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Date posted: 21 March 2023

Waverley secures grant for repairs to Wilmer House

Waverley Borough Council has been awarded a grant of up to £734,335 from Arts Council England’s Museum Estates and Development Fund, to carry out essential repairs to Wilmer House, which is home to the Museum of Farnham. The building is a Grade 1 listed Georgian town house, considered to be of exceptional heritage and architectural merit and is owned by the borough council.

The front of the building is in poor condition, with brickwork decay right across the façade. The brick window arches on the second floor are collapsing, cracking is present through most of the window openings, and mortar joints are deeply eroded. Extensive decay is present in the cornice with vertical and horizontal cracking visible. Original architectural mouldings are now very fragmentary, as much of the original surface detail has been lost through long term decay.

For many years, the building has faced an uncertain future, as the council did not have the funding to complete the necessary works. However, councillors were determined to find a solution that would finance the repairs and allow the heritage site to be kept in public ownership. A number of potential funding options had been explored and dismissed prior to the awarding of the grant.

Under the terms of the Arts Council grant, a minimum of 10% funding is to be sourced locally. The Farnham Town Council and Farnham Museum Society have each committed to contribute £10,000, along with up to £200,000 from Waverley Borough Council.

Waverley Borough Council Executive Head of Commercial Services, Kelvin Mills, said:

“We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded the grant from The Arts Council, and this is fantastic news for Farnham, as Wilmer House is one of the town’s most important historic buildings. The funding will allow us to address urgent external building fabric repairs, including rebuilding the parapet wall, repairing the gauged brick cornice and replacing the second-floor gauged brick window heads.

“Not only does this guarantee the Farnham Museum can remain in the building, but it enables Wilmer House itself to become the jewel in the crown of the museum's collection. The restoration will offer an exciting opportunity to share, explore and preserve the history of this fascinating house with a wider and more diverse audience and tell the story of its construction and conservation as part of the collection.

“Our officers will be moving forward with the works as quickly as possible, to prevent any potentially irreplaceable loss of the historically significant fabric of the building. We’re incredibly grateful to The Arts Council, without whom, none of this would have been possible.”

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