Museum restoration project


An introduction to the façade conservation and repair of the Grade 1 listed Willmer House

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One of the finest cut-brick façades in the country

Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, Architectural Historian

The Museum of Farnham is situated in Willmer House, a Grade I listed building of national significance. Built in 1718 for John Thorne, a local hop merchant, Willmer House is a very rare building because the façade is built entirely of ‘gauged brickwork’.

Gauged brickwork was, and still is, one of the most expensive materials and building methods. The process involved every single brick being cut down and rubbed flat by hand and this work would have all been done on site. It is a clear demonstration of the wealth that hop-growing brought to the town in the 18th century and today, there are probably only 10 to 20 buildings of this type left in the United Kingdom.

The local authority purchased the building in 1961 at a reduced price on the basis that Willmer House would be used as a museum for the people of Farnham. However, whilst the building has continued to amaze visitors young and old with stories from Farnham's past, the building has started to show signs of its age.

In the spring of 2023, we were delighted to be granted just under £735,000 of MEND project funding from Arts Council England which will be supported by further funding from Waverley Borough Council, Farnham Town Council and Farnham & District Museum Society to conserve and repair the façade. The works are set to begin later this summer and will run until summer 2025.

Throughout this period the museum will remain open and there will be a number of community engagement and conservation open days where you can meet the conservators and learn more about their work.

You will be able to keep up to date with the project with a regular maltings’ blog with Graham Abrey, Historic Building Consultant and project lead.

You can also learn more about the project in the museum's latest exhibition Building a Future for the Past: Farnham's Georgian Heritage which runs until the end of October.

MEND project lead Graham Abrey with Museum Operations Manager Lauren Wayland