Shere is claimed by many to be the prettiest village in Surrey, a claim which cannot be denied. It certainly has its fair share of old houses and cottages dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The crystal clear waters of the Tillingbourne River flow through the village adding further to the charm of the place.
Shere is listed in the Domesday Survey of 1086 as 'Essire' and the village may take its name from what was probably an earlier name for the Tillingbourne - 'scir' meaning in Old English 'bright'. The name is recorded as 'Sire' in 1229, 'Scyre' in 1235 and 'Shere' in 1462.
Shere was held by King William himself at the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086. Gomshall nearby was a separate manor in Domesday but it was also held by the king. Shere is listed as having two mills and Gomshall one. A church is also recorded at Shere and the present medieval church of St James has features dating from the Norman period. It is fortunate that the church was only lightly restored by a little-known architect, S.Weatherley, and a vestry added in 1895. The lychgate was designed by the famous architect, Edwin Lutyens, in 1901. Shere was divided into four manors in the medieval period, with two in Shere itself and two in Gomshall. The Bray family became landholders in Shere from 1486 and eventually acquired all four manors. They continue as lords of the manors to this day.
The railway came to the area when the South Eastern Railway's station at Gomshall was opened as 'Gomshall and Shere' in 1849. Fortunately, for the preservation of this beautiful part of Surrey, the railway had little effect on the area. H.E.Malden, writing in the 'Victoria County History of Surrey' put it succinctly when he noted that 'happily the presence of the Duke of Northumberland's seat at Albury Park, and the wise action of other local landowners, have operated to keep the speculating builder at arm's length'.
It was the coming of motor car that was to prove to be much more of a problem for the long-term preservation of the village's attractions. By the mid-1930s, when most of the burgeoning middle class had acquired cars, the narrow streets of Shere would grind to a halt during summer weekends, such was the village's popularity. Fortunately, Shere was provided with a bypass in 1960, but it continues to be the destination of many motorists, cyclists and walkers, particularly at weekends.