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Hunt the Plaque

As part of the 2019 Heritage Open Days we are running a Hunt the Plaque competition, for anyone under 14 years old.

The centre pages of our Heritage Open Days brochure show 12 plaques which are all in Farnham. Can you find them?

Answer sheets will be available from the Farnham Town Council offices.

Or you can fill in your answers online.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Subject Hunt the Plaque

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Your age

Phone number (optional)

 

Post Office consultation

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The Post Office has announced a proposal to close its Farnham branch, and to transfer operations into WH Smith in The Borough. This is part of a national reorganisation of Post Office branches. The move is planned for June of this year.

The plan is to relocate into a dedicated open plan area towards the rear of the existing WH Smith shop. There will be three staffed serving positions, one of which will be of the traditional screened type, the other two will be open plan. In addition there will be two self service kiosks.  Most of the facilites currently provided at the West Street branch will continue to be available, though the ATM will not be retained.

The office will be available for a period during the WH Smith Sunday opening hours.

It is not clear whether the planned new location will provide an adequate queueing area for customers within and outside the premises. West Street it is know for a queue to stretch through the doors and into the street.

A consultation is now running, and will close on 6 March. To take part, visit the Post Office website.  postofficeviews.co.uk, enter branch name, postcode GU9 7PJ or branch code 007900

Our 2019 programme

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Monday1 April

Evening talk, Simon de Montfort and the first English revolution.

Speaker: Dr Sophie Ambler

May 20th, Monday

Evening talk, The Rise and Fall of English Switzerland

Speaker: Marion Dell

The story of the bohemian colony on the Hindhead at the end of the 19th Century

St Joan’s Centre, Farnham GU9 8DJ.

May 26th, Sunday

We will be at Farnham’s Spring Festival

June 30th, Sunday

Come and meet us at our stand at Picnic in the Park

July 6th, Saturday

We have a stand at The Bourne show

July 12th, Friday

Evening talk, Harold Falkner, more than an Arts and Craft Architect

Speaker: Sam Osmond

The story of Farnham’s famous Architect. Harold Faulkner and Charles Borelli, the founders of The Farnham Society

St Joan’s Centre, Farnham GU9 8DJ.

September 20th, Friday

Evening talk, The Story of Global Warming: a scientists view

Speaker Prof Candy, Depart of Geography, Royal Hollaway University of London

St Joan’s Centre, Farnham GU9 8DJ.

October 18th, Friday

Evening talk, Poverty and Welfare in 19th Century Britain: The Swing Riots in Surrey 1830.

Speaker: Dr Judy Hill, University of Surrey -

St Joan’s Centre, Farnham GU9 8DJ.

Friday 15th November

Evening talk: Arts and Craft Gardens, Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens

Speker: Cherrill Sands, Garden Historian

St Joan’s Centre, Farnham GU9 8DJ.

December 8th, Sunday

Meet us at our stand in Farnham’s Christmas Market

December 12th, Thursday

Christmas entertainment, The story of a Butlers Christmas and the traditions of the Georgians and Victorians over the festive season

Presenter: Dr Bob France

St Thomas on the Bourne, Farnham GU9 8HA.

 

Northbrook Park development

Northbrook plan

The East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) has published its Draft Local Plan (dLP) for consultation. The consultation started on 5 February and finishes on Tuesday 19 March 2019. The dLP includes the provision of 3,723 homes required to satisfy its national housing allocation including an allocation at Northbrook Park which abuts the Surrey Hampshire boundary. The current proposal in Hampshire is the construction of a minimum of 800 houses, a primary school, community hub, ‘village’ centre, sports facilities and a variety of employment and office buildings. The dLP indicates that the development would if undertaken take place between 2028 and 2036.

Bentley Parish Council has expressed concerns at the proposals. Bentley residents attended a meeting at the Bentley Memorial Hall on Monday 25 February, an estimated four hundred people. The parish of Bentley currently has approximately 450 houses with a population of approximately 1,250.

