UK Genealogy Archives logo

Farnham, Surrey

Historical Description

Farnham, a town, a parish, and a hundred on the W border of Surrey. The town stands on the river Wey, 10 miles WSW of Guildford, and has a station on the L. & S.W.R., 38 miles from London. It is one of the four ' gates" of the Aldershot camps. It consists principally of one street running east and west. with smaller streets branching from the main one; but from its proximity to Aldershot it has entirely changed its character, and become remarkable for extension, bustle, and military thoroughfare. It formerly contained many excellent houses, and soon after the formation of the Aldershot camps a sort of new town sprang up around I it and in its neighbourhood. Farnham Common, comprising an area of about 1 square mile, and situated less than a mile ] from the camps, contained only a few scattered houses in 1851, but is now an important town. The chief feature of the place always was, and still is, the stately castle of the bishops of Winchester, situated on a hill overlooking the town. The original structure was built by Henry of Blois, bishop of Winchester, and brother of King Stephen. This was taken in 1216 by Louis of France, who marched hither from Guildford in pursuit of John, and was demolished by Henry III. on account of its having been a retreat of his rebellious barons. A new castle in a style of greater magnificence, but embodying some portions of the old, was soon reconstructed by the bishops, and this was garrisoned for Charles I. in the Civil War, and besieged, captured, and dismantled by the Parliamentarians under Sir William Waller, but was restored and altered nearly into its present state before 1684 by Bishop Morley at a cost of £8000. The i servants' hall, with circular pillars, is part of the original structure, and the upper apartments include a well-formed saloon, now used as a dining-room. The ancient keep stands on the opposite side of the court; has a multangular outline; is strengthened externally by thick buttresses; is reached by a, long flight of steps, protected at the top by covered archways; and presents features which seem to assign it to the time of Henry III., so that it probably is the earliest part of the reconstruction after the razure by that monarch. Two - parks,, called the great and the little, formerly belonged to the castle. The great park contained about 1000 acres, and was diaparked after the Restoration. The little -park contains about 300 acres, continues to be attached to the castle, and is watered by an affluent of the Wey, and crossed by an avenue of ancient elms nearly a mile in length. Queen Elizabeth made many visits to the castle, and on one occasion was met at dinner here by the Duke of Norfolk when he was plotting a marriage with Mary of Scotland. Moor Park was the last retreat of Sir William Temple; here also Dean Swift wrote many of his works.

The town has a head post office,- three banks, and several good inns; is a seat of county courts and a polling-place; publishes two weekly newspapers; and contains a town-hall and corn-exchange in showy Italian style, built in 1865; a church with Norman and Early English portions, but chiefly of the time of Henry VI., and restored in 1862, 1865, and 1886; Congregational and Baptist chapels, an endowed school, two other public schools, a mechanics' institute, a young men's institution, two political clubs, a workhouse, almshouses, and other charities. A weekly market is held on Thursday, and fairs on 10 May, 24 June, and 10 Nov. The manufacture of cloth was at one time extensively carried on, but became extinct. The chief trade for many years has been the sale of hops. About 1400 acres of hop ground are in the vicinity of the town, and the hops produced on them have a high reputation, and always command a high price in the market. The town sent members to Parliament in½i the 4th year of Edward II., and in the 28th year of Henry VI. Nicholas of Farnham, who became bishop of Durham, the Rev. Augustus Toplady, the Calvinistic theologian, and William Cobbett, the well-known political writer, were natives.' Cobbett was born at a public house called the Jolly Farmer near the railway station, and was buried in Farnham churchyard. The parish includes the tithings of Wrecclesham, Badshot, Eunfold, Eunwick, Hale, The Bourne, Tilford, and Compton. Acreage, 10,118; population of the civil parish, 12,876; of the ecclesiastical, 5060. In the neighbourhood are the remains of earthworks, called " Caesar's Camp," where many Roman coins have been found. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Winchester; gross value, —£500. Patron, the Bishop of Winchester. The church of St James was built in 1876 as a memorial to the late Dr. Charles Richard Sumner, bishop of Winchester. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners are lords of the hundred of Farnham.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountySurrey 
Ecclesiastical parishFarnham St. Andrew 
Poor Law unionFarnham 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records, in association with Surrey History Centre, have images of the Parish Registers for Surrey online.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Farnham from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Surrey is available to browse.


Online maps of Farnham are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Surrey papers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of Surrey, 1662-1668 is available on the Heraldry page.

RegionSouth East
Postal districtGU9
Post TownFarnham