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• Introduction

• History
• The Godalming

• The Wey

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• Introduction

• Lock
• Barges
• Life on the

• The Horse-
drawn IONA

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• Introduction

• Watermills
• Flour & Bread
• Fulling & Cloth
• Chilworth

• Charcoal

• Brewing
• Papermaking
• Ice Houses
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• Introduction

• Habitats
• Trees & Plants
• Insects
• Birds
• Fish
• Countryside

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• Introduction

• More About

• More About

• More About

• More About

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• Introduction

• Legends
• The Big Names
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• Introduction

• Boat Art
• Inn Art
• River Graffiti
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• Basingstoke

• Wey & Arun

• The Thames
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We welcome
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More About
Farnham, Surrey

Farnham is an old market town on the River Wey with narrow streets lined with some of the finest Georgian architecture to be seen in the south of England. Situated midway between London and the influential Church diocese of Winchester ensured that the town benefited from becoming an important staging post under the control of powerful Bishops for 800 years.


click for a smile!


The ten most expensive roads based on house prices in the Farnham area are:
Bacon Lane, Churt
Monks Wells, Farnham
Temples Close, Farnham
Compton Way, Farnham
Bournewood Park, Lower Bourne
Hogs Back, Seale
Littleworth Road, Seale
Swingate Road, Farnham
Crooksbury Road, Farnham

And the ten cheapest are:
Riverside Park Ind Estate, Farnham
Coxbridge Meadow, Farnham
Leaway, Badshot Lea
The Ferns, Farnham
Sandy Hill Road, Farnham
St Marks Place, Farnham
Fairview Gardens, Farnham
Hillcrest, Farnham
Bearwood Cottages, Wrecclesham
Moore Close, Tongham
Source: ourproperty.co.uk, November 2006

Farnham property prices increased by 30% during 2007, the third highest in the southeast. timesonline.co.uk 28th December 2007

Specialist cycling shop WyndyMilla in Seale near Farnham were delighted when former racing driver Nigel Mansell and professional cyclist Magnus Backstedt chose to have their bicycles prepared by them for a charity John O'Groats to the Eiffel Tower ride (2012). Mansell is patron of charity UK Youth.

Waverley Borough Council arranges (2007) Walking for Health which are organised short walks beside the Wey and around the town. Every Tuesday 10.30am Brightwell's Gostrey Centre adjacent to Dogflud Way Car Park.. Duration: 40 minutes to one hour. 2 miles. 01483 523392

Farnham Pudding
Farnham 1875 Recipe
“3oz. Flour, half pint Milk, 3oz. Butter, 2oz. Loaf Sugar, 4 Eggs, 1 Teaspoon Essence Vanilla, ½ oz. chopped Candied Peel, mix the flour & milk perfectly smooth, add the butter & sugar & the slo boiling, add the Yolks each one separately beaten well, add the Vanilla. Whip thick the whites, mix well into Pudding, Butter a Mould, stick the peel to the bottom & sides; pour in mixed Puddin, a buttered paper on top, tie it up tight, put in a pan of boiling water to the middle of the mould, boil once, put it off the fire & simmer it for hour & half. Sauce rich milk with an egg beaten up in it and glass of wine heated, not boiled.” Old Surrey Receipts & Food for Thought. Daphne Grimm

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“I was a lad of ten when the war started. I had to do a lot of errands in those days and take my little sister everywhere. Sometimes we would travel five miles along the main road to our aunties just to have some supper because our parents were very busy working in the canteens.” – Surrey resident. Surrey Memories and Families at War. Michael Green

The opening battle scene from the film Gladiator (2000) starring Russell Crowe was filmed in Bourne Woods just outside Farnham. Also in Bourne Woods scenes from Golden Compass (2007) were filmed with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. The popular BBC1 comedy series written by David Croft and Jimmy Perry It Ain't Half Hot (1974 - 81) also used the woods for 'jungle' location scenes. A scene from popular ITV series Foyle's War starring Michael Kitchen was filmed in Farnham town centre.

Other screen appearances in and around Farnham include scenes shot for Mortimer & Reeves' Randall & Hopkirk Deceased (2001); ITV's Ultimate Force (2002) starring Ross Kemp; the BBC's drama series Red Cap; Children of Men (2006) starring Clive Owen and Michael Caine; and Gladiatress (2005), billed as 'an ourageous comedy' set in 55BC when the fate of Britain facing Roman invasion is left in the hands of three courageous female warriors. Many thanks to Linda Prince-Caspian for providing additional information 07.07

It seems that the shooting of a scene (March 2008) for the sixth Harry Potter film The Half-Blood Prince in an unnamed woodland location near Farnham didn't go totally to plan. Stars Daniel Radcliffe and Helen Bonham Carter were ushered off the set as security men did their utmost to capture two elusive male streakers. Shooting was interrupted on several occasions but the streakers were never caught. The following week shooting had to again stop when Farnham was hit by the severe storms that wreaked havoc throughout much of Britain. The film crew also struggled with fog machines that were intent on misfunctioning. Shooting is due to finish in May 2008 with release later in the year.



At Charleshill near the river midway between Tilford and Elstead stands a small pub called The Donkey. The name commemorates the donkeys that were kept here to help the horses and carts drag their way up the steep hill that runs by the inn, and provided extra income for the landlord many generations ago. There is a modern play area outside which apparently is haunted by a donkey that was beaten to death by its cruel owner. There used to be a tethering ring on the wall there which was always stubbornly avoided by all the living donkeys.

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"The grass - acres, miles of it - was always there and always a source of sheer bliss. It was a clean green play ground with room in it for thousands. We sprawled on it as a cushion bed, sat down on it where we chose, rolled over and over down its hollows, in jolly laughing safety." Of Farnham Park : George Sturt, writer 1860s


" I arrived at The Bush in Farnham last night and sat down in the bar to catch up with emails. The bar in this 18th Century coaching house is dimly lit and looks very cosy - but I cannot see the keyboard of my laptop. I consider retiring back to my room but don’t want the isolation just now. I want the steady buzz of people coming and going - sometimes that helps. Each table has a blue glass bottle with a candle flame burning. I reach to move the glass bottle and burn my fingers on the glass. No big surprise you dummy - but I still think it’s a bit of a hazardous device. Reaching for my handkerchief, I slowly move the candle around the back of my laptop and carry on working. A half hour later I realise that the candle has melted the top of my beautiful silver Vaio." Chris Barrow Business Coach Blog November 2006


25 species of butterfly have been recorded in Farnham Park. In the heat of summer it's quite common to see clouds of Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns and Ringlets. Other species include Purple Hairstreak, which take some spotting as they tend to stay in the top branches of the many oak trees in the park, and Orange Tips whose caterpillars feed on the Ladies Smock flower in May.

Harvey Hoyte-Bone from Farnham miraculously survived a balcony fall (2011) from a seven-storey apartment in Majorca.

"This young man was protected by a saint. He had a miracle escape," said a Palma Nova police officer. "His fall from the seventh-floor terrace was broken first by a sunshade on a lower balcony. Then he crashed into a palm tree."

"He is the toughest bloke I know. He is very strong," said one of rugby-playing Hoyte-Bone's friends. dailymail.co.uk 12th July 2011

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Farnham Park saw hundreds of Parliamentary troops billeted there during the English Civil War. The castle had fallen to Cromwell and the troops had been brought in to defend it. In 1643 the Royalists ammassed an 8,000 strong force and attacked the castle. King Charles I's troops were routed after a cannon bombardment followed by a series of cavalry skirmishes in the park.

A health alert was sparked in Farnham when a pupil at All Hallows Catholic School was diagnosed (June 2011) as having tuberculosis. All 168 of the 11 to 18-year-old pupils and staff were tested for the highly infectious disease, but which can be effectively treated.

Farnham Park

“Farnham's lovely. A bit like Harrogate but a little less developed. It's full of nice people, nice well dressed well behaved children and most importantly, no Codheads in sight. Of course, the only problem is that I can't even afford a garden shed down there, so that's that little idea scuppered. Never mind. Nice place anyway." Blogger: Beer & Loathing - Shadey Mike November 2006

"As someone who moved abroad in 1986, I often miss Farnham. Actually compared to Atlanta it rocks. Trying to remember some of the characters and places of those days. The Nelson was the main hangout along with the coach which always had great characters. Landlord Nick and his wife Dici, old hippies like Bob the Hat, punks like Septic etc. Coffee on Sat lunch time at Quails, Mad Eric who hated it when we barked at him, Mad Maggie standing at the kerb for hours. The William Cobbett and the pool room upstairs. The Lion and Lamb with landlord Ray. Total Video on South Street. The list goes on.......... Love to remeber those days, must be getting older :-)." Blogger: Rob Kemp 6th February 2007

Latin prayer and chantings have been reported at St Andrews Church at unearthly hours and occasional sightings of an elderly woman dressed in grey strolling through the graveyard, only to disappear as mysteriously as she had appeared.

Farnham Library is housed in the Elizabethan Vernon House where Charles I was briefly held by Parliamentary troops in 1649 before being escorted to London for his execution. Local lore claims that this is the last resting place for his restless ghost.

Farm buildings in Seale near Farnham have been converted (2006) into an environmentally friendly office complex serviced by a biomass heating system. A single giant stove is fed by woodchip collected from the farm's estate, the first time this system has been applied to a commercial office site. Shoelands Farm's granary, dairy, stables and malthouse now provides office space for small businesses who in turn provide employment in a rural area, an initiative supported by government planning principles which encourages diversification of the rural economy.

"But my best (funniest) moment of the week was in Zizzi’s restaurant, Farnham on Thursday evening. A couple of very English ladies sat down at the next table and in the best “Queen’s English” were chatting over the wine list. Their Eastern European waiter arrived to take a drinks order. 'Is the Chardonnay oaky?' One of the ladies asked. 'Yeah - it’s OK' he replied, completely straight faced. I nearly spat my fusilli out." Blogger Chris Barrow 23rd January 2007

"Back when Farnham's Redgrave was still open, I saw more plays there as a child than I can remember right now: The Snow Queen, The Worst Witch, several pantomimes...I completely took for granted, as a child, how lucky I was to have a theatre right there. And now it's gone. And it's not as if I grew up and became appreciate of local arts all of a sudden: The Maltings is a wonderful venue for music, performance and visual arts, film, and coffee. I did ballet there for 10 years, I saw films, I went to some weird pseudo nightclub-type thing when I was in college, and my parents have held exhibits there many times. But I always felt bored by it and didn't want to be there. Only now, looking at the website and getting a stab of nostalgia at the pictures, do I realise how lucky I am to still have that in my home town." Blogger: Bee in Albuquerque 17th February 2007

Farnham Castle's long history inevitably attracts ghost hunters who claim a clutch of supernatural residents. These include a ghostly monk, children dressed for times-past running along the Great Hall's upper balcony and ghostly whisperings there too. A soldier who died from gunshot wounds to his face is said to induce facial aching for anyone visiting the cellar where he spent his final moments. All accompanied by the frolicking of a young girl on the stairs where she had fatally tripped, a shadowy presence in the old guardroom and the haunting tolling of a bell long removed from the keep.

June 2nd (2007) is World Petanque Day when clubs will be holding celebratory games in the UK and 70 countries on 5 continents. Over 150 petanque enthusiasts will gather for the English Petanque Triples Championship at the Crondall Petanque Club, Mill Lane, Crondall near Farnham in Surrey. Source: Voice PR 18th May 2007

A survey carried out by The Farnham Society in 2005 revealed that Farnham fell into the category of a 'clone town'.

This survey was in response to research carried out by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) which assessed a number of British towns for their 'clone' status - the suffocation of once-distinctive and attractive towns by chain shops resulting in the loss of character and retail outlet variety. 50 shops were surveyed along The Borough, Farnham's main shopping street, and following NEF's formula Farnham scored 18.8 where 5 - 25 indicated a clone town; 26 - 35 borderline; and 36 - 60 independently-owned shops predominate.

On a wider survey of 244 shops including West Street, East Street and Downing Street, the town scored 33, classifying it as borderline. This survey revealed that Farnham's mix of retail was 15% clothing; 10% restaurant/takeway outlets; 9% household; 7% estate agents; 7% hairdressers.

"Farnham was a very pleasant surprise. A bit of exploration revealed lots of wonderful countryside on the doorstep - heathland walks nearby, hills and hangars in East Hampshire, and walking back to Farnham along the North Downs Way after a bus-ride to Guildford. And my decision to worship at my local parish church turned out very well. Anglicanism was very new to me after decades of non-conformist churchmanship, but I found that I relished the liturgy and music at St Thomas, and made some good friends in my new church community." Nimrods Blogspot 3rd May 2007

"Farnham Castle, of which I am president is a wonderful 12th century castle dedicated to intercultural briefing. For years, it was dedicated to training British expats going overseas to work in different parts of the world. It has reinvented its mission and is now involved in briefing people coming to this country. Farnham castle has run four excellent pilot programmes for teachers of English as a second language." Virginia Bottomley MP South West Surrey. Hansard. April 2004

"Mondays are school days. I am volunteering at a school in Farnham, More House. It’s an independent Catholic boy’s school for kids with severe speech and language (and other) issues. This week I was in the learning development centre, and also helped in a science class and a maths class. I never thought I’d see the day where I was teaching multiplication (and long multiplication at that) and children would understand me. It amazes me – some of these kids can’t spell their own names (or read it for that matter) and yet when you ask them what is the first stage of the plant life cycle? “Germination Miss”. Some of them are delightful; some of them are little horrors." Blogger: Clare 16th May 2007

"My latest trip out was to Hogs Back Brewery Shop. The brewery can be found in the village of Tongham, just off the A31 Farnham to Guildford road. The road is called the Hogs Back!

"The brewery was born on August 4th 1992, and has grown pretty rapidly since then and has met with pretty decent success culminating in its 9% barley wine: A over T, winning CAMRA's Champion Winter Beer of Britain in 2006. I have followed Hogs Back's success from the start as the brewery is situated just a few miles from my place of birth.

"They have built up a huge reputation in their neighbourhood with their beers guesting all over the Surrey/Hampshire borders area, and, of course, beyond. I would certainly recommend going there if in the vicinity, and if you live local, to support them by buying their draught ales. For me it's an extra excuse to go visit my family who still live nearby." Maeib's Beerblog 12th June 2007

"A simple observation on life in the UK health service these days. My wife works as a hospice Doctor at the wonderful Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice in Farnham. Its a charity rather than an NHS concern (NHS donate just 15% of funds).

" I mention that because by comparison to our maternity ward at St. Peter's, Chertsey, where you would expect a wealth of people to be overwhelmed with joy for their new family member, you have instead a pretty miserable, bitter place that to be honest is far less preferable to her hospice where people are sadly in their final days but couldn't be in a brighter happier place. How strange." Blogger: Dinosaur Thing - Joe Little 13th July 2007

A Farnham vet has undertaken (July 2007) a revolutionary operation to successfully attach an artificial paw to a dog. The procedure enables skin to successfully grow into the metal to provide a resilient seal. Veterinary surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick is hoping that the breakthrough will have major implications for humans with false limbs.

"Because it has been implanted into the radius of the forearm of the dog, it will act as a model for human amputees in the future and provides hope for people without feet or hands. It will have major implications for amputees,” said Mr Fitzpatrick. Source: Daily Express 15th July 2007

The Busman's Lord's Prayer, allegedly recited by British bus drivers:

Our Farnham, who art in Hendon
Harrow be Thy name.
Thy Kingston come; thy Wimbledon,
In Erith as it is in Hendon.
Give us this day our daily Brent
And forgive us our Westminster
As we forgive those who Westminster against us.
And lead us not into Thames Ditton
But deliver us from Yeovil.
For Thine is the Kingston, the Purley and the Crawley,
For Esher and Esher.
Crouch End.

Greg Ross - Futility Closet
17th July 2007

The Hop Blossom pub in Farnham was voted as the brewer Fuller's Star Performer (July 2007) for the consistent quality of its pints of London Pride. The competition is open to all Fuller's pubs nationwide. Morning Advertiser 30th July 2007

The wet summer (2007) that has caused flooding through much of the English Midlands has created a headache for farmers in the Wey Valley too. The fields are proving too wet to harvest.

"Farnham grower Jason Butler was planning on trying to combine later today [27 July] when Harvest Highlights spoke to him this morning. “We’re just kicking our heels, itching our feet and watching the sky at the moment.”

"Yesterday had proved to be too wet to combine, he said. Currently he was around half way through his 280ha (700 acres) of oilseed rape at Penn Croft Farms, Farnham. Flotation tyres had been fitted to the combine to minimise any damage to soils."

Farmer Giles Porter of Penn Croft Farms at Crondall near Farnham managed to resume combining winter wheat and was working through the night to clear 20ha. “Wheat will be done and dusted with a week’s good weather,” he said. Source: Farmers Weekly Interactive 27th July 2007 / 17th August 2007

"Despite it being in the middle of stockbroker Surrey, Farnham has maintained its sleepy English market town feel. Behind the University (SIC) is a public footpath wandering through farmland and a small woodland. Arriving at 8.30am each morning, may guarantee a place in the student carpark, but it can be pretty boring as nothing opens until 9am, and teaching events normally start around 10. If I'm not catching up on work that I should have already done long ago, I often like to spend the gap time taking a walk up the footpath.

"This morning, I ventured out half expecting plastic tape or some irrate farmer blocking my way, warning me that the countryside had been closed down because of FMD (that is; Foot and Mouth Disease, to all those old enough to remember when every new thing didn't get reduced to initials, to be bandied about by the 'well informed'.) The way was clear however, and the disinterested gaze of grazing horses was the only acknowledgement of my presence." Blogger: Dom Carter 20th September 2007

"I didn't want to just go down to Majestic, and one friend, Steph, suggested I investigate English Wine. It's becoming more and more respected. So, a few minutes after the very phone call with Steph, I found myself on the Hog's Back; the road to Farnham from Guildford. On the road I saw the sign for Greyfriars (a lovely Voysey house a close friend of mine had lived in when we were children). Just beyond it I saw a sign for 'Greyfriars Vineyard' and a board saying 'Wine Tasting Today'. Too much of a coincidence for me to drive on so I popped in. I bought a couple of bottles and got the neighbourly focus group committee (my sister and her husband) round for a taste test. It was good." Blogger: Eloise Grey 23rd September 2007

In 1961 the Head of Music at Farnham Grammar School founded the Farnham Festival which has become a popular and high profile celebration of music for young people.Alan Fluck's vision now has 1,500 young people taking part in the biennial non-competitive festival through concerts and workshops.

Especially important has been the commissioning of new works for the festival, many of which have become long standing favourites performed around the world. These include Overture for Farnham by Alan Rawsthorne commissioned in 1967, Farnham Suite for String Orchestra (1983) by David Lyon and Richard Bennett’s Farnham Festival Overture (1965).

Students researching for a project to produce an image best representing their first impression of Farnham posted the following online:

An Elderly Couple.

1.They have lived in Farnham for 14 years.
2.Their first impression was of a market town.
3.The visual image he associated with Farnham was the castle. His wife said the attractiveness of the buildings, the view of them from the Wagon and Yard car park - the angles and colours of the roofs.

A Young(30's?) Member of the Church.