The Society understands that the landowner’s proposals are to extend the development in the Farnham Built Up Boundary Area and construct a further 700 houses.

The Northbrook site was submitted as part of the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan process. The site was rejected, the summary stating ‘A significant development of 15.3ha set in open countryside removed from Farnham and extending beyond the Parish boundary into East Hampshire would have a significant detrimental effect on the landscape of high sensitivity.’ Continuing ‘A new settlement would not represent an appropriate strategy to accommodate development taking into account the reasonable alternative of brownfield sites in more sustainable locations. The site is unsuitable and potentially unachievable as a housing allocation.’

The impact on Bentley will be unmeasurable, but the impact on Farnham will be significant as well. Residents of the development would likely look to travel east to work, to shop, for their social life and entertainment.

Issues that would arise from the inclusion of the proposed development in the EHDC dLP to Farnham would include a significant impact on the infrastructure. If properly managed, the funds levied under the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) could contribute to a western relief road, which would be beneficial and would ease what could otherwise be not insignificant congestion through Farnham town centre. Increased traffic movements would undoubtedly result in some congestion and over demand for parking spaces despite the proposal to operate a bus service, with increased demand on already stretched facilities. Residents travelling to London would require to travel through the town centre, rail tickets are currently 20% cheaper from Farnham than Bentley.

The development would bring a further demand for school places. Farnham is already looking to have 2,780 new houses built in the period up to 2032, so even the 800 homes proposed on the Hampshire side would bring a significant extra demand. The further 700 homes in the Farnham boundary area would create even more demand.

The proposals would result in the loss of greenfields, an area recorded as landscape of high sensitivity. A development would change the A31 corridor immeasurably.

The Society is going to comment and register its concern and objection to the inclusion of the site within the EHDC dLP. Clicking this link will take you to the draft Local Plan.

You can comment on the dLP by clicking here, note that you will have to register to do so. Alternatively you can email your comments to localplan@easthants.gov.uk or write to Planning Policy, East Hampshire District Council, Penns Place, Petersfield, Hampshire, GU31 4EX. Your comments need to be received by the council by 5pm on Tuesday 19 March 2019.

SCC Consultations

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Community Recycling Centres:

Surrey County Council faces severe financial pressures and feel they have no choice but to look for savings. They are undertaking five consultations at the same time.

Consultations end on Friday 4 January 2019. Click here for link.

All the threatened Surrey County Council cuts are important.

Potential loss of Farnham’s Community Recycling Centre (CRC) in Guildford Road.

Surrey has put forward three options for the future of its 15 CRCs. Two of these would involve closing the Farnham CRC and would require Farnham residents to travel to Guildford, Camberley or Witley to recycle their household waste. Using these CRCs would involve round trips of around an hour at quieter times and much longer at busier times. This would be a major inconvenience and unnecessary expense to Farnham’s 40,000 plus residents and would result in very many Farnham residents opting out of using the Surrey CRCs completely and most likely an increase in fly-tipping.

The Farnham CRC is threatened with closure as it is categorised by Surrey as one of the six less used sites, which is supposedly close to alternative sites, which are said to generally offer a better customer experience. Farnham would appear to be the highest used of the six less used sites. This low use would seem to be very surprising as Farnham is the third largest town in Surrey based on the 2011 census figures and all the other CRCs apart from Guildford and Woking are based in smaller towns than Farnham. It is not really surprising as the Farnham CRC is very poor from an access, layout and customer experience point of view. Surrey and Suez management appear to struggle with this site, which is seriously understaffed when compared to the nearby, and well managed and run, Hampshire sites in Aldershot and Farnborough.

The Farnham CRC is now in a cycle of decline as it is thought that many Farnham residents are now using Hampshire sites, particularly since the Farnham site was closed for two days a week and its opening hours shortened. However, the supervisors of the nearby Hampshire sites have advised that in around a years’ time Hampshire intend to introduce checks to ensure that only Hampshire residents will have access to their CRCs.

