Celebrate Compton Phone Box

Drive down the B3000 through the pretty Surrey village of Compton and you’ll see an iconic red telephone box…with a difference!

Over the past couple of years the Compton Phone Box has become near world famous for its witty and poignant decorations which remind us of the good things in life!

The phone box was decommissioned many years ago and gradually rusted until it was restored by a villager. Rather than have it do nothing except remind us of the past, a couple of creative locals – led by the utterly brilliant Chris Sharples – decided to use the box as a catalyst for something more innovative and fun by decorating it in all sorts of different ways. 

What started out as a bit of frivolous fun to celebrate the royal wedding of Harry and Meghan in 2019 has turned into a magical way to celebrate and honour what binds us as a local community, a nation, and humanity. Covering local issues to national events and culture, the phone box has gathered somewhat of a cult following! Even RuPaul has been immortalised in the phone box and the real Ru has tweeted about the phenomenon!

I recently had the opportunity to have a chat with Chris – the brains and brawn behind the phone box. Chris and Jon have lived in the village for many years and have been actively involved in all sorts of different pursuits to bring the community together.

It’s no surprise that the fusion of art and community has taken hold in modern day Compton. Historically, the village has been a thriving community with the arts at it’s heart. For over 100 years the historic Watts Gallery and Artists Studios and many local artists such as the late potter Mary Wondrausch have been opening their doors to art lovers from across the world.

Chris told me that he still doesn’t understand why the phone box has been so successful. The power of Instagram (@comptonphonebox) has helped coupled with the fact that it’s universally accessible and yet totally random! But more than that, it’s a unique way to celebrate life…and uniqueness always stands out!

The box has given Chris and his team a fun way to have a bit of mischief and have some good fun celebrating the rich fabric of humanity. 

It takes a heck of a lot of work to create a theme for the phone box and then put it all together. Iin doing so this little box has strengthened a sense of community and I’m not sure what we’d do without this ray of sunshine now! 

At the time of writing the following themes have graced the phone box:

  • Royal Weddings and Births

  • The World Cup

  • Remembrance Day

  • Christmas and Easter

  • Valentine’s Day

  • Chinese New Year

  • St Davids, St Patricks and St Georges Day

  • Red Nose Day

  • Burns Night

  • Dutch Kings Day

  • May Day

  • Glastonbury

  • Pride

  • Halloween and Day of the Dead

  • Panto

  • World AIDS Day

  • Chelsea Flower Show (and Plant Exchange)

  • Strictly 

  • Captain Tom 

  • The Statue of Liberty

My personal favourites have been the FABULOUS Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK and Day of the Dead! 

Not only have special days in the calendar being celebrated, but local charities and events have been recognised. The Meath Charity, Shooting Star Hospice, Watts Gallery, and Godalming Food Bank have all benefitted from their stories being told visually. 

More recently, the phone box has doubled as a Godalming Food Bank drop-off point. Every Sunday afternoon we pop by the phone box to drop off our weekly donation of food. I can’t think of a better way to support and honour our local community during these challenging times.

Surrey Artists Open Studios and Compton Fete have also been featured as well as the delicious Thai Kitchen Compton – a local pop up cooking phenomenal takeaway Thai food every weekend!

In particular, over the last year the phone box has bought a huge amount of joy and positivity in the darkest of times. It has cheered us up, reminded us that it will get better and it’s been an opportunity to honour our NHS carers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. 

This little red phone box has had a massive impact on more than just the local community. It’s a focal point when passing through the village and has brought joy and laughter to countless people. It’s a unique way to celebrate all that is good in the world. Long may it continue. 

On this, Valentine’s Day, a new theme has been unveiled with a nod to Stevie Wonder’s iconic song…I Just Called to Say…’ If you’re passing through Compton, I invite you to stop by the phone box and take a peek at the latest creation. 

What more can each of us do to honour and celebrate life and love?!

1 Comment

  1. Chris Sharples on February 14, 2021 at 7:12 am

    Thanks Mirranda, I think that’s the best written article about the phonebox
    Thanks for taking the time to get it I print x
    PS John is Jon ( he’s funny about that ! Xx)

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