Late this fall, we were once again fortunate to have an opportunity to visit the UK. Craig had some work in the southern area of Surrey and Jennifer decided to come along and explore some new areas. As you may have read in our previous posts, our past visits have taken us to Devon, Cornwall, Wales, the Cotswolds, and Yorkshire. This time we decided on yet another area, the south coast to do some walks on the South Coast Path, and visit New Forest National Park. Our first stop on this adventure was to the town of Farnham, near Farnborough, were Craig had a week of work. This was a new town for us and gave Jennifer a chance to explore new places while Craig was at work. With it being late fall and winter on the horizon, the weather was a little bit of a roll of the dice. But despite a couple of days of rain, the weather really did hold up, giving us ample opportunities to explore
The day we arrived was a beautiful fall day. Full sun, warm, and no wind. After getting in at Heathrow, we drove on to Farnham and visited Waverly Abbey located on the River Wey and was build back in the 12th Century. It was flooded out numerous times and rebuilt in the 13th Century. It was “suppressed” in the mid 16th Century and largely demolished, with the stone reused for many local buildings and a large Abbey House. We have always enjoyed visiting ruins of old castles and abbeys. They give us an opportunity to imagine what things must have looked like and how people must have lived all those centuries ago. It is amazing to think it has survived all this time. We found a nice pub along the river and had our first “pint”
Farnham is an old market town dating back to before the 7th century. It traces its history back prior to the Doomsday Book of 1086! There is interesting architecture along the main streets. It is smaller than Salisbury, but still a wonderful old town. Jennifer spent time exploring the shops, restaurants, and history of the town on the days it was not raining. We ate at several of the restaurants and had a social with Craig’s work group at a local brewery, the Hog’s Back.
Farnham is also home to Farnham Castle. Built in 1138, all that remains now are ruins of the keep and some of the moat and foundations. In the early 15th century, Cardinal Henry Beaufort who presided at the trial of Joan of Arc in 1431, lived here. It was pretty much destroyed in the Civil War of 1648. In the 1700’s, more buildings were constructed including Bishop House, which is now an events venue. Jennifer got a chance to tour both the keep and the house and then took Craig on a tour on Friday after work was over. One of the unique features which remain is the Blind Bishop’s Steps, a series of seven sets of seven steps all at a perfect cadence leading along Castle Street up to the Castle. They were originally constructed for a blind Bishop at his exact stride so he would be able to find his way.
There are also some wonderful parks in Farnham, the main one is connected to the castle. We walked it some and enjoyed the last days of fall colors on a beautiful fall day.
It was nice to have a new place to explore and visit and we really did enjoy our stay in Farnham. The wide choice of restaurants and lots of opportunities to walk were great. It was a great way to start our visit and get acclimated.