It is unacceptable for Farnham to be left without a well-run CRC in the town or very close by. It may be that the current site cannot be realistically upgraded. If so it should be used for another purpose and a new site developed in a suitable alternative location nearby. A further option would be to come to an arrangement with Hampshire to upgrade the Aldershot site to serve both Aldershot and Farnham residents.

In any case we would strongly recommend Farnham residents to take part in the Surrey consultation, which runs till Friday 4 January 2019, and to insist that the Farnham CRC is not closed until a suitable alternative facility is provided.

Follow this link to the consultation

https://www.surreysays.co.uk/environment-and-infrastructure/crcs/

 Transforming Libraries and Cultural Services

Surrey County Council’s consultation on “Transforming Libraries and Cultural Services” does not contain any specific proposals to close any libraries. This is in contrast with the consultation on “Community Recycling Centres” which includes proposals, which would result in the Farnham Recycling Centre being closed.

The consultation makes it clear that the Council intends to make substantial savings in the costs of its libraries and library services. Surrey currently has 52 libraries based across the county and the Council currently spends £14 per person on libraries compared with the £9.89 average for similar county councils. Their intention is to reduce their expenditure on libraries to a level close to the national average spend of county councils. This would involve a cut in expenditure of up to 30%, which would most likely have to include some closures of the less well used libraries and service reductions elsewhere.

The consultation document does talk positively about how libraries are an integral part of community life and sit at the heart of lifelong learning. We completely agree and see the continuation of Farnham’s library service at its present excellent level as vitally important for the residents of the town.

We would we would strongly recommend Farnham’s residents, who wish to protect our library services, to take part in the Surrey consultation. This runs until 4 January 2019. Participation can be either online via the Surrey County Council website following this link or by returning a questionnaire available at Farnham Library.

Housing development at Coxbridge Farm

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Vivid Homes staged a public exhibition on 11 December, in support of a consultation on the proposed housing develpoment at Coxbridge Farm.

Displays from the exhibition: click to download.

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SURREY COUNTY COUNCIL CONSULTATION DROP IN

SCC Consultation

Surrey CC have agreed after pressure from our County Councillors to have a Consultation Drop-in session on Monday 17 December between 10am and 12 midday (two hours only) at the Library (The Culver Room) in West Street.

We would urge as many residents to attend to show the strength of feeling about the possible closure of the CRC (Dump) together with the loss of other services in Farnham, the largest town in Waverley.

Concessionary bus travel

The English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) was introduced by the government in 2008 to provide free off-peak bus travel to senior citizens and eligible disabled people. The scheme supports bus travel by encouraging the use of underutilised off peak capacity. It is highly valued by many users and is a lifeline for those disabled users who through economic circumstances or medical reasons do not have their own transport and have to rely on public transport. It is a statutory obligation for County Councils to provide the scheme though government financial support for the scheme has been gradually reduced, as is the pattern for government support of local authority services.

Some councils, including Surrey, gave additional non-statutory benefits to disabled users and it is these which are under threat of withdrawal under this consultation.

The society’s view is that: -

  • We support a potential saving in administrative costs of the scheme of around £100,000 per annum, mainly through not sending reminder letters to users that their passes are due to expire.
  • We strongly object to the proposed withdrawal the approximately 2,500 companion passes across Surrey, which enable the most disadvantaged disabled users who are not capable of independent travel to take with them a carer or friend for support. This represents only around 30% of all disabled passes.
  • We are concerned about the proposal that disabled pass holders travelling before 9.30 am and after 11pm on weekdays would need to pay. This would save the Council around £300,000 per annum. If this has to happen, we would urge Surrey to negotiate with the bus companies to provide reduced fares for disabled bus pass holders at this time. They would therefore recover some of the revenue lost through the bus pass scheme. If this works this benefit could later be extended to senior citizens.

