Previously it was only solicitors who could transfer property titles, today this is no longer the case. It is advisable, however, to engage the services of a solicitor specialising in real estate because the process can be complicated and if you do not know what you are doing you could end up losing money or the process could go wrong. Property transactions can also be fairly long-winded and using a solicitor's services could save you a great deal of time and hassle.

© Izzy Evans 2013

If you would like to know more about real estate law then you can speak to real estate law solicitors like Bond Dickinson.

Monday, 12 August 2013

A Checklist for Businesses Building Their First Website


The internet has become such an ingrained part of our everyday lives that it seems odd if a company or organisation does not have a website. In fact, it has got to the point where not having a website may make you feel slightly wary of the company and may make them seem less legitimate. It is important then, as a company that is just starting out, to make sure that your business has its own website. If you have limited knowledge about creating websites it can seem like a fairly daunting task and it can be difficult to know where to start. In order to make the process more digestible, creating your website can be broken down into parts and specific things you will need.


A Domain Name

A domain name is arguably one of the most crucial parts of creating a website. Selecting and acquiring your domain name is an important task and should be done relatively early on in the process. You don’t want to have created your website and chosen your design, branding and company name only to find out that the domain name you wanted has already been taken.

It is best to choose a domain name that is fairly short and easy to remember. It is also useful to choose a domain name that is, or is related to, your company name. This makes it easier for customers to find you and makes your website more cohesive. You will have to pay a small fee to a domain name registrar in order to acquire your domain name, if someone has already taken the name you need you may be able to buy it off them – usually for a higher price.

A Web Host

Once your website has a name it will need somewhere to live. Often business websites are likened to your office space on the internet and web hosting can be seen as the landlord. Web hosting is what lets everyone else in the world view your website. Without some form of web hosting, only you will be able to view it.

There are free hosting options available but, in the majority of cases, it is not appropriate for a business website. For those just starting out a shared hosting plan may make the most sense. This is where you share space on a server with other users – it is a less expensive option but you may have to abide by certain rules and limits. A more expensive option but one that gives you more control and less limitations is a dedicated hosting package. Dedicated hosting is where your website is hosted on a server that is ‘dedicated’ to your use. If you are not hugely hosting-savvy, you may want to choose a managed hosting plan as this can take some of the burden of managing and maintaining your hosting.

You will also need to ensure that your domain name is pointed to your website. This can be done through your domain name registrar. It is important that you do this as it means that when people type in your website’s address they will be able to see your website.

A CMS

A CMS is a ‘content management system’ and it is the system that lets you organise and manage the information and content on your website. Without a content management system it can be difficult and time consuming to update your website. There are a variety of CMSs on offer and which one you choose may depend on what kind of website you have.

WordPress is more suited to websites that are focussed on content – blogs in particular – and can be good with high levels of traffic. However if your website is quite graphics-based, a different CMS like Drupal may be more appropriate. Content Management Systems like Drupal or Joomla are also particularly well suited for e-commerce websites or social networking.

A Design

A key part of any website is its design. Not thinking about how your website will look and function is like setting up a shop but not giving any thought to the decoration or layout – an attitude that can actually put visitors and customers off doing business with you. If you feel that you know about design and web trends then you may be able to do this yourself but for many people it is easier to hire the services of a professional.

Professional web design companies will be able to create a fresh, modern design and in most cases will have a development team who can actually build the website for you. Using professionals can take a lot of the stress out of the design process leaving you to think about other important issues.

You should make sure that your website is tested throughout the design and development process. You don’t want to create your website only to realise that it does not look right in a particular browser or certain functionality does not actually work. Test your pages in the main browsers, Chrome, Firefox, Safari and IE, and make sure that your web page code is free of errors.

Content

If you want people to come to your website and not leave straight away you will need to create high quality content. Creating good quality content that people want to look at will help to attract new visitors to your website and will make them stay longer on your website. If you don’t create useful content your visitors will not come back. It is also beneficial from a search engine perspective – Google is constantly adapting and improving its algorithm so that more emphasis is put on useful and high-quality content. Focusing on content can help you to improve your rankings in the search engines.

