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Godalming ( ) is a town and civil parish in the Waverley district of the county of Surreymarker, Englandmarker, south of Guildfordmarker. It is built on the banks of the River Weymarker and is a prosperous part of the London commuter belt. Godalming shares a three-way twinning arrangement with the towns of Joignymarker in Francemarker and Mayenmarker in Germanymarker. Friendship links are in place with the state of Georgiamarker in the United Statesmarker and the city of Moscowmarker in Russiamarker. James Oglethorpe, of Godalming and educated at Charterhouse Schoolmarker, was the founder of the colony of Georgia.



The town has existed since Saxon times (see also Godalming ), and probably earlier. It is mentioned in the will of King Alfred the Great, and the name itself has Saxon origins, 'Godhelms Ingus' roughly translated as “the family of godhelm”, and probably referring to one of the first lords of the manor.

Godalming grew in size because its location is roughly half-way between Portsmouthmarker and Londonmarker, which encouraged traders to set up stalls and inns for travellers to buy from and rest in.

Godalming appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Godelminge. It was held by William the Conqueror. Its domesday assets were: 2 churches (both held by Ranulf Flambard) worth 12s, 3 mill worth £2 1s 8d, 25 ploughs, 40 acres of meadow, woodland worth 103 hog. It rendered £34. Its population was roughly 400 people. At the time, its manor belonged to the King, but a few hundred years later, ownership transferred to the Bishop of Salisbury, under a charter granted by King Edward I of England.


In the year 1300, the town was granted the right to hold a weekly market and an annual fair. Its major industry at the time was woollen cloth, which contributed to Godalming’s prosperity over the next few centuries, until a sudden decline in the 17th century. Instead, its people applied their skills to the latest knitting and weaving technology and began producing stockings in a variety of materials, and later to leatherwork.

A willingness to adapt, and move from one industry to another meant that Godalming continued to thrive. For example, papermaking was adopted in the 17th century, and paper was still manufactured there in the 20th century. The quarrying of Bargate stone also provided an important source of income, as did passing trade - Godalming was a popular stopping point for stagecoaches and the Mail coach between Portsmouthmarker and Londonmarker. In 1764, trade received an additional boost when early canalisation of the river took place, linking the town to Guildfordmarker, and from there to the River Thames and London on the Wey and Godalming Navigationsmarker.

In 1726 a Godalming maidservant called Mary Toft hoaxed the town into believing that she had given birth to rabbits. The foremost doctors of the day came to witness the freak event and for a brief time the story caused a national sensation. Eventually Mary was found out after a porter was caught smuggling a dead rabbit into her chamber, she confessed to inserting at least 16 rabbits into herself and faking their birth.

From 1800

So successful was Godalming, that in the early 19th century it was considerably larger than today’s county town of Guildfordmarker, and by 1851 the population had passed 6,500. Already, it was becoming a popular residence for commuters, for it was connected to London by railway two years earlier, in 1849, and to Portsmouth in 1859. Today the town is served by Godalming railway stationmarker on the Portsmouth Direct Line. The first mayor of Godalming was Henry Marshall who also founded the firm of Marshalls Solicitors in 1831.

On 14 August 1818, the town was the site a dual public hanging of George Chennell and William Chalcraft, convicted of murdering George Chennell the elder (father of one prisoner, and master of Chalcraft) and Elizabeth Wilson, his housekeeper.


Godalming Parish Church
The town has around 230 listed buildings, including Tudor timber framing and 17th century brickwork. Godalming Parish Churchmarker has an early Saxon chancel and Norman tower. The 19th century town hall, nicknamed 'the Pepperpot' due to its cupola, is a distinctive octagonal building situated on the High Street. Due to its unique design, it has become the defacto 'logo' of the town today.

The current building dates back to 1814 and replaced the medieval "Old Market House" that had occupied the site since the early Middle Ages. It was in this Market House (and its predecessors) that the local Hundred Court met and discussed matters of local importance for more than a thousand years. The upstairs rooms continued to be used for civic gatherings until 1908. The Pepperpot later housed the town museum, and continues to be used as a public function room. The arched area beneath the building, at street level, has been used as a marketplace.

