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The Andrews Pages Picture Gallery : Godalming, Surrey
A selection of photographs and postcards of a Surrey country town
SS. Peter & Paul Parish Church and Church House, 1907
SS. Peter & Paul Parish Church and Church House,
Church Street, Godalming

This lovely card shows both the Grade 1 listed parish church and Church House on Church Street.

In 1855 a trades directory stated that "The church is dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, and the living is a vicarage, with an endowment of the great tithes of the tithing of the hamlets of Eashing and Norney, value about £461 per annum, in the patronage of the Dean of Salisbury; the incumbent is the Rev. Edward Jacob Boyce, and the Rev. Robert Rutland, curate. The church has been considerably enlarged and new pewed within the last few years. There are several handsome monuments, one of which is to the memory of General James Oglethorpe, and one to the Rev. Owen Manning, formerly vicar of this parish, and who, in conjunction with Mr. Bray, published a "History of Surrey," which work is now scarce; there is a steeple, with 8 bells[1].

A directory in 1913 added that "The church is an ancient cruciform structure of Bargate stone, partly in the Early English style. ... The church was enlarged and repaired in 1840 and completely restored in 1879, and has 800 sittings, the greater part free. The registers date from the year 1582[2]".

The Reverend Gerald Charles Fanshawe M.A. was the vicar in 1913 and living at the Borough Road vicarage (now The Old Vicarage). Rev. Frederick Marcus Crichton M.A. of Croft Road was his curate. By 1924 Rev. Frank Shettle Colson, M.A. was the incumbent and there were two curates in the parish[3].

Godalming has had some famous vicars, amongst them Manning the historian of Surrey who has already been mentioned. When he was a graduate of Cambridge he contracted smallpox and had been left for dead. His father, however, decided to take one last look. He raised him up, saying "I will give my poor boy another chance". To his great surprise his son showed signs of life and survived[4]. William Bray of Shere actually completed Manning's work, rather than co-wrote it, just as Manning had completed the Saxon Dictionary of the Rev. Edward Lye (rector of Yardley Hastings)[5].

Samuel Speed, "the famous and valiant sea captain and sailor, was rather notorious. He was described by Sir John Birkenhead as:
"The chaplain who plied his wonted work,
Prayed like a Christian and fought like a Turk
Speed was the grandson of John Speed, the famous cartographer. After the Restoration he was presented by the Dean of Salisbury to the vicarage of Godalming, though was not the first choice (the Crown withdrew its nominee)[6]. Speed was buried at Godalming on 25 Jan 1682[7].

A similar view, also taken in 1907

The beautiful Church House on the right of the images above is Grade II listed and was a solicitors' office until recently. Over the door is the date 1086 but the Godalming Trust's booklet of the town suggests it may either indicate the Norman Survey (Domesday Book) or could be the first mention of a house on the site[8].

In the eighteenth century Church House belonged to the Dukes of Richmond and was used by them as a "halfway house" when travelling between Goodwood and London[9]. Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond (1672-1723), was the illegitimate son of King Charles II and Louise de Kéroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth.

It has been alleged that Charles, the 2nd Duke of Richmond (1701-1750), died at Church House whilst "cavorting". However, the biographer Stella Tillyard tells us that in 1750 he was "shivering in a fever at Godalming" and dehydrated, with his secretary by his side. He was given Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) to bring his temperature down. Over the next few days the house was filled with doctors and their assistants as well as his Duchess Sarah and servants from Goodwood House. Other relatives came and went. "Slowly but surely fever pulled him into the void from life, light and happiness. On the tenth day (8 August 1750) the Duke died"[10].

Derby Mercury, 17 August 1750

"On Thursday the Corpse of his Grace the Duke of Richmond was carried from Godalming to Chichester, in order to be interred in a new Vault lately made there for his Grace's Family. All the Trophies of Honour belonging to his Grace, were carried in procession before the Hearse ... the Remains of his Grace's Father ... were taken up [from Westminster Abbey] as were five of his children who were interred at St. Martin's in the Field ... and carried down to Chichester, to be deposited in the same Vault".

[Note by the web mistress: The second Duke's procession must have been an impressive sight whilst it was wending its way down Church Street and turning into the Portsmouth Road]

For many years the house was owned by the Simmonds family. John Simmonds was a landed property and share owner and lived at Church House with his wife Hannah Maria and family[11]. He served as a churchwarden, was a magistrate, an alderman of the borough and had been the Mayor for three years[12]. He died, aged 77, on 5 Sep 1880 and was buried at Godalming on 10 Sep 1880. Mrs. Simmonds (19 Dec 1808 - 21 June 1895[12]) survived her husband and was buried at SS Peter and Paul on 6 Jun 1895.

