Known for its Georgian streets, historic buildings and craft heritage, with easy access to the rural North Downs Way, Farnham is a historic market town nestled in the rolling Surrey Hills; offering visitors a chance to enjoy quintessential England, just an hour from the capital.
Whatever you are looking for, great locally produced food, beautiful green countryside, fascinating heritage to discover, a wealth of independent and quirky shops, Farnham is the perfect place to visit.
At heart, Farnham is a market town. Dating back to the Middle Ages Farnham offered a weekly market and an annual fair which attracted visitors from all over Surrey and Hampshire to buy and sell goods.
Today, Farnham has an award winning, certified monthly Farmers’ Market with nearly forty regular stallholders. Farmers’ Markets give shoppers the chance to buy seasonal produce direct from the producer and food is noticeably fresher and tends to be tastier because it has been grown, raised, caught, baked, picked or processed all within 50 miles of the market. The Farmers’ Market takes place in Central car park on the fourth Sunday of every month, so don’t miss the chance to pick up delicious, fresh locally produced food.
Once a year the Farnham Food Festival a huge bustling market takes place in Castle Street in September bringing together Farnham’s local producers plus a variety of other culinary specialists.
Farnham has a wealth of shopping opportunities; with a range of independent boutiques alongside diverse high street shops you can find unique gifts, fashion brands or household essentials here, nestled between a variety of pubs, restaurants and cafes both independent and well known UK chains.
History & Craft
Farnham has a magnificent history, with evidence of Stone Age, Roman and Saxon dwellings found here. Many of the Georgian buildings conceal structures of Tudor or even earlier times.
The Town is crowned by a 12th century castle overlooking the heart of Farnham, built in 1138 AD by Henry de Blois, grandson of William the Conqueror and has been occupied for nearly 900 years, mostly by the powerful Bishops of Winchester. Monarchs from King John to Queen Victoria have all visited, whilst Henry VIII was a regular guest during his boyhood. When Elizabeth I visited, she bought her Court along too and ran the country from Farnham for six months!
The roots of Farnham’s engagement with crafts can be dated back to the time when the town exported white clay to the Romans. In the sixteenth century, potteries in Farnham were major suppliers of pottery to London. Fast forward to today and Craft still sits at the heart of Farnham’s distinctiveness and this special feature was acknowledged in 2013 when Farnham was designated as England’s Craft Town.
The establishment of The Farnham School of Art in 1880 strongly promoted the education in craft subjects as part of its curriculum, and a powerful reputation was developed that has lasted throughout the 20th century and to the present day especially in courses in textiles and ceramics. Craft courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels are offered at the University for the Creative Arts at Farnham, the successor institution to the Art School. Craft courses in jewellery, metalwork, glass as well as in textiles and ceramics offer today’s emerging craft makers unrivalled opportunities in some of the best equipped studios and workshops in any specialist university in the country.
In fact Farnham has always been an inspiring town and the local area a backdrop for literary and artistic talent. Farnham is proud to be home to many well-known characters and faces over the years, from Jonathan Swift and the radical journalist William Cobbett, to John Henry Knight builder of Britain’s first petrol-powered motor vehicle. Many people also won’t know that the magically famous story of ‘Peter Pan’ was written whilst J. M. Barrie occupied Black Lake Cottage on the Tilford Road.
If you want to explore Farnham there are a number of walks and trails to guide you. Whether you want to delve into the history of Farnham or discover its rich history of flora and fauna there is so much to do!
A number of ready-made trail leaflets are available to pick up from Farnham Town Council offices or download from www.farnham.gov.uk.
If you are lucky enough to be in Farnham on the first Sunday of the month why not take part in a Farnham Town Walks and explore Farnham’s hidden treasures while learning about its wealth of history. The walks start from a meeting point in Waggon Yard car park and cost £3 which is donated to charity.
On the circular walking Heritage Trail you can discover more about Farnham’s historic treasures, from the unusual groups of seven steps leading to the castle built for the blind bishop in 1524 from where King Charles I stayed on West Street to William Cobbett’s tomb at St Andrew’s Church
A self-guided Tree Trail guides you around Central Farnham identifying a mix of common native species and more usual specimens. Starting in Gostrey Meadow in the centre of Farnham discover a huge range of beautiful trees.
For more information, inspiration and tips on great days out for kids, ideal walks for the family, more on the history of Farnham, maps and guides or fabulous places to eat visit www.farnham.gov.uk . You can also follow Farnham Town Council on Twitter @FarnhamOfficial or like on Facebook @farnhamofficial
Map & Directions
The town of Farnham is a few miles south of Guildford, and is very easy to find by road, being well signposted from both the A3, A31 and M3 motorway. Find a pay and display car park in Farnham.
Public Transport Directions
National Express provides a service to Farnham. See the National Express website for details about the service including timetables and how to buy tickets. Coaches travelling to Farnham can park at The Hart, near Lower Hart car park.
The railway station is located just south of the A31 on Station Hill. It is approximately a ten minute walk from the centre of town. There are regular services to London Waterloo and Alton, Hampshire. For train times see the National Rail enquiries website. Farnham station floor plan.
Taxi ranks are situated at the railway station and at the bottom of Castle Street. Taxis are licensed by Waverley Borough Council. See their website for advice about travelling by taxi. Farnham station floor plan to locate taxi ranks.