Click here for the consultation

The consultation closes on 4th January 2019.

A Cracking Christmas Evening

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On Monday 3 December, Brenda Longman, Ray Murphy with Farnham Rep presented an evening of Christmas inspired entertainment.

The performance included exerpts from the following books

“The Age of Bewilderment” by David Sherrington,

“An Almost Perfect Christmas” by Nina Stibbe,

“Rebecca” by Daphne DuMaurier,

“Toast” by Nigel Slater,

“Recollections” by Gervase Phinn,

‘Le Bumper Book de Franglais’ by Miles Kington.

“Truce in the Trenches” by W.R.M. Percy and

“In Jamaica” Noel Cowerd

They read the following Poems

“Christmas Day” by John Betjeman,

“Ivan Who Shopped Online” Chris Addison,

Four poems by U.A.Fanthorpe’s book of “Christmas Poems”,

“Old Sam’s Christmas Pudding” by Marriott Edgar,

“Parson’s Lea” by Charles Causley,

“Christmas Thank Yous” by Mick Gowar,

“Night Before Christmas” by Harvey Erlich

“Christmas Roses and Mistletoe” by Reginald Arkle

And sang the following Songs

“A Christmas Carol” by Tom Lehrer

“Have yourself a Merry little Christmas” by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane

Sport, the Media and the Money!

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Wednesday 14 November

St Thomas on the Bourne, Frensham Road, GU9 8HA

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Our speaker was Joanne Watson, retired BBC Sports Producer.

Farnham resident Joanne spent more than 30 years working for BBC sport. Her latter career saw her as the Major Events Planning Editor for Radio Sport. During her time the relationship between Sport and the Media changed dramatically. The influence of mega million pound contracts, millionaire backers and the expansion of digital media means the sporting landscape is now very different, but is it all for the better? Joanne worked on the London Olympics, Wimbledon, Football, Rugby and Cricket World Cups.

 

Farnham’s Green Spaces

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The theme for 2018 Heritage Open Days was ‘Farnham Green Spaces’ to highlight the all-important open spaces within or on the fringe of built up areas where you can relax, breath fresh air and soak up our rich heritage.

The two weekends of HODS featured many walks, talks and visits to many of these green and open spaces including and a walk and virtual walk (an illustrated talk) on ten lovely green spaces within the town centre and this is detailed in this article.  Other ‘green’ sites also on show were: Farnham  Park, The Rural Life Centre, Waverley Abbey and Waverley Abbey House, Moor Park House, The Bishops Meadow, green spaces within the Bourne, West Street Cemetery and the Chapel of Rest and finally readings by the Farnham Rep ‘In Englands Green and Pleasant Land’.

The walk and talk featured ten green spaces, parks, gardens and other public open spaces within the town centre.

1.The Victoria Garden.   The late Victorian open-air swimming baths on this site eventually closed in 1981 due to the opening of the indoor pool at the leisure/sports centre. The old pool was demolished and then converted into a lovely, almost secret, garden which opened in 1998. The garden contains a good range of herbaceous plants, bulbs, shrubs, climbers and trees like rowan and whitebeam. There is plenty of seating and a giant chess game. Sculptures include ‘Outdoor Bathing’ by a local artist Jane Jones, but more commonly called ‘Shivering boy’ which alludes to the site’s former use. The restored entrance arch was designed by Harold Falkner in 1897 for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.   The baths were opened by the Duchess of Albany in 1898 and her name is used today in stylised flowers of the Clematis ‘Duchess of Albany’ in the iron gates and the real plant in the garden.  The garden is funded and maintained by The Swimming Baths Trust with a team of skilful volunteers.

2.Haren Gardens.  This very small gardenon the east side of South Street and close to the rivercommemorates the help and friendship given by people of Farnham to the town of Haren in the Netherlands. This started at the end of WWII when we dropped food parcels by parachute and again in 1953 when Farnham helped them following the North Sea floods. A plaque detailing this was presented to Farnham by the good folk of Haren and is displayed at the garden. Planting includes Dutch tulips surrounded by large trees and shrubs and maintained by  volunteers.

