Farnham, Surrey Family History Guide

Farnham is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Surrey.

Other places in the parish include: Runswick, Culverlands And Tilford, and Badshot and Runfold.

Parish church:

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1539
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1689

Nonconformists include: Baptist, Independent/Congregational, Methodist, Primitive Methodist, Roman Catholic, Society of Friends/Quaker, Strict Baptist, and Wesleyan Methodist.

Adjacent Parishes

  • Crookham-with-Ewshott
  • Binsted
  • Hale
  • Crondall
  • Bentley
  • Wrecclesham
  • Waverley
  • Frensham
  • Aldershot
  • Seale
  • Elstead

Historical Descriptions

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

FARNHAM, a town, a parish, a sub-district, a district, and a hundred on the W border of Surrey. The town stands on the river Wey, adjacent to the Guildford and Alton branch of the Southwestern railway, 10 miles WSW of Guildford; and is one of the four "gates" of the Aldershot camps. It consists principally of one street running east and west, with smaller streets branching from the main one; but, from its proximity to Aldershot, it has entirely changed its character, and become remarkable for extension, bustle, and military thoroughfare. It formerly contained many excellent houses; and, soon after the formation of the Aldershot camps, a sort of new town, with numerous taverns and numerous first-class houses, sprang up around it and in its neighbourhood. Farnham common, comprising an area of about 1 square mile, and situated less than a mile from the camps, contained only a few scattered houses in 1851, but presented the appearance of a rising town in 1861. The chief feature of the place always was, and still is, the stately castle of the bishops of Winchester, situated on a hill overlooking the town. The original structure was built by Henry of Blois, bishop of Winchester, and brother of King Stephen. This was taken, in 1216, by Louis of France, who marched hither from Guildford in pursuit of John; and was demolished by Henry III., on account of its having been a retreat of his rebellions barons. A new castle, in a style of greater magnificence, but embodying some portions of the old, was soon reconstructed by the bishops; and this was garrisoned for Charles I. in the civil war, and besieged, captured, and dismantled by the parliamentarians under Sir William Waller; but was restored and altered, nearly into its present state, before 1684, by Bishop Morley, at a cost of £8,000. The servants' hall, with circular pillars, is part of the original structure; and the upper apartments include a well-formed saloon, now used as a dining-room. The ancient keep stands on the opposite side of the court; has a multangular outline; is strengthened externally by thick buttresses; is reached by a long flight of steps, protected at the top by covered archways; and presents features which seem to assign it to the time of Henry III., so that it probably is the earliest part of the reconstruction after the razure by that monarch. Two parks, called the great and the little, formerly belonged to the castle. The great park contained about 1,000 acres, and was disparked after the Restoration. The little park contains about 300 acres; continues to be attached to the castle: and is watered by an affluent of the Wey, and crossed by an avenue of ancient elms, nearly a mile in length. Queen Elizabeth made many visits to the castle; and on one occasion was met at dinner here by the Duke of Norfolk, when he was plotting a marriage with Mary of Scotland.

The town has a head post-office, a railway station with telegraph, three banking offices, and three chief inns; is a seat of county courts and a polling-place; publishes a weekly newspaper; and contains a town hall and corn exchange in showy Italian style, built in 1867 at a cost of £3,500, a church with Norman and early English portions, but chiefly of the time of Henry VI., and restored in 1848 and 1855, Independent and Baptist chapels, an endowed school with £22 a year, two other public schools, a mechanics' institute, a young men's institution, a workhouse enlarged in 1847, and now accommodating 314 inmates, alms-houses with £80 a year, and other charities £166. A weekly market is held on Thursday; and fairs on Holy Thursday, 24 June, 29 Oct., and 13 Nov. The manufacture of cloth was at one time extensively carried on, but became extinct; and a manufactory of hop bags, floor-cloth, sheeting, huckaback, sailcloth, and tarpauling, was established about 1824. The chief trade, for many years, has been the sale of hops. About 930 acres of hop-ground are in the vicinity of the town; and the hops produced on them have a high reputation, and always command the best price in the market. The town sent members to parliament in the 4th year of Edward II., and in the 28th year of Henry VI. Nicholas of Farnham, who became bishop of Durham, the Rev. Augustus Toplady, the Calvinistic theologian, and William Cobbett, the well-known political writer, were natives. Cobbett was born at a public-house, called the Jolly Farmer, near the railway station; and was buried in Farnham churchyard. Pop. of the town, 3,926. Houses, 754.

The parish consists of the tythings of Farnham, Runwick, Badshot and Runfold, Culverlands and Tilford, and Wrecklesham-with-Bourne. Acres, 9,766. Real property, £28,137; of which £210 are in gas-works. Pop. in 1851, 7,264; in 1861, 9,278. Houses, 1,805. The property is much subdivided. Moor Park was the retreat of Sir William Temple; was the place where Jonathan Swift wrote his "Battle of the Books, " and perhaps also his "Tale of a Tub;" has grounds extending along a fine broken ridge of sandstone, with rich views over the wooded country below; became, in recent times, a hydropathic establishment, under the care of Dr. Lane; and was advertized for sale, in 1858, as building-ground for villas. Farnham hill, near Farnham common, rises about 300 feet above the surrounding level, and about 700 feet above the level of the sea; consists of sand and gravel; and sends forth about fifteen copious springs of pure soft water. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Winchester; and, till 1865, included Tilford. Value, £700. Patron, the Archdeacon of Surrey. The vicarages of Tilford, Hale, and Wrecklesham, are separate charges. The sub-district includes the ville of Waverley, the parish of Frensham, and the extra-parochial tract of Dockenfield, the last electorally in Hants. Acres, 19,548. Pop., 11,304. Houses, 2,233. The district includes likewise the sub-district of Frimley, containing the hamlet of Frimley and the parish of Aldershot. Acres, 31,197. Poor-rates in 1862, £8,519. Pop. in 1851, 11,743; in 1861, 30,707. Houses, 3,466. Marriages in 1860, 245; births, 1,081, of which 40 were illegitimate; deaths, 574, of which 240 were at ages under 5 years, and 10 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 1,280; births, 6,182; deaths, 3,678. The places of worship in 1851 were 8 of the Church of England, with 1,796 sittings; 3 of Independents, with 645 s.; 3 of Baptists, with 450 s.; 2 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 124 s.; and 2 of Bible Christians, with 203 s. The schools were 13 public day schools, with 1,208 scholars; 11 private day schools, with 229 s.; 7 Sunday schools, with 561 s.; and 1 evening school for adults, with 6 s. The hundred contains four parishes. Acres, 26,068. Pop., 12,567. Houses, 2,479.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].

Parish Records


Online Records (Free)

England, Surrey Parish Registers, 1536-1992


Vision of Britain historical maps


County: Surrey
Civil Registration District: Farnham
Probate Court: Court of the Archdeaconry of Surrey
Diocese: Winchester
Rural Deanery: Guildford
Poor Law Union: Farnham
Hundred: Farnham
Province: Canterbury