1.Lived in Farnham all his life.
2.He had returned from 2 months away and was shocked at how many changes had taken place and the amount of traffic.
3.The castle and the church were what he most associated with Farnham

Blogger: Tracy - Visual Farnham Representation 25th September 2007

The following blog from an American visitor staying in the Farnham area.

"The farm stand was more of a smaller sized grocery store, probably family owned and operated, with densely packed shelves on nearly every wall. The doorways were narrow and the displays littered with curiously worded signs. Here are a couple interesting ones I noticed: 'Please refrain from eating me. There's a camera watching can't you see.'; 'Pancake Day Tuesday 4th Feb ... don't forget - no chocolate for 40 days after!'

"The grocery store was, well, a grocery store. The one interesting thing I did notice however was a do-it-yourself system unlike anything I have seen in the U.S. It seemed that shoppers would register their information with the store on their initial visit, then pick up a barcode-scanner-mabob at the entrance of the store and basically check themselves out as they went along, scanning each item as they placed it in their basket. Genious? Or customer service nightmare? I suspect the latter." Blogger: Eric Baumann 21st January 2008

The long awaited review by Royal Mail of all of its post offices nationwide has brought bad news (January 2008) to two outlets locally. The post office in Station Hill, Farnham and that in Tilford looks set to close, the latter particularly bad news to this rural community. The review was the result of the post office network's massive and sustained losses with outlets in rural areas particularly targeted, and it is these areas where local people are more reliant.

The decision by Farnham Town Council to increase the rent (February 2008) for the 248 allotments (1) in eight sites around the town has met with anger from plot holders. The council has said it will increase rents by 100% to offset the annual cost to the council of £7,475, although plot holders say they can't determine what those costs are. Pitch forks at 40 paces . . . Source: farnhamallotments.co.uk 14th February 2007

The council provided an official response to explain their position and provide a break-down of costs.
The latter covered cost of materials including gates, fences and locks (£1,500), water utilities (£975) and staffing and overheads (£5,000). They explained that the allotments have to be self-funding and that the percentage increase only amounted to 2 pence per week per rod. Source: Farnham Town Council 20th February 2008

And to add insult to injury it appears that allotment holders are also having to contend with a determined contingent of brown rats:

"It appears that there is an abundance of rats (the brown rat) on most allotments. It is said that a rat is rarely more than a couple of meters away.It is almost impossible to eradicate them as they can breed throughout the year if conditions are suitable, a female producing up to five litters a year. Ii found that covering my compost heap with a piece of old carpet really accelerated the decomposition but unfortunately it also made a warm place for the rats to breed I have not seen one since I removed the covering." Source: farnhamallotments.co.uk 24th February 2008

(1) The system of allotments, of which plots tend to be 5 rods (an Anglo-Saxon measurement equivalent to 5.5 yards (5.03m) were first mentioned in the late 1500s when Elizabeth I had land set aside for the poor when huge swathes of the countryside were being enclosed to their detriment. Various Acts of Parliament followed in the 19th and 20th centuries further strengthening the provision of land for the poor to use for food cultivation. Allotments came into their own in WWII when they contributed 1.3m tonnes of food from 1.4m plots.

Allotment keepers have for some time shown a keen interest in setting up beehives on their allotments in and around Farnham to help both in their quest for self-sufficiency but also to aid the survival of our threatened native species. However approaches made (April 2009) to the town council have so far resulted in a refusal to allow any apiary to be undertaken on the allotments. The Farnham Allotment Association intends to continue canvassing the council who have promised to review their policy at sometime in the future.


With only £10 in her purse and no credit cards Stella Morris from Farnham succeeded in reaching a small fishing village in the North-West Highlands of Scotland. The challenge set by Surrey radio station The Eagle was to get as far as possible in 24 hours. The prize: a £10,000 wedding for the 'Runaway Bride'. Source: merrymedia.co.uk 18th February 2008

Make It and Mend It was set up in 2009 by a group of Farnham women to lobby for increased awareness as to the benefits of recycling. They have launched a website to promote the sharing of ideas and recycling of materials.

"You can create something that's unique and different and says something about you," said Hilary Bruffell. "We are not saying 'don't buy'. Buy something of quality. When you do throw it away, think about it and 'can I reuse it'." bbc.co.uk 26th January 2011

A local resident celebrated (2008) her 100th birthday at her home in the Riverside Court sheltered housing in Farnham. Catharine continues to cater for herself cooking her own meals, and never misses her weekly fitness classes. Lancashire-born Catharine has lived through two world wars and still remembers the last one extremely well.

"It wasn't scary. In Preston we could see the planes flying over to bomb Liverpool but it was the shortages and rationing that was really tough." Source: Making Waves Spring 2008 Waverley Borough Council

Farnham racing driver Josh Hill is the son of Formula 1 champion Damon Hill, and grandson of world champion Graham Hill. Hill Jnr is actively competing at international championship level. His father encouraged his competitive spirit on go-karts during his teens with his Formula Ford debut aged 19.

The prestigious Crufts Dog Show 2008 saw three local dogs pick up awards. A Brittany dog and a Rottweiler bitch, both from Farnham, won Best of Breed awards. In the Best Puppy categories (for dogs under one-year-old) a Spaniel dog from Elstead won the award for his group.

Perhaps too true to life - this casting call for actors appeared on castingcallpro.com in February 2008 for a film to be shot in Farnham.

"Writer/Director Stefano Margaritelli is casting for his upcoming University for Creative Arts 3rd Year Graduation Short titled ‘Small Boys.’ The story follows the lives of two brothers Darren and Tom. They thrive on the streets where stealing, drinking and damaging public property are commonplace. We follow their exploits to leave their stagnant, urban lives in the hope of starting a fresh in a foreign land. The obvious obstacle for the pair is raising the money which is needed, yet their juvenile manner and rocky past might be their ultimate undoing. Shooting will take place in Aldershot and Farnham from March 24th – 31st. Expenses and a copy of the film will be provided."

According to US magazine Gulf Coast Business Review, Farnham was a 'rough knuckles kind of town' a few decades ago.

"Paul Martin grew up in government-run public housing in Farnham, England, a rough knuckles kind of town southwest of London. He dropped out of school when he was 13. But Martin turned his life around. He learned a trade and became an electrician by the time he was 17. He ultimately ran a 300-employee business that rebuilt, refurbished and maintained office buildings and large residences. At one point, his firm ran facilities management at Windsor Castle, home of the Queen of England."

Martin was featured in the online magazine for his success in turning around a failed hotel in Sarasota County after spending over $6m. Bedrooms are named after stations in the London Underground, two function rooms are named individually 'Rolls' and 'Royce' for the reason that is apparent when they are joined to make a single ballroom, the restaurant is 'Morgans', and the hotel just had to be called 'Bentley's' of course.

"We didn't come here to only make money, sell it and walk away," Martin says. "We want to provide an experience." Source: review.net 13th April 2012

A Farnham vet was the first in Europe to implant a false metallic paw on a dog. The two-hour operation in 2007 successfully returned Storm, a Belgian shepherd, to full mobility. Noel Fitzpatrick's practice is based in Farnham and his vision for animal care has now expanded into a brand new £8m facility in nearby Eashing (Godalming) which specialises in referrals for animals suffering from severely debilitating conditions of their skeleton, spine or brain. And again another ground breaker for the pioneering vet as he has installed (February 2008) the UKs first direct digital radiography system for small animals at the centre.

Elvis has apparently been seen in the bushes of the Harry Potter set in Farnham.

"Chandler Bing said "I saw him when I was hiding in the bushes I'm quite a Daniel Radcliffe fan and was having my annual bush trip at which I hide in the bushes on set in the hope of catching a glance of the boy wizard, when I spotted this other person, at first I thought it was a general person, but then I realized it was Elvis so I screamed 'Love Me Tender' at the top of my voice and then I don't know what happened to Elvis because I got kicked out by armed SAS men."

"Chandler Bing told his story to police but was taken to a nearby mental institute thought to be mad. We ourselves believe Mr Bing and will be doing everything in our power to track down the king
." Sophie Jayne thespoof.com 22nd March 2008

A word of advice for those who want to walk from Farnham to Guildford. I did get to do the eleven miles between Farnham and Guildford today. This time I was solo, and with a 25 minute lunch break managed to do it in four hours fifteen minutes." Blogger: whitespider1066 29th March 2008

Farnham company Bright Bricks built a scaled-down version of Basing House in Hampshire (March 2012) using 160,000 LEGO bricks. Duncan Titmarsh, who has also constructed a giant handbag for Ospreys of London and was advisor to James May's Toy Stories TV series LEGO full-sized house, took six weeks to construct the oversize model for Milestones museum. The model will eventually be housed in the real Basing House near Basingstoke.

Sir Ray Tindle, the wealthy newspaper magnate, has his headquarters in The Old Court House in Union Road Farnham.

Tindle launched his first newspaper with £300 demob money he received as a soldier at the close of WWII and today owns 225 local newspaper titles ranking Tindle Newspapers in the Top Ten of biggest UK publishers. He is the sole shareholder of the group today with a £50m annual turnover. The Farnham Herald is one of the titles owned by Tindle.

Farnham residents took to the streets (February 2012) to protest against large lorries driving through the town centre, which Waverley Borough Council has nominated as an 'air quality management area' in 2008, along with Godalming and Hindhead.

"We have a huge amount of traffic going through the town because we have two 'A' roads that actually meet in the centre of the town," said protester Stephen Cochrane. "We have a medieval layout that means narrow streets, buildings right on the pavement. We also suffer because there is a level-crossing in the town as well. We're in the basin of a valley, so pollution gathers in the town and is a problem." bbc.co.uk 2nd March 2012


"In days gone by, it was not uncommon to see a farmer drop his trousers and pants and
sit down on the soil.  If the soil was not too cold, the farmer knew it was time to grow his crop. If you want to avoid misunderstandings with fellow allotment holders, you are better off trying this old trick with your bare elbow." Source: Farnham Allotments Newsletter April 2008

Farnham resident Zofia Lovell has highlighted (May 2008) the growing problem of property companies targeting houses with large gardens for development. Existing residential plots, classified as 'brownfield' and therefore subject to more relaxed planning controls, have been snapped up in her locale along Waverley Lane and since 2004 Lovell has noticed a significant change in the demographics of her neighbours due to what the press have dubbed 'garden grabbing'.

Many of the newly-built properties are flats that are let on short rentals or are used as bolt-holes for expats living abroad. One 1920s property, 54 Waverley Lane, was sold to developers for £2m in 2007 for demolition and replacement with 15 apartments which were to be marketed at around £500,000 each. Source: Ross Clark - Daily Mail 9th May 2008

British Telecom (BT) has submitted (May 2008) a list of payphones that it intends to take out of service due to them no longer being financially viable. Citing 99% of homes having a landline and a 85% having a mobile phone as the cause, many of the street phones are the traditional red boxes. The council fearful that the loss of the traditional boxes will have a negative impact on the local heritage has canvassed public opinion before responding to BT.

Phones for removal in Guildford include those in Lower Weybourne Lane; Frensham Road; Upper Hale Road; Hale Road; Old Frensham Road; Burnt Hill Road; Farnborough Road; Applelands Close and two booths in Frensham.

The highly successful British Formula 3 racing teams run by Carlin motorsports decided to consolidate their development facilities and chose Farnham (July 2011) as the location. The decision coincided with Carlin's 200th race victory. All of their teams engineering and fabrication are now housed in a new purpose-built unit in Coxbridge Business Park just off the A31 Alton Road. The group previously had its HQ in Aldershot and factory in Chessington.

The former Olympic hurdler Peter Hildreth has at the age of 80 been banned (July 2008) from running the wrong way up the escalators at Elphick's department store in Farnham. Hildreth, who represented Great Britain in the Games of 1952, 1956 and 1960 said he wanted to prove to his friends that he was still fit. MORE HERE

"I walked back to Wrecclesham along Gardener's Hill Road. It's a lovely walk, and feels a million miles away from the busyness of nearby Farnham and the A31.

"However, I became more and more aghast at the state of the litter along both sides of the road. I don't know how many times I've driven along it without noticing, but there a million (obviously I exaggerate, but only slightly) plastic bottles, newspapers, sweet wrappers, shopping bags, drinks cans and other throwaway society items, scattered continuously in the ditches and below the hedges.

"So, I thought I'd book some time in my diary to go down there and do some litter picking. I suppose it's arguable that 'someone else' should do it, or that we pay enough taxes. But, I know that those arguments don't really end up with quick action, and in the meantime the situation will simply get worse." Blogger: Mike Causey - Wrecclesham & Rowledge Borogh Councillor 30th August 2008

A 21-year-old enthusiastically sprayed his graffitti tag onto a ramp at the skatepark in Farnham (June 2009), only to be arrested minutes later. Unbeknown to him the person standing next to him was an off-duty police officer.

"The arrest was made in front of around 40 other young people who were using the skate park at the time so I hope they get the message that police in Farnham will not tolerate such acts of vandalism to the town," said Sgt Davis bbc.co.uk 28th June 2009

"Last week the ‘girls’ turned up. I couldn’t have picked two more dis-functional chickens. Barbara is a bully, and Margo, the younger one, is scared of everything! On the Saturday after picking up our weekly FLFI box of veg, we decided to have a BBQ to welcome the chickens. This weeks bounty comprised two freshly picked cobs of sweetcorn, which I am told are best cooked straight from the plot. There were also some amazing courgettes which we cut into thin slices and marinated in garlic and olive oil. These were set to be ‘griddled’ on the BBQ. Cherry tomatoes and various other veg were then skewered and turned into kebabs. Unfortunately, by the time we had lit the BBQ and finished cooking the mountains of produce, our hosts had rather rudely taken themselves off to bed." Farnham Food Initiative 26th August 2008 MORE HERE

Local MP Jeremy Hunt highlighted the success of one of his Farnham constituents, Rachel Morris, at the Conservative party conference (September 2008). Excerpt of his speech.

"As a young girl she had dreamt of competing in the Olympics. Then she thought it was all over when she lost both legs in a tobogganing accident.

"But she didn’t give up. She built up the strength in her arms by playing wheelchair basketball. Eventually that led her to the Parlaympics, where two and half weeks ago she won a gold medal in hand-cycling.

"By doing that she inspired not just her own family, but every single young person in Farnham, the town she comes from." Source: www.jeremyhunt.org 2nd October 2008

An allotment holder on the Six Bells grew (2008) the largest pumpkin of all of Farnham's six allotment sites with his whopper measuring 117 cms (46 ins) around the circumference. Paul Croucher though still needs to find out the secret of the UK record holder in the new Forest whose giant pumpkin weighed in at 104 stone this year.

After a six-year legal battle a terrace of four houses erected without planning permission was demolished by the owner. Waverley Council applauded the demolition of the houses at Old Park Lane in Farnham as an example of why attempts to build and retrospectively apply for permission are simply not clever. The owner, to avoid a fine of £120,000, also has to remove all the rubble and restore the plot to grassland. Don’t mess with the council!

"Farnham will surprise you.  Just an hour’s drive from London, on modern high speed roads, take the turning and you enter a different world." Blogger: Dulverton Ramblings 2nd November 2008

A world record attempt was made on 11th November 2008 to tattoo 450 people with a poppy to mark Remembrance Day. The existing record is 415 people in 24 hours. The tattooist Max Chambers made the attempt at his Maximum Image studio in Farnham but on the day sadly only achieved 300 - although he did raise over £3,000 for the Royal British Legion and Army Benevolent Fund.

Early trials of a ground breaking new treatment for stroke sufferers are showing exceptional promise if a new 'teabag' devised by scientists at a Farnham company proves to provide longterm benefits. An operation on a 49-year-old man from Germany, in which a CellBeads teabag-like sachet was stitched temporarily into the patient's brain, restored his speech and enabled his right arm to move again.

The groundbreaking procedure, which allows millions of stem cells to be gradually released stimulating brain cells to rejuvinate, was carried out (November 2008) by surgeons at medical technology firm Biocompatibles in Farnham. Source: dailymail.co.uk 3rd December 2008

We saw our first redwings of the winter in Farnham Park on 29/12/08, a largish flock with a couple of song thrushes too. We also spotted goldcrest and some long-tailed tits, and a fleeting glimpse of some kind of small bird of prey, probably a kestrel but there was a hint of a sickle-like curve to the wings so we wonder if it could have been a hobby. Blogger: moleculeman 1st January 2009

"I have a huge amount of empathy for those retail businesses of Farnham who are struggling to make ends meet. Walking through the Woolmead today I noted that over 1/3rd of the retail units were empty. As a Farnham man that hurts – I want to see Farnham businesses doing better and trading strongly." Blogger: Yellow Brick Road 10th January 2009

Farnham beekeeper Ann Buckingham was rewarded with an MBE in the 2011 New Year Honours for her contribution to beekeeping. She was cited particularly for the expertise used in her round-the-clock service collecting 'difficult and awakward swarms'.

" . . . during another conversation with a mutual car nut, I discovered a local pub was having a "Death by Pork Night," later on that evening. The story goes that six months ago, a few of the pub regulars, along with the landlord, had all chipped in and bought a piglet, since which, they'd all taken turns looking after him and last night he was to be celebrated in the only style worthy of such a wonderful beast... by being eaten.

The dinner was NINE courses and an absolute stark raving mad bargain at £17.50 a head. Well this was just too fabulous an opportunity to miss so, it was on the phone to Tash, one more cup of tea with the boys-and-their-toys and then swing home, quick shower, pick up the Mrs. and time for the Pinky show. I have to say it was truly magnificent and probably the best value for money meal I have ever had. I believe there is a Perky that still survives his former pen friend but he lives to oink another day." Blogger: Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans - bbc.co.uk 26th January 2009

Ridgeway Community School has installed (November 2011) a multimedia visual floor system for its special needs students. The projected special effects can be controlled with simple gestures and body movements, and is easily used by wheelchair users. The school, which has 110 special needs students, also has 'sensory ICT suites' with soundbeams, bubble tubes and eye-controlled computers.

A workman using a mechanical digger had the fright of his life at a site near the River Wey in Wrecclesham when he unearthed an unexploded WWII shell (May 2009). The field, located off River Lane near the A31, was cordoned off whilst an Army Bomb Disposal carried out a controlled explosion to destroy the bomb. A local resident reckoned that it was the first time any Second World War ordnance had been discovered in the area since someone found a live grenade in the River Wey nearby 35 years ago.

England's rugby team was helped to victory by the outstanding kicking skills of Jonny Wilkinson. The player, who was born in Frimley, was educated at Pierrepont School in Frensham. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Surrey (2009). Wilkinson retired from international rugby in 2011 at the age of 32.

A four year old boy from Ash has joined Mensa, the society for people with an IQ of over 130. Harry Chapple has an IQ of 144, which places him in the genius strata of the cleverest people in the country. This will make Chapple one of only around 30 members in the UK who joined the society before their 10th birthday. His particular skill rests with his advanced ability at maths. Chapple will begin a primary school Farnham in September 2009.

The unusual wedding of a Farnham scoutmaster was filmed in 1931, and until recently languished in the archives of Sutton Central Library. Footage of Allen and Sylvia Tussler's wedding, showing the groom in Scout uniform and flanked by a scout guard of honour, was digitised by the library having been chosen by the British Film Institute to screen at Trafalgar Square as part of the 2008 London Film Festival. Family historians traced the family of the couple to Elstead and presented them with a copy of the four minute film.

