. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .
• Introduction

• History
• The Godalming

• The Wey

. . . . . . . .
• Introduction

• Lock
• Barges
• Life on the

• The Horse-
drawn IONA

. . . . . . . .
• Introduction

• Watermills
• Flour & Bread
• Fulling & Cloth
• Chilworth

• Charcoal

• Brewing
• Papermaking
• Ice Houses
. . . . . . . .
• Introduction

• Habitats
• Trees & Plants
• Insects
• Birds
• Fish
• Countryside

. . . . . . . .
• Introduction

• More About

• More About

• More About

• More About

• More About

. . . . . . . .
• Introduction

• Legends
• The Big Names
. . . . . . . .
• Introduction

• Boat Art
• Inn Art
• River Graffiti
. . . . . . . .
• Basingstoke

• Wey & Arun

• The Thames
. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .
We welcome
your comments

. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

More About
Godalming, Surrey

Described by one contemporary writer as one of the smelliest towns in England because of the stench being emitted by the many tanneries in the town, Godalming was once renowned for its clothing industry. The town also lays claim to being the first in the country to have public street lighting powered by electricity, and in being home to The Rabbit Woman.



GOLO The Godalming Town Lottery supporting local good causes
The first small town lottery in England launched in November 2008 to help good causes in the town.


It seems that there may be 'something in the water' in Godalming , or at least that's what many mums in the area are saying.

"I'm told Godalming has the highest population of twins in Surrey," said Melanie Wiseman of the twins and multiples club based at the Wharf Children's Centre. "When you walk down the High Street you suddenly start seeing all these double buggies," added her colleague Louise Gaff.

One theory put forward by the charity Home-Start is that Godalming attracts Londoners wanting to relocate, and as many of these include affluent older women the town has an unsually high IVF engagement which can often result in multiple births.
Surrey Advertiser 2nd March 2012

The ten most expensive roads based on house prices in the Godalming area are:
Alldens Lane, Godalming
The Hydons, Hydestyle
Farnham Road, Elstead
Priorsfield Road, Hurtmore
Water Lane, Enton
Pickhurst Road, Chiddingfold
Hascombe Road, Godalming
Station Lane, Milford
High Button, Thursley
Hurtmore Road, Hurtmore

And the ten cheapest are:
The Lofts, Wormley
King's Gate, Godalming
Elizabeth Court, Godalming
Cherryhurst, Hambledon
Springwood, Milford
St Johns Street, Godalming
Manor Green, Milford
Queen Street, Godalming
Martins Wood, Milford
Little Thatch, Godalming
Source: ourproperty.co.uk, November 2006

The Halifax house price survey (November 2007) placed Godalming for the first time in the top ten for most expensive places in Britain.

And in 2008 despite the havoc created to the housing market by the sub-prime crisis a survey by the property valuation website zoopla.co.uk showed that Godalming was one of only five towns in Britain where prices had actually risen(!). In the market nationally over £300bn has been wiped off the value of British homes over the first nine months of the year with homes losing an average of £45 a day.

Waverley Borough Council arranges (2007) Walking for Health which are organised short walks beside the Wey. Every Thursday 11.00am opposite council office car park. Duration: 40 minutes to one hour. 2 miles. 01483 523392

The high profile murder (November 2006), reportedly by the Russian secret service (FSB), of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko by poisoning him with polonium-210, has highlighted the fact that Godalming is the home town to the most senior KGB agent ever to defect to Britain. Oleg Gordievsky, who defected in 1985, welcomed Litvinenko to his Godalming home on many occasions. “He is rather lonely, like me. But he has a tremendous respect for me, as a British agent. He used to report to me, asking for my advice." Another high profile Russian, the billionaire Boris Berezovsky who was granted asylum in 2003 and who bought Hascombe Court in Hascombe near Godalming from the radio DJ Chris Evans, was named by the murdered spy as the man the FSB allegedly ordered him to kill. The Kremlin have denied any complicity . . .

“At the kitchen window was a black sink set into a wooden surround, beside that was the coal bunker. This was where we sat of an evening to have our ‘bath’ with feet dangling in the sink. Not for us the luxury of hot water. If it were cold, the kettle might be boiled and a little of it added to the freezing water in the sink – but kettles had to be boiled and that took gas, and gas cost money! With seven of us living in the old house, a wash in cold water was the norm.” Heather Bryan 1930s resident

Three-flower Maple leaves
click images to enlarge

Westbrook House in Godalming is said to have the Stuart ghost of Bonnie Prince Charlie who secretly met with supporters here whilst he was in hiding just before the rising of 1745. The ghost appears early in the evening attired in a brown cloak, exactly as was the prince’s habit.

Rowan berries

"The rich man with a very large establishment will almost certainly declare in favour of electricity, which in his case will probably give the lowest working costs, while his less wealthy neighbour will most likely install air-gas or acetylene. The amount of attention required to operate an air-gas or acetylene plant is very small, and it is not unusual to make it part of the housemaid's duty. In the case of electric light the writer has never heard of this being done; male attention of some sort appears to be required, even if it is only such the bootboy can give. Gardeners can usually undertake the work quite successfully". Country Life, l910.

click images to enlarge


Crown Court is named after a row of cottages formerly standing near here which were demolished in 1950 to link the town's first public car park with the High Street. Wool was the foundation of Godalming's prosperity in the 16th Century, the period of the timber-framed buildings now joined by the arch, itself made from old materials. The brick built shops across the road are early 19th century." Godalming Trust 1987 wall plaque


"Godalming's fairs were held in February and July. Stalls of gingerbread and other wares and good things would be seen to reach far down into the High Street from the Market House; and around the latter would be placed pens for the pigs, sheep and cattle. The Horse Fair would be conducted at the top of the Wharf and much cantering and testing through the street would keep it in great excitement." Memories of Godalming. Charles Softley 1832 - 1910


"It is deplorable that a (football) team of Godalming's standing should thus attempt to hide their defeat, at the expense of truth, behind an imaginary 'jungle'. To state that the grass was 'nearly a foot long' is the grossest mis-statement conceivable. " Letter to editor of West Surrey Times 1889


What do the towns of Godalming in the UK, Traben-Trarbach in Germany, and Attalla, Alabama in the USA have in common from the standpoint of technological history?

Thomas Alva Edison invented the first commercially viable electric light bulb in 1879 (see incandescent light bulb for the full history of light bulbs).

One of the first practical applications that changed the world was electric street lighting. Godalming in the UK, Traben-Trarbach in Germany and Attalla, Alabama in America were the first towns in those three industrialized nations to install electric street lighting.

Godalming came to world attention in 1881, when it became the first town in the United Kingdom to install a public supply of electricity, and the first in the world to boast electric street lighting, driven by a Siemens AC Alternator and dynamo at Westbrook watermill, feeding seven arc lights and 34 Swan incandescant lights. These lights were later turned off as their supply proved too expensive for the town.

Traben-Trarbach was the first town in Germany to have electric street lighting, based upon the patents of Thomas Alva Edison, which Emil Rathenau bought from Edison, leading to the founding of the German-based AEG.

As for Attalla, the first hydro electric plant for lighting a whole town was invented on a stream in Etowah County near Atalla by W. P. Lay in 1887. This invention in Attalla led to the creation of the Southern Company and Alabama Power. Source: LawPundit 7th January 2007

One of Britain's oldest women celebrated her 110th birthday in September 2007. Mary Brown lives in a nursing home in Godalming and was joined at her birthday celebrations by four generations of her family including five grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and her 78-year-old son George.

"Nearly everything in this theatre is worked by electricity, which, although it cannot be said to be the soul of the theatre, is certainly the lifeblood. Electricity issues the tickets when you go in - gives you light - projects the pictures on the screen - supplies you with pure washed fresh air all the time you are seated ion the auditorium. " Souvenir Programme for the Regal Cinema, Godalming 1935

"As in other towns, there are hundreds of people in Godalming who are not paying their bills because they do not know what is going to happen next. They hold a fixed idea that if war is to come all debts will be suspended, consequently they are holding on to all the money they can keep. This policy is un-British and frankly dishonest, and as a result local business is being stifled. " Godalming Review 1939


Godelm's town lies nesting in the cup
Wherein are held the waters of the Wey
And every house seems almost creeping up
From meadow land and misty veil of grey
To gain the wreath of of hills that ring the sky
And crown the peaceful scene that charms the eye.
Picturesque Godalming published by Chamber of Trade 1934

Town Pump

". . . the British School kept by a Mr Tickner who had there a cage in which naughty boys were drawn to the ceiling as a punishment." Memories of Godalming. Charles Softley 1832 - 1910

click images to enlarge

Bonfire Night, Godalming

The Ram Cider House in Catteshall Lane, Godalming took its name from the ram gravity pump opposite that was used for raising water. Sadly now converted to private housing the public no longer have the opportunity of seeing at close quarters the wattle-and-daub walls of this 16th Century building, nor any longer of sampling over 35 different types of cider.

"In the morning we went to Godalming which is a nice cute little coach town where the movie 'The Holiday' was filmed ( the recent one with Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet Jack Black and some other guy). There were so many old houses in the town, and it's really the picture of a typical English town.  There were lots of little stores and even a hat shop that was FILLED with hats... really cool!" US Blogger lenkapenka 27th February 2007

"A single-wicket match was played on the New Ground, Godalming, between Julius Caesar, a lad of 16 years of age, of the Godalming Cricket Club, and Mr C Coomber, of Eashing. Caesar went in first and obtained five which, with one wide, made six. Coomber fetched three runs which, with three wides, made six. Caesar for his second innings got 49, and wides three, making a total with the first of 58. Coomber followed and, after 35 balls were delivered, obtained no run and scored only one wide, leaving Caesar the winner by 51. The lad promises to be as noted in the game of cricket as his ancient namesake was in the art of war. The Godalming club are ready to back him against any lad of his age in the County of Surrey." Surrey Gazette 1846 - Caesar was to go on to spend 18 years as a professional cricketer playing for Surrey and England.

Autumn at Winkworth Aroboretum by Kevin Gorton
click image to enlarge

One of the most successful rock bands had its roots at Charterhouse School. Two pupils, Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks formed The Garden Wall which morphed into the band Genesis bringing them fame and fortune. MORE HERE

Godalming's Mayoress' Chair, having fallen into disrepair, has been restored (November 2006) to its former glory. The late 17th century gilt chair had fabric made by the Godalming Silk Weaving Co, and a local furniture restorer had bought remnants of fabric stock in 1995 which were subsequently used in the restoration. The chair will be housed in the Mayor's Parlour at the council offices in Godalming.

A team of students from Godalming College built two walking robots modelled on insects and which were controlled by sophistiacted electronic systems. The team calling themselves Godalming Robotics won national science awards (1996) for their ingenuity, and were supported by robot experts from Surrey University and Ferrari Design & Development.

Water tower, Hurtmore, Godalming
click image to enlarge

The popular free house (1) in the centre of Godalming near the Pepperpot has been sold (November 2006). The Red Lion, Mill Lane has been bought by the pub chain Punch Taverns for £1m making for no doubt an extremely happy outgoing landlord Ian Thompson. The Red Lion much of which has Grade II protection, despite its slightly shabby appearance and oft boisterous reputation, has been a favourite for Godalming drinkers for decades. Once a grammar school, and still retaining the tall book-lined schoolroom, the pub served a great range of independent ales and held popular beer festivals. 2007 update: for reasons unknown Punch Taverns closed the pub shortly after taking it over and it is now up for sale.
(1) A 'free house' denotes that a licensed premises is not tied to a brewery and is free to serve beer from whatever brewers it chooses.

"S.O.S. This cloister is built in memory of John George Phillips a native of this town. Chief wireless telegraphist of the ill-fated S.S. Titanic he died at his post when the vessel floundered in mid-Atlantic on the 15th day of April 1912" Inscription on the Phillips Memorial Cloister, Godalming

Godalming resident Rachel Hurd-Wood at 16 has already starred in three Hollywood films. Her acting career was launched in 2003 when she played Wendy Darling in Peter Pan and followed this up with An American Haunting and Perfume.

Her sixth-form college in Guildford is uppermost in her life. She probably could, if she wanted to, take Hollywood by storm - or at least mould herself into a London celebrity à la Peaches Geldof. But all that leaves her cold. "I'm not going to fall drunk out of London clubs," she says. "For a start, I'm allergic to alcohol." So, when she talks about her life, it is about her friends at college and her family, whom she lives with in Godalming in Surrey; when she talks about her future, it is about reading psychology at university and going on to work with "either people with autism or disorders like alcoholism or eating disorders". Source: thisislondon.co.uk 28th December 2006

One of a trilogy, the novel The Return of Reginald Perrin, which served as the basis of the successful TV comedy series The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, has a footnote written by its author David Nobbs.

"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."

One reference relates to one of the key characters using his country cottage in Godalming as a ‘love nest’. Reggie Perrin’s boss at Sunshine Desserts was C.J., and in one scene broadcast in the second series he conned Perrin’s wife Elizabeth to visit him at the cottage with seduction in mind.

Perrin's long-suffering secretary Joan Greengross was also quoted as having worked at the 'Glycero Ointment Company, Godalming'.

"Baden-Powell (founder of the Scout Movement) gained a scholarship for admittance to Charterhouse School. Charterhouse School was in London when B-P first attended but whilst he was there it moved to Godalming, Surrey, a factor which had great influence in his later life. He was always eager to learn new skills. He played the piano and fiddle. He acted - and acted the clown too at times. He practised bricklaying, and it was whilst a scholar at Charterhouse that he began to exploit his interest in the arts of Scouting and woodcraft.

"Unofficially, in the woods around the school, B-P would stalk his Masters as well as catch and cook rabbits, being careful not to let the tell-tale smoke give his position away. B-P was certainly not a 'swot' at school, as his end of term reports revealed. One records: 'Mathematics - has to all intents given up the study', and another:
'French - could do well but has become very lazy, often sleeps in school'." Andrew Chalmers, Conway Scouts (USA) 22nd February 2007

"Later that year, in October l944, I started training as a physio at St. Thomas’s Hospital in London. Initially we were evacuated to Hydestile Hospital, near Godalming in Surrey, and billeted in nearby Milford. We were required to learn basic first aid so that in a real emergency we could be asked to work as nurses on the wards. Interestingly, the patients were exclusively from London and one of my memories is of hearing from Eastenders whose only previous time in the country was ‘opping in Kent each summer. We cycled everywhere from Milford and I remember one day in the bitterly cold winter of ‘44/45 cycling to the cinema in Godalming. There was no question in those days of wearing trousers, and we had bare legs instead of stockings as it was easier to chip the ice off bare legs!" Kate Adams. Bramley History Society. Archived at WW2 People's War www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar

Models tend to be famous for their faces, but Godalming salsa teacher and actor Renato de Fazio has such photogenic hands that you've more than likely seen them without realising it. His hands have modelled in numerous ads including shoots for Lucozade, Lynx, Carling, Nokia and Sure.

"The strangest job I've done was for PlayStation when I had to wear prosthetic pieces over my thumbs so they looked like I had been playing so much I had burned crosses into them. People would be amazed how long a shoot can take. When a company is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on an advertising campaign, they want to make sure everything is absolutely perfect. My mates do take the mick out of me sometimes. I'm used to it now." thesun.co.uk 7th April 2012

Modern technology is driving a Godalming resident to distraction. The Satellite Navigation system being used by drivers has Joyce Cook's isolated old cottage marked as the pinpoint for a group of 32 properties sharing the same postcode. Her property being the most isolated of the group is automatically selected by the SatNav used by drivers who seeing a single house don't bother to check the delivery address and knock on her door at all hours of day and night.

"The sat-nav system has become the bane of my life," said Cook. "My cottage, being quite old, is the reference point for the postcode shared by several people. The houses are quite far apart, which means drivers assume mine is their destination. It seems that when people engage their sat-nav they switch off their brains. Even if they've got the delivery address marked clearly in front of them they sail past. It seems I'm powerless. I can't find out who is responsible for deciding which house is made the pinpoint on satellite navigation systems."

Other drivers engaging SatNav but not their brains include those of large vehicles which become stuck in the narrow lane and have to wait hours before being towed out. Source: thislondon.co.uk 4th January 2007

Bluebells at Winkworth arboretum by Kevin Gorton

Evidence of the changing fortunes of paper millers in Godalming at the turn of the 18th century

Knight, John, Catshall (sic) Mill, Godalming, SUR. Papermaker. Bankrupt: 17 Jun 1786

Smith, George, Godalming, SUR. Papermaker. Bankrupt: 20 Aug 1803

Source: The British book trades, 1731-1806: a checklist of bankrupts

Britain was hit by 100 mph winds (18th January 2007) which resulted in 100 deaths mainly due to falling trees or the fabric of buildings. Thankfully the worst the Wey Valley suffered was damage to cars and buildings from fallen trees or wind damage to the buildings themselves. Godalming lost power for 5 hours with 100,000 people in the area enjoying an afternoon of relative peace and quiet . . .

Godalming was selected by the London 2012 Games organiser LOCOG (March 2012) as one of 11 locations in Surrey to be honoured with Olympic Flame torchbearers.

Having been carried through the villages of Shere and Gomshall the flame is to be driven to Godalming where a series of runners will carry it down Meadrow and on into the High Street. Next stop - Guildford.

"Tonight was Godalming night! One of those nights which promises to be good but ends up being a tad disappointing. Yeah OK the Stones won 1-0 but we played...erm...rubbish. Godalming's 'Famous Shed Ends Boys' weren't all they're cracked up to be either. There was me expecting a tuneful and enthusastic union of supporters of all ages. The reality of it seemed to be that they were just a bunch of teenage yobbos finding an excuse to make some noise. What made this obvious was that they decided to start insulting me and the Stones fans in general once they ran out of nice things to say about their own team..." Blogger Mike 31st January 2007

Three Godalming brothers have made military history (March 2007. Seventeen year old twins Callum and Scott together with their twenty year old brother Liam Macaulay signed up for 2 Regiment Army Air Corps - a UK Services first. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "To get two brothers joining up at the same time is pretty rare - but I've never come across this before."

In July 2006 a street in Godalming and the village of nearby Shere were transformed into a wintry Hollywood film set. Here are some of the reviews of The Holiday (Cameron Diaz & Kate Winslet).

"Meyers targets (and connects with) easy jokes that all age ranges can find humor in. She shoots scenic locations we dream of visiting, from England's rustic countryside to Los Angeles' palatial gated communities. Her characters hold dream jobs (Graham is a wealthy book editor, Miles composes film scores), and have problems that can be fixed in the allotted time frame. Holiday is a pleasant diversion, a comedy that's as adorable as it is comfortably predictable. "
Sean O'Connell contactmusic.com December 2006

"A leisurely feelgood rom-com from the director of ‘What Women Want’, it has a big-name ensemble cast and ticks all the transatlantic boxes. An American woman (Cameron Diaz) and a Brit (Kate Winslet) swap houses for Christmas, both smarting from break-ups. While one gets Jude Law knocking on the door of a quaint Surrey cottage, the other finds Jack Black buzzing at the Hollywood mansion gates." Anna Smith Time Out December 2006

"No amount of ironic gift wrapping can conceal the triteness within, in this double-plotted festive chick flick that is too long by half, and too cloyingly sweet to be healthy." Anton Bitel Film 4 December 2006


“So today Lord H has been to church on his own, doing server duties for the new priest - who apparently was more nervous than a man of his age really ought to be in a new church. I do realise that St Peter's (Hascombe) does have a rebellious reputation in the diocese (dark mutterings of bloody St Peter's, always stirring up trouble have been heard in secluded corners at synods ...), but what did he think the congregation were going to do? Riot? Tear him from the altar and pin him to the vestry door as an example? Throw pew bibles if the sermon was bad? Hascombe isn't exactly a hotbed of positive action.

"Lord H thinks they'll get used to him in the end though and, besides, what the priest does or wants the congregation to do has never swayed the church before. This is the country, not the town. St Peter's is much like the London Symphony Orchestra who, as an old friend who used to play violin for them once told me, inevitably perform the music on the night in the same way they've always done it, no matter what the conductor is doing or what they've pretended to do during rehearsals." Blogger Anne Brooke 4th February 2007

"Sounds like Godalming's web masters have done their homework on what's important to fans, it's the only Club website I seen with a built in Pub Guide." Paul Gooner referring to Godalming Town Football Club. Dartford FC Unofficial Discussion Site 11th March 2007

The works Cooper team had put in hours and hours of work on their racing cars, and they were in tip-top shape for the race.

"Team boss John Cooper was very pleased with the work and invited the whole team down to their local pub (”The Three-Wheeled BRM” in Byfleet, Surrey) for free drinks. Trouble was, the team had forgotten to fill up their transport truck with fuel, and the local petrol station was closed. Half a bottle of Jack Daniels in the fuel tank got the transport truck spluttering as far as Godalming, but that was it. The rest of their weekend was spent in a field listening to members of Genesis in a nearby barn, practising 'Watcher of the Skies' 92 times throughout the weekend." Groundhog Grand Prix Legends Hype 24th March 2007

The owners of a Godalming house were shocked by the gruesome discovery (March 2007) made by workmen who were excavating drainage works at their home. An ancient skeleton, initially believed by archaelogists brought in by police to investigate to date back to Saxon times, was unearthed in the grounds of Priory Orchard in Station Road. Further digging unearthed another skull and a prehistoric flint which suggests that the find is of a burial site dating back perhaps even further. The site has been declared of archaelogical interest to allow further investigation.

In the country we lived in Well Lane (Witley, near Godalming), and had a well at the front for drinking water - you had to get it up with a bucket - and a well in the back garden, which was rain water for all the washing. (Later when I had yellow jaundice it was put down to the water from these wells perhaps being contaminated by rats.)

"My mother had to fill oil lamps as we had no electricity, the coalman delivered this. The radio worked by "accumulator" - a man came on Mondays to bring the recharged one back and take the one we,d been using to recharge. It cost sixpence (in old money) a week.

"Cooking was by coal or wood range and you lit a fire under the copper to heat the water for washing the clothes. My mother had a 'modern' mangle, to squeeze the water out, which folded down and you then used it for a table. The rooms were either heated by a fireplace or sometimes oil 'Valour' stoves. The bedrooms in winter were freezing!

"Worst of all was the outside loo across the back yard - a huge bucket under a wooden bench with a hole in it. Can you imagine in winter, snow or pouring rain, not to mention spiders? We used to kick the side to frighten them. Men would come from the council, I guess, to empty them once a week in the middle of the night.(What a job!)

"I went to school in Witley, six of us had to walk nearly three miles every day and the same to come home, but we were never late and remained very healthy! Of course in the country, we all had gardens where everyone grew beautiful vegetables and fruits and a neighbour had chickens, so we had eggs and the odd tough chicken, and rabbits etc. .

"My mother would give a bar of soap to a neighbour in exchange for a dress for me which she would alter, or sometimes some plums and apples. I remember my mother coming home from Godalming one day very excited, when she'd been able to get a small bottle of banana essence - as we couldn't get bananas! I can't remember what she put it in though. We had dried egg mix and dried milk.

"I remember another time she came home and said there was a queue at the wool shop,so she stopped to see what it was and she got eight ounces of dark brown wool which I made into a cardigan. Dad would make thumb mats out of a sack and cut old trousers and jackets into little strips and thread them into the sacking - very smart!

"While at the school one day, we were doing lessons and a Doodle Bug went over; the other children didn't know what it was, but YOU NEVER FORGET THAT SOUND! Before I knew it I was under the teacher's desk, the only 'table-like' structure in the room! The Doodle Bug had stopped and come down a quarter of a mile from the school.

"Not far from Witley School on Milford Common there was a big army camp, mostly Canadian soldiers. Each Christmas they would have our school up and give us a wonderful Christmas party. They made each child a toy, mostly wooden, and put on a lovely tea.We found it strange because we always had the cakes first!...then were given sandwiches.

"Where we lived at the bottom of the lane was a farm. The farmer was the father of two of our school friends and he often had German prisoners of war to help with potato picking and sawing wood.These men would collect hazel wood (twigs I suppose) from the copse nearby and make the women of the village baskets." Daphne Osborne 2004 WW2 People's War. bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar

We ended up in Godalming. I've no idea why. Sights ranged from the picturesque – a baby swan, for example - to the grim, in particular a creepy cottage which had the phrase 'this house is lived in' scrawled on the shutters. Brr." Blogger Rhodri Marsden 14th May 2007

Driving into the Surrey village of Wonersh (near Godalming), you have to wonder if you've accidentally strayed onto the set of a Hugh Grant film where there's a wedding every day, a 4x4 in every drive and the floppy-fringed hero always ends up getting the girl of his dreams. It's a postcard-perfect community, and in the heart of it there is, just as you would expect, an excellent village store.

"It hasn't always been this way, though. Four years ago the store was closed and the premises in a state of disrepair, with the owner planning to sell the building to developers. Faced with a trek into the nearest large town, Godalming, for their everyday grocery supplies, the residents of Wonersh took matters into their own hands and decided that if the shop was for sale, well, they would buy it themselves.

"The purchase was finally completed with some very sympathetic support from Waverley Borough Council, who pushed for and obtained a legal ruling which required the present owner to sell the property to the village for redevelopment as a community store, rather than the apartments he would have preferred. "I'm told it was the first time a compulsory purchase order had been issued to save a local shop," says Kalpesh, the retailer the village chose to run the shop." Source: convenience-store.co.uk 18th May 2007

"Were you as amazed as I was to learn that Julius Caesar played for Surrey?" Michael Owen.

"I don't know the origins of that Caesar family but Julius, like his father (Benjamin Julius) and elder brother (Benjamin Bowles), was born at Godalming in Surrey.

"A right-handed batsman, he appeared in 194 first-class/great matches between 1849 and 1867, including 121 for Surrey and 33 for various England Elevens, scoring 4879 runs, average 15.78, the highest of his three hundreds being 132 not out. He took 13 wickets at 23.62 bowling round-arm fast, and held 181 catches." Bill Frindall. BBC Test Match Statistician. 31st May 2007

Godalming businesses have fears (May 2007) of a retail recession in the town and the chamber of commerce has called for a radical review to halt the decline.

“I would hate to see Godalming change. We are not trying to change the idea of Godalming,” Sarah Macallister, chamber secretary, said. “But something has to be done to help retailers. More and more shops are shutting down. People don’t want to take on the side road stores because people won’t know they are there and they just can’t afford the High Street rents.”

The chamber is hoping to establish more 'destination' stores in the town and discourage the growing tide of charity shops by establishing a policy of 'area of restraint' Source: Surrey Advertiser 25th May 2007

Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s 2001 Role Play, part of the Damsels in Distress trilogy, features a character who hails from Godalming. The play follows farcical events at a dinner party at which the lead characters’ parents are guests, and the host’s ‘upper-crust mother’ is a woman from Godalming who is fond of the odd tipple.

“Enter the fond Yorkshire father, unforgivingly racist beneath his jolly jokes, with the dippy mother tagging daintily behind; enter the Godalming lush all but absolutely fab.” Jeremy Kingston, Times 6th September 2001

“The cast is the same, too. Justin and Julie-Ann (Bill Champion, Saskia Butler), both in computers, have invited their prospective in-laws to announce their engagement. He is serious, kind, eager to please, anxious: when you see his ghastly mother from Godalming (Jacqueline King), you know he has plenty to be anxious about.” John Peter, Sunday Times 16th September 2001

"Great excitement last night! Godalming is finally famous, hurrah!! We switched on "Location, Location, Location" on TV (not something we watch often, but it just happened to be on) and there was Godalming - in the screen-flesh! Not only that, but the couple in question were looking at a house virtually opposite our road. I kept waving at the traffic coming out of the junction in the hope that one of them might be us, but it never was. Waving to oneself on TV would have been the ultimate in crazed sadness. I do understand that.

"The programme also gave some suitable shots of middle-class Surrey enjoying their constitutionals, so it was lovely to scream at places we knew. Gods, but we really have to get out more. Anyway, the upshot was that the couple bought the house." Blogger: Anne Brooke 19th July 2007

House prices in Northern Ireland are the fastest growing in the UK, according to Halifax. Godalming and Slough were the only price inflated towns named in the Halifax Price Index (2007 second quarter) that weren't in Ulster. Source: moneynews.co.uk 23rd July 2007

"With the torrential downpours last Friday (20th July 2007), it was bound to be busy. Within a few minutes of arriving at Godalming’s ambulance base, the paramedics received a call – a van stuck under a tree in Bramley.

"Technicians Adam Blackshaw and Rory McCallum, whose 12-hour shift began at 7am, were on their way immediately. “It’s a typical day for this kind of accident,” Adam said. A hefty tree fallen in the middle of Iron Lane prevented the ambulance from getting through. They searched for trapped passengers but there was no sign of any vehicle.

"The police and fire crews closed the road and the ambulance headed for base. En-route, they were redirected to a ‘coverpoint’ towards Aldershot, where crews wait for incidents in busy periods.

As the ambulance left Aldershot for Camberley, Rory and Adam received another red alert to help an 88-year-old woman with breathing difficulties. This was cancelled when another paramedic dealt with it. Adam and Rory then helped a multiple sclerosis patient with a dislocated jaw. They hoisted her up from her wheelchair and took her to Frimley Park Hospital. Before long they returned to the hospital with another patient with a urinary infection.

Amid the uncertainty surrounding healthcare changes, Adam and Rory do not see their roles altering rapidly but welcome the opportunity to learn new skills.

“The public is worried about what’s going to happen,” Adam said. “That’s the feeling we get from patients.”  

