Farnham in old picture postcards

Farnham in old picture postcards

:   Annette Booth
:   Surrey
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-5910-4
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Farnham in old picture postcards'

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When Princess Mary, wife of the future King George V, visited Farnharn Castie in August 1907 and walked down into the town to do a little shopping with her children, she headed for Sturt's, the Stationers, in The Borough, to purchase several postcard views of the town. Postcard mania was sweeping the country and everyone, including the present King hirnself, was feverishly writing and sending postcards, and the more serious collector was seeking out every new card that came onto the market. The first twenty years of this century saw the heyday of this craze with an incredible 860 million postcards a year being sent through the post in Britain alone. Almast every week a new view would be published by firms like The Francis Frith Postcard Company, based at Reigate in Surrey, who, at the turn of the century, were supplying photographs to 2,000 shops throughout the country.

Farnharn also had its own much smaller publishers like Frank Sturt and Ernest Langham, who not only produced local views, but also published postcards of important occasions in the town, which they managed to have on sale within days. Several of these postcards are featured in the baak, along with a number of late nineteenth century photographs from the camera of John Henry Knight, one of Farnharn's Iarnous sans. They portray a community which was essentially self-supporting, where there was na need to travel far to purchase goods because literally everything was on sale locally, and the range of services available was breathtaking.

We are indebted to the trade directories of the day; Kellys, nationally, and the local Farnharn Almanac and Directory, published annually by John Nichols on his printing press at Nos. 41 & 42 The Borough, bath ofwhich give us an insight intowho worked where and what they did. Basket makers, grocers, hatters, habit makers, builders, boot and shoemakers, drapers,

butchers, brewers and photographers, the list goes on and on. But in trying to puttogether this picture of Farnharn in the early years of the 20th century it is the photographers we turn to, for they chronicled everyday life as it happened. They were thereand, through their postcards, we can be there toa!

These dedicated men, who recorded for posterity the life of the town, have left us a valuable legacy. But it's worth remembering that photography was not the medium of the masses as it is today, where every family has its own personal record on film. The actual mechanics of photography were far removed from the 'compact' and the 'instant' cameras of today. Most of the original photographs in this baak would have been taken with plate cameras, producing a glass negative that could have been as large as 10 inches by 8 inches. The emulsions used to coat the plate were slow compared with modem film technology, resulting in exposures measured in seconds, or even minutes. Bear this in mind when you look at some of the earlier photographs. It must have needed a special skill to have persuaded sa many people to stand still for so lang!

But the picture postcard was not only a photographic record. Ta the people of the time it was a marvellous methad of cornmunication. For the price of one halfpenny, a postage rate that would remain the same for a quarter of a century, they could keep in touch with friends and family in the way we use the telephone today. It was not uncommon for postcards to be sent to adjacent towns and villages. passing on the joy and sadness of everyday life and, with some five collections of post a day in Farnharn and cards reaching their destination within hours of being sent, one can see that it was actually quite an efficient method,

And so to the present! This collection spans the years 1880-1930, with a couple of exceptions, and those photographs of Farnharn in the 1850's were reproduced as postcards by

Ernest Langham at the turn of the century. I have tried to lay out the baak in the form of a tour of the town. We begin at the Castle, befare travelling down Castie Street and into the ancient hub of the town, The Borough. We then take in West Street, followed by Downing Streel. You'll notice we travel down Downing Streel. It may be only one way today, but when all our photographs were taken it was, like the rest of the town, still two-way traflic. Crossing the River Wey at Longbridge we stop momentarily in Bridge Square, befare taking in Union Raad, South Street and East Street, where sa many changes have taken place in recent years, and, finally, a trip 10 the railway station and a quick tour of the villages.