3.Borelli Walk.   A1 hectare (2.4 acre)park, opened in 1953 and named after Charles Ernest Borelli (1873-1950) a local businessman, conservationist, councillor and Chairman of Farnham UDC.  He and architect, Harold Falkner (1875-1963), did much to shape the future of Farnham in the first half of the 20C and formed The Old Farnham Society in 1911. It appears the two of them were the ‘Planning Authority’ as there was no formal planning legislation until The Town and Country Planning Act 1947. He also helped to preserve the structural and natural beauties of his native town.

The planting along the south side of the River Wey includes a splendid range of native and exotic trees such as a scarlet oak, white poplar, blue Atlas cedar, an American red maple, Liquidambar, an unusual upright cultivar of the Persian ironwood and large native and European willows – backed up by the strategically important trees on the north side of the by-pass.

The garden has been under threat for a so-called temporary access to the by-pass for the Brightwells/East Street development which will cut right through the centre of the park and include a bridge for construction traffic over the river. On 21 February 2018, in came the diggers and chain saws.  A 50m-plus section of the by-pass trees, part of a screen designated as an Area of Strategic Visual Importance, was felled including the rare Persian Ironwood. In August the walk was closed to the public to allow for a haul route for the bridge construction traffic’ – Mr. Borelli would not have been pleased!

The information board at the entrance refers to a ‘Scented Garden for the Blind’ but I see no such garden – perhaps a future project, if and when they restore the park in at least two to three years’ time. It will take decades to replace the felled trees. I say official vandalism!

4.Gostrey Meadow.   This site was at one time part of the grounds to the Bush Hotelbut became a late Victorian rubbish dump. It was converted into a 1.08 hectare (2.7 acre) public park by the former Farnham UDC in 1909.  It is now a very popular meeting venue with a full calendar of events run by Farnham Town Council.  There is a wide range of native and exotic trees, shrubs and ornamental planting – including carpet bedding. There is a bandstand, the town’s main war memorial (1919), a Falkner-designed drinking fountain – which cost £21 to design and build in 1910 (you cannot drink the water) and a popular children’s playground.  All of these are situated beside the lovely setting of the River Wey.  It is maintained by Waverley BC but with some of the planting by Farnham Town Council.  The park contains some interesting trees including a pocket handkerchief tree, a dawn redwood and a golden rain tree; all introduced from their native China.  Some of the fast growing but short-lived willows and poplars have been felled or lopped on safety grounds over the last year or two.

5.St. Andrews Churchyard.   The Grade II listed Anglican Church dates back to the 12th century but with substantial later additions. It is one of the largest churches in Surrey and during the 1930’s was considered as a cathedral before they built the new one at Guildford. The burial grounds contain remains of important Farnham people such as the political reformer, William Cobbett (1763-1835) and members of his family.   There is a memorial to Farnham-born Reverend Augustus Toplady who wrote the hymn ‘Rock of Ages’.  The Churchyard contains some notable trees including a pair of old yews, an Irish yew, an avenue of limes and semi-upright hornbeams.

6.Library Gardens.    Themodern library is to the rear ofVernon House, a Grade II listed building with parts dating back to the 16C but mainly 18C. The terraced gardens to the rear provide a quiet oasis, with a range of exotic trees including a large old cedar of Lebanon, an evergreen oak, a row of yews, a mulberry and young specimens of the maidenhair tree. To the front there is a large stag’s-horn sumach tree and Liquidambars.  This is a Surrey CC maintained property but the gate to the rear garden is frequently locked.

7.Museum Gardens.  The small walled garden is to the rear of the Grade I listed Willmer House – built in 1718. The fine rubbed, red brick gauge work on the West Street frontage of Willmer House is said to be one of the best in the country.

