Surrey Quiz Trail
Explore Your Area’s History This Summer With Surrey Quiz Trail!
From famous visitors to Epsom to the caves beneath Dorking town centre…
Elizabeth Foster teamed up with a friend she met 30 years ago to investigate the hidden secrets of the villages and towns of Surrey.
It all began in the 80s at Epsom Hospital, when two young women started work on the same day.
Liz Foster and Petrina Banfield, both in their twenties, were tasked with running the accounts of the newly opened private wing, as well as safekeeping the personal items of patients coming into the hospital.
“Elderly people in particular worried about leaving items of value at home when they came into hospital,” explains Liz, “so they’d often bring everything they owned in with them. One day Petrina and I were called to A&E to take possession of a large amount of cash that an elderly lady had hidden in her underwear – we counted over £2000!”
The pair shared lots of giggles while working together, and they particularly loved their lunch breaks, when they would wander around the town or over the Downs; they loved the beauty and history of the place.
They remained friends throughout their years of raising children and continued going on long walks through the Surrey countryside, but it was during lockdown that Liz finally found time to indulge her lifelong passion for local history. Putting her energies into researching the towns of Surrey and Kent, she decided to share some of the quirky things she found out, with others.
“That’s when I decided to write a Quiz Trail,” Liz explains. “And the feedback was so positive, I was driven to unearth more everyday wonders that are hiding in plain sight, ones we’re usually too busy to take notice of.
“When my children were young, we did what most of us do – took day trips, walked around the popular bit, had a bite to eat and perhaps an ice cream, then went home having had a lovely day out.
“But we never discovered much about the place we’d just visited. Who were the people of the past? What were the town stories? What went on there? Who was misbehaving?!”
Petrina, who has ghostwritten a number of books for others, recently joined Liz in her quest and there are now five Surrey trails available; Carshalton, Dorking, Epsom, Cheam and Kingston.
“We’re adding to the list regularly, and I’m learning so much,” says Petrina. “Who knew, for example, that John Logie Baird lived on Boxhill, one of his first broadcasts being transmitted from the top of the popular beauty spot to the Red Lion pub in Dorking High Street?! Or that Dorking has caves? Or that the founder of Wall’s sausages lived in Cheam and only decided to sell ice cream because sausages didn’t sell well in hot weather? Sausages became called bangers as during World War One there was a shortage of meat and so more water was added to the recipe. When cooking, this would cause them to burst their skins in a mini-explosion… hence they became known as bangers!”
Did you know that Epsom has tunnels? “Deep underground near the Ashley Road area are tunnels that were built during World War II. Locals were advised in 1942 to ‘bring wraps or thick overcoats’ if sheltering in the tunnel.”
What about Samuel Pepys? He visited the Epsom well in 1667, and “drank the water,” later going to the King’s Head public house. There’s also a regular coach service from London that was set up in 1684 to allow city dwellers to experience the fresh springs of Epsom.
Petrina shares, “George Harrison married Pattie Boyd at the Epsom Registry Office in 1966, with Paul McCartney as best man. Quite a crowd gathered that day… eight years later Pattie got together with George’s friend, Eric Clapton”.
“Don’t forget that Surrey has a flag,” adds Liz. “I lived in Surrey for decades and raised my family there, but I never knew that the county has a flag!”
Liz wanted to make sure that her trails are available for all to enjoy, so one of her priorities was to make sure the routes are accessible for wheels – buggies, prams and wheelchairs.
The Quiz Trails include questions for children and adults, and there is a yearly prize draw they can enter as well.
“Surrey is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the country, and some of the most historic, iconic buildings too,” says Liz, “but it’s the people behind the walls we’re most interested in. What was everyday life like for them? What were their secrets? What legacy did they leave behind?”
Quiz Trail is a printed souvenir keepsake showing a circular self-guided trail aimed at sharing interesting history about Surrey towns.
The trails are written in an easy-to-read magazine style, bringing to life days gone by.
Perfect for summer days out, trails range from 1-2 miles and take 1-2 hours.
Quiz Trail is available to buy online, or from a local shop – see www.quiztrail.co.uk for details.