History of Old Park

The historic Farnham Old Park was located to the West of Folly Hill and was the original Deer Park for the Castle before the existing (new) Park. The origin of the Old Park is estimated at 1138 when Bishop Henry of Blois built his castle. Deer were hunted in the Old Park by the Bishops and King John from the castle. The Old Park also provided timber, pottery, tiles and osier. The landscape of Old Park is still distinctive and its boundary can still be seen today with ancient species-rich hedgerows running alongside a stream or ditch. The boundary can be traced as to the east by Folly Hill, to the South by a hedge bank running past Burles Farm to Lower Old Park Farm up at Faulkner’s Folly along the West side along Dora’s Green Lane to Warren Corner and Ewshot Hall and then across the Odiham Road to Lawday House Farm.

Bridleways such as Old Park Lane and Middle Old Park follow the course of St Swithun’s Way, a track used for pilgrimages to Winchester. Upper Old Park Lane has the beautiful Cromwell Oak and the Folly from which Folly Hill was named, where the King and his huntsmen hid in wait of deer during the hunt can be seen. The top of the Old Park is Caesar’s Camp (an iron age hillfort and scheduled ancient monument – 1007895), which was included in the Old Park of the Bishop’s of Winchester in the 11th Century. It is a Special Protection Area (SPA) and the Bourley & Long Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for wildlife namely Nightjar, Woodlark and Dartford Warbler, the three internationally rare bird species. In the time of the Bishop’s it was known as Lawday Heath Common by Lawday House Farm and was where the 100s of Farnham and Crondall met twice a year on “Law Day” for the holding of the Hundred Court. In the mid 1670’s Bishop Morley leased the Old Park to farms to raise money.

The outline of the Great or Old Park – Elfrida Manning 1984

by Jane Watson (shared with permission)

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