"They were then alerted to someone with breathing difficulties in Farnborough. The satisfaction they get from the job is evident from the way they treat the patients. “I absolutely love my job,” Rory said. “It’s the best kept secret. Source: Surrey Advertiser 27th July 2007

Busbridge Infant School in Godalming was awarded (July 2007) a prestigious Gold Standard Award for their school grounds from South and South East in Bloom.

Two tortoises stolen from a house in Enton near Godalming (July 2011) were returned to their owner after police responded to reports that they were being touted for sale in a local pub. The pair had lived at the Godalming home for 45 years.

Judges in the 2007 Waverley Design Awards selected a number of Godalming's new buildings and projects as outstanding examples of design.

The independent learning centre and sports centre at Godalming College were judged to be 'good examples of contemporary design' and the extension to the rear of the town's St Peter and St Paul's church was commended for its 'great quirky details'.

Grey Lea House, a new build in Farncombe that was featured (2007) in Channel Four's series Grand Designs was highly commended for sustainable techniques incorporated by the owners. MORE HERE

A 6ft (1.8m) cardboard figure of local police officers has been stolen (August 2007) from inside the Green Lane Co-op store in Farncombe. The life-size cut-out depicting PC Jim Lavery and PCSO Nicole Pearce was installed as a theft deterrent in the shop. Two teenage girls are helping the police with their enquiries. The figure is however still missing . . .

Bagel-mad Godalming mother of two was appointed (July 2011) 'Head of Taste' by the New York Bakery Company after a nationwide competition. Julie Booth, who will assess flavour and texture of hundreds of bagels a week, has had her taste buds insured for £5m.

Households in Waverley Borough were rated in a 2011 report as some of the thriftiest in the country. Savings have averaged £14,000 since 2009 compared to only £750 in London boroughs.

And Godalming Waitrose launched a car-sharing scheme for staff in 2011. "We're looking to create a 'green travel plan', and while it is very much in its infancy at the moment, the aim is that staff will be able to use it to help them get to work in a more green way," said Liam Mooney, a retail manager. "If they can halve their travel costs by coming together and sharing, then it's definitely worth it." getsurrey.co.uk 19th August 2011

Two witnesses reported (August 2007) to a UFO research site the sighting of "a group of around 9-10 round orange lights with a further one following slightly behind" passing through the night sky over Farncombe.

One of the witnesses said that the lights were travelling at the speed of a slow plane and added: "We were assuming it was military aircraft using different lights until it dawned upon us both there was no noise at all and it was a still night with little cloud. Just before the objects disappeared a passenger aircraft flew very closely to these objects the passenger plane engines were very loud and distinctive and confirmed the silence of the strange orange objects passing." Source: HBCC UFO Research 8th August 2007

Godalming's Royal Mail sorting office was selected (July 2011) to abandon the use of bicycles in
favour of two-person teams working from vans. The scheme is intended to improve efficiency as part of the company's modernisation programme, but is proving controversial.

"Our postmen here are very good. They're a first class service and they're going to get rid of them," said Godalming resident Roger Keane. "They're out in all weathers, and the only time we couldn't get a delivery was during the heavy snow. Many organisations are now using pedal cycles as a quick and cheap method of transport.

"The police, local emergency ambulance services, St John Ambulance and even fire prevention officers from local fire brigades have all greatly expanded their use of cycles, both as a fuel saving method and a way of providing a good service. A van will last about three years before it is replaced. It also has to be insured and will use expensive fuel." getsurrey.co.uk 6th July 2011

Surrey Police use the rolling fields and woodland around Witley Farm (GR: SU918367) near Brook for search exercises as part of the force's ongoing training in counter terrorism. The annual courses run by the Police National Search Centre put officers through their paces using a combined team of police and army instructors. The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford also provides their facilities to the team to train in building search techniques. Source: surrey.police.uk 14th August 2007

Godalming school Prior's Field pupils excelled at their GCSE exams (2007) but none more so than three sets of twins. The twins, Sarah and Laura Keeble, Erin and Zoe Hackett and Joanna and Alice Moore scored a total of 58 A* and A grades between them.

In 1901 the wealthy chairman of the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, where the Titanic was built, placed an order with Rolls Royce to build a car to his specifications. Lord Pirrie, who had a home at Witley Park in Godalming, had the Rolls Royce Titanic Ghost built for the City of Belfast, where he was also the Mayor, to be used for ceremonial use.

When Pirrie died in 1924 the car passed to his brother-in-law the honourable Alexander Montgomery Carlisle, the chief designer at Harland and Wolff, who had the car body converted to a cabriolet. The car later became converted to an ambulance before sadly falling from grace to become a breakdown truck. Happily in 2000 the car was restored back to its original full ceremonial glory. Source: Blogger Caster ofncommunity.com 27th August 2007

Inspired by the success of the Keeping Memories Alive project started in 2006 by residents in Aaron's Hill and Ockford Ridge, the leaders of the project organised a heritage day (July 2007) to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the two estates. The event was themed to the 1930s and 40s and involved dressing for the era with food and activities reflecting the times. Keeping Memories Alive on the estates has so far resulted in a collection of 150 photographs with interviews preserving details of life at the time for posterity.

Guildford Rugby Club grounds off Godalming's Meadrow near Broadwater Lake have been saved (September 2007) from the bulldozer as plans to site a new leisure centre for Godalming there have been scrapped. Instead Waverley Council will build the new facility on land adjacent to the existing centre.

In the early days of British cinema it was common for film showings to tour the country carrying their projection equipment with them. One such entrepreneur was Edward Turner who from 1896 to 1926 provided just such a pioneering service. Here is his account of an 1896 local showing.

"For our first display we hired the hall adjoining the Constitutional Club, Guildford, from Monday, November 16, 1896, our takings that night being £8 1s 1d. the intervening days up to Friday, November 20, were used in posting our bills and distributing handbills from door to door at Godalming, ready for the show to be given there on that night.

"The display was duly given, our receipts being £7 4s 6d. The show went well and we were told that if we stayed and gave another show on the following night, Saturday, we would do well. We returned to our diggings, and there I found a telegram awaiting me, telling me of the arrival that night of a new addition to my family - a bonny girl - born at 8.30, whilst I was actually showing our films in the Public Hall, Godalming.

"I believe the name of Godalming means “The Gift of God,” and so this child of mine makes it impossible for me to forget my entry into the kinema world; and she can truly be described as a child of the kinema. All her life since leaving school has been spent in the industry, and she, with her husband, now are in charge of a very sucessful little kinema in the country.

"So we thought our luck was in, and we decided to stay another night to celebrate the event - but how to let the public know? Mr. Walker, always a man of brains, and being handy with paper and scissors, cut out in white letters the necessary announcement, and I next morning made a frame 3 ft. wide and 12 ft. long, with handles at each end, covered it with turkey red, pasted on the white letters, and there was our advert. ready. I got two lads to carry it about the streets, telling them to go anywhere where people were to be found.

"A two o’clock, while standing outside the hall, we heard strains of a band playing the “Dead March in Saul” - it was a military funeral; it passed by us - first the band, then the body, the mourners walking behind - and directly behind them as part of the procession were our two lads and our advertisement!

"Nothing could be done without creating a scene, so we let them pass on. Later, in very cross tones, I asked them why they had done such a thing, and their reply was “you told us to go where people would see your notice, and everyone in Godalming has seen it now”.

"Anyway, we took £7 that night!" Source: The Bioscope 23rd September 2007

Unpaid workers from the Surrey Probation Service, labouring to complete community punishment orders, have been (2007) part of the team that has successfully transformed Eashing cemetery at Ockford Ridge. Long the target of vandalism and antisocial behaviour the cemetery has been cleared of graffiti and debris, has had undergrowth cleared and will benefit from a dusk to dawn closing.

Thieves targeting buildings with roofs of lead stripped St Mary's Church (September 2007) in the dead of night. The church in Franklyn Road at Ockford Ridge is just of one of many buildings - both ancient and modern - that are being targeted locally by bold thieves. The local police report that some of the larger thefts, which require considerable effort and vehicles of some size to achieve, are taking place during daylight hours with members of the public wrongly assuming that the men on the roof are contractors. One theft resulted in 270 feet (82m) of lead being removed, with the current high price of the metal on world markets driving the greed of the thieves.

The company that put Godalming on the map for being the first town in the world to provide public electricity celebrated its 160th anniversary in 2007. The installation in 1881 of a Siemens hydroelectric generator powered by the River Wey provided electricity for public street lamps and a few buildings. Siemens today brag that this world-first was of course carbon neutral.

When demand for wooden walking sticks was at its zenith Chiddingfold was one of the country's major manufacturing areas. From the 1850s businesses in the village were turning out thousands of walking aids with customers worldwide banging on their doors. Walking sticks, swagger sticks, crutches and shillelaghs made in the Chiddingfold factories have been collected together and are on display in a special exhibition in The Banking House on the village green.

Godalming ranks within the top 20 towns (2007) in the UK for home shopping according to marketing analysts Experian. Representing a jump of 16 places from last year, residents in the town apparently spent an average of £90 over the last year on goods and services through the web and mail order. Sunningdale in Berkshire came top with a spend of £137.

Two Godalming residents, who are campaigning for local retailers to cease handing out plastic bags, have secured backing (October 2007) from the local council by way of a small £250 grant for Plastic Bag-Free Godalming.

There are 1,031 council owned properties (2007) in Godalming and neighbouring Farncombe. Waverley Borough Council estimate that by 2010 50% of these will be "non-decent" due to a shortfall in funding. The Government's standard of a "decent home" is that it must meet specific criteria including having bathrooms, kitchens, windows, doors, electrics and central heating all in reasonable repair and age.

A cat that was struck by a car in Godalming without doubt used one of its nine lives in the process. The motorist stopped to see what had happened to the cat but not being able to locate it continued on his journey. Upon reaching his destination 70 miles away on the south coast loud miaowing noises gave away the hiding place of the cat which had become wedged behind the grill in front of the engine for the duration of the journey. The cat was returned to its owners by the RSPCA who manage to trace them through the cat's microchip. Source: bbc.co.uk 20th November 2007

"Private vocabularies are always fun. This week I met a young man, the nephew of a friend, who is a pupil at Charterhouse school in Godalming, Surrey, which started life in London in 1611. He told me that all teachers there are known as "beaks", which is not very surprising. Classes are more puzzlingly "hashes", and homework is "banco". Breakfast and lunch are, quaintly, called "breakfast" and "lunch", although dinner is known as "home bill" because in the distant past the first two meals were included in the fees, but supper was charged extra. Terms are known as "quarters", even though there are three of them. The term after Christmas is known as "the long quarter" even though it is the shortest. I hope that is clear." Simon Hoggart in Guardian Unlimited 15th December 2007

Surrey Fire and Rescue service have released (January 2008) data showing that some of Godalming's surrounding communities are waiting up to 16 minutes for appliance attendance. The Service is undertaking a review to improve response times.

The official launch of the confederation of Godalming Schools was held in January 2008. Part of the Extended services agenda launched by the Government the scheme links all 16 state schools in Godalming to pool resources and which is envisaged will bring benefits by providing better extra-curricular activities and support to parents and carers.

On the Portsmouth Road (A3100) between Godalming and Milford is The Refectory. Built in the 18th century and once a fine mansion owned by the Snyers family who were antique dealers, the house was bought in the 1990s and converted into a pub and restaurant. Until the end of 2007 the Refectory was in the hands of the Chef & Brewer chain but has now been acquired by the Blubeckers group and reopened (2008) under their brand.

The building, which in its heyday under private ownership was crammed full of fine antique English furniture and superlative early clocks, has had retained its original oak beams and three large fireplaces. An original traditional store on mushroomed feet stands in the grounds.

Godalming estate agents Hampton International employed (January 2008) an ancient technique for ridding their High Street building of unwanted visitors. The continual bombardment of droppings by pigeons on visitors browsing their windows had the response of a call to Tony the Harris Hawk. Handler Andy Dobbs released his deadly hunter to clear the building of pigeons whilst contractors installed anti-bird spikes along ledges and the roof line to finally rid the company of feathered harassment.

The long awaited review by Royal Mail of all of its post offices nationwide has brought good news to Godalming. All nine branches in the Godalming area including Farncombe have been spared (January 2008) from the threat of closure. The review was the result of
the post office network's massive and sustained losses with outlets in rural areas particularly targeted, and it is these areas where local people are more reliant. However Tilford where the two River Weys join together looks set for closure.

The post office at Milford has been assured a future with plans confirmed (April 2008) to incorporate it into a major housing project for the village.

Cross-country running is alive and well in the valley. Three members of The Spartans tackled (February 2008) the Punchbowl 30, an off-road event covering 30 miles (48km) with the start line in Witley near Godalming. The run, described as being "in ideal sunny conditions but with a variety of underfoot conditions from near perfect to almost impassable with a total of 860m of climbing", took the lead Spartan six hours and 10 minutes to complete. Source:thecomet.net 14th February 2008.

"A leisurely start to the day, followed by a quiet hour in the Godalming Quakers service. Sometimes it's lovely to relax into silence and have a definite period of thinking/meditation. Words can be such a barrier on occasions. And it's nice to sit while the silence flows by. It's funny but it does have different colours and stages. Like a river. Sometimes it's stretched thin and you can barely see it, and sometimes, it's like a great flood of gold, and there's no rhyme nor reason as to which it might be at any given time. Very strange.

"Anyway, before I get too carried away with it all, I must say that I do wish they'd make the benches more comfortable. Next time (and now I suspect there probably will be a next time, sometime) I'll sit at the back where the wall is. And maybe take a cushion." Blogger: Anne Brooke 20th April 2008

The Woolworths store in Godalming High Street has installed (February 2008) a system that has proven to confound even the most determined of thieves. Having suffered a number of out-of-hours break ins the shop has activated Fog Bandits and Smoke Cloaks which emit dense clouds of smoke when triggered. Not one of the 100 stores across the country fitted with the devices has suffered from successful robberies since endorsing the scheme. Quite simply the intruders are completely swamped with dense smoke within six seconds of breaking in and have no recourse other than to immediately leave again.

The monthly Farmers' Market at Secrett's Farm in Milford celebrated its 100th market in February 2008. One of the poineering schemes in the country when it launched in 1999 the market now has 50 local producers displaying their wares and has twice been awarded Best Farmers' Market in the South East. The market is held on the third Sunday of every month.

Godalming resident Neil Hunter, a diabetic, was a member of the team that successfully rowed 2,935 miles (4,723km) across the Atlantic in competition with 20 other crews. The two-man crew rowed non-stop for more than two months working in two hours on two hours off shifts. They made landfall on the Caribbean island of Antigua in February 2008. Hunter had to be monitored for his insulin dependent diabetes throughout using state-of-the-art computer equipment. The pair raised funds for Diabetes UK.

Allotments that were named after a local men's organisation were the subject of heated debate. Members of the Farncombe and District Working Men's Allotment Association (DWMAA) were balloted on a proposal to change the name by dropping the reference to 'working men' to provide recognition for the changed profile of members since the association was established in 1919. On one of the DWMAA sites at More Circle, of the 63 allotments 32 are held by women, 10 by couples and 21 by men, with three of these retired. Put to the vote 52 members were in favour and 59 against. Who said the English aren't still fundamentally traditionalists? Source: Surrey Advertiser 29th February 2008

South West Surrey Jeremy Hunt has been voted the most fanciable MP 2008 by his fellow Members of Parliament. The annual poll by Sky News rated the 41-year-old shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport above other notables including Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.

Godalming author Anne Brooke has just had her fourth novel published (2008). Thorn in the Flesh (Goldenford Publishers) is a pyschological thriller set in Godalming and Guildford and tells the tale of a university lecturer who having been attacked and left for dead tries to piece her life back together. Before publication the novel was longlisted for the 2006 Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger Awards. As well as writing Brooke also finds time to work for Student Care Services at Guildford University.

Sixth form students from Godalming College picked up accolades for their debating skills in the regional final of the Institute of Ideas and Pfizer Debating Matters (1) competition (March 2008). The respected competition resulted in one student, Stephen Clarke, being awarded third best individual prize for his skilful debating on complimentary medicine in the NHS and Premiership footballers pay. Colleague Sarah Asbrey received an honourable mention for her arguing skills over whether the BBC should not be publicly funded.

(1) Institute of Ideas evolved from debating initiatives conducted by the former Living Marxism magazine and champions the freedom for lively and challenging debate. Pfizer is the world's largest biomedical and pharmaceutical company with a $48b (£23b) turnover. Debating Matters is the jointly promoted competition.

The national press in 1929 reported the story of a gardener in a Godalming orchard getting the fright of his life. About to go about his business one morning he was confronted by an elephant that had found its way in overnight and was busy gorging itself on the abundant fruit. 'Babe' the elephant had escaped the previous day from a travelling zoo that had decamped in the town and was eventually reunited with its relieved keeper.

Godalming College received the keys to its new state-of-the-art Performing Arts Centre in November 2007. The facility includes six music practice rooms, a music performance hall, galleried drama studio and a recording studio. Comedian and writer Ben Elton was invited to perform the official opening (March 2008). As a former student in the 1970s, when the college was a grammar school, Elton was a budding actor. After touring the new facilities which cost £2.7m to build, he commented: "How wonderful to see a school I love blossom into such an amazing environment."

Elton recalled his involvement in a production of Waiting for Godot whilst a student in Manchester which featured a urinating tree. His advice to Godalming College students: "I Don't encourage any students to wee on the floors, but remember that this should be a living, breathing building." Source: Surrey Advertiser 21st March 2008

Godalming College received the official thumbs up after Ofsted inspectors awarded (July 2008) the highest grading in all areas rating the college as 'outstanding'.

The college was awarded with reaccreditation to the Investors in People standard in March 2009. Accreditation recognises commitment to improving the management and development of its teachers and support teams. The college was first awarded the standard in 1993.

"Reshad’s activity in her bedroom in Godalming, Surrey, echoes that of millions of girls around the world. New research suggests it is time to rethink the stereotypical net user as a pasty-faced male geek in Joe 90 specs, or the furtive spotty teen looking for zeppelin breasts online. The most prolific net users are now girls and young women.

"When 12-year-old Clover Reshad gets home from school, she will have something to eat and say hello to her dog Hector. She might shout at her annoying brother and watch some television, then she will head upstairs to her bedroom to do her homework. This is when the computer goes on.

“I use the computer a lot," said Reshad. "At least a couple of days a week to help with my homework and I keep an eye on [the social networking sites] Bebo and Facebook every day to see who’s on it. I’ll check shops to see if I can buy things I want cheaper online or to make sure they have something in my size. I MSN [instant message] my friends. The computer also makes it easy to stay in touch with my dad because he lives in Los Angeles.”

"Reshad sees her activity as no different from using a mobile phone or television. It is intrinsic to her life and friendships. “There are a few girls at school who don’t use Bebo and Facebook but it’s not because they don’t want to - it’s because their parents won’t let them,” she said. “I do feel sorry for them.” Source: timesonline.co.uk 9th March 2008

This from from a Godalming Quakers blogger
describing a visit from Prior's Field School pupils.

"We just reduced the average age of attendance at Godalming Meeting for Worship by about 50 years with a visit this morning from Prior's Field School RS students. They joined us for full Meeting, with a discussion afterwards on what it felt like. We put the words they used on an old blackboard.

"The teachers were anxious the students might not get into it, and it did take a moment for some of them. But they held the silence very well, and seemed to receive all the Ministry in good spirit. They said it was relaxing, friendly, spiritual, interesting and effective. I’d been concerned we might come across as introspective, stuck in our ways, historic relics. But I really enjoyed the Friends’ Ministry that morning, their enthusiastic turn-out on a Monday morning, even getting time off work and coming from other towns. There was a great feeling afterwards.

"The teachers spoke of the need for space for quiet reflection in the busy lives of young people, and the students all said they thought they should do something like this anywhere from once a month to every week. But we gained just as much from it, with the affirmation that our practice, simple and radical as we know it to be, is also indeed contempory." Blogger: William Heath 17th March 2008

" I spent the afternoon today at Winkworth Arboretum near Godalming in deepest Surrey where the pink "azalea steps" have to be the prime attraction ..... it is definitely a very lovely and peaceful place and far away from sun-worshipping crowds. Dobry vecer (1)" Blogger: Cosmo Kris 11th May 2008

(1) 'dobry vecer' - Slovak: 'good evening')

British Telecom (BT) has submitted (May 2008) a list of payphones that it intends to take out of service due to them no longer being financially viable. Citing 99% of homes having a landline and a 85% having a mobile phone as the cause, many of the street phones are the traditional red boxes. The council fearful that the loss of the traditional boxes will have a negative impact on the local heritage has canvassed public opinion before responding to BT.

Phones for removal in Godalming include those in Lower Eashing; Hydestile; Tuesley Lane; rear of Milford Hospital and Meadrow.

The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) is relocating (May 2008) its offices from London to Godalming. The move, which is said to have been influenced by dwindling membership, will combine its trading and charity arms. LACS had 18,000 members before the Hunting Act, for which it had campaigned vigorously to ban fox hunting, was written into law. Many members left the organisation afterwards feeling that their job was done, with membership levels now around 4,500.

As the economy continues to tighten and food and fuel costs spiral local residents are resorting to more traditional methods for supporting their families. Samantha Hayward is a part-time sales administrator and single parent who lives in Godalming, Surrey with her seven-year-old daughter. She is finding she has to rely more on homemade food and her allotment to feed herself and her daughter as prices rise.

"I've had an allotment for a few years, but it's been a bit of a hobby until this year. Now I'm a lot more conscious: right, that's our salad. That's our salad. Those are our green vegetables. It's brilliant because there are absolutely no food miles - the allotment is at the end of my garden - and I only pick what I use so I'm not throwing anything away."

"Salad is my biggest allotment success at the moment. My cos lettuces are the best ever, and really easy to grow. In Sainsbury's a lettuce is £1.12, but I paid £1.98 for a packet of about 400 seeds, and about 80 or 90 of those will germinate. There's no comparison."

"I used to try to buy organic, when my partner was still with me. Now that money and cost is so much of an issue, my mind set hasn't changed, but if you look at the supermarket shelves it's horrendous. I'm still quite firm about having free range eggs - you have to draw the line somewhere - but I do things like make my own mayonnaise now. I'm learning so many new skills." Source: Guardian Unlimited 29th May 2008

"The whole of Surrey descends on Withies Inn (Compton near Godalming) when the sun comes out. The reason: it has one of the prettiest beer gardens in the county. A huge willow dominates one corner; in another, an ivy-crowned pergola offers shelter to rows of red-and-white check-covered tables. Wallflowers spill from window boxes, cream and black umbrellas advertise Lanson Champagne and great gnarled beech benches have more than enough bottom space for the sort of puffed-out colonels who seem to frequent the place. (Their wives carry cushions from the car to protect themselves from splinters.)

"They come here for the drama as much as for the delphiniums. As elegantly dressed waiters (more Hardy Amies than Ozwald Boateng) fluster about the garden with trays of Pimms (with cocktail umbrellas and cherries on sticks), the punters cry out: "More ice, more ice." The wives totter inside in their espadrilles to settle the bill. The men have gone past the age of dealing with money. Inside, it is equally old-fashioned. The ceilings are low, the lights are dim and the red velvet banquettes create a feeling of faded grandeur. The bar is simple and long, with no clutter: not a whiff of a crisp packet or a tatty beer mat. As all locals know, the staff won't put up with too much nonsense from the punters here. This pub, some might recall, once turned away Bing Crosby." Source: Belinda Richardson - telegraph.co.uk 3rd June 2006

The BBC Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans, in the process of moving house (June 2008) from Hascombe near Godalming, announced on air that he had accidently donated a valuable Damien Hirst print worth over £7,000 to a charity shop in the town.

"I've been moving house recently. Some of the stuff goes in boxes to stay and some to go," said Evans. "We took all the pictures down. In one of the boxes to go was a Damien Hirst print signed by Damien Hirst. I just found out today. It's somewhere in a charity shop in Godalming."

It would seem that Evan's driver in error picked up the wrong box and dutifully delivered it, along with others that were meant to go, to charity shops in Godalming.

His driver, who had revisited charity shops in the town to try and find the 'dot picture' said: "I'm not a Damien Hirst fan. I know he does things that involve stuffing sheep. I can go back there to see if it's around... but now you've gone on air they'll be inundated." Source: bbc.co.uk 11th June 2008

In a jolly jape staff at the Help the Aged charity shop in the town painted their own version of the missing picture complete with different coloured dots and put it on display alongside a sales ticket that read: 'Lovely Damien Hirst £10,000'

"We've had quite a fun morning," said shop assistant Rachael Turvey. "A lot of strangers have come in and skulked around looking at the pictures. One lady asked if we had any pictures with dots stored out at the back." Source: Surrey Advertiser 13th June 2008

The village fountain in Hascombe, near Godalming, was adopted by the village (2008) for a well-dressing ceremony lead by the local rector. The fountain, which was built in 1877 and from which pure spring water flows, was decorated with flowers as part of Festival of Water Weekend. Over £1,000 was raised in the village for donation to build a well in Burkina Faso.

"I was just stood in my kitchen making a coffee, and I happened to glance out the window as you do and WHAT DID I SEE? There is a man outside jet washing people's wheelie bins!!!!! Fair play to him though as it probably earns him a few quid. Now I know Godalming is meant to be quite a posh town but has it really got to the point now where the residents are employing someone to clean their dustbins. I can honestly say I have truly seen it all now." Blogger: Brian Roberts 17th June 2008

The Star public house in Church Street Godalming has been voted CAMRA Surrey/Sussex cider pub 2008. The pub has an extensive range of real and bottled ciders and perries with 50 different varieties of cider stocked over the first eight months of the year.

Godalming Museum was officially reopened (January 2009) after a refurbishment to raise its profile in the town. The museum, which provides an invaluable information resource into the life and history of the town, has long suffered from a low visitor visibility as, with the exception of a small front entrance, it lacks street level frontage to the High Street. The refurbishment highlights the museum at first floor level and saw the installation of a new mosaic created by Budd Mosaics in the front entrance. Budd Mosaics is England's oldest surviving mosiac creators having been established in 1963.

A development in the Godalming Conservation Area was narrowly voted in by planning officers (January 2009). The application provides for the demolition of the 1930s rear extension to the Conservative Club in Wharf Street and erect a block of ‘affordable housing’ flats in the rear garden. An old sycamore tree will be removed although the developers have said that they will replace it. The Conservative Club main building with its distinctive gable was built in Edwardian times and will be retained as part of the development.

A 'daring robbery' of Godalming Bank took place in 1856 in which £290 and eight shillings in silver coins were stolen from the tilll. Godalming Bank was in the building now occupied by Lloyds TSB.

"The robbers effected an entrance by boring a hole in the shutters of a side window looking into George Street by which means they managed to open the window, enter and forcibly break open a till on the counter where the money was kept." West Sussex Gazette January 1st 1857

"I traveled up to Godalming to go job hunting. I'll tell you what, there truly is a credit crunch!

"I went into every big shop which hires more than three employees, and for the first time I heard the words, "we have a recruitment ban". Everywhere was laying people off, shutting down, or being forced to slash it's costs through other means. It was quite interesting to feel the credit crisis at a personal level." Blogger: The Life of Change 17th September 2008

Catteshall Manor in Godalming was invaded by a flurry of teenagers all dressed in pink (September 2008) attending the Queen of Teen Awards. The event hosted by The Book People who are HQ'd at the manor was an unabashed celebration of teenage fiction and was attended by the teenagers' top authors.

"I have never seen three pink limousines all at once before. Plus a white one. The authors were driven round with a fan each in the limos, before being decanted onto the red carpet (why not pink?) by the marquee, in front of eager photographers.

"The marquee was a little pink. The carpet inside was totally pink, and so uneven that we didn’t need pink champagne to stumble every now and then. The food was pink, and very lovely. Even the portaloos were posh, if not exactly pink. As this was a crowning of a queen, there were tiaras. And those bands that royals wear on posh occasions. Pink, naturally." Blogger: Bookwitch 30th September 2008

"The Star, Godalming. Although its main beer range is Greene King, it does ciders and perries including Gwatkins Oldfield which smells like model aircraft glue and takes the lining of your throat off (I'm informed. I just had a sip). The Star very nearly got 10 out of 10 from me - and nowhere has ever got that. In the end I gave it a 9. It's a good 9 though." Blogger: Chris - Macriobotic Stuff 8th October 2008

Parts of Surrey saw October (2008) snowfalls up to 8 ins (20cm) deep and it appears that residents in the North Downs near Godalming saw an early winter.

'Oak trees were still in leaf and strained under the heavy weight of snow. “They have all the morning been groaning ominously beneath the burden of a dense sheet of snow,” a reader from Godalming, Surrey, wrote to The Times. “At intervals a sharp crack has marked the giving way of some sturdy branch.” Source: timesonline.co.uk 29th October 2008

"I am now firmly ensconced in Godalming, a small town just outside of Guildford. Through word of mouth, I came across a sort of studio in the centre of Godalming right off the High Street. Like any good transaction in the UK, we sealed the deal over a pint of lager, which caused the property owner and me to reflect that many of life’s best transactions involve a pint or two. The pub culture of Britain just doesn’t translate well in Canada.

"Situated on the third storey, my studio overlooks the “House of Blues”, which is anything but bluesy and the Conservative Club, which used to sing the blues, but the possibility of power, has turned these Tories in party animals so much they now rival parties in Ibiza. The Surrey Hills cover the landscape and it is particularly pleasant these days watching as the leaves change colour.

"Instead of a Tesco, those of us living in Godalming get their food from Waitrose, which is a very posh grocery store that makes Pusitari’s in Toronto look oddly pretentious. The clientele are moneyed and sport Home Counties accents, reinforced by their tweed, while the young women form part of a larger Ugg boot brigade that patrols the streets of Surrey in search of dinner parties and young old boys whose individuality stems from their bright coloured socks nestled in conservative attire.

