Two early postcards of Godalming's Town Bridge, with the former
Bridge House on the river bank and the Congregational Church
on the opposite side of Bridge Road. The image above in late
nineteenth century whereas the second picture was taken in
Godalming's Congregational church was "erected by voluntary
subscriptions in 1869, at a cost of about £3,660, is
a handsome structure, in the Early Decorated Gothic style,
and built of native rubble stone, with Bath stone facings :
the tower with spire is 85 feet in extreme height".
In 1891 there were 500 sittings.
Rev. Jabez Marshall was the first minister.
The rubble stone referred to is Bargate Rock, or Bargate Stone
as it is more usually called these days, and is a sandstone
found in the Godalming and Guildford area of South West Surrey.
It was used in "the
erection of churches and other public buildings" in
the town. It is usually extremely hard but is sometimes friable.
Bridge House was the home of Thomas Rea, who played a considerable
part in the public life of the town, for some years in the
late nineteenth century. In 1881 he was described as an Alderman,
Magistrate and Tanner.
He was elected Town Mayor on several occasions.
Rae was born at Forfar in Scotland in 1831 and
was a butcher on the High Street at the time of the 1861 census
though was later to own the Oak Bark Tannery on Mill Lane.
He died in 1910. The tannery was to suffer two terrible fires
in Mach 1905 and the second in 1911. He would have known about
the first fire, but fortunately not the second.
The 1960s saw the demolition of Bridge House and the church
spire was also removed around the same time.
Bridge House was replaced by an office block (also named
Bridge House) and the church has become a restaurant.