Allen Tussler was cubmaster of the 7th Farnham Troop of the Boy Scouts, and his bride was associated with the First Belmont Company of the Girls Light Brigade. Source: thisislocallondon.co.uk 26th September 2009

A master chocolatier from Farnham has been chosen to represent Britain at the World Chocolate Masters in Paris (October 2009). Mark Tilling, who was awarded the title of UK Chocolate Master in 2008, works at Squires Kitchen in Waverley Lane, Farnham, and from where he runs regular workshops..

Tilling's book Squires Kitchen's Guide to Working with Chocolate was published in 2010.

Did you know that there is a vibrant Scalextric scene right here in Farnham? No we didn't either until we stumbled across the Farnham Scalextric Club website. The club meets every Wednesday for properly marshalled races and welcomes newcomers to the world of 'slot car' racing. Classes include everything from F1 and F2 to saloons, hotrods and motorbikes. Enjoy!

The Sandrock pub in Farnham was presented with the very first gold award by Surrey County Council’s Eat Out Eat Well scheme (October 2009). The scheme rewards caterers who make it easier for their customers to make healthy choices when eating out. "I'm thrilled that a business in our borough of Waverley is the very first recipient of a gold award, a top award for this important scheme," said the mayor of Waverley, Cllr Pat Frost. "This award shows that the Sandrock takes its food very seriously, offering customers delicious and healthy options when dining out." Surrey Advertiser October 2009

A leisure spot by the busy A31 on the Hog's Back, which runs between Guildford with Farnham, attracted a degree of infamy when local residents publicly complained about the antics of 'doggers'. A favourite story for a time with tabloid journalists, culminating with a report in the Mirror newspaper (March 2010) which claimed that local police had spent almost £125 on tea and biscuits at the cafe sited there to 'help build trust between police and those who go looking for sex'.

"There has been an improvement in relations and officers will continue to carry out further engagement activities in the future," said a police spokesman. mirror.co.uk 28th March 2010

The songwriter and 'music impresario' Mike Batt, who was behind The Wombles, has the band's costumes stored in his garage at his home in Farnham in readiness for their surprise reunion at Glastonbury (June 2011). His mother hand-made the costumes which were used in the shows.

"Doing a live show is very hot for a Womble; it's like running a marathon. This is all very well when one is 23, but as you get older it becomes a bit more of an effort. You've got to train yourself into it." telegraph.co.uk 16th June 2011

Composer Mike Batt called in a marksman to cull rabbits on his Farnham estate (2009) after their rapidly growing numbers started to cause damage to land and buildings, which included wiring and water pipes. Batt penned Art Garfunkle's hit song Bright Eyes which was featured in the film Watership Down, starring the antics of Douglas Adam's community of rabbit characters. Batt, who took specilaist advice from the RSPCA prior to the cull said: " "It seems that dead rabbits are the story of my life." bbc.co.uk 17th April 2009

Farnham artist Julia Gascoigne-Palmer has been named as the winner (October 2009) of the first ever Surrey Artist of the Year. The competition, which had entries from 385 artists from across the county, enables the efforts of artists to be widely publicised and for the winner guarantees a showcase of her paintings at an exhibition at the New Ashgate Gallery. Sculptor Richard Jack from Farnham took third prize.

“I was reminded recently that when William Cobbett was buried in St Andrew’s Church in Farnham, 10,000 people turned up and the population of Farnham was 3,000 at the time! How remarkable is that? If only present-day members of Parliament were that popular, where would we be?” Extract from Hannah Williams’ letter published in the Basingstoke Gazette when three local MPs invited to the first night of a new play about William Cobbett made their excuses not to accept. The Mayors of Farnham and Waverley showed more grace and were reported as having thoroughly enjoyed the performance. Source: Basingstoke Gazette  4th December 2009

The Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice charity shop in Farnham was the focus of a frantic search for a piece of artwork created by the Belfast cartoonist William St John Glenn. His daughter had been trying to track down lost artwork to reinstate the artist's collection from 1939 to 1969 when auctioneers approached her to determine the provenance of a lot they had received.

The black and white scraperboard drawing Christmas Shopping Rush had originally been commissioned by a Dublin magazine. The piece had been donated to the charity shop who had placed it up for auction. The charity withdrew the lot and allowed the artist's daughter Bronte Matthews to return it to her father. The family made a financial donation in return.

"We are absolutely glad that the picture has been reunited with the family. The hospice still received £300 from the picture and this money will go towards the continued care to our patients." getsurrey.co.uk 26th January 2012

A much-loved Macaw parrot was stolen (July 2011) at Birdworld near Farnham from a padlocked enclosure in the bird park. The brightly coloured blue and gold bird Spike is believed by police to have been 'stolen to order'. The parrot is micro-chipped and was valued at around £1,000

A Farnham school was highlighted by The Times (December 2009) for its efforts in minimising food waste, a nationwide concern as school waste exceeds 100,000 tonnes annually. St Polycarp’s Catholic Primary School in Waverley Lane has made cutting unnecessary waste a priority by ordering exactly the right amount of food which it does by enforcing a ‘just-in-time’ ordering system. The school, which doesn’t have its own kitchen, phones their caterers each day as soon as they know exactly the number of children dining when the registers have been taken. The school’s dinner ladies also introduced a sticker reward system with children awarded the empty plate with knife and fork motif stickers when they return an empty plate.

“A lot of waste was from children not eating their meals, maybe because they weren’t keen on a particular thing, but they love the stickers and they are really proud when they get one,” said teacher and eco-committee coordinator  Ms Waugh. Source: Times Education Supplement 4th December 2009

The efforts of parents and local residents enabled Farnham's St Andrew's Infant School to open a new multi-purpose teaching facility after their fund-raising drive raised £83,000. The Duke of Kent opened the £175,000 new building (March 2010).

The high profile downfall of one of America’s leading financial groups Lehman Brothers, and which heralded the collapse of the banking sector worldwide, led to an auction (December 2009) of some of the company’s British assets at an auction house in Farnham. Marriott & Co secured sales in the online auction of many lots including an extraordinary array of office furniture as well as champagne flutes and a 1,000 piece collection of silver cutlery. The auction for the company, founded in 1850 and which at its peak employed 25,000 staff including 5,000 in the UK, was meant to be low key to protect the remaining 500 staff working in the UK but word of the identity of the seller quickly became public. Many lots, which were on reserves way below market value, remained unsold at the end of the auction Source: Daily Mail 17th December 2009

Farnham couple Rob and Julie Hawkes were dumbfounded (March 2011) when told that the employee of a national gas company was having to cancel her appointment to measure up their loft for roof insulation because her sat-nav had broken down. After the obvious question as to whether the unnamed surveyor was capable of using a good old-fashioned map fell on deaf ears the Hawkes gave up and resorted to calling a competitor. dailymail.co.uk 4th March 2011

Twenty years after having been given some books by his English teacher at his Farnham prep school, Mark James was well surpised when presenting the 'weighty tomes' at the BBC's Antiques Roadshow. James, who had never opened the books, found that one of them was hollowed out and contained two Mars bars, two Bounties, two Turkish Delights and a couple of Chocolate Creams.

"I've been waiting a long time for this," said Steven Baines, the now retired teacher when the TV producers managed to track him down. thesun.co.uk 21st June 2011

A very unusual property in Farnham was on the market (October 2011) for a 'guide price' of £3m. The plot consisted of 16 acres (6 hectares) of land 'near Farnham' in the GU9 postal district with 'planning consent for 14,000 burial lots and grave sites'. The agent was marketing the property on the basis that burial plots in the area sell for £1,500 to £2,500 so securing 'residents' for each of the burial plots could generate a return of around £28m.

"It has been appealing to private investors much more than any of the large funeral service companies," said Mark Steward of agent Clarke Gammon Wellers. "It may well be that the likes of Co-Operative Funeralcare or Dignity Funeral Services will be called in as an operator once the land has been purchased, but right now the main interest is coming primarily from investors." guardian.co.uk 31st October 2011

The bestselling historical novelist Bernard Cornwell has featured Farnham in his latest novel The Burning Land (ISBN-13: 9780060888749 Barnes & Noble January 2010). The story follows one Harald Bloodhair, a ninth century Viking who is intent on defeating King Alfred of Wessex - a long-time foe, when he and his army of Danes is led into a trap at Farnham by Uhtred, one of the king’s warlords with the Vikings suffering from one of their greatest defeats. The Burning Land is the fifth novel in a series telling of English history during a concerted campaign by the Danes to defeat King Alfred. Cornwell’s novels about Richard Sharpe, the rifleman fighting in the Napoleonic Wars were adapted into the popular TV series Sharpe.

The Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice received over £10,000 (April 2011) thanks to the efforts of marathon runner Paul Blizzard from Farnham. Blizzard ran seven marathons in seven days in seven countries despite the fact that he's never run a marathon before.

Footballer John Terry laughed off an embarrasing injury he suffered whilst visiting Abbey School in Farnham. The Chelsea defender, who was invited by the school to give a talk to pupils, was taking part in a knockabout when he took a football to the groin by one of the young players.

"It was tougher than the Premier League," he said afterwards. metro.co.uk 17th January 2012


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From the Stone Age
to the Roman Occupation

There is evidence of stone age activity, and mammoth tusks have been found in the gravel ridge above the modern town of Farnham. An established settlement by Mesolithic pit dwellers c6000BC encouraged continuous settlement thereafter through the Bronze and Iron Ages and on to Roman times. Under Roman rule Farnham became an important pottery centre, the local clay providing a particularly good quality for firing. Excavations have revealed a Roman villa and bath in the vicinity of the Mesolithic pits. An Iron Age Fort just north of Farnham has the misnomer of Caesar’s Camp, especially as it predates the arrival of the Romans by 600 years.

Its Saxon name ‘Fearnhamme’, referred to in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, comes from reference to the plentiful ferns (‘fearn’) and bracken found in the area and ‘hamme’ referring to the water meadows that were at its centre. The West Saxon king Caedwalla gifted Farnham to the Bishop of Winchester in 688, with a later Saxon king recorded as giving lands to Saint Swithins (QV). The town has always been close to the church, with bishops having been in residence within the town’s walls for over 800 years. There was a battle on the edge of the Saxon settlement when King Alfred’s son, Edward the Elder, routed Danish forces during their attempted invasion in the ninth century.

It is interesting to note that the minster of Farnham in the 7th century was at the centre of the emergence of English as a common language which, combined with the increasing trend to centralise the administration of the church at that time, led to the basis of English place-naming. Along with Chertsey Abbey, Farnham's ecclesiastical charter and boundary list established a whole set of typical Old English place-name elements. These included -ingas (-ing); -ham (-ham); -hyth (-hythe); -brycg (-bridge); -burh (-bury); -eg (-ey); -ford (-ford); -leah (-ley) and -feld (-field), with the modern English equivalent italicised in brackets.

Farnham West Street 1899
West Street 1899
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

"Here we see how potent has been the effect of the introduction of a single tree, nothing whatever else having been done, with the exception that the land had been enclosed so that cattle could not enter. But how important an enclosure is, I plainly saw in Farnham, in Surrey. Here there are extensive heaths, with a few clumps of old Scotch firs on the distant hill tops: within the last ten years large spaces have been enclosed, and self-sown first are now springing up in multitudes, so close together that all cannot live." Charles Darwin The Origin of Species 1859

The Domesday Book records that the Bishop of Winchester held Farnham. Bishop William de Raleigh granted Farnham a Charter in 1249 that elevated the town to municipal status. The last remaining burgess (QV) in 1789 was a William Shotter who succeeded in losing the later charter of 1566 to Bishop Brownlow North for failing in his duty of keeping the two bridges at Tylford Bridge (now Tilford) in good repair.

The various Bishops of Winchester, the second most important diocese in England, undertook a great many journeys to and from London, and Farnham was a favoured stopping-off point.

Farnham Castle

Henry de Blois (1101-1171) who was Bishop from 1129 until his death, and was King Stephen’s brother and grandson of William I, commenced the building of the castle and a palace at Farnham in 1138. The castle therefore became an important hostelry to a host of monarchs and important churchmen. These included Cardinal Wolsey; the architect of Winchester William of Wykeham; William Wayneflete the Lord Chancellor and founder of Magdalene; and Cardinal Beaufort who was a witness to the burning of Joan of Arc.

Royal visits were plentiful and the halls and bedchambers of the castle resounded to the voices of Henry VIII, James I, and George III. Mary Tudor stopped off on her way to marry Philip of Spain at Winchester. Elizabeth I was a regular guest, and on one such visit reputedly warned the Duke of Norfolk to ‘beware upon what pillow you lay your head’ when she heard he was planning to marry Mary Queen of Scots. He ignored the veiled threat and subsequently lost his head. Queen Victoria made a visit specifically to see the Bible on which she had taken her Coronation Oath, as it was in safekeeping at the castle.

Farnham Downing Street 1904
Downing Street 1904
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

The Dauphin of France captured Farnham Castle, along with those in Guildford and Reigate, in his attempt to defeat King John I. His occupation lasted for 10 months before he was made to retreat to France.

During the Civil War in the 17th century Sir William Waller ordered that the Castle Keep be blown up so that it could never again be used as a fortress. The walls proved to be too resilient to the gunpowder used and only a small breach was made, which is marked by the steps that run up the mound. Oliver Cromwell had the task completed in 1648 when much of the castle was dismantled, and so it was never used as a military garrison again.

Farnham Castle Keep has been cared for by English Heritage since 1984, the building having been placed in the guardianship of the State in 1922 and declared a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and is open to the public. The remaining buildings of Farnham Castle which made up the Bishop's Palace consist of a mixture of Grade I and Grade II structures, and are thought to be one of the oldest continually inhabitated buildings in southern England.

After its foundation in 1138 Farnham Castle underwent numerous extensions and renovations. The original building started by Henry de Blois was extended in 1180 to include the Great Hall and Norman Chapel to provide more spacious accommodation for the many important visitors. In the 13th century a drawing room and gatehouse was added and the Curtain Wall was built in the mid 14th century. Around this time a brick tower gateway was constructed.

The steps leading down from the castle are known as The Blind Bishop's Steps as they were built to be easily climbed by Bishop Richard Fox (1500 - 1528), also Henry VIII's godfather, who was incapicitated by blindness.

The last Bishop to live in the Bishop’s Palace left in 1956.

Farnham Castle has been leased by a commercial organisation specialising in international business training since 1962, and a recent grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has enabled restorative repairs to be undertaken. Guided tours of the Bishops Palace are available, limited to two hour long tours on Wednesday afternoons throughout the year and a single tour on Friday afternoons between April and August. On the hill behind the castle there is a large park where the bishops kept their deer and arranged hunts for visiting royalty during the 800 years they inhabited the palace. MORE ON FARNHAM PARK HERE

Farnham castle by Paul Farmer
click on image to go to photographer's website Click to visit Terry Harrison's website

A relatively obscure fact relating to Farnham Castle is that of the wedding of Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki, currently (2007) president of South Africa. The ANC (1) activist, then dedicated to the overthrow of apartheid, held a traditional African blessing ceremony and wedding reception at the castle on 23rd November 1974. The wedding had been previously conducted in a London registry office. His bride Zanele used the castle for the exchange of vows, which African ritual states is held at the home of the bride, and where she was staying with her sister Edith. Her sister was married to Wilfred Grenville-Grey who ran a training centre at the castle for foreign service diplomats.

The following is an edited extract from Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred (Mark Gevisser : Jonathan Ball 2007) recounting the attendance of two friends, Veronica Linklater and Ann Page, at the ceremony.

The women arrived late, and as they entered the ancient stone castle they heard the incongruous melody, Lady Linklater recalls, of “wonderful African song”. They followed the sound until they came upon the castle’s vaulted chapel, where there was “a sort of African blessing ceremony going on. There was a minister, and he was singing, and then the congregation was taking up responses. It was absolutely fantastic, so beautiful but also so bizarre, like a film set really, in this ancient English castle.” After a formal dinner, the party proceeded into one of the castle’s great halls, where Lady Linklater remembers “an old man with a stick singing a Zulu praise song, getting more and more carried away until, by the end of it, he threw his stick away and only had the back of a sofa to cling to”.

At the much smaller Farnham Castle gathering, the guests, like the rituals, were a concoction only someone like Mbeki could conjure: Home Counties gentry meets Third World revolutionary, with a smattering of Sussex Lefty thrown in. Filling the bijou chapel’s pews were African communists just flown in from the Southern African front line, unkempt (and not entirely approving) academics and artists from Mbeki’s university set, and titled personages no less than the Duchess and Earl of Richmond, Grenville-Grey’s sister and brother-in-law.

(1) African National Congress was founded in 1912 in South Africa to campaign to improve the rights of the black population. From the 1950s the organisation actively opposed apartheid and developed a military arm. Today the ANC is the ruling party in South Africa.

The Sunday Times (Johannesburg, South Africa) 11th November 2007

In the 21st century Farnham Castle, providing accomodation as commercial offices, has provided some challenges to modern technology. With modern emphasis on fast communication and reliance on the digital age IT engineers have had to overcome restraints on networking computers imposed by English Heritage and the 10ft (3m) thick walls of much of this 900 year old building. Effective networking has relied on a state-of-the-art self-regulating wireless network to serve offices, 15 meeting rooms and 32 guest rooms in the Great Hall.

computerweekly.com 30th January 2008

A £700,000 lottery grant announced in September 2009 will ensure that the final restoration works at Farnham Castle will be completed. The Castle had been turned down in a previous application. The funding, which covers 80% of the cost, will enable the walls, the stable block, gatehouse block and south range of the Palace to be rebuilt or repaired. A new stairway with a viewing platform and interpretation boards will be installed in the Keep.

Management of the Castle will also be taken over from English Heritage for direct control bringing together management of both the Keep and Palace for the first time.

The funding will also enable staff at the castle to increase the period that the building is open to the public from the existing 80 days to 300 days per year with entrance to be made free, and extra events will be put on. Those announced include a Camouflage and Illusion project, courses in stonework repair, a Heritage in Action room and weekend events.

"This is an amazing opportunity for the town and its residents, and I'm particularly pleased to learn that many of the planned activities will involve so many members of the local community," said Lucinda Fleming, Farnham Mayor.

"We gave this grant application our full backing," said Karen Richardson of English Heritage. "We look forward to working with chief executive James Twiss on plans to secure the future management of the site."

"We are delighted to see this many faceted project come to fruition," said Jane Weeks for the Heritage fund. "It will conserve one of the few remaining mediaeval houses of England and introduce new audiences to a long and fascinating history."

The work is expected to be started in May 2010.

culture24.org.uk 25 September 2009; gethampshire.co.uk 2nd October 2009

The castle has provided a location for a long list of film and television productions including Foyle's War, Location, Location, Location, Cash in the Attic, Simon Schama's History of Britain and Prince Edward's Tales from the Tower.

The castle's management team believe that the restoration work will further the appeal of the location for production companies.

"Representing more than 900 years of living history, most of the monarchs of England from King John to Queen Victoria visited or have stayed at the castle, so the Keep and the Bishop's Palace are popular local tourist attractions," said Jeff Toms, director of marketing and client services.