"Without sounding too patronizing, Godalming is a lovely and quaint English town, with pubs that allow dogs to lie on its floors while their owners grip their pints of pale ale discussing the latest gossip. A hint of modernization has hit the town in that most of the place is internet wireless, making sure that this small Tory enclave has life injected into it regularly. Walking through the town centre, I am amazed at how much of it remains unchanged. The town clock was erected in 1777 and is considered relatively new in comparison to other buildings in Britain." Blogger: Joey Fenton - The Pickle Express 9th November 2008

One of the few remaining independent record shops in Surrey celebrated its 50th anniversary in February 2009. Record Corner in Pound Lane first opened its doors in 1958 and quickly established a reputation for its wide range of music from across all genres and unrivalled depth of knowledge. The shop was taken over by its current owner Tom Briggs in 1985. Briggs had previously presided over the classical music shop at Merrow Sound in Guildford.

Godalming hairdresser Ross Dilanda from Scully and Scully in Moss Lane reached the finals of the prestigious British Hairdressing Awards 2008.

Plans to extend the public tip at Witley near Godalming into surrounding green belt was approved (March 2009) by the council despite 100 local objections. The plan to upgrade the community recycling centre has brought a flood of protests including backing from local MP Jeremy Hunt.

"We all recognise the need to improve recycling facilities but it is a shame the committee was not prepared to consider restrictions to lessen the impact on local residents." Source: Surrey Advertiser 20th March 2009

The Surrey Community Foundation has granted almost £10,000 (March 2009) to two Farncombe groups as part of the national Grassroots scheme that supports small voluntary groups. The Farncombe House Project, which provides accommodation for adults who are homeless or suffering from alcohol or drug dependency issues, received £4,996 which is to be used for new equipment. The Farncombe Guides were awarded £5,000 to help towards the costs of sending 15 guides and leaders to the girlguiding centenary  celebrations in 2010. Another Wey Valley recipient was the A Place to be Youth Group in Haslemere which received £5,000 towards running costs.

Bramley mother-of-two Johanna Branston has become the first English woman in this century and only the second ever to compete in the World Whistling Championships held in North Carolina, USA (2009). By competing she raised funds for the Cystic Fibrosis trust.

A country ‘B’ road cutting across to Dunsfold and Cranleigh from Godalming has been named (March 2009) as one of the most dangerous roads used by heavy goods vehicles relying on their satellite navigation systems. The B2130, which sets out from the junction of Wharf Street and Flambards Way in Godalming, is rated in the Top 20 by the Lib Dem Shadow Transport Secretary Norman Baker. This view is supported by a 2006 survey conducted by Continental Tyres who placed the road seventh in a list of the country’s top bendy roads. The Lib Dems are using the road as an example as to why the government should take action to ensure that sat nav providers incorporate data taking into account the width and height of vehicles before selecting a route.

Remember the classic ending to the 1969 film The Italian Job starring Michael Caine when the robbers' coach containing the stolen gold ends up balancing precariously on the edge of a cliff - and Caine's character Charlie Croker says "Hang on a minute lads - I've got a great idea . . "?

In October 2008 The Royal Society of Chemistry asked for entries from the public to devise a method to extract the 3.2 tons of gold within a 30 minute deadline and without using a helicopter - and prove it with a mathematical calculation.

John Godwin, an IT manager from Godalming, beat 2,000 other entrants with his solution.

  1. Knock out four windows. Two large central windows 'airside of the pivot knocked outwards. Two smaller windows above the twin front axles knocked inwards.
  2. Lower a man out through one of the smaller windows to let down the four inflated front tyres.
  3. Empty the fuel tank.
  4. The reduced weight and less acute angle will allow one member of the 10-strong gang to leave the vehicle and start loading rocks into the front of the coach to further weigh it down.

Sadly the BBC's Top Gear programme, which films at Dunsfold airfield near Godalming, withdrew their proposal (April 2009) to film the new ending citing that it would be too expensive - and too dangerous - to film.

Source: telegraph.co.uk 3rd April 2009

A ballet teacher from Milford who had tried in vain to get her children’s book published was undeterred  and set up her own publishing house with a friend. Karen-Ann Couper launched Bugbites Publishing (April 2009) with a print-run of 6,000 copies of Lulu is a Ladybird featuring the illustrations of Chiddingfold art student Chloe Elliott.

“I discovered as a teacher that the only time I lose my pupils’ attention is when something crawls across the floor,” said Couper. “I was inspired by their insatiable curiosity about bugs.” Source: Surrey Advertiser 10th April 2009

The Sainsbury’s store in Godalming looks likely (April 2009) to have plans approved for a 10,000 sq ft (1,000 sqm) extension after council planners gave the thumbs up to allow the store to offer a total of 55,000 sq ft (5,122 sqm) of retail space. In return the company has pledged to spend £32,000 on improving cycle accessibility between Bridge Road and the town centre. The store has been in the town for over 20 years.

A UFO investigator reported the sighting of a spherical object travelling across Farncombe and Godalming towards Dunsfold (March 2009). "Object travelled silently and arrow straight for 60 seconds before suddenly plunging downward toward the ground. I thought that the 'aircraft' may have been trying to reach Dunsfold in an emergency and had failed. However, its fall came to an abrupt halt somewhere over Hascombe. My best estimate is an altitude loss of around 1500 ft in five seconds before stopping dead in the hover ( no aircraft can achieve this maneuverability, which is the point where I became convinced this was not an aircraft )". Brian Vike on ufoinfo.com 25th March 2009

A Godalming resident posted online (June 2009) a sighting of an unidentified flying object over the town. “I was standing outside my house and a bright light in the sky caught my eye. I couldn’t quite believe it, but I thought it was either a flaming meteor flying through the sky, or a plane at high altitude that was completely on fire. The night sky was clear, with lots of stars out and very little wind. The object was a large, bright, flickering orange ball. Very bizarre - this was easily the most unusual thing I have ever seen in the sky at night.” Adam Bennington on uk-ufo.co.uk  17th June 2009

A Lion-head rabbit called Harvey won a nationwide competition (April 2012) to be the face of Monster Pet Supplies. Ten-year-old Harvey lives in Godalming and beat 200 other rabbits in the competition.

A Godalming resident has won the competition to design Surrey’s logo for the London 2012 Olympics. Rachel Cresswell, who is a student at the University for Creative Arts in Epsom, beat seven other designs shortlisted and was congratulated by silver medallist Roger Black at an award ceremony in May 2009.

Art teacher Peter Monkman who lives in Godalming and teaches at Charterhouse School has won (June 2009) Britain's most prestigious portrait prize. He has said the £25,000 BP Award will go to his 12-year-old daughter Anna who was the subject of his painting and his other two children.

A Godalming artist was one of the thousands of people who were selected to take part in sculptor Antony Gormley’s One and Other project using the empty Fourth Plinth at Trafalgar Square in London. Kim Franklin decided her one-hour art performance on the plinth on July 19th 2009 would involve releasing red flashing balloons each carrying a philosophical message. The One and Other project ran for 100 days 24-7 giving members of the public an opportunity for an hour of fame.

An 85ft (26m) tall telecommunications mast, that had been removed from Eashing Farm near Godalming  after a planning enforcement notice to remove it was applied, has been erected (July 2009) on a hilltop overlooking Brighton Road in the town just a day later. The mast has allegedly been re-erected without planning permission, a requirement if it is over 49ft (15m) tall. Waverley Borough Council is in discussion with T-Mobile, who has voluntarily not connected the mast to its network.

Witley man Dan Eley, who was paralysed in a diving accident in Colombia in 2010, continues to inspire everyone who he meets with his courage, determination and positive outlook despite his life-changing injuries. Eley, who was working with street children in the South American country at the time of his accident, continues to be active in his fundraising efforts to help worthy causes at home and abroad despite his extensive paralysis.

He set off in an attempt (March 2012) to cycle the equivalent distance from Spinal Research in Guildford to the Queen Elizabeth Spinal Unit in Glasgow - over 500 miles (805km). He was pedalling an FES (functional electrical stimulation) bicycle in the gym at the specialist unit he lives in to raise money for Spinal Research.

Eley was selected as an Olympic Torchbearer for London 2012. MORE HERE

"What an enjoyable morning we spent in Godalming last Saturday. Congratulations to the Chamber of Commerce for organising the gardening festival day. We browsed around the stalls, purchased food from the Italian market, listen to the jazz band and watched the Fleur-de-Lys Ladies Morris. We finished our morning with a cup of coffee in the museum whilst viewing the superb photographs on display provided by the Godalming Photographic Society. And for people who don't know about another Godalming enterprise, just go along on a Sunday at 3pm and listen to the band in the park. Performances continue until the end of September." Marion and Dennis May - Letters Surrey Advertiser 31st July 2009

The actress Pauline Quirke, who starred in the BBCs 90s sitcom Birds of a Feather, has opened (June 2009) a branch of her drama academy at St Catherine's School in Bramley. The Pauline Quirke Academy has 18 centres across Europe and specialises in building confidence and communication skills in students aged between six and 18 years.

Godalming seems to be the only town in the county to have an official tie. The fact was unveiled by local Eagle radio DJ Peter Gordon who had lamented the general absence of these garments across Surrey on his breakfast show. Godalming town mayor, Joy Poulter, however corrected him and invited him to visit the town and be presented with thel tie (September 2009) that had been produced to commemorate the millennium. The tie bears the town's crest which dates back to 1893 and features the woolpack, a ram, a red rose, and three pears hanging from a branch. It also features the motto libera deinde fidelis - faithful because free.

A rare bird of prey that had escaped from a bird sanctuary in Kent was captured (September 2009) by a parrot enthusiast who lives in Farncombe. Brian Gamelin, a self-proclaimed 'parrot whisperer' who can often be seen around the town with a live parrot on his shoulder, spotted the peregrine lanner falcon swooping from the trees at Broadwater Park and coaxed the bird down after two hours of flying displays by Jade. Gamelin traced the owner by registering Jade with the Independent Bird Register.

“She knew her owner straight away, birds know like that," said Gamelin. "Even out of a 100 people she would have known. Mr Ames was really pleased to have her back. There was a reward in it but I didn’t want that. I was just so happy to see her returned to her owner, she’s such a beautiful bird.”
Source: Surrey Advertiser 18th September 2009

Villages around Godalming are targeted in plans by BT to decommission a total of 46 phone boxes in Waverley (October 2009). Local residents and Waverley Borough Council are concerned that some villages will suffer because mobile phone coverage is quite patchy in areas. BT has offered to let the Council adopt the phone boxes for £1 so that they can remain as cultural icons - however the phones will be removed and the council will have to pay for maintenance.

The Chiddingfold Community Fund (CCF), that was established in early 2009, has enabled the renovation of the village’s blacksmith’s forge (October 2009). The Grade II listed building dates back to 1812 and is on the same site of the village blacksmith since the 13th century. The Surrey Community Foundation (SCF), an independent charitable trust, worked in partnership with the fund to raise the finance.

"We started with £25,000 to repair the forge," said fund trustee Nicky Herridge. "But the whole project will cost £60,000. We all realise that the forge was on the verge of collapse and it would be a great loss to the village if we didn't pick up the gauntlet. The idea of the CCF is that it helps the village to help itself. Our whole objective is to keep it as a traditional working forge. We are lucky to have David Wright, who is a very experienced and skilful village blacksmith." Surrey Advertiser 23rd October 2009

Building work has started (October 2009) on the controversial community room at St Mary's Church in Chiddingfold, itself a Grade II listed building. The £400,000 project, which got planning consent in 2006, uses the concept of a sunken turf-topped glass and steel meeting place in a grassy hollow, and which divided the community. The building, which will be built on piles so that the natural flow of water through the churchyard is not disrupted, is being funded by money raised from gifts and pledges from parishioners and still has £20,000 to go.

A new £45 million computer server farm is to be built in mid-2010. The high-tech computer data centre is going to be installed in an old metal finishing factory in Catteshall Lane in partnership with the owner of Ingram and Glass who occupied the site for 45 years. The project, which has taken over two years to come to fruition, will provide computer, telecommunications and storage systems in a state-of-the-art high-tech 'green' data centre.

"This is a huge growth area because there is a big demand for data storage and we are looking to step into that market with gardening as our flagship," said Adrian Deslongrais, Aegis Datastore chief operating officer. "As the old building was essentially derelict we have moved office temporarily to London but we will move back as soon as the data centre is ready. Forty five million pounds is a huge amount of money and this will be a world-class operation in a key area. We look forward to operating at governing for many years to come." Source: Surrey Advertiser 5th March 2010

Waverley Borough Council has agreed (April 2010) to provide a dedicated plinth outside their offices in The Burys in Godalming to showcase the work of young local artists. The plan is to hold a competition every year as part of the final year assessment in the fine arts degree at the University of Creative Arts in Farnham with the winner having their piece publicly displayed. Emma Woodward, the latest winner whose artwork Interplay will be installed in late summer (2010) said:

"Using giant shapes, it will be based on simple building blocks constructed from concrete and metal. The arrangements of the different parts of the structure appear precarious. The contrast in bright colours bring a sense of play and hopefully evoke people's curiosity." Source: Surrey Advertiser 9th April 2010

A new initiative launched by Godalming Mayor Jane Thomson (August 2010) to boost local business by keeping people in the town during the school holidays and to bring the community together was declared a great success. Staycation was an eight day event in which local people could partake in activities as wide-ranging as karate, kayaking, canoeing and football to joining in with a family party in the Park, family film showings and Music in The Park with a free concert by local blues and rock band Cryin' Out Loud. It is hoped to repeat the event every year in the future.

Trailed on BBC Radio 2 advertising the Chris Evans breakfast show.

Chris Evans: "Did you know that there was once a Chinese restaurant called Golden-Ming of Godalming?" BBC Radio 2 1st September 2010

The Golden-Ming occupied the 17th century building at 10 Bridge Street, built originally as a house various adaptations followed resulting in a complete replacement in the 20th century to the front of the building. The property is a Grade II Listed building. Today (September 2010) the building is occupied by an Indian takeway: Mogul Spices. Perhaps the new owners should've tried an Indian angle as a pun?

Chris Evans lived for a few years in nearby Hascombe.

Godalming student Jessica Ratcliffe was invited to appear on the TV show Dragons Den (September 2010) to present her business plan for investment in a gaming website she had launched.

GaBoom.co.uk was setup when she was 15 and in her pitch to the Dragons valued the business at £545,000 today. Although the 20-year-old walked away empty-handed she did generate enough publicity to encourage 10,000 hits on her site in 20 minutes whilst the programme was being broadcast.

Ratcliffe won the software, internet and mobile technologies category of the National Varsity Pitching Competition at the British Library in June 2010, reinvesting her £10,000 prize straight back into her business. Surrey Advertiser 17th September 2010

A regular sight on the Lammas Lands skirting the edge of central Godalming are livestock of various shapes and sizes taking advantage of the ancient law allowing free access to local owners of grazing animals.

The occupants in late summer of 2010 were a herd of Aberdeen Angus heifers placed in the field by Angus Stovold of Lydling Farm, Shackleford.

Unfortunately for Stovold one hardy beast decided to explore further afield and escaped from the field not once but twice. The heifer's second attempt (9:30am Tuesday 21st September) found him investigating the fire station in Bridge Street, much to the consternation of drivers trying to make their way to work in the morning rush hour. Nothing is known of either the escapee's methodology nor of the feisty animal's fate . . .

Godalming Football Club managed a coup (April 2012) in persuading promoters to stage a unique international match at their ground. Micro countries the Chagos Islands and the Principality of Sealand (1) are to play on 5th May 2012. The decision was helped by journalist Ed Stubbs, who worked as Godalming's match reporter two years previously and author Neil Forsyth, who is president of the Sealand Football Association.

"This is a magnificent moment for the Principality of Sealand," said Forsyth. "We're putting together a squad that properly reflects Sealand's maverick history and look forward to wearing the royal crest of our adopted country with pride." getsurrey.co.uk 25th April 2012

(1) The Principality of Sealand was founded on a WWII military fortress seven miles off the coast of Essex in 1967. Ex major Roy Bates had run a pirate radio station from another sea fortress which had been closed down by the British government who stated that it was in British waters and was in breach of broadcasting laws. The self-declared principality has survived legal challenges and the demolition of all the other sea fortresses to prevent any repetition elsewhere.

Godaming-born Michael Hill was interviewed in the Guardian newspaper (February 2012) as part of a feature 'What does Britishness Mean?'

"I was born in Godalming, and have been a market trader and showman all my life. I travel with funfairs for most of the year, operating a roundabout during children's holidays. I feel English rather than British.

"The English are rather a depressed bunch at the moment, but underneath that are the same values and morals that people have had for a very long time. I'm not against people coming into the country, but the level of immigration is making people feel very insecure." guardian.co.uk 5th February 2012

The Farncombe and Godalming Rifle Club built a brand new range (2011) after successfully raising £51,000 to complete the project. The range, which was opened by Culture Secretary Jermey Hunt, boasts some of the highest quality 25-yard small-bore shooting in the south of England. The balance of the funding came from Foundation for Sport and the Arts, SITA Trust, National Lottery and Grassroots.

Such is the popularity of Godalming College's courses the Surrey Advertiser reported that a 'riot' broke out at the sixth form college (September 2010). Such was the interest in getting a place 2,000 would-be students with family members in tow turned up on registration day and completely swamped the college buildings, grounds and surrounding roads.

With anxious teenagers and parents queuing from 4.00 am several hundred at the front of the queue stormed the building when the doors were flung open five hours later. The resultant melee turned a tad ugly and police officers had to attend the scene to calm the situation.

"Godalming College sincerely regrets the upset and inconvenience caused during Saturday's application process," said principal David Adelman. Surrey Advertiser 24th September 2010

A request for Godalming-born cricketer and umpire Frederick Heather to be included in Godalming Town Council's list of 'Famous Forbears' fell on deaf ears. Heather's nephew had made the request to mark the successful career of his uncle who was born in the town in 1890 and became Canada's longest serving umpire after emigrating there in his 30s.

"I don't think he should be on there – I don't feel there's sufficient evidence of his contribution," said Cllr Tom Martin. getsurrey.co.uk 25th January 2012

A review of the section on the council's website, which includes Jack Phillips, Gertrude Jekyll and Aldous Huxley, is now under review.

Seven human skeletons were unearthed during the excavation of a cutting for the new Godalming Bypass (A3) at Eashing.

The remains were uncovered between October 6 and October 19 1931, about a quarter of a mile above Eashing bridge over the River Wey. An inquest was held at the Squirrel pub at the time.

An eminent archaeologist, Sir Arthur Keith, examined the bones and reported that he believed that these dated back to the Roman period. The skeletons were of both men and women and were of a small-statured race, with the tallest being no more than 5'7" in height.

Various fragments of pottery were also found nearby, these mostly dating to the Romano British period
Surrey Advertiser: 24th September 2010

Two Godalming women completed eight marathons in eight days in April 2012, culminating in crossing the line at the London Marathon. What made their achievement even more astounding was the fact that Victoria Grove had broken her back just a year previously. The pair raised over £13,000 for back injury charities.

Greening godalming welcomed a good turnout to their first renewable energy workshop (November 2010). 24 local residents enjoy a presentation on renewable energy suppliers and new technologies.

"The workshop covered all aspects of helping the community to move forward with reducing our CO2 footprint," said Heather Hullah project coordinator, Greening Godalming."We need the community to start making changes." Surrey Advertiser 5th November 2010

Greening godalming works closely with schools and businesses in the local area to reduce their pollution levels.

Former mayor of both Godalming Town and Waverley Borough, Harold (aka 'Danny') Denningberg had served the local community tirelessly for over forty years when he passed away peacefully in his sleep on the 21st December 2011 at the grand age of 88. His trade was that of a baker and his engagement with Godalming was lifelong and enthusiastic. He founded the town's popular day centre which carries his name, and he was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in 1980.

A century ago twin brothers from the Isle of Wight almost had their hopes of undertaking a record-breaking walk from Portsmouth to London dashed when they got lost in thick fog near Godalming. Edwin and James a'Court Smith had set off from Portsmouth Town Hall one early December evening in 1911 eventually finishing their walk in 22 hours, two hours longer than they'd hoped, and having being rescued by a messenger boy who helped them cover eight fog-bound miles. Isle of Wight County Press 9th December 2011

























"With its mix of historic architecture, valley position, pretty streets, low crime figures, good schools and journey times that allow for reading the kids a bedtime story, it's no surprise it's a draw for commuters."
Sue Corbett Telegraph.co.uk July 2006

Godhelm's Field

It is generally thought that Godalming was named when a group of Saxons settled here in the 5th century and the camp became named as 'Godhelm's Ing' with Godhelm being the tribal chief and the 'Ing' being a Saxon word for 'field'.

In 1985, whilst builders were excavating foundations for a new garage in Godalming, a large early Saxon iron spearhead was unearthed and is described thus by the Portable Antiquities Scheme (1):

The spearhead retains wood in its socket and has a slight bend in side view. On one side, across the blade, there is a lighter strip; this could reflect an adjacent organic fitting, perhaps a strap, while the spear lay in the ground. It is the first evidence for an Early Saxon presence in Godalming. The presumption is that the spear lay within a grave which was not recognised when the spear was recovered.

The spearhead, which has been dated to 400-600AD and measures 24ins (610mm) in length was submitted to Godalming Museum in 2007.

(1) The Portable Antiquities Scheme records items found by members of the public in a database adding several hundred new objects daily. It is funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Lying as it does in a valley of the Wey the location provided immense advantages for human settlement over thousands of years. The river and other watercourses joining here ensured a constant water supply. The soil is extremely fertile and the wooded hills around provided ample supplies of timber.

The ancient town of Godalming was sited at first on a narrow strip of ground between the flood plain and the steeply rising hill to the south. The woollen and leather industries, for which Godalming was renowned from the 14th to 19th centuries, gravitated here as there were perfect pastures for sheep and cattle across the local area.

Other industries included the quarrying of local Bargate stone and stonemasonry. The Hythe Beds of stone also yielded sufficient quantities of ironstone to supply low-grade ore to the Wealden iron industry. The latter is evident in local place names which include Cinder Field and Furnace Copse near Godalming, and Hammer Bottom and Hammer Hill on nearby Thursley Common.

Guy Fawkes Celebrations, Godalming


Misdemeanour & Punishment

The passing of the centuries brought increased prosperity for Godalming. The Middle Ages (1066-1485) found the town at the centre of local and regional governance reflecting its commercial importance.

The old Market House (see also The Pepperpot) housed a jail and stocks and served as the manorial assembly place where public debate and official pronouncements were made. Here also sat a Court Leet which acted as a legal instrument for settling and recording land and property transactions. Manorial control included the church (1221 - 1541), the crown through Henry VIII to Elizabeth I, with Elizabeth eventually bestowing the manor to the Mores of Loseley who held control from 1601 until the end of the 19th century.

The town had been granted a Royal Charter in 1574 by Queen Elizabeth which provided the Town Warden and his eight Assistants with powers of basic governance including the levying of fines and tolls to provide for public funds. Prior to this the lack of finances to be used to benefit the town's inhabitants collectively had resulted in considerable difficulty, as this extract from the petition for the Charter bears witness to:

"Whereas the inhabitants of the Town of Godalming in our County of Surrey, being in the greatest ruin and decay, have most humbly besought us for aiding and assisting the great Burden and Expense which they from time to time sustain."

May Day Godalming by Stephen Goddard
click on image to go to artist's website Click to visit Terry Harrison's website

The Warden was responsible for maintaining standards in local manufacture and trading. He therefore had the authority to submit shopkeepers to the inspection of weights and measures. Other powers, many of which seem quite quirky today but reflected the local issues of the day, included:

  • penalties for chimney fires
  • maintaining the process of Apprenticeships
  • implementing a ban on Sunday trading and working
  • controlling drinking and 'tippling' which allowed for "an half hour's sojourn at a time", with drunkenness being fined to a maximum of three shillings if committed during sermon time
  • outlawing the trade by butchers 'by door or window', presumably to prevent underhand deals
  • fines for "leaving of rubbish or dung, of handcarts in a darkened street". An offender in the case of dumping dung inappropriately was given ten days to clear "so much of the street as lieth against his or her house or yard unto the middle channel" with a fine of 12d also being imposed

The Charter also granted the right for the inhabitants to have a common seal to be used in public transactions, and this simple act gave considerable credence to the town when negotiating transactions with outsiders. The seal and device for the Borough Arms includes a woolpack reflecting the importance of the woollen industry to the town. The inscription Libra deinde fidelis translates as 'Faithful because free'.

Renowned local historian Percy Woods (1849 - 1922) was a descendant of a clothier, one John Woods who was buried in Godalming in 1599. Brook House in Mint Street, where Percy was born, is a listed 18th-century building and won a Civic Design Award from the Godalming Trust in 1988 in recognition of the sympathetic refurbishment that had been carried out on the property. MORE ABOUT WOODS HERE

Autumn at Winkworth Arboretum

Major Centre for the Clothing Industry

Clothmaking in Godalming was largely stimulated by the efforts of local weavers rather than the considerable influx of Flemish weavers that had catalysed the clothing industry in other parts of the region in the 14th century.

A special Act of Parliament in 1557, introduced to regulate the country's burgeoning clothing industry, made special mention of the town suggesting it was considered of considerable importance. Within a list of the leading clothmaking counties falls the reference of "the Town of Goddelmine in the County of Surrey", this being the only reference to an individual town.

Ordinances and Constitutions introduced in 1620 to provide 'better order and government of the town' include this description:

". . . auncyent clothinge Towne and the inhabitants thereof of long tyme and beyond the memory of any man to the contrary have been principally ymployed in the making, dying, fulling and dressing of cloth."

Knitting was a major industry in this part of the Wey Valley and many examples of the industry survive in local buildings. Various garments were produced and a speciality in Godalming was stockings, in both wool and cotton. Blue Kersey woven from long wool was a Godalming speciality and was a coarse ribbed cloth. At 22 Mint Street (GR: SU967438) a framework knitter’s shop survives. Stockingers were widely exploited and extremely poorly paid. This house provides a perfect example where several families worked and lived together in extremely cramped conditions.

Stocking Frame
Stocking Frame
Image in public domain

In the first half of the 19th century 12 frames were in constant use here from dawn to dusk, and often family members would work into the night using a magnified light by placing a candle behind a glass globe filled with water, and all for barely a subsistence wage.

It was unusual for a framework knitter to be able to afford to buy their own frames, and this provided an opportunity for local tradesmen to exploit them further by renting out frames to the knitters on a weekly basis. The industry was also fickle in that demand for knitted products would fluctuate wildly and so it was extremely common for framework knitters to chase the highest demand and often commuted for periods between Godalming, Nottingham and Leicester all being key production centres.

A petition to the Lords of the Privy Council in 1630 highlighted the periodic difficulty experienced by the industry locally:

". . . for many years previously until now of late maintained 1400 poor people at the least in the spinning of wools, weaving, working, making, dyeing, fulling and dressing of cloths called Hampshire Kerseys (1), and that they found themselves compelled to desist from clothing and to take some other course for their maintenance."

In 1788 a hosiery factory was established along Catteshall Lane, then just outside the town boundary, by George Holland. His invention, the ‘Fleecy & Segovia’, enabled very fine undergarments to be produced which for a time proved to be in great demand. However like the rest of the hosiery industry Holland’s business fell upon hard times in the 1840s and finally closed in 1890, the building being taken over by a sanitary steam laundry.

Godalming High Street 1895
Godalming High Street 1895
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

W F Paine built a knitwear factory in Brighton Road in 1922 which proved so successful that by the 1960s the company had moved to The Wharf leaving the old premises to the English Chain Company. The Paine factory closed in the 1990s, finally severing any ties the town had with the clothing industry. The site was redeveloped and is now occupied by a supermarket.

Crown Court (GR: SU 972438) in the High Street is what is left of a medieval weaver’s court which was partially demolished to make way for an access road to a new car park in the 1950s. As if that wasn’t bad enough, and to add insult to injury, the borough planners realised that this access point had been a mistake and paved the road over leaving an arch where the medieval buildings once were.

"This town is eminent for clothing, the most of any places in this County: here they make mix'd kersies (1) and blue kersies for the Canaries which for their colour are not equall'd by any in England." John Aubrey c1691

(1) kersey was a smooth woollen fabric used for making coats

Muriel George

Muriel George outside her haberdashery shop in Godalming
Reproduced courtesy of her granddaughter Verity who would be interested in
hearing from anyone who might have stories about the shop or her grandmother.

For a time local clothmakers turned to silk to try and reverse the industry's decline in the face of fierce competition from the larger and increasingly industrialised factories in the north of England. This niche survived from the beginning of the 18th century into the next but failed to prevent the eventual demise of clothmaking in Godalming.

A lasting reminder of Godalming's importance in clothing rests with the invention of the Cable Stitch by one Mrs Pitcher, a local woman. The technique, which is still in use today, produces a twisted ropelike design commonly used in cricket sweaters.

click on image to go to artist's website Click to visit Terry Harrison's website

There is a substantial animal pound located toward the bottom of Brighton Road close to the junction with Latimer Road (GR: SU974436) and can be quite difficult to spot unless on foot. The manor’s pound or pinfold was built of local Bargate stone and was constructed here in the early nineteenth century after it was moved from its previous location in Pound Lane near the High Street.

Godalming Manor Pound or penfold in Brighton Road, Godalming, Surrey

The pound was used to hold animals that were found straying and these were only released back to their owners on payment of a fine. The Godalming Manor Pound was restored in 1986 by members of the Godalming Rotoract Club after funds were provided by local resident General Ali-Shah and Godalming Town Council, and a plaque marks the restoration. There is also a well preserved penfold in Borough Road (GR: SU967441) alongside the Phillips Memorial and the Parish Church.

