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The Andrews Pages Picture Gallery : Godalming, Surrey
A selection of photographs and postcards of a Surrey country town
 
Old Town Hall, High Street, Godalming, 1905


The Pepperpot or Pepperbox, at the junction of the High Street and Church Street, used to be Godalming's Town Hall. It was built in 1814, funded by public subscription, and enlarged in 1892[1]. In its role as Town Hall the building was the venue for a wide cross section of events.

It was here, for example, that a case was heard in 1863 following a supposed an attempt to burn the parish church. The church sexton had found some large pieces of burnt paper in the south aisle of the church, which seemed to have been torn from a wall, and a window in the church was also broken. Arthur Hackman, who lived in Church Street, was accused after his home was searched and both the fragments found at the crime scene and the tiny pieces of attached plaster matched small holes in the walls of Hackman's home. He was refused bail and committed for trial[2]. In December the Jury at his trial returned a verdict of Not Guilty!

A portrait of Admiral Balchin hung in the Council Chamber on the first floor[3]. In October 1898 the Town Council decided to celebrate Trafalgar Day. "In accordance with instructions from the Mayor, Alderman T. Rea, the Borough flag was yesterday displayed from the Town Hall, Godalming. In addition to this a number of tradesmen exhibited flags and bunting, Godalming being the birthplace of Admiral Balchin, whose connection with the Naval Hospital at Greenwich and other matters in the early part of the present century are well known[4]". The journalist was more than a little inaccurate, unfortunately, with his report about Balchin's involvement with Greenwich Naval Hospital. According to the Oxford DNB[5], Balchin became Governor of the Hospital in 1744, close to the end of his life and illustrious naval career, and his involvement was very brief[6].


Old Town Hall


The second postcard was published only a few years after the Trafalgar Day celebrations by Surrey Education Committee and was, presumably, given to school pupils as a reward for good attendance as it is printed with the slogan "Never Absent, Never Late". It is interesting to note how many of the Pepperpot's arches were blocked up and also to see the iron gates under the central arch. It must have been very gloomy.

During the twentieth century the building housed Godalming's Museum, though this has now moved to larger premises, and the upstairs room was used for countless functions. The twenty-first century promises more changes as the roof has been replaced during 2010, when rotten timber was found, and the outside repainted. Further restoration work of the interior is planned for this Grade II listed building in readiness for the 200th anniversary. The pump is also listed.

Just to the left of the Pepperpot in the top picture is a shop front that is painted green. This was the Post Office, which was to move to the building known as the Old Post Office further along the High Street.


1. "Godalming, Market House". No publisher, but No.22518. Unused.
2. "Godalming Old Town Hall", published by E.S.A. London. Copyright. Unused. The card was one of a series published by Surrey Education Committee. This one is date stamped on the front Feb 24 1905 and signed E. Guy.
Postcard in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References:

[1] "Kelly's Directory of Surrey, 1913". By 1913 the Old Town Hall was disused as the police court and Council Chamber had moved to the Borough Hall in 1908.
[2] "Jackson's Oxford Journal", Saturday, August 29, 1863. Several newspapers reported the supposed crime.
[3] "The Morning Post", Saturday, October 22, 1898.
[4] "The Standard", Saturday, October 22, 1898, Trafalgar-Day Celebration. The T. Rea mentioned was Thomas Rae (see Godalming Bridge & Congregational Church and The Mint and Mill Lane).
[5] Daniel A. Baugh, "Balchen, Sir John (1670-1744)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008. Balchin is also mentioned elsewhere on this site. See: Godalming, Surrey (about).
[6] Also see Balchin Family Society > Family History > Sir John Balchin




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