According to Jean Parratt, a local historian, the main section of the Oast House kiln is brick-built and can be traced back to at least the Civil War.

A local history book reveals that the southwest side of the building by the car park was constructed in chalk for economy and was added between 1840 and 1875. It was used for processing wool which was once a prominent local industry and later as a tannery.

Later, hops were processed within the building. Alcoves for candles can still be seen set into the ground floor walls (to provide warmth for drying the hops) and the “oast” is still in the central roof. Every year, hops can been seen growing around the car park, seeded from the original plants.

In the 1901 census, the Oast House was listed as a ‘road material storage depot’, with a caretaker family of four living in what is now No.6, next door. No.6 has been considerably extended since then, it was only a two-up/two-down layout. The Kiln was in poor shape at this time and had no windows.

Around 1910, the building was being used as a brewery store for the local Lion Brewery and was sold to the larger brewery, Courage, before the second war for £2300. We are still not allowed to sell or store alcohol in the building according to the deeds!

The plans above show how the buildings around Mead Lane evolved between 1840 and 1875. These show three original buildings the size of ours in the immediate vicinity plus barracks for workers and a cookhouse. The present car park was a yard for carts which serviced the buildings at the time, some of which still exist whilst others have been demolished for housing and other uses. For instance, Farnham Town Football Club’s grounds were originally fields.

Later, before World War II, the building was named the “Drill Hall” and was part of military operations. The South West Defence Line for London came from Godalming to Waverley Abbey, across the meadows and ran up Mead Lane to West Street, where there was a road block then up Potters Gate and on to Reading via Crondall. It may well have been a Home Guard meeting place or used by the regular Army defending the town. We’ve found practice bullets under the floor, steel pegs on the building where camouflage nets went over the entire building and large 2m cube blocks, acting as tank traps, had been installed across the car park entrance. We removed the last one when we developed the car park.

During the Second World War the building was covered in corrugated iron and painted black to camouflage it from the air. The current first floor planking is Victorian and was covered in concrete to allow the soldiers to easily practise drilling on it. The Samson’s Alms-houses were converted into a fortification.

On a lighter note, we were told that during that period, all the Farnham school-children were marched down for lunch in the large vaulted first floor, so it is said that there was a soup kitchen somewhere in the building.

The Oast House was purchased after the war by Mr W A Coleman, who made and upholstered sofas and other furniture. This continued until the business was sold to Robin’s Removals when Mr Coleman died.

In the 1970s a Circus would set up in the water meadows and animals, tents and fairground equipment would pass through the lane. There is a groove in the front of the building where the ferris wheel became stuck one year.

Our family business came here in 1976 when there were three tenants for the whole building and we took over ownership from 1987. Prior to our occupation, someone had considered buying the building to turn it into a night club and dance hall, but local opposition was strong for some reason!

Since then, the building has seen a fantastic mix of tenants and some unusual ones including; a wheel-barrow manufacturer, bulk potato trader, computer manufacturer, milliner, rubber stamp maker, health food supplement distributor, as well as most of the more usual occupations.

Do come and join us and enjoy doing business from a welcoming, charming, characterful piece of history!

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