The Data

Finally, it is useful to start tracking your website metrics as this can tell you a lot about how well your website is doing. An analytics package or programme can show you how many people are visiting your website and their activity. Monitoring your analytics can help you to see whether any changes to make to the website or your advertising are making a positive difference. Keeping track of your analytics is obviously not a required step but can be hugely useful.

© Izzy Evans 2013

If you would like to find out more information about the different types of hosting mentioned in this article then you can visit What is Managed Hosting?

Friday, 26 July 2013

Why Should Businesses Use IaaS?

Source: Simon Eugster
In the cloud arena there is now more choice than ever before. You can now choose between private, public and hybrid clouds and can sign up for a variety of things ‘as-a-service’ from the cloud. The cloud can be particularly advantageous to businesses and can provide useful services and systems with minimal hassle. One service that is particularly well-suited to the business world is IaaS, or ‘Infrastructure-as-a-Service’.

In basic terms IaaS is where computer resources are delivered to the customer virtually via the cloud. Where SaaS refers to access to software and applications through the cloud, IaaS encompasses hardware, networking and storage. It may also include the operating systems needed to manage these resources. When you rent infrastructure from an IaaS provider you are not paying for the physical server or hardware. Instead you are given virtual access to the infrastructure through the cloud - the servers and hardware remain firmly in the provider’s data centre!

Many companies are investigating how to implement the cloud in their business and have started to incorporate IaaS solutions. There are five main benefits to using IaaS in a business setting.

Source: Clker
1. Saving on cost

For many companies finding IT solutions that can save money has become increasingly important. With IaaS you not only gain practically immediate access to important hardware, but also you can save money on the use of this hardware. Utilising Infrastructure-as-a-Service means that you no longer have to invest in your own in-house hardware - reducing your capital expenses (i.e. the cost of buying the hardware). With capital expenses reduced you only have to worry about the operational expenses of using the hardware. Any maintenance costs are dealt with by the provider and should be covered by the price.

2. Focus on what you do best

For most companies time is precious. Organising the setup and maintenance of an in house IaaS solution can take up valuable time and resources. Choosing a cloud IaaS solution can allow companies to focus on developing their business and moving forward without having to worry about technological problems that may not be their forte. Many small companies without an IT team will not have the technical know-how to implement their own IaaS solution and using the cloud can be a simpler and easier option. For those companies that do have an IT team, using IaaS can free up their time and allow them to focus on other projects.

Source: Clker
3. Easy, dynamic scaling

When companies set up an IaaS solution it can be difficult to predict the required scale of the solution. You do not want to overestimate as this can unnecessarily cost you money and underestimating can mean that later down the line you have to expand the infrastructure - potentially disrupting the workflow. With IaaS, this problem can be avoided. Increasing your infrastructure, adding more storage capacity or additional servers can be done quickly and easily - pretty much at the push of a button. Equally your infrastructure can also be reduced depending on your requirements. With dynamic scaling the amount of resource can automatically be scaled up or down depending on the needs of the application.

4. Pay for what you use
An attractive part of IaaS for many businesses is its flexibility in price. For the most part, with IaaS, your fee is calculated based on the quantity of resources you have used and the length of time they were used for. This means companies do not have to pay a large monthly or annual fee for something they may only use once a week. IaaS providers will use a method called ‘metering’ to determine the usage of the resources. Paying on a per use basis can be particularly advantageous and cost effective for many companies. It can also save money on licensing as with a ‘pay-as-you-go’ IaaS solution you do not have to purchase your own licences - which can be expensive - instead a small proportion of your fee goes to the provider of the software that requires a licence. If you already have licences then a ‘bring-your-own-licence’ scheme will allow you to utilise your licences in the cloud and within the workplace.