"The HLF grant will allow restoration of the Keep and enable us to open it to as wide an audience as possible. The Castle Keep, which is a scheduled ancient monument, was originally built as a classic motte and bailey castle construction and formerly used as a defensive residence for the Bishops of Winchester.

"It has an unusual shell keep enclosing a mound which contains the massive foundations of the original Norman tower. The whole site, which includes the Keep, Bishop's Palace, Gatehouse and grounds is enclosed by an outer curtain wall provides the ideal location for filming and photography."

4RFV.co.uk 14th January 2010

BBC TV's One Show shot a short feature at the castle about the country's first Camouflage and Development Training Centre. The film, aired on the 17th March 2010, showed how the talents of zoologists, artists and magicians were brought together at Farnham Castle in 1940 to develop new camouflage techniques for the British Armed Forces in the Second World War. The son of the surrealist artist Sir Roland Penrose (1900-1984) explained how his father had contributed to the centre's efforts and resulted in him producing the Home Guard Manual of Camouflage. Other key 'camoufleur' figures included artist Frederick Gore (1913-2009) and magician Jasper Maskelyne (1902-1973), who devised the distinctive camouflage for the North African campaign.

Over 300 people applied for 30 places resulting in a vibrant competitive environment. The author of Camouflage: a history of concealment and deception in war (David & Charles 1979), Guy Hartcup, provided a detailed list of all those who were able to provide their talents, with this excerpt giving a flavour:

The artists ranged from the avant-garde to the traditional and included the painters Blair Hughes-Stanton, Edward Seago, Frederick Gore and Julian Trevelyan, who since his experience in civil camouflage had been approved for a commission by Buckley, and the designers Steven Sykes and Ashley Havinden. Others connected with the arts were Gabriel White, later a pillar of the Arts Council and Fred Mayor, who decorated the rooms with Rouaults and Matisses and other modern masters from his London gallery.

The castle was officially re-opened after its restoration in June 2010. Jeremy Hunt, MP and Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, officiated.

"I am delighted to have been asked to open this brilliant restoration project," he said. "We have all been anticipating the reopening of the Keep, which will bring huge benefits not only to Farnham Castle but the town as a whole as it attracts a wide array of visitors. Well done to everyone who campaigned so hard to make this happen."

The restoration work included the need to remove over 200 tonnes of concrete that had covered the original historic fabric of the tower. An oak framed pavilion staircase and illuminated viewing platform as also been constructed over the tower and the well. The Farnham Castle charity now manages the property and the £700,000 grant received from the Heritage Lottery Fund has enabled them to open the castle to visitors 300 days a year, removing the limitation of the previous 80 days access, and allows the the public entry without charge.

English Heritage continues to retain guardianship of the site.

Surrey Life August 2010

A nomination for the Business Tourism Award 2011 was secured by the castle (November 2011).

Farnham Castle won Hudson's Heritage Award for Best Corporate Venue 2011.

"Farnham Castle was built in 1138 by a grandson of William the Conqueror and is one of the most important historical buildings in South East England," said Jeff Toms, client services and marketing director at Farnham Castle. "In more recent years, this unique venue has been sensitively adapted and modernised to accommodate a state-of-the-art corporate meeting and conference centre, as well as a favoured wedding venue.

"In addition, for nearly 50 years, the Castle has been the home of the world-renowned Farnham Castle International Briefing Centre, providing Intercultural Business Skills training and Global Mobility Programmes to employees of the world's leading companies as well as UK and Overseas governments.

"Preservation of the Castle's buildings and grounds and improving accessibility for the benefit of the wider public is one of our main charitable objectives." incentivetravel.co.uk 5th December 2011

The castle has 14 meeting rooms, 32 en-suite bedrooms, dining room and banqueting facilities which are used by around 17,000 corporate guests annually. The restaurant is located in the original Norman kitchens.

Find out more about Farnham Castle HERE

Population Explosion

In 1848 the railway arrived in Farnham which quickly acted as the catalyst for change. Six years later nearby Aldershot became the Army Garrison town, and another camp was developed in Bordon six miles away. Both events provided Farnham with an attraction as an ideal location for London businessmen and army officers to live. Since the Second World War Farnham’s population has almost doubled.

Farnham Castle Street 1906
Castle Street 1906
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

Architectural Variety

Castle Street is an extremely wide and picturesque example of Medieval planning. Ample space was left in the street to provide for a large bustling market which generated an income in taxes for the Church. Andrew Windsor, who is commemorated in St George’s Chapel within the church, paid for the building of the Almshouses in Castle Street in 1619 to house ‘eight poor honest impotent old persons’. These houses are still occupied today, although their modern residents now have to pay rent.

Farnham The Borough 1895
The Borough 1895
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

Farnham Museum ((GR: SU837466) in West Street was opened in 1961 and is located in Willmer House, a Grade 1 listed Georgian building dating from 1718, has won many awards and was commended in the prestigious European Museum of the Year. The museum became (2006) the first in Surrey to be awarded national Museum Accreditation status. The museum includes a room dedicated to the art and architecture of Farnham, information related to Farnham's contribution to the 19th century fledgling motor industry through John Henry Knight and a Countryside Room where the works of William Cobbett are displayed.

MP Jeremy Hunt officially opened (November 2008) a new exhibition hall built in the grounds of the museum which was funded by a variety of donations including a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Farnham Museum benefitted from the donation (December 2011) of a John Raphael Smith (1752 - 1812) painting of William Cobbett under the Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) scheme (1). The oil painting, which is the earliest known portrait of Cobbett, settled a £1,400 tax liability for the unnamed donor by being offset through the donor scheme. Sketches for the painting were apparently made whilst Cobbett, a leading political activist, was in prison for sedition (2). The artist was renowned for his mezzotint (a form of print engraving) masterpieces, He also undertook art commissions for portraits, particularly of political figures. He was for a time teacher to JMW Turner.

"That's the strength of this scheme," said Gerry McQuillan, an advisor to the scheme. "It is not just about the £4m masterpieces, it is also about works like this, which will give Farnham something that will bring to life a man closely associated with the town." guardian.co.uk 17th December 2011

(1) The Acceptance in Lieu scheme enables taxpayers to transfer important works of art and other heritage objects into public ownership while paying Inheritance Tax, or one of its earlier forms. The taxpayer is given the full open market value of the item, which is then allocated to a public museum, archive or library. The scheme, administered by the Arts Council England, was introduced in 1910 in David Lloyd George's 'people's budget'.

(2) Sedition, a common law offence until its abolition in 2009, was the act of bringing hatred or contempt to the monarch, government or people and inciting discontent.

Willmer House was once owned by artist Stephen Elmer (c1715-1796) and some of his works are also displayed here. Elmer was the son of a Farnham maltster and worked in the family business throughout his painting career establishing a considerable reputation for his works depicting animals, birds, still life and rural scenes. He was a member of the Society of Artists and an Associate Member of the Royal Academy. A large walled garden is open to the public behind the building adjacent to the public library.

The Church of St Andrews (GR: SU838466) is one of the largest churches in Surrey. The original church on the site dates back to the 6th century although it is believed that religious activity has been present on the site since 600 AD. The building was rebuilt in the mid-12th century and in the ensuing centuries was considerably expanded upon. The central tower, nave and the north and south transepts date to the 12th century, although the nave was destroyed by fire in the 14th century and had to be rebuilt. The south aisle was added about this time. The church has in its safekeeping a rare and extremely valuable copy of the Basketful of Errors Bible presented in 1739 by Arthur Onslow, speaker of the House of Commons. The bible was printed by John Baskett in Oxford in 1717 and twelve copies were produced that contained a misprint referring to the ‘Parable of the Vineyard’ as ‘Parable of the Vinegar’. The tomb of William Cobbett is just outside the North Entrance.

The Farnham Cemetery Chapel at 57 West Street was listed Grade II status by English Heritage in 1990. Built in Gothic style of 'random rubble' with Bath stone around 1870 was scheduled for £35,000 worth of repairs by Farnham Town Council in 2009. Racing driver Mike Hawthorn was buried in the cemetery here after his fatal accident on the A3 near Guildford in 1959, with his grave close to that of his father who had also perished in a car accident only five years earlier. Hawthorn owned the Tourist Trophy Garage in East Street from where he sold and serviced various marques including Jaguar, Riley and Ferrari.

King Charles I had an overnight stay in the house of Henry Vernon who lived in West Street. The house is now occupied by the library (GR: SU837467). The Reverend John Wigmore, an incumbent at the church has a tablet commemorating his contribution to the parish with the inscription: ‘had a heart overflowing with the milk of human kindness’. Augustus Toplady (1740-1778), born in West Street and baptised in church 1740 wrote the hymn Rock of Ages and published bitter writings against Calvinism.

Augustus Toplady
Augustus Toplady
Picture in public domain
released via the Project Gutenberg archives

There are some good examples of mathematical tiling to be found on buildings in Farnham. In numbers 1 and 2 in the ironstone cobbled Lower Church Lane (GR: SU839467) the smart fashionable Georgian facades have been created using mathematical tiles, which being carefully designed to imitate bricks provided an extremely cheap alternative to brick, and also neatly side-stepped the brick tax of 1784.

farnham Lion & Lamb Yard 1929
Lion & Lamb Yard 1929
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

Just east of the Lion & Lamb Yard there were ‘rope-walks(GR: SU839469) used by the rope-makers who walked backwards along the long alleyways as the strands were twisted. The length of Long Garden Walk south from Castle Street to the White Hart was the right distance for ropes of a standard length to be made, although it is not known for certain that this was a site for rope-making. A popular view is that in the three years from 1392 Master Carpenter Hugh Herland directed a team of Farnham carpenters to make the 26 huge hammer-beam trusses that were used in the roof of Westminster Hall in the reign of Richard II. These timbers, felled in the Alice Holt forest, were believed to have been fashioned in a timber yard (GR: SU837468) near The Borough, although local historians are trying to source definitive evidence that will pinpoint the yard and confirm manufacture.

St Andrews Church and castle by Paul Farmer
click on image to go to photographer's website Click to visit Terry Harrison's website

The 17-bedroom Bishops Table Hotel at 27 West Street is a Georgian building, originally the private residence of the Marquis of Lothian, and is set in two acres of land, primarily to the rear of the property. In ensuing centuries it changed use to a training school for the clergy (Bishops' Hostel) and a guesthouse before being converted for hotel use.

Little of the town’s character changed much over many long centuries until the time of the turnpikes when coaching inns and wheelwrights sprang up everywhere. The oldest of these inns to survive is part of the 17th century Bush Hotel which was mentioned in novels by both W M Thackeray (The Virginians 1857) and I J Hussey, the former inspiring the name of the hotel's restaurant. Another of the coaching inns was on the site of the cobbled The Lion and Lamb Courtyard which used to house the brewers Thomas Mathews and Co who won two medals at the 1890 Brewer’s Exhibition in London. Farnham was well positioned to develop an important market for farmers and merchants, and wheat, then wool, cloth and hops were traded here. The town was a natural centre for brewing being a particularly suitable location due to the proximity of hop growing and the hard nature of the local water. Farnham hops were renowned as being among the best in the country.


The market and brewing had lost much of its significance by the middle of the 19th century.

The Campaign to Save
Farnham Water Meadows

Water meadows by the River Wey Farnham 1933
Wey water meadows facing St Andrews Church
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

The historic water meadows (pictured above in the 1930's) lying across the river to the south of St Andrews parish church is at the centre of a conservation battle. Led by Mark Simpson, a local Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate (2009/2010), Farnham residents are campaigning (December 2009) to 'save' Farnham Water Meadows (GR:SU837465) from the threat of development.

The Bishop's Meadow Trust was established (October 2009) to raise funds to secure the open space, which was put up for sale by the Marshall family who have owned the land for over 80 years, for the local community. It was believed that the borough council had earmarked the land as a Suitable Accessible Natural Green Space (SANG) (1). However in December 2009 it was announced that a rival bid was put forward from a developer The Land Bank Company, and it was believed that this was close to the asking price.

This news had caused much consternation until it was later revealed that two of the three plots were eventually sold on the 15th January 2010 to Sir Ray Tindle, the newspaper publishing magnate and owner of the Farnham Herald, and he has pledged to sell the land on to the Trust as long as they are able to raise the necessary funds within two years. The two lots, lying against the north bank of the river, make up almost 32 acres of the total land area of 34 acres. The third lot lies against the south bank of the river as a narrow strip of land abutting Weydon Mill Lane by the weir. It is believed that the owner has now withdrawn this from sale although the Trust is keen to also secure its purchase.

Tindle has his home in Farnham and his garden lies alongside the meadows. He had submitted unsuccessful bids in 2006 and 2009.

(1) SANGS or Suitable Accessible Natural Green Spaces are open spaces used to divert the pressure of leisure users (such as dog walkers) away from special protection areas when large new residential developments are constructed. Councils are under increasing pressure from central government to approve building schemes in order to meet new housing targets and are instructed to ensure that a SANG is established on land funded by the property developer.

The meadows have remained unused in recent times. The Farnham Society, who have been active in their support for the campaign, have researched land usage and believe that the meadows used to host travelling circuses and fairs. In the English Civil War a defence ditch and rampart was built here, and in Tudor times a ditch was dugfrom which to provide water to houses in West Street. Various ideas of best use for the land were proposed during a public campaign meeting including running the land as a community farm.

The Trust is appealing for funds and every donator will be made a member of the Trust and thereby given the right to vote at meetings to plot for the future of the meadows. A total of £220,000 needs to be raised to secure the future of the meadows.

"We have until February 2012 to reach this target and purchase the land for the price Sir Ray Tindle purchased it in 2009," said Jo Aylwin, chair of the Trust. "If we do not raise the money by that date then Sir Ray will be free to sell the land elsewhere and with the field on Red Lion Lane currently on the market for £450,000 for an area less then a 10th of the land we are planning to purchase, we should take this bargain while we can and secure this land." bishopsmeadowtrust.org.uk 12th October 2011

Details from the Saving Farnham water Meadows campaign website HERE.

The Trust launched Kidsfest in what they hope will become an annual event helping to raise funds. The event, which is designed for children, was opened (September 2011) by child actor Daniel Roche who stars in BBC TV's hit show Outnumbered and Just William. Children making up the majority of the 2,000 visitors who attended were able to enjoy activities organised on the water meadows including a custard slide, a jelly welly obstacle course and joke workshops.

"These water meadows are an important wildlife habitat that has become increasingly under threat in the UK from development and inappropriate management," Frances Halstead, Surrey Wildlife Trust. "The meadows also form an important wildlife corridor along the River Wey. I do hope the people of Farnham will continue to support this worthy project and enable the Bishop's Meadow Trust to raise the money to buy the this special site, so the wildlife can be safeguarded and local residents can continue to enjoy the area for years to come." bishopsmeadowtrust.org.uk 12th October 2011

The Trust announced that they had raised around £11,000.

Following a personal donation from Sir Ray Tindle and a private bequest (October 2011) the Trust announced that 17 acres (7 hectares) of the water meadows was going to be purchased ahead of schedule. The land, which equates to two thirds of the meadow the Trust aims to secure, lies between the footpath linking Whitlet Close and Weydon Mill Lane across to the western end by the cemetary and land owned by Coxbridge Farm.

Tindle also announced that he was extending the time the Trust has to purchase the balance of the land to February 2013.

"This extra year will make all the difference to what the Trust can achieve" said Jo Aylwin, Chair of the Trust. "Our agreement with Sir Ray is that he will sell us as much land as we can raise the money to buy, at the price he paid. Our members now have time to run even more fund raising events and I am confident that they will raise all that we need." bishopsmeadowtrust.org.uk 21st October 2011

In August 2011 a group of 'travellers' took up temporary residence on the meadows. The Trust with Sir Ray Tindle managed to successfully negotiate for their departure which was secured with the group leaving a few days later.

Farnham Sports Centre
morphs into a Leisure Centre

Farnham Sports Centre, which was opened in 1981, underwent major refurbishment work which started in November 2009 with the £5m project contracted out by owners Waverley Borough Council, and which also included a two-storey extension extension. The contract represents the council’s largest capital investment project in its history, and is part of a £9.1m scheme to enhance three 30-year-old leisure facilities in the borough.

The building works was planned to provide a new reception area and a larger ‘fitness suite’ together with new changing rooms and an upgrade to the sports hall. The centre is managed by DC Leisure which had its contract to manage all five of Waverley’s sports centres renewed in 2008.

A group of Farnham sports clubs set up a pressure group under the banner Save Our Sports Hall to combat initial plans to reduce the size of the main sports hall.

The facility was scheduled to officially reopen in April 2010 as Farnham Leisure Centre, but ultimately the launch ceremony presided over by local MP Jeremy Hunt took place in October 2010. Bad weather early in the year was reported to have caused delays. This was primarily due to heavy snow and ice that would affect the drying process of concrete in the piles so was postponed until better weather graced the site.

The original facilities at the centre included a 25m six lane heated swimming pool with spectator gallery, a smaller teaching pool, gym with sauna and treatment rooms, dance studio with sprung floor, squash courts, and a main sports hall with six courts.

The refurbishment provided a much larger reception area and a cafe on the ground floor of the new extension, plus a larger fitness suite upstairs. All of the existing facilities including the two pools were refurbished, and £5,000 was spent extending the length of the main pool. This additional cost was incurred as it was discovered during the refurbishment that the original build fell just four centimetres short of the full 25-metre length required for the pool to qualify for official competitions. Minor cracks discovered in the main pool also required additional corrective work. The pale blue decor of the sports hall followed Sport England guidelines. Male and female saunas were constructed in the dry changing areas.

The creation of the original Farnham Sports Centre was at the centre of much local debate when the council was presented with a petition signed by over 7,500 people to name the facility after Mike Hawthorn, the internationally renowned Formula One racing driver who was one of the town’s famous sons. Although the town never bestowed this honour the Mike Hawthorn Pavilion had been built in Farnham Park in 1970 from the £40,000 in funds raised by local residents to commemorate his life, there is the Mike Hawthorn Drive off Dogflud Way, and from 1991 until 1996 the centre’s bar was renamed the Mike Hawthorn Suite before it was converted into a fitness suite. The town council announced plans (February 2009) for a flower bed planted in the shape of a racing car to be a special feature in the town commemorating the 50th anniversary of Mike Hawthorn's world championship win.Hawthorn died in a tragic public road accident on the A3 just outside Guildford in 1959. MORE ON HAWTHORN HERE

The Farnham Leisure Centre refurbishment work unearthed severely contaminated soil on the site of a former gasworks. Deposits of a tarry sludge with quantities of discarded wood, slate and rope sparked soil surveys. The contaminated land covered areas around Weybank Close, Riverside Industrial Estate and the site of the former gasholder station. Soil samples were dug by hand and using vacuum extraction on selected locations, some of which included the gardens of local residents.

"The level of contaminants across the site varies but what we found in the initial survey was consistent with what you would expect at a former gasworks site," said Councillor Bryn Morgan. bbc.co.uk 19th October 2010

Farnham Park

One of the largest countryside sites in the Wey Valley, Farnham Park, which was purchased by Farnham Town Council in 1930, covers 320 acres (129 hectares) and is steeped in a rich cultural history.

