Local author publishes – A tale of two Farnham theatres – and then some.

Author and theatre-lover Anne Cooper has recently published her second history on Farnham’s much-loved and much-missed  Redgrave Theatre. It is called Theatre in Farnham: at Church House between the Wars.

Anne has put the lockdown period to good use by delving into the history of the famous theatre, which although staffed by amateur actors were led by a professional who had contact with some of the most famous names in the theatre-world of the day.

The story of theatre at Church House has been culled from an old photo album, once the property of the local artist, Marshall Barnes, who went on to become the scenic designer at the Castle Theatre. The story will interest anyone familiar with theatre, either amateur or professional, and also anyone interested in Farnham’s social history. The booklet reveals a glimpse of life in the 1920-30s and there are references to names that are still familiar in the town today.

Dare we, here at the Waverley Web, suggest that some of those 28 shops and 8 restaurants planned for Farnham’s Blightwell development, former home of The Redgrave, take on a different role than that currently envisaged? Yes, of course, we dare. Perhaps everyone involved should get their heads together and come up with a Plan B? an entertainment and theatre space?

It will soon be Easter Farnham residents – let’s stop hatching eggs and start hatching some ambitious plans to take some of the Blight out of Blightwells?

Particularly as there appear to be almost no takers for the huge number of vacant retail units. Surely the great investors – ‘Your Surrey County Council’ and ‘Your Waverley’ don’t want to see tumbleweed bouncing through the site in East Street – do they?

We can now all see for ourselves what we suspected all along. The overbearing size, scale and bulk of the buildings. Particularly the Block – called D8 – which has been nicknamed cell block H. Its horrible bleak facade hits you as you walk around from Dogflud. Four-storey blocks of bricks and concrete bearing down on Farnham, destroying our market-town. One of our old friends who recently travelled back to Farnham due to a COVID bereavement was in tears at what Farnham had become.

Where are you now-former Cllr Adam-Taylor Smith and all your Tory colleagues? Stand up and be counted and tell us that you are proud this monstrosity is turning out to be the fantastic model you claimed it would be. A development for which you sacrificed so much of our money and our town?

This ghastly ghetto should have your name emblazoned on its most ugly facade in neon lights. We are sure ‘Your Waverley’s` Licensing Committee will have no problem approving flashing lights over Farnham. Particularly as the committee is headed up by the Tory Whip – who claims “there isn’t a Tory Whip”  – none other than – The Tory Whip – Cllr Michael Goodridge.


 Farnham’s earlier Theatre history, A Tale of Two Theatres, told by those who knew Farnham’s Castle and Redgrave Theatres has been very well received as witnessed by many reviews, of which here are just two:

A Tale of Two Theatres … – what a fascinating read. So many contributions from people whose lives were enriched by connections with the Castle and Redgrave Theatres; you have made certain that Farnham’s theatrical history is kept alive in people’s minds. Your brilliant book gives a lively history of the two theatres and shows just how far-reaching are their influences for good.


PJ This book is a joy both to dip into or to read from cover to cover for the story of the development of the theatres and their varied fortunes and personalities is utterly fascinating. SW We have all been delighted by the continuing response to the book and confirm that it is very much available through lockdown from sales@farnhamtheatre.co.uk even if the regular outlets, Waterstone’s, Pullingers and the Museum of Farnham are having to be necessarily closed. However, lockdowns have given opportunities for more research into Farnham’s history of theatre and this has resulted in another publication for the archives. FTA is delighted to announce a new illustrated booklet, Theatre in Farnham: at Church House between the Wars. This covers the pre-war period and involves a company called The Church House Players. Although these actors were amateurs they were led by a professional who had contact with some of the most famous names in the theatre of the day.

Here is the FTA Newsletter which announces detail of our brand new Farnham theatre booklet and how to get hold of your copy. It’s an intriguing read with many references to local people and places. One not to be missed.


Plus there’s news of the Guy Vaesen prints that are available at some excellent low prices – while stocks last!

All the details can be found on the link below.

Newsletter 64



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.