Below are just some of the things we find interesting about
our home town.
- The old Market House in the High Street was demolished
and was replaced in 1814 by the unique building shown
in our photograph above. This was used as the Town
Hall in the nineteenth century and is affectionately nick-named
the 'Pepperpot' or 'Pepperbox'.
See The Old Town Hall in 1905
- Godalming was the first place in the World to have a public
and private electricity supply - which was introduced to the
town on 26 Sept 1881. The current was generated by a large water
turbine. Manufactured by Macadam Bros, Belfast, it was installed
at the Catteshall paper mill in 1869. Following the paper mill's
demolition it was moved in 1981 to Westbrook Mills for storage.
It had been hoped that this oldest example of a Fourneyron type
water turbine would be restored locally, but for several reasons
it was donated to the Ironbridge Museum in Shropshire at the
end of July 2004.
- The town spreads up two hills separated by the River Wey, whose
ancient flood plain is known as the Lammas Lands. Old maps mark
the Lammas Lands as "liable to flood" and after particularly
heavy rains the Lands sometime transform into a huge lake; it
can look very picturesque.
- The parish church, of SS. Peter and Paul, pictured right,
overlooks the Lammas Lands. Opposite the church, in Church
Street, there are some of the town's oldest houses. Several
buildings in the High Street are also very old. Tudor architecture
can be seen at first floor level and two particularly lovely
buildings are to be found above a building society and
a booksellers/newsagents. Godalming has around 230 listed
SS. Peter & Paul from Frith Hill
See SS. Peter & Paul,
Hatch Mill, Mill Lane
See The Mint & Mill
Godalming was a major centre, alongside London and the
East Midlands, for the framework knitting industry. On
the right is a photograph of the upper floors of a typical
framework knitter's home. The knitters would have worked
in the room on the top floor of the property, under the
eaves. The upstairs rooms provided them with the maximum
daylight. Two knitters' cottages remain in the town;
this beautifully kept early nineteenth century cottage
is in Mint Street and the second on is round the corner
at the top of Mill Lane, next to the Rose and Crown pub.
- One of the longest serving officers of the Royal Navy
was Admiral Sir John Balchin who was born in Godalming
on 4 Feb 1669. According to his portrait he was of "of
very humble parentage". He was to perish at sea on
his last voyage in 1744 when his warship, "Victory",
was caught in a storm en route for home.
The Balchin Family History provides a different possible
birth date and place (Brook).
Family Society >
Family History > Sir John Balchin
Frameworker knitter's cottage,
- General James Oglethorpe, founder of the State of Georgia,
USA, lived at Westbrook House. The townspeople still have
many friends in Georgia. The town is also "twinned"
with Joigny in France and Mayen in Germany. Oglethorpe's
former home was bought by the Countess of Meath in 1892 and
she converted the property to care for women and girls with
- Peter the Great, Czar of Russia, lodged
at the King's Arms Inn in 1698. Peter was an experienced
ship builder and founded the Russian Navy; he passed through
Godalming on his way back from viewing English naval vessels
at Portsmouth. He and his entourage had rather a lot to eat
and drink whilst they lodged at the King's Arms, according
to the records of the feast held in the Bodleian Library,
Oxford. The townsfolk must have breathed a huge sigh of relief
when the Russians left as they were renowned for bad behaviour,
to put it mildly.
Bridge Street, 17th century and Grade II listed
- "The Rabbit Woman of Godalming" was so named because
she was reputed to have given birth to 18 rabbits in 1726. Poor
Mary Tofts; she was immortalised in a Hogarth cartoon and was
the talk of the entire country. Mary endured a spell in
prison, after which she bore a normal child as opposed to a mythical
- The last public executions in Godalming was of Chalcraft
and Chennell following their trials for murder at Guildford Assizes.
Thousands of people watched the event on the Lammas Lands in
1818. The men's names appear on lists of those who were held
at Newgate Prison in London.
- Julius Caesar was born
in Godalming in 1830; in 1841 the family were living in
Ferncombe [sic] and his father, Benjamin, was working
as a Road Surveyor. Julius was a member of the highly successful,
i.e. unbeaten, English cricket team who toured Australia in the
winter of 1863/4. A
few years later, in 1871, Julius was still making his living
as "a professional cricketer" and lived on Ockford Road.
