Church of St. Peter & St. Paul, Godalming
 Godalming shown within Surrey
Area  9.68 km2 (3.74 sq mi)
Population 21,804 (Civil Parish 2011)[1]
    density  2,252/km2 (5,830/sq mi)
OS grid referenceSU9744
    London  30.5 miles (49.1 km) 
Civil parishGodalming
Shire countySurrey
RegionSouth East
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode district GU7
Dialling code 01483
Police Surrey
Fire Surrey
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK ParliamentSouth West Surrey
List of places

Coordinates: 51°11′N 0°37′W / 51.18°N 0.61°W / 51.18; -0.61

Godalming /ˈɡɒdəlmɪŋ/ is a historic market town, civil parish and administrative centre of the Borough of Waverley in Surrey, England, 4 miles (6 kilometres) SSW of Guildford. The town traverses the banks of the River Wey in the Greensand Ridge a hilly, heavily wooded part of the outer London commuter belt and Green Belt. In 1881, it became the first place in the world to have a public electricity supply and electric street lighting.[2]

Godalming is 30.5 mi (49.1 km) southwest of London and shares a three-way twinning arrangement with the towns of Joigny in France and Mayen in Germany. Friendship links are in place with the state of Georgia and Moscow. James Oglethorpe of Godalming was the founder of the colony of Georgia.

Godalming is regarded as an expensive residential town, partly due to its visual appeal, favourable transport links and high proportion of private housing.[3] In recent years it has been ranked the UK's third most desirable property hotspot,[4] and voted the fourth best area of the UK in which to live.[5] The borough of Waverley, which includes Godalming, was judged in 2013 to have the highest quality of life in Great Britain,[6][7] and in 2016 to be the most prosperous place in the UK.[8]



The spire of Church of St. Peter & St. Paul, Godalming with Charterhouse School visible in the distance

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 in 899 (where it and Guildford are gifted to Alfred's nephew, Æthelwold) 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 halfway between Portsmouth and London, which encouraged traders to set up stalls and inns for travellers to buy from and rest in.

Godalming Parish Church has an early Saxon chancel and a Norman tower.[9]

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 (16 hectares) of meadow, woodland worth 103 hogs. It rendered £34.[10] 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.[11]


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 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 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 Toft 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.

Court testimony of 1764 attests to how purchasing one of the mills in Godalming and dealing in corn and flour brought a substantial income.[12]

From 1800

So successful was Godalming that in the early 19th century it was considerably larger than 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.[n 1]

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, some of which were laid in the gutters, that fed seven arc lights and 34 Swan incandescent lights. 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 to gas lighting as Siemens failed to tender for a contract to light the town. This was due to a survey they undertook in the town that failed to provide adequate support to make the business viable. Siemens had also lost money on the scheme in the early years, but was prepared to stay on in order to gain experience. Electricity returned to the town in 1904.


Civil parishes in the borough of Waverley

Guildford is 4 mi (6 km) NNE[13] and London is 30.5 mi (49.1 km) northeast of Godalming; the Weald, a remnant forest of small wooded settlements adjoins the town to the southwest and the North Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is 2.9 mi (4.7 km) north of the town centre.[13]

The next railway stations up and down the line are at Farncombe, which benefits from a single residential street connection to Godalming across a strip of Lammas lands, however is still part of the town and Milford, which is separated by a green buffer and so is a less dependent settlement in terms of shopping and education. [14]

Elevations, geology and soil

Elevations vary between: 36 m (118 ft) AOD by the Guildford Road Rugby Union ground and Broadwater lake at the River Wey's exit from Godalming into Peasmarsh, Shalford; to 106 m (347.76 ft) AOD where Quarter Mile meets Hambledon Road (both residential) in the south east; similarly Hurtmore Road which is also residential, Upper Green/Hurtmore is at 102 m (334.64 ft) AOD; immediately north and south of the town centre steep hills reach 95 m (311.67 ft) AOD from 40-45m (131.23-147.63 ft) AOD in the town centre itself.[13]

In terms of rock and mineral structure, the soil is Gault Clay superimposed by Upper Greensand, Claygate Beds and Bagshot Sands; throughout the narrow east-west middle valley of Godalming and its wide northeast suburbs (Farncombe and Catteshall) the rocky head geological deposit is also found; angular pieces of rock and soil derived locally from the extensive frost-shattering of rocks and the subsequent movement of this material down valley slopes.[15]

Soil is mostly, i.e. on the upper slopes of Godalming slightly acid only freely draining sandy soil, whereas in the lower parts mentioned above it is slowly permeable loamy/clayey slightly acid but base-rich soil, which area includes the town centre itself.[16]

