2016 saw the 22nd anniversary of HODs nationally, Farnham’s involvement now going back 16 years. HODs helps to promote the town. It enhances awareness and understanding of Farnham’s rich historical built and natural environment and generates a sense of goodwill which connects the Farnham Society with the local community. There is free admission to all venues, tours and events.
HODs is brought to visitors locally by The Farnham Society, generously supported by Farnham Town Council. It is now facilitated at the national level by The National Trust and funded by The People’s Post Code Lottery. The RIBA has recently taken on a supporting role.
Thursday 8 September – Sunday 11 September 2016. Reasonable weather provided the backdrop but rain set in on the Saturday, in fact there was a deluge! However, numbers were solid with around 3,000 visits. The Bishop’s Palace (Farnham Castle), The Museum of Farnham, The Farnham Pottery, Waverley Abbey House, The Masonic Centre and The Antiques Warehouse attracted particularly large numbers.
The whole project was delivered well within budget. There was a grant from Farnham Town Council and The Farnham Society funded the shortfall. A transmitter, 20 pocket receivers and pairs of in-earphones were rented for the first time. These were for use on walks where the traffic can make it difficult to hear the guide. The decision to rent was taken with the view that, if successful as a pilot scheme, then grants towards the purchase of such equipment could be applied for in 2017, which would enable the Farnham Society to make a contribution to increasing awareness and appreciation of the town’s special heritage.
34 properties were open to view including 3 smaller private homes, the latter being managed carefully via pre-booked timed tours. 7 guided walks were available over 6 sites and there were numerous guided property tours, all of which were led by local experts. The majority of the pre-bookable walks and property tours were completely full.
New additions to the programme were: Ivy House; St. Peter’s Church, Wrecclesham; Piccolo’s and Zizzi’s and Partridge House and Yew Tree Cottage in Wrecclesham, the latter being under restoration by The Farnham Building Preservation Trust. New also for 2016 were 2 walks, ’From Wells to Mains – The Story of Farnham’s Water Supplies’ by The Bourne Conservation Group and ‘Farnham Tree Walk Part 2’ by Peter Bridgeman. Both attracted large numbers.
There were interesting exhibitions and displays at: The Museum of Farnham; The Farnham Pottery; St. Peter’s Church; St. Andrew’s School; Hones Yard and The Council Offices, together with activities/demonstrations at The Antiques Warehouse in Runfold, The Maltings and The New Ashgate Gallery. Michael Blower’s week long exhibition at The Maltings of about 40 paintings and drawings of the local area, was drawn from his collection built up over his 60 years of living and working in Farnham. It was very successful. The proceeds were donated directly to the Farnham Society and the Private View was well supported.
Since 2012 we have opted to create a new theme or angle annually. For 2016 it was arts and crafts in Farnham which served to highlight Farnham’s official designation as a Craft Town. Farnham has a distinguished and long tradition of the teaching and application of the arts and crafts and the buildings used for these purposes were marked in the brochure with a symbol representing an Artist’s Palette. Other sites with material relevant to the theme were also marked in this way.
The Farnham and District Museum Society staged an exhibition, ‘Farnham’s Potted Past: The History of Farnham’s Pottery Industry’ and The Pottery hosted tours and showed information and artefacts which illustrated and contrasted the historical industrial pottery of the 19th c. era with the craft activities on the site today. Attention was also drawn to the important role and presence of Public Art in Farnham.
The RIBA joined HODs nationally through its ‘Love Architecture’ initiative. Historic and contemporary buildings could be selected which were of particular architectural or historical significance and special interpretive material was to be offered at these sites to enhance the visitor experience. In Farnham we were able to highlight: The Pavilions at St. Andrew’s Church; The Craft Study Centre; The New Aldridge Theatre at Frensham Heights; Willmer House and The Farnham Pottery. These were marked by a special icon in the brochure.
Written by Sue Farrow, the brochure was well received and took the form of an A5 24-page booklet. It remained our main publicity vehicle. 4,500 were printed and its contents uploaded onto the Farnham Town Council, The Farnham Society and Farnham Trust websites. Full details were also put onto the HODs national website. There was an advertising display in The Farnham Herald window, various publicity articles in local magazines and excellent pre-and post-coverage, with photographs, in The Herald. Our double- sided banner was hung across Downing St. and the Town Crier was out on two Saturdays.
The Launch Party on 30 August at The Garden Gallery (Museum), hosted by Alan Gavaghan, saw The Mayor of Waverley Councillor Christopher Storey and The Mayor and Mayoress of Farnham Councillor John and Gillian Ward, in attendance. The Town Clerk Iain Lynch and The Farnham Society Committee members were also present, together with HODs Working Group members. Later in the year The Mayor’s thank you party was held. On the evening of 22November at The Council Offices, The Mayor and Mayoress of Farnham hosted a busy event where the Mayor made a very warm and positive speech thanking all the participants and supporters of HODs 2016 who were there in force.
On the Thursday afternoon at The Bishop’s Palace, there were pre- booked afternoon teas and guided tours for visitors by Castle Guides. New outside was the exciting historical re-enactment staged by The English Civil War Society with drilling and musket and cannon firing on the front lawn. Inside, music was again provided by The Farnham Chamber Music Society, which added to the atmosphere. Present were the Mayor of Waverley, the Mayor and Mayoress of Farnham, Alan Gavaghan and HODs Working Group members.
The Farnham Rep returned to The Culver Room and presented intriguing readings revolving around selected paintings. Entitled, ‘A Pot of Paint in the Public’s Face’, there were two performances which both enjoyed good audiences, one being a full house.
The Mad Hatter’s Morris Dancing side also returned to give two energetic performances in town which lent a festive and social atmosphere.
David Fisher, President of The Aldershot, Farnham and Fleet Camera Club, took photos of selected events over several days, which have been transferred to a memory stick for The Farnham Society’s use.
We returned to the same organisational structure created in 2015. Each member of the Working Group took responsibility for a different element of the planning and organisation process, the whole team meeting together every 3-4 weeks. The brilliant and dedicated team, drawn from The Farnham Society Committee and Society members, did a sterling job. It comprised: Michael Blower, Simon Bradbury, Peter Bridgeman, Cathy Cook, Gloria Dyche, Sue Farrow, David Lang, Gillian Ward and Erica Wilkinson.
The success of HODS relies on the generosity of the property and venue owners/ managers who so kindly open their doors for us. We also acknowledge all the fantastic volunteers, knowledgeable guides and lively performers who together helped to realise last year’s programme.
The theme for 2017, which is already generating much research and interest, will be, ‘Changing Faces – Buildings Then and Now.’ Dates are Thursday 7 September- Sunday 10 September. If you would like to contribute in any way please contact Gloria Dyche on 01252 702449.
HODS Working Group