Source: Open Clip Art
5. Green Advantages
Environmental impact is becoming more and more of a concern for many companies. Utilising the cloud for your infrastructure requirements can be a helpful step in a ‘greener’ direction. The fact that infrastructure resources can be accessed and managed from anywhere on any device means that travel costs, and therefore the environmental impact, can be cut down. Having the infrastructure resources hosted and managed by the IaaS provider means that there is less of an environmental impact than there would be with an in house solution.



© Izzy Evans 2013
If you would like to find out more about Infrastructure-as-a-Service then you can visit What is IaaS.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Ten Tips for Finding a Great Tradesman


In recent years the property market has, at times, seemed fairly unwelcoming. High prices and slow sales meant that many people have chosen to focus on improving their current homes rather than moving to a new one. Many of these home improvement projects can be undertaken by the homeowner as a DIY project to fill a weekend but sometimes things can go wrong or a project can be too much or too complicated to handle yourself. In these circumstances it is advisable to call in the professionals. Find a tradesman, a builder, a plumber or an electrician with the know-how to finish the work to a high standard. Though the vast majority of tradesmen are dependable, hardworking businessmen, hundreds of people are still burnt by rogue traders every year. Here are ten tips to help you find a reputable tradesman and avoid dodgy dealers.

Listen to Word of Mouth
The best way to find a good builder or plumber is to ask people that you know. Your friends and family should be happy to pass on the details of any tradesman that provided a good quality of service. Equally they may also be able to warn you of any potential rogue traders that you may unknowingly be considering. In addition, any recommendations given to you by friends and family can be backed up by inspecting in person the work that has been done.

Use Local Directories
If you don’t know anyone with a good recommendation then looking in local directories can be a good place to start. You can find a tradesman on a national level but it general it is advisable to find someone local as this can cut travel time and they can be on hand faster if there is a problem. Look in the Yellow Pages for ideas. Other local directories like Dentons can help you to create a list of potential tradesmen that would be right for your job.

Find Out Their Reputation
Even if you don’t know anyone personally who can give a recommendation or review you can often find out the reputation of a local tradesman online. They may have their own website with reviews from previous customers, if not there are a number of websites dedicated to providing unbiased reviews and ratings of tradesmen. Websites like Check a Trade or My Builder can help you to select the right tradesmen from your list of potentials.

Check Their Previous Work
It is always a sensible move to look at the work a tradesman has done before as this can give you a good idea of the quality of their work. If your choice of tradesman is based on a friend’s recommendation then it can be quite simple to pop round to their house and have a look in person. If you have chosen a tradesman based on a rating or a review online, the reviewer may be able to post pictures of the work that was done.

Know What You Want
Do your research and think carefully about what you want done, especially if it is a big project. Being more exact about your requirements and knowing what you want from the project can be of great benefit. Knowing more about your project will mean that your tradesman will be able to be more accurate in calculating the quote and the timescale for the project.

Shop Around
Don’t just get a quote from one company or individual and assume that the quote you get is the right one. The quote you receive may be much higher or much lower than the average and you will not know because you will have nothing to compare it to. Talk to several different companies or individuals about the project so you can get a good idea of the going rate. Many experts will often recommend getting at least three different quotes.

Be Sensible About Pricing
Though it may be tempting to go for the cheapest quote on offer, by doing this you may not be getting the best quality of work. You should always try to reconcile a fair price with a good standard of work. Cheaper does not always mean best value. Equally, an expensive price tag may not always mean that you will receive the best work.

Look Up Qualifications
Many good tradesmen will have qualifications – feel free to ask to see their certification and documentation. Having qualifications, however, should not be a requirement; some builders and plumbers among others have years of professional experience rather than a certificate. Tradesmen also often belong to trade associations or professional bodies – you can contact these organisations to verify their membership as some rogue traders may claim membership without having it.