Early Motoring History

Godalming shared in the early history of the motor industry when the Victoria Motor Works (GR: SU972437) in Queen Street produced a prototype car in 1907. The ‘Victoria’ 10/12 HP Tourer had a 10hp Fafnir engine and a typical uncovered passenger compartment. Seriously underpowered the prototype failed to meet any commercial potential and the works was converted to a general garage.

The old Victoria Motor Works in Queen Street Godalming Surrey

The building at number 8 Queen Street housing the motor works has seen various uses since it was built. It started life in 1898 as Victoria Hall, a multipurpose public function rooms. Victoria Motor Works converted it into light industrial use as a motor garage and coachworks in 1907, the name reflecting the original. For many years it served as an auction room for Hampton’s after the auctioneers took over the building in 1987 and today (2009) it operates as a restaurant. The interior of the building is spacious providing 407 sq m of floor space and airy with a pitched roof with a long lantern light stretching the full length of the building supported by 16 ornate roof trusses. The restaurant conversion, which effectively saved the building from further deterioration as it was described by the planning officer after inspection as being ‘internally in poor condition, with extensive work required to modernize the building’, was carried out by GS Interiors of Gravesend with design by Janet Horton Design of Dorking. Planning permission was granted in 2006.

Number 8 Queen Street has been the subject of a great many planning applications, including one in 2002 to demolish and replace it with three ground floor retail units and five flats above in a three storey development. Thankfully the town council saw sense to throw the application out citing the plan to be ‘not appropriate in the streetscene’ and would ‘cause the loss of an important building which is part of the history of Godalming Town’. The council also at the time stated that it was ‘surprised the building is not listed’. The building falls just 59ft (18m) outside the boundary of the town centre Conservation Area.

Godalming High Street 1910
Godalming High Street 1910 facing the old post office
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

Another local company in 1906 designed and made the first mechanical road treatment machine to be used in Britain. Housed in Ockford Motor Works (GR: SU962432), along the Portsmouth Road on the other side of the railway to Ockford Mill, FG Barnes & Sons had originally purchased the site in 1899 from which to make and repair equipment for mills and water treatment plants. The Barnes Patent Tar Spraying and Road Brushing Machine was conceived by founder Fred Barnes as a solution to the ever-worsening dust pollution being created by motor vehicles and other road users when passing over the untreated road surface, which was topped locally with crushed Bargate stone chippings. The machine was able to prepare two miles of road to be treated in one hour, and so impressed authorities in the country that were responsible for the upkeep of roads that the company quickly had orders which included Farnham Rural District Council, Hambledon Rural District Council and one from the town of Bournemouth.

The family closely followed the development of the road transport industry with their business benefiting from expanding into the repair of steam rollers and traction engines, and by 1903 were selling and repairing motor vehicles. Their motor vehicle business was boosted by the First World War and by the 1920s the company had acquired agency representation for the Vulcan Car, Chevrolet and General Motors (which traded under Vauxhall in the UK). Today over a century later FG Barnes still operates from the same premises as a Vauxhall dealer with an on-site service garage.

Having secured a Bedford commercial vehicle dealership in the 1930s Barnes opened a premises in Guildford beside the then new bypass at Woodbridge. MORE HERE

Goadlming High Street in 1935
Automobile in Godalming 1935
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

The Wey Valley’s blacksmiths and wheelwrights were to be well placed to become part of the new transport revolution when the likes of Henry Knight upstream in Farnham, and the local Victoria and Ockford Motor Works were to start building their new fangled motorcars at the end of the 19th century. Fittingly the first motor vehicles had wooden spokes to their wheels.

Godalming today is still firmly on the motor industry map for innovation. KAM Differentials, a production company specialising in providing drive systems for Land Rovers operating on difficult and extreme terrains, was formed in 1991 with support from a Prince's Trust advisor and a grant from the Department of Trade and Industry. KAM has since earned a reputation from Dakar Rally participants and worldwide for off-road motorsport and military applications.

Godalming had its part to play in the early history of the Automobile Association (AA). At the beginning of the 20th century motorists were keen to test out their new and increasingly powerful motorcars. A new police chief had been appointed in Surrey, and the AA was formed by motoring enthusiasts to protect the interests of their fellow road users from what they saw as persecution of motorists. The Chief Constable, Captain H M Sant, was overly enthusiastic in enforcing the first speed limit for roads that had been introduced in 1905, and set about establishing regular police speed traps along straight stretches of road to catch speeding motorists. The AA encamped a safe distance ahead of the traps to warn motorists in Godalming, Wisley and Cobham, and much of Captain Sants’ effort was duly thwarted. As the diary of the Bow-Wows Motor Cycle Club reported in 1914 “Motorists proceeded quietly to Godalming where a halt was called to see everyone safely through the trap which was observed to be working with its usual weekend vigour.”

Godalming Institute 1906
Godalming horse-drawn trap 1906 in High Street near Pepperpot
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

Road transportation throughout Britain was to be transformed by the introduction of private turnpikes or toll roads which enabled key thoroughfares to be turned from dangerous and often during heavy winters impassable tracks into better maintained roads. Smaller communities in the 19th century had long lost the ability to keep up with the damage the ever increasing traffic was doing to the roads for which they had a responsibility to maintain and so charging a toll provided the solution. Originally governed by the local Justices of the Peace the roads quickly became privatised and run by Trusts who ensured that income from the tolls would be used to maintain the thoroughfares. The rapid take-up of motorised transport quickly saw to it that the tolls raised soon became insufficient to effectively maintain the roads, and so local authorities took over the responsibility seeing the eventual closure of the turnpike system.

By 1856 Godalming had three toll houses which were built to accommodate officials employed to collect tolls from the traffic using their employer’s roads. The two storey property at 66 Ockford Road (GR: SU965434) was a toll house built in that year. The first was in Meadrow close to the milestone (GR: SU976445), and the second (GR: SU962433) located on the Portsmouth Road near Ockford Mill, and which was demolished in 1856 to make way for the railway that was being extended out of the town. By 1888 the county council had assumed responsibility for the local roads.

Crown Court Godalming by Kevin Gorton

Water pumps were erected along busy roads near settlements to enable the considerable dust from the gravel topped surfaces to be dampened down as it wasn’t until the 20th century that tar macadam was devised. The most obvious remnants of the old turnpikes are the milestones and posts that were erected by the owners to ensure toll traffic stayed on their road. Many of the roads out of Godalming still have the turnpike milestones in place which show the mileage to the next town in each direction. There is an elegant iron milepost (GR: SU989412) erected in 1826 outside Winkworth Arboretum, two miles to the south of Godalming, on the last turnpike to operate in Surrey.

The concerns of the local population over traffic congestion in the town were very much evident 100 years ago as they are today. A census conducted in 1910 and published by Godalming Museum makes interesting reading. Conducted over a 12 hour period on two days on Ockford Road and Meadrow, main thoroughfares at the time, the count revealed a total of 3,072 vehicle movements averaging one every 30 seconds.

Bicycles were the most numerous in the census with 1,401 (46% of the total) counted on the two roads over a 24 hour period. Next in were horse-drawn trade vehicles (857 28%) with motor passenger vehicles (414 13%) ranking third. Other vehicles recorded in much lower numbers were motor trade vehicles, horse-drawn passenger vehicles, traction engines, animals, barrows and motor cycles.

The census was part of an application to the Road Board for improvement grants and application of macadam surfaces to reduce the incidence of dust and potholes. The census report doesn't indicate whether the twon was successful in its request for road improvements.

Bargate Stone

Godalming was unusual in that unlike most of Surrey it had local stone sought after for use in building construction. Bargate Stone has been quarried from the surrounding hills since Roman times, and over many centuries provided significant local employment.

The Bargate Beds of Lower Greensand outcrop as the uppermost beds of a dissected plateau covering a diameter of about three miles (4.8 km) with Godalming at its centre. The evolution of the sandy beds saw hard buff-grey calcareous sandstone formed which produce typically stones of 5 - 6 feet (1.5 - 1.8 m) in thickness. The quarry workers would split these into thin slabs which were used in walls, rock gardens and paving.

Godalming from New Way near station 1907
Godalming from New Way near the station 1907
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

Many of the buildings in the town were built using the stone taking advantage of the durability of this type of sandstone, in walls like those in Great George Street by the Crown Court car park (GR: SU971439) and for road metalling. Bridges and churches were also built using Bargate Stone, a good local example being that of the 12C tower of the Parish Church of St Peters & St Pauls.

At one point there were 16 quarries with the largest around Shackstead Lane, Primrose Ridge and Hurtmore. Several quarries kept up with the demand until the outbreak of the Second World War, after which brick factories in the Midlands became all too dominant.

Rose & Crown, Godalming by Kevin Gorton


Godalming twinned (1) with the town of Mayen in Germany in 1982 and Joigny in France in 1985. Mayen and Joigny had already been twinned since 1964 making for a cosy tripartite relationship between the towns. The Godalming-Mayen Association had been formed in 1980 stimulating official endorsement for the link. Annual visits take place with bands, football clubs, choirs, theatre groups and youth groups participating.

(1) Twinning provides a friendship link between two communities in different countries and has official endorsement from the local authorities involved. There are 2,000 twinning links in the UK (2007) - 50% with France and 25% with Germany. The European Commission established a grant in 1989 to support exchange activities between European twinned towns.

The Pepperpot

Godalming's town hall was originally located until 1908 in the quirky looking building locally known as the Pepperpot or times previous the Pepper Box.

The Pepperpot

The Pepperpot (GR: SU968438) can be found in the High Street and was built in 1814 to replace a much larger building that had fallen into disrepair. However local government has focused on the site for over a thousand years. The current building was built using funds provided for by public subscription as there were no public funds available to meet the cost at the time.

"Notice is hereby given, that a Meeting of the Inhabitants of this Town and Parish will be held in the Town Hall, on Wednesday the 27th. of July, inst. at eleven o'clock in the forenoon; to take into consideration the state of the present Market House, which has been represented to be ruinous and unsafe. Thomas Haines, Warden. July 21, 1814' Contemporary public notice

A total of £783 7s. 2d. was donated by the public to which was added £81 19s 6d from the sale of materials from the previous building.

The old Godalming Town Council Chamber at the Pepperpot

The design, by local architect Mr Perry, provided for a Council Chamber set upon four open arches within which facilities for market stall holders were provided. Constructed of red brick with a stucco covering, the architect broadly reproduced the characteristics of the earlier building which had stood on the site since the 15th century. This building had been constructed of wood and had the same market space underneath a chamber above which had also served as the court-room. The town pump was preserved, and remains in place today, and a set of stocks had been located here too. The existing square turret with a bell-cote and cuppola with guilded weather vane continued the tradition of providing the townsfolk with a clock, always considered as an important consideration.

"That forasmuch as the Use of a Clock in the said Towne is very necessary for the Inhabitants thereof for the keeping of Fitt and Ordinary Hours for their Apprentices Servants and Workmen That the Warden and Assistants and such as have born office in the said Town . . . . may as Occasion requireth from time to time make assessments for the keeping amending and mainteyning of the said Clock to be taxed upon all the Inhabitants which are Housekeepers in the said Town according to their Ability." 1620 Ordinances for governance of Godalming

The present clock was constructed by local craftsman Stedman in 1815. The bell dates from 1792.

Old White Hart, Godalming by Kevin Gorton

The Court of Pie Powder was held in the building, this local court dealing with differences arising between traders and customers, and with disorders from the market and local fairs. Given that it was only the market, fairs and rental of the Market House that provided income for public funds from Queen Elizabeth's Charter of 1575 until 1825 this court played a particularly important part in ensuring that the traders maintained a good reputation. It was for that reason the court would sit daily if need be to quickly resolve disputes, and often this would be from hour to hour. Occasionally this necessitated the convening of a hastily recruited jury from townfolk nearby.

Ninety-eight French prisoners were lodged here by a colonel of the 19th Regiment of Foot after their capture during the Belle Isle Expedition of 1761 (1). The town received 15 shillings for storing the regimental baggage and 17 shillings for the prisoners.

The building also provided focus for public celebrations including 'Illumination Night' (now Guy Fawkes Night) with bonfires and fireworks, the occasion also celebrating the landing of William of Orange. Travelling actors also hired the building for their performances with public records showing half-a-guinea having been paid for this purpose in 1781 and 1801. In August 1945 crowds of local people flocked to the Pepperpot to hear the King's speech and later on danced in the streets in the centre of Godalming to celebrate VE Day.

(1) The capture of Belle Isle off the coast of Minorca followed a ten-week seaborne expedition which saw the loss of 800 British lives.

Traffic policeman by Godalming Pepperpot 1930s

The Pepperpot 1935
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

The Pepperpot is owned by the Town Council who let the undercroft out for traders to help raise funds for its upkeep. The rooms above are also available for hire. The Godalming Lottery undertakes the public GOLO draw on the last Saturday of every month on the steps of the Pepperpot.

The building has suffered from vandalism over recent years. The town council erected boarding beneath the undercroft’s plaster ceiling to protect it and have also installed a CCTV camera to discourage antisocial behaviour.

Some of the money paid by the production company filming The Holiday in Church Street in 2008 is to be donated by the Church Street Traders to pay for the replacement of the Pepperpot’s external floodlighting and provide for some additional lighting to further enhance the building. The town council intends to arrange special bicentenary celebrations here in 2014.

19th century lithograph of The Market House, Godalming - today the Pepperpot

The Pepperpot was surveyed in 2009 and found that the building requires urgent remedial renovation work to the tune of at least £250,000. Godalming Town Council launched an appeal (November 2009) to help raise funds over and above the initial £70,000 earmarked for the project. The council is also approaching other organisations such as the Heritage Lottery Fund. A new group to secure the future of the building "for the next 200 years" was launched as the Friends of the Pepperpot as a way of focusing fundraising efforts and also in preserving the Heritage of the Pepperpot through historical, artistic and educational projects centred around the importance of the building to Godalming.

The work started in March 2010 resulting in the building being closed to access and shrouded in scaffolding and weather sheeting. The council is combining initial urgent remedial works with decorative enhancement.

The Pepperpot in High Street, Godalming undergoing major renovation


The Parish Church

The Church of St Peter & St Paul (GR: SU968440) dominates the town with its tall lead-covered spire and location close to the River Wey. The building as now stands is built of local Bargate stone with dressings of clunch (hard chalk). The church holds the oldest man-made objects in Godalming these being carved Anglo-Saxon stones of the 9th century.

Godalming Parish Church
The bandstand pictured here was completed in 2009

The first Christian church in Godalming was actually located some miles away in Tuesley on the site of a Saxon altar to the deity Tiw, one of seven gods from which we get the names of the week and in this case Tuesday. But by the 9th century the settlement on rising ground by a river crossing had become considered important enough to have a church and so a simple wooden structure of wood and thatch was built on the site where the church now stands. The first stone building was not erected until the 11th century and parts of this structure were later incorporated into new building projects.

As the importance of the town grew so did the aspirations of the Ecclesiastical hierarchy and it wasn't long before at first Norman priests including Ranulf Flambard, who was later to become Bishop of Durham, started to build a more substantial church, a process that was to continue for centuries until the impressive building you see today was achieved. The Normans built a new chancel and a buttressed tower, the eastern arch of which has survived within the existing building. During the Early English period aisles and chantries were constructed to accomodate the town's growing population and a steeple was added to the now taller tower. To overcome the problem of space within the church for seating wooden galleries were added.

Church Street Godalming by Kevin Gorton

A new oak timbered lead-clad spire was added in 1375, and this spire was completely restored in 1988 when 12 tons of lead, incorporating re-use of 10 tons of the original lead, were refabricated to cover the huge mediaeval frame. Three of the eight bells within the tower were cast in the 18th century, the earliest dating to 1740. The Tenor bell weighs 22 cwt (1,118 kg). A Sanctus Bell cast with the inscription 'Thomas Swaine Made Mee' was from 1724 used to hang outside the base of the spire but was removed in 1840. One of the two remaining Sanctus Bells is the ship's bell from M.V. Hauraki, a passenger cargo vessel built in 1921 in Dumbarton, Scotland for a New Zealand shipping company, and that was captured by the Japanese in 1942 and subsequently sunk by US carrier based aircraft in the Caroline Islands. The bell was presented to the church in 1947.

One of the beams used to strengthen the spire in the 19th century is said to have originated from the gallows constructed for the last public execution to be carried out in Godalming. The beam bears an inscription scratched roughly onto its surface stating 'part of the gallows' and there follows the names of the two men who were hanged together with the date of their execution, 1818. George Chennell and William Chalcraft were hanged side-by-side on the Llamas Lands, having been found guilty of murder, and their bodies were interred on unconsecrated ground just outside the then boundary of the church, a typical fate for felons of the time. An expansion of the graveyard has since brought their unmarked graves within consecrated ground.

Godalming Church in the snow by Stephen Goddard
click on image to go to artist's website Click to visit Terry Harrison's website

Alterations made in 1879 and that cost £11,000 were designed to clear out the clutter of centuries of ad hoc adjustments to the layout of the interior but tragically seem to have necessitated the removal of the pre-Conquest arch that had stood for 850 years at the eastern nave. These constructions used Bath stone instead of, for some reason, the local Bargate stone.

The organ was installed in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Jubilee and has an impressive 2,268 pipes and 40 stops.

The current rector is the Reverend Canon John Ashe who is overseeing a £500,000 restoration project (2005 - 2006) of the Octagon. Originally completed in 1970 the restoration will bring the building up to modern standards for community use.

Significant historical pieces within the church include:

  • Anglo-Saxon carved stones dated by the British Museum as being c820-840.
  • Decorations to the chancel and south chapel including abstract decorations of c1086-1100 and life-size paintings of saints c1220.
  • Mediaeval altar furnishings including seats for the clergy (sedilia), basins with drains for washing sacred vessels (piscinae) and cupboards for the Reserved Sacrament (aumbries).
  • The oldest surviving window is that at the end of the south chapel which dates from c1260.
  • An oak chest made in 1200 with 3 locks. It is thought this chest was placed in the church to safeguard the collection of alms for the Holy Land.
  • Undated graffiti carved by pilgrims including crosses, merchant's marks and fishes.
  • 16th century brasses.
  • A range of 152 roof bosses with the majority of the Tudor period. Two have cyphers for Henry VII.
  • A 16th century chalk font.
  • 20 volumes of Parish Registers with the first dating back to 1582.

A Lombardy poplar planted c1912 by the highly regarded local writer and garden landscaper Gertrude Jekyll as part of the nearby Phillips Memorial Cloister was lost in a storm in the late 1980s. The 'sentinel' tree with its location just inside the churchyard by the Lammas Lands was replaced in a ceremonial planting (January 2007) to honour the current mayor of Godalming, Dr John Blowers, and his predecessor Councillor Peter Martin. The ginkgo biloba or Maidenhair Tree was chosen for its longevity and the fact that it is believed to be one of the oldest tree species, with tree fossils dating back some 270 million years. The mayorality of Godalming dates back 432 years.

A brass Victorian cross that was stolen (June 2011) from the church was returned after an unnamed man spotted the lost item in a private house, and after a confrontation with the occupant the cross was returned two months later. Whilst it was missing the cross, which has distinctive red stones set in its arms, was replaced by a wooden one made by students at the Skillway Vocational Workshops in Farncombe. The church now intends to keep the Victorian cross under lock and key when it's not being used for wedding services and special occasions, with it's wooden stand-in taking its place.

"This chap came across it in some other person's house, there was a discussion about it and then I think he checked the article online to make sure that it was definitely the missing cross," said Canon Mervyn Roberts. "The person saw that, then saw something that made them suspicious in this other person's house, and asked where they got this beautiful cross from. I'm not going to lock it up permanently, and it will be back in place for wedding couples and their registry because it looks really nice in photos, but Monday to Friday I'm afraid it will go under lock and key." getsurrey.co.uk 9th August 2011

The Congregational Church
aka Bel and the Dragon

At the other end of town on the corner of Bridge Street and The Bury by the public library is a deconsecrated Congregational Church that had been built in 1868. The original Presbyterian gatherings were held in the house of one George Bridger at the Great House in Bridge Street, which was demolished in 1860. The meeting place then moved to a chapel in Harts Yard, and then on to Harts Lane (renamed in more recent times as Mint Street) in what is now the Salvation Army building.

With a growing congregation the minister Thomas Davis set about looking for a permanent home. The site in Bridge Street was secured after a successful fundraising drive which was triggered by an initial donation of £600 by Thomas Simpson, a member of the congregation, and a considerable amount at the time. The final cost of construction was £3,600. An existing house next door was bought to provide for the minister’s house, although this has long gone. This could possibly be the house to the right of the church in the picture below, demolished to make way for the site of the library that exists today. Additional ground was purchased in 1879 for mission rooms (SEE ROTUNDA BELOW).

However the church was to eventually move yet again when in 1977 the Congregationalists and Methodists merged to worship as a United Church using the church buildings on the opposite side of Bridge Street by the river where it still exists today. The final service was held on Christmas Day 1977. The distinctive spire seen in the picture below had to be removed in 1978 as it had become unsafe.

As an aside, historic documentation reveals that in 1640 parishioners of the Congregational Church were up in arms over the behaviour of their minister, one Nicholas Andrewes, who they described as being ‘a haunter and frequenter of tippling in inns and taverns’. Perhaps therefore he would smile down on the current use of the church building.

After falling from use as a place of worship the building was used for some years by Hampton’s as auction rooms and allowed to deteriorate after they vacated the building in 1998. In 2000 the upmarket restaurant The Bel and The Dragon took over the building following an extensive conversion. The restaurant, the third of the chain owned by the Mortimer family, came about seemingly by chance after Michael and Andrea Mortimer happened to come across the deserted church whilst visiting Godalming on their narrowboat. The conversion cost £600,000 during which key original architectural features were retained including the stained glass windows, stonework and heavy church doors. The first task however was to remove five tonnes of pigeon droppings from the roof which took five men 37 hours to complete.

Visitors to the restaurant cannot fail to admire the large mural depicting Bel and the Dragon located high up above the bar and expansive wine racks in the space where the pulpit was once situated. This was created, along with a series of amusing cartoons recording some of Godalming’s historical moments displayed in the corridor to the toilets, by cartoonist Tim Bulmer.

Bel and the Dragon, as the name of the restaurant, is assumed to be based on the religious tale that first appeared in the Book of Daniel in the second century BC. The restaurant has an amusing cartoon recounting the story of Bel and the Dragon as a wall plaque. It reads:

The Story of Bel and the Dragon

Dramatis Personae:
Bel: (non speaking)
King Astyages:
Loads of priests and wives, children and bits on the side:

Bel was a Babylonian idol. King Astyages wonders why Daniel, a visiting Jew, doesn't worship Bel.

"What's wrong with Bel old boy?" the King in the cartoon asks a bearded Daniel.
"He is a graven image oh mighty and great merciful King ... sir ..," replies Daniel

Bel is fed with twelve measures of fine flour, forty sheep and six vessels of wine a day.

"Bel's a fake you old fool!" shouts Daniel.
"I say, steady on old bean, I AM a King you know."

So the King calls his priests together and they have to prove that Bel really eats all the nosh on pain of being done in! It was of course a put up job and the priests snuck into Bel's temple and ate the grub themselves! (yuk, all that wooll!!)

However, Daniel was a bit of a detective on the side and proved to the King that it was all a rotten trick!
The foolish old priests met an untimely and grizzly end! Poor old Daniel then had to prove that the local dragon wasn't an idol either! He fed it pitch, fat and hair (mmmm!).

"Oi! I am an Endangered Species you know!" said the Dragon.

One Dragon hits the dust! The locals miffed at a local idol shortage cast our hero into the lion's den, and the rest, as they say, is history!


Godalming Congregational Church now Bel & The Dragon
Congregational Church 1898
complete with spire that was removed in the 1970s
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

Sadly The Rotunda, a Victorian semi-circular extension to the church built as a Sunday School and Mission Rooms remains in ruin long after the church was deconsecrated. The Rotunda was built some fifteen years after the church in 1883 and is constructed of local Bargate stone with ashlar dressings (1) and a slate roof. The interior is laid out as a large central space with the balustrade first floor level skirting around this. Individual room spaces line the walls on both floors. The roof is exposed and has skylights maximising the space inside.

(1) ashlar is dressed stone using large rectangular blocks of masonry sculpted to have square edges and even faces.

The Rotunda, The Burys, Godalming, Surrey

Much publicised plans by the owners of the Bel and Dragon to convert the Rotunda into a 'mini Globe theatre' having come to nowt the building was sold by them. Various attempts appear to have since been made in securing the building with ‘under offer’ signs coming and going over recent years. Local architects Elspeth Beard have been involved in applications ranging from conversion to private dwellings and making the building available for commercial use. A 2006 planning application submitted by the architects detailed conversion to a single four-bedroom dwelling on two floors with rooms on the upper floor located around the perimeter of the building to preserve the existing large open central space. Although permission was granted the conversion did not proceed. Elspeth Beard currently (2009) list The Rotunda under ‘current projects’ on their website and have detailed here plans to convert the building for commercial use. Their proposal is to retain the existing gallery and balustrade and to insert two new mezzanine levels linked with a suspended staircase and lift.

The town council appear to have been supportive of the various applications as they are keen to see the building preserved providing the exterior is not interfered with. The Rotunda is on the Building at Risk Register and is Grade II Listed.

Another lesser-known religious building in Godalming is the First Church of Christ Scientist located on the Ockford Road. An impressive brick-built modern building it was erected here in 1929 to provide a permanent place of worship for the religious group which was founded in the town in 1909. The movement follows the teachings of American Mary Baker Eddy (1821 - 1910) who believed the body could be healed using the teachings of the Bible. The church was designed by Paul Phipps, the father of Joyce Grenfell, but due to WWII was not completed until hostilities had ended. The church also provides an adjacent reading room.

Godalming Bandstand

Under the fund-raising auspices of the vibrant GO-Godalming Association the town now has its very own bandstand located between the parish church of St Peter and St Pauls and the bowling green of the Godalming and Farncombe Bowling Club.

Godalming Bandstand

The bandstand, which was officially opened on the 7th June 2009 with the first of GO-Godalming’s annual Music in the Park concerts, actually started life as a mound of earth that had lain here since the Jack Phillips Memorial Cloister was built in 1914.

The earth had been placed here from excavations during construction and had been contained within shuttering that was used to hold the concrete for the cloister’s central fishpond. A shallow covering of concrete topped the mound off providing a small stage area that was originally tended to be a temporary structure, but there it remained for over 90 years until in 2005 a fund-raising campaign was started to convert it into a permanent structure.

Godalming Bandstand grand opening

The GO-Godalming Association supported by the Godalming Rotary Clubs succeeded in raising enough money to enlarge the mound and faced the surrounds with local Bargate stone. The concrete topping was replaced with York stone, decorative iron railings were erected and an electricity power supply was installed. It was at this time under the guidance of Joy Poulter that the Association launched their annual Music in the Park concerts to continue fund-raising in order to erect a roof for the bandstand.

The roof was designed to look as though it is clad with lead but in fact uses a lightweight fibreglass structure to thwart the efforts of lead thieves, so much a problem in Godalming as elsewhere across the country. The design, which also incorporates energy-efficient lighting, provides for a grand Edwardian style so common of bandstands throughout the country. The roof was lowered into position on the 22nd May 2009.

The cost of £92,000 to complete the project seemed hopelessly out of reach until a local benefactor came forward with a donation of £50,000. The benefactor who had asked to remain anonymous until the opening event was revealed to be one Mrs Jill Hurst who accompanied by her grandchildren was honoured with the cutting of the ribbon at the opening.

Godalming Bandstand grand opening

The chairman of the GO-Godalming Association Steven Haines and the Mayor of Godalming Joy Poulter, who was also the driving force behind the project, led the opening ceremony. The Godalming Band had the honour of being the first to perform on the bandstand and provided a full programme of music.

The Music in the Park events are all free thanks to the generosity of local business who sponsor individual bands and are well attended each year. Performances vary from brass and jazz bands through wind and string orchestras to folk, rhthym & blues, motown and rock bands. The Godalming Band have the honour each year of playing the opening and closing concerts. There are 15 concerts in 2009 running on Sunday afternoons from June through September.

Joy Poulter Round & About  GU7 / GU8 Magazine May 2009; Opening Programme 7th June 2009

Immediately behind the bandstand is a bowling green, home to the Godalming and Farncombe Bowls Club. The Godalming club, which was formed in 1867, is the second oldest in Surrey and by default rates as one of the oldest in the country. The original club merged with its Farncombe counterpart in 2005 and today (2009) boasts a membership of over 70 players, some of whom are trained coaches who are enthusiastic in helping any newcomers get their game up to scratch.

Adjacent is the Phillips Memorial constructed by public subscription in 1913 to commemorate the bravery of Farncombe-born Jack Phillips, the Titanic radio officer who went down with his ship. The memorial is the largest in the country to commemorate a single member of the crew. MORE HERE

A Right Royal Ruse

Godalming has had some very influential residents in its long history. Westbrook House (GR: SU964438), now The Meath Home, so called because the Countess of Meath opened it as a care 'Home of Comfort for Epileptics' in 1892, belonged to the Oglethorpe family. They were supporters of the Stuart cause. Just before James II was deposed in 1688 in favour of William of Orange, his queen gave birth to a son who was known to the Jacobites as James III, but to Hannovians as Old Pretender. James was forced to spend most of his life in exile and died in 1766. Legend has it he was not of royal birth but that the baby born to Queen Mary in 1688 died at birth. To prevent a loss of lineage it is claimed that the recently born son of Sir Theophilus Oglethorpe (1650 - 1702) was smuggled to the Palace of Westminster in a warming pan, and exchanged for the dead baby.

