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The Andrews Pages Picture Gallery : Godalming, Surrey
A selection of photographs and postcards of a Surrey country town
 
Godalming Bridge & Congregational Church
Bridge, Bridge House and Congregational Church


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 1907.

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[1]". In 1891 there were 500 sittings[2]. Rev. Jabez Marshall was the first minister[3].

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[1]" 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[4]. He was elected Town Mayor on several occasions[5]. 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[5]. 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[5]. Bridge House was replaced by an office block (also named Bridge House) and the church has become a restaurant.


Bridge, Bridge House and Congregational Church


1"Godalming Bridge and Congregational Church" published by F. Frith & Co. Ltd., Reigate No.26148. Not posted. Original photograph dates from before 1895.
2. "The River Wey, Godalming". Valentine's Series. No. 60100 Published in 1907. Not posted.
Postcards in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References:

[1] "Post Office Directory of Godalming", 1878.

[2] "Kelly's Directory of Surrey", 1891.

[3] Information from various census returns. Jabez Marshall was born in Northampton and lived in Marshall Road in 1871. By 1891 the family had moved to Frith Hill House and he was described as both the Minister and a Schoolmaster. He was still in Godalming ten years later.

[4] Information extracted from various census returns and trade directories. The High Street butchers was called "The Golden Ox" and was later run by his son, also Thomas. By 1891 Thomas Rae's first wife had died and he subsequently moved to Braemar on Holloway Hill and married again. Still a tanner.

[5] Janaway, John "The Story of Godalming" (1983) Local Heritage Books, Newbury ISBN 1 86368005 4. An advertisement in "The Standard" on 14 July, 1896 stated that the tannery was founded in 1801 and Thomas Rae had taken it over in 1869.


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