The park was a medieval deer park that became an integral part of Farnham Castle after it was established in the early 12th century. It was one of two deer parks established by the Bishops of Winchester in Farnham. In 1376 it was known as the Little or New Park and was used by the bishop to entertain royal guests with hunting expeditions. On the slope to the south of the Avenue there is evidence of ridge and furrow cultivation dating back to medieval times, and the site of a tile kiln from the 13th century was excavated in 1982 in an area with evidence of dells from where chalk and clay were extracted. Green glazed Farnham pottery was popular throughout medieval England.

Farnham Park, Cannon Road

Parliamentary forces opposed to Charles I during the English Civil War, which started in 1642, were billeted in the park as part of the force deployed to defend the castle which had fallen into Parliamentary hands. An attack by the Royalists was documented in 1643 when 8,000 soldiers attacked under the cover of heavy mist. Cannon and cavalry successfully routed the invaders. After the Civil War, when parts of the castle were dismantled under Cromwell's orders, the park began to fall into disuse as squatters moved onto the land and killed the deer and dismantled park fences.

In 1660, after the restoration of the monarchy, the bishops returned to the town, and Bishop Morley undertook repairs to the castle. The Old Park was sold to provide funds and part of these were used to renew the New Park fencing and repopulate the park with deer. The bishop also planted a kilometre long avenue of elm trees which stretched the entire width of the park. The avenue was sadly devastated by an outbreak of Dutch Elm Disease in the 1970s and was replaced by lime and beech trees. In the 18th century the park was landscaped with specimen trees including Cedars of Lebanon.

Farnham Park by Paul Farmer
click on image to go to photographer's website Click to visit Terry Harrison's website

During the Second World War the park was turned over to potatoes, wheat and other crops under the hand of the Women's Land Army. Defences including pill boxes and anti-glider posts were erected and a spigot mortar post was erected by the Home Guard in the park near Bear Lane. Prior to this in the 1930s much of the park was turned over to a golf course.

In the summer months cattle graze in the park and these help maintain the biodiversity of the grassland by preventing invasion by brambles and scrub. Following recommendation by the Surrey Wildlife Trust a small area of chalk grassland has been excluded from its regular cut and over the last few years has seen the return of important plant species including the rare Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia).

Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)
Picture by Chilepine
released into public domain by photographer

The park had a good stock of veteran oak trees, many of which were felled during the 1950s. A programme of new tree planting is ongoing in order to build up the stock to its original stock levels. The park's ponds, fed by the Nadder Stream, support an important population of Great Crested Newts and three new ponds are planned (2006-2007) to help increase this habitat and also provide some educational use for local schools. The stream gets its name from the old English word 'nadder' meaning 'winding one'. There are other seasonal streams and several swallow holes where these disappear underground when they flow over the clay into the more porous chalk beneath.

Hawthorn and Dog Rose flower in the park in summer and the woodland and grassland provides an important habitat for wildlife. Birds including Warblers, the Whitethroat, Redwing, Kestrel and Fieldfare frequent the trees and bushes, and wild Roe deer still live in the park. Small mammals including mice, voles and shrews are in evidence alonmg with 25 species of butterfly.

An archaelogical discovery was made (2006) at the main entrance to the park when excavations were made at the Farnham Cricket Club. A substantial sawpit, which it is believed was used during renovations to the nearby Farnham Castle after the English Civil War, was unearthed and is quite unusual in its complexity with brick and stone lining. Funding is being sought to lift the structure and relocate it to the Rural Life Museum at Tilford in order to preserve it.

A full-time Ranger is based in the park working from the bungalow at the park's main entrance where an office and educational facilities are located. The old Ranger's House today is a private residence. The upkeep of the park is greatly assisted by the Friends of Farnham Park and conservation volunteers.

Waverley Borough Council have announced (October 2007) that the historic views between Farnham Castle and its park will be restored by a programme of tree felling and shrub clearance. The Forestry Commission has issued a felling licence with full support from English Heritage and Farnham Castle. Once the work has been undertaken the views will be maintained by scrub clearance on a five year rotation. The aim is to provide a clear view from the car park and from within the park itself.

Waverley Borough Council has announced (July 2008) the implementation of a new management plan for Farnham Park which includes the development of an onsite ranger office. Part of the park has also been identified as a Suitable Accessible Natural Greenspace (SANGS) (1) linked to the nearby Thames Basins Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA).

(1) SANGS were devised to provide alternative space to attract residents and visitors in areas of high housing density in order to relieve pressure from Special Protection Areas. The classification provides funding to enhance the designated area.

An artist from Witley was commissioned (2010) to create two tree sculptures for Farnham Park. Ruth Wheeler used a chainsaw to fashion the sculptures from one of the ornamental Cedars of Lebanon planted in the 1790s by Bishop North. The tree had started to decay and becoming unsafe had to be felled by Waverley Borough Council. Wheeler's own design produced a 16ft-tall (5m) sculpture which stands near the park's entrance, with the second co-designed with local schoolchildren sited near the castle alongside a 'storytelling bench' the artist has also created from the same tree.

"I held design workshops at three Farnham schools and we carved out and de-barked the tree," said Wheeler. "The park volunteers and Waverley countryside rangers also helped. It has been quite a challenge due to the sheer size of the pieces. I have been working up on ladders, burning, sanding and carving and it has been a fascinating experience. It has made me appreciate the beauty of trees and their natural forms even more." getsurrey.co.uk 10th December 2010



Farnham Hospital

A controversial development on the land adjoining Farnham Hospital freed up by the building of the more compact new hospital complex has finally been given the go ahead by the council (March 2007). 134 dwellings are to be built on the southern part of the site after initial proposals were rejected following the granting of the original planning permission in 2004.

The new hospital, a small-scale PFI (1) initiative costing £17m was completed in 2003 and was built on part of the original site in Guildford Road on the NE edge of Farnham. The opening of the hospital to patients was delayed by almost a year due to a need to finalise 'legal processes'. The NHS lay claim to the fact that the new facility which provides 84 inpatient beds "makes the Hospital and Centre for Health one of the first comprehensive centres of its kind in the country." The original hospital had 150 beds.

The NHS had originally muted the complete closure of the facility but finally backed down in 2003 after a concerted public campaign to prevent closure. The hospital provides specialist care for stroke victims.

The Farnham Society (2) have deemed the architecture of the new hospital warranting a Certificate of High Commendation.

" Like all new hospitals this is contemporary in style, appropriate for a modern technological establishment; it has a crisp geometry, with pale buff brickwork and contrasting white features. The fact that it is of only two storeys makes it a friendly addition to the surrounding residential area. The top-lit entrance atrium is impressive and, as architecture should, lifts the spirits of visitors. It acts as a communal core with a pharmacy, snack bar and informal seating, while the same user-friendly impression applies to the areas which are all easily accessed from this central point.

"Not apparent from an external viewing are two landscaped courtyards which give a pleasant prospect from the wards but, more importantly, are designed to function as physiotherapy areas. It is considered that the Hospital and Health Care Centre is of a design worthy of recognition and a welcome addition to the amenities of Farnham." Farnham Society Amenity Awards 2004

The original hospital was known as the Farnham Union Infirmary before becoming the Farnham County Hospital in 1929. The new hospital is the Farnham Hospital and Centre for Health, to give it its full name.

(1) PFI: Private Finance Initiative was launched in 1992 by the government to provide the ability for private sector involvement in the provision of public services. Simply put the private sector developer retains ownership of the buildings and site and the NHS Trust pays for using it and any maintenance required.

(2) The Farnham Society was formed in 1947 and is an independent charitable organisation established to champion conservation and amenity causes in the borough.

Crooksbury Common

An extensive sandy heathland sits to the east of the town towards the North Downs. Crooksbury Hill (GR: SU876460) is the highest point of the common quite distinctive with a ragged silhouette of pine trees.

Crooksbury as a name is of Celtic origin , with 'cruc' or 'crug' referring to burial mounds usually on a hill-top, provides the clue to the fact there are earthworks on the flank of the hill one of which is called Soldier's Ring. The hill is close to a lost royal centre at Bintungom (the name surviving today as Binton Farm (GR: SU885468) in Seale). There is documentary evidence that Bintungom was transferred into Farnham Minster by royal charter to become a centre within a Farnham Hundred.

It was here that Arthur Conan Doyle's famous character Sherlock Holmes in The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist (1903) was called upon to solve a case involving Miss Violet Smith. Sotheby's auctioned (2004) the original manuscript consisting of two handwritten exercise books for $344,000 (£183,276) in New York, despite the fact that the manuscript was incomplete with the last two pages missing. Conan Doyle wrote the story whilst living at Undershaw in nearby Hindhead.

Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes
Artist: Sidney Edward Paget. Picture in public domain

Charles Darwin, who often used to stay at Farnham's Moor Park in ill-health, used to frequent the common for exercise.

"I cannot walk far & get to a kind of Barometer which I have here, namely Crooksbury Hill, when I can get to top of that all is splendid but half-way beats me as yet." Charles Darwin 1859 letter to his son.

Famous Farnhamian, William Cobbett (see below), also often referred to Crooksbury Hill, this hinting at his involvement in dealing with what were considerable pests at the time.

" A line is hardly more straight than is the road from Headley to Thursley; and a prettier ride I never had in the course of my life. It was not the less interesting from the circumstance of its giving me all the way a full view of Crooksbury Hill, the grand scene of my exploits when I was a taker of the nests of crows and magpies. " William Cobbett, Rural Rides 1830

Farnham Heath

The RSPB (1) owns and manages a nature reserve at Farnham Heath (GR: SU859433) just outside Farnham on the B3001 near Tilford. Comprising of a mixture of heath and woodland the reserve attracts a healthy variety of bird species including woodlarks, tree pipits, crossbills, nightjars and woodcocks.

The RSPB since acquiring the heath in 2002 has successfully established a programme of heath and woodland regeneration. The reserve is open to the public and three nature trails have been marked out in the reserve including a short route that is manageable for wheelchair users with a helper. There are full facilities at the adjoining Rural Life Centre.

(1) RSPB - Royal Society for Protection of Birdswas founded in 1889 and is a UK charity whose primary aim is to secure a healthy environment for birds. With a million members it is Europe's largest wildlife conservation charity.

A new regional scheme operated by the RSPB and Mencap was launched at Farnham Heath (December 2008) to provide an opportunity for volunteers with learning disabilities to help with essential wildlife conservation work. The group of men in their early 20s carried out habitat management work to help declining heathland species including Dartford warblers, nightjars, woodlarks and sand lizards.

The project is the first of its type trialled by organisations in the South East of England and targets the most excluded group of disabled people from the UK workforce, where only 17% are in paid employment, compared to around half of disabled people as a whole.

"The work at Farnham Heath is really coming along, and we are already seeing a good range of wildlife, but it’s a major restoration project that requires a lot of hands-on effort," said Mike Coates, RSPB Farnham Heath project manager. "We run regular volunteer work parties here, but this scheme has opened my eyes to the potential that is out there through organisations such as Mencap. It’s been a win-win situation – we’ve got some important jobs done, and these young volunteers have got stuck into some really satisfying work that will benefit local wildlife and people for years to come."

The project proved to be such a success that both organisations are now hoping to run similar work parties elsewhere in the region.

"We believe in volunteering for all," said Carol Service, Mencap volunteer development manager. "Although we know there are a lot of barriers, we know that people with a learning disability can be excellent volunteers. This scheme helps us work together and open up opportunities by partnering with volunteer organisations like the RSPB."

Source: rspb.org.uk 10th December 2008

The RSPB reported (July 2009) that progress on the reserve has been significant. Surveys over the summer months have revealed that 2009 has been the best breeding season for endangered species. Seven breeding pairs of pipits were counted, the highest since work began to restore the heath in 2002. Nationally the British population of this African migratory species has halved in the past 30 years and is  classified as red listed. Nightjars, grayling butterflies and sand lizard numbers have also increased.

“The gloomy outlook for many of these species nationally means that places like Farnham Heath have never been so important,” said Mike Coates, RSPB Farnham Heath site manager. “I have been involved with the RSPB's reserve here from the start and the increase in wildlife from then to now is truly heartening. By allowing the heath to flourish once more we are starting to see more and more species arrive. Conservation doesn't tend to be about instant results, species take a while to come in, but everything is going in the right direction. The fact that we have breeding nightjar and tree pipit, not to mention sand lizards and graylings, is proof that what we're doing here is working. Once these bits of restored heathland have begun to mature we should start to see a whole raft of new species, as the biodiversity that once thrived here returns. The future at RSPB Farnham Heath looks very bright indeed.”

The SITA Trust has awarded a total of £115,000 in two separate grants to the wildlife charity.

“SITA Trust's four year £18.5m Enriching Nature programme was created to support species and habitats identified as a priority by the Biodiversity Action planning process,” said Andrew Saunders, SITA Trust's Programmes Manager. “We were delighted to provide funding to the RSPB for the vital habitat restoration project at Farnham Heath. These early results clearly demonstrate the importance of directing biodiversity funding to organisations who deliver superb, on-the-ground conservation work.”

rspb.org.uk 13th July 2009

Controversy Rages Over RSPB
Using Farnham Heath to Pioneer a Nationwide Experiment

The removal of 165 hectares (333 acres) of commercial conifer plantation from the site has resulted in some controversy (September 2009) although the charity argues that this is necessary in order to restore the heath and encourage heathland birds such as Dartford warblers, nightjars and woodlarks to return.

"Scots pine, Corsican pine, Japanese larch. There are clues in the names. These trees are not native to southern England," says Mike Coates, for the RSPB “Woodland is very common compared with heathland. But re-creating heathland is so much better for wildlife than a conifer plantation. Lots of the birds that live in the conifer forests are common and can survive elsewhere. Heathland stuff needs heathland, and much of it is very rare.”

The clearance on Farnham Heath is the first part of a controversial nationwide plan toreform England's non-native woodlands for which the charity is taking a lot of flak. Government ministers are watching the experiment at Farnham closely to decide whether to allow the process to be repeated across tens of thousands of hectares of government land run by the Forestry Commission. The RSPB on its part wants the government to double the 55,000 hectares (135,000 acres) of lowland heathland by clearing non-native conifers.

"All you've got to do is get the trees off to expose the buried heather seeds, get some sunlight and water and, bingo, in five years you've got a heathland,” said Nick Phillips, RSPB's biodiversity policy officer. "If you replant [conifers] after the trees are harvested, you've blown it. You can't restore heathland without it being much more difficult and time consuming."

However there is increasing protest at the plan including opposition from the Confederation of Forest Industries who have described the idea as ' absolutely crazy':

"The government is highlighting the importance of combating climate change and planting trees to lock up carbon, and here we have a proposal to chop trees down, release carbon and lose jobs, all for an environmental benefit that you can get from better management of existing heathland. It just doesn't add up," said Stuart Goodall, chief executive of the Confederation.
The RSPB has so far removed 16 hectares (150 acres) of the conifer forest.

guardian.co.uk 13th September 2009

The RSPB, working with Natural England, plan to reintroduce field crickets to Farnham Heath in April 2010. Crickets have suffered an alarming decline throughout the country with the species hitting rock bottom in the late 1980s when they were reduced to just a single colony of 100 insects in Sussex.

independent.co.uk 15th Januray 2010

A residential reserve team based on the reserve was joined by volunteer Chris Swatridge (November 2011). The team undertake conservation work and organise events.

"After I completed my masters in research degree, I started applying for jobs in conservation, but didn't get anywhere and it was clear that I needed more experience," he said. "To start with I volunteered once a week at RSPB Farnham Heath. As I was working in an office at the time, I thought that this was a brilliant idea, even though it was January. I helped with scrub clearing in the cold and wet and had an amazing time. Living on the reserve with other interns has been great. We're all in the same position and we've had a real laugh, they've all made the experience that little bit better."

getsurrey.co.uk 24th November 2011


Influential Citizens

It was at Moor Park on the banks of the River Wey that in 1704 Jonathan Swift (1667 – 1745), the author of Gulliver’s Travels, wrote The Tale of a Tub and The Battle of the Books whilst working as secretary to Sir William Temple.

Farnham played an important role in the development of the early motor industry. John Henry Knight (1847 - 1917) built a road steam vehicle in 1868 at his works in West Street. Knight had trained as an engineer and developed an early enthusiasm for finding ways of harnessing steam for power road-going transport. Although his vehicle proved to be inefficient and prone to disaster it stimulated others to investigate ways of propelling vehicles without the use of horses or pedal power and so the industry locally was born. Knight had a lot more success with his petrol engine, the Trusty, and he evolved a three wheeled road vehicle with tiller steering that was powered by the engine. His car was the fourth British vehicle to be built and is believed to be the first petrol driven vehicle ever to be driven on British roads. The 1895 vehicle had a single cylinder with a capacity of 1565cc and a maximum speed of 8 mph. Knight was fined five shillings in the same year for not having a traction engine licence, nor a man walking in front with the obligatory red flag. His four-wheeled version today is preserved in the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu.

The following is a letter held at Farnham Museum and written in 1895 by his engineer. It was sent to Knight whilst he was recuperating from an accident recounting the road tests he had undertaken whilst his boss was away..

12, Mount Pleasant,

Dear Mr Knight

I was very sorry to hear of your accident but I hope you will soon be all right again. I was out nearly every morning last week with the new motor car and it works well now. I could not get engine to fire every time at first. She would fire twice and misfire twice regularly. So I tried to get it right by adjusting the air and the gas by using short and long tube and by placing a small air valve to ventilate the firing tube, but I could not get it right that way. Then I thought of raising the compression, so I put a quarter inch plate between the brasses and the connecting rod and she fired every time at once. I ran then with a fast speed rope on and went the level quite 10 miles an hour, that is with myself on it.

I went out again the next morning, with Ford and myself on the machine, to Willey Mill both riding there and back and came home after changing water at Willey in 15 minutes. The next morning, we went to Willey again, myself only riding, Ford riding a tricycle, and came home from Willey in 9 minutes. She goes up the rises by Cox Bridge and past Cox Bridge on the Alton Road with slow speed at about 3 to 4 miles per hour, governors missing sometimes.

The horses I met on the road take no notice of it. They are mainly heavy horses. The exhaust is noisier than it ought to be, but I think it is that paint tin. It sounds like a drum. It is so very thin that I think it would be better if it was lined inside with asbestos mill board. It would deaden the sound.

I think that leather bands would be better than ropes and I have added up the weights of levers, brackets, rollers and find that by fitting leather belts, we should gain 30 pounds in weight, which means a lot off the machine. I have been nearly half way up Beavers Hill in slow and I find that the ropes are wearing the V in the pulleys, quite rounding them already. The water in the tank gets very hot going from the shop in Willey, but I find the engine works better after the water gets warm.

We met Mr Neal out the other morning, so I let him have a ride on it a little way; so I see he has a small piece in the Surrey and Hants which I have cut out for you to see. I think that is all, Sir, this time and I hope we shall soon have you home with us, quite recovered from your accident, but it is very bad just now to have your arm broken.

I remain yours obediently, Geo. Parfitt

Mike Hawthorn (1929 – 1959) the motor racing ace also lived in Farnham. Instantly recognisable by his 6’2” frame, blond hair, broad grin and bow tie Hawthorn burst on to the motor racing scene at Goodwood in 1952 to win the British Grand Prix driving a Cooper-Bristol. He went on to race for Ferrari at Formula One always wearing his trademark bow tie.

