Down The Memory Lane in Farnborough

Uncover Farnborough's history with your loved one through a journey of historic sites and cultural landmarks.

Uncover Farnborough’s history with your loved one through a journey of historic sites and cultural landmarks.

If you’re seeking meaningful and engaging activities to enjoy with your elderly loved one, exploring the historical sites of Farnborough is a wonderful choice. This charming town is steeped in rich history, particularly in the fields of aviation and engineering.

From serene abbey grounds to innovative aeronautic sites, there are numerous historical gems waiting to be discovered.

Take a journey through time as you explore these significant landmarks, creating cherished memories with your beloved senior amidst the fascinating heritage of Farnborough.

St Michael's Abbey

Nestled in picturesque surroundings, St Michael’s Abbey is a captivating landmark with a fascinating history. Founded in 1881 by Empress Eugénie as a Benedictine monastery, the Abbey’s Imperial Crypt serves as the final resting place for the Empress, her husband Emperor Napoleon III, and their son. The tranquil grounds are adorned with beautiful gardens, and the abbey’s grand architecture offers a serene ambiance for reflection and quiet contemplation.

[Picture of the Abbey]

The monastic community at the Abbey is small but dedicated, spending their days in work and prayer – they even publish their own cards and books, available in the Abbey giftshop. They also maintain the national Shrine of Saint Joseph, patron saint of workers and the Roman Catholic Church, which receives a steady flow of pilgrims throughout the year.

Although the Abbey is currently closed to visitors due to ongoing works, when open it holds public masses every Sunday at 9am, and guided tours every Saturday at 3pm. There are also organ recitals held during the summer. You can find St Michael’s Abbey just across the road from the railway station.

Farnborough Air Sciences Trust Museum

There’s no denying that a big part of Farnborough’s history is related to its importance to the aviation industry. The Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) Museum hosts exhibits, archives, and more, showcasing Farnborough’s deep-rooted aviation heritage and making it an ideal place for history enthusiasts.

The museum holds a varied collection of aircraft, satellites, equipment/machinery, and exhibits, while the museum archives offer a vast range of documents, films, and unique artefacts. The staff throughout the Trust are friendly and knowledgeable, and available to answer any questions. There’s even a handful of flight simulators to try out, for those who want a more hands-on experience!

The museum is wheelchair accessible, and open for free at weekends and on Bank Holiday Mondays. They also hold guided tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which include an illustrated talk and tea/coffee on arrival. You can find the museum in the middle of Farnborough, just outside of the airfield.

The Farnborough Centrifuge

For those intrigued by aviation and space exploration, the Farnborough Centrifuge is an absolute must-visit. Managed with help from FAST, this centrifuge played a crucial role in testing the limits of human endurance during high acceleration forces. Not only was it the sole centrifuge to be designed and manufactured by British engineers, it is also believed to be the oldest example in the world that remains mostly unchanged.

Visits to the centrifuge promise to be both engaging and educational, as you and your loved one learn about the pioneering work conducted there and the challenges faced by early aviators and astronauts. FAST’s helpful guides provide valuable insights into the scientific advancements and technological innovations that were developed here.

Guided tours are run during the year, talking visitors through the science and history, before taking them on a hands-on tour of the centrifuge and its machinery. There will also be tours run for the Heritage Open Day festival in September. You can find the centrifuge just a short drive away from the FAST museum, the previous location on this list.

The Farnborough Wind Tunnels

The Farnborough Wind Tunnels hold immense historical significance in the town’s aeronautical heritage, being some of the few remaining buildings from the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE). These tunnels were pivotal in advancing aerodynamics and aircraft design and, although no longer operational, offer an opportunity for you and your loved one to witness the engineering marvels that contributed to aviation’s evolution.

The historic airfield site consists of three listed buildings, saved from demolition by FAST, which house the wind tunnels, as well as a balloon hanger that started life as a portable airship hanger in 1912. The knowledgeable guides will share captivating stories and insights into the experiments carried out within these walls, highlighting how the research here influenced the development of aircraft design principles.

FAST volunteers run guided tours on Thursdays at 10am and 2pm, where you can learn about the history and see two of the remaining tunnels up close. Although much of the site is accessible, some areas may prove difficult, so it is worth checking their website for more details. You can find the wind tunnels and the airship hanger at the Farnborough Business Park.

Farnborough Heritage Trails

Taking your loved one to explore the Farnborough Heritage Trails offers a delightful opportunity to uncover the town’s rich history and cultural heritage. The trails consist of a network of paths and routes that wind through significant historical sites and landmarks that cover the history of the original village right up to the current town.

The trails are self-guided, using a downloadable app, which means that you and your loved one can enjoy a leisurely stroll through Farnborough’s past while enjoying the beauty of the surrounding landscapes. The app features detailed information about points of interest, alongside photographs and audio recordings that you can listen to together.

With four different trails to choose from, including one based on the army camp and another on the development of the early village, you can embark on an accessible walk at your own pace. The app can be downloaded via the Apple App Store for iPhones and iPads, or the Google Play Store for Android devices.

Farnborough, with its rich aviation history and cultural heritage, provides a wealth of historical sites for an enriching experience with your elderly loved one. From the serene St Michael’s Abbey to the impressive FAST Centrifuge and the picturesque heritage walks, there is something to captivate every history enthusiast.

These historical landmarks offer not only an opportunity for leisurely exploration but also a chance to learn about Farnborough’s pioneering contributions to aviation and technological advancements. So, plan a trip to Farnborough and embark on a journey through time, creating lasting memories with your beloved seniors.

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