What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
THE HOME OF WILLIAM COBBETT
=How to get there.=–Train from Waterloo. South-Western Railway. =Nearest Station.=–Farnham. =Distance from London.=–37-3/4 miles. =Average Time.=–1-1/2 hours.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 6s. 3d. 4s. 0d. 3s. 1-1/2d. Return 10s. 0d. 7s. 0d. 6s. 3d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"The Bush,” “The Railway Hotel," “The Lion and Lamb,” etc. =Alternative Route.=–None.
In 1762 William Cobbett, one of the great writers and reformers of the eighteenth century, was born at Farnham, in Surrey. The house is still standing, and is now known as the “Jolly Farmer” Inn. Cobbett gives a very clear account of his early years at Farnham, and some of his youthful escapades are very amusing. One game which he and two of his brothers were never tired of playing was that of rolling each other like barrels down the very steep sandy hill which one may see rising sharply from the back of the “Jolly Farmer.” Cobbett left Farnham for London when he was twenty-one, but often revisited his native town in later years. When he died, in 1835, he was buried in Farnham churchyard. The grave faces the porch on the north side of the church. The Rev. Augustus Toplady, who wrote the universally known hymn “Rock of Ages,” was born in a little house in West Street, Farnham, which was rebuilt some years ago.
Overlooking the town from the hills to the north is Farnham Castle, the historic seat of the Bishops of Winchester for many generations past. A portion of the buildings, including the keep, are of Norman origin, the rest having been chiefly built by Bishop Fox in the early part of the sixteenth century. During the Parliamentary war Farnham Castle was for some time the headquarters of the Roundhead army operating in this part of the country, Sir William Waller having overcome the garrison placed there by the High Sheriff of Surrey.
Vernon House, in West Street, is notable by reason of the visit paid to it by Charles I. when on his way to London as a prisoner in the hands of the Parliamentary troops. The silk cap which King Charles presented to his host is still preserved in the house by the present owner, a descendant of the Vernon family.
[Illustration: THE BIRTHPLACE OF WILLIAM COBBETT AT FARNHAM.]