Europe's leading vehicle auctioneer has announced (February 2008) that after a twenty-five year absence from the town it is returning to new premises less than half a mile away from where it was originally established in the 1950s. British Car Auctions, which started life as Southern Counties Car Auctions, moved from its West Street headquarters in 1983 to an old Edwardian Hotel, Expedier House, in Hindhead. The business, which now processes vehicle sales of over £3 billion each year, is moving into 'state-of-the-art' facilities in Crosby Street, resulting in the sale of its Hindhead premises (which was demolished in late 2009). Headway House will accommodate their staff of 150 as well as providing highly specialised computer systems to handle 1.3 million vehicles at their 21 UK and 24 European vehicle auction centres. The company was bought for £390m in December 2009 by the US based parent company of Hertz Rent A Car which uses British Car Auctions to dispose of used rental cars when it upgrades its fleet.The company stated vehicle sales to over 70,000 buyers in the UK during 2009.

Farnham's Most Famous Son

William Cobbett (1763 - 1835) is one of Farnham’s most famous sons, and the pub in the town in which he lived is named in his honour. Cobbett began work as a young lad as a bird scarer in the fields as his father was a farmer, later a publican, but became one of the country’s most dedicated social commentators risking his life and health in the process.

William Cobbett
Picture in public domain

Having joined the army at the age of 21 he quickly found the corruption and ill-treatment rife in the senior ranks to be so shocking that he tried to expose the issues, only to be turned upon and charged to appear before a court martial.

Fearing for his life Cobbett fled to America in 1791 where the corruption of the political system there again irked him so much that he started publishing his views earning him the nickname Peter Porcupine. A harsh libel judgement in 1800 forced him to return to England in severe financial difficulty, but he was now so fired up about social injustices that this was to take over his life.

Two years later he founded the radical The Political Register which campaigned for social and political reform. Concerned also that accounts of debates in the house were being deliberately misreported, Cobbett founded his journal Parliamentary Debate which was later to become known as The Hansard after his assistant who continued to develop the journal, and which is still published today.

Continually hounded by powerful figures, Cobbett continually ran the gauntlet of imprisonment and heavy fines but finally achieved his ambition of taking a seat in the House three years before his death.

He is best remembered today for his detailed accounts of his travels around Surrey and in highlighting the plight of the poor living there. Extracts from Cobbett’s 1830 Rural Lives are featured in this web site. A framed copy of The Political register hangs in the William Cobbett pub.

Where are The Bones of Tom Paine?

Farnham born William Cobbett (see above) was renowned for being outspoken and opinionated. A target for his disdain was the English revolutionary and radical intellectual Thomas Paine (1737-1809). Paine had emigrated to the American colonies and he had encountered Cobbett there during one of Cobbett's self-imposed exiles.

Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine
Picture in public domain

Cobbett had written a hostile biography of the intellectual in response to some of his widely publicised views, one of which advocated independence from Great Britain, but some years later it would appear that he had a change of heart in his opinion of Paine. So started an unsolved mystery that was to become a public obsession for much of the 19th century, with the Times and other journals of the time trying to get to the bottom of it.

It would appear that in his guilt Cobbett hatched a plan that would fund the building of a monument to Paine which would effectively be his apology for the way he had treated Paine during his lifetime. Cobbett was renowned for his odd schemes, and this must surely rank as one of his oddest, for according to research carried out by Paul Collins for his book The Trouble With Tom: The Strange Afterlife and Times of Thomas Paine (2005) Cobbett dug up Paine's remains and brought them back to England with him. His grand idea was that he could use Paine's bones as a political fundraiser and so get him the recognition and support for his monument. Not surprisingly Cobbett found that human remains do not make a good fundraising gimmick and so poor Paine's bones lay in Cobbett's attic and were eventually forgotten and lost when Cobbett's estate was sold after his death in 1835.

Decades of debate followed as the Victorians enquired as to where Paine's remains had gone. The debate was fuelled by Paine's high profile during both the American Revolution, which in 1776 resulted in the creation of a new nation, and the French Revolution (1780-1799). Letters in a magazine of the time claimed that the bones had been tracked down to a grain merchant residing in nearby Guildford, although this turned out to be erroneous. Other claims became more bizarre and included stories of Paine's bones being used to make commemorative coat buttons. The author managed eventually to follow a trail which involved a succession of radical reformers involved in everything from abolitionism and birth control to medical reform and voting rights, with the remains of Tom Paine appearing and disappearing with records of death and bankruptcy. Tantalisingly their final whereabouts are still unknown.

This account of William Cobbett and Thomas Paine does however serve to throw a little light on to the colourful character of one of the Wey Valley's most famous sons . . .

Campaign for the American Reader. 9th January 2007

Farnham Castle Street 1906
Castle Street 1906
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.

Quarry Threat in Weybourne

Surrey County Council's (SCC) draft minerals plan has outlined a new site for the extraction of minerals at Weybourne in Farnham. Monkton Lane (GR: SU857486) bordering Green Lane Farm has been identified by SCC as a source of aggregate which will help fulfil the council's government imposed targets for contributing to national extraction needs.

Another site in the Wey Valley at Eashing Farm (GR: SU947449) near Godalming is similarly targeted.

Local MP Jeremy Hunt has been fighting the plans for both sites and supports local objectors which include the borough councils and conservation groups. The MP met (September 2006) with English Nature on the two sites to assess the ecological impact the quarries will impose.

"English Nature has informed me that they do have some key concerns over these two sites in the draft minerals plan," said Hunt. "I am delighted that their conservation officer Nick Radford has agreed to visit the site with me as I hope he and I will be able to work closely together to get the council to rule out Monkton Lane and Eashing."

SCC has announced a timetable for the quarries that will centre on a stakeholder workshop in October 2006 that will then lead to the final draft of the minerals plan which will be submitted to the government in June 2006. A consultation period will follow allowing the public to put forward objections. A final public examination will take place in early 2008 before the plan is finally approved.

Farnham Herald 22nd September 2006


'Garden Grabbing' Concerns

Wey Valley residents in Godalming, Haslemere and Farnham have joined forces to protest against what they see as the 'garden grabbing' activities of property developers in the area.


Redgrave Theatre
and the East Street Development

The Waverley Borough Council are under increasing pressure to reject plans to demolish the former Redgrave Theatre to make way for a major new commercial development in the centre of the town.

The theatre, which was named after actor Sir Michael Regrave, was built in response to the fact that The Castle Theatre had outgrown its facilities, and opened in 1973. Sir Michael buried a time capsule beneath the theatre's foundations as it was being built, and it was his voice that was the first to be publicly heard from the stage at the opening. The theatre was opened by Princess Margaret and Lord Snowden with a Royal Gala performance of Romeo and Juliet.

The Castle Theatre was the earliest and smallest of Surrey's main post-war repertory theatres and was officially opened in 1941 by the Farnham Repertory Company.

The Redgrave, which was publicly funded in its construction, incorporated an innovative new auditorium design, with an orchestra pit for ten musicians, to ensure that every spectator had a clear view of the stage, and was used to test its suitability for the design that was to be used in London's Barbican Theatre. After a decade of financial struggles the theatre, which had been leased to the Farnham Repertory Theatre, was forced to close its doors in 1988.

Redgrave Theatre

The theatre comprises of a single tier auditorium seating 356, entered from the top of the rake and designed to give excellent sightlines. It has a distinctive and unusual concrete roof structure, with beam ends forming eaves, overhanging the brick walls of the auditorium. Redgrave is spelt out with a single letter in each deep recess. It has no fly tower and the stage is open-end of 12m width with a thrust effect in the middle; with a large workshop behind. A rehearsal room/studio is situated under the steps of the auditorium, the large foyer serving both. Source: The Theatres Trust 14th October 2008

The New Farnham Repertory Company, which was launched in 1999 to try to convince the council to keep the theatre open, had failed despite high profile campaigns and even resorting to making a point by producing three seasons of outdoor plays both in the open air and in a marquee outside the building. The Farnham Theatre Association, which was formed at the end of 2005 to combat the development plans, is however still hopeful and they have been supported in their campaign to halt demolition by actresses Kika Mirylees (Bad Girls), Susan Jameson (Heartbeat) and Abigail McKern (Rumpole of the Bailey).

The 356-seat theatre which had been designed by Frank Rutter was finally boarded up in 1999 after a long struggle to keep it open. The developers want to retain the adjacent Grade II listed Brightwell House which was built in 1790, and which had served as the theatre's restaurant, offices and dressing rooms, and to convert the building into a cafe-bar and restaurant. Brightwell House had been acquired by the local council in 1920.

Farnham Brightweels at Redgrave Theatre 1927
Brightwells in 1927
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

The £100m 750,000 sq ft (67,500sq m) development is around the East Street area and will include shops, restaurants, bars, apartments and an eight-screen cinema. Affordable housing and underground parking have also been incorporated into the plans. Public consultation closed at the end of November (2006). There is considerable local concern over the plans.

“The people of Farnham are absolutely fed up with these plans. They’re outraged by the size and scale of the buildings that will be there," said Anne Cooper of the Association. "I have been absolutely inundated with people queuing up to sign our letters of objection to the planning applications. I always knew there was support for the theatre but it has been overwhelming. We will be taking well over 1,000 to the council next week.”

However it appears that the protests may fall on deaf ears as the council, who own the site, haven't been able to identify any investors for retaining the theatre.

"Members discussed at length the two previous attempts supported by Waverley to relaunch live theatre at the Redgrave building, which had resulted in several hundred thousand pounds of revenue and capital investment by Waverley which had not been able to provide a sustainable theatre. Essentially, members felt that people in the Farnham community were not prepared in sufficient numbers to support live theatre to enable it to sustain itself." Minutes of the Environment & Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee May 2006

The council would appear to be hanging their hopes for providing a home for live theatre at the Farnham Maltings, a popular arts and music venue near the centre of town.

“Waverley’s cultural strategy for drama is focused on The Maltings, which is developing its capacity for a range of live performance,” said spokesman Chris Mansell. “The Maltings has been a great success and Waverley’s very considerable investment is bearing fruit. Furthermore there will be a multi-screen cinema in the new development for which there has been extremely well-evidenced demand.”

thestage.co.uk 20th December 2005; 14th November 2006 / Waverley Borough Council web site 14th November 2006

It looks increasingly likely (December 2006) that the developers, Crest Nicholson, will be granted planning permission for the new development. The Grade-II listed Brightwells House is to be refurbished but the Redgrave Theatre itself will be demolished.

Over 10,000 local people have registered their objection to the plans and an increasingly agitated group of actors continue to voice their anger. Judi Dench, Geraldine James, Alistair McGowan and Gemma Jones are amongst many who have joined the Redgrave family in protest.

"It's such an excellent theatre and such a wicked waste to leave it empty and then pull it down. Actors like us know a good theatre when we work in one and the Redgrave is a great theatre. Once it goes dark it's quite easy for developers to go sniffing around." James Bolan

"My family were thrilled to be part of it. I would be very sad to see it go. Nearly half of the (£255,000) funding came from donations from local people - and yet they were not consulted when the theatre was closed." Jemma Regrave, who cut the ribbon at the theatre's opening when she was six years old.

"It's the people of Farnham against the absolutely enormous developers. I don't feel like I'm living in a democratic country. The developers have been saying it’s just a few theatre people who want to save it but that’s rubbish - there have been over 9,000 letters and people are absolutely furious about having the theatre taken away from them. It’s not democratic, they are not listening to what people are saying.” Abigail McKern, Rumpole of The Bailey actress.

Proponents of the scheme however see the development as crucial in breathing life back into this part of the town.

"They (opponents of the scheme) are very unhappy about change in particular. But there is no doubt that that part of town needs attention," said Gillian Ferguson, leader of Waverley Borough Council. "There will be a town square and we will preserve the existing green space. There will be housing in the town centre - rather than adding to the edges of the town - with 88 affordable housing units, shopping, retail and cinema."

"You can't stem re-generation for a bunch of people who want to save their theatre. If someone came to me with the dough then I would consider providing a theatre in the scheme," said Paul Callcutt, Crest Nicholson director. "I have people ripping this scheme to shreds and wrecking a whole load of social goods. I feel quite deeply that we have a great development here. It hits every sustainable development button that you can imagine."

However the developers have said they would be open to suggestions on re-opening the theatre if funding could be found.

“The applicant (Crest Nicholson) has said if anyone has the financial support to make [the theatre] work they’d be very happy to talk to them, but the position so far is no one has brought forward a package that would work financially," said Stephen Thwaites, Waverley Borough Council director of planning and development. "Certainly the council has been involved in financially supporting the theatre in the past but, after a couple of failed attempts to relaunch it, the council withdrew its support.”

The Independent 29th December 2006 / The Stage 9th January 2007

The redevelopment of the East Street zone has turned into a high-profile political contest (May 2007) in local elections. Infuriated by what they see as wholesale destruction of the Georgian character of the town 18 local residents are standing for election as independent councillors. A political party, Waverley Independent Network (WIN), was formed to provide support to the independent applicants who are standing for 31 seats with some candidates doubling up in town and borough wards. 14 WIN candidates are standing in eight of the nine Farnham wards.

Much of the candidates anger is directed at what they see as the local council's secretive approach to the East Street development.

"The government talks about localism but local councils have no power - we have a contract [for East Street] that was agreed by the Conservatives in 2003 just before they lost to the Liberal Democrats," said Stephen Cochrane, a founding member of WIN. "Due to a commercial confidentiality agreement with the developer Crest Nicholson/Sainsbury's it is being debated in secret and the people that make decisions are based at the borough council in Godalming, 13 miles away."

Guardian Unlimited 2nd May 2007

Developers Scott Brownrigg have presented their latest plans to Waverley Borough Council for the East Street development. The plans outline the creation of nearly 300 residential buildings alongside bars, cafes, restaurants and a multi-screen cinema on the 12-acre site. The scheme, which was subject in March 2008 to a 28-day public consultation period, would see East Street resurfaced and pedestrianised allowing access to a new town square with the town's ancient copper beech tree at its focal point, although detractors point out that of 105 existing trees the plans will see 93 of these felled. The Listed Brightwells House will be refurbished but the Redgrave Theatre would fall to the demolition team's hammers. The scheme originally also included a new Sainsbury's store on the site but such have been the planning delays the company has since undertaken a multi-million pound refurbishment of its existing outlet.

Ten years after discussions started the council has given approval (October 2008) for the redevelopment of East Street which will provide for restaurants, retail units and 239 homes, of which 30% will be designated as affordable accommodation. The Marlborough Head PH buildings will be preserved for a change of use and Brightwell House, once part of the Redgrave, will be converted into two units for restaurant use. The theatre itself will be demolished. The plan will also see construction of a community centre to replace the existing Gostrey Centre, a multi-screen cinema and car parks. Councillors voted 330 to one in favour of the application.

Pressure to save the Redgrave Theatre from demolition continues to build. The Theatres Trust has urged (October 2008) the secretary of state for Communities and Local Government to step in to save the theatre. The Trust has also written to the Planning Director of the Government Office for South East demanding a public enquiry and highlighting the fact that the plans to demolish the theatre conflict with Surrey County Council's own Cultural Strategy 2002 - 2007 and Waverley's 'A Blueprint for Leisure 2003 - 2008' which identifies a lack of theatrical provision in the area and praised the Redgrave as a 'cultural asset'.

"This development has not addressed the impact of the loss of the Redgrave nor the benefits associated with the economic, social and cultural strengths a theatre brings to the development," said Mhora Samuel, Trust Director. "There are no plans to include a 350 seat theatre or provide financial compensation that could provide local residents with a proper theatre. As Planning Policy Statement 6 (PPS6) states, 'The Government's key objective for town centres is to promote their vitality and viability... and make the town more attractive to local residents, shoppers and visitors'. The loss of the Redgrave does not support this policy." prnewswire 14th October 2008

The East Street development is approaching a new challenge as Crest Nicholson Sainsbury's announced their intention (October 2008) to apply for a three-year extension to allow the developer to tackle the detrimental market conditions currently facing the building industry. This provides an opportunity for opponents to the scheme to pressurise the council to withdraw from the contract, although this could lead to many more years of dereliction for the site.

"Terminating the contract would mean, in effect, starting again at the beginning of the project, seeking an alternative development proposal, and new contract terms,” warned an official council report. "This could entail several years of delay in meeting the council’s regeneration objectives, and would result in greater uncertainty for the people of Farnham.”

The development has already had two previous extensions, the first for one year and the second nine months.

Farnham Herald 30th October 2008

Waverley Borough Council has agreed (November 2008) to amend its contract with the developers to allow a three-year extension to the contract which will now remain valid until December 2011. They also agreed to a condition that a six-month rolling viability test be applied to determine whether the scheme remains financially viable. The council is also now putting into motion the procedure required to compulsory purchase the last two remaining parcels of land - the site of the former Regal cinema and the Marlborough pub. It is estimated that this procedure will cost £165,000 and requires approval by the Secretary of State for the Environment.

The derelict Farnham Health Centre at Brightwells together with the pair of semi-detached council houses and the gardener's cottage located in Brightwell Gardens are set to be demolished announced (March 2009) the town council. It is a full five years since the health centre closed with GPs relocating to the new Farnham Hospital. The cost of demolition has been estimated at £87,000.

Planning permission was granted in 2009 for mixed use development. The development will have 239 new homes, 25 shops, restaurants and cafés, a multi-storey car park and a 722-seat cinema.

Waverley Borough Council started the process of compulsory purchase orders (CPO) in November 2011. The council owns much of the site but requires the CPOs to secure the land on which the former Regal Cinema and the Marlborough Head public house. The Farnham Society and Farnham Theatre Association are still campaigning for the development to follow a 'responsible' approach and want to see the plans amended.


Farnham Colleges
Old & New

Farnham Grammar School
and Farnham College

For almost four centuries Farnham Grammar School educated thousands of boys from the town and surrounding villages.  The school was founded in 1560 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I with records showing that that was the year an application for a licence to build the school was lodged.

In 1585 there is record of a yeoman (1) in Farnham donating 20 shillings ‘to the maintenance of the school in Farnham’. A 17th century book Natural History and Antiquities of Surrey compiled by John Aubrey (1627 – 1697) does suggest, but without any evidence, that the school actually dates back to 1351 this being the date that a chantry was established at Farnham Castle by the Bishop of Winchester. Henry VII’s son, Arthur, is recorded as having attended the chantry. The school was first referred to as a Grammar School in 1849.

(1) A yeoman was a freeman who cultivated his own land.

The school building was located in West Street from the 17th century until 1906 when it was re-housed in new buildings constructed on six acres of land in Morley Road. The old building was taken over by the Girls’ Grammar School. Both schools were replaced by the newly-formed Farnham College in 1973 following a national overhaul of the education system.

Prior to the introduction of the Education Act in 1944 the school relied on gifts and bequests and pupils were only accepted on payment of fees or by scholarships awarded on merit.

A 1920s prospectus for the school preserved by the Old Farhamians’ Association includes the following entries:

Day boys coming from a distance may dine with the boarders at a charge of 1s. a day.