Other significant buildings in the town include Edwin Lutyens's Red House, and a significant English public school, Charterhousemarker stands about a mile from the town, on the top of Charterhouse Hill. Charterhouse won the FA Cup as the Old Carthusians in 1880 and 1881.

Winkworth Arboretummarker, with its collection of rare trees and shrubs, is situated a few miles to the south.

Public electricity supply

Godalming came to world attention in September 1881, when it became the first town in the world to have installed a public electricity supply, which made electricity available to consumers. It was Calder & Barnet who installed a Siemens AC Alternator and dynamo which were powered by a waterwheel, located at Westbrook Mill, on the river Wey. There were a number of supply cables that fed seven arc lights and 34 Swan incandescent lights, some of which were laid in the gutters. Floods in late 1881 caused problems and in the end Calder & Barnet withdrew from the contract. It was taken over by Siemens. Under Siemens the supply system grew and a number of technical problems were solved. But later on in 1884 the whole town reverted back to gas lighting as Siemens failed to tender for a contract to light the town. This was due to a survey he undertook in the town that failed to provide adequate support to make the business viable, and Siemens had lost money on the scheme in the early years, but was prepared to stay on to gain experience. Electricity returned to the town in 1904.



Godalming railway stationmarker is on the Portsmouth Direct Line between London marker and Portsmouthmarker, and is served by South West Trains. The station has been recognised for its floral decorations including 10 hanging baskets. The next stations up and down the line are at Farncombemarker and Milfordmarker which in many respects (for example transport and education) are effectively suburbs of Godalming. The town is also served by a bus network connecting the town centre with the main residential areas.


Roads running through, or close to, Godalming are:

A community transport service is provided by "Hoppa". Chaired through its difficult early days by Brian Richards, Waverley Hoppa has burgeoned into a low priced provider of minibus and MPV personalised transport for the elderly, the disabled, the young and others for whom simply getting from where they are to where they want to be is a problem.


Godalming lies approximately equidistant (50 kilometres) from Heathrowmarker and Gatwickmarker, the two major commercial international airports in South East England.


The Wey and Godalming Navigationsmarker terminates at the United Churchmarker.


People live in the town centre and various suburbs; to the east there is Catteshall; to the west there is Aaron's Hill and Ockford Ridge; to the north there is Farncombemarker, Charterhouse and Frith Hill; and to the south there is Holloway Hill, Busbridge and Crownpits. Sometimes Milfordmarker is classed as a suburb of Godalming.


Educational establishments in or near Godalming area include:


The University of Surreymarker is just outside Godalming (in Guildfordmarker).

Private schools

  • Charterhouse Schoolmarker is a famous public boarding school founded in 1611 and located in Godalming from 1872. Although the 6th form is mixed (2:1 boys:girls), lower forms are boys only. Exam results in 2006 at B grade or higher were GCSE 96%, AS level 81%, A level 88%.
  • King Edward's School, Witleymarker is an independent co-educational boarding and day school located in nearby Wormleymarker. Founded in 1553 in the London area of St Bride's Churchmarker, Fleet Streetmarker (formerly Bridewell Palacemarker), the school moved to its current location in 1867. Ages 11 – 18 with a strongly international Sixth Form.
  • Prior's Field School is an independent private girls boarding school founded at the beginning of the 20th century by Julia Huxley. Exam results in 2006 at B grade or better were: A levels 57%, GCSE 86%. There are 333 pupils of which about 40% are boarders (weekly or termly);
  • St Hilary's Schoolmarker is an independent preparatory school for boys 2.5 - 7 (around 90) and girls 2.5 - 11 (around 200). Boys mainly go on to Aldro (74% 2006) and girls mainly to Prior's Field (36%), St Catherine's School Bramley (19%) and Tormead School Guildford (13%). Scholarships were gained by 17% of girls in 2006.

State 6th form colleges

  • Godalming Collegemarker is in the Holloway Hill area of Godalming. Founded in 1975 on the campus of Godalming Grammar School, it caters for sixteen to nineteen years olds. Awarded Beacon status in 2006, it was the best performing state school for AS/A levels in the Surrey area in 2004; its Ofsted report for 2005 graded the college as "outstanding" in six of the seven key areas ("good" in the 7th).