Providing an illustration of the extreme political uncertainty of the time, in 1722 the Oglethorpe sisters built fortifications all along the vineyard wall on the estate and also had two stout Bargate stone forts erected built, one of which remains today as ‘Little Fort’, now a private residence. The forts were well placed to command the Valley of the Ock and the Portsmouth Road approaches to the town. It may just now be an imaginative embellishment to a contemporary rumour, but it is said that Westbrook even had a network of underground passages centering on a cave to provide a sophisticated defence network, and also provided for a considerable store for supplies in preparation for the widely anticipated Civil War. There is no evidence of the tunnels today.

James Oglethorpe (1696 - 1785) and son of Sir Theophilus was born here and later went on to found a colony in America which was to become the State of Georgia.

The Oglethorpe family home today continues to serve as a residential care centre for sufferers of epilepsy under the Meath Epilepsy Trust in its perfect setting of 10 acres of well cared for grounds. MORE HERE

Westbrook House & The Meath Home

Queen Victoria's daughter-in-law, HRH the Duchess of Albany, officially opened the Meath Home of Comfort for Epileptic Women and Girls in August 1892. The opening was attended by 1,500 people and was buoyed by the fact that £500, approximately £45,000 today, had been raised by public subscription assuring the success of the home.

The Meath family, whose name the home carries, were an influential and wealthy family originating with an Irish title dating back to 1627. The 12th Earl, born Reginald Brabazon, was to marry Lady Mary Jane Maitland and the couple were to spend much of their time devoting their energy to helping with the relief of social problems and human suffering. Their early projects included working with workhouses and orphanages and it was during one of their many foreign travels that the Meaths encountered an epileptic colony in Germany. The Bethel Colony was a large institution housing over 1,000 people suffering from epilepsy and all of whom were treated well and were encouraged to contribute in constructive ways to their upkeep and the local community. In Victorian England epileptics were locked up often with lunatics and in effect forgotten about by society.

Following their visit Lady Meath purchased in June 1891 Westbrook House in Godalming for £5,750 a (appx. £466,000 today) to convert it into a home for epileptics. By the end of the first year there were 70 patients from 24 counties living at Meath and the venture had cured a list of influential excellence including the Archbishop of Canterbury. The building was extended in the early years to include a west and south wing and an outside barn was converted into a chapel.

The home was run in a regimented way by a Lady Superintendent monitored by a working committee and the trustees. The focus of the treatment for epileptics was based upon providing suitable occupation for the patients rather than drugs or diet as was common at the time. They were kept busy with light household tasks including laundry and were encouraged to create items that could be sold commercially including basketwork tapestry. Out of hours the Meath provided singing and dancing classes and the girls played cricket and tennis. Lady Meath also encouraged the patients to spend time away from the home and for that purpose she purchased a seaside holiday cottage on Hayling Island, which was also to become a residence for 26 epileptic children.

Lady Meath died in 1918 after suffering a heart condition for many years. After the conclusion of the First World War Winston Churchill made a point of writing to the Earl to posthumously thank her for a work which included the setting up of a military hospital in Ottershaw in Surrey.

The centre today is regarded as one of the leading facilities for the treatment and care of adults who have severe epilepsy coupled with a learning and / or a physical disability. The work at the Meath Epilepsy Trust continues to embrace the values instilled by Lady Meath and although facilities have been tremendously improved over the last 20 years and diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy is much advanced the ethos remains much the same.

In 2008 The Trust launched Meath Arthouse to celebrate the creative skills of of adults within its care. The project has become an outstanding success with artwork displayed and purchased by galleries around the country. To date (February 2009) Arthouse has generated sales of over £14,000 which has been ploughed back into the project with some of the receipts being used as a reward to the Meath artists.

“They have varied skills and I group them together,” said the project’s leader Becky Sheraidah. “ I lay out a sheet of canvas and the less dextrous do the sea and the sky with brushes and sponges, the people with more ability paint the boats and the houses and the post talented paint the details in. It’s really good for everyone’s morale Many of those who had done art previously had expected their work to be thrown away. This has been a life-changing experience for them.” Surrey Advertiser 13th February 2009

The Kings Arms & Czar Peter the Great

A popular and busy coaching inn in the centuries before the railways took over was the Kings Arms & Royal Hotel in Godalming High Street. The inn was frequented by Henry VIII and Lord Nelson, and the less fortunate including French prisoners of the Napoleonic war, and later British felons on their way to be deported to Australia lodged there.

King's Arms and Royal Hotel, Godalming

A scheduled stop on the stagecoach Accommodation’s route between London and Portsmouth, the King’s Arms benefited from the overnight stays of its passengers who paid the princely sum of half a guinea to reach thus far from Piccadilly.

The landlord at one time had a farm in Farncombe where he kept 30 to 40 horses that were hired to the coaching companies.

King's Arms Godalming Heraldry Exhibition
Friary Meux Pub Heraldry Exhibition cover 1984

The inn had its fair share of difficult customers, but one so famous as to trigger a near scandal in the 17th century, or so it was rumoured. In 1698 the proprietor had the dubious pleasure of entertaining Czar Peter the Great of Russia (1672 - 1725) and his large entourage. Landlord James Moon’s delight soon turned to horror when he realised the Czar had absolutely no intention of paying for their keep, or indeed for the damage from a wild party. Moon’s nightmare was finally over when the Czar’s party moved on to stay with diarist John Evelyn in Deptford, where they stayed for 3 months at his expense and where they also did immeasurable damage, eating and drinking him out of house and home. Evelyn’s bailiff is recorded as describing them as ‘right nasty people’. If you believe the touristy banter the Czar’s phantom is said to reside at the inn and manifests itself by kicking off its boots between 1am and 2am. Quite why his ghost would choose here is a mystery, unless it invokes memories of happier more carefree times of course.

There is however an official gloss to Peter the Great's 1698 visit which would suggest his stay was more in keeping with his status and was a lot briefer than the popular gossip of the time suggested. A bronze plaque with a bust of the Czar and his crests in relief is proudly displayed on the front of the building. The plaque was presented by the Russian Ambassador to London in December 1998 and was created by the Union of Russian Artists for the Filyovsky Park district of Moscow where Peter the Great spent much of his life. The inscription reads:

Russian Czar Peter the Great visited Godalming in March 1698 and stayed overnight at the Kings Arms Inn. This plaque was cast and presented to citizens of Godalming by citizens of Moscow Fili District to commemorate the tercentenary of this visit.

Czar Peter The Great of Russia
Czar Peter The Great of Russia
Image in public domain

The following account of the ceremony is recorded by Godalming Town Council:

"The eminent visitors were welcomed initially in the Council Chamber by the then Mayor, Michael Stubbs, the Town Clerk and members of the Council who wore ceremonial robes for the occasion. There followed a reception for some 30 people which included Mrs Virginia Bottomley MP at The Kings Arms Hotel and the plaque was ceremoniously unveiled at 3.30 pm. The visitors walked through the High Street and enjoyed an English tea in the Godalming Museum where a copy of the menu for the 1698 visit at The Kings Arms was on display and the then Mayor Michael Stubbs presented a framed print of the Old Town Hall, Pepperpot to Mr Senkov to be hung in the Mayor’s office in Moscow." Source: Godalming Town Council

The three-storey 20-bed building standing today has a distinctive Tuscan porch with columns and a magnificent facade of red and black brickwork dating back to 1753. To the interior however is timber work and panelling which is considerably older and would have paid witness to the Czar's visit. Various buildings providing inn accomodation have stood on the site since 1358.

In 2008 the interior was subjected to a £1m renovation providing the inn with a 1920s themed bar and restaurant, and according to the new owner's description now provides 15 'new boutique rooms'. In July 2007 the business was on the market for £1.75m freehold.

Land owned by the hotel has been sold off as part of a housing development (2009) resulting in the loss of their large walled garden and encroachment into the courtyard. The new development has been named as Royal Mews.

In the courtyard to the rear of the hotel stand the Grade II listed King's Arms Mews, a converted stable block dating back to the mid-18th century and now used for office space.

Taking advantage of the healthy coaching trade during the 16th and 17th centuries other Godalming coaching inns included the Great George, the White Hart and the Angel all of which demised after the railways stole away their trade in the mid 19th century.


Two Stations & the Gas Salesman

Godalming for a while had two railway stations, with the first opening on the Frith Hill side of the river in 1845 when the line reached the town where the Railway Hotel (GR: SU974443) was. Once the line from London to Portsmouth was completed the station became redundant although a sidings and goods yard were retained here until 1969. A block of flats now occupies the original site. The hotel was demolished in the 1930s and now the Wey Inn occupies the site by the roundabout on the busy route to Guildford. There was originally a brewery behind the hotel too.

The new station designed by Sir William Tite (1798 - 1873), which serves the town today, was built close to the centre and was opened in 1859. Sir William was renowned for his designs of railway buildings which included those of Windsor, Edinburgh, Southampton and Nine Elms Vauxhall.

Steam Locomotive at Godalming Station by Stephen Goddard
click on image to go to artist's website Click to visit Terry Harrison's website

If you think that the modern renovations undertaken in 1985 have given the building a distinctly similar look to the corporate branding of the now defunct brewer Friary Mieux, you wouldn’t be mistaken. The brewery had offices close by and contributed to the funding ensuring that their corporate colours were absorbed into the renovations. The station also fell to another unusual circumstance when it continued to be lit by gas right up until the 1960s. This is very odd when you consider Godalming had had an electricity supply for over 80 years, having been the first town in Britain to have a public electricity supply (see below). The problem had been a contract with the local gas supply company who had secured the business for 100 years. Our contemporary gas salespeople perhaps still have a thing or two to learn . . .

Station staff have won awards in the 'Godalming in Bloom' competition for 2004 and 2006. 2005 and 2006 saw them win the Best Small Station in the South West Trains 'Station Pride Awards'.

In 2006 Godalming Station became a fictional 'Shere Station' for the film The Holiday starring Cameron Diaz and Jude Law. MORE HERE

The First Public Electricity in Britain

The first public electricity supply in Britain was introduced into Godalming in 1881. Having heard that the annual contract for supplying gas to Godalming Corporation for the street lamps was up for renewal, Calder & Bennet, a group of pioneering electrical engineers, put in a tender. A public demonstration was successfully made when a single arc light lit up part of the town. The company won the contract to supply public lighting to the town for £195 for the year. The lighting using arc lights and incandescent lamps was powered by electricity generated at Westbrook Mill on the River Wey. Weybridge however was to become the first town in England to be lit solely by incandescent lamps. Incandescent lamps use a filament enclosed in glass to produce light, an example being the common light bulbs we use today. An arc lamp is an older invention and generated a bright light by creating a spark between two carbon nodes, but had the tendency to flicker and crackle. A bespoke generating station was built adjacent to the river in Church Walk in 1890, but not before the town had for a period reverted back to gas until the electric lamps became more reliable.


Godalming's Cellar

In the centre of Godalming you will find a flourishing social project founded on the belief that only good can come from providing a place to meet no matter what your age or personal circumstances. The Cellar Coffee Bar celebrated its 30th year (2009) of providing company, refreshment and shelter from the elements to an eclectic mix of customers. Founded by the Warehouse Christian Trust, a charity established just for the purpose, the cafe first opened its doors in February 1979.

The Cellar Coffe Bar in Crown Court Godalming Surrey

“Over the years the Cellar has opened its arms to many different disadvantaged or misunderstood groups of people in the community: squatters, people with drug or alcohol problems, unmarried mothers and single parents, the unemployed, the homeless and people who have suffered breakdowns or serious illness have been helped. The Cellar has always provided a listening ear and prayerful support to their problems. A free simple meal is always available to any who come in need, and at Christmas time about 25 food parcels are distributed to known needy families.” thecellarcafe.co.uk

The project was originally conceived as providing somewhere for young people to congregate but over the decades has considerably widened its scope. Established by a committee drawn from across a number of different local churches the trust was so named as the property they were originally negotiating to secure for the project was a warehouse in the town. The deal fell through, as did negotiations to secure the lease for The Richmond public house building, which if successful was dubbed by the founding committee as going to be ‘the pub without booze’. The trust eventually secured a lease on what was then a small Italian restaurant in Crown Court, The Pinocchio.

The £10,000 cost of the lease for the first year was generously donated by one of the committee from a redundancy payoff enabling The Cellar to become a reality. The small two-storey building was completely renovated by volunteers from the trust including an upstairs kitchen and the connecting dumb waiter, a food lift operated by a rope pulley.

The Cellar became popular with local youngsters although initially the trust noted that these tended to be those associated with the area’s churches. However by the mid-80s students from Godalming Sixth Form College often frequented the cafe during lunch breaks and after college. But customers weren’t limited to the young. Staff at the cafe soon found that they were also becoming confidants, informal counsellors and occasionally keepers of the peace as the clientele extended to include others in the community who were less privileged. The communities of Godalming and Farncombe during the 1980s and 1990s were joined by groups of squatters attracted to the number of vacant buildings in the area. A peak time in the town was when the Godalming relief road was in the pre-construction phase as homes and businesses in the path of the planned road were sold and abandoned to await demolition. The Cellar at one time opened a soup station in the cafe to ensure that at least one simple free meal a day was available for those that needed it.

In the early 1980s Friends of The Cellar was formed as an initiative to continue support for the charity and further its cause. Membership of the Friends, who have a regular newsletter, numbered around 300 in 2006. The Cellar Church Representatives was formed in 1990 to facilitate improved communication between the different churches of the charity’s day-to-day activities and to co-ordinate fund-raising efforts. The group meets quarterly.

A refurbishment in 1991 relocated the kitchen from the top floor releasing the vacated area for other uses. After its launch in 1997 by the Warehouse Christian Trust, Skillway, a church-sponsored charity providing vocational training for educationally disaffected local teenagers, has based its administrative functions from here.

The following quotes are taken from Angus Campbell’s compilation of reminiscences from Cellar members – The Cellar Comes of Age published in 2006.

“Why call it the ‘Cellar? Well the town already has a Pepperpot . . . remember Jesus said “you are the salt of the earth” so let us shake the salt around a bit and continue to spread God’s love through the work of the (salt) Cellar” Robin Watson

“My abiding memory of the Cellar is that of a bright, friendly, caring haven in the midst of a busy, bustling town. It was one of a kind.” Angie Oakden

“It would be a sad loss indeed not to be able to go in each week and chat to ‘the gang’ of regular customers. It is a haven of acceptance and care in an impersonal and frantic world.” Susan Chandler

Several contributors recorded the names of some of the regular customers, many of whom had taken up the rainbow hair colours of self-expression released during Britain’s  ‘punk’ years in the late seventies and early eighties. These included Cosmic Pete, Roo, Pickmeup Pete (an ex-taxi driver), Squirrel Eater, Creeping Jesus, Cat Weasel and Crazy Pete. The staff confessed they never got to know their real names.

The Cellar welcomes everyone to the cafe at 42 High Street Godalming – it’s in Crown Court next to Wetherspoons public house and near Crown Court public carpark.

The Cellar Comes of Age edited by Angus Campbell 2006; theceallarcafe.co.uk June 2009


Godalming's Lost Hospitals

King George V Sanatorium

Originally built as Highdown Sanatorium, the 230-bed King George V Sanatorium (KGV) (GR: SU973404) off Salt Lane in Hydestile was at the forefront of research and treatment for tuberculosis (TB) (1) from 1922 until 1988. When the facility was renamed in honour of the monarch he reportedly declined the invitation to attend the opening ceremony. Established by the Metropolitan Asylums Board as a Tuberculosis Isolation Hospital it pioneered the development of drug therapy to combat TB and developed the Iron Lung that was to save many lives.

King George V Sanitorium
King George V 1920 viewed from north
© unknown

Deliberately chosen for its remote location, the 52 acre site on the Busbridge Hall (GR: SU975421) estate provided ample space for isolation wards set apart in a star formation with the wards interconnected by covered paths. The whole complex of brick buildings was considerable and provided amongst the usual requisites for a hospital special facilities for its patients including a library, chapel, snooker room, tuck shop and a leather workshop.

The hospital maintained a significant horticultural operation established in the 1920s by its first medical superintendent who was also an arborculturist. The farm sited at Hydestile crossroads also provided an important asset for patient rehabilitation, pivotal for their full recovery from this terrible debilitating disease of the lungs which usually required a long stay for inpatients.

Christmas at King George V Sanitorium 1952
Christmas at KGV 1952
© unknown

King George V, which until the late 1950s exclusively treated male patients, was converted into a more general facility after 1969 and eventually closed in 1988. The buildings were demolished in 1997 with only a few including the superintendent's house (now Hare's Grove), the Gatehouse and a few staff cottages and some other buildings surviving to be refurbished and sold for domestic use.

Highly regarded, the hospital had high profile support from the likes of Leslie Phillips, James Robertson Justice and Terry Scott who were regular visitors.

(1) TB usually (but not exclusively) causes disease in the lungs (pulmonary) with this form being highly infectious and transmitted by the coughing of infectious droplets. TB, which is caused by bacterial infection, is curable but usually requires continous treatment over a six month period. Although TB in Britain is not as widespread as it once was there are still around 8,000 new cases reported each year.

Acknowledgement: Many thanks to Paul Osborne for permission to use material from his highly informative site about the sanatorium: King George V Sanatorium
Other sources:Health Protection Agency www.hpa.org.uk



Busbridge Estate and Lakes

The Busbridge Estate was originally owned by one James de Busbridge. Having sold the property to John Eliot in the early 16th century the estate was transformed by its new owner. A fine timber house was erected in 1560, to later be converted into the Old Hall by his great grandson William in the mid 17th century. It was around this time that that a 500 acre (208 ha) park was created having been granted 'free warren' (2) in 1637. The Eliot family sold the estate in 1710. Later owners added 'garden features' including a 'canal nearly 700 feet long and 58 in breadth'.

The Old Hall was demolished and Busbridge Hall built on higher ground to the north in 1906. The stables and coach house of Old Hall were converted into the present Busbridge Lakes House. In 1951 the estate was broken up and sold off in lots, with Busbridge Hall being purchased by the Post Office Fellowship of Remembrance.

Busbridge Hall, today set in 15 acres (6 ha) of communal gardens with a tennis court, was converted into apartments. A three-bedroomed 'duplex penthouse' apartment with roof terrace was on the market for £795,000 in April 2011.

The parkland straddles a valley in which the series of lakes fed by springs. A collection of follies was constructed here in the mid 18th century, but most of which were removed in the early 1960s.

An isolation hospital was located on the estate in the 1920s.

Busbridge Church was built by the Ramsden family of Busbridge Hall and dedicated in 1867 as St John the Baptist Church. Actor Terry Thomas was a resident at Busbridge Hall nursing home, and after his death at the home in 1990 his funeral service was conducted at the church.

St. Thomas' Hospital, Hydestile

The area to the east of King George V, that prior to the war had been used as the sanatorium's market garden, was cleared in the early 1940s for the building of an emergency wartime hospital to care for injured and sick Allied troops and which was known as the Third Australian (Servicemen's) General Hospital.

In 1941 the wooden hutted complex had been expanded to 360 beds and nearby properties were leased to cater for the evacuation of patients and staff of St. Thomas' Hospital, Lambeth in London after the hospital had suffered extensive damage from bombing. A maternity facility with 50 beds was opened in nearby Woking and their medical school was also evacuated with various departments locating to Charterhouse, Applegarth and The Manor House in Godalming - MORE HERE. The evacuation, planned in earnest after persistent bombing raids in the Autumn of 1940, was well considered for by the end of the war four ward buildings, three operating theatres, virtually all of the nurses accommodation and a large section of the out-patients department had been destroyed at the Lambeth hospital. The hospital also suffered several hits by V1 flying bombs. 10 members of staff lost their lives in the bombing but miraculously not a single patient life was lost.

St. Thomas' continued to use the Hydestile facility for teaching long after the war ended, finally closing the site in 1968. The casualty department building, which had been housed in a Nissen hut, was not demolished until the 1970's. All that remains of the hospital today is the old entrance complete with remnants of the original signs.

At St. Thomas' amid the fray
Life for all was grim and gay,
The blitz led to a great displacement
For one and all slept in the basement.

But trouble was not far away.
They bombed us by night, they bombed us by day,
Thus thrice we were directly hit
And lasted but a week of it.

Ere the blows had but occurred
Guided by Wyatt's kindly word
We students all with one accord
Sallied forth to Guildford.

Our arrival at the ancient City
Filled the local folk with genuine pity,
Who preferring us to refugees,
Quickly put us at our ease.

And now that we have settled down,
And grown accustomed to the town,
We find that, far from being alarming,
The people here are very charming.

Work and play can here agree,
And we do our dancing and A.R.P.
Thus our sad extermination
Has had a pleasant compensation.

Uncredited medical student,
St Thomas' Hospital Gazette 1941

A local Milford resident who recently celebrated her centennial year had close connections with Hydestile. Hilda Stow was presented with her 100th birthday greeting from the Queen in November 2006. Mrs Stow met her husband when she worked at St Thomas' Hospital in Lambeth and consequently he became St Thomas' Hydestile's chief engineer when the couple moved to Milford in 1941.

A matron of St. Thomas' Lambeth who was appointed acting matron at Hydestile and oversaw the evacuation was later to receive a CBE. Margaret Smyth went on to become the president of the Royal College of Nursing.

Acknowledgement: Many thanks to Paul Osborne for permission to use material from his highly informative site about the KGV sanatorium which includes detail on St. Thomas' Hydestile: King George V Sanatorium
Other sources:
King's College London Archives; Guy's, King's & St. Thomas' Hospitals Medical and Dental School Gazette February 2003; Waverley Borough Council November 2006; The Times 1991


Frith Hill Water Tower

In 1880 a reservoir and water tower (GR: SU967447) were commissioned to provide Godalming and nearby Farncombe with high pressure water supplies. The 75ft (23m) tower, now converted to a private residence, could hold 28,000 gallons (127,290l) and the reservoir 369,000 gallons (1.67m l) with water pumped into both from a 60ft (18m) deep well by a 15 horse-power steam engine installed in No. 1 Pumping Station, now also converted for domestic use.

Godalming viewed from Frith Hill 1898
View from Frith Hill 1898
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

Another reservoir and No. 2 Pumping Station were built in 1885 in Catteshall Lane. Catteshall Springs Reservoir stored water extracted from springs renowned for their pure soft water in readiness for it to be pumped up to Frith Hill by a Crossley Gas Engine. The brick vaulted structure was dug back 80ft (24m) into South Hill by Catteshall Lane and had its roof covered with soil and grass so that only its frontage was visible from the road. It was demolished in 1966 and replaced with houses at Camarge Place. The springs now discharge their 19,000 gallons (86,375l) of water per hour directly into the River Wey.

All of Godalming and Farncombe's water is today supplied from the pumping station located behind the church at Shalford.

The highly distinctive steel-framed house Cliffhanger on Frith Hill was built in the 1970s following designs by the modernist Clive Feather. The four-bedroom home is set on a steep wooded site overlooking Godalming and according to estate agent’s details still retains many of its original features including an original Scandinavian fireplace, wood panelling, a spiral staircase, and the original coloured Arne Jacobsen-designed Vola bathroom fittings. The property was on the market for £645,000 (2003).

“Cliffhanger would not look out of place in the Hollywood Hills.” Damian Barr, timesonline 28th February 2003

Also on Frith Hill Road is Downhill House, which was on the market in June 2009 for £645,000. It too is cantilevered into the hillside providing the owners with outstanding views through extensive glazing and also has a living area centered on a fireplace. ‘This makes it very Frank Lloyd Wright’ (1) themodernhouse.co.uk A planning application (2007) to lop ash and elder trees on the site underlines the real value of the commanding position Frith Hill holds for properties designed to make best use of the views available.

(1) Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect who popularised open-plan living and opening the interior to maximise visual lines to the outside.

The Ram Ciderhouse
(that was)

Housed in a 450 year old building on Catteshall Lane near Catteshall Manor, The Ram provided refreshment and entertainment for as long as anyone can remember. Specialising in a bewildering range of 30 cask and keg ciders, the landlords also welcomed musicians to perform informally on the premises, and for many years local folk singers would entertain the regulars.

Old Ram Ciderhouse, Farncombe by Kevin Gorton

The last licensee, Carolyn Eley, lost an ongoing battle with the authorities on being allowed to offer live music at the venue which she put down to new fire and other regulations brought in by the EC. In order to meet the new regulations she was advised that fire doors would need to be installed, but the Grade II listing of the building prevented this. The pub also received noise abatement notices which prevented Eley hosting live music and other events to take advantage of the large patio and beautiful gardens with old apple orchard in the summer. These provided vital income which kept the business a going concern.

The Ram finally closed its doors for the last time in September 1999 and is now a private residence.

"I had the pleasure of being a guest of Carolyn's in 1996 for a week at both her home and the the Ram. She was a gracious and fun loving host who would go full tilt for you at the drop of a hat. I'm sad to hear that it's gone but will always remember getting the chance to pull pints at the Ram for the regulars." Jeff Thompson bestpubs.co.uk

"I have fond (if somewhat blurred) memories of a number of trips to this pub. On one visit, I and a few friends were challenged to a tug'o'war in the large garden at the back, which had a stream through the middle. Just before we were able to pull the locals' team into the stream they all let go at once, and I, being anchor man ended up head first in the ditch outside the gents. Nothing another pint or two couldn't fix though..." Stephen Williams geograph.org.uk

Godalming Town goes Wireless

Godalming is proud of its place in the history books and it seems it wants to remain a technology pioneer. In May 2008 Godalming became the first market town in Britain to provide public wireless access in the town centre 125 years after it was the first to have a public electricty supply.

"Godalming is thought to be the first market town in the UK with a scheme such as this and it means that anybody in the area (of the scheme) can make use of free internet access," said Cllr Adam Taylor who launched the pilot by connecting to the internet from the High Street. "The one year pilot allows for testing and customer feedback and if it is successful and there is demand the scheme could be rolled out to other parts of the borough."

This is how the scheme unrolled . . .

The plan, enthusiastically approved by Councillors at Godalming Town Council, provided for transmitters to be installed along the High Street which will provide any users of computers, hand-held devices and mobiles with the ability to connect to the wireless network and hence connect with other devices anywhere in the world.

"Godalming is a town with a proud tradition of being at the forefront of emerging technologies. Going wireless provides Godalming with an opportunity once again to assert itself as a pioneer - a small town comparable with a city," said Gareth Bouwer, 802.UK technical director.

Surrey Economic Partnership and the specialist Surrey based wireless technology specialists 802.UK (later Nouveau Solutions) are working together on the project. 802.UK are proposing to subsidise the project which will appeal to the town's businesses and encourage economic growth and visitors to the town.

"I grew up with the story of Godalming becoming the first town to have a public electricity supply but know its time for a new story," said Gary Hudson, 802.UK's managing director, and who lives locally.

Surrey Advertiser 25th August 2006

The plan to launch the scheme in the town was rubber-stamped (February 2008) by Waverley Borough Council. The one-year pilot scheme to provide a secure wireless network covering an area from the council offices in Bridge Street up to Godalming Station allows WiFi (1) users to access the internet from the central zone which primarily covers the High Street and The Burys. Upon completion of the pilot the council intend to assess whether the WiFi zone will be extended further.

The Milford-based technical team Nouveau Solutions(previously referred to here as 802.UK) were keen to ensure that Godalming became one of the first towns in the UK to provide this facility which aims to encourage people into the town. Users to benefit will include local businesses, students from Godalming College, library and museum users, and residents and visitors to the town. An additional benefit highlighted has been the ability to install wireless CCTV cameras in the town centre.

"The purpose is primarily for 'business-on-the-move', for people to be able to access their emails," said Iain Lynch, head of Waverley's economic development and partnerships. "We're doing it to help make Godalming a more competitive place than some other neighbouring towns, and to give another reason to visit or stay here."

The timing of the project is especially poignant as Godalming has recently celebrated the 125th anniversary of being the first town in Britain to have had a public electricity supply.

The initial cost to Waverley has been estimated to be £6,000, with an additional £3,000 budgeted annually for maintenance costs. Nouveau, who will manage the network, are also funding start-up costs with financial assistance from the Surrey Economic Partnership's Connected Surrey Project (2) and support from Godalming Town Council.

(1) WiFi was conceived to enable devices such as PCs, mobile phones and handheld devices to connect to the internet through wireless hotspots in local area networks. 'WiFi' is an acronym of 'Wireless Fidelity'. A trade group called the Wi-Fi Alliance own the trademark to the technology.
(2) Surrey Economic Partnership is an organisation which aims to bring together businesses and the public and voluntary sectors principally to benefit the economy in the county. it is based in Guildford.

Surrey Advertiser 8th February 2008

Local businesses have reported (August 2008) direct benefits since the town's free wi-fi scheme was launched in May. A sandwich business based at Godalming station introduced an online ordering system enabling customers to pre-order in advance of picking up their food. Local youth groups and charity organisations are actively using the network, and a design agency in the town resorted to the network when their own went down enabling them to continue working without interruption.

The network now (May 2009) covers a wireless range covering the train station up to the council offices which provides effective coverage for the Pepperpot, High Street, Bridge Street, The Burys and the library.

Blacksmiths & Whitesmiths

When horses were used extensively to provide muscle power for ploughing and hauling carts, stagecoaches and barges, blacksmiths were an essential trade. There was still a forge in Pound Lane in the centre of Godalming until the end of the 19th century, the fine old building long since gone with the site now occupied by a record shop. Nearby, local historians have identified the premises of a whitesmith, who also doubled as a gasfitter and electrician to make ends meet, quite common at the time. Working tin sheet, an accomplished whitesmith or tinsmith could turn his hand to making everything from pots, kettles and saucepans to hoops for casks. The term ‘whitesmith’ comes from the reference to tin and other soft alloys as ‘white iron’.

