Yew Tree Cottage Progress January 2018

Progress at Yew Tree Cottage is gaining pace. Work on the new porch and staircase is well underway allowing better access to the upstairs rooms. Having found dampness in the roof space it was decided that further investigation was required to ensure that all damp was removed and the cause eliminated. In late December we were given permission from the Conservation team at WBC to remove the roof from the Cottage. It has been encased in a scaffold tower for a few weeks allowing the builders to work in all conditions.

Although the Trust had not anticipated removing the roof it has allowed us to inspect aspects of the building that would otherwise have been hidden.

Hidden earth and lathe panel found above the lathe and plaster ceiling in the master bedroom. A similar one has been found above the master ensuite bathroom which had been limewashed
Diamond mullioned window opening on back wall of master bedroom. This was concealed in the space above the Victorian room to the rear of the Cottage

Now the roof has been removed most timbers have been found to be in reasonably good condition. A few repairs will need to be undertaken before re-roofing.
The Trust is very excited by the finds that have been uncovered recently and we are in the process of taking photographs of the progression of works and features that we find. Once the Cottage is finished and marketed we will be able to present the owner with a fascinating record of their house.

Two views of the roof encased in the scaffold tower


Yew Tree Cottage Progress July 2017

We have now signed contracts with our builder R.A.Croft Ltd to carry out the renovation of the property. The work will start at the beginning of September with completion due in July 2018.

We are still planning to open the property for tours during Heritage Open Days this year. The tours are scheduled for Saturday 9th September, one tour at 11am and one at 2pm, and Sunday 10th September, one tour at 11am. Advance booking is essential. Renovation plans will be on display.

Further information here as well as details of other properties and events in Farnham over the four days.

AGM July 2017 and the Trustees’ Report

The Trustees’ Report for 2016 was presented at the AGM of the Farnham Trust at the Garden Gallery, Museum of Farnham on Friday 21st July 2017.

After the formal part of the meeting, there was an excellent illustrated talk from Martin Higgins on Fashion and Tradition in Surrey Timber Framed Buldings. Martin is chairman of the DBRG (Domestic Buildings Research Group) and also County Historic Buildings Officer.

Farnham Trust Trustees Report 2016

Yew Tree Cottage Progress May 2017

On Monday 15th May a working party of trustees met at Yew Tree Cottage to start tidying the garden. In the two years since the house has been unoccupied the garden had become very overgrown and so we set about cutting back the shrubs, ivy and brambles in preparation for the building work to commence. The cottage is fortunate in having a large garden full of beautiful plants which the Trust would like to save.

In the next few weeks the builders will be coming to the cottage to start some preparatory works.

New Trustees

Are you interested in architecture, and the conservation of older buildings?

The Farnham Buildings Preservation Trust is looking for new trustees. If you have enthusiasm or relevant skills, such as building conservation, construction project and financial management, experience of planning law, or public relations, the Farnham Trust would like to hear from you.

Since its foundation in 1968, the Trust has been responsible for saving many Farnham buildings which would otherwise have disappeared from the street scene. The Trust is a registered charity and a Company Limited by Guarantee. There are currently twelve trustees, working on a voluntary and unpaid basis, who are also Directors of the Company, meeting as a Board once a month. The Trust’s present project is the restoration of Yew Tree Cottage in Wrecclesham, the oldest parts of which date back to 1561. In 2015 when the Trust bought the house, it had not changed hands since the 1950s, and the challenge has been to restore the building sympathetically as a family home without damaging the historic structure and fabric.

This is very interesting and worthwhile work, and if you would like to help as a trustee, please get in touch with us at

Yew Tree Cottage Progress October 2016

At the end of August 2016, the Trust got their Planning and Listed Building consents, on target, from Waverley Borough Council. The applications had been very detailed so as to avoid lengthy time and cost in discharging Conditions attached to the consents. We are pleased to state that Waverley have been impressed with our architect’s approach and the Trust’s philosophy, aims and choice of materials (e.g. hand made bricks to match colour and size) which ensured a smoother consideration of the application.

We had also commissioned a full ecological survey and the main finding was, as expected, the presence of Bats. These were Pippistrelle Bats, Britain’s most common species. Their presence will not prevent the works although once we get the new extension to roof level, there will be a need to have a licensed bat handler to be available to provide guidance/instructions. Another recommendation of the ecology report is to retain the high hedge to the front as this provides a good barrier for the bats from the street lights.

We have also had the ground floor chimneys cleaned. Up the chimney in the main living room (the oldest part of the house) nails can be viewed which were used to hang meat to cure.

In September the Farnham Society had an exhibition of paintings by Michael Blower which were for sale to raise funds for the Farnham Society. They were extensive and very good. The Trust acquired one of Yew Tree Cottage which we intend to be sold with the cottage with the wish that the painting, along with an information note, remains with the cottage in perpetuity. As an aside, Michael has offered to undertake commissions of people’s houses to raise further funds for the Farnham Society. If interested, please contact him or the Farnham Society.

During September our architects, Stedman Blower, progressed the Tender documents and plans as well as the structural engineering report. These will be required for both the Tender documents and for discharging Building Regulations. In respect of the Building Regulations, we will not be able to meet the current regulations in some areas, e.g. thermal insulation, stairs, but this is accepted by Waverley as it is a Heritage Asset.

Stedman Blower have also approached a number of contractors known to have the skills to work on listed buildings to ascertain their desire to tender and undertake construction in our time scale. We are pleased to report that there are a reasonable number who responded positively. We expect to finalise the engineering report and Tender documents by mid-October when the Tender documents will be issued with a 4-week return period and they will start to discharge conditions and the Building Regulations.

Once Tenders are received back, they will be reviewed and we are likely to have to “Value Engineer”, in other words, look where we can reduce costs without impacting the quality of the heritage work. It may also mean opening up some of the structure to reduce costs risk which will need approval (method and extent) from the Conservation Officer at Waverley BC. We are also aware that when we open up the building, particularly roof timbers, the Domestic Building Research Group wish to access the property again.

Our intention is to get a contract placed to enable a contractor to start on site in January and it is still expected to be a 9 month construction project. With any luck, we will be able to open up Yew Tree Cottage for Heritage Open Days 2017 next September. At this point we will be able to implement our exit strategy by putting the property on the market and recouping our outlay ready for the next project.

Verney Lecture 2016

The 2016 Verney Lecture was held in the Barley Room at the Farnham Maltings on Friday 30th September 2016.

An excellent lecture entitled “From Country House to Viceroy’s House, a journey with Sir Edwin Lutyens OM” was given by Martin Lutyens, great-nephew of Sir Edwin and chairman of the Lutyens Trust, covering Sir Edwin’s early life designing many English country houses through to his perhaps greatest role in designing and building New Delhi.

The Verney Memorial Lecture is an annual lecture in memory of Sir John Verney who in 1968 founded the Farnham Building Preservation Trust.

Yew Tree Cottage Progress

We applied for planning consent for our proposed alterations for the cottage in July, you can see the details on the Waverley Council Planning website, here and here. We are happy to report our application was successful and that we received permission and listed building consent at the end of August.

On the 8th and 9th September we were pleased to show 60 visitors around the ground floor of the cottage as part of the Farnham Heritage Open Days.

Photo Anne Pullinger

Preserving Farnham's Heritage