The Georgian Hotel
The earliest record on the history of the Georgian House Hotel, tells us that it only become an established hotel after the 1920's. Previously to this date it was simply known as the 'The White House' with the 'Tudor Cottage’ attached to the side of it.
The Haslemere Charter Fair
By the late 14th century Haslemere was considered sufficiently important to be granted a Charter by King Richard II, which authorised a weekly market and an annual fair and thus the 'T' shape of the main street was established. Iron ore smelting, glass making and leather curing were, in addition to agriculture, important local industries in the Middle Ages and this brought great prosperity to the town.
Subsequently, Queen Elizabeth I created the town a Borough with the right to elect two members to Parliament. In 1596, she granted Haslemere a new Charter status reaffirming the market and permitting two annual fairs. The town still commemorates this by holding the Charter Fair in the High Street every other year, which is a highly popular event in Haslemere with all roads closed to traffic. Stallholders line the streets with hot and cold food, craft and clothes stalls, entertainment and musical concerts in abundance. There is a bust of Elizabeth I at the head of the pedestrianised pathway of Charter Walk, linking West Street with the car park alongside Waitrose
The earliest record of Haslemere was in 1221 as a Godalming tithing. The name describes hazel trees standing beside a mere (lake). The lake does not exist today, but there is a natural spring in West Street which could have provided its source. In the 14th century, Haste Hill, also called East Hill, was the main settlement at Haslemere and there may have been a church as there were references on the site to "Churchliten field" and the "Old church-yard" of Haslemere.
Local names such as Furnace Place, Foundry Lane and Hammer, a small hamlet on the road to Liphook, where there is "Hammer Pond", reflect these activities. Glass was blown at Chiddingfold, and subsequently Haslemere made good use of the abundance of local sand. The days of leather curing are remembered by Tanners Lane.
With about twenty of his friends he submitted an application to King George II for a charter to establish a new colony between South Carolina and Florida. To give the proposal added appeal to the King, the new colony would be called 'Georgia'. He went to Georgia himself with the first settlers to supervise the foundation of the colony.
On November 16th 1732, Oglethorpe set sail from Gravesend on the ship 'Anne' with about 120 settlers. They reached the mouth of the Savannah on February 12th 1733 and Oglethorpe immediately selected a site for the first settlement, which he called Savannah. This is reflected in the names of the suites of the Georgian House Hotel - The Savannah Suite and Augusta Room, which overlook the secluded gardens. The gardens were was originally dominated by a large chestnut tree planted in 1792, which has since been turned into a fascinating sculpture.
Another prominent Haslemere resident was John Wornham Pensfold, (1829 – 1909) who was President of the Architectural Association and Architect responsible for local Buildings. Penfold oversaw the restoration of the Haslemere Parish Church 1870-71, Shottermill Church 1876-92, plus Rogate Sussex and Thursley Churches and also Surrey Hospital on Shepherds Hill – the latter being in memory of his Father and Mother.
Penfold also designed the first green letter boxes in 1866 – of which, 56 such pillar boxes are still in existence and one of these may be seen in all its glory just outside the Georgian Hotel.
This industrial activity led to the building of more houses and created more shops and commercial outlets. The population of the town was approximately 600 in the 18th century and has grown to 15,000 in the 21st.
Many fine houses were built in the area during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and, because of the easy access to London by rail, the demand for housing increased steadily.
In 1974, Haslemere became part of the Borough of Waverley and, at that time, the Haslemere Town Council - headed by the Town Mayor - replaced the former Haslemere Urban District Council. Today it serves a population of 15,500 and covers a large area stretching from Grayswood in the north east, the old town of Haslemere through to Weyhill (a busy shopping area), the more modern developments in Shottermill and up Hindhead Hill to The Devil’s Punchbowl and the villages of Hindhead and Beacon Hill.
The White House was built by a wealthy tanner called William Cobden in the early 18th Century and in 1885 it was extended to include a third storey.
Early names linked to owners of the White House include George Frederick Gordon (1770-1852) and his daughter Emma Gordon (1799-1872), Rayner Storr (1835-1917) auctioneer, medieval positivist and H.W Mozley, who lived at The White House until he died in 1919 and who leased 'Tudor Cottage' to Lady Dorothy Neville.
The Georgian House Hotel takes its name from Sir James Edward Oglethorpe, whose portrait stands proudly at the front of the hotel. He lived in the Town House just up the street from the Georgian and is known locally for being an MP for Haslemere, but more commonly for founding a state in America in 1733.
The Borough of Haslemere continued to send two Members to Parliament until the Reform Act of 1832, when it lost its Borough status. One of the Town's members, from 1722 to 1754, was General James Edward Oglethorpe, founder of the Colony of Georgia in America.
During the 18th and 19th centuries local activities included spinning and weaving and the making of paper, braid for army uniforms, bricks, pottery, chestnut fencing and rush baskets and brooms manufactured from local birch. The latter were supplied to Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace and the makers were known as "Broom Squires".
The opening of the London to Portsmouth railway in 1859 was an important landmark in Haslemere's history, as it enabled many people to come to Haslemere and district and enjoy the lovely countryside and healthy air. Among these were famous artists, writers and scientists such as Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, George Bernard Shaw, George Eliot, Helen Allingham, Axel Haig, Charles Whymper and Professor Tyndall.
In 1985, Haslemere was "twinned" with Bernay in Normandy, France. Ceremonies were held to mark the occasion in Bernay and at Haslemere Hall. A local artist produced an illuminated twinning charter and the monks of Bec-Hellouin Abbey made a plate to mark the occasion. In 1991 Haslemere was twinned for a second time with Horb-am-Neckar in Germany and again a twinning charter was signed and commemorative plaques exchanged at ceremonies held in both towns. The Twinning Association continues to thrive and active links and events are celebrated each year with both towns.