Godalming Museum

The popular Godalming Museum is sited in a listed medieval building, which records show was the site of a bakery for over 370 years, in the centre of town. The existing structure is of two joined 15th century Wealden timber framed houses. Some of the oak beams have been dated to 1446 making the building the oldest in the town apart from the parish church, and sections of the original lime and horse hair plastered wattle wall are visible today. The brick facade and parapet was added in the 18th century.

Having been originally established in the Town Hall by the town council in 1920 the museum was re-housed in the refurbished building in 1987, with further enhancements made in 1998 using a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Further improvements were completed in January 2009 in an attempt to raise the museum's profile in the town. The museum has long suffered from a low visitor visibility as, with the exception of a small front entrance, it lacks street level frontage to the High Street. The refurbishment highlights the museum at first floor level and saw the installation of a new mosaic created by Budd Mosaics in the front entrance. Budd Mosaics is England's oldest surviving mosiac creators having been established in 1963.

The museum, which is free to visit, as well as providing informative exhibitions also boasts a local studies library, an arts and crafts gallery and a shop. Godalming was at the centre of the Arts and Crafts movement and to mark this the museum has works by Helen Allingham, Gertrude Jekyll, Sir Edwin Lutyens, Hugh Thackeray Turner and Myles Birket Foster.

Notable pieces include Thomas in the Character of Puss in Boots (1869) and The Sun of Venice Going to Sea (after Joseph Mallord William Turner) (c.1870), both by Gertrude Jekyll; Thomas Henry Huxley by John Collier; and Jack Phillips (1912) by Martin Ellis was commissioned by students of Godalming Grammar School where Jack Phillips had been a pupil. Ellis painted the portrait from a photograph and the artwork was selected (June 2011) to be included on Your Paintings website, a joint initiative by the BBC and The Public Catalogue Foundation. Your Paintings provides access to view art collections held in public institutions, the majority of which are not on display. The Jack Phillips painting can be viewed HERE.

To the rear of the building is a sheltered courtyard garden laid out in the style typical of Gertrude Jekyll.

The Percy Woods Collection is housed at Godalming Museum and provides a 'a fully indexed, comprehensive and meticulous collection of transcripts and documents, notes and illustrations, which fills 100 large volumes and covers over 500 years of the history of the Godalming Hundred'.

"The Museum records the history of a quiet country town with many traces of a rich industrial past, notably in cloth making and knitting." exploringsurreyspast.org.uk

Godalming Museum is located at 109a High Street GU7 1AQ opposite the Pepperpot. Opening hours (2012) Tuesday - Saturday, 10am to 5pm (April to October), 10am to 4pm (November to March). The Local Studies Library is open 1pm to 4pm.

Godalming Museum Trust, an independent charitable trust, runs the museum in partnership with Waverley Borough Council.

"This diddy museum at the top of Godalming High Street is a mine of information on local history, and is free to get in. The building itself dates back to 1446 and provides inspiration for history projects, arts and crafts, or to help youngsters understand the important industrial history of the town with photographs, special exhibitions, and all the resources in their local studies library. On entering the museum, follow a trail which shows you how the building has changed over the years, and see the huge inner workings of a clock, which appeals to my son's engineering mind! Among other things, find out about Godalming's connection to the Titanic (Jack Phillips, a wireless engineer, was from here, and served on Titanic). On the ground floor you'll find a shop and cafe, leading out to the garden (toilet and library upstairs - not great for buggies but with older kids it's not too much to manage). Over summer holidays the museum runs drop-in activities in the arts and crafts room, and there are exhibitions throughout the year such as local paintings or photography. Group bookings and tours can be organised, too." CB 6th September 2010 childfriendly.co.uk

The Godalming Visitor Information Centre was opened in the museum by the Godalming Together Community Interest Company (CIC) in January 2012. Godalming Healthcheck made some observations (2009) about visitors to Godalming.

There are significant levels of tourism in Godalming - but this is predominantly people visiting family and friends in the area and business people rather than holidaymakers.

When residents were asked whether Godalming needed a tourist information centre, 26% said "yes" and 46% said "no". Local retailers have shown more enthusiasm for a tourist information centre because more tourists would probably increase footfall in shopping streets. Godalming Healthcheck July 2009

Godalming Museum was commissioned (2011) as part of the Happy Museum Project 'to carry out a variety of projects which seek to better connect people and institutions with each other and their environment'. The initiative was kick-started when The Guardian newspaper published (March 2011) a paper co-written by the New Economics Foundation and high-profile commentators. The Happy Museum: a tale of how it could turn out all right provided a manifesto to stimulate debate about the future of museums. The newspaper highlighted the museum's close connection to local groups:

"In order to test the Happy Museum proposition, we commissioned six museums to carry out a variety of projects which seek to better connect people and institutions with each other and their environment. Amongst them is Godalming Museum, which is connecting with a variety of civic society groups including Transition Godalming to explore the town's hydro-electric heritage." guardian.co.uk 19th January 2012

The 1921 community museum tells the story of the town and surrounding villages. Local initiatives active in the field of sustainability and community building are engaged to look at past ways of life and current ideas and hopes for a sustainable way of living, including Transition Town Godalming, allotment holders and a new local Hydro electricity project. Connections are made to new ideas, a new public and to new knowledge and skills. happymuseumproject.org

The six museums received awards totalling £60,000 from The Happy Museum Project, which is funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, with Godalming Museum's share of £7,000 spent on introducing a new 'civic space' for an exhibition called Collecting Connections. The idea behind the initiative is to engage the public with organisations such as Transition Godalming and allotment holders by providing the groups with space to present their ideas. The museum also plans to set up a 'small-scale hydroelectric project'.

"We will launch the project with an event in October [2011] and would like to invite all groups and individuals working locally on environmental issues, or in community building, to get in touch with me at the museum," said curator Allison Pattison. "This is an exciting opportunity for us to work with some of the people who are doing such innovative work in this field, plus we are looking forward to installing some great new interactive displays in the galleries at the end of the project." getsurrey.co.uk 2nd August 2011

Other museums taking part included London Transport Museum, Manchester Museum, Woking Lightbox, The Cinema Museum, and the Oxford Story Museum. The project will conclude in January 2013 with a conference to assess the commissioned projects results.

Thai festival at secretts, Godalming

Godalming Healthcheck

All four market towns (1) in the Waverley Borough undertook a Market Town Healthcheck. The idea of a healthcheck is for a coordinated appraisal of issues 'that affect peoples' quality of life in the town and surrounding countryside' to be made and assessed, and for recommendations to be carried through.

The scheme was launched by the Countryside Agency in 2001, with 200 market towns having registered by mid-2007. The agency provided a web-based 'Market Towns Toolkit' which included worksheets providing procedure and guidance. Grants from a range of agencies, including £7m from the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), were to be made available for the implementation of plans resulting from the programme.

In 2006 a steering group was set up in Godalming to manage groups of volunteers each briefed to research issues covering one of five topics: social and community, transport, environment, economy and youth. The groups produced a list of action points that their research suggested were important to the town and in their opinion would improve some aspect of life for its people.

The next step was for the Healthcheck ideas to be aired with members of the public, and in the summer of 2007 a public exhibition was held and a questionnaire was sent to 25% (2,200) of Godalming households. An independent research company, Surrey Social and Market Research from the University of Surrey, was engaged to undertake the consultation exercise. The council provided funds totalling £5,000 during 2006 and 2007.

The initiative resulted in a 36 page document which focuses on community, transport, environment, economy, and young people.

"This is a community-led review of the Godalming area," said Cllr Jane Thomson, chairman of the Healthcheck steering group. "The report addresses issues which affect us all, and I think it is really important that all of us take a long, hard look at it. The next thing we are going to do is form a group to address some of the issues the Healthcheck has flagged up. What I really hope now is that people living in the area will make time to support projects which help to make our area a better place to live."

Surrey Advertiser March 2007; 24th July 2009

Key findings from the Godalming Healthcheck included:

  • 97.4% of residents are satisfied with living in the Godalming area.
  • The town has a long and rich heritage and offers an attractive environment, a good range of family homes and a wide variety of local facilities including shops, services, leisure facilities, schools and churches.
  • There is an active community life with groups and organisations covering a broad spectrum of interests and activities.
  • Unemployment in the town is very low.
  • Compared with the national average Godalming has a significantly higher proportion of people employed in professional and managerial occupations and a correspondingly lower proportion employed in semi-skilled and unskilled jobs.
  • Educational attainment and average earnings are both significantly higher than the national average.
  • There are concerns about housing supply in the town. The town has a good range of family homes but the costs of this housing are high.
  • Godalming has an area rated as the most deprived in Waverley Borough and ranked the sixth most deprived in Surrey. There are two additional areas with high levels of deprivation.
  • A substantial proportion of the housing stock owned by Waverley Borough Council fails to meet the Decent Homes Standard (3).
  • Godalming does not have medical drop-in clinics or a community hospital that, in other towns, are available locally. There are also significant gaps in the mental health and sexual health services.
  • Poor public provision of sports and leisure facilities.
  • No safe and accessible venue in which young people can meet.
  • The standard of maintenance of the many recreation grounds and open spaces in the town is variable and many require modernisation and refurbishment.
  • There are numerous community meeting places throughout the town but many are deemed by local groups to be too expensive and lack accessibility at preferred times.
  • Inconsistency in the standard of state education provision in the town creates tension with some schools being oversubscribed and others struggling to maintain pupil numbers.
  • Godalming has no central information service or information point for residents or visitors.
  • There is no Community Legal Service in Godalming.

Recommended actions range from small more achievable projects which include opening a drop-in clinic at St Mark's Community Centre, and a number of far reaching initiatives that will require considerable planning and financial investment including increasing the supply of affordable housing in the town.

Read the full Healthcheck report HERE.

A Community Interest Company (CIC) (2), Godalming Together, was established following the publication of Godalming Healthcheck charged with actioning the outcomes of the survey. A town co-ordinator was appointed by Waverley Borough Council and Godalming Town Council to manage the process. Godalming Town Council elected (March 2007) to extend the contract of the co-ordinator, the only paid member of the Healthcheck team, by five months to November 2007.

The CIC erected 'heritage signage' on main roads approaching the town in 2010. The four 'welcome to Godalming' signs cost £3,400. A Visitor Information Centre was opened in Godalming Museum in 2012.

(1) Godalming, Farnham, Cranleigh and Haslemere. Market towns are defined as rural towns with a population of 2,000 to 20,000.
(2) The legal framework for community interest companies was established in the Companies (Audit, Investigations and Community Enterprise) Act 2004 to enable social enterprises to be set up with the formality of a company entity and for their profits and assets to be used for the public good. CICs are controlled by the registrar at Companies House.
(3) The Decent Homes Standard was set up by the government in 2000 and provided criteria and a timetable for local authorities to ensure that all of their housing stock met a minimum standard.

Godalming CIC, in partnership with Waverley Borough Council, Godalming Town Council and Godalming Chamber of Commerce, is preparing to apply (March 2012) to become one of Mary Portas' 12 pilot revitalised high streets. The government sponsored Portas Pilots initiative seeks to test the 'Queen of Shops' recommendations she had made in a report into the state of the country's high streets published in December 2011. Towns qualifying for the pilot will receive a grant of up to £100,000 to help revitalise their shopping centres.

"Godalming might not be the first place people think of when it comes to the Portas Pilots as the High Street has remained vibrant during tough economic times," said Cllr Stefan Reynolds. "However, traders are faced with issues such as high rents and long leases. These problems can be difficult to overcome for new retailers, particularly independent ones. Securing money from this pilot could be used to build on the good work that is already going on in Godalming." The Messenger 26th March 2012

Godalming Carnival
and Carnival House

Organised by Godalming Round Table the Godalming Town Show and Carnival is held annually on the first Saturday in June. The show consisting of stalls, refreshment tents and a central arena for various show events is held in Bury’s Field wedged between the council offices and Crown Court car park.

Godalming Carnival 2009

The 2009 carnival procession had participants and floats dressed to the theme of ‘countries of the world’. The arena hosted a trapeze show and races staged by fireman from Godalming fire station involving a lot of water. Previous carnival themes include ‘heroes’ (2008) and ‘energy’ (2007) celebrating Godalming’s centenary as the first town in the world to provide electric street lighting.

Godalming Town Show 2009

Money raised by the town show is used by the Round Table for charitable causes.

In June 1924 Godalming held a carnival as part of a fund raising drive to build an extension to the Farnham Road Hospital in Guildford, then the area's main hospital. Other events in the week-long carnival including a motorcycle hill climb, fetes, a public firework display and sports tournaments which all combined to raise £7,037, approximately £200,000 in today's money.

One of the big attractions was a competition to win a detached house. The land in Catteshall Road, building materials and labour were all donated by local people and businesses and the wife of a local blacksmith held the winning half a crown (13p) ticket.

Carnival House Godalming Surrey
Carnival House
©Niche Communications 2009

Screen Archive South East based at the University of Brighton has footage of the 1924 carnival on archive which forms part of a 16 minute film What the Brownies Saw about the Royal Surrey Hospital edited c.1936. Godalming Museum has a copy to view. The four minute clip shows the main procession through the town on the 21st June and features a marching band, people in fancy dress costumes, scouts, firemen, the carnival queen and vehicles decorated as floats. The film was produced by Mr Fudger the co-owner of the first cinema in Godalming.

Catteshall Lock by Paul Farmer
click on image to go to photographer's website

Godalming Wharf
Key Site Development

The area that once was a hive of industry that relied on the proximity of the river for water power and supply and a reliable transport route for carrying goods to London and markets beyond has long been an eyesore.

The Wharf (GR: SU974438) and adjoining land has seen considerable change over the last few decades. Redevelopment has included out-of-town retail outlets, a business centre and a large residential block but developers want to be rid of the concrete mass of Godalming Police Station, the garage site and Wharf Nursery School that stand where the old gasworks once were.

The latest proposal (February 2007) is to erect 220 new homes on the site in the form of four multi-storey blocks around which will be constructed a small complex of shops, a police station 'tower' and an underground car park. The Wharf Nursery School will become a permanent Government funded children's centre at the park. The plans allow for temporarily relocating the police station and nursery school to Langham Park (GR: SU 976438) in Catteshall Lane where affordable housing would also be erected.

Original cost assessments included the need to excavate 40,000 cubic metres of earth for decontamination from beneath the old gasworks site but the developers now state that this is not necessary if capping the foundations over a shallower excavation is employed.

The redevelopment incorporates extensive tree planting along the Flambard Way frontage and adjoining paths, and erecting rooftop gardens.

Source: Surrey Advertiser 23rd February 2007

Amongst a flurry of heated exchanges over the best way for the development to proceed it has emerged that the Environment Agency is in favour of keeping any potentially contaminated material on-site, this view being supported by the council.

"Under the Environmental Protection Act a site is not regarded as contaminated unless those pollutants are causing harm to people, environment or structures," said John Anderson, Waverley development control and policy manager. "There is no evidence so far that the pollutants on the key site are causing harm. As such, the national planning policy is to retain pollutants on the site and for the development to have account of this in its design. In any planning application, the developers will need to demonstrate how they intend to manage the risks associated with developing the site and the final solution for making the site safe."

Source: Surrey Advertiser 9th March 2007

Flambard Developments have formally submitted (June 2007) Phase Two plans for the development (Phase One was the construction of the 50-unit Atrium apartments opposite Homebase on Catteshall Lane) focusing on 220 new homes. The plans, which include the proposals for the police station and shops, have reignited the anger of objectors who see the development impacting upon the character of the area and local amenities, and are also angry about the lack of affordable housing in the plan. The site fronting to Flambard Way and Catteshall Lane will accommodate a V-shape plan.

The plan reveals that the first three-storey block will contain the police station together with 25 apartments. The second block is a five-storey 68-unit apartment block with commercial premises at ground level. The other two blocks are for one of 91 flats with shops beneath and the other on Catteshall Lane with 42 flats and a roof garden.

Source: Surrey Advertiser 29th June 2007

In February 2010 another application to develop the site was rejected by Waverley Borough Council's joint planning committee. The plan to build 182 flats on land was presented to committee and witnessed by over 100 members of the public. The key site development has whipped up considerable local debate and opposition over what is said to be the most important planning decision the current generation of councillors are likely to have to take.

The objections covered seven points including concerns about transport and flooding; and the building scale, bulk, height and form. The developers, Flambard Developments, had insisted during the application that the company had worked with the council to the greatest extent that it could and had always tried to engage with the community.

The whole planning process has encouraged a local architect who is a member of the Waverley branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) to draw up an alternative design which accommodates the concerns of the local community. The design, which is deliberately not specific about the numbers of flats or houses, has been publicly released to try and help both developer and the council to find a compromise.

"The situation at the moment regarding planning applications is that residents must wait until the application has been formally submitted before they can make any comments," said Anthony Isaacs, branch chairman CPRE. "That is not ideal because by that stage the developers will find it difficult to make changes to the design should they wish to take account of what people have said."

Isaacs added that the priorities for the site was to ensure that any proposed redevelopment is supported by people who live in Godalming, and to make sure that the scale quality and character of the architecture complements the rest of the town. CPRE believe that any new design should include open green space and include a high proportion of social housing, be lower in height with a varied roofline, and eliminates the plan for underground parking.

Surrey Advertiser 14th May 2010

A planning application for the Godalming 'key site' was presented to the public in September 2011 by D&M Planning Partners with a reduction of 90 dwellings from their original plan of 220 homes. The plan for 130 homes also excluded introducing units for retail, and surprised residents with it's complete lack of affordable housing. The houses consisted of terraces of four-bedroomed homes facing Flambard Way and Catteshall Lane, with an additional crecent-shaped terrace of smaller homes behind Victoria Road. Parking for houses is to be provided in an underground car park. 180 people attended the exhibition.

An appeal with a new application was made by Flambard Developments (February 2012) for 182 homes and 1,375 sq m (14,800 sq ft) of commercial space for offices, restaurants and shops. The plans provide alterations to the company's first application in 2009, although it is set to compete with a brand new work-in-progress application by Surrey developer Country Homes represented by a local company D&M Planning Partners.

"Waverley anticipates that a new Key Site scheme, from a new developer, will be submitted shortly," said head of Planning, Waverley Borough Council. "A public exhibition about the scheme was held late last year. The outcome of a fresh application may have an effect on the need for a public inquiry on the previously refused scheme." getsurrey.co.uk 13th February 2012

If Flambard Developments appeal is not withdrawn the local council will hold a public enquiry in June 2012.

The Country Homes application was presented to the council in April 2012. The plan involves the construction of 137 residential units consisting of 35 houses and 102 apartments. No commercial units were included in the plan. The new application followed a consultation process that included a public exhibition in September 2011 and discussions with local interest groups including local resident associations and the Godalming Trust.

"The new application for the site significantly differs from that of the past, with a far lower density and smaller scale of development," said D&M Planning Partners representing Country Homes. "Compared to previous proposals by Flambard, the Country Homes scheme includes a significant number of family houses, with a proportion of the development being apartments to provide a mix of unit sizes to comply with planning housing policy."

"They've tried to make it more in keeping and the communication between them and the borough council has been pretty spot on," said Simon Thornton, Godalming Town Council. "They've gone about it the right way and I don't think there will be any problems with it. It's been a long time coming and anything will be an improvement to what's there now – it's disgusting." getsurrey.co.uk 10th April 2012

A costly appeal lodged by Flambard Developments in support of their plan (February 2012) to erect an eight-storey apartment block on Flambard Way was formally withdrawn in April 2012.

Charterhouse Relocated

“Godalming was a very quiet, sleepy little town, from the time when coaching was killed by the railways. The building of Charterhouse School, finished in 1872, did much to awaken it, and to raise the value of land in the immediate neighbourhood.” Gertrude Jekyll 1904

Top public school Charterhouse (GR: SU965451), founded by Thomas Sutton in 1611 was moved from London to Godalming in 1872 where the new school was built in 200 acres of landscaped grounds. The borough council built Borough Road and the bridge to facilitate trade between the town and the school, for without these the school was isolated by the river. The impressive Victorian buildings built using locally quarried Bargate stone include cloisters, and a large towering chapel added in 1927 as a memorial to the 700 pupils who died in the Great War.

Charterhouse School
Charterhouse School 1872
Image from Illustrated London News now in public domain

According to local historian Tony Gordon-Smith, who taught at Charterhouse from 1982 until 1997, the relocation almost didn't happen. The headmaster, or simply 'schoolmaster' in 19th century education parlance, was faced with serious opposition when he announced his plan to move the school out of London. The school was experiencing a steady decline in pupil numbers and at the time the Rev William Haig-Brown was trying to stem the loss of numbers which had just dropped below 200. His problem was a lack of space. The school could not be improved or expanded as there was no space, and he desperately needed to increase the number of playing fields.

He struck on a new strategy when he decided to canvas the opinion of 400 old Carthusians about the move, with virtually all of them supporting his plan. His second flash of inspiration was to persuade the governors to invite MP William Gladstone (1809 - 1898) to join the governing body, as the move from Charterhouse Square in London to Godalming required an Act of Parliament. Gladstone's legendary persuasive powers enabled the Act to be passed in 1867. Gladstone became prime minister the following year.

The Charterhouse Hospital, London in 1770
Charterhouse Hospital in Smithfield, London
pictured here in 1770 was where Thomas Sutton
founded his school in 1611
Image in public domain.

But why Godalming? The headmaster's wife, Annie, was the daughter of the rector of Hambledon, one reverend Evan Rowsell - and this local connection brought about the purchase of two farms on the outskirts of the town. Lessington Farm and Broom and Lees Farm, which are both commemorated by the names of the playing fields built over them, were of sandy soil and hence drained quickly making them ideal for playing fields and football pitches. The building of Farncombe Station provided excellent links to London and the presence of local quality building material in the form of Bargate stone made the location ideal.

Building commenced in 1869 and by 1872 130 boys had moved from London to be joined by 23 new boys who were accommodated in the half-completed buildings. Local records show that at that time there were three residential houses, the Headmaster's Saunderites, Verites and Gownboys - and that these were infested with earwigs and overrun by rats. The problem was so bad that the boys were allowed to keep ferrets. Historian Gordon-Smith has also discovered that the boarding house Girdlestonites, named after its first housemaster, was temporarily located in The Square in Godalming High Street (until 2008 occupied by a doctor's surgery and currently (2010) standing empty) whilst the boarders waited for the building at the school to be completed. Today Girdlestonites is the only remaining building of the early boarding houses on Charterhouse Hill.

The school's 'Founders Chapel', was not completed until 1874 and so the whole school had to walk to Shackleford to attend church every Sunday. A later addition to the school was the Memorial Chapel, the impressive turreted building standing close to the cricket pitch, and this became the largest war memorial in England with the lives of over 700 Carthusians commemorated on its walls after being killed during the First World War. The chapel was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, well-known for his red telephone boxes, and was opened by Lord Baden Powell who had been a pupil at the school in 1927.

Electricity in the early days was supplied by the same turbine on the River Wey that provided electricity to the town in 1881, and that had provided a place for Godalming in the history books as being the first town in the country to have a public electricity supply.

The football pitch, known in the school as 'Big Ground', located near the beautiful South African Cloister was where a Carthusian team won the FA Cup in 1881. It is said that the school was instrumental in contributing a rule of football that allowed the ball to be passed forward and which had led to the development of the modern game and the formation of the Football Association.

Round & About Magazine July 2009

The imposing statue to the front of the school is of the founder, Thomas Sutton, although it was the headmaster of the time (1863 -1897), William Haig-Brown who had the school built to the specifications you see today. The old well (GR: SU963451) that originally served the school is still there. It had to be dug to a depth of 140 ft (43 m) in order to reach the water table and is 8 ft (2.5 m) in diameter. The old 10 hp steam engine that powered the pump has long since been removed, although the pump remains. The school is not freely open to the public, although throughout the year various public events are held in the grounds and buildings affording the opportunity to enjoy the surroundings.

Charterhouse School from chapel 1927
Charterhouse School from chapel 1927
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

There have been many famous Carthusians over the years, with those since the Godalming relocation including Robert Baden-Powell (1857 - 1941) the founder of the Scout Movement and veteran of the Siege of Mafeking in the Boer War. A remarkably cool character by all accounts for apparently Baden-Powell managed to get letters flown out by balloon post from Mafeking during the middle of the siege, one of which was addressed to his old housemaster at Charterhouse and which is now framed in the Godalming Museum. MORE ON BADEN-POWELL

Baden Powell
Robert Baden-Powell
Image in public domain

Orde Wingate (1903 - 1944), the leader of the famous Chindits, and who died on active service in Burma in WWII, has a memorial tablet in his honour set in the cloisters of Charterhouse Chapel. Mountaineer George Leigh Mallory (1886 - 1924), who was an Assistant Master at Charterhouse from 1910 until 1915, became one of leading young mountaineers of his day and was invited to join attempt to conquer Mount Everest. In the 1924 Expedition he disappeared never to be seen again. It was very fitting therefore that the successful ascent of Everest in 1953 should have another Charterhouse Master, Wilfrid Noyce (1917 - 1962) as the next link in the chain below Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing. Sadly Noyce perished in the British-Soviet climb in the Pamirs in 1962.

Orde Wingate
Orde Wingate
Image in public domain

Aldous Huxley (1894 - 1963), the author of such classics as Brave New World and Eyeless in Gaza, was born in Peperharow Road in a house belonging to Charterhouse.

A band formed by pupils of Charterhouse in the mid sixties was to propel two Carthusians to fame and fortune:

One of the most successful rock acts of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, Genesis enjoyed a longevity exceeded only by the likes of the Rolling Stones and the Kinks, in the process providing a launching pad for the superstardom of members Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins. The group had its roots in the Garden Wall, a band founded by 15 year olds Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks in 1965 at Charterhouse School in Godalming, Surrey, where fellow students Michael Rutherford and Anthony Phillips were members of another group called Anon. The two groups initially merged out of expediency as the older members of each graduated; Gabriel, Banks, Rutherord, Phillips, and drummer Chris Stewart soon joined together as the New Anon, and recorded a six-song demo featuring songs primarily written by Rutherford and Phillips.

The Charterhouse connection worked in their favour when ex-student, recording artist, and producer Jonathan King heard the tape and arranged for the group to continue working in the studio, developing their sound. It was also King who renamed the band Genesis. In December of 1967 the group had its first formal recording sessions. Their debut single, "The Silent Sun," was released in February of 1968 without attracting much notice from the public. A second single, "A Winter's Tale," followed just about the time that Chris Stewart quit - his replacement, John Silver, joined just in time to participate in the group's first LP sessions that summer. King later added orchestral accompaniment to the band's tracks, in order to make them sound even more like the Moody Blues, and the resulting album, entitled From Genesis to Revelation, was released in March of 1969. Source: Blog - The Definitive 1000 Songs of All Time 1955 to 2005 Crowbarred 23rd December 2006


Fittingly two fund-raising gigs for Shooting Star Chase children's hospice were being performed (March 2012) at Charterhouse by G2, a Genesis tribute band. The band had played at the school previously with the last event raising £20,000.

The school mourned the loss (2009) of former pupil Mark Evison who at the age of 26 died after being shot whilst on active duty in Afghanistan with the Welsh Guards. Lieutenant Evison, who had won a music scholarship to enter the school, graduated from Sandhurst in 2007. MORE HERE

There is a database register made available online by ancestry.co.uk of all the pupils who entered the school between 1872 and 1910. Each entry also includes date of birth and the pupil's father's name, and may include additional information such as subsequent career and marriage details.

A very detailed list of famous Old Carthusians has been compiled on the free online encyclopedia - wikipedia. SEE HERE

The school today attracts 'exceptional demand' from parents worldwide wanting to educate their children and commands impressive fees. The Daily Telegraph reported (July 2007) that day fees at Charterhouse have been set at £21,576 for the forthcoming academic year. There are only two other schools in the survey of 82 top independent schools conducted by the paper that had set higher fees: Winchester College, Hampshire (£25,155) and St Mary's Ascot (£24,975).

Charterhouse celebrated its highest ever student roll with 740 pupils in 2009. The school announced (October 2009) that it will be opening a new day house for sixth form boys and girls in September 2010, breaking away from its traditional stance of providing an education for boarders only.

Charterhouse provided the backdrop for a scene shot in the filming of The Boys Are Back. The film, which tells the story of a sports writer who becomes a single parent in tragic circumstances, was shot primarily in Australia with one week incorporating scenes filmed in England. The Charterhouse shoot (December 2008) involved 26 rugby playing students from local schools including Charterhouse and Godalming College and took two days to film. The scenes featured teenage actor George MacKay who was shown playing rugby with the other boys when his father played by Clive Owen comes to visit him at school. The film, which is directed by Academy award nominee Scott Hicks, was released in September 2009.

A BBC Radio Four comedy broadcast in 2002 featured a fictional ex-pupil from Charterhouse. Giles Wemmbley-Hogg is a rather dim but nice upper-middle class ex-public schoolboy who undertakes a number of travel adventures during his gap year from university. The series Giles Wemmbley-Hogg Goes Off was co-written by Marcus Brigstocke, Jeremy Salsby and Graeme Garden. A one-off BBC 4 TV show Giles Wemmbley-Hogg Goes to Glastonbury was screened in 2007.

