1 Mar

10 things you might not know about Haslemere

  1. Haslemere is a gateway town to the Surrey Hills Area and is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.It’s located at the tri-point with Hampshire and West Sussex, approximately 12 miles southwest of Guildford, and is the most southerly town in Surrey.
  2. The Landmark Green Post Box – a replica of the distinctive Penfold post box can be found on Haslemere High Street, it’s a hexagonal, green letter box and was designed by local architect and designer, John Penfold in the 1860s. Latterly, the box achieved a degree of modest fame in the cartoon series Danger Mouse. ‘Penfold’, the be-speckled mole and Danger mouses’ side-kick was named after John Penfold because the duo’s secret hideout was in a post box in Baker Street.
  3. Undershaw, now a school in Hindhead, is the former residence of the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes. The house was built for Doyle at his order to accommodate his wife’s health requirements, and is where he lived with his family from 1897 to 1907.Undershaw is where Doyle wrote many of his works, including The Hound of the Baskervilles.
  4. The coming of the railway to Haslemere in 1859 brought increased prosperity in the town and today Haslemere has the most number of first class season train ticket holders in the country according to a report in Country Life magazine.
  5. Novelist George Eliot had a cottage called Brookbank, on what was Shottermill Common, where she wrote most of her novel Middlemarch.
  6. Haslemere Museum – The independent award-winning museum was founded in 1888 and contains wonderful collections in geology, natural and human history including an Egyptian Mummy. The museum has beautiful gardens overlooking National Trust land as well as a fully operational beehive in the summer months. One of the museum’s most famous residents is, Arthur, a 6ft Siberian bear, he is very popular with children and has been adopted by a local dental practice and even receives dental check-ups! (illustration of Arthur, photo courtesy of Haslemere Museum.)
  7. Shottermill, a district on the west side of Haslemere, used to produce “shot” for the cannons, hence the name Shottermill. Other industries included; leather curing, glass blowing, paper making, braid for army uniforms, spinning, weaving and cloth making. Later the making of bricks, pottery and chestnut fencing diversified the job market. Brooms made from silver birch trees and heather used to be supplied to the big houses such as Hampton Court and Windsor Castle.
  8. The earliest record of Haslemere was in 1221 as a Godalming tithing. The name describes “hazel” trees standing beside a “mere” (lake). The lake does not exist today, but there is a natural spring in West Street which could have provided its source.
  9. Haslemere’s diverse and rich landscape has helped to inspire many great artists and authors including; Alfred Lord Tennyson, the poet laureate to Queen Victoria. If you take a stroll to St Bartholomew’s Church in the heart of Haslemere there is a memorial window to him. Alfred, Lord Tennyson lived and worked at Aldworth House, for much of his later life, dying there in 1892.
  10. The Devil’s Punch Bowl was regarded as an area of disrepute due to the activities of highwaymen and robbers. Gibbet Hill was mentioned by Dickens in his novel Nicholas Nickleby, in the scene where Nickleby was walking from London to Portsmouth.