Every year, in Farnham, we have a Heritage Open Weekend. It’s a time when people can peek inside heritage type buildings which are not normally open to the public. Or maybe to see features that the public didn’t realise were there. I’ve blogged about it before but we don’t manage to go every year so I figure it doesn’t hurt to include this short introduction.
And the first place we went to this year was Guitar Village. This is a shop that sells, you’ll never guess…guitars. All sorts of guitars, it’s true, but guitars none-the-less. While that’s not so remarkable, the fact that it’s hidden away just beyond the town centre and not necessarily prey to too much passing traffic and yet seems to flourish, is remarkable. And they are not new. The shop has been there since 1977 and doesn’t look like it’s moving any time soon. While they have been selling guitars since 1977, the building has a much longer history.
It was a Wealdon house which was open halled and built in around 1467. There were some renovations during the Tudor period when the wattle and daub infill was replaced with bricks but, essentially, it hasn’t changed much.
At some point, lots of rooms were added and it’s a bit of a rabbit warren, particularly upstairs, where my favourite room is. It has the most extreme sloping floor I’ve ever seen in a standing building. Seriously, if you rolled over in bed, you’d fall out of the bed and only stop when you hit the wall at the front of the room. Amazing how it still works at all. You can’t really see it in the photo but the roof has some serious level problems as well.
We also popped into the library to see the Culver Room. It seems that Charles I stayed there on the way to London for his execution. We had an interesting chat with an old chap there who pointed out that West Street was most likely the main road from Winchester to London so it made sense for Chuck to stop off at Farnham, particularly given all the pubs.
Speaking of pubs, we popped into the Wheatsheaf for a pint and were incredibly surprised. The last time we went in was over 10 years ago and it was a bit dark and gloomy and, frankly, uninviting. Mirinda claimed it was the sort of place you’d walk into and in the corner would be a couple of grizzly old men talking about boats in great detail. Well, not any more it isn’t. It’s been done up a treat (not in a bad way) and was very comfortable and welcoming.
We popped in and out of a few other buildings but the most impressive had to be the jewellery shop with the ornate plaster ceiling. Low down and detailed, the ceiling was the work of a Farnham man who was asked by the Earl of Shaftesbury to prepare an example before making him one at his house in Wimborne. The ceiling in the tiny shop was the example and the Earl liked it and ordered a full size one for his house.
The ceiling, made in the 17th century, was eventually covered over and forgotten until being rediscovered last century. Quite extraordinary.
Before heading back home, we popped around to the church but didn’t get to see the Teddy Bears Tower Leap.
I rather liked the fact that the gravestones and various memorials were being employed as seats and tables for the revellers and children.
After lunch we headed for Thursley where, like the little pest she is, Freya threw herself into the bog. Okay, it wasn’t all her fault. After all she was only following Emma but where the mud only reached halfway up Emma’s legs, it almost covered Freya.
Oddly, by the time we returned to the car she didn’t smell bad anymore, unlike Emma (and Carmen before her). Not that it prevented her getting a bath.