Charterhouse School pupils have taken part (January 2010) in groundbreaking research by Oxford University to reduce stress levels while studying for exams. The research centres on pupils taking meditation classes which include breathing exercises and techniques for focusing the mind. The idea is to help to increase pupil's attention spans and concentration, develop awareness and emotional intelligence and reduce stress. The programme run by the Mindfulness Centre at Oxford, which has taken eight weeks, has been completed by two other public schools - Tonbridge School in Kent and Hampton School in Middlesex.

"We have started with year 10 pupils because that can often be when we start to see pupils getting stressed as they begin exams," said Dr. Christopher O'Neill, theology, philosophy and ethics teacher at Charterhouse. "I think in many ways teenagers do have to cope with more worry more pressure than perhaps people of the aged in the past. So far we have very positive feedback from those who were taking part in the mindfulness program. They seem to be enjoying it, which is very promising indeed."

The results were due to be reviewed in March. Mindfulness was developed in Massachusetts in the USA as a way of helping patients with chronic depression, but the emphasis in the new programme is to manage mental health problems before they develop.
Surrey Advertiser 29th January 2010

A multi-million pound scheme to redevelop sports facilities at Charterhouse got the green light from council planners (July 2011). Two new all-weather pitches, six tennis courts and a new sports pavilion coupled with improvements to the existing sports centre will provide enhanced facilities for school pupils and members of the Charterhouse Club. The development, which is scheduled to start with the opening of two national standard all-weather hockey pitches in the autumn of 2011, will allow for a new sports studio, two fitness studios and suite, three therapy rooms, four squash courts, a larger gym and cafe, to be built in the sports centre together with additional car parking. The revised project, which was first mooted in a planning application in 2009, is scheduled to be undertaken in phases 'over the coming years'.

A popular chemistry teacher at Charterhouse tragically lost his life in a skiing accident (March 2012) in France. Ed How, who also coached several of the school's sports teams, was described as "a charismatic and popular man" and "a role model" by staff and students.


In 1885 old boys from Charterhouse (Old Carthusians) established the charitable foundation Charterhouse-in-Southwark to provide practical and moral support to the poor. Today the charity is a proactive organisation particularly focused on providing support to Southwark's youth through the provision of creative and stimulating activities and to help empower them to achieve their potential in education and employment, which in turn reduces poverty in the area. The charity also provides health, care and educational services which benefit over 600 people every year in the borough. The Foundation announced (February 2008) that it is to sell the three buildings it owns to invest the proceeds and fund their charitable activities from the annual income generated.

"By releasing money tied up in bricks and mortar, we will be able to continue helping the most vulnerable members of our community, not just for the next few years, but as long as there are people in Southwark who need our support," said Armel Cates, chairman of the board of trustees. "We and Southwark have changed a lot since we were founded back in 1885. What hasn't changed is our desire to help the neediest members of society. This is a way of making sure that we target our help where it is most needed rather than spending money propping up old buildings." Source: london-se1.co.uk 8th February 2008



The Manor House

At the top of Farncombe Hill stands a grand building, The Manor House (GR: SU966454). The house was built at the end of the 19th century for Charles Hampton Weekes, a master at nearby Charterhouse School and sat in an estate of 28 and a half acres which included another smaller house, some cottages, a laundry and a cattle shed.

The Manor at Farncombe

The house incorporated salvaged materials from other properties including the ceiling, fireplace and panelling in the entrance hall. The marble mantle on top of the fireplace in the entrance hall is said to have originated from Arundel Castle in West Sussex, as did the white marble fireplace in the drawing room.

By the early 1900s the house had changed hands and a wealthy family continued to add to the house. A clock house that served as garages, stables, tack room and a chauffer's flat were all constructed by the Crisp family who had made their fortune in banking and patent medicines. Keen on gardens the family employed 15 gardeners to tend to the grounds and delighted visitors with exotic fruits grown in a complex of greenhouses.

At the outbreak of war the house served as a mess for Canadian officers and St Thomas' Hospital after evacuation from London based a medical school for pre-clinical students there. Nearby Charterhouse School also provided facilities for the medical school.

Student nurses who trained at the Manor House in St Thomas' Hospital's Nightingale Training School when the hospital remained in possession of the house after the war were known as 'Nightingales'. The school had been founded in 1860 inspired by Florence Nightingale's skill and courage, and after her return from the Crimean War in 1856 an appeal was successfully launched for the creation of a training school for nurses.

A Nightingale who trained at The Manor House in the 1950s gives an insight into life at the school:

"It was a large, mock Tudor mansion set in the lip of a Surrey hillside. There was a lovely feeling of space and it was pleasing. Downstairs there was a sitting room for the nurses overlooking the front of the house. It was there that we started our tentative relationships. We sat around, perched on the edge of chairs and stools in flannels and tweeds and twin sets. On went the heavy cottoned and purpled striped dresses, the starched collars and belts, the 30 dernier black stockings and the black shoes. Thus began our welding together as a St Thomas's 'set'." Susan Coventry

Accounts of the Nightingale Training School at The Manor House are included in The Nightingale Training School 1860-1966 by Roy Wake (Haggerston Press 1998) and Images of a Nightingale by Susan Coventry (Beauclerk Publishing 1990).

In the early 1970s the University of Surrey bought the house to be used as a hall of residence. Since 1993 the house has served as a conference centre and provides 31 bedrooms, 10 meeting rooms, a gym and a sauna and in 2006 was awarded the Business Tourism Category in the Tourism ExSEllence Awards for its owners Quest World Consulting. The venue was rated (2007) at pole position in the South East in the Venue Verdict Awards and has won the South East Business Tourism Award in two consecutive years (2006 and 2007). The Manor House Conference Centre was shortlisted for the 2008 Tourism ExSEllence Awards.

Twenty seven members of Florence Nightingale's brigade of nurses had a reunion at the Manor House (June 2009) where they had all carried out their three-month preliminary training in 1955. One of the Nightingales, who had been one of 38 students graduating from the preliminary training school in that year had gone on to spend more than four years at St Thomas's Hospital in London before being awarded her coveted Nightingale badge. Here Helen Allan recounts the moment when she first saw the Manor house over 50 years ago:

"I had met up with a group of other apprehensive trainee nurses at Godalming Station, having taken the steam train down from London," said Allan. "We were picked up in a rickety brake and I recall thinking how grand the house was as we rounded the corner, and although the place was outwardly peaceful, once inside the pace of activity was frenetic. We spent three months in the classroom under the watchful gaze of a senior tutor, with occasional lectures from visiting surgeons. Interspersed with the lessons were the demonstrations, including how to use a new Australian lifting technique, and bandage broken limbs." Surrey Advertiser 3rd July 2009

Prior's Field

Another building of note is that of Prior's Field School (GR: SU951461), a mile up the road from Charterhouse and bordered on its southern perimeter by the Hurtmore Golf Club. Founded in 1902 by Julia Huxley, the granddaughter of Dr Thomas Arnold the headmaster of Rugby School immortalised in Thomas Hughes' novel Tom Brown's Schooldays (1857), the school was centred on a house designed by Charles Voysey (1857 - 1941), a proponent of the Arts & Crafts Movement. Notably Julia Huxley was also the mother of author Aldous (Brave New World 1932) and niece of the poet Matthew Arnold.

Prior's Field School, Hurtmore

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the poet Maurice Hewlett both sent their daughters to the school. The author Enid Bagnold, who wrote the novel National Velvet (1935), was an early pupil at the school. The book was turned into a film of the same name starring Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney in 1945. Distinguished artist Alison Jensen, now Master of the Art Workers' Guild, joined the school in 1952.

The house, originally named as Prior's Garth, is considered to be one of the prime examples of Voysey's style of architecture which provided simple and well-built, if not a little austere, homes. At its heart is the Oak Hall with a fine staircase and the original door furniture and fireplaces designed by Voysey still intact. Air vents in the house bear the motifs of birds and trees, a common signature of the architect. An extension to the original house was designed by Tom Muntzer, a pupil of Voysey who sadly died before his work was finished. Frederick his father oversaw the completion of the building.

Local historian Margaret Elliott has researched the daily lives of the domestic staff working behind the scenes in the 1930s to provide for the privileged girls of Prior's Field. Supervised by a housekeeper a team of maids started their chores at 6.30 every morning and worked through until 7.00 pm every day, with breaks for breakfast, lunch and dinner and a two-hour period of rest time. The maids had to return after 7.00 pm to prepare the girls' beds and close windows prior to retiring for the day, although they did enjoy an extra half-hour in bed on Sunday mornings not having to rise until 7.00 am, and a half-day off each week.

The maids tasks included delivering hot water to the girls' rooms at the start of the day, mending linen, hand-washing and washing up in the scullery after meals.

Such cossetting enjoyed by the girls was to change with the outbreak of the war when many of the maids, who wore a uniform of green dresses, large white aprons and caps, were called up to contribute to the war effort. Pupils had to take over much of their daily chores including bed-making, cleaning and washing-up.

The original garden was laid out according to the designs of Gertrude Jekyll and featured herbaceous borders, dry Bargate stone walls, a dipping pond and a substantial rock garden. Many of the plants were brought back by Huxley's husband Leonard from his regular trips abroad with their sons. In keeping with the fact that Prior's Field was founded as a school for girls the upkeep of the gardens in the early days was left in the hands of a team of women gardeners who had trained at Swanley Horticultural College.

The Fabian Society (2) held a summer school at Prior's Field in 1922, endorsed by the school's second headmistress Mrs Ethel Burton-Brown who charged the Society 84 guineas for their four week stay in the house. One distinguished visitor was George Bernard Shaw, a founder member of the Society.

In 2002, at a cost of £1.2m, the Centenary Sports Hall was added to the school to mark it's hundredth anniversary. Opened by Leonard Huxley's youngest son Sir Andrew Huxley (1), the building is very much in the style of the original architecture of the school. The original library, which was created in 1927 in the memory of Burton-Brown, was replaced in 2008 by a custom-built research and study-centre. Running the school was to stay in the Burton-Brown family for some years as her daughters Beatrice and later Marguerite were to take over as headmistress. The old library has been retained as an original feature of the school.

The Daily Telegraph highlighted (26th July 2008) Prior's Field as providing a perfect example of how a school works closely with parents to improve facilities to benefit pupils and the future of their children's Almer Mater. The newspaper used the school's success in raising £13,000 through their Parent Teacher Association (PTA) to restore the swimming pool to illustrate how £65m is raised annually in British schools through the efforts of parents.

The modern school has expanded the original five-acre grounds to over 20 acres to cater for 333 girls from age 11 to 19-years-old. When the school was opened by Julia Huxley it had started with one boarder and five day girls. Annual fees (2008) range from £11,850 for day pupils to £19,185 for boarders.

Staff and pupils at the school were horrified to hear the news that teacher Donna Coe had been found murdered at her home in Petersfield, Hampshire (21st March 2008). After a two-week trial (February 2009) Coe's former partner, also a teacher, was sentenced to life imprisonment for her murder.

"Donna was a talented and very well respected teacher," said head teacher Julie Roseblade. "She made a valuable contribution to our school community and we are deeply saddened by these events. Her pupils, friends and colleagues will miss her very much and our thoughts are with her young daughter and family." Source: Surrey Advertiser 25th March 2008

(1) Sir Andrew Huxley (b 1917) is the younger son by Leonard's second marriage. Julia Huxley died at the age of 48 in 1908. He was awarded the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his work on the central nervous system of the human body.
(2) The Fabian Society was founded by George Bernard Shaw and Sidney and Beatrice Webb in 1884 to develop political ideas 'left of centre' and to provide basis for reform. The Society, which founded the Labour Party in 1900, continues to operate today.

The school’s highly respected PF Culture Series provides an opportunity for staff, pupils and guests to meet significant academics and culture celebrities. Recent (February 2009) visitors have been author Germaine Greer, actor and presenter Michael Palin, historian Alison Weir and author Kate Williams.


Godalming Fire Service

It was not until 1816 that Godalming had its first purpose-built fire station, a small brick built shed with a low bell tower that was erected in Moss Lane to house the engine.

In the 19th century every callout incurred a charge to the property owner. In 1948 this was fixed at two shillings for insured premises with charges for uninsured premises negotiable, as this minute from a Godalming Town Commissioners meeting outlined.

''That in every case where the Fire Engines are called into use to extinguish Fires of Property insured, that the Insurance Office are charged 2s, besides the expenses of Engineers an Assistants, and that the Committee in all cases use their utmost endeavours to see that the Engineers and Assistants be properly remunerated for their time and exertions, and that in case of Fires of Property not insured, the Committee are to exercise their discretion as to what charge shall be made.''

Some twenty years later in 1870 the town council formed the first brigade staffed by volunteers and supported by public subscription. Eighteen local men signed up with the brigade managed by a committee which included two of the town's commissioners.

In 1894 the station reverted back to a fee-paying service and funding by public subscription was abandoned. The scale of charges was complicated with different rates charged according to rank with superintendents and foremen charged out at 7s for the first three hours and 2s 6d per hour after that. Engineers' fees were 5s and 1s 6d, and 4s and 1s. A charge was also made for the engine and horses, this being £4 4s per day, the miniumum charge, if the callout was within five miles of the station. An additional £1 1s was levied if the distance was greater.

Brigade members were paid one shilling a week with a rule that were they to miss a drill session their salary for that week would be withdrawn.

The cost of running the brigade in 1899 was £38 15s 5d which included 16s 6d for the altering and repair of tunics and 4s 6d for repairing boots.

In 1904 a new larger fire station was opened in Queen Street for which a new appliance, the Patent Double Cylinder Vertical Steam Fire Engine with variable expansion gear, was purchased for £295. The land was purchased for £140 and building costs were £525.

A year later the whole brigade resigned after an incident in Mill Lane. Having attended a serious fire at Oak Barn Tannery the steam driven water pump broke down due to inadequate servicing and the first engineer was subsequently demoted. In response the whole brigade resigned and was replaced, although it was recorded that the first engineer was reinstated and eight of the original brigade of 19 returned to their posts a few months later. A new payment was introduced to ensure that the responsibility for maintaining the steam pump was not overlooked with the first engineer receiving an additional £3 per year, and the second engineer £2 for keeping the appliance in good order.

In 1912 Victoria Motor Works that was situated next to the station made available a motor car that could be used to ferry men and appliances at greater speed to fires. A 60 horse-power Dennis Fire Engine was purchased in 1924 for £700 to be coupled to a ladder.

Today the modern station in Bridge Street, which was opened in 1970, has two pumps serviced by 17 fully retained firefighters (1). The station is under the command of Surrey's Command and Control Centre in Reigate that processes the county's 999 emergency calls. The station services a local ground area of 29.5 square miles (76 sq km) and in 2006 responded to 338 calls, 49 of which were false alarms and 10 hoax calls.

The old fire station premises in Queen Street was converted into workshops for small businesses and today has studios for artists, designers and jewellers.

(1) Retained firefighters are full-trained and allocate their free time to respond to an emergency if paged. In 2005/06 a retained fireman earned an average of £6,413.

Jack Phillips & The Titanic

John George (Jack) Phillips (1887 - 1912) was born in nearby Farncombe and had attained the position of Chief Wireless Operator of the doomed liner Titanic that tragically sank at sea on her maiden voyage after colliding with an iceberg in 1912.

Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Image in public domain

The tragedy resulted in a considerable loss of life, but the casualties would have been much greater if it hadn’t been for Phillips who remained at his post to continually transmit the wireless distress signal until he went down with the ship. Phillips' was reportedly one of the first radio operators to use the new international emergency call sign 'SOS' to signal a real-life disaster. However as he wasn't totally convinced that it would be recognised he interspersed his messaging with the old version 'CQD'. (1)

One of the last communications recorded from Phillips before his untimely end was the following brief exchange logged at 10.10pm with the wireless operator onboard the Californian, a ship in the area being severely hampered by the deteriorating conditions:

Evans: “Say, old man, we are stopped and surrounded by ice.”
Phillips: “Shut up! Shut up! I am busy working Cape Race”
Cape Race was a reference to the wireless relay station in Newfoundland that forwarded messages received from vessels in the Atlantic on to New York.

Following this, Phillips was to constantly transmit the following distress message:
“CQD MGY 41.46N 50.14W We have struck a berg. Require assistance. Putting the women off in the boats.”
‘CQD’ was the call symbol for an emergency distress message and ‘MGY’ were the unique call letters assigned to the Titanic.

(1) CQD was developed by Marconi to signify a distress call with its adoption for maritime radio use in 1904. Land telegraphs had traditionally employed the letters 'CQ' (phonetically 'sécu' extracted from the French word 'sécurité') to tag messages likely to be of interest to all listening stations. Marconi added the 'D' to emphasise 'distress'. The sequence of three dots and dashes representing 'SOS' in Morse code was quickly universally adopted to overcome the confusion generated by bad radio reception of 'CQD' being misinterpreted simply as a 'CQ' message of general interest.

1,490 people lost their lives, many of whom were leading figures of the time, and heroically all eight members of the ship's band perished reportedly as they serenaded the passengers from the boat deck in an attempt to keep them calm.

The ship sank two hours and 40 minutes after hitting the iceberg, with 705 survivors rescued by the Carpathia that had responded to the distress signals transmitted by Phillips.

The Titanic
The Titanic on sea trials off Belfast 1912
Image from National Archives and Records in public domain

The Titanic, was built at the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast and at the time of her sinking was the largest passenger steamship in the world, and was unsurpassed in luxury and opulence. The ship, which was 882 ft 9 in (269m) in length and could cruise at 23 knots (26.4 mph / 42.5 kmh), boasted a swimming pool, gymnasium, Turkish bath, library and squash court, and was decked out with elaborate wood paneling and expensive furniture.

Phillips, who celebrated his 25th birthday aboard the ship on the day after it had set sail from Southampton, had worked in the Post Office in Godalming after leaving school and it was there that he was trained as a radiographist enabling him to go on and be appointed to his post on the Titanic. The cause of his death was officially recorded at the time of being through hypothermia.

Phillips was born on the 11th April 1887 above a draper's shop run by his parents in Farncombe Street, Farncombe. He joined twin sisters Elsie and Ethel who were 13-years-old at the time of his birth. He was christened at St John the Evangelist Church literally just across the road from his home, and where today there is a plaque in his memory. He was educated at the church school in the village before moving on to the grammar school in Godalming, the building in Mill Lane now occupied by The Red Lion public house.

After his training as a telegraphist at Godalming Post Office Phillips undertook advanced training at the Marconi Wireless Telegraphy Training School at the Seaforth Barracks near Liverpool, from where he graduated in 1906. His first maritime post was as an operator aboard Teutonic, a liner operated by the White Star shipping company. Further posts at sea included the Lusitania and Mauretania amongst other liners with his company, and a short stint at a Marconi land station in County Galway, Ireland. He was assigned to the Titanic in 1912.

Coincidentally Harland and Wolff in Belfast, the shipbuilders of the Titanic, had as chairman at the time Lord Pirrie, who had his family home at Witley Park just outside Godalming. Harold Sanderson, the owner of the White Star Line lived in Bentley near Farnham, and learned of the Titanic sinking whilst at home in Jenkyn Place.

The Phillips Memorial Cloister and fountain was erected in 1913 following public subscription. It is the largest Titanic related memorial in the country. MORE HERE

In Farncombe Parish Church the Wireless Telegraphy Company erected a memorial tablet in his memory. Phillips had sang in the choir at the church as a boy. The inscription on the tablet reads:

In memory of John George Phillips aged 26 years. Formerly a chorister of this church. Chief Marconi Operator on RMS Titanic which sank at sea April 15, 1912. Faithful to his duty till the last.

A memorial gravestone in the style of an iceberg was erected in Farncombe Cemetery (GR: SU973446) by the fence bordering Deanery Road. Phillips however was not buried here as his body was never recovered, with official documents recording cause of death as hypothermia.

The JD Wetherspoon chain opened their Jack Phillips public house in Godalming High Street in 2000.

The following tribute to Phillips was published by The Surrey Advertiser and County Times in April 1912.

The wireless operator who flashed out the terrible signal SOS, and gave the first intimation to the world of the appalling disaster to the Titanic, belongs to Farncombe, where he is well known and popular. He is Mr. John George Phillips, and his parents reside in Farncombe Street. Mr. G. A. Phillips has lived in the district for many years and has held the position of manager of Messrs. Gammon's Farncombe branch for over 30 years.

Mr. J. G. Phillips, who was only 25 years of age, had in the short space of 10 years reached one of the highest positions in the wireless service. He is a native of Farncombe, and resided there up to the age of 18. At 15 he entered the Godalming Post Office, and took up the telegraphic duty, for which he soon showed special aptitude and ability. Desirous of going in for the wireless service, he left at the age of 18, and entered the Marconi school at Liverpool. After receiving three or four months training there he was appointed a junior operator on the Teutonic. He subsequently served on the Lusitania, Mauretania, Campania, and the Oceanic.

On the completion of the huge Titanic he was offered the position as senior operator on that vessel. The post was naturally one of great responsibility, and the appointment of Mr. Phillips to it at the early age of 25 was tribute to his great ability, and the absolute confidence the company had in him. A reported narrative, by the surviving wireless operator Bride, published yesterday, describes Phillips as sticking heroically to his work to the last. A lifebelt was fastened on him by Bride while he was at his task, and it is stated, a seaman endeavoured to take if off, but was violently prevented by his fellow operator.

In April 2007 the 95th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic was commemorated with a radio link up of amateur radio enthusiasts from across the world. The event was coordinated by the Wey Valley Amateur Radio Group who set up a special radio station, GB95MGY (Titanic's call-sign was MGY) in the main hall of Godalming College. Transmission using Morse Code lasted for 43 hours and 47 minutes. The Titanic's loss was previously commemorated on the 90th anniversary with the GB90MGY station linking to 2,685 radio amateurs in over 100 countries worldwide.

The Wey Valley Amateur Radio Group are running Titanic Radio Station GR100MGY from April 10th to 16th 2012 to commemorate the Titanic Centenary. The call-sign stands for 'Godalming Remembers 100 Years of MGY' (Titanic's call-sign).

The Man Who Left the Titanic, which was premiered at the Mill Studio at Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in February 2010, is a play that evokes the momentous loss of this mighty ship and asks whether Bruce Ismay, managing director of the White Star Line who owned the Titanic and who sailed away in a lifeboat to save his life, was only doing what any sane person would have done. The stage play by Patrick Prior tries to find answers to this emotive question.

Also marking the 98th anniversary of the loss of the ship, Titanic The Musical staged by the Godalming Theatre Group took to the stage in April 2010.

"Although the ending is a foregone conclusion, Titanic The Musical has a fabulous, uplifting score. The story follows the fortunes of passengers bound for New York and a new life, while also charting the happenings on the ship's bridge, its owner and the builder of the Titanic. All three unwittingly contribute to the biggest disaster in maritime history. In addition, the story goes below deck to witness the daily lives of the crew who stoke the fires and keep the ship going." Surrey Advertiser 29th January 2010

Prior to their opening night the cast of Titanic The Musical paid their tributes to Jack Phillips by singing Sail On, Sail On Great Titanic from the musical at the bandstand on The Burys and then laying flowers after a minute's silence at the Phillips Memorial Park.

"The cast is very aware that we are staging a production which tells a true story which is very close to the hearts of the Godalming people," said production coordinator Madeleine Gibb. "We wanted to pay our respects in some way to Jack Phillips, and we felt that a visit to the memorial was one way of bringing home the reality of the Titanic sinking. It was a moving moment when Darren Coppe, who plays the role of Jack Phillips, placed the flowers on the memorial." Surrey Advertiser 9th April 2010

The Titanic Centenary
April 2012

Godalming is commemorating the 2012 centenary of the sinking of the Titanic with a series of events.

The Jack Phillips and the Titanic Exhibition at Godalming Museum was opened (15th March 2012) by local MP Jeremy Hunt (also at the time the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport). The free temporary exhibition, which runs until mid-May, features the history and key events surrounding the sinking of the Titanic supported by contemporary photographs, posters, clothing and a collection of postcards sent by and to Jack Phillips. Ann Concanen, a volunteer at the museum, hand-made a replica life jacket using the materials that the jackets were made of 100 years ago. She took over 20 hours painstakingly recreating the jacket from cork blocks, cotton ties and sail cloth.

The museum created a special demonstration kit for local schools to borrow which provides examples of items linked to the ship for teachers and visiting presenters to use to bring the doomed ship's history to life.

Mandy Le Boutillier, principal curator for the exhibition, has held a fascination for the Titanic and of Jack Phillips in particular, and has published his biography. It transpired it was Le Boutillier who was the mysterious figure behind the anonymous flower bouquet that appeared at the Phillips Memorial Cloister on the Titanic anniversary every year. MORE HERE

A series of talks by experts provides a fascinating insight into the event and the lives of those so tragically affected by it. Presenters include Brigitte Saar and Günter Bäbler, who are guest presenters on one of the many Titanic memorial cruises sailing during 2012. Bäbler has written several books and numerous articles about the Titanic and is a co-founder of the Swiss Titanic Society, as well as a prolific collector of Titanic memorabilia. Saar, who is a TV reporter in Germany, wrote a thesis about the discovery of the ship's wreck and has participated in submarine dives on the site. She is also vice president of the Swiss Titanic Society. The evening is chaired by Mandy Le Boutillier who was the author of the Godalming Museum exhibition.

The screening of contemporary newsreels related to the Titanic featured the 1958 film A Night to Remember starring Kenneth More and Honor Blackman, and newsreel shorts of the opening of the Phillips Memorial Park in 1914 and another short from 1918. A Night to Remember is an adaptation of Walter Lord's 1955 book of the same name and recounts the final night of the RMS Titanic. It was directed by Roy Baker and filmed entirely in the UK with Titanic fourth officer Joseph Boxhall acting as a technical advisor. Its US premiere in New York was attended by Titanic survivor Elizabeth Dowdell.

The Wey Valley Amateur Radio group are staging a worldwide two-day broadcast in April on their special radio station GR 100 GMY ('GMY' being the call sign of the Titanic) from Charterhouse School and have arranged an exhibition of radio equipment of the time.

GOLO, the Godalming Lottery, joined with Godalming Museum to use their March 2012 draw to commemorate the Centenary of the loss of the Titanic and to help provide advance publicity for the Jack Phillips and the Titanic Exhibition.

A dinner of seven courses evoking that of the last meal served to First Class passengers sold out at £110 per person. A Titanic shop window competition in the town, a Titanic peal at the parish church and an Edwardian picnic in the Phillips Memorial Park with 'Edwardian favourites and shanties' played by the Godalming Town Band all served to provide a suitable commemoration.

The Phillips Memorial Cloister was reopened on the 15th April 2012 after major refurbishment, 98 years after it was originally built with much of the 1914 cost being borne by local residents.

"Godalming as a town was one of the first to react to the disaster and within a couple of days they had collected money together and said they wanted to put a memorial together, in particular for Jack Phillips," said the Rector of Godalming, Canon Mervyn Roberts. bbc.co.uk 15th April 2012


Wider afield events are being planned at cities that were in various ways connected to the Titanic from construction through to its maiden voyage. These include Belfast, Liverpool, Southampton, Cherbourg, Cobh in County Cork and Halifax. MORE HERE

Two albums of 'reproduction printed ephemera' including first day covers and 340 Titanic-related postcards were to go under the hammer (March 2012) at Ewbank Clarke Gammon Wellers auctioneers in Send. The auctioneer was expecting the lots to reach £1,500, their value blostered by the fact that 37 of the postcards were signed by Millvina Dean, the youngest passenger to survive the disaster.

A list of the 1,497 people who lost their lives is published by Encyclopedia Titanica and can be viewed HERE. This extensive online resource is well worth exploring if you want more detail about the Titanic and her premature loss.

The story of the Titanic captured the imagination of people worldwide, and the centenary provided the opportunity for acres of printed column inches and online pixels, together with many hours of broadcasted material.

There are considerable variations in the accounts of Phillips' part in the last few hours of the Titanic, and some of which cloud the history of what most people regard as heroic actions of a brave young man. There are also disputes as to whether the radio operator managed to leave the ship or remained on board.

A reporter with the British ITV News covered (13th April 2012) the possibility of an ice warning received by the radioroom not being relayed to the bridge.

"Godalming in Surrey has a special connection with the disaster. It was the home town of Chief Radio Operator Jack Phillips who famously stayed at his post even after he was given permission to leave. He left the boat at the very last minute but died of hypothermia.

"While he heroically carried on sending SOS messages as the boat went down, Jack had earlier failed to pass on an ice warning from another boat to the bridge of the Titanic. That failure was blamed by some of the survivors as contributing to the disaster. His two actions on that fateful night have left a confused picture of the role Jack Phillips played in the Titanic story.

"Nevertheless, in Godalming Jack is remembered fondly. There is a memorial to him, a pub is named after him, and the local museum has an exhibition detailing how he grew up in the town and worked as a telegraphist at the local post office (now a bank).

"Jack Phillips was just 25-years-old when he died. His body was found on or near collapsible lifeboat B and taken onto rescue boat the Carpathia, from where he was buried at sea, to become one of the hundreds whose lives were claimed in the early hours of April 15,1912, when the 'unsinkable' Titanic broke up and slipped beneath the waves." Rachel Millichip itv.com/news/london 13th April 2012

Across the Atlantic, The Los Angeles Times published a piece (14th April 2012) titled 'English town honors its Titanic hero' and in which it revealed an American take on the tragedy and Jack Phillips.

What happened to Phillips in those final minutes, before the ship sank at 2:20 a.m., remains a mystery. Did the power cut, and did he have time to flee the radio shack and scramble for a way off the almost vertical boat? Did the equipment pull away from the wall and crush him?

No one knows. The 25-year-old's body was never recovered, making him one of the Titanic's more than 1,500 victims.