Get Everything in Writing
Making sure to get everything down in writing is useful for keeping track of the project and its cost but can also benefit you if something goes wrong. If your tradesman ends up trying to charge you more than was originally agreed upon, referring to a quote in writing will give you more to go on and a better legal standpoint. Any quote that you agree on should include the contact details of the company or individual, the cost and any VAT. It may also be worth finding out if they offer a warranty – if they do you should also try to get details of this in writing.  

If they aren't right for you – don’t hire them!
A simple one to end on. If you get a quote from someone, don’t feel that you have to hire them. If they come with recommendations from friends and people on the internet, but you don’t feel they would be right for the project, don’t feel pressured into hiring them. If you meet them to discuss the project and they turn up late or are rude or unprofessional, you do not have to hire them and can look elsewhere.


© Izzy Evans 2013

If you would like to find a reliable tradesman in your area then you can try searching in Dentons - you can find Builders in Bath for example.

Image Credit:
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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Savile Row – A Style Institution

Image by Dave Fergusson
When it comes to suits there is one place that instantly springs to mind – Savile Row. The street is located in the Mayfair district of London and is home to some of the finest tailors in the country. People come to the row from all around the country and from distant corners of the globe to have a bespoke, made-to-measure suit made for them. Throughout the years clients of Savile Row tailors have included royalty and celebrities, from Prince Philip to Mick Jagger, Cary Grant to Winston Churchill, Savile Row has been the location of choice for bespoke tailoring. It has been said that Ian Fleming and his creation James Bond both wore Savile Row suits but there is actually no evidence for this. The association between fine tailoring and Savile Row has become so ingrained that the Japanese word for business suit, ‘sebiro’, is said to be a corruption of ‘Savile Row’.

Savile Row and the term ‘bespoke’ are almost synonymous and though the word ‘bespoke’ was in use before the establishment of Savile Row as the tailoring centre of the country, it has become inextricably linked with the row. Traditionally the word ‘bespoke’ comes from ‘bespeak’ which in Old English meant ‘speak up’. The association with the word ‘bespoke’ and the made to measure garments created in Savile Row comes from over a century ago, when customers had chosen the specific fabric that they wanted, the fabric was then said to ‘be spoken for’. The term ‘bespoke’, in the years that followed, came to mean a suit that was cut and made by hand. In 2008, however, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the term should also apply to suits and clothing that were machine sewn with the proviso that they were ‘made to measure’.

Image Source: Wiki Commons
The history of the street itself goes back to the 17th century. In 1668 Burlington House was built for the 1st Earl of Burlington in the area where Savile Row now stands. At that time the house stood in green countryside but development soon grew up around it in the following decades. Less than a century later Burlington House was in the possession of the 3rd Earl of Burlington and his wife, the heiress Lady Dorothy Savile. In 1723, suffering from money-related woes, the Earl of Burlington was forced to sell land behind the house. As a result of this sale, Queensbury house was built in what was previously the Burlington House gardens. By 1733 a new street was constructed by the Earl of Burlington as part of the development of his estate and was named Savile Street, after his wife Dorothy. Savile Row was born.

Savile Street, which later became known as Savile Row, was built in the ‘Burlingtonian’ style – which was essentially the Earl’s interpretation of Palladian architecture. The street stretched from Burlington Gardens to Boyle Street and at that time only had houses on the East side (building on the West side of the street took place in the 19th century). To start with the houses were occupied by politicians and military officers and it quickly became a fashionable address of choice. The affluent residents of the street began to attract traders in luxury goods, including tailors. Tailors began to move into the area around Savile Row, but not the street itself, in the late 18th century in around 1790 and initially in Cork Street. It wasn’t until 1846 that tailors began to populate Savile Row itself.

