Farnham - Encyclopedia

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FARNHAM, a market town in the Guildford parliamentary division of Surrey, England, 371 m. S.W. by W. from London by the London & South Western railway. Pop. of urban district (1901) 6124. It lies on the left bank of the river Wey, on the southern slope of a hill rising about 700 ft. above the sea-level. The church of St Andrew is a spacious transitional Norman and Early English building, with later additions, and was formerly a chapel of ease to Waverley Abbey, of which a crypt and fragmentary remains, of Early English date, stand in the park attached to a modern residence of the same name. This was the earliest Cistercian house in England, founded in 1128 by William Gifford, bishop of Winchester. The Annales Waverlienses, published by Gale in his Scriptores and afterwards in the Record series of Chronicles, are believed to have suggested to Sir Walter Scott the name of his first novel. Farnham Castle, on a hill north of the town, the seat of the bishops of Winchester, was first built by Henry de Blois, bishop of Winchester, and brother of King Stephen; but it was razed by Henry III. It was rebuilt and garrisoned for Charles I. by Denham, from whom it was taken in 1642 by Sir W. Waller; and having been dismantled, it was restored by George Morley, bishop of Winchester (1662-1684). Farnham has a town hall and exchange in Italian style (1866), a grammar school of early foundation, and a school of science and art. It was formerly noted for its cloth manufacture. Hops of fine quality are grown in the vicinity. William Cobbett was born in the parish (1766), and is buried in the churchyard of St Andrew's. The neighbouring mansion of Moor Park was the residence of Sir William Temple (d. 1699), and Swift worked here as his secretary. Hester Johnson, Swift's "Stella," was the daughter of Temple's steward, whose cottage still stands. The town has grown in favour as a residential centre from the proximity of Aldershot Camp (3 m. N.E.).

Though there is evidence of an early settlement in the neighbourhood, the town of Farnham (Ferneham) seems to have grown up round the castle of the bishops of Winchester, who possessed the manor at the Domesday Survey. Its position at the junction of the Pilgrim's Way and the road from Southampton to London was important. In 1205 Farnham had bailiffs, and in 1207 it was definitely a mesne borough under the bishops of Winchester. In 12 4 7 the bishop granted the first charter, giving, among other privileges, a fair on All Saints' Day. The burgesses surrendered the proceeds of the borough court and other rights in 1365 in return for respite of the fee farm rent; these were recovered in 1405 and rent again paid. Bishop Waynflete is said to have confirmed the original charter in 1452, and in 1566 Bishop Horne granted a new charter by which the burgesses elected 2 bailiffs and 12 burgesses annually and did service at their own courts every three weeks, the court leet being held twice a year. In resisting an attack made by the bishop in 1660 on their right of toll, the burgesses could only claim Farnham as a borough by prescription as their charters had been mislaid, but the charters were subsequently found, and after some litigation their rights were established. In the 18th century the corporation, a close body, declined, its duties being performed by the vestry, and in 1789 the one survivor resigned and handed over the town papers to the bishop. Farnham sent representatives to parliament in 1311 and 1460, on both occasions being practically the bishop's pocket borough. In accordance with the grant of 1247 a fair was held on All Saints' day and also on Holy Thursday; the former was afterwards held on All Souls' Day. Farnham was early a market of importance, and in 1216 a royal grant changed the market day from Sunday to Thursday in each week. It was famous in the early 17th century for wheat and oats; hopgrowing began in 1597.

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