Their elder son, John Whatley Simmonds, was living here with his unmarried sister by 1901. He had been in Lambeth in 1881, when he was said to be a magistrate and the owner of a flour mill. He served as a J.P. for both London and Surrey and was Chairman of Godalming Gas Company[12]. After he passed away at his home in Eaton Place, London on 4 March 1911 an obituary said that he had formerly been a director of Prudential Assurance Co.[13].

Church House then passed to his son, the Rev. Mark Simmonds M.A.[14] The next owner was the son of Mabel Caroline, daughter of John Whatley Simmonds and the fourth generation of the family to live here. Riou Benson, a retired army officer, lived here with wife and family; it is not clear when they left Godalming but they were still at Church House post war.

The property was purchased by the late Dr. John Philip Rasmussen OAM in 1963 as his country weekend home and at one stage he lived here full time, but decided to move back home to Sydney, Australia in 1968. It was then let to several smaller tenants for commercial purposes, although there was at first a rear garden flat. Barlow's, a firm of solicitors, took on a lease in the early 1980's which lasted until the end of 2017.[15]

An enlarged section of a sepia version of the card at the top of the page - this version a "Carbotype"
card - showing Church House.

1. "Godalming Church". Valentine's Series Card No.60109 first published in 1907.
Posted in Godalming on 1st October 1910, it was sent to a Miss Newsham at the Post Office, Chelwood Gate by G. Bailey.
2. "The Parish Church, Godalming". Published by A. C. Gibbons, Fine Art Dealer, 25a, Church Street, Godalming. No. D87 | 794 [1907] Posted on 5 Sep 1907 Godalming. The message includes "Arrived home safe ... Work and I have fallen out"
3. "Godalming Church". Valentine's "Carbotype" Series. Copyright Picture No.60109 [1907] Printed in Gt. Britain. Posted on 16 Aug 1923 at Godalming. This is a sepia version of card 1. The message is a personal note to a family member.
Postcards in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews
Intended for personal use only


[1] "Post Office Directory of Essex, Herts, Kent ..." (1855), Part 1: Counties & Localities, pub. Kelly & Co., Old Boswell Court, Temple Bar, London, p.701

[2] "Kelly's Directory of Surrey" (1913) Kelly & Co. Ltd, London, p204. Rev. Fanshawe had been the incumbent since 1904.

[3] "Kelly's Directory of Surrey" (1924) Kelly & Co. Ltd, London.

[4] "Northampton Mercury", 5 January 1900.

[5] "Surrey Mirror", 15 January 1904. Surrey, Past and Present. Vicars of Godalming.

[6] The source of this information, including the newspaper quotation, is O. Manning and W. Bray, The history and antiquities of the county of Surrey, 1 (1804), published in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography © Oxford University Press 2004–16.

[7] National Burial Index (available on FindMyPast). Godalming transcriptions © West Surrey Family History Society. This contradicts the information in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

[8] "A Godalming Walk". The Godalming Trust, 1977. Various reprints and twice amended, the last being 1988 for our copy.

[9] Documentary evidence is held by the West Sussex Record Office, Ref: GOODWOOD/1154, Correspondence about Church House (4 documents).
Other documents at the RO relating to Church House include:
an "Inventory of His Grace the Duke of Richmond's Goods at Godalming taken Novr. 24. 1733" (GOODWOOD/99/ff48-52);
Bills and vouchers ... for housekeeping at Godalming (GOODWOOD/122);
The Goodwood Estate Archives (GOODWOOD/118) "John Sanderson's account for furnishing at ... Godalming", 1723-1724.

[10] Tillyard, Stella (1995) "Aristocrats, Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, 1740–1832", Vintage, ISBN 0 09 959261 4. First published by Chatto & Windus, Ltd., 1994. Stella Tillyard won the Longman/History Today Book of the Year Award as well as the Fawcett Prize.

[11] John Simmonds was listed in Godalming in Kelly's Directory 1855, in the 1861 and 1871 census returns and The Post Office Directory of 1878. The 1871 census shows Mrs. Simmonds as Harriet Mary, not Hannah Maria.

[12] "Surrey Mirror", 28 June 1895. Death of Mrs. John Simmonds. Mrs. Simmonds, who died at Church House of pneumonia, was survived by two sons and two daughters. She is shown in the 1881 and 1891 census as a widow of private means.

[13] "Exeter and Plymouth Gazette", 10 March 1911.

[14] Mark Simmonds, son of JW had been an Oxford Undergraduate in 1881, became a Fellow of St Augustine's College in Canterbury (1891), was a master at Denstone College in Staffordshire (1901) and then lived in Eaton Square (1911) . Although he still owned Church House at his death in 1933, he passed away at Little Houghton, Northamptonshire.

[15] This information has generously been provided by a member of the family.

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