Here is the account published in The Times 10 September 1891, page 8 column D, written by Mary Frances Billington:

A Model Museum

... [a description of the Museum at Farnham] ...

It would be giving an incomplete account of the museum if its two auxiliary attractions were not also noticed. At a short distance from Farnham is the village of Tollard Royal, not wholly unknown to antiquarian fame, on account of possessing in its little church the monument to Sir William Payne, who died about 1388, which is one of the only five examples known of banded mail. In this parish stood an old farmhouse, traditionally associated with the name of King John, but having little external evidence of age about it. However it chanced to fall vacant, and a careful examination was made of it. Evidences of indisputable Tudor work soon revealed themselves, and some fine Elizabethan windows clumsily bricked up were found. In investigating these, a yet more interesting discovery was made, of a 13th century window with stone seats closely resembling those in the room at Lochleven Castle in which Mary Queen of Scots was kept a prisoner. Among the curiosities discovered in the process of restoration was a spur, almost a facsimile of the one upon the effigy just mentioned in the church close by, and a coin of Henry III, which were proof that a dwelling house existed here in the succeeding reign, and gave decided support to the legendary connexion with his Majesty of Magna Carta memory. This house, with the beautiful Stuart oak panelling on its walls, which had been buried under stucco and paint, now has one room devoted to the villagers of Tollard as a reading and recreation room, while the rest contain some 17th century carved oak furniture, and a collection of paintings to illustrate the history of painting, from its origin on Egyptian mummy cases up to the present day, and including examples of Margaritone, Jerom Bosch, from the schools of Florence and Siena, by Sassaferati, Rubens, Quintin Matsys, Tintoretto, and George Morland. Some odd specimens of the old "stump" embroideries are also here. As a few hundred yards' distance from this stands an historic wych elm, marking the junction of the two counties, and known as the Larmer tree. It is supposed to have been the meeting place for the chase in earlier days, but it has now been made the centre of a charmingly planned pleasure garden, at which, on Sunday afternoons, the band, conducted by the village organist, and entirely composed of the labouring men from the two parishes, plays a selection of music between 3 and 5 o'clock. Flower beds and seats abound, and one of the treasures of the garden is a bronze, given for it by the late Sir Edgar Boehm, of "The Savage Hunter". Naturally the first question asked after a visit to these three places is "Do the people come to them?" They are, of course, open free, the only condition of entry being a signature in the visitors' book. Last year's books showed that 6,500 people had been to the museum, 14,300 to the Larmer tree, and over 3,000 to King John's hosue, which was not open until May. The same names recur constantly, and the behaviour and order has been perfectly satisfactory. This is an all-explaining answer, and the fact may certainly not be without its value in the present discussion upon the question.

AP May 2011

prm logo