On 13 December 1878 "The
York Herald" listed
the sportsmen who had died during the year amongst whom was Caesar,
Julius, Godalming ; March 6.
- Aldous Huxley, author of "Brave New World", was born
Road on 26 July 1894; the announcement of his birth
in "The Morning Chronicle" just says "Charterhouse".
His mother Julia founded Prior's Field School and his father
was a Classics Master at Charterhouse. Robert
of the Boy Scout Movement, was educated at the school, presumably
moving with them when the school moved to the town from London
- Sir Edwin Lutyens lived at Thursley as a child, from the age
of seven, for six months every year. Lutyens
was one of the Principal Architects who worked for the Commonwealth
War Graves Commission and he supervised the design of the Etaples
Military Cemetery, nr. Le Touquet, France, where both of Ann's
grandfathers are buried (see our
genealogy pages and Picture Gallery).
Gertrude Jekyll, the famous gardener who collaborated with Lutyens
and who also designed the garden for the Phillips Memorial, lived
- Near our house runs a footpath that dates from Saxon times.
It goes down the hill to the site of a Roman brickfield.
- In the nearby village of Compton are two buildings dedicated
to the memory of George Frederick Watts, the eminent Victorian
artist and portrait painter. Watts' most famous portrait is
that of his actress first wife and was painted in 1864. Called
Ellen Terry (Choosing) the young woman, whom he married when
she was only sixteen, is shown with her flowing red hair, smelling
camellias. There are five camellias in her hair and a small bunch
of wild flowers in her left hand. Watts lived in the village
for many years and a great deal of his work is exhibited in the
Watts Gallery. His mausoleum, erected by his second wife, is
the Watts Memorial Chapel and is a fine example of the Arts and
Crafts movement. G.F.W. installed a corner stone on 23 Feb 1903
- his 86th birthday.
Phillips Memorial Cloister
- The Arts and Crafts cloister memorial garden, between the
church and the river and close to Godalming Station, was built
following the untimely death of Jack Phillips, the wireless operator
who stayed at his post on the ill-fated SS. Titanic until
the ship sank, on 15 April 1912. Phillips was born in Farncombe.
Money was raised by public donations from Godalming residents,
from others in the U.K. and also people from overseas and the
memorial was opened in April 1914. The cloister, shown above
and below, was designed by Hugh Thackery Turner whilst the garden
was designed and planted by Gertrude Jekyll. Jack
also named on a family grave in the local cemetery and a wild
garden has also been created in his memory. The Museum web site
has more about Jack Phillips.
Although it was restored in 1993, the Council were subsequently
granted Lottery funding for extensive restoration work, including
the repair of the bowl of the fountain.
Drinking fountain provided by the Postal Telegraph Workers Association.
The Association also contributed to the memorial.
A memorial of a different kind was erected not far away on the
Bury Fields, next to the church boundary,
the bowling green and
This is "In memory of the people of this town who gave their
lives in the War 1939 - 1945".
The plaque at the top lists all Godalming's casualties who lost
their lives in the Second World War.
A second plaque is in memory of those who fell in the First War,
although a tablet inside the church has their names on it.
Also next to the church boundary, and with another wall bounding
Borough Road, is one of Godalming's ancient pounds.
Livestock would have been kept here overnight, or until their owner
collected his or her animals.
An engraved stone in the wall announced that
"This stone marks the Godalming Rectory Manor Pound,
presented to the Borough by the Rev. M. J. Simmonds, Lord of
the Manor, 1933".
Two delightful images of Godalming's riverside
Photographed by and © Peter Tietjen and are reproduced here
with his very kind permission.
Elsewhere on this web site:
Gallery : Godalming, Surrey includes:
Gallery : Surrey - Borough Road and Frith Hill, Godalming, 1914
Gallery : Surrey - Godalming, The Old Forge, Pound Lane, about
Gallery : Surrey - Godalming, Railway Station, 1905
Information elsewhere on the Internet (external links open in a new
tab or window):
Godalming Town Council. Website
Museum (now part of Waverley's web site)
www.godalmingonline.com to view web cams in the High Street and
Surrey History Centre in Woking holds the Godalming parish records
and Crew Passenger Lists
Prison A list of inmates, victims and those associated with the
prison, by Jeff Alvey (his original site does not seem to be available
any longer but the executions are still available)
Bodleian Library, Oxford