The main building comprises on the ground floor a Cloak Room and Changing Room, a Dining Hall for 90 boys, a Chemistry Laboratory, and a Physics Laboratory ; on the first floor a School Hall beautifully panelled in oak, and five classrooms, each capable of accommodating 30 boys. The classrooms are all lofty, well ventilated, and heated by hotwater radiators. There is a temporary building which provides three more classrooms ; a well-equipped Workshop for Manual Instruction; a large Gymnasium ; a Bicycle House ; and a covered Miniature Rifle Range.

In the Headmaster’s house are the boarders’ dormitories, very lofty, heated by hot water, and commanding a wonderful view of the countryside. In the senior dormitory is a private sleeping apartment for the Resident Master ; and the junior dormitory is in charge of a Prefect. The Matron’s room adjoins. There are two bathrooms for the use of the boarders, who also have a playroom of their own, apart from the Gymnasium, which is fitted with electric light and makes an excellent indoor recreation place. There is an Infirmary for cases of infectious illness among boarders.

If a boy has been to school before, a certificate of good conduct is required before admission.

The School sets out to train the members of its community so that they shall be fitted both spiritually, mentally and physically to play their part as citizens in the larger world.

The great majority of the boys go into business or commercial life, while some few every year enter the Services, the professions or the universities. With these ends in view, the School has been so organized and graded that each boy, within the limits of his capacity, shall have a complete and graduated course in each subject of the curriculum.

There is a Detention Class from 4.15 to 5.30 p.m. on Fridays, for boys whose work during the week has been unsatisfactory ; and idle or troublesome boys are liable to attend on Saturday mornings.

The Old Farnhamians’ Association is still active today to provide a link between the school’s old boys and provides a history of the school, its boys and masters – although as their website states: “although, with the natural course of events, the OFA membership will decline . . .”.

The Guildford College Group operates Farnham College together with Guildford College and Merrist Wood.

Farnham becomes
a University Town

Farnham Art College, which has its origins in the 19th century, celebrated its new found status as a university in September 2008 with an official opening alongside its sister campuses in Epsom and Kent.

The newly named University for the Creative Arts has a total of five campuses with its largest located in Farnham and formally became the first specialist creative arts university earlier in the year. The university was formed through the merger of the Surrey and Kent Institutes of Art and Design in 2005 and now has over 7,000 students from 70 countries spread across its campuses.

“What this means is for the first time the UK has got a specialist creative arts university,” said the University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Elaine Thomas. “That’s unique and special, because it means that when young people want to study a creative subject they can now go to a university to do it, whereas in the past they went to art colleges.”

The university also has campuses in Epsom, Canterbury, Maidstone and Rochester.

The town has been a provider of art education since the 19th century, when the Farnham School of Art was formed in 1866, associating the town with a rich history of decorative and fine arts. Local artist James Hockey’s enterprising undertakings in the town from the 1940s resulted in a small School of Art being founded in West Street. This facility evolved into the West Surrey College of Art in West Street and finally into the Surrey Institute of Art & design absorbing the Guildford School of Art (established 1870).  James Hockey was appointed principal of the Farnham School of Art in 1945.

The Farnham campus provides specialist teaching and research in art, design, cinematics and communications. The university has award winning on-campus accommodation with contemporary ‘living spaces’ for 350 students in the Student Village. Two exhibition facilities, the James Hockey and Foyer Galleries, run public events throughout the year.

Loyd Grossman, the television presenter, 'personality chef' and journalist was appointed chairman of the university's board of governors in September 2008.

The university boasts a long string of successes from students who have achieved awards in national and international competitions including Oscar and BAFTA winners in animation; prize winners for film and video in Kodak, Fuji and Royal Television Society awards; winners in journalism for the National Magazine Academy Award; fine art winners in the national Pfizer Award; and winners in three dimensional design with the Kleinwort Benson Prize.

Here are some of the successes we've found chalked up by Farnham Art College and UCA Farnham students past and present:

Darren Walsh, who graduated in Animation from the original West Surrey College of Design in Farnham in 1993, created the meerkat characters for the now long-running Compare the Market TV advertising campaign. Walsh worked at Aardman Animations in Bristol after he left UCA where he created a series of 60-second films Angry Kid, which were broadcast on BBC3. He was awarded an honorary degree from UCA in 2011 for his contribution to the creative arts.

"My time at Farnham set me up with abilities and a work ethic that opened my eyes to a fascinating career in animation, an ever-changing medium that continues to excite me 20 years on. It warms my heart to be asked back to accept this honour." bbc.co.uk 24th May 2011

Michael Barwise, who graduated with a BA (Hons) Film Production at UCA Farnham in 2011, won Best Art Film at the Aesthetica Short Film festival (November 2011). The film is about the controversial 'peace walls' in Northern Ireland.

"The inspiration behind the film came largely from my own experiences growing up in Northern Ireland beside one of the walls but I wanted to find a way to make it relevant to a wider audience rather than create a direct, personal experience," said Barwise. "The film tackles the mixed emotions, such as paranoia, uncertainty and isolation, which surround the peace walls." belfasttelegraph.co.uk 14th November 2011

Grant Orchard, a graduate of UCA, won a BAFTA (February 2012) for best short animation. His film A Morning Stroll was also nominated for an Oscar under the same category.

"The Bafta is there by the bed, it's really heavy. It's odd looking," Mr Orchard said. bbc.co.uk 13th February 2012

Victoria Smith, in the final year of her Animation degree at UCA Farnham (2011), won an internship with American film director Tim Burton. Smith spent the summer working on the set of the Frankenweenie where she helped out with the 200 puppets used in the stop-motion sequences of the film.

"Day to day I was placed wherever help was needed," she said. "I spent a whole week making wigs for puppets which I really enjoyed - four of the wigs I made are being used on characters in a couple of crowd shots. I also spent a week making character blinks and was allowed to do some blink tests on-set, which was really exciting." examiner.com 29th August 2011

Professor of Photography at UCA Farnham won (January 2011) The Pilar Citoler International Prize for Contemporary Photography. Karen Knorr won the accolade with a photo from a series featuring animals she had shot in India.

Two acclaimed contemporary photographers who have flown in the face of a genre dominated by "white male master photographers"(1) are Sunil Gapta and Anna Fox, both of whom graduated from Farnham Art School in the early 1908s. Both photographers have been involved in the collaborative degree courses launched by UCA and the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India. (more below)
(1) quote from mybangalore.com 15th July 2009

American artist Emilie Eve Weinstein studied at the West Surrey College of Art and Design in Farnham.

Oscar-winning cinematographer Billy Williams OBE was presented with an honorary degree from UCA Farnham in 2009. Williams, who had worked on films including Gandhi, Women in Love, Sunday Bloody Sunday and On Golden Pond, had also taught master classes at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design prior to its absorption into the UCA.

An administrator working at UCA in Farnham was named Fundraiser of the Year 2011 after raising over £85,000 for St George's Hospital in London. Hollie Edwards' boyfriend Tom Wallace had been admitted to the hospital with fatal injuries after being knocked over whilst crossing a road in the town.

The UCA announced (April 2011) that it was to slash by half the number of journalism courses on offer due to government funding cuts. The university is the only in the UK to offer undergraduates the chance to sit a BA in Motoring Journalism. Other courses include Leisure Journalism, which was launched in 2009, Sports Journalism and general Journalism. All four courses were accredited by the Broadcast Journalism Training Council in 2011.

University for the Creative Arts proposed (June 2011) tuition fees of £8,500 a year in response to an 80% funding cut it is facing in 2012. The university will offer 164 £3,000 scholarships in 2012 across its campuses. The proposal requires approval by the Office for Fair Access.

In 2009 UCA Farnham launched a dual certificate programme in photography design at the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, India. The dual-degree programme allows NID to offer students a post-graduate diploma in photography whilst the UCA offers a Master in Fine Arts degree in photography. The initiative was further expanded by a £50,000 grant from the British Council to enable both colleges to allow students studying at NID to alos be eligible for a UCA Master of Fine Arts award. The first graduation certificates awarded to Indian students were presented to 15 graduates at a ceremony in Ahmedabad in December 2010.

A 'public lecture series' was launched by UCA Farnham in October 2010, with the first presenters being the university's board of governors chair Loyd Grossman and Oscar-winning filmmaker Billy Williams. Williams won the Best Cinematography Oscar for Ghandhi in 1983.

The independent  Farnham Art Society was formed in 1944 and today (2008) has over 450 members and provides meetings and events for its members including demonstrations, discussions, lectures, workshops and exhibitions. The Society is independent from the university.

A Sketch History of Art in Farnham (pub. Farnham Castle Newspapers) by Robin Radley provides an interesting insight into art in the town until the 1970s.

Farnham Maltings

A three-year programme to provide circus training was launched at Farnham Maltings in November 2011. The £2m initiative, led by French and British circus artists, is hoping to develop new talent and promote the best circus acts in both countries. The Maltings is one of seven venues to have secured funding from the European Regional Development Fund.

Tongham Wood Restored

Wedged between the busy A331 Blackwater Valley Road and the urban development of Tongham is Tongham Wood (GR: SU883488), a council owned triangular area covering 4.5 hectares.

Local residents established the Tongham Wood Improvement Group in 2004 to formalise efforts to clean up this important local woodland space volunteers had started in 2002. Their efforts working alongside the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership were celebrated with an official opening held in April 2007.

The work, which included clearing rubbish and rubble left by fly-tippers, clearing and marking paths and erecting interpretation boards, was made possible by grants totalling £5,000 which was topped up by £4,600 raised by the volunteers. Over four trailer loads of rubbish were taken off-site and 200 trees and 900 bulbs have been planted. Two new coppice areas with hornbeam, English oak and sweet chestnut, wild flower banks and mixed hedgerows have been planted.

The Group has applied for Local Nature Reserve status to be bestowed to protect the wood. The Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership manages the land for the council.

Oil Drilling at Tongham Opposed

Plans to install an oil drilling operation on land at Manor Farm in Tongham (GR: SU887485) is causing consternation. The site, which backs on to the Hog’s Back brewery, falls within an Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV) and is subject to a planning application by the Australian company Magellan Petroleum to install a 120ft (37m) tall rig on the farmland.

Drilling operations in a bid to find oil would take place 24 hours a day with the site brightly lit at night to ensure that the drilling teams can work safely. If the exploration attempt was successful the site would become permanent, although the company has said if no oil is found the farmland will be returned to its original condition.

Local residents in nearby The Street and Poyle Road have formed an action group, Tongham Against Development Plans on the Local Environment (Tadpole), and have been joined in their protest by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).
CPRE started talks (July 2009) with Surrey County Council to see if the adjacent Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) could be extended to include the site at Manor Farm. If successful, as an AONB the site would be protected by law and any development would be severely restricted.

Natural England has responsibility for assigning AONBs and would have to approve the application.

“Surrey County Council already supports us and we are talking to Natural England about extending the boundary of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,” Tim Harrold of Surrey CPRE said. “It would make the site where they want to put in the Tongham drilling equal to a natural park. I think this [the drilling] would be definitely harmful both to the countryside and to the landscape.”

Surrey Advertiser 31st July 2009

Local Food Initiative

In February 2008 a new initiative was launched to establish a local food co-operative that will produce 'locally grown healthy food'. The scheme, which takes up the principles of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) (1), was outlined to local residents at a public meeting at the Farnham Maltings at which the organisers reported an attendance of 140 people.

The founder of the Farnham Local Food Initiative, Robert Simpson, envisages a community-based local food co-operative which will manage land resources available to it for common good with the harvest shared among the members of the co-operative. Simpson's vision is that this will be a social enterprise "enabling members to invest money in their local community to the benefit of economic, social and environmental purposes such as food education, health care and wildlife habitat conservation."

The organisers reported that following the meeting over 50 people have committed their time, expertise and in some cases land to the inititiative. The next step is for a series of 'working groups' to be established in order to devise a pilot project.

The following points were highlighted in the leaflet used to launch the scheme:

"What might a Farnham Local Food Co-operative do? An initial pilot scheme could grow fresh vegetables and soft fruit, possibly with some poultry and pig products, on sites within the Farnham Town District for the participating members. Members could work together on deciding the desired crops and products for the coming year.

"How would the co-operative work? The Co-operative would set up, own and manage the business for the benefit of members and the local community. It could rent or acquire land and employ skilled people to produce the desired crops and food products. Members may also like to assist as volunteers!

"What would be the benefits of becoming a member of a local food co-operative? Primary benefits are easy access to good, tasty locally grown food at fair prices: a wider range of crops, seasonal variety and all-year-round freshness. Other benefits would be access to healthy activity; fun through involvement; and reconnection with the land. It requires a commitment to regular purchase, a readiness to share risk and some hard work from the organisers!

"What would be the benefits to the community of a successful local food co-operative? Economic benefits are job creation, with more money kept in the local economy. The social benefits could include farm-to-food education; better nutrition and health care opportunities; more scope for family recreation and community development. Environmental
benefits would include a designed garden farm landscape, as well as habitat conservation, on the urban fringe.

"What principles would guide the development of the co-operative? These could include: to create an equitable and sustainable local food economy; foster a healthy local food culture; and build a strong locally accountable social enterprise.

"What should be the objective of the local food co-operative? To manage successfully a co-operative enterprise that produces good, safe and fairly priced local food for members and residents of Farnham and surrounding district." Source: farnhamfood.com 27th February 2008

The new co-operative would also consider applying for start-up funding available for sustainable food projects similar to those running elsewhere in the country. One such funding source is the Local Food fund which is managed by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts and which received backing to the tune of £50m in 2007 from the Big Lottery Fund's Changing Spaces programme. The fund provides grants ranging from £2,000 to £500,000 and is available to qualifying not-for-profit community groups and organisations in England. In the long-term it would be the aim of the co-operative to become financially self-funding with members as investors and would operate as a not-for-profit enterprise.

(1) Community Supported Agriculture is a concept originally introduced into the USA from Europe in the 1980s and became extremely popular. There are now over 1,400 CSA schemes in the USA and Canada. CSA encompasses a broad range of partnerships between consumers and producers whereby members of schemes provide their labour and skills to allow farmers to focus on good farming practices whilst still maintaining productive and profitable farms. The Soil Association in Britain is a key campaigner for the launch of CSA into the country and estimates that there are over 100 such schemes in the UK.

In April 2008 the Farnham Local Food Initiative had their inaugural planting and sowing weekend. 45 members of the group with their families spent a Saturday working on the previously ploughed and rotovated field near Crondall digging in the group's first year crops. The day included a propagation workshop providing training on germinating seeds under glass and bringing seedlings to the cold frame. Members, who paid £100 to join, will benefit later in the year by receiving food produce which includes potatoes, onions, shallots, calabrese, carrots, spring onions, beetroot, radish and lettuce in return for their labours. The FLFI also operate on another site in Runfold and are aiming to have the Local Food Initiative fully operational later in the year.

The group has announced (January 2009) that their second site at The Kiln in St George's Road, Badshot Lea is to be launched on the 4th February.

Helping the Environment
in Runfold

A local waste management company is spearheading efforts in the valley to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill. Chambers, a privately owned company founded 25 years ago, occupies the quarry waste site on Guildford Road in Runfold (GR: SU876474) where it is also headquartered.

The quarry originally produced Runfold sand but in more recent years has come to house a complex operation, to which has been added (December 2007) a soil washing plant. There are only three other machines of its type in the UK. In 2008 the company is projecting to recycle 100,00 tonnes of secondary aggregate which would otherwise remain unseparated from soil waste removed from construction sites and building developments and would have otherwise ended up in landfill.

The recycling process involves weighing and inspecting the soil as it arrives at Runfold onboard tipper lorries. The soil is then passed through a dry screening process where any concrete is removed and crushed for use in new building groundworks. The remaining material goes to the soil washing plant which divides the waste out from the soil into soft sand, sharp sand and stones of three different size groupings. The company says that it is now able to recycle all but 2% of building and construction site waste.

The company also runs the recycling centre at Slyfield Green in Guildford where 60% of wood, metal, glass and paper gets recycled. The uncyclable material is taken to landfill at their Homefield site in Runfold.

chambers-group.co.uk; Surrey Advertiser 16th May 2008

SITA UK announced plans (January 2009) to build a 120,000 tonnes a year capacity composting facility at its Runfold landfill operation. The project which has received a £1.5 million grant from the Waste and Resources Action Programme will produce 60,000 tonnes a year of compost. The company held a public consultation exhibition in order to show local residents their plans prior to selecting a planning application. Should this be successful SITA intend to have the composting facility operational in July 2010.

Runfold Loses Jolly Farmer

A popular local since it was built in 1932, the Jolly Farmer (GR: SU870477) on Guildford Road has closed for good as a public house (April 2008) and is being converted into an upmarket Chinese restaurant.

The building with its herringbone brickwork and beamed mock-Tudor gables had established itself as both a local landmark and popular watering hole on the once busy A31 before the road was diverted to meet up with the Blackwater Valley trunk road in 1995.

Jolly Farmer Runfold near Farnham

When the road outside fell quiet and much of its passing trade was lost the pub successfully shifted its trading policy to concentrate on serving food and developed a good reputation in its 110 seater restaurant, so much so that in its heyday 70% of the pub's turnover came from food. The interior was welcoming with fitted oak dressers and exposed brick fireplaces and in the warmer months provided barbecues in its award-winning gardens. In 2006 the Jolly Farmer jointly won the Farnham in Bloom award with the Cherry Tree pub in Rowledge.

Prior to the restaurateur Steve Sung taking over the building from Punch Taverns, estate agents were advertising for offers in the region of £140,000 for the lease. This will be Sung's second restaurant joining Kei's restaurant in Tadley, Hampshire.

The pub was at the centre of a successful apprehension of a burglar by Police Dog Jordy working with Surrey Police C Division in 2007.

"Called to a report of intruders at the Jolly Farmer Public House in Runfold, PC Rob Male and Police Dog Jordy tracked across an adjoining road and into the garden of a bungalow where they located a man dressed in black hiding in the trees. The suspect ignored PC Male’s instructions and came at him with a large screwdriver. When the handler backed off the suspect ran. PD Jordy was released to chase the suspect.  He bit and initially detained the man, but he broke free and got into his vehicle. Both handler and dog struggled with the suspect in the vehicle, and arrested him for burglary.  PD Jordy then searched the garden area and located a large black handled screwdriver." Source: Surrey Police Authority

Tongham Pool Sold for £1

A 16-hectare plot that includes Tongham Pool (GR: SU883492) by Aldershot Park has been sold (July 2008) for £1 to Rushmoor District Council. The land was bought by Surrey County Council in 1968 from which to quarry gravel used in the construction of the adjacent A331 Blackwater Valley Relief Road. The quarry subsequently filled with water after it was closed forming the pool. During quarrying the remains of Iron Age hut circles were found together with an almost intact 'log ladder' at the bottom of a well.

The District Council has outlined a development plan for the site which will include improving pedestrian access with new bridges and footpaths, information boards introducing visitors to wildlife, and a tree-planting scheme to regenerate native species and provide screening from the road. An unnamed conservation group is in discussion with the council to manage the site for the council.

Tongham Pool also provides alternative green space to reduce disturbance to local special protection heathland areas, a policy championed by Natural England to encourage visitors such as dog walkers to avoid habitats for proteced species.

Farnham Transition Town

The global ‘Transition Towns’ movement has launched (September 2008) a local group in Farnham to focus on finding ‘responses to the twin challenges of climate change and peak oil.

