A town with aspirations to become England’s craft capital, Farnham is making creative and colourful progress.
For 800 years, the Bishops of Winchester used Farnham Castle as a home and administrative centre. Powerful men from the Norman Conquest until the Tudors, the bishops often shaped English politics. Nine were Lord Chancellors. Most of the monarchs of England from King John to Queen Victoria visited or stayed at the castle. Tours of the Bishops Palace take place every Wednesday, 2pm to 4pm, while The Keep is open daily.
A brewery back in the late 1800s, Farnham Maltings is now home to arts, crafts and festivals, with artists’ studios, galleries, café, nursery and dance studio. The band Genesis rehearsed there in the late 1960s, too. Fittingly, Farnham plans to launch as England’s ‘craft town’ this October.
The biggest outdoor country life collection in the south of England, the Rural Life Centre is found near Tilford. The stunning Waverley Abbey and Frensham Ponds are just down the road, as is Bourne Woods, where Gladiator, Harry Potter, Robin Hood and many, many more have been filmed.
Having brought the best in contemporary art and crafts to Farnham for over 50 years, New Ashgate Gallery is run as a not for profit charitable trust. Earlier this year, the University for the Creative Arts announced a new partnership with the gallery to help students show and sell more work there.
Raymond Blanc opened a Brasserie Blanc (01252 899970) on Castle Street earlier this year.
For something a little different, try The Mulberry (01252 726673) on Station Hill, which also does mouth-watering burgers.
Signposted from the A3, A31, M3 and A287. The station is about ten minutes walk away.
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