Things to do in Haslemere - where to eat, shop and visit
PUBLISHED: 11:03 10 April 2015 | UPDATED: 11:41 10 April 2015
Packed with independent shops, steeped in history and surrounded by picturesque countryside, the town of Haslemere has long been a favourite of ours...
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine March 2015
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The Haslemere Educational Museum
78 High Street, Haslemere GU27 2LA. Contacts: 01428 642112 / haslemeremuseum.co.uk
Much, much more than just a museum – although the exhibits are astonishing in their own right. Where else can you see a giant spider crab, a genuine Egyptian mummy (with his toes still visible!) and Arthur the Bear – the museum’s much- loved centrepiece? With a constant round of events and exhibits (space restrictions mean only one per cent can be shown at any one time), this is the place to kick off a visit to Haslemere. Coming up this month, on Thursday March 19, there will be a fascinating talk by much-travelled foreign correspondent Mike Nicholson – tickets for that are £12 in advance. Then, running from Saturday March 28 to Saturday April 18, there will also be an exhibition from the group Shared Art, A Moment in Time, showing the world of pop through recent decades (squeeze into those flared trousers for that one…). The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday.
A Green Pillar Box
Mystery location – can you succeed in our challenge to find it?
We like seeking out the little hidden gems of our Surrey towns, so here is a challenge for you. Not far from the museum, there is possibly England’s only green pillar box (unless you know better…). Surveyor and architect John Wornham Penfold, who lived in the town, designed the ‘Penfold Hexagonal Pillar Box’ as a competition entry in the mid- 19th century. It was adorned with acanthus leaves and balls but sadly proved too expensive to reproduce and was eventually replaced by the boxes we now see. This Penfold box, however, is still in use, so when you’ve found it, why not send us a postcard at Surrey Life from Haslemere!
The Georgian House Hotel
High Street, Haslemere GU27 2JY. Contacts: 01428 656644 / georgianhousehotel.com
If you’re making more than a day of it then the Georgian House Hotel is perfectly placed right in the middle of the town. With a leisure spa, gym, café bar and grill, you can tuck in to a full restaurant menu or a lighter bite (sometimes the old favourites are just right like ‘Beautiful Gloucester Old Spot sausages with chive mash and thick onion gravy’). Oh, and the pies come with a warning: “When breaking the lid, the delicious smells can sometimes take you to places a pie shouldn’t be able to. Open at your own risk.” Yes, quite. In any event, you should get a good night’s sleep after that lot – and wake refreshed and ready for The Swan Barn Farm Walk…
Swan Barn Farm Walk
Details from the visitor centre, Haslemere Museum, 78 High Street, Haslemere GU27 2LA. Contacts: 01428 645425 / haslemere.com/vic
Pop over the road, pick up a leaflet from the visitor centre and you have at your fingertips (toe-tips?) a lovely half-hour walk directly off the High Street at Well Lane. Described as a ‘charming walk through field, farm and wood’, you start off by the old town well, where Hannah Oakford, the local water carrier, charged a penny ha’penny to deliver a bucketful to your house. You should encounter all sorts of wildlife as you go – watch out for kingfishers and moorhens. Most of this area is managed by the National Trust who look after the ponds, woodland and hedgerows. The Swan Barn Farm Walk is just one of many supported by the ‘Walkers are Welcome’ nationwide initiative set up in 2007, with Haslemere being the first town to be named.
Bridge Road, Haslemere GU27 2AS. Contacts: 01428 642161 / haslemerehall.co.uk
This thriving arts venue is the town’s centre for entertainment. With musical theatre, live music performances, ballet and cinema screenings, there’s always something happening. So, what do you fancy? Swan Lake by the Royal Ballet is being shown by live satellite on Tuesday March 17. If you haven’t experienced this latest in technology, you should. Clever use of filming from multiple camera angles and surround sound is beamed live via a satellite to your seat in the Haslemere Hall leaving you feeling ‘transported’ to the O2 arena, the Bolshoi, Royal Albert Hall or National Theatre. If you prefer live theatre, the Haslemere Players are presenting Fiddler on the Roof from Tuesday March 24 to Saturday March 28. There are some modern-day twists to this one, as well as the well-known songs and dance sequences, so get your tickets booked by calling the box office (listed above).
The Good Fish Shop
34-36 West Street, Haslemere GU27 2AB. Contacts: 01428 661555
Haslemere has a pretty good number of independent shops and this one, located just off the High Street, is a real gem – well, if you like fish, that is! Run for the past five years by John Edwards, it is a treasure trove of all things fishy. With clever little recipe cards to help you and experienced advice from John, there is little he can’t offer – in fact his catchphrase (oops, sorry for the pun) is: “If we haven’t got it, we can get it…”! Previously a fishmonger in Kingston, John describes Haslemere as “a lovely town with really nice people who like to support local businesses.” Skate wings in black butter and capers anyone?
Hammer Lane (coordinates: 51.086525,-0.754231)
Now this is the kind of thing that either bores you stiff or you find fascinating (you may now skip this section if you’re in the first group…). Haslemere boasts one of England’s 68 tri-points – the location where three counties meet. So we have Surrey, West Sussex and Hampshire all joining hands just up the road in the village of Hammer, bordering the River Wey. We were going to be mean and let you try and find it yourselves but it’s just north of the railway bridge in Hammer Lane. And you’ll need three legs if you want to stand in each county at the same time…
Hemingways Coffee Shop
48 High Street, Haslemere GU27 2LA. Contacts: 01428 656904 / hemingwayscoffeeshop.co.uk
Time for a break from searching out the pillar box and tri-point…? This delightful little independent offers a lot more than just a cuppa, with a range of food including paninis, hot and cold snacks, cakes and pastries during the day and a wine bar in the evening. With live music events, open mic sessions, cocktail nights (every “Thirstday”), Check Mate Sundays (bring your own chessboard and challenge someone…) and Scrabble evenings, you won’t be stuck for something to do. In fact, there’s too much going on to list here, but have a look at their website.
St Christopher’s CofE Church
Saint Christopher’s Green, Haslemere GU27 1DD. Contacts: haslemereparish.org/stchristophershistory.aspx
One of Haslemere’s two parish churches, St Christopher’s shares the same rector with St Bartholomew’s (on the eastern side of the town). Designed by Charles Spooner and consecrated in 1903, this church is a fine example of the architecture from the Arts and Crafts Movement of the time. Built of the local Bargate stone and now Grade II listed, it is full of beautiful fittings – ranging from the painted triptych for the high altar down to the tiny hearts-and-crosses ventilation holes in the roof. A favourite of the late Poet Laureate, Sir John Betjeman, the church is now a very popular centre not just for worship but also for concerts and presentations.
A285 between Haslemere and Grayswood, near Higher Combe Road
Yet another little gem tucked away near the town. Just to one side of the A285 between Haslemere and the nearby village of Grayswood is a set of concrete pyramids dating back to the early years of World War ll. Each standing a couple of feet high, they were placed in strategic positions around the county in fearful anticipation of a German invasion. Designed, literally, to stop a tank in its tracks, they were thankfully never put to the real test. They were recently in danger of being uprooted and destroyed but were saved as an important historical military feature by local resident and former army colonel Toby Sewell.
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