Spotlight on Farnham: property area guide
* Property area guide on Farnham with average property prices, current houses and flats for sale, best streets, up-and-coming areas and commuting times
* Schools in Farnham, shops, restaurants, parks and leisure facilities
The pretty Georgian town of Farnham in Surrey owes its survival to two men: the architect Harold Falkner and his friend and local politician Charles Borelli, who has a riverside walk named after him.
At a time when many town centres were being ripped apart and redeveloped, these two men saved ancient buildings and worked to sensitively restore and extend others in the traditional Farnham style.
A friend of the great Edwardian architect Sir Edwin Lutyens and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll, Falkner also left a legacy of fine family homes in the village of Dippenhall, north-west of Farnham, that are now extremely sought after and sell for a £1 million and above.
Farnham is 30 miles from central London and has a population of around 38,000. It sits halfway between London and Winchester and for hundreds of years the 12th-century Norman castle belonged to the bishops of Winchester, who used it as a stopping-off point on their frequent journeys between the two cities.
Three miles south of the town, the ruins of 12th-century Waverley Abbey, the first Cistercian abbey to be built in England, can be found on a peaceful loop of the River Wey. Now maintained by English Heritage it is a popular picnic spot and the local council is named after it.
Farnham town centre has a supply of period and Georgian homes. Castle Street in particular is an attractive, wide road lined with lovely Georgian houses leading up the hill to the castle.
Estate agent Hamptons, is currently selling a four-bedroom, five-bay Georgian house with a 174ft walled garden in Castle Street for £1.3 million.
Elsewhere in the town there are roads of Victorian terraces and semi-detached houses. According to estate agent Robert Bassett, of Carson & Co, people want fireplaces, cornicing, sash windows and other character features. The starting price for a three-bedroom Victorian terrace is around £325,000.
Further out in the Farnham suburb of Lower Bourne, houses on Sixties, Seventies and newer estates start at around £400,000. In Rowledge, there are Victorian and Edwardian houses and a three-bedroom Edwardian semi-detached house will set you back £400,000 or more. The Great Austins area of South Farnham has some of the town’s most expensive homes, with Twenties and Thirties houses that sell for £1.5 million and more.
Houses in the catchment area for South Farnham Primary School sell for 10 per cent more than the equivalent houses elsewhere in the town.
The Moor Park Estate is often described as the Beverly Hills of Farnham. Many of the original houses have been demolished in favour of footballers’ wives-style mansions. Prices range from £950,000 to £4 million.
The most expensive home currently for sale is Binton Hall, outside Farnham, between the villages of Seale and The Sands. It is a six-bedroom mock-Tudor house built in 2002 with over four and a half acres of grounds that Savills and Andrew Lodge are selling for £3.75 million.
Robert Bassett said house prices in Farnham have recovered the ground that was lost since the last peak in 2007 and in some cases now exceed that level.
The area attracts: there is a strong local market with people upsizing and downsizing. There are also first-time buyers ready to fly the family home, as well as commuters from London and north Surrey who are attracted to Farnham’s family-friendly atmosphere with plenty of mother-and-toddler groups, nurseries and good schools.
Travel and commuting: Farnham is on the A31 to Winchester. There is easy access to the M3 via the A331 and the A3 at Guildford. The commuter train journey to Waterloo takes 50 minutes, and the cost of an annual season ticket is £3,576.
Staying power: unless they are forced to do so for family or work reasons, people rarely leave Farnham.
Postcodes: GU9 and GU10 are the best postcodes. These cover the town centre and the sought-after south Farnham area, where the popular South Farnham School is located.
Best roads: these are Castle Road in Farnham town centre; Little Austin Road, Mavins Road and Greenhill Road within south Farnham; and Gong Hill Drive and Clumps Road in Lower Bourne.
Farnham: top five high-value streets
Up and coming: estate agent Stephen Tarrant, from the local branch of Winkworth, said any detached house which is selling for between £400,000 and £500,000 — which in Farnham probably means in Lower Bourne — represents good value.
