Is this one of the ‘snootiest’ towns in the UK?
A town recently caused a stir after being branded a “snooty” and “middle-class” place to live.
Farnham in Surrey, which has a population of 39,488, was given the unofficial title by the website iLiveHere due to its ‘show off’ residents who apparently drive fancy cars and “order babyccinos” for their children to enjoy on the school run.
Intrigued to see if the location lived up to its online reputation, the Mirror’s Courtney Pochin decided to visit the town and investigate what has caused such a fuss. Here’s how she got on:
Upon arrival at Farnham station, I have to admit I was a tad underwhelmed. I was expecting everything to be rather posh from the get-go, but the station loos were as grim as any other public toilets and the view outside wasn’t particularly impressive. A multi-storey car park, petrol station and chip shop awaited me as I headed down the road towards the town centre.
As I got closer to the heart of the place, things started to look more picturesque, with historic architecture, cute cobbled streets and pretty colored shop fronts. And to top it all off, Farnham even has its own castle – an impressive building that looms over the high street and is used to host weddings and events.
Staff at the castle were quick to dispel the suggestion that the town was snooty. Instead, they thought it was a “relaxed” and “friendly” place, where they felt “safe”. They added that the University of Creative Arts also gave the town a cool and creative feel. This was a sentiment shared by a number of residents, with many agreeing that the place itself isn’t snooty, but some of the people who live there are.
Carl Willson, 39, has lived in Farnham for the last 17 years and is the owner of Castle Street Flowers. He told The Mirror: “I wouldn’t generalise Farnham as a snooty place but I would say there are some snooty people. However, I’m from Winchester and it’s the same there. Every town has an element of snooty about it, Farnham is the same as anywhere else.”
Farnham has been branded a ‘snooty’ place to live
He went on to say that the residents of the town are a very close-knit community: “I’ve been here for 17 years and I know a lot of people here because of my business. It’s a nice place for children to grow up , which is why I moved here. It’s also a good place for work. I like it here.”
Another resident, Alex Maskell, a chef at the Lion and Lamb Cafe & Restaurant, is a fan of Farnham but agreed that the town is home to some ‘snooty’ residents. The 33-year-old, who moved to Farnham from North London seven years ago, said: “I like Farnham, I liked it enough to move here.
“As a chef, I’m behind the scenes in the kitchen and I don’t interact with customers so much but I do think it’s got its snooty members in the community… Some of the stories I’ve heard from staff downstairs, I I’m surprised people go around talking to others like that.”
In terms of the cost of living, he added that Farham was a pretty pricey place to be: “Based on rent and other things you need to buy in order to live, it’s expensive. I used to live in North London and this is more expensive than that.”
However, 24-year-old Lauren Perigo, the co-owner of Simply Vintage Clothing and Irene Manning, a local resident of 17 years, could not understand where the snooty perception had come from and proclaimed wholeheartedly that the town was anything but. Irene stated that the only issue with Farnham is the traffic and added that the town was a much nicer area than nearby Guildford, a place which has ‘gone downhill’ in her opinion.
Farnham was branded a snooty place to live
And she’s not the only one who felt protective of the town. Ethan Green, who manages Castello coffee shop on Castle Street and has lived in the area most of his life, thought Farnham’s overly snooty reputation was “horrible” and “completely undeserved”.
He said: “I have the loveliest customers in all of Farnham. They’re a delight. Snooty is a horrible way of putting it. They have fine taste, but they’re not snooty. That word has such horrible connotations.”
While the town may not be ‘snooty’, Ethan does describe Farnham as an “old money town” where residents don’t turn their noses up at you but are very “refined”.
“The people here value their money and they want to spend it well,” he explains. “The council and lots of residents are very against big chains coming in, they’d hate it if a McDonald’s were to open.”
Despite this assertion, the town is currently home to a number of chains, including a Subway (albeit one that’s tucked away at the farthest end of the high street) as well as coffee shops like Costa, Starbucks, Caffe Nero and Gail’s.
There’s also a Poundland, which reportedly caused a stir when it opened as some residents were concerned it would attract ‘the wrong crowd’.
Journalist Courtney Pouchin
In all fairness, I was a little surprised to see Poundland on the high street, nestled amongst an abundance of independent boutiques and the likes of Sweaty Betty, Oliver Bonas, Jigsaw, Whistles, Space NK, Waitrose and JoJo Maman Bébé. It doesn’t quite seem like it belongs there, and yet it had a steady stream of customers.
The budget store is likely a hit with the local uni students who, according to resident Colin Witcher, have little else to do in the town as “the shopping isn’t very good for young people”.
As I leave to catch a train back to London, I’m still pondering whether I’d actually go as far as to say Farnham is a ‘snooty’ town.
I encountered a number of friendly locals during my visit who were more than happy to sing its praises, but of course, there were also those who weren’t so polite when asked if they had a minute to chat. Although, as Carl said earlier, this is something I’d expect from every town and isn’t specific to Farnham itself.
Despite a few rude comments from strangers, I was a big fan of what I saw and the people I met there. It was a charming, well-looked-after place, with flower boxes lining the streets, stunning shop window displays, and hardly any litter on the ground. And let’s not forget about the castle.
If looking good and having nice things qualifies the town as being snooty, then it most certainly is. Otherwise, it’s just a nice place to be.
As Irene Manning told me, the town is “what you make of it” and if you go in with an open mind, I’m sure you’ll easily fall for Farnham.
But if you visit expecting it to be a ‘snooty’ place where everyone drives a sports car and has money to burn, then that’s probably all you’ll see.
Do you think Farnham is a snooty town? Let us know in the comments below.