Inevitably the views included are limited by the postcards available and 1 apologise in advance if your favourite street doesn't even get a mention. But I should point out that this was never intended to be a complete history of Farnham. The town has already been well-documented by such knowledgeable people as Nigel Temple and Bill Ewbank Smith, to name but two. Indeed, Mr. Ewbank Smith's trilogy, 'Victorian Farnham', 'Edwardian Farnham' and 'Farnham in War and Peace' has been invaluable in pointing me in the right direction for my own research. My aim has been to provide you with some visual images of Farnham's past. As you turn each page try to imagine you are looking through a window onto a single moment in time, when everyday people, going about their everyday business, were captured for posterity. Researching the book, I've almast come to know some of them - John Henry Knight, Henrietta Savage, John Price, George Elphick, Ernest Langham, to name but a few, and I hope you will enjoy meeting them. And while I have tried to caption each picture with what I think is relevant or interesting, there is still sa much more each postcard could teIl us about life in Farnham all those years ago,

H you were born befare the Second World War you will be able to look at some of the later pictures and remember the way it was. H, like me, you were bom just after the war, then all of it will be new and, hopefully, exciting to you,

I say new, but that isn't strictly true. Part of Farnham's charm and character is that much of it appears the same as in these photographs taken a hundred years ago. It has managed to retain sa much of its fine architectural heritage, while at the same time ever looking to the future. It is justifiably proud of its famous sans, like William Cobbett and George Sturt, and of men like Charles Borelli and Harold Falkner, who were responsible for the restoration of many of the town's finest buildings, but, as we approach the 21st century you can be sure the town will not be resting on its laurels.

Although half of the postcards reproduced in this baak are from my own collection, I am very grateful to the following businesses and individu als for allowing me to copy postcards and photographs; Elphicks Ltd, Mr. Peter Lewis-Jones of Swain & Jones, Childhood Memories, Mr. c.R. Marlow, Jean Parratt, and the Francis Frith Collection. I would also like to thank The Farnham Heraid and the Surrey Advertiser, whose newspaper archives gave such a fresh insight into the people and events of the time, and Surrey County Local Studies Library in Guildford for their enthusiasm and advice. A special 'thank you' must go to The Museum of Farnham, who not only allowed me to use several photographs from its collection, but also put up with me, and my husband, on the many occasions we visited its impressive local studies room, researching material. Last, but not least, I must thank my husband, Chris, for his continuing support and patience.

Annette Booth

1. The town of Farnharn, nestling below its Castie as it has done since the 12th century. In this view, published by the Francis Frith Postcard Company in 1929, we get our first glimpse of some of the places we will examine more closely later - the Parish Church of St. Andrew, the hop-grounds at The Hart, Castie Street with its giant Norman Shaw building, and The Borough, the oldest part of the town. We will begin our tour at the Castle and th en take the 'Blind Bishop's Steps' down into the town. This f1ight of steps, seven treads with seven paces between them, was, according to Farnharn tradition, created at the request of Bishop Fox, who resided at the CastIe from 1501 unti11528, to help hirn find his way about more easily, since he was almast blind.

2. A postcard of Farnham Castle published in the early part of this century, when it still possessed its magnificent cedar trees. They were planted in 1787 by Mrs. Brownlow North, the wife of the then Bishop ofWinchester. In 1931 they were found to be rotten and unsafe, one having to be felled during December that year, the other following shortly afterwards. The CastIe has been Iived in al most continuously for 800 years. From the 12th century until 1927 it was the palace of the Bishops of Winchester. It was conveniently placed between Winchester and London and here they entertained Kings and Queens down the ages. In 1927 the CastIe was transferred to the See of Guildford and used by the Bishop of Guildford, unti11955. Unoccupied until1962, the CastIe is, at present, the Centre for International Briefing.

3. This photograph of the Castle Keep was taken at the same time as the previous one, around the beginning of this century. Although captioned 'The Keep', it shows very little of the fortification, begun in 1138 for Bishop Henry de Blois. What it does show are the delightful gardens, which were laid out on the very top of the Keep by a Bishop's wife long ago - perhaps even Mrs. Brownlow North. What a marvellous site for a garden, with the whole of Farnham stretching out below youl In 'A Small Boy in the Sixties', the Farnham author George Sturt (1863-1927) remembers that the walls surrounding the Castle were so low that 'at one part of the wall could be seen the top of a lean-to greenhouse against it in the Bishop's garden within', Today, if you visit the Keep, you will find no trace whatsoever of this lovely garden. but it's interesting to note that a well, reopened in 1958, is exactly where that ornament in the picture is, so perhaps that was placed there long ago for safety reasons.