Image Source: Wiki Commons
The title of ‘Founder of Savile Row’ is often given to Henry Poole. Henry’s father, James Poole, had a well-established tailoring business that was located at 4 Old Burlington Street, the next street over from Savile Row. When he passed away in 1846 the business passed to Henry Poole. Henry made a number of changes to the business – he expanded the size of the shop and turned the Savile Row facing side into a grand showroom. The business itself was turned into a bespoke tailoring company and was renamed Henry Poole & Company. This was the catalyst and from this point bespoke tailoring had found a home in Savile Row. As tailors moved in the houses were changed and remodelled to allow more natural light in – many businesses added light wells and glass frontages. The large amount of building work that took place throughout the 19th century meant that many of the original ‘Burlingtonian’ features were lost.

The various tailors that had established themselves in Savile Row benefitted from the new more toned-down style that became popular in the 19th century. Affluent clientele required tailored, made to measure outfits and the Savile Row tailors were happy to oblige. Savile Row had become the home of bespoke tailoring. It remained the domain of the elite well into the Edwardian period as you had to be introduced to a tailor by a friend who was already a client. Many tailors were given royal warrants for their work and produced pieces for members of the royal family. The ‘heritage’ feel of the row was shaken up in 1969 with the modernising influence of Tommy Nutter and Edward Sexton and their business ‘Nutters’. Nutters utilised bold window displays and were frequented by celebrities like Mick Jagger and the Beatles. The modernisation of the row had slowed by the late eighties but was reinvigorated by what became known as the ‘New Bespoke Movement’. This movement headed by Ozwald Boateng, Timothy Everest and Richard James, brought more modern styling and a new use of colour to the Row.

Image Source: Wiki Commons
There are many different tailors on Savile Row to choose from. Henry Poole & Co. was the first and oldest ‘Savile Row tailor’ but many other companies have become well-known in the years since. Gieves & Hawkes, established in 1974 from the merger of two companies started in the late 19th century, were the first company on Savile Row to offer ready-to-wear clothes. Anderson & Sheppard, founded in 1906, are the creators of the ‘London cut’ – a cut which allows the suit jacket to stay close to the neck but lets the arm move with ease. The majority of the Savile Row houses are members of the Savile Row Bespoke Association. This organisation was formed in 2004 to protect Savile Row tailoring and its heritage. The Association works to protect the row from commercial development and increasing rent. It is also currently working with Westminster Council to safeguard Savile Row as a Special Policy Area.


© Izzy Evans 2013
If you would like to find out more about having a bespoke suit made up then you can visit a Savile Row tailors like Anderson & Sheppard.

Monday, 10 June 2013

The Most Common Driving Offences in the UK

Image by Malc McDonald


Over the years cars have become safer, more fuel efficient and more environmentally friendly. What has not improved at the same rate, however, is the quality of driving. Millions of driving offences are dealt with by the police every year but even more happen every day, unnoticed or with minimal consequences. Many people may believe that they are a ‘good driver’ and that they do not break any laws or commit any offences – while others simply do not care or don’t see what they are doing as illegal. This article looks at some of the most common driving offences committed on a daily basis in the United Kingdom. Some of the offences are obvious while others may be more of a surprise.

Image by DeFacto
Speeding is one of the most common driving offences in the UK. Around half of us admit to speeding on motorways while around a third of us drive above the speed limit in built up areas. If you are caught speeding you could receive a fine of up to £1,000 (up to £2,500 for speeding offences on a motorway), a disqualification from driving or points on your licence. The general speed limits for cars and motorcycles are 30mph in built up areas, 60mph on single carriageways and 70mph on dual carriageways (where there is a central reservation) and motorways. You should not drive faster than the speed limit. A speed limit is actually an ‘absolute maximum’ and it does not mean that you should drive at this speed at all times, in all conditions. In 2011, 3,267 people were killed or seriously injured in a crash where speed was a factor.

One law that most people will be aware of, but many will still flout, is using your mobile phone while driving. It is illegal to drive while using a hand-held phone or similar device, this means that it is illegal to make a call or text from a mobile phone while driving. You can only use your phone while driving if you need to call 999 in an emergency and it is impractical to stop. This law does not directly apply to hands-free phones or sat-navs but if the police believe you are distracted and not in control you can still be penalised. You are four times more likely to crash if you are using a mobile phone while driving and your reaction time is 50% slower.

