Farnham (St. Andrew)

FARNHAM (St. Andrew), a market-town, parish, and the head of a union, in the hundred of Farnham, W. division of Surrey, 10 miles (W. by S.) from Guildford, and 38 (S. W.) from London, on the road to Southampton; comprising the tythings of Badshot, Runfold, Culverlands, Tilford, Farnham, Runwick, Wrecklesham, and Bourne; and containing 6615 inhabitants, of whom 3400 are in the town or tything of Farnham. This place, originally called Fernham, from the fern growing on the extensive heaths by which on all sides, except the south-west, it is for many miles surrounded, was by Ethelbald, King of the West Saxons, annexed to the see of Winchester. In 893, Alfred obtained a signal victory over the Danes who were ravaging this part of the country. In the reign of Stephen, Henry de Blois, brother of that monarch, and Bishop of Winchester, erected on a hill commanding the town a castle of great strength and of considerable extent, which is said to have been seized by the Dauphin of France, in his expedition against King John. In the following reign, this castle, having become a retreat for the malcontents, was demolished by Henry III., in the war with the barons; but it was rebuilt by the bishops of Winchester, with greater magnificence, as the episcopal palace. During the parliamentary war, the castle was garrisoned for the king, but being besieged by Waller, the republican general, it fell into his hands, and was afterwards dismantled and nearly destroyed. The principal remains are some portions of the walls, and the keep, which still retains vestiges of its ancient strength; on the top is a neat garden, about 40 yards square, in which are cherry, apple, and other fruit trees. There are two fosses, an inner and an outer: the inner is converted into a kitchen and pleasure garden; the outer, which is very deep, surrounding the walls, is in parts planted with forest-trees. At the Restoration, the greater part of the present house was erected by Bishop Morley, at an expense of £8000; it has been since modernised, and is still the principal residence of the bishops of the diocese. The structure is quadrangular, built of brick covered with stucco, excepting the tower at the west end, and seems to have been patched up at different times. From the top of the keep are some fine views of the neighbourhood, and from a spacious lawn in front is a prospect of the market-place and town of Farnham, with the distant country. The park, three miles in circumference, commands a good view of the valley in which the town lies, and of the scenery to the south and south-east. To the east of the palace is a noble avenue of ancient elms, forming a delightful promenade about half a mile in length, open to the inhabitants.

The town is situated on the river Wey, and consists of four chief streets diverging nearly at right angles from the market-place in the centre, and of several smaller streets, roughly paved, and lighted with gas. The houses are mostly well built; many of them are handsome, and the general appearance of the place is respectable and prepossessing: the principal houses are supplied by a company with water brought from the Lawday-house hill, about a mile distant, by means of iron pipes, into a reservoir which holds 1000 hogsheads on the Castle-hill. The view of the castle from the market-place, though partially obstructed by the markethouse, is picturesque; and the environs abound with pleasing and richly-varied scenery. Farnham is celebrated for the cultivation of hops, which has prevailed here for about 150 years; from the favourable nature of the soil, and the peculiar care bestowed on their culture, the hops possess a decided superiority over those produced in any other part of the kingdom, and invariably obtain a higher price. On the banks of the Wey are several flour-mills, from which large supplies are sent to the London market by the Basingstoke canal, which crosses the high road within four miles of the town; there are also several breweries, and a small factory for weaving coarse cloth for sacking, and oilcloth. An act was passed in 1846 for a railway from Guildford, by Farnham, to Alton. The market is on Thursday; and fairs are held on Holy-Thursday, Midsummer-day, and November 13th, for live-stock. Farnham was anciently a borough, and returned members to parliament from the 4th of Edward II. till the 38th of Henry VI. It had a charter of incorporation granted by the bishops, under which the government was vested in two bailiffs and twelve burgesses; but these privileges were so little regarded that the vacancies in the number of the burgesses were not filled up; and in 1790, the bailiffs, having been indicted for not repairing the bridges at Tilford, surrendered their charter to the bishop, and sent the records of the borough to the castle. The town is now within the jurisdiction of the county magistrates, who hold petty-sessions for the division on the last Thursday in every month; and the bishop holds a court leet in autumn, at which constables and tythingmen are appointed. The powers of the county debt-court of Farnham, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Farnborough, and nearly the whole of that of Farnham.

The parish comprises 10,395a. 1r. 16p., of which 3372 acres are arable, 1093 in hop-grounds, 977 meadow, 640 pasture, 1276 wood and plantations, and upwards of 2500 waste. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £29. 9. 5.; net income, £430; patron, the Archdeacon of Surrey. The church is a spacious structure in the later English style, with a low tower at the west end; the nave is separated from the aisles by obtuse pointed arches resting upon octagonal pillars: additional accommodation has been provided by building a gallery. A handsome church in the later English style, dedicated to St. Peter, was erected at Wrecklesham, in 1840, by subscription; there is a district church at Hale, dedicated to St. John the Evangelist; and at Tilford is a licensed place of worship, in connexion with the Establishment. The Independents have meeting-houses in the town, and at Tilford and Hungary-hill; and there is a free grammar school, founded prior to 1611. Almshouses for eight aged persons were founded in 1619 by Andrew Windsor, to which the principal bequests are, £500 by Mrs. Mary Smither, in 1792; £2232. 16., three per cent. consols., by Captain Samuel Fenner; £640 by Mr. D. Bristow, in the three per cent. consols.; and £575. 10., three per cent. consols., by T. B. Mill, Esq. There are also several benefactions for the poor generally: the principal is by Henry Smith, who in 1650 bequeathed £1000, which were laid out in lands now producing upwards of £110 per annum.

At the distance of about two miles south of the town are the remains of the Abbey of Waverley, founded in 1128, by Giffard, Bishop of Winchester, for monks of the Cistercian order, then introduced into England. The abbot, according to Gale, was accounted the superior of the order in this country; the clear revenue of the society, at the Dissolution, was £174. 8. 3. The remains consist of part of the south aisle of the church, in the windows of which, within the memory of the present generation, were many specimens of the rich stained glass wherewith the church was decorated; and part of the dormitory, refectory, and the cloisters, mantled with ivy, and extending in detached portions over a space of three or four acres: stone coffins and sepulchral remains have been frequently discovered on the spot. Peter de Rupibus, Bishop of Winchester, died at Farnham, and was buried at Winchester, but his heart was deposited at Waverley, and is said to have been dug up entire a few years since, inclosed in a leaden box containing a saline liquid. Henry III. visited the monastery on the 17th of December, 1225, and was received with great solemnity, and next day admitted a member of the fraternity. Hely, Bishop of Winchester, was buried here, and his heart at Winchester. On the 2nd of June, 1268, John Breton was consecrated Bishop of Hereford in this house by the Bishop of Winchester. At Moor Park died Sir William Temple, the eminent statesman, and patron of Dean Swift, who, on quitting college, came to reside at the place, where, with the exception of a journey to Ireland for the recovery of his health, and a short residence at his prebend of Kilroot, he remained till the death of Sir William, and contracted an intimacy with the daughter of Mr. Johnson, steward to his patron, whose virtues he celebrated under the name of Stella. At the extremity of Moor Park is St. Mary's Well, commonly called "Mother Ludlam's Cave," a remarkable cavern. Nicholas de Farnham, successively physician to Henry III., Bishop of Chester, and Bishop of Durham, and author of several works on the practice of physic and the properties of herbs; and the Rev. Augustus Montague Toplady, the controversial divine, were natives of Farnham. William Cobbett, also, was born and buried here.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.