4. Looking towards the CastIe at the turn of the century when the hop-grounds stretehed as far as the eye could see. 'Grounds', you note, not gardens! In 'A Small Boy in the Sixties', George Sturt admonishes those who ealled them otherwise. 'We thought it the mark of a eontemptibly ignorant stranger to talk of Hop-gardens,' he says. Today it's hard to believe that Farnharn was onee a very important centre for growing hops, with these grounds at The Hart considered premium land. The hops would be sent to the Weyhill Fair, near Andover, where those from Farnharn could be expected to fetch up to a third more than hops from other areas. Sadly, even by the time of this postcard, the heyday of the hops was passing and Farnham had to look to other industries. Hops continued to be cultivated at The Hart, on a much reduced level, until as late as 1973. Today it is cars, not poles, that stand in line in what is now one of the town's main car parks.

5. Hop picking in the Hart grounds in the earlypart of this century. The taIly man stands readywith his book to enter what each family has picked. It was very much a family event. A woman could earn 4 or 51- a day, and, with her children to help, a good deal more. Many youngsters spent their entire holiday in the hopgrounds. The day started at 6 a.m. and went on until the taIly man had achieved his quota. Each family picked in a row, into a seven bushel basket, which you ean just see in the centre. Either side of the group are two men, who are the official pole-puIlers. They are standing with their 'dogs'; stout poles, each having a large pointed and serrated iron hook on one side, These were used for pulling the 18-20 ft poles, on which the hops grew, out of the ground so that each group of piekers could get to work. The man on the left is also holding a knife, which he would use to cut all the bines off the pole just above the soil, in order to let the 'dog' see the wood!

6. Looking at this 1906 postcard of CastIe Street it's not difficult to understand why Farnham has been called 'one ofthe most memorable townscapes in Southern England ' with the CastIe looking down on the town, as it has done for the last 800 years. The architecture of this lovely street has not changed at all, only the tranquillity of the scene has been lost as we bustie towards the end of the 20th century. Those plane trees on the right are still there - presented by Samuel Bide, the Nurseryman, and planted in 1897 in celebration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. They stand outside the Windsor Almshouses, which were built in 1619 at the bequest of Andrew Windsor 'for the habitation and relief of eight poor honest and impotent people'.

7. I love this postcard of the prizewinners of a Fancy Dress Carnival held at the Farnham Skating Rink on Wednesday, 17th January 1912. The Farnham Heraid of 20th January 1912, teils us th at 'the spectators were content to sit for hour after hour watching the whirling throng on the floor of the Rink'. The Carnival, the fifth to have been held since the Rink opened on 22nd December 1909 in converted workshops at No. 68 CastIe Street, was a masked event. It was actually judged by the spectators and competitors' masks could not be removed until the judging was over. Mrs. MitchelI, the wife of one of the directors of the roller skating rink, presented the prizes. Looking at the postmark, I note with admiration that the card was sent just three days after the event - now that, I imagine, would be pretty impressive even today, let alone eighty-two years ago,

8. Castie Street, looking towards The Borough, in 1850. In the centre of the picture is the OId Market House, built by John Clark in 1566 and pulled down around 1864, much to the regret of local people today. Of timber construction. built on oak posts, the upper part served as a town gaol, while the lower part was used for pitching corn. Obscured by the Market House in this photograph, but situated at the bottom of Castle Street, was the Goat's Head inn. This was demolished in 1863 and a new Town Hall built on its site, as can be seen in the following picture. How different the same street looks just thirty-eight years later! The Town Hall and the land on which the Market House stood were owned by a private company, a fact that the Local Board and subsequent Councils have greatly regretted. On the extreme left ofthe picture you canjust make out the Bell & Crown inn at No. 73. This public house lost its licence in 1902 and was pulled down in 1910 to provide an entrance to Watney's brewery.

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