Local government

Surrey County Council, "headquartered" in Kingston, elected every four years, has two councillors from Godalming. Peter Martin, Deputy Leader of the county council and representative of Godalming South, Milford and Witley lives in Godalming.[17]



2009 Steve Cosser Godalming North
2009 Peter Martin Godalming South, Milford and Witley

The town is divided into five wards; Binscombe, Central and Ockford, Charterhouse, Farncombe and Catteshall, and Holloway.[18] Godalming has 10 representatives governing the Borough of Waverley, headquartered in Godalming:



2009 Liz Wheatley Godalming Binscombe
2010 Andrew Wilson Godalming Binscombe
2012 Jane Thomson Godalming Central and Ockford
2011 Simon Thornton Godalming Central and Ockford
2012 Tony Gordon-Smith Godalming Charterhouse
2010 Stefan Reynolds Godalming Charterhouse
2010 Ross Welland Godalming Farncombe and Catteshall
2012 Nick Williams Godalming Farncombe and Catteshall
2012 Peter Martin Godalming Holloway
2010 Tom Martin Godalming Holloway

Civil parish

See Godalming Town Council website


The Pepperpot, Godalming's former town hall
Godalming Parish Church
17th Century Gable Ends

Godalming Town Council contains has 138 listed buildings, of which 82 are within the town centre rather than any of the named adjoining neighbourhoods, and 18 of which are monuments.[14] These include Tudor timber framed buildings, 17th-century brickwork buildings and a wider selection of buildings are on the locally listed buildings register. One of its most famous landmarks is 'The Pepperpot' which is Godalming's old town hall.

Other significant buildings in the town include Edwin Lutyens's Red House, and a significant English public school, Charterhouse, which stands 0.7 mi (1.1 km) from the town centre, on the top of Charterhouse Hill, which is half-separated from Frith Hill by a steep ravine. Its main building is grade II listed and the chapel built by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott is Grade II* listed.[14]

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

Godalming Parish Church

See The Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul's, Godalming, a Grade I listed building.

Town halls

The southeast façade of the Borough Hall in 2016

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 a de facto logo of the town today. Built in 1814, the Town Hall 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.[20] The successor town hall is called Godalming Borough Hall and has its main frontage on Bridge Street.[21]

Jack Phillips memorial cloister and gardens

The radio operator of RMS Titanic, Jack Phillips, was born and lived in Farncombe, worked in Godalming and at sea. He is famed for remaining at his post, sending repeated distress calls, until the ship sank.[22] Phillips is commemorated in a number of ways around the town, including a section of Godalming Museum, a memorial fountain, cloister and garden walk near the church, and a Wetherspoons-chain public house named in his honour.



Godalming railway station is on the Portsmouth Direct Line between London Waterloo and Portsmouth, served by South West Trains only.[23] The station has been council-recognised for its floral decorations including 10 hanging baskets.[24]


Roads running through, or close to, Godalming are:[25][26]

The town is served by a bus network connecting the town centre with the main residential areas. These are provided by Arriva and Stagecoach. A community transport service is provided by "Hoppa". Chaired through its difficult early days by Brian Richards,[27] Waverley Hoppa has burgeoned into a low-price 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 and Gatwick, the two major commercial international airports in South East England.


The Wey and Godalming Navigations terminates at the United Church.[28]


People live in the town centre and adjoining named neighbourhoods included within the Town: east Catteshall; west Aaron's Hill and Ockford Ridge; north: Farncombe, Charterhouse and Frith Hill; south: Holloway Hill, Busbridge and Crownpits. Sometimes Milford is classed as a suburb of Godalming. In general the southern network of roads towards Busbridge and western network of roads towards Hurtmore, by Charterhouse School are the two neighbourhoods with the highest average price of housing in the Godalming area.[29]


Catteshall (pronounced 'Cat-es-shall') is the directly attached neighbourhood and commercial estate in the east of Godalming civil parish, formerly a hamlet between the town of Godalming and the villages of Unstead and Thorncombe Street. Catteshall Manor is at the top of the hill and the former Ram Cider House is at the bottom. The cider house is named after a ram pump which pumps water from a natural spring up the hill. The hamlet's name is thought to come from Gattes Hill to derive from "a gate to the hill". Two buildings are listed: Ram Cider House and Catteshall Grange as the manor house is on the higher land which is now in Busbridge Civil Parish.[14]

Catteshall is also home to a number of high tech industries, such as Cloud Computing Provider MTI Technology, Business Data Specialists The Content Group, & the new Surrey Data Park home to Aegis Data Centre.