Renting: demand for rented homes currently outstrips supply and as a result rents are rising. Landlords can get around a five per cent return.
Open spaces: Farnham Park, next to the castle, has more than 300 acres of parkland and is home to a small golf course and a cricket club.
There are quiet walks along the River Wey and in Gostrey Meadow there is live music every Sunday at the bandstand during the summer. There are countryside and woodland walks in two Forestry Commission forests: Alice Holt and Bourne Wood.
Caesar’s Camp is an Iron Age fort to the north of the town. Frensham ponds once supplied fish to the bishops of Winchester at Farnham Castle. At the Great Pond there is a beach and swimming area, while the Little Pond is owned by the National Trust.
Shopping and restaurants: the main shopping area in Farnham stretches along West Street, branching off along Castle Street and Downing Street and into the pretty Lion and Lamb centre, where there is a branch of Waitrose.
There is a good mix of chain and independent shops. Look out for menswear stores John Goodridge and Lizard, and women’s boutique Ordri.
Rowland’s is part of a small women’s fashion chain with a strong following among older shoppers. Elphicks is the long-established local department store. Loaf is an artisan bakers with two branches in Farnham.
Branches of chain restaurants include Loch Fyne, Côte, Pizza Express, Chimichanga, Brasserie Blanc and Café Rouge. Borelli’s wine bar and the Nelson Arms are popular local choices, as are two pubs in Lower Bourne, the Spotted Cow and the Bat and Ball.
Leisure and arts: The Maltings is an innovative arts centre in a fine set of old malting buildings on the River Wey. It offers a mix of film, music and workshops and there is a café and craft shop.
The Farnham Museum is celebrating the 250th anniversary of political writer and campaigner William Cobbett’s birth in the town. A small sculpture park is attached to UCA Farnham on Falkner Road in the town centre. At Churt, The Sculpture Park is a large private park with sculpture and statuary.
Swimming is available at the brand-new David Lloyd leisure centre in Monkton Lane, at Duffield Health in Weybourne Road, and at council-owned Farnham Leisure Centre in Dogflud Way. Farnham Golf Club is in The Sands village and Oak Park Golf Club is in the village of Crondall.
Council: Waverley district council (Conservative-controlled); Band D council tax for the 2013/2014 year is £1,597.84.
Five-year property price trends: Farnham
TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE: FARNHAM
* Where did a king leave his nightcap before losing his head?
A few days before Christmas in 1648, King Charles I stayed at Culver Hall, now Vernon house, in West Street, Farnham, on the journey to London for his trial and eventual execution. He gave the house’s owner, Henry Vernon, his nightcap; it is now on display at Farnham’s museum.
* How do the bones of an English radical connect Lewes, last week’s spotlight, to Farnham?
William Cobbett, who was born in Farnham and who championed the cause of the rural poor in his book Rural Rides, occasionally exiled himself in the United States. On one visit he arranged to have Thomas Paine’s bones exhumed and returned to England. Unfortunately, he never found a resting place for Paine’s bones which have been missing ever since.
* Which famous designer got his hands dirty at the Farnham Pottery in Wrecclesham?
Sir Terence Conran trained briefly at the now listed Farnham Pottery. The pottery had a close connection with Farnham Art School (now the University for the Creative Arts). In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the head of the school, WH Allen designed wares for Liberty’s, Heal’s and Harrods. Farnham greenware featuring owls is now very collectible, and last year Sir Terence was made an honorary professor at the university.
Average prices: buying flats and houses in Farnham
One-bedroom flat: £149,000
Two-bedroom flat: £245,000
Two-bedroom house: £274,000
Three-bedroom house: £403,000
Four-bedroom house: £699,000
Average prices: renting flats and houses in Farnham
One-bedroom flat: £985 a month
Two-bedroom flat: £909 a month
Two-bedroom house: £1,023 a month
Three-bedroom house: £1,392 a month
Four-bedroom house: £1,884 a month
Photographs by Graham Hussey