Do you fancy taking a 90-minute stroll around Farnham at dusk, just you and your mobile phone?
But be warned – you may not be alone...
A research and innovation project supported by UCA in collaboration with Farnham Town Council is offering a walk with a difference.
Download the Discover Farnham app, put on the headphones – and allow the voice of Farnham to guide you around the town to stop at ten locations, where she will introduce you to the ghosts of the past, voiced by people who live or work in Farnham today.
Each story is accompanied by eerie and evocative sound design created by composer James Wright and a team of young sound designers, comprising current and past UCA students.
The walk can be accessed via Farnham Town Council’s Trails app.
Each story on the walk is geo-located, so your phone will buzz as you pass nearby. All you need is a smartphone, headphones – and a brave outlook.
Starting from the university, you are taken on a walk to the Museum of Farnham to hear Eva’s tale of being a student at the Wilmar School for Girls – and how she met an untimely death at the hands of her father on the stairs.
Then it’s on to The Bishop’s Table for a chilling story about an exiled priest bricked in behind the attic walls.
At St Andrew’s Church, a fire warden recounts what he saw and felt one night when he was watching over the town in 1943 – a mystical story that philosophically reflects on the nature of death.
Then, following the cobbled paths that weave through the town, be led to the Lion and Lamb Yard for a story of a love triangle which went tragically wrong for poor Rosa Carrington, who to this day still haunts the tea shop....
Next up is a raucous tale of hops and ritualistic rites at the Hop Blossom pub, followed by George’s story outside Zizzi’s just off Castle Street.
A big character, George was an actor who used to perform in the building when it was the Castle Theatre.
The plague got him but he’s a cheerful fellow and is still performing today… and he loves an audience.
On to The Bush Hotel where a serving girl reveals the dramatic story behind the ghostly apparitions in infamous room four – carriages, highwaymen and a rope swinging from the rafters.
In Borelli’s Yard, watchmaker Ernest Borelli himself delivers a philosophical mediation on the passing of time in Farnham – the clock never stops.
The Voice of Farnham offers a welcome but cautions: “Welcome to F for Farnham, an audio story-walk which will take you on a spine-chilling journey around Surrey’s most haunted town.
“You’re invited to start this journey at the university, a perfect place to get a sense of how the ancient haunts the present.
“But if you’re starting at a different point, that’s okay. Farnham time is not linear, you can always choose your own journey.
“The past will find you, wherever you are.
“You stand upon my earth which has been infested by you humans for thousands of years.
“I grew the hops which at one point were the most expensive in the world and I nurtured the people who found their way here, seeking water from the river, gravel for their flint tools, or a stopping off point on their way to London or the coast. Some of those people never left.
“I am still home to the spirits of those who came before, their presence can still be felt long after their death.
“Reports of out-of-place sounds, footsteps, chanting, horses’ hooves, physical sightings clear as day, hairs on the back of your neck rising at a change in air temperature, things moving unaided.
“F carved into walls, tables, bedclothes. Who’s that behind you? Some people get trapped here among my wooden beams and clay bricks.
“Are you curious to know more? I think you are. I will try to channel a voice of those still here, to invite them to speak to you, to share their reasons for staying so long. Here in Farnham, you do not walk alone.
“Each story will begin with a bell and will end with a bell. I invite you to remove your headphones after the last bell so you can come back to the present.
“Try not to get stuck in the past and… do not walk alone.”
Roz Mortimer and Simon Aeppli, who produced and commissioned the ghostly work, said: “We were planning an academic symposium – Spectral Cinema and Contested Landscapes – at the UCA for today (Friday) where internationally-renowned artists and academics will be coming to Farnham to present their work and ideas around how ghosts in cinema can help us to critically interpret the world and our place within it.
“We wanted to bring some of this academic research outside of the university and create something everyone can access and enjoy.
“We had an existing relationship with Oliver Cluskey, the events manager at Farnham Town Council, and he came on board with the offer of hosting the walk on the council’s new Farnham Trails app.
“So together with Oliver and Sophie, we have been able to create this beautiful and accessible artwork.
“Hopefully this collaboration and partnership will be the first of many.”
Sophie Austin said: “Creating F for Farnham has been a deeply-enriching experience – being guided by the dead and allowing their voices and experiences to flow has been a journey into the layered social history of these streets and buildings.
“As a Farnham outsider, I’ve enjoyed going below the surface of this town and I hope local listeners will be curious to hear the voices that have arisen.”
The walk is a collaboration between the University for the Creative Arts and Farnham Town Council, inspired by Peter Underwood’s Haunted Farnham and Jean Parratt’s Ghostly Glossary with additional research by Emma Groslin and Alan Murdie.
Sound recording and design is by Sam Cook, Atlas Davis, Ellie Holliday, Gabriel Nejah and James Wright. The production co-ordination is by Mary Novoselova.
The voices of Farnham are performed by Fraser Adams, Sophie Austin, Tommy Bassom, William Browne, Calum Campbell, Matt Gibbons, Felicity Hayles, Elle Hudson, Jimmy Pallagrosi, Katie Paul, James Taylor-Mémé, Adam Thomas, Ian Wilson-Soppit and Sara Wilson-Soppit.