The group wants to inform residents about the impact that it sees will be imposed on local people from the challenge of peak oil – where half of the world’s oil reserves have been extracted and with oil as a finite resource how this will directly affect not only energy prices but also all of those items that depend upon oil in their manufacture. These include a wide range of products from plastics and pesticides to medicines and televisions.

The transition town aim is to prepare local communities for the changes that they see coming, and to build ‘resilience’ into local communities to influence the way they lead their lives in everything from travel and work to to shopping habits and leisure pursuits. The term ‘transition’ relates to the move away from an oil-dependent society into a post-oil world.

"It is amazing to think that it is still less than three months since our first meeting in October. During that time we have created a shared vision and built a plan to 2020. We have met with Waverley Borough Council and the Surrey Economic Partnership. And we have excited more than 100 children at Weydon school about what is coming with peak oil, and the challenges and opportunities it will bring. We have started work on our short term priority projects in food, energy and housing. And we have done all this by meeting voluntarily for about an hour and a half a week for only about a dozen weeks." transitionfarnham.wordpress.com 19th December 2008

Transition Town Farnham announced (January 2009) a plan to launch a Garden Share Scheme (GSS) with the aim of reducing the number of people on the waiting list for the municipal allotments (120 people), improving 'social inclusion' for elderly garden owners, develop a 'neighbourhood kitchen garden culture' and to promote 'greater community cohesion within Farnham'. The group is hoping to attract owners of gardens which are underused and to identify unused gardens so that they can coordinate collaboration with GSS members in order to use this land to grow vegetables.

“Especially now that growing your own food is becoming increasingly popular, it seems an ideal opportunity to make use of otherwise unproductive land that could be nicely growing runner beans and the like,” said Transition Town GSS organiser Ian Bysh. “It’s great because there are over 120 people waiting for allotment sites in Farnham. The wait could be several years. Farnham Garden Share could help reduce the wait considerably. It’s not a free gardening service, though. Gardeners will have the freedom to grow fruit and vegetables in the way they feel inspired. However, there will be a proper agreement and rules of engagement just so there are no misunderstandings. For example, we recommend about a quarter of the produce is donated to the garden owner.

"We like the idea of people who can no longer manage their gardens being able to pass on their experience and skills. We’d be reviving a neighbourhood kitchen garden culture in Farnham.We’d love to see people swapping growing tips, nutritional information and recipes. Here at Transition Town Farnham we’ve got all sorts of plans to do this, such as Seedy Sundays, apple days, composting galas and the like.”

One of the first Farnham garden-owners to sign up was enthusiastic about the scheme.

“I am at a stage where I am trying to get my garden to self-maintenance," said Barbara Bristow, of the Farnham Volunteer Bureau. "I thought that although I wouldn’t be growing vegetables myself, it would be good for someone else to have the opportunity. We do get a proportion of the produce, but even if we didn’t it wouldn’t worry me. It would be nice to have part of the garden cared for while at the same time someone benefitted.” Source: Farnham Herald 30th January 2009

By March 2009 the Farnham Garden Share scheme could have signed up a dozen gardens and were proceeding to canvass members to use the land to grow fruit and veg. Transition Farnham also launched the Farnham Faerie Festival to encourage the involvement of 6 to 12-year-olds by building homes for fairies in woods and gardens during the summer and the group was launching a course through the further adult education centre to encourage people to grow organic vegetables.

"Unused gardens, too, are being put into service. Local gardenshare schemes are mushrooming around the country, linking enthusiastic growers with people with big gardens or other more unusual spaces to spare, from rooftops to car parks.

"For instance in Farnham, Surrey, where there is a waiting list of 120 people for allotments, the local garden-share group vets both would-be growers and people offering land, and matches them up on the basis of location and compatibility in a kind of horticultural blind date. Both parties sign a contract and agree on rules about access, storing tools and, most importantly, who gets the produce once it's harvested." Guardian 26th February 2009

The UK movement started in 2006 in Totnes in Devon when British environmentalist Rob Hopkins inspired the local community to rise to the challenge of developing sustainability without oil and where the group estimates that up to 15% of the town’s population are now in some way involved with projects. Hopkins describes ‘transition culture’ as ‘an evolving exploration into the head, heart and hands of energy descent’ and has published The Transition Handbook: from oil dependency to low resilience (Green Books 2008 ISBN 978 1 900322 18 8).

More about Transition Farnham HERE.


The Largest Inhabited Roundabout
in the Country

“The circling traffic acts like a moat around a castle, isolating what lies inside from the outside world. As a piece of civil engineering, the roundabout itself is extraordinary, said to be the largest in the country and designed to allow traffic to travel at 70 mph. Yet what lies within is also extraordinary, a tiny community with its own pub, houses and even its own postbox, caught in a time warp.” Sue Farrow. The Farnham Society. 2001

The Shepherd and Flock roundabout (GR: SU854474), covering around 10 acres,  provides a connective hub between the busy Guildford to Alton A31, and the towns of Farnham and Aldershot and is usually recognised only for the fact that it has its very own pub, after which it is named, and a company selling sheds advertised with tongue-in-cheek banners incorporating terrible shed-related puns.

However right in the middle of this pretty unique roundabout  lies a community of some seventeen dwellings, a thriving hostelry popular for its real ales and Sunday roasts, busy allotments and a healthy wildlife habitat.  The community was once part of the old Bourne Mill village which straddled Guildford Road and Moor Park Lane and within the confines of the roundabout there is still evidence of the sand and gravel pits that were once active here. A pedestrian underpass dug beneath the three lane road links the community to the town.

The roundabout is a haven for wildlife which is kept under the watchful eye of volunteers from the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership under the guidance of countryside rangers. There are a variety of habitats there attracting fauna and flora which include wildflowers, butterflies and grasshoppers. The BVCP have planted trees and hedges to encourage further biodiversity. When the roundabout was opened in 1973 the Farnham Society leapt to aid the now traffic-beleaguered residents by planting 1,000 trees which provided a leafiness that residents enjoy today.

The Shepherd & Flock allotments were returned to full production in April 2007 having fallen fallow for some 20 years and only to be enjoyed by the occasional grazing horse or donkey. Allotment holders took up their plots which had been ploughed for them and found the soil to be in good condition.

“The plot is located on the Shepherd and Flock roundabout in Farnham, Surrey. It is relatively flat with well a decent, well-draining soil. I would say it tends towards clay (its on the heavy side) but I would not pretend to be any kind of expert here. Presiding just 50-odd feet away from the river Wey and one of its many streams, the site has, I believe, been enriched in previous years by fairly consistent flooding.” Blogger Dave farnhamallotments.co.uk 31st October 2008

Allotment holders have reported regular raids on their plots by deer that are quite partial to the free feasts of vegetables so kindly laid out in rows ready for the taking. The town council appears to be powerless to act so plot holders have resorted to stuffing tights with human hair and liberally hanging these around the site – apparently a successful deterrent. The other alternative is the erection of 10ft high fencing . . .

In the early 1990s the highway authority put forward a proposal to effectively split the roundabout by building an underpass to allow a grade-separated junction. The works would also have resulted in the loss of the land lying between the road and the River Wey which runs a hundred yards away to the south, and which is designated as an Area of Strategic Visual Importance in the Waverley Local Plan. An energetic campaign by Farnham residents to oppose the scheme won the day, strengthened further by the very real danger of increased flooding for homes lying alongside the Snayleslynch (also referred to as Snailslynch) (GR: SU853472) and the nearby Kilns. There was also concern that this high-speed junction would become even more dangerous for motorists.

A resident in selling his 18th-century cottage on the Shepherd and Flock in 2005 attracted the attention of the national press when the estate agent particulars spoke of ‘unique, semi-rural setting’ in the middle of what ‘is believed to be the largest inhabited roundabout in the UK’.

“Being cut off from the outside world, everyone knows each other very well," said the vendor Guy Prince. "It feels very safe and secure. It isn't too much trouble getting on and off the roundabout. To get to the house you have to keep in the inside lane, which takes you onto a little slip road. To get off the roundabout, it depends in which direction you want to travel. If you are going towards Aldershot, either you have to go all the way round the roundabout to get into the outside lane or you have to wait until there is no traffic and then dive across. You get used to it." telegraph.co.uk 19th October 2005

The cottage, which is a weak stone's-throw away from the pub, was on the market for £299,950.

The Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice

Farnham is home to the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice which was founded in 1979, then as a true pioneering organisation providing special care needs for the dying and terminally ill. Over three decades the work of the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice has influenced public opinion and has been instrumental in providing recognition that such care is necessary in modern society. Over 10,000 people have benefited from its care, including 670 patients cared for in their own homes.

To mark their 30th anniversary, in 2009 the Hospice launched a number of fundraising campaigns in order to continue their work.

The Hospice was inspired by the work of Sir Edward Tuckwell, who in 1949 after his wife Phyllis died from cancer set off on his quest to create a modern hospice in West Surrey. In 1972 cancer sufferer Yvonne Dale from Woking founded the Phyllis Tuckwell Memorial Hospice Charity after being inspired and treated by Sir Edward Tuckwell. Four years later the charity had raised enough funds in order to acquire Trimmer's Cottage Hospital in Farnham, which had been earmarked to be sold off by the National Health Service as part of its reorganisation. It took another two years for the building to be prepared for its new task. The Hospice continue to grow over the years, with expansion including the new clinical wing (1998), the Barber's Day Hospice (2000) and a training and therapy centre named after Robin Barnard (2007).

"Given the [current] economic situation, the way forward for us is to continue the support we offer out in the community so that the Hospice becomes less of a building and more of a philosophy. In 2006 we had to close four beds, but thanks to the Living Appeal that was launched we were able to re-open two of them in 2007," said fundraiser Elle Georgiou. "Education and training has also become a big part of the hospice's work with staff going into local GP practices to teach about palliative care. We need people to understand that the hospice is not a one-way door and you do not only go there to die. The more we go out into the community the more it will dispel this myth."

Surrey Advertiser 20th February 2009

Farnham’s Town Crier

Jonathan Jones has been Farnham's town crier since 2003 and as well as taking part in local events competes for the town in national town crier competitions.

He wears buckled shoes, black breeches to the knee with white stockings underneath, a bright red waistcoat with an ornate green coat and cape, a tricorne (three pointed hat) and rings a large brass handbell loudly. The crier's traditional elaborate dress dates back to the 18th century.

Historically the job of town crier was to make important proclamations andannounce local bylaws, market days and even advertisements for local traders to a largely illiterate townsfolk. Having drawn the crowd's attention by ringing his bell he would read out his message from a scroll which was then pinned to a public wall for those who could read.

The traditional call of ‘Oyez Oyez Oyez’ is derived from an Anglo Norman word for ‘hear ye’ and was usually followed by ‘God save the Queen (or King)’ when the proclamation had been read out.

Town criers historically have been protected by the ruling monarch as their job was often to bring bad news including notification of tax increases. To this day all English town criers are still protected under an old English law ensuring that they are not hindered or heckled while performing their duties.

Farnham's Jones won the competition for the best dressed town crier at the National Town Crier Championships in 2008. He is paid an honorarium (1) of £500 per year and his appointment, which was secured after competing against two other applicants, stands for life - assuming of course his voice holds out long enough. The town crier is available for events organised by charities or voluntary organisations, but is also for a fee available for commercial shouts and to give talks to groups.

(1) An honorarium is a fee paid to a person  for volunteer services where fees are not traditionally required.

Bourne Woods - International Film Set

Bourne Woods (GR:SU856443), which is managed in part by the Forestry Commission, is a popular location for film production companies who take advantage of its isolated woodland and open spaces. From the clearing close to its centre there are no intrusions from modern habitation making it a timeless location. The income generated by fees paid by the production companies helps to support the conservation efforts of the Forestry Commission.

The total area covers 533 acres (216 hecatres), with 333 (135 ha) controlled by the RSPB and 200 (81 ha) the Forestry Commission.

The woodland is predominantly coniferous with original stocks having been planted in the 20th century, and is commercially managed. The pine forests are interspersed with silver birch providing a mature heathland habitat. An Iron Age barrow lies along the eastern side of the wood near Dene Lane.

The Bourne Conservation Group was founded in 2002 as a volunteer group to assist in the maintenance and improvement of public open areas in The Bourne, and as such has an active interest in Bourne Woods.

The opening battle scene from the film Gladiator (2000) starring Russell Crowe was filmed in Bourne Woods just outside Farnham. Also in Bourne Woods scenes from Golden Compass (2007) were filmed with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. The popular BBC1 comedy series written by David Croft and Jimmy Perry It Ain't Half Hot Mum (1974 - 81) also used the woods for 'jungle' location scenes.

Ridley Scott's adaptation of Robin Hood was filmed (2010) in a number of locations around the Wey Valley, but Bourne Woods featured in the dramatic opening scene when Russell Crowe makes his entrance along a path through the trees. Bourne Woods served as the location for the northern villages of Barnsdale, York and Peterborough.

The outer walls of a French castle were constructed here, and against which Richard the Lionheart is depicted besieging the castle with 125 horses, 500 archers with flaming arrows and a battering ram all thrown in.

"That was based on an actual French castle, roughly in the area where the Chalouse Castle existed," said Oscar winning production designer Arthur Max. "We decided it was better to build it on a location near the studio because the landscape there is magnificent. Many castles from that period are now surrounded by towns, so we decided we wanted a castle that was isolated in a landscape."

"Living so close to the set was magical, at one point I was visiting the set every day to see what progress was being made," said local Lower Bourne resident Harry Ford. "Security even knew my name. Walking through the set you could really imagine how alive it must have been with all the actors in costume and Robin Hood walking about the place." Surrey Advertiser 7th May 2010

Robin Hood opened in the UK in May 2010.

"Robin Hood has once again made Bourne Wood one of those memorable movie scenes that will be watched worldwide for years to come," said Pam Eastwood, the Forestry Commission's film liaison officer. "Taking four months to build the set, trees from the wood were used in the construction to create the palisade walls and fortifications for the medieval thatched village, which we allowed them to do as part of our forest management and tree thinning programme." getsurrey.co.uk 3rd June 2010

In Robin Hood, Nottingham village was filmed on a set at Hampton Estate near Guildford. The set builders constructed a settlement of 50 buildings, including a church, a tavern and a mill complete with working waterwheel. The crew also created an orchard and a river.

It seems that the shooting of a scene (March 2008) for the sixth Harry Potter film The Half-Blood Prince in Bourne Woods didn't go totally to plan. Stars Daniel Radcliffe and Helen Bonham Carter were ushered off the set as security men did their utmost to capture two elusive male streakers. Shooting was interrupted on several occasions but the streakers were never caught. The following week shooting had to again stop when Farnham was hit by the severe storms that wreaked havoc throughout much of Britain. The film crew also struggled with fog machines that were intent on misfunctioning. Shooting finished in May 2008 with release later in the year.

Sherlock Holmes - A Game of Shadows and Steven Spielberg's adaptation of War Horse both had scenes shot in Bourne Woods.

Production crews for the film Snow White and the Huntsmen took over part of Bourne Woods in August 2011. The 'fantasy drama' film directed by Rupert Sanders and starring Kristen Stewart was released in June 2012. The likes of Ian McShane, Eddie Izzard and Bob Hoskins took roles as dwarves.

The 21-year-old star looked pale and exhausted as she was spotted filming scenes for her upcoming film, Snow White And The Huntsman, in Surrey this afternoon. Wearing a brown medieval dress with grubby jeans and boots, Kristen looked worlds away from the Disney character that many people will associate the storyline with, but it was her complexion that looked more downcast.

The actress looked tired and fed up as she hung around on the outdoor set in between takes. She was still wearing a bandage on her right hand after she injured herself filming horse riding scenes in Wales last week. At one point the brunette was seen holding her hand on her hip and as she waited around for the crew members to prepare the location for her next scene. But she wasn't alone as she had her hunky co-star, Chris Hemsworth, to keep her company. The Australian actor plays the Huntsman in the highly-anticipated film and certainly looked the part in grubby shirt and trousers, chunky knee-high boots and his scruffy hair pulled back into a ponytail.

The pair were joined by a young actress, who was also dressed in medieval attire. Kristen was later spotted filming a scene with the girl by the lakeside. dailymail.co.uk 11th November 2011

Steven Spielberg chose Bourne Woods to film a key scene in War Horse (2011). The scene shows the equine star Joey take the place of his compatriot Topthorn whilst they struggle to haul heavy artillery up a hill. Scenes depicting the waterlogged trenches of the Somme were filmed at the old aerodrome at Wisley, near Guildford.

An estimated 2,000 mature trees were felled in Bourne Woods in 2010 as part of a 10-year plan which provides for a planting programme and the removal of invasive and non-native shrubs. The loss of the felled trees, which were transported to sawmills on low-loaders, will be more than compensated by the planting of 10,000 new trees to ensure that the forest has full sustainability.

Rock Choir

A pioneering movement was established in Farnham in 2005. Caroline Redman Lusher wanted to make singing and performing accessible to anyone regardless of their ability. She devised a 'no audition - no requirement to read music' format for members which quickly proved to be a winning formula.

There are currently (2012) over fifty musians and teachers running Rock Choir groups all across the country. Members, currently numbering around 8,000 in over 200 choirs, pay a £100 per term fee and get the opportunity to rehearse under professional instruction and leadership and perform in public, often at large regional events. A wide-range of 'feel good' hits are taught ranging from the likes of Motown, Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse numbers.

Lusher is a classically trained musician and became a professional singer aged just 15. Following four years as a session musician she took up a post as music teacher in Surrey, having returned to the family home in Farnham, and it was whilst teaching that the idea of Rock Choir started to form.

"I had all these students who wanted to sing but hadn't necessarily had any training; it was about bridging the gap between amateur and professional," she said. "What began as a small gathering of 20-odd quickly swelled to a far more formidable 170. Before long, I had the mums and dads begging for their own version – that's when I realised that there was a market amongst the general public." Independent on Sunday 27th June 2011

Rock Choir is still run from Lusher's home in Farnham.

"People think we're some big, glamorous operation, but there are just four of us organising everything from my garden shed in Farnham, Surrey," said Lusher "I'm not driving a Porsche or anything." dailymail.co.uk 16th July 2010

In 2009 a member of Rock Choir, who was a journalist, wrote a piece about the organisation which resulted in the choir being invited to perform on the Breakfast programme on BBC1. The head of Decca Records was alerted to the performance and Rock Choir was quickly signed to a four-album deal. Rock Choir - Volume 1 was recorded at a school in Cranleigh with 987 members recording in shifts of 250 to produce the album, which became an instant hit after its release in July 2010.

In 2011 Rock Choir was featured in The Choir that Rocks, a series of three hour-long programmes on ITV, with the series culminating in a Wembley Arena performance in front of a crowd of 10,000 people. The local Farnham Rock Choir was one of six groups to be followed by the series.

"Rock Choir is a modern phenomenon - open to all, it's sweeping across the UK, bringing ordinary people together to sing their hearts out to their favourite rock and pop songs," said producer Bea Ballard. "It's a very British success story, full of warmth, passion, and enthusiasm." rockchoir.co.uk 2011

"When you leave after a rehearsal, you're grinning," says Jan Glynn, a member of the Guildford choir. "You sing in the car. You can't sleep. I do a morning session and the whole day feels amazing.' ddailymail.co.uk 16th July 2010













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