"My own view is that he never left the shack. That's just my gut instinct; he never tried to escape, never got away," said Mandy Le Boutillier, a Titanic enthusiast and expert on Phillips who helped put together the exhibition about him at the Godalming Museum. "He did the best he could under the circumstances, and the best he could saved 700 people. You can't take it away from the guy. If you want a hero, this guy is a hero."

Soon after the disaster, Phillips turned into one of the heroes of the Titanic story. A portrait based on a photo of him — arms folded, looking spiffy in his uniform, a ghost of a smile on his boyish, handsome face — became an iconic image in Titanic lore.

There are those who take another tack, who say Phillips was partly to blame for the disaster for failing to pass along to the bridge some of the warnings from nearby ships of ice in the area. (Other warnings did get through, which officers either didn't read or chose to ignore.) The 1958 film "A Night to Remember" portrays him as a gruff and panicky character, played by an actor much older than Phillips. Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times 14th April 2012

Read the full article with transcripts of Phillips' last messages HERE

The following comments were made on the Los Angeles Times website (15th April 2012) after the original article was published, referencing the debate over what Phillips' fate.

"Apparently we do know what happened to Phillips. He did in fact leave the wireless room. I'm betting that he saw the futility of staying in a wireless room, when there no power, and no chance if it coming back, according to a first person report by Charles Herbert Lightoller, the Titanic's second officer, in his book. Lightoller says Phillips made it to a boat, and survived several hours, but died before rescue. Apparently he was able to give a chronology of radio-related events to Lightoller as well. Even if Lightoller's account turned out to be false, and was refuted at a later date, this should have at least been acknowledged and explained in this article, to avoid future inconsistencies." lemarquisdelafayette latimes.com 15th April 2012

"..- -.. .. -.. ..- .-. .--- --- -... -.- . .--. - ..- .-. .--. --- ... - .- -. -.. ... .- ...- . -.. .-.. .. . ... .. -. .... .. ... - - .-. .- -.. .. - .. --- -. -... ..-- --- --" (1) criminal intent latimes.com 15th April 2012

Phillips Memorial
Gardens & Cloister

"It has been decided to erect a memorial fountain at Godalming in memory of Mr Jack Phillips, the senior wireless operator on board the Titanic, who was a native of the town. The Mayor (Alderman E Bridger) has received letters from all parts of England, America, and Canada inquiring for particulars of any memorial scheme. So far about £30 has been subscribed. Mr Harold Bride, the Titanic’s second wireless operator, arrived at Liverpool on Saturday in the Baltic." The Times 20th May 1912

Jack Phillips is commemorated locally with the Phillips Memorial Grounds and brick cloister (GR: SU967441) on the banks of the River Wey in Godalming. The memorial was designed in 1912 by Hugh Thackeray Turner (1853-1937), who lived at Westbrook in Godalming, and was opened on April 15th 1914 on the second anniversary of the sinking.

The gardens, which cover 11 acres (4.5 hectares), were designed by pioneering landscape gardener Gertrude Jekyll (1843 - 1932), also a Godalming resident. The memorial is the biggest of any constructed to commemorate a single Titanic victim, and was built largely from publicly donated funds. Harold Bride, Titanic's junior radio operator who survived, donated the sum of £1 5d.

Jack Phillips Memorial, Godalming by Kevin Gorton

The memorial cloister cost £700 to build in 1913, and the land for the Memorial Gardens £300 to purchase. The grounds with paths and seats were completed the following year. The two yew trees still evident today were planted either side of the War Memorial by Jekyll and Turner in 1922. It was decided to open up one side of the cloister in 1965 by demolishing the southern-facing wall and replacing it with the oak pergola remaining today. The memorial and surrounding gardens were partly refurbished in 1993. This work included reinstating the water feature which had been filled in during the previous decade to deter vandalism.

The Memorial Cloister was awarded Grade II status in 1951.

A bowling green was constructed at the eastern end of the gardens in 1923 at a cost of £170, and is today home to the Godalming and Farncombe Bowling Club. The animal pound forming part of the boundary wall with Borough Road close to the cloister was presented to the town in 1933 by the Lord of the Manor, who was also Rector of the adjacent Saint Peter and Saint Paul Church. The pound, built of local Bargate stone, is typical of the enclosures all towns and villages were obliged to have and in which free-roaming animals having been rounded up were held until their owners had paid a fine.

A London plane tree was planted in the park in 2010 to mark 150 years of the UK Cadet Movement.

The memorial quickly fell victim to vandalism and neglect after its refurbishment in the 1990's. One such attack (March 2010) resulted in the smashing of the stone fountain and graffiti painted across stonework causing £1,000 worth of damage.

A five year campaign by local groups eventually resulted in a major restoration planned to be completed in time for the Titanic Centenary in 2012.

The Surrey Arts and Crafts Movement (1) won widespread support (February 2008) from the Surrey Gardens Trust, the Titanic Society, the Lutyens Trust, the Godalming Trust and town councillors to establish a fund that will provide for repairs and ongoing maintenance. Repairs to the roof are particularly urgent and the campaigners hope to raise £25,000 by public donation so that the memorial can be returned to its former glory in time for the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic in 2012. A suggestion for establishing a charitable trust responsible for the memorial is also to be explored.

Waverley Borough Council has agreed to mark the renovation of the memorial (November 2009) as high priority for the next three years to ensure funding is secured. A project group is being set up and a new consultant has been appointed to manage the renovation. The borough and town council have made an initial application for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“It is a competitive bidding process,” said Cllr Roger Steel, portfolio Holder for leisure and culture. “I am cautiously hopeful that we will be successful. This would be a flagship project for Waverley, and one of which we and Godalming would be very proud. The whole site has a very important heritage and humanity value for Godalming. I really do think we have a moral duty to maintain it.”

The project is scheduled for completion in time for the centenary of Jack Phillips death and will include improvement of the whole 11 acre park and the children's play area.
Surrey Advertiser 9th November 2009

(1) The Arts and Crafts Movement was established in the 19th century to develop the artist John Ruskin's idealisation of the craftsman and was at its peak of influence between 1880 and 1910. In part a response to the negative effects of the industrial age the movement influenced in particular architecture that followed neo-gothic influences, rustic surfaces, repeating designs and vertical and elongated forms. George and Mary Watts (Watts Chapel, Watts Gallery, Compton) were influential proponents of the style.

Initial funding was secured (July 2010) by Waverley Council from the Heritage Lottery Fund to assist with the application process for a full grant.

Waverley Borough Council announced (July 2011) that the Phillips Memorial Park had at last secured the full funding it needed for the renovation. The grant for a five-year restoration and maintenance programme, was provided jointly by The Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund through the Parks for People scheme, and totalled £335,000. The remaining funds to meet the full £441,700 cost of the works are to be met by Waverley Borough Council (£77,200) and a value of £29,500 representing volunteers time.

"Work getting started on the Phillips Memorial Cloister is a major milestone in this nationally significant project," said Cllr Jane Thompson. "Hard work to secure the funding to do this work means the memorial will be in a much more respectable state at the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic in six months time. This project will stretch beyond the memorial cloister. The Phillips Memorial Cloister covers around 4.5 hectares and during the restoration project the planting originally designed by Gertrude Jekyll and will be restored, improved signposting added and better information for visitors made available." getsurrey.co.uk 21st October 2011

Work, which includes replacing weather-damaged tiles and rotting oak beams in the pergola, underpinning walls and restoring the vandalised fountain bowl, commences in October 2011.

Work concludes.

A team of National Trust volunteers devoted their 'Leap Day' to help in the renovation. The National Trust initiative encourages staff to use the extra Leap Day in February every four years to help local communities of their choosing. The staff from Petworth House, Winkworth Arboretum and Polesden Lacey all had local connections.

"As a resident of Godalming, I have seen how the Phillips Memorial Park provides a great outdoor space for the local community to get together for a variety of activities," said NT volunteer Caroline Lisk. Surrey Advertiser 2nd March 2012

The schedule of works included:

  • Restoration of the Phillips Memorial Cloister.
  • Restoration of the gardens created by Gertrude Jekyll.
  • Signposting, new interpretative boards.
  • Pond restoration and improvements to meadow area, with installation of raised boardwalk.
  • Seating based on original Arts and Crafts benches designed by Turner, and incorporating wood from the original benches.

"Pew Corner, which made them [the original benches] from English oak, measured up the remaining pieces and used old photos from the 1930s – altogether they have done a remarkable job," said Nick Baxter, countryside projects assistant at Waverley Borough Council. "Robin Stannard, a national expert on the works of Hugh Thackeray Turner, was highly instrumental in ensuring that there were adequate parts of the old benches left to provide measurements. He recognised the importance of the rotten pieces of benches and rescued them from a bonfire some years ago, storing them carefully in the hope that they would one day provide the basis for replicas." getsurrey.co.uk 17th April 2012

The Phillips Memorial Cloister was reopened on the 15th April 2012 with a service commemorating the victims of the Titanic sinking. Readings taken from accounts of the tragedy by survivors were heard. An account by Harold Bride, Phillips' assistant radio operator, was read out.

"Godalming as a town was one of the first to react to the disaster and within a couple of days they had collected money together and said they wanted to put a memorial together, in particular for Jack Phillips," said the Rector of Godalming, Canon Mervyn Roberts. bbc.co.uk 15th April 2012

The Mystery of the Anonymous
Floral Tribute to Jack Phillips Solved

The great-great-nieces of Jack Phillips have been touched (April 2009) by the thoughtfulness of a mysterious donation of a floral tribute to the doomed Titanic’s wireless operator. Sarah and Jenny Wall discovered the tribute at the Memorial Cloister in Buryfields with an unsigned card that read simply: ‘TU OM GN’.

“We believe the letters stand for ‘thank you old man and good night’,” said Sarah Wall, who pointed out that the phrase was used by the second officer on the Carpathia in a communication with the stricken ship.  

The Carpathia was one of the ships that went to the aid of the Titanic to help rescue passengers and crew. Source: Surrey Advertiser 10th April 2009

It was later publicised by the local paper that flowers have been left in the same way for over two decades, always left by an anonymous donor and always with the same wording in the unsigned card. However on the 98th anniversary of the disaster (Thursday, 15th April 2010) it was discovered that for some reason no flowers had been left.

"I'm quite perplexed actually, it is something of a puzzle," said Godalming historian John Young. "We have never been able to establish who leaves the bouquet and so we are at a loss to understand why they are not here this year."

Young believes it might be because the annual Titanic convention that is held in Southampton was held a week later in 2010, or because of recent vandalism to the Memorial which left the fountain broken and stonework covered in graffiti:

"It could be someone from France, America, Switzerland, anywhere in the world, who is only in the country once a year and that is when they visit Godalming. If that convention is a week late and maybe the flowers will be. But, equally, it could be someone from Godalming, or some other reason has prevented the person from leaving them this year.... or perhaps that [the vandalism] was so distressing for them that they left. It could have seemed akin to desecration." Source: Surrey Advertiser 16th April 2010

In an email received by Phillips' great-great niece, Jenny Wall, the mystery visitor finally explained why she was marking the anniversary in this way. Mandy Le Boutillier, a Jersey writer fascinated by the story of Jack Phillips, left flowers at the Memorial Cloister and on his grave at the Farncombe cemetery in Nightingale Road. She explained that she was 'tipping her hat' to Phillips for saving so many lives.

"At first we were hoping it would be a long-lost relative so it was intriguing to find out it was someone with no family connection," said Jenny Wall. "It makes us feel proud to know there is someone out there who is so fascinated by Jack that they are devoting a part of their lives to finding out more about him." getsurrey.co.uk 23rd April 2010

Boutillier's visits coincided with her attendances at the British Titanic Society's convention in Southampton every year.

GOLO - England's First
Small Town Lottery

An association run by a team of local volunteers who dedicate much of their time to finding ways of improving life in the town for residents, visitors and retailers alike have launched (November 2008) what is believed to be the country’s first small town lottery.

GOLO - The Godalming Lottery helping local good causes

GOLO – The Godalming Lottery is the brainchild of the GO-Godalming Association which has for many years promoted and coordinated cultural, social and commercial activities in the town. A year in the planning, the lottery will raise much needed funds for local causes through the sale of tickets in official outlets in Godalming and surrounding villages.

The first project to benefit is the fund established to provide a roof for the Godalming bandstand which has been the venue for fund-raising summer concerts over several years. It is hoped that once the traditional-style roof is raised sometime in 2009 the bandstand can be used throughout the year without fear of a good drenching and / or electrocution of the musicians – although the audience will still have to endure the vagaries of the weather, something that Godhelmians have become adept at doing.

“We believe this is the first town lottery of this type in England, and we hope those who live, work and visit Godalming will take part,” said GOLO spokeswoman Di Clift. “It will benefit good causes in the area and also give players a chance of winning a top prize of at least £500 and other cash prizes every month. The chances of winning are hugely better than with the National Lottery and as the lottery grows, we intend to increase the prize money and our donations to local causes. Everyone will have a chance to suggest how the money is spent and we also hope local businesses in Godalming will benefit from the increased footfall of those people calling in to support the lottery and buy tickets.”

Once the lottery is established other good causes will be selected and published on the GOLO website.

Here at the Wey Valley Community Site we can lay a small claim to having helped the Godalming lottery on its way. Our editor won the competition to design the GOLO logo and we’ve helped with all the promotional design including their website.



The Eccentricity of Gertrude Jekyll

Gertrude Jekyll (1843 - 1932) was another famous Godhelmian. As writer, artist, and gardener Jekyll rose to public acclaim with her inspirational approach to garden landscaping after her deteriorating sight precluded much of her paper based creative work. Widely travelled she had many years previously befriended the renowned architect Edwin Lutyens who spent a lot of time with her at her home in Munstead near Godalming. An instantly recognisable eccentric, Jekyll would often be seen striding about town wearing her distinctive hard black felt hat crowned with a plume of cock’s feathers, quite a formidable figure.

An oft recounted Jekyll tale was of the proud owner of a recently acquired but neglected property who had called her in to bring the garden back up to scratch, and on leading her through the French windows of his drawing-room to gaze on the wilderness which lay beyond, the man asked for her opinion: “Well Miss Jekyll, what do you think it requires?” Miss Jekyll paused briefly before dryly replying: “Just a couple of camels, I should think.”

Munstead itself became a memorial to the creative abilities of both Jekyll and Lutyens. She is buried in the churchyard at nearby Busbridge (GR: SU978429).

Archibald Thorburn
Leading Ornithological Artist

Living in Hascombe near Godalming for over 30 years, Archibald Thorburn created hundreds of watercolours of birds many of which were to adorn the pages of illustrated books of birds including the 1887 publication of Lord Lilford's Coloured Figures of the Birds of the British Isles. The artist was also a favoured portrait painter for Queen Victoria. MORE ABOUT THE ARTIST

Springlight at Winkworth by Paul Mackenzie

Winkworth Arboretum
& The Big Cat

Two miles to the south of Godalming at Busbridge is Winkworth Arboretum (GR: SU995413), a 20th century creation set in 100 acres and featuring over 1,000 different trees and shrubs, with many rare species flourishing here under the care of the National Trust. Dr Wilfrid Fox (1875-1962) started to plant exotic trees here in 1938 and the woods set in gentle hills roll down to a lake and a wetland area. The stream feeding the lake is indirectly a tributary to the River Wey as it discharges into the section of the Wey & Arun Canal that feeds into the river near Shalford. Fox started the arboretum himself with the help of a retired woodsman and volunteer friends. The Trust was given 60 acres in 1952 and bought another 35 acres five years later.

Winkworth Arboretum Lake by Martin Finnis
click on image to go to photographer's website

The two reservoirs providing a picturesque setting at the bottom of the hill on which the arboretum was established had developed severe leaks. The Victorian dams were restored in 2004 but the basin of the bottomost reservoir was found to be so badly damaged when it was drained that the National Trust, who own and manage the arboretum, decided not to refill it. As part of the £750,000 project this basin was converted into a wetland area with a plastic boardwalk made entirely of recycled material. A boathouse provides a viewpoint across the uppermost reservoir.

The boathouse at Winkworth

Winkworth Arboretum is at its visual best during the second and third weeks of October when visitor numbers peak stimulated by the vivid autumnal colours. The arboretum is open all year from dawn until dusk.

Boathouse, Winkworth Arboretum by Kevin Gorton

In May 2005 Winkworth joined the list of places in the Wey Valley where the ‘Surrey Big Cat’ has been reported. Various sightings of a large animal, variously described as a ‘lynx’ or a ‘puma’, have been made in the valley for 40 years, and the Winkworth episode was filmed by Harry Fowler from Guildford providing amateur camcorder footage of a sandy coloured mammal strolling through the trees near the boathouse. The footage was shown to a Surrey Wildlife Trust ranger who kept his options open: "It's hard to say what it is. If you have preconceived ideas it is easy to say it is a lynx. I am a cynic but I do think there is something around."

Winkworth arboretum by Martin Finnis
click on image to go to photographer's website

The arboretum walked away with an armful of prizes at the Royal Horticultural Society's Great Autumn Show in London (October 2006) with a tally of 14 awards. The coveted Stephenson R. Clarke Cup fell to a stunning display of Chinese dogwood fruits, orange Sargent's Rowan berries and fruits from the rare blue berried symplocus paniculata and Japanese big-leaf all grown at the arboretum.

Azalea Steps, Winkworth Arboretum by Kevin Gorton

Friends of Winkworth continue to help the National Trust develop the gardens. 20,000 daffodils were planted (2006) by volunteers and 80 new rhododendrons were dug in (June 2007) with more planned for autumnal planting. Additional snowdrops, primroses and foxgloves have also been planted, and money raised by the Willow Fund has been used to help maintain the arboretum's 800 wetland willows.

Winkworth was used for the BBC's Cranford, broadcast in 2007. Many of the garden scenes of BBC1's award-winning five-part period drama series, which starred Dame Judi Dench, were shot in the arboretum.

“I headed for Winkworth Arboretum, owned by the National Trust, which is set in that charming area of woods and narrow country lanes, once clip-clopped by Miss Gertrude Jekyll in her pony and trap, south of Godalming. I had not visited it for years, and I wondered what had kept me away. Set around and in a deep wooded valley, with a lake in the bottom, it was laid out as an arboretum by Dr Wilfrid Fox from 1937. I saw shimmers of bluebells, stands of the glorious tupelo, Nyssa sylvatica, as well as stately beech trees, the extraordinary, fiery-flowering Embothrium coccineum, the achingly beautiful handkerchief tree, Davidia involucrata, and bright rhododendrons and azaleas. Although most famous for autumn colour, Winkworth is a delight in spring as well.” Ursula Buchan telegraph.co.uk 2nd June 2009

Winkworth Arboretum's popular fungi forays attract a good turnout every year. The summer of 2010 produced bumper crops of colourful wax caps (Hygrophoraceae), common ceps (Boletus edulis) and chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius), much to the delight of visitors. Over 50 species thrive in the grounds and the foray (November 2010) uncovered the highly pungent stinkhorn egg mushroom (Phallaceae) and the poisonous fly agaric toadstool (Amanita muscaria).

"Demand for places on our fungi forays has rocketed this year, which seems in part due to the trend for foraging popularised by celebrity chefs," said Jessica Owens, assistant manager, arboretum visitor services. Surrey Advertiser 5th November 2010

The National Trust organises courses to help people identify safe mushrooms and learn how to collect them without damaging the landscape.

Bramley, Historic Mills
& the First Women's Cricket Match

There was once significant industry along this Wey tributary which runs down from Winkworth into Bramley with evidence of several millponds and water management systems. Bramley Mill (GR: TQ007447) in Mill Lane was recorded in 1295 leasing documents for use as a fulling mill for the woollen industry. By 1687 the mill with its large millpond had turned to grinding flour with three pairs of stones capable of turning out an impressive 55 sacks of flour per week. By the 1930s the mill was disused and the 17th century miller’s house was renovated in 1935. The mill building has been preserved but no machinery remains. An artist has her studio here and regularly joins in events such as the Surrey Artists Open Studios initiative, providing an opportunity to see the buildings and their attractive setting.

Bramley, from the Saxon name meaning 'a clearing in the broom', is a village of some 3,300 people and is encompassed by a conservation area. The Manor of Bramley at the time of the Domesday survey (1086) was a large area comprising the western half of Blackheath Hundred extending to the Sussex border and encompassing Shalford, Wonersh, Hascombe and West Cranleigh. A moated manor house dating from the 1300s was demolished in the early 1800s.

The Linish Bramley was a flax-stubble field (1) in the area now covered by the library and surrounding buildings and was believed to have been first cultivated by Anglo-Saxons encamped in what today is Wonersh.
(1) Flax was a primary crop used for spinning into yarn to make cloth. When the crop was harvested it left a stubble once cut. The harvested crop was left to dry in the sun and then soaked in water until the fleshy parts rotted away leaving only fibre - a process called 'retting'.

Snowdenham Mill Pond, Bramley

Also in Bramley is Snowdenham Mill (GR: TQ001441) with its three-storey building that still has much of its machinery intact. Interesting also for the large pond dammed up against the mill, the business is likely to have started here in the late 17th century milling corn with three pairs of stones. By the 19th century the 12 ft (3.6 m) diameter waterwheel had fallen into disrepair.

Holy Trinity Church, Bramley

On the busy A281 High Street is the Church of England's Holy Trinity Church (GR: TQ008449). There were three churches listed in the Domesday Book for the Manor of Bramley, and although no documentation for the period exists that gives the exact locations of these churches local historians are confident that the site of the present church would have been one of them. The oldest part of the existing building are the chancel and the tower, which has a peal of six bells, with these dating to the 12th century. The medieval south chapel and nave were demolished in 1850 for a new north aisle and nave, with the south aisle being added in 1875. Much of the original building used local Bargate stone rubble with hard chalk dressing, although later enhancements incorporated Bath stone. The register of baptisms and marriages held at the church date from 1566 and the burial ground was licensed by Bishop Morley in 1676.

In the 1960s Holy Trinity was the first in the diocese to erect a hall on consecrated land, with this added on the north side of the church in the graveyard. A screened Children's Chapel was created under the tower in 2006. A fund was launched in 2008 to raise money for the restoration of the organ. There is a Church of England aided infant school in the village which originates from 1851.

The Bramley History Society, having secured a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £6,042, were able to restore (2002) the ancient animal pound located at the front of Holy Trinity Church. The pound had been donated for public use in 1965 for which it was converted into a public amenity garden. The pound was originally built as a manorial church pound in order to secure stray animals.

A Victorian Chapel of Rest in the village cemetery built of local Bargate stone and resplendent with a tower and steeple was demolished in 1994. The cemetery was established in 1851 but it is likely the chapel was added during enlargements in 1890. The building had been unused for many years and had a long history of suffering at the hands of vandals. Some of the stone was used during the external refurbishment of the Village Hall which has medieval oak timbers within its structure. Refurbishment of the hall's stage revealed long-lost artwork by one of the village's amateur dramatic society's players depicting activities at the hall in 1950.

In 1995 a plaque was erected by Bramley Village Society on Bramley Common to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the first recorded women's cricket match:

'The first women's cricket match was played on this common on 26th June 1745 between eleven maids of Bramley and eleven maids of Hambledon'

The following account was published in The Reading Mercury on 26th July 1745:

"The greatest cricket match that was played in this part of England was on Friday, the 26th of last month, on Gosden Common, near Guildford, between eleven maids of Bramley and eleven maids of Hambledon, all dressed in white. The Bramley maids had blue ribbons and the Hambledon maids red ribbons on their heads. The Bramley girls got 119 notches and the Hambledon girls 127. There was of bothe sexes the greatest number that ever was seen on such an occasion. The girls bowled, batted, ran and catches as well as most men could do in that game."

Jolly Farmer, Bramley by Kevin Gorton

The Jolly Farmer is one of two pubs in Bramley and was a coaching inn in the days that the Horsham turnpike outside saw stagecoaches running scheduled services between Guildford and the south coast. Parts of the building date back to the 16th century.

Bramley Grange, which for over a hundred years was a local landmark, was built for a Colonel Webster in 1887. The building was converted into a hotel after the First World War but was gutted by a severe fire in 1996 and demolished. The fire was filmed by the parish clerk and is held by Bramley History Society. The site was redeveloped for private residential use with part set aside for affordable housing.

The modern A281 follows the route of the original Horsham turnpike road which has two remaining milestones in the parish at Grafham and Birtley and which were erected around 1757. The stones were restored in 1999.

The railway reached Bramley in 1865 when the station was built bringing with it a considerable rise in population. The station was closed with the cessation of the line in 1965. A two-year refurbishment project was concluded in 2004 which saw the track bed re-laid, the erection of a platform shelter to the design of the original waiting room and replica crossing gates installed.

News that the Guildford to Cranleigh branch line may be reopened (June 2009) could see Bramley station becoming a hive of activity again 40 years after its closure. The single track line was included in Beeching’s report highlighting those lines with less than 5,000 people that were to be closed. The Association of Train Operating Companies wants both Bramley and Cranleigh stations to be reopened, which will provide a transport lifeline for the 11,000 people living in the two villages. The derelict line currently serves as a route along the National Cycle Network. The train operators are hoping that the venture will be funded by property developers in return for being granted permission to build near the line.

In 1942 a lone German aircraft attacked a train approaching Bramley Station. The Dornier bomber straffed the train with machine-guns and dropped two high-explosive bombs killing eight people and seriously injuring another 36.

"I suddenly heard machine-gun fire hitting the train," said Ruth Bailey, a passenger on the train. "On looking up I had a fleeting glimpse of the plane, out of the window. Then there was a big explosion and the train rocked on the rails. The door on the far side was blown out and glass from the windows flew across the compartment." Bramley's Home Front, a Surrey Village During WWII. Bramley History Society. 2007

Rhens replica wine press, Bramley

Located prominently near the library is a full-sized replica wine press constructed from old materials and presented to the village by Bramley's twinned German town Rhens am Rhein in 1989. An inscription on the supporting beam reads '1867 O Pichl'.

In 2006 the Parish Council launched a programme to re-establish wildflowers on Gosden Common (GR: TQ002457).

Gosden House School opposite the common was established in the 1950s to provide education for special needs children on a residential basis. Six units provide living accommodation for separate groups of 120 boys and girls aged between seven and sixteen each centred around a living room and fully-equipped kitchen. Also close to Gosden Common is Bramley Golf Course which was founded in 1913. Despite its long history unfortunately the club has never been officially opened as Prince Albert of Schleswig-Holstein (1869 - 1931), a grandson of Queen Victoria, who had been invited to lead the ceremony was of German descent, which did not sit comfortably against the outbreak of WWI and was cancelled. Fittingly during the war the German Emperor excused the prince from service against the British and he was posted to the staff of the governor of Berlin in an administrative role for the duration.

St Catherine’s School in Bramley had their state-of-the-art new Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) facility opened in 2008 by renowned local architect Elspeth Beard. The Wolfson Foundation (1) provided a full grant for the facility to support ‘academic excellence’ at the school. Pupils are taught how to use AutoCAD design software and produce practical work through the department’s CAM machines.

St Catherine’s is an independent boarding and day school for girls aged 4 – 18 and was founded in the 19th century. The founders established the school to provide "an education of sound and liberal character, including such useful accomplishments as may seem fitting” and placed emphasis on "religious teaching and training according to the principles of the Church of England, with no party bias but with no compromise of principle”. The school was built for £4,429 with 11 boarders and six day students taking up residence in September of 1885. There are 720 pupils today. The chapel, completed in 1894, has Kempe stained glass windows and a Father Willis organ. Everyone at St Catherine’s from teachers, support staff, governors and pupils became involved in the creation of a millennium wall by painting an individual tile. The tiles were glazed, fired and hung aon the wall by the entrance to the Main School. The new Millennium Building, opened in 2000, houses the Classics and Modern Languages departments, and the Music School was enlarged and refurbished in the same year.

The gardens of Wintershall Manor (GR: TQ013413) near Bramley are open to the public by arrangement although general public access is usually provided during the National Gardens Scheme (2). The two-acre garden is set in parkland and woodland and the lakes and flight ponds provide an important habitat for aquatic birds. Visitors also have the opportunity to see the 14 Stations of the Cross marked by sculptures by 14 different artists depicting the Passion of Jesus and the chapels of St Mary and St Francis. The Rosary Way displays 20 religious plaques presented to Wintershall by Hosanna House in Lourdes. The Wintershall Estate is a working organic farm on 1,000 acres and was established with a flock of sheep, a suckler herd of Aberdeen Angus and organic cereals of wheat, barley and oats, as well as specialist crops of lupins and beans. Full organic status was conferred in 2001.

An annual Nativity play has been performed since 1990 on a hill at in the estate. The Wintershall Nativity attracted upwards of 6,000 spectators for its 2006 performance which was held in aid of the Royal Marsden Cancer Hospital and had the hospital's leukaemia consultant Dr Michael Potter, his wife Naomi and their new-born son playing the parts of Joseph, Mary and Jesus.

(1) The Wolfson Foundation was established in 1955 and supports project across the fields of science and technology donating around £35m to worthy cuases each year.
(2) National Gardens Scheme was launched in 1927 and today under the patronage of HRH The Prince of Wales provides for public access to private gardens of note throughout England and Wales in return for donations to charity. Since 1927 the scheme has raised £30m for nursing, caring and gardening charities.

The Watts Chapel & Gallery

George Frederick Watts (1817 - 1904) was a renowned Victorian artist and sculptor who settled with his wife Mary in Compton, Surrey to get away from London's smog and cold winters. In April 1891 construction started of a large mock Tudor house, Limnerslease (1), on three acres of land purchased from the squire of the nearby Loseley Estate. Today the house has been converted into three private dwellings.

(1) 'Limner' is an old English word for 'painter' and 'lease' from 'leasen' meaning 'glean'. Mary Watts wrote at the time