Image by UniSouth
One of the biggest annoyances while driving are drivers who drive too close behind you, also known as ‘tailgating’. As well as being hugely stressful to other drivers it can be very dangerous. If you tailgate you are not giving yourself enough braking time and restricting your view of the road and any hazards. Polls and surveys have found that men and young drivers are much more likely to tailgate. Many people may think that tailgating is not actually a driving offence, but in fact it can fall under ‘inconsiderate’ or careless driving and the police can pull you over and give you an on-the-spot fine. Using the wrong lane on a roundabout and not signalling correctly are other examples of minor offences that can result in a fine if you are caught and pulled over.

Safety is key when driving and many of the laws and regulations are intended to keep people safe while they are in a car. Another common driving offence is running traffic lights, i.e. driving through a red light. This can be highly dangerous as you could effectively be driving directly into the path of a car coming from a different direction. If you are caught committing a traffic light offence it could result in a fine up to £1,000, a discretionary disqualification or 3 points on your licence. Similarly being stopped by police for not wearing a seatbelt can involve an on-the-spot fine of £60 and a maximum fine of £500 is prosecuted. Seatbelts are there to keep you safe – if you are in a crash, whether it is your fault or not, you are twice as likely to die if you are not wearing one.

Image by Evelyn Simak
Other driving offences that many people commit on their day-to-day journeys may be surprising. A high proportion of these people do not even consider what they are doing to be illegal or problematic because so many other people do it all the time. Consuming food or drink, doing your makeup or even changing a CD while you are driving can all fall under ‘dangerous driving’ if you are avoidably distracted and not in control of the vehicle. Even playing loud music, in some circumstances, can be seen as a distraction to both you and other drivers.

More surprising driving offences include flashing your headlights to warn other drivers of speed traps and using your horn. If you flash your headlights to warn another car of a speed trap then you could be prosecuted for impeding a police officer in the course of their duty. Warning other drivers in this way is, however, only a crime if the police can prove the car you were warning was speeding. It is also an offence to use your horn when your car is stationary or if you are driving in a built up area between 11.30pm and 7am. You should also not sound your horn in an aggressive manner. You can even be pulled over if your number plate is too dirty or obscured and if you refuse to rectify it then you can be fined or prosecuted.

Many people will be quick to claim that they are a good driver but on closer inspection they may actually be committing minor or more serious driving offences on a regular basis. If you have been caught by the police and you need legal advice it may be useful to use the services of solicitors that specialise in motoring law and driving offences. It is important to stay safe, alert and in control when driving as you may be putting others at risk as well as yourself.

© Izzy Evans 2013

If you would like to find out more information or get legal advice then you should visit motor law and driving offence solicitors.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

6 Houses & Parks To Visit in Surrey

England is a popular tourist destination with visitors flocking from all around the world to see the sights, culture and history. There were over 31 million visits to the United Kingdom in 2012, with a large proportion choosing to visit London. There is no denying that London, as the capital city, has a great deal to see and do, but other areas of the country should not be overlooked. The county of Surrey is located just to the South of London, in easy reach for those staying in accommodation in the capital, and has a variety of things to see and do. There are a number of historic houses and gardens and a number of beautiful parks in Surrey that should not be missed on a trip to England. Here are six of the best houses and parks to visit in Surrey.