Frith Hill

Immediately north of the Lammas lands, Frith Hill is a hillside and hilltop residential neighbourhood that contains seven listed residential buildings. A converted water tower, liked by architectural expert Nicholas Pevsner, two small cemetery chapels, railings and gates form three separate Grade II listings, which are on the town-side hill slope.[14]

The Red House, Frith Hill

At a grade higher (Grade II*) compared with all the other listed buildings in Frith Hill, the Red House was built in 1899 by architect Edwin Lutyens using Flemish bond brickwork for a retired clergyman and school housemaster for Charterhouse School 0.5 mi (0.80 km) away – see its official listing "an early seminal work by Lutyens" for details.[30][31]


Binscombe with a small village centre, without a parade of shops, has a neat grid of surrounding housing which is contiguous with Farncombe's on the north side of Godalming.[14] A church is in the centre of the residential area; Binscombe Church, built in 1969.[32] Whilst within the town, the traditional village of Compton is closer than the town centre to most of Binscombe.[13]


Educational establishments in Godalming include:

Independent schools

Statue of Thomas Sutton on Founder's Court at Charterhouse School


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.[40]

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).[41]

Previous schools


The Kings Arms
at the centre of Godalming
Display in the Godalming Museum

Places of worship

For more details on this topic, see List of places of worship in Waverley (borough).

Godalming's Roman Catholic,[49] Quaker,[50] and Unitarian places of worship,[51] former Congregational chapel,[52] and former Salvation Army hall[53] are all Grade II listed buildings. Godalming currently contains a number of churches from different denominations:


Music and Theatre

Community centres

Godalming is home to The National Autistic Society (NAS) resource centre for the south east and the NAS horizons day centre.

Town lottery

The Godalming Town Lottery "GOLO" was launched in Godalming on 1 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. The first independent town lottery in the country has now turned three years old. GOLO has given away more than £18,000 to local causes and more than £30,000 in cash prizes. To celebrate, GOLO launched another easy way to buy GOLOs each month—Standing Orders.[68]


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, cobblers, 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.

Owing to its typically English appearance, attractive shop fronts and streets, the town has often been used as a backdrop for the shooting of various films and television programmes. In February 2006, High Street and Church Street, which runs from the Pepperpot to the parish church, were used in the production of The Holiday.

Demography and housing

2011 Census Homes
Output area Detached Semi-detachedTerracedFlats and apartmentsCaravans/temporary/mobile homesshared between households[1]
(Civil Parish)2,752 2,858 1,663 1,658 1 22

The average level of accommodation in the region composed of detached houses was 28%, the average that was apartments was 22.6%.

2011 Census Key Statistics
Output area Population Households % Owned outright % Owned with a loanhectares[1]
(Civil Parish)21,8048,954 32.8% 36.0%968

The proportion of households in the civil parish who owned their home outright compares to the regional average of 35.1%. The proportion who owned their home with a loan compares to the regional average of 32.5%. The remaining % is made up of rented dwellings (plus a negligible % of households living rent-free).

Notable people

See also alumni of Godalming Grammar School and List of notable Old Carthusians

Those born here include: 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 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 Busbridge Church, Godalming, next to her brother.

In the 19th century, judge James Wilde, 1st Baron Penzance lived at Eashing Park, Godalming. Major Cyril Raikes MC lived here.

In the 20th century, George Mallory, who later made a fatal attempt to scale Mount Everest, taught at Charterhouse School, and then lived in the town after marrying Ruth Turner. He died during the 1924 attempt, but Ruth and their three children remained in the area.

The composer and music critic, Peter Warlock (d. 1930), is buried in Godalming.

In the late 20th century, actor Terry-Thomas, comedic actor Terry Scott, actor Christopher Timothy and the singer Alvin Stardust resided in the town.

The band Genesis was formed in 1967 by Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks while they were pupils at Charterhouse School.

Actor Sam Worthington was born in Godalming in 1976, before moving to Australia at a young age.

Billy Dainty a British comedian, dancer, physical comedian and pantomime and television star lived in Godalming. He died on November 19, 1986, aged 59, of prostate cancer at his home Cobblers in Godalming.

Significant people currently living in the town include the actress Rachel Hurd-Wood, Great Britain hockey player Dan Fox, Scottish international footballer John Hansen, brother of football pundit Alan Hansen, and the sociologist Sara Arber. Paul Merrett, a chef who has appeared several times on British TV, was a pupil at Rodborough.[69] JJ Burnel, bass player of The Stranglers, grew up in Godalming.

