William Cobbett Statue
William Cobbett, 1763-1835, author, journalist, radical politician and founder of Hansard (the printed transcripts of parliamentary debates) was born in Bridge Square, Farnham, and is buried in the churchyard of St Andrew’s Parish Church in the town. He was the son of the farmer, but in spite of having very limited education he became the most influential journalist of his time and one of most prolific writers. He is perhaps best known for his 1830 classic, Rural Rides, in which he recorded the terrible conditions in the countryside at the time.
For many years, the distinguished sculptor, the late Sheila Mitchell (also born in Farnham) had regretted that there was no major monument to Cobbett in a public area in the town of his birth. She therefore completed a small bronze maquette showing Cobbett on his horse accompanied by his dog, which with modern technology can be enlarged to full size and cast in bronze.
To raise funds for this important project, a charitable trust, the William Cobbett Statue Trust, was set up by Sheila Mitchell’s husband the distinguished watercolourist Charles Bone. Donations were received from the Prince of Wales and members of the House of Lords and House of Commons, among others.
Planning permission for the statue was obtained in 2005
With Churchill Homes’ agreement and their grant of £10,000, the developers installed the bronze equestrian statute in the grounds of Hawthorn Lodge, Longbridge, Farnham and it was unveiled in 2016.
Links with the University for the Creative Arts.
Farnham has an important and long-established art college (now the University for Creative Arts) and the Trust was keen to establish links between the college and the town, so a project was set up in which third-year students designed site-responsive pieces to be displayed in the historic garden of Farnham Library. This concept has now been successfully incorporated into the college’s curriculum with annual exhibitions.