 

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The garden includes the Garden Gallery and a bust of William Cobbett.  There are some interesting trees in the garden including a deodar cedar, a honey locust and a Ginkgo – plus herbaceous borders.   To the rear is an educational garden, planned and planted since 2008, which shows the development of the kitchen garden with a mini orchard, herb garden, vegetable patch and even a crop of hops.

8.College Gardens.  College Gardensis now a small residential cul-de-sac adjacent   to Guitar Village in West Street but look closely in the grass and you will see a  plaque confirming this was the site of the Royal Military college from 1814 -1820. When it closed, it moved a few miles north to Sandhurst.  There is an interesting Manna ash tree fronting West Street which is thought to have biblical links where, rumour has it, sugary substances from the trunk sustained the Israelites on their exodus from Egypt – manna from heaven! There is an interesting tree to the rear, likely to be the Japanese walnut Juglans ailanthifolia.

9.University for the Creative Arts – Sculpture Park.   Opened in 1998,this   attractive garden, adjacent to the College entrance, features sculptures by well-known artists and graduates/students of the university all set in grassland and amongst trees and shrubs. The trees include a white berried or Kashmir rowan, a dawn redwood, a Persian ironwood, purple Norway maples and common trees like cherries, London plane and birch.  It is always open.

Also at the UCA is the Craft Study Centre, a museum of modern crafts.  There is a small but interesting garden fronting Falkner Road with two special trees.  Firstly, there are two specimens of a hardy palm from the Far East called the windmill or Chusan palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) and secondly a Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum).  This small to medium size tree has heart-shaped leaves with lovely autumn colour and the falling leaves smell of burnt sugar or caramel. There are several cultivars.

10.Farnham Castle Grounds. The 5 acre grounds surround the 12C castle, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and the Grade I and II Bishops Palace with wonderful views of Farnham to the south. A beautiful meeting/wedding venue and the greatest visitor attraction of the town for nearly 900 years – almost 1000 visitors toured the Castle during Heritage Open Days 2017 and close to 1200 last weekend.

The recently restored Bishop’s steps to the west of the Castle are of interest, they were designed for Bishop Richard Foxe (Fox) (1448-1528). He became blind in his later years and, to help him negotiate the steps, there are seven flights of seven steps with seven paces between each flight.

Home of the Bishop of Winchester for some 800 years, the last Bishop, Henry Montgomery-Campbell, left in 1956 when Farnham became part of the Diocese of Guildford. The grounds contain some large, quality, exotic trees including a cedar of Lebanon, false acacias, a shagbark hickory and an old lopped maidenhair tree. A very tall and impressive redwood suffered badly during the 2018 summer droughts and will need checking to see if it recovers next spring.

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There are also many ‘on- the- edge’ or ‘out-of-town’ larger green spaces such as Farnham Park, Bourne Wood, the RSPB Nature Reserve at Farnham Heath, Frensham Common and Ponds, Bourne Recreation Ground, Bishops Meadow, Alice Holt Forest and Arboretum.  There are separate tours to some of these or they will be included in future visits and/or talks. There are also many other green spaces around Farnham and its villages including village greens, recreation grounds, playing fields, footpaths, woodlands, cemeteries and the ever-popular allotments – perhaps over a hundred. It’s important to keep and maintain all these green lungs of Farnham – but as we have seen at Borelli Walk – nothing is safe.

Although this Heritage Open Days weekend was promoted as Farnham’s Green Spaces, this summer we have seen much of it turn brown.   The grass will soon recover and in places it already has – but some trees and shrubs may well be lost.  Shallow-rooted trees such as birch are often the first to suffer but with healthy young trees the shedding of leaves could be a defence mechanism and they should come back next spring.  More worrying are trees like the large redwood at Farnham Castle which turned brown in early August.  There may be some underlying problems and the drought may well be the final straw.

 

Peter Bridgeman  September  2018