Notes and references

  1. Henry Marshall founded Marshalls Solicitors in 1831.
  1. 1 2 3 Key Statistics; Quick Statistics: Population Density United Kingdom Census 2011 Office for National Statistics Retrieved 21 November 2013
  2. "Godalming Museum - Godalming and Electricity". Godalming Museum, Surrey. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  3. Dyckhoff, Tom (19 September 2009). "Let's move to Godalming, Surrey". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
  4. "The top 10 property hotspots". This Is Money. London. Retrieved 2 October 2006.
  5. "Best and worst places to live in the UK revealed". About Property. London. 18 October 2007.
  6. Bingham, John (29 March 2013). "Waverley tops list of best places to live". Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  7. Gore, Alex; Barrow, Becky (29 March 2013). "Looking for the good life?". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  8. "The 22 happiest, richest, healthiest, and most crime-free areas in Britain". The Independent. London. 13 October 2016.
  9. St Peter and St Paul's Church - Grade I listing: Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1044546)". National Heritage List for England.
  10. "Domesday Book entries from Surrey from an individual historian".
  11. Powell-Smith, Anna. "Godalming - Domesday Book".
  12. "Ordinary of Newgate's Account, 7 March 1764.".
  13. 1 2 3 4 "UK Grid Reference Finder".
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Ordnance Survey map, courtesy of English Heritage
  15. Natural England - Geodiversity
  16. "Soilscapes soil types viewer - National Soil Resources Institute. Cranfield University".
  17. 1 2 "Surrey's County councillors". Surrey County Council. 3 February 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  18. "Election Maps".
  19. Waverley councillors by ward
  20. History of The Pepperpot, Godalming Town Council website
  21. http://www.waverley.gov.uk/info/200106/venues_and_community_centres/959/hiring_godalming_borough_hall
  22. "John George Phillips : Titanic Victim". 24 September 2015.
  23. South West Trains
  24. South West Trains - Godalming Station floral recognition
  25. 2006 AA Road Atlas of Britain
  26. Ordnance Survey Landranger 186 Aldershot, Guildford & surrounding areas
  27. Hoppa Buses history, business plan and services
  28. "Godalming United Church".
  29. mouseprice.com property heat map search facility
  30. Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1044519)". National Heritage List for England.
  31. The English House 1860-1914 (The Flowering of English Domestic Architecture) 1986, Gavin Stamp, pp 100-101.
  32. Binscombe Church
  33. "Charterhouse School's History".
  34. "Charterhouse School website".
  35. Prior's Field School for Girls
  36. "Prior's Field School :: Independent Schools Inspectorate".
  37. "Home - St Hilary's School".
  38. "Godalming College".
  39. Godalming College - departmental rankings
  40. "2006 GCSE and A-level results: Surrey". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  41. "BBC News, School league tables 2004, Surrey LEA". BBC News. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  42. Busbridge County Infants School
  43. "Welcome to Godalming Junior School".
  44. Milford School
  45. "Welcome to Moss Lane School".
  46. St Edmund's Catholic Primary School
  47. Administrator, getsurrey (11 September 2008). "Green Oak puts down new roots".
  48. "Witley CofE Infant School".
  49. Historic England. "Church of St Edmund King and Martyr, Croft Road (south side), Godalming  (Grade II) (1189582)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  50. "Listed Buildings". English Heritage. 2012. Archived from the original on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  51. Historic England. "Unitarian Chapel and Cottage, Meadrow (east side), Godalming  (Grade II) (1044505)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  52. Historic England. "Former Congregational Church and attached Sunday School, now Messenger, May & Baverstock Premises, Bridge Street (north-west side), Godalming  (Grade II) (1294577)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  53. Historic England. "Salvation Army Meeting Hall, 18 Mint Street (north side), Godalming  (Grade II) (1044475)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  54. Busbridge Church, Busbridge Church website.
  55. Godalming Baptist Church, Godalming Baptist Church website.
  56. Parish of Godalming, Parish of Godalming website.
  57. Sladen, Teresa; Antram, Nicholas (11 November 2005). Architectural and Historic Review of Churches in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arundel and Brighton (PDF) (Report). English Heritage. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  58. Stell, Christopher (2002). Nonconformist Chapels and Meeting-houses in Eastern England. Swindon: English Heritage. ISBN 1-873592-50-7.
  59. Godalming Angling Society
  60. Godalming Town Football Club
  61. "Guildford Hockey Club". Retrieved 2013-03-16.
  62. "Godalming Band - Welcome".
  63. "GTG".
  64. Administrator, getsurrey (18 October 2007). "Former mayor awarded freedom of town after 'worst year of his life'".
  65. Denningberg Centre for the Elderly
  66. Wilfrid Noyce Community Centre page godalming-tc.gov.uk Accessed 29 July 2008
  67. Godalming Town Council: The Clocktower/Milford and Villages Day Centre
  68. "GOLO The Godalming Lottery - Raising money for good causes - Godalming Farncombe Milford".
  69. "www.School-Portal.co.uk **".
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