THE events in Farnham’s Heritage Open Days this year were bathed in warm autumn sunshine - perfect weather for welcoming residents and visitors to all the attractions on offer in 2018.
Events were spread over two four-day periods this year, a sure sign of their increasing popularity not just in Farnham, but across the country, and visitors came to Farnham in their thousands.
Heritage Open Days in Farnham is organised by volunteers from the Farnham Society, supported by Farnham Town Council.
The town was in festive mood, with pink bunting and blue balloons spread across shop fronts, and Morris dancers performing in Lion and Lamb Yard and The Hop Blossom. Taking up the green theme again, Farnham Rep charmed listeners with readings evoking ‘England’s Green and Pleasant Land’.
Farnham’s architectural heritage was proudly shown off as modern shops in the old buildings welcomed visitors with information about their history, and some outstanding private houses were open offering pre-booked tours.
A new feature was a tour of the interior of St Andrew’s Church given by Andrew Partridge, showing its many treasures.
This year’s theme was Farnham’s green spaces, and a group led by Peter Bridgeman started in the little Victoria Garden in South Street and then wound its way through parks and gardens to finish in the grounds of Farnham Castle.
Other green walks included Farnham Park, where the Friends of Farnham Park aided by archaeologist David Graham took visitors round the park talking about its origins and its different uses through the centuries.
The Bourne Conservation Group showed off green spaces in The Bourne, and visitors were shown the riverside Bishops Meadow, managed for conservation and wildlife.
There were a variety of talks on offer during the Heritage Open Days period. Dr Chris Wiley gave a lively and fascinating lecture on Dame Ethel Smyth, 1858 to 1944, composer and suffragette, featuring recordings of her music.
Jonathan Jones, the town crier, gave a fascinating account of his job, his duties and the elaborate clothes he wears in his role, also demonstrating his astonishing lung power with some deafening ‘shouts’!
New attractions this year included South Farnham Infant School, known to generations of Farnham children as The Bourne School, where one visitor remembered being a pupil in 1941 and hiding in the air raid shelter.
Two people who had not met since their school days recognised each other, and records going back to 1895 were on display, including the punishment book!
Also new to Heritage Open Days this year, Badshot Lea Kiln put on a magnificent display of information about the building and its use, which attracted a regular flow of visitors.
Coxbridge Farm tours were extremely popular, with satisfied customers saying afterwards how much they appreciated the way the Kenward family made them welcome with history of the 500-year-old farm, a visit to the 18th century barns, and a tour of the historic farm land sitting on straw bales in a specially made trailer, described by one visitor as “absolutely magical”.
When it was all over, Alan Gavaghan, chairman of the Farnham Society, said: “The Farnham Society has again been proud to present a spectacular series of events over a number of days, without cost to the public and with the indirect effect of stimulating a financial boost to retail enterprises in the town.”