Godalming is a town in the Waverley district of the county of Surrey, England, seven kilometres (four miles) south of Guildford. It is built on the banks of the River Wey and is a prosperous stockbroker belt commuter town for London. Godalming shares a three-way twinning arrangement with the towns of Joigny, France and Mayen, Germany. Friendship links are also in place between the state of Georgia, United States, and the city of Moscow, Russia. James Oglethorpe of Godalming and educated at Charterhouse School was the founder of the colony of Georgia.
It was recently voted, in a Channel 4 poll, the 4th best place to live in the UK
The town has existed since Saxon
times (see also Godalming (hundred)
), 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
The town of Godalming first came to be because it is directly between Portsmouth and London, so traders would 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 mills worth £2 1s 8d, 25 ploughs, 40 acres of meadow, woodland worth 103 hogs. 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 woolen 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
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 Portsmouth and London. In 1764, trade received an additional boost when early canalisation of the river took place, linking the town to Guildford, and from there to the River Thames and London on the Wey and Godalming Navigations.
In 1726 a Godalming maidservant called Mary Tofts 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.
So successful was Godalming, that in the early 19th century it was considerably larger than today’s county town of Guildford
, 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 station
on the Portsmouth Direct Line
. The first mayor of Godalming was Henry Marshall who also founded the firm of Marshalls Solicitors
The town has around 230 listed buildings, including Tudor timber framing and 17th century brickwork. Godalming Parish Church has an early Saxon chancel and Norman tower. The 19th century town hall, nicknamed 'the Pepperpot' due to its cupola, is a distinctive octangular 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, Charterhouse 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 Arboretum, 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 United Kingdom to have installed a public electricity
supply, which made electricity available to consumers. It was Calder & Barnet who installed a Siemens AC Alternator
which were powered by a waterwheel, located at Westbrook Mill, on the river Wey. There was 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 is on the mainline railway
between London (Waterloo)
, 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 Farncombe
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 Heathrow
, the two major commercial international airports
in South East England
The Wey and Godalming Navigations
terminates at the United Church
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 Farncombe
, Charterhouse and Frith Hill; and to the south there is Holloway Hill, Busbridge and Crownpits. Sometimes Milford
is classed as a suburb of Godalming.
Educational establishments in or near Godalming area include:
The University of Surrey
is just outside Godalming (in Guildford
- Charterhouse School 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%. Fees are £26,100 a year for boarders or £21,576 a year for "day boarders".
- 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); fees per term (2006/07) are £3,950 plus a further £2,445 for boarding.
- St Hilary's School 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. Annual fees are £6,270 - £9,060.
State 6th form colleges
- Godalming College 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
- Broadwater School is in the Farncombe area of Godalming, caters for young people from 11 to 16 and has no 6th form. (42, 29)
- Rodborough Technology College 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. .
- 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
Godalming Town F. C.
currently play in the British Gas Business Southern League South & West.
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.
Godalming Theatre Group
is an amateur theatre company in Godalming. It performs three productions a year at the Ben Travers Theatre
, Charterhouse School
, Godalming: a spring musical, autumn drama or comedy, and a Christmas pantomime or show. It also runs a youth theatre group.
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 church, was used in the production of The Holiday.
- See also alumini of Godalming Grammar School 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. Jack philips the radio officer of the Titanic and has got a Wetherspoons pub named after him.
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 late twentieth century, actor Terry-Thomas, comedic actor Terry Scott, comedian Billy Dainty and the singer Alvin Stardust resided in the town.
Significant people currently living in the town include the actress Rachel Hurd-Wood.
Paul Merrett, a famous chef who has appeared several times on British TV, was a pupil at Rodborough.
Jack Phillips, Radio Officer of the ill fated Titanic, who remained at his post, sending a distress signal the night Titanic sank.