State secondary schools

Numbers in brackets indicate the % of pupils achieving 5 A-C GCSEs in total and then including the key subjects of maths and English.
  • Broadwater Schoolmarker is in the Farncombe area of Godalming, caters for young people from 11 to 16 and has no 6th form. (42, 29)
  • Rodborough Technology Collegemarker is in the village of Milford on the outskirts of Godalming, Rake Lane. It caters for young people from 11 to 16 and has no 6th form.(64, 59).

State primary schools (includes grant aided)

All primary schools in Godalming are coeducational. Infant schools cover the age range 4 - 7, junior schools cover 8 - 11.

The figures shown in brackets are VA value added a measure of how pupils' performance has improved, and AGG aggregate score the sum of the percentages of pupils achieving the expected levels in English, maths and science (thus the maximum possible is 300).
  • Loseley Fields Primary School (VA 98.9, AGG 195) is in the village of Binscombe, on the outskirts of the Farncombe side of Godalming.
  • Busbridge C of E Aided Junior School was built over a 100 years ago by members of nearby Busbridge Church and extensive links between the two have continued to this day. It admits 60 children each year with preference being given to Christians and in particular to children of Busbridge/Hambledon church members. (VA 100.9, AGG 279)
  • Busbridge County Infants School is in Hambledon Road Godalming. It caters for around 150 children (2007)
  • Chandler C of E Junior School is in the Witley area and caters for around 330 children
  • Godalming Junior School is in the Farncombe area of Godalming. It has 230 children in 8 classes (4 per year). The Ofsted report for 2005 graded the school as at least satisfactory in all 4 of the new categories. (VA 100.6, AGG 275)
  • Milford School is an infant school situated in the centre of the village of Milford, on the outskirts of Godalming. .[30323]
  • Moss Lane School
  • St Edmunds Catholic Primary School is a voluntary aided parish school covering both primary and junior age ranges (4 - 11); it is linked to both St Edmund's Church in Godalming and to St Joseph's Church in Milford. The 2005 Ofsted report described it as "a good school with a well deserved reputation of providing a good standard of education".(VA 100.1, AGG 282)
  • Green Oak C of E Primary School, formally St Mark's, currently covers just the first two year groups but will expand by a year group annually.
  • Witley C of E Infant School

Previous schools



  • Godalming Angling Society founded in 1881, with fishing rights to 6 lakes and the River Wey from Lower Eashing to Guildford.
  • Godalming Town F. C. currently play in the Ryman Division One South, level 8 of English football. They were formed in 1971 and play their home games at Wey Court, Meadrow.
  • Cricket has been played in Godalming since at least 1767; Godalming Cricket Club now plays at the Holloway Hill Recreation Ground.
  • Guildford Rugby Club (formed in 2002 following the merger of Guildford & Godalming RFC and Old Guildfordians RFC) plays in the London 2 South West league at the Broadwater Sports Club in Godalming.
  • Godalming Bowls Club play at the Holloway Recreation Ground.
  • Contract Bridge is played at several venues:
    • Busbridge Duplicate Bridge Club [30324] meets at the Busbridge Village Hall on three evenings a week
    • Godalming Bridge Club meets on Monday afternoons at the Milford Village Hall
    • Waverley Bridge Partnership (owned by Brian Richards and Rosemary Bayley) has two clubs:
      • Holloway Hill Bridge Club meets on Tuesday afternoons at the Holloway Hill Recreation Ground pavilion
      • Chapel Lane Bridge Club meets at the Clocktower, Milford on three evenings a week: Tuesdays and Thursdays for duplicate and Wednesdays as a workshop
      • Bridge lessons, on behalf of the partnership, are given by Iain Ure at the Holloway Hill pavilion on Mondays


Community centres

  • The "Wilfrid Noyce Community Centre" in Godalming is named after Wilfrid Noyce (1917–1962), a master at Charterhouse and a mountaineer who was on the expedition that made the first ascent of Mount Everestmarker in 1953.
  • The Clocktower, or Milford and Villages Day Centre, is a day centre for people over 50. The money to build it in 1997 was raised entirely from charitable donations and local fundraising.

Town lottery

The Godalming Town Lottery "GOLO" was launched in Godalming on the 1st November 2008, by the Go-Godalming Association, a member of the Lotteries Council. Tickets, sold at local shops and pubs, cost £1 and the draw takes place on the last Saturday of every month. The first one was on Godalming Town Day, 29 November 2008, at the Pepperpot. It is considered to be the first town lottery of its kind. There are 17 prizes, ranging from £500 to £10. Profits are donated to local causes, beginning with the Bandstand roof fund. GOLO is a community lottery for the Godalming Community.


In a charter dated 7 June 1300, King Edward I granted the Bishop of Salisbury the right to hold a weekly market and an annual fair in the town. Godalming remains a typical English market town, with a market every Friday and a selection of independent and national retailers selling clothing for all ages, shoes, watches, jewellery, fine art, books, gifts, stationery, music, guitars, computers, photography, pine furniture, antiques, flowers, hardware, food of all sorts, and household goods. In addition there are the ubiquitous banks, building societies, estate agents, travel agents, solicitors, accountants, employment agencies and charity shops. There are several pubs, restaurants and cafes, occasional visiting French and Italian markets, and an annual Godalming Food Festival.


The comic novel The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, by David Nobbs, contains the following footnote: "Note: It is believed that this book mentions Godalming more than any other book ever written, including A Social, Artistic and Economic History of Godalming by E. Phipps-Blythburgh." The novel was the second in a trilogy, adapted to become a hit TV series: The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.

The town has often been used as a backdrop for the shooting of various films and television programmes. In February 2006, Church Street, which runs from the Pepperpot to the parish churchmarker, was used in the production of The Holiday.

Notable people

See also alumini of Godalming Grammar Schoolmarker and List of notable Old Carthusians

Numerous notable people were born in the town including: James Oglethorpe (born 1696) founder of the colony of Georgia; Julius Caesar (born 1830), cricketer; Aldous Huxley (born 1894), writer; Nick Clarke (born 1948), radio journalist and presenter; and Mick Mills (born 1949), footballer.

The radio operator of RMS Titanicmarker, Jack Phillips, was born and lived in Godalming. He is famed for remaining at his post, sending a distress call, until the ship sank completely. There are several articles of remembrance around the town, including a section of Godalming Museum, a memorial fountain, cloister and garden walk near the church (the largest Titanic memorial in the world), and a Wetherspoons pub named in his honour.

The architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens, began work in 1896 on a house at Munstead Wood, Godalming for the garden designer, Gertrude Jekyll. She died in 1932 and is buried in the churchyard of St. John the Baptist, Busbridge, Godalming next to her brother.

In the 1800s judge James Wilde, 1st Baron Penzance lived at Eashing Park, Godalming.

In the 1900's George Mallory,The man who almost went to the peak of everest lived here after marriage ,before the fatal accident on the everest during his third expedition to the mountain.

In the late twentieth century, actor Terry-Thomas, comedic actor Terry Scott, actor Christopher Timothy, comedian Billy Dainty and the singer Alvin Stardust resided in the town. Dainty died at his house, "Cobblers", in the village on 19 November 1986.

The band Genesis was formed in 1967 by Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks while students at Charterhouse Schoolmarker.

Significant people currently living in the town include the actress Rachel Hurd-Wood and football pundit Alan Hansen.Paul Merrett, a famous chef who has appeared several times on British TV, was a pupil at Rodborough.


  1. Surrey Domesday Book
  2. Godalming, Surrey : Murder, Trial & Execution, 1817-18
  3. History of The Pepperpot, Godalming Town Council website
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  6. 2006 AA Road Atlas of Britain
  7. Ordnance Survey Landranger 186 Aldershot, Guildford & surrounding areas
  8. [3]
  9. United Church official site
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  31. Wilfrid Noyce Community Centre page Accessed 29 July 2008
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  34. John George Phillips Biography on Encyclopedia Titanica
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External links

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