Polesden Lacey is a large Edwardian house and estate that is near Dorking in Surrey. It is managed and run by the National Trust; an organisation dedicated to protecting and preserving cultural and environmental places, and is one of their most popular houses. The house has fantastic views across Surrey and there are gardens that you can explore in any season. The property has some lovely Edwardian interiors and is also home to an extensive collection of art and ceramics. The house was home to Dame Margaret Greville who was well known in the Edwardian period as a society hostess who threw celebrated gatherings and events. Members of the royal family were often her guests; she was close to Queen Mary and left all her jewels to the Queen Mother.
Those looking for something more modern should not miss a visit to the Sculpture Park. Hidden away at the edge of the village of Churt in Surrey this mysterious park is home to 600 sculptures. The park was established in 2003 and features sculptures in a wide variety of styles. The collection includes sculptures from ‘deceased luminaries’ and ‘prestigious living artists’. There are four colour coded trails that you can follow to discover the different pieces. This ten-acre park set in a woodland arboretum is a must see for anyone interested in art and sculpture. There are surprises throughout the park, with some of the sculptures hidden in the trees.
Loseley Park is manor house that was built in the 16th century and can be found outside Guildford in Surrey. The estate came into the hands of the direct ancestors of the More-Molyeneux family in the 16th century and is still owned by the family today. The story goes that the new house was built to replace a smaller one which was deemed by Elizabeth I as not ‘adequate’ for her to visit. There are a number of impressive pieces to see in the manor house. You can see panelling from Henry VIII’s, now ruined, Nonsuch Palace, George IV’s coronation chair and one of the few paintings of Anne Boleyn. You can also explore the walled garden that was based on a design by Gertrude Jekyll. The garden has a number of ‘rooms’ each with a different theme, these include the Rose Garden, the White Garden and the Flower Garden.
A more intriguing and mysterious place to visit in Surrey is Silent Pool. Silent Pool is a spring fed lake close to the North Downs. The pool was a popular place to visit in the Victorian period and has remained something of an attraction to visitors to the area. The pool gives off a slightly eerie feeling, possibly due to the stillness of the water. There are, however, many different species of aquatic life that you can spot, including the kingfisher. Adding to the intrigue of the area is a local legend that Prince John, while out riding, came across a woodcutter’s daughter bathing in the pool. He attempted to lure her out of the water but when she did not comply he rode his horse into the water. The girl fled to deeper waters where she drowned. It is said that the ghost of the maiden can be seen at midnight.
Clandon Park is an 18th century Palladian mansion located in West Clandon just outside Guildford. The house was built in c.1730 for the Onslow family and has stunning interiors which include the spectacular Marble Hall. As well as taking in the period interiors you can also visit Hinemihi, the only historic Maori meeting house in the UK. Hinemihi is in the grounds of Clandon Park and was brought back from New Zealand in the 1890s by the 4th Earl of Onlsow as a reminder of his time as Governor. The Surrey Infantry Museum is also located in Clandon Park. You can discover what life was like for soldiers fighting in wars throughout the centuries – including the Crimean War, Boer War, the First World War and the Second World War. Clandon Park also has some beautiful gardens and a collection of 18th century furniture and porcelain.
Finally, you should also make a visit to Claremont Landscape Garden. This beautiful park is found just outside of Esher and is one of the prime examples of English Landscape Garden design. With work on the garden beginning in 1715 it is also one of the earliest surviving English Landscape Gardens. Many well-known historical landscape gardeners, such as Capability Brown, Charles Bridgeman and William Kent, worked on the gardens. You can discover the turfed amphitheatre, the grotto, Camellia Terrace and the Thatched Cottage. You can also play with the miniature replica of the nine-pin bowling alley that was made for the Duke of Newcastle. The garden is also home the Beldevere Tower, which was also designed for the Duke of Newcastle (who was later the Prime Minister). The garden is now under the stewardship of the National Trust and is well worth a visit.

© Izzy Evans 2013

If you are in the Surrey area and looking for legal advice then you can visit Mundays who are Surrey Solicitors.

Image Credit:
1. The Lake, Claremont Landscape Garden - Ian Capper
2. Polesden Lacey - Martin Dawes
4. Loseley House - Colin Smith
5. Silent Pool - Colin Smith
6. Clandon House - Murraypaul
7. Beldevere at Claremont Landscape Garden - Andy Potter