10 reasons to love Farnham
PUBLISHED: 09:11 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 09:11 20 April 2017
In our regular feature focusing on Surrey's amazing towns, this month the spotlight lands on the county's cultural and creative quarter, Farnham
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2017
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Waverley Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU9 0JA. Web: english-heritage.org.uk
A real hidden treasure, we thought we would start you off with these beautiful remains just a couple of miles south of the town centre. Waverley Abbey holds a very special place in local history as the very first monastery founded in Britain by the Cistercian order of monks. It is quite astonishing to think these stones were laid almost 900 years ago by a small group of monks looking for somewhere to settle. The ruins are a five minute walk from a small parking area and are open anytime during daylight hours. It really can get quite spooky if you find yourself there alone…
Bridge Square, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7QR. Tel: 01252 745444. Web: farnhammaltings.com
Back to earth now with a visit to the town’s cultural hub spanning the river on the edge of the town. With festivals, workshops, crafts, artists’ studios, café and a museum, this lovely centre based in old Victorian buildings always has something to interest the visitor. As well as The Maltings Monthly Market and the Monthly Makes Workshop, there’s always loads of music, comedy and theatre to check out.
William Cobbett statue
Hawthorn Lodge, Long Bridge, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7GG. Web: farnham.gov.uk
Now that you’ve had a bit of fun making pottery rabbits, it’s time for some culture. William Cobbett, the great radical parliamentarian and journalist, was born in Farnham in 1763 and died in Normandy, not far away. His remains are now in St Andrews Parish Church just around the corner. Well known for his free thinking and opposition to corruption in government, Cobbett led a chequered life making not a few enemies. This fabulous statue is in the front of the recently-opened Hawthorn Lodge retirement development and was unveiled last year by Dame Penelope Keith.
Squires Kitchen Shop
3 Waverley Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU9 8BB. Tel: 01252 260260 Web: squires-shop.com
We reckon Surrey Life readers are pretty special and can turn their hands to most things so, if you fancy a spot of cake decorating or maybe you’re a budding chocolatier, this is the place for you; an Aladdin’s cave of everything you’ll need to be the next Mary Berry of Farnham. There’s a huge range of ingredients and equipment to keep you busy in the kitchen for days: sugar decorations, edible gold and silver leaf, dragees and gems – and how about our favourite, a party croquembouche set with which you can stun your guests - a 30cm-high tower of choux buns stuck together with spun sugar… Wonderful!
Holt Pound, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4LD. Tel: 01420 22992. Web: birdworld.co.uk
Do you know your Hornbill from your Toucan? A bit rusty on your Lories and Lorikeets? Then this is the place to brush up on all things that fly. Birdworld has the most incredible collection of feathered friends you could imagine – plus a lot more creatures of the non-flying variety. With over 2,000 animals, from tiny cockroaches to snakes, the kids will just love it. There’s penguin feeding twice a day, an owl prowl, safari road train and an outdoor flying display. There’s even an underwater world too, with a shoal of piranhas and a grumpy turtle called Godfrey.
Shepherd and Flock
22, Moor Park Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU9 9JB. Tel: 01252 716675. Web: shepherdandflock.co.uk
A pretty unique claim to fame here being situated on “what is probably the largest inhabited roundabout in Britain”. Yes, it’s true. You can relax, have a drink and a meal completely surrounded by a circle of traffic wending its way down from The Hog’s Back into Farnham and beyond. The pub is particularly proud of the chef’s homemade desserts. Menus change regularly to reflect the season but there is a huge range including good old pub favourites like chilli con carne, scampi or a delicious rib-eye steak.
Rural Life Centre
The Reeds Road, Tilford, Farnham, Surrey GU10 2DL. Tel: 01252 795571 Web: rural-life.org.uk
Billing themselves as the largest countryside museum in the south of England, this centre began as a private collection of agricultural equipment back in the 70s and is now run as a charitable trust. Around 10 acres of fields, woods and barns give the visitor a hands¬on experience of all things farming with displays, costumes, demonstrations and crafts. Loads of stuff to keep the kids going and a well-stocked café for that welcome break of a cuppa.
Crafts Study Centre
University for the Creative Arts Farnham, Faulkner Road, Farnham, Farnham GU9 7DS. Tel: 01252 891450 Web: csc.uca.ac.uk
The residents of Farnham are definitely a crafty lot and their creativity attracts people from far and wide to the area. The town has had roots in the arts going back centuries to when white clay was exported to the Romans and this aspect was recently acknowledged when Farnham was designated England’s Craft Town. The University for the Creative Arts, together with Farnham Maltings and the nearby New Ashgate Gallery lend strength to the craft movement there and have helped position the town as Surrey’s creative and cultural quarter. The Crafts Study Centre is a bit of a hidden gem as it is attached to the university but stands alone as a specialist museum and research centre. It’s open to the public and every exhibition is free to enter. It’s open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Friday and 10am to 4pm on Saturdays.
Lion and Lamb Café and Restaurant
19, Lin and Lamb Way, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7LL. Tel: 01252 715156. Web: lionandlambcafe.co.uk
All that art and craft has probably left you gasping for a cup of tea or coffee and a bite to eat. The great thing about Farnham is that the centre is quite compact and everything within a reasonable walking distance. Lion and Lamb Way is one of those lovely little areas almost hidden away off the main thoroughfare of West Street. Surrey Life knows this little independent café well and we have enjoyed many a cup of coffee here. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are also available and if the weather is fine then pop outside to enjoy your meal and watch the world go by.
Farnham Castle Keep
Castle Street, Farnham, Surrey GU9 0AG. Tel: 01252 721194 Web: english-heritage.org.uk
Managed by English Heritage, the public are welcome to visit the ‘motte’ and ‘Shell Keep’ of this fine castle. Founded in 1138 by Henry Blois, Bishop of Winchester, the main parts of the castle are privately owned and run as an international conference centre hosting events. The Keep will keep you busy with an exhibition of 900 years of the castle and five acres of lawns and cultivated beds. Be warned – there are several steep steps to the top so access can be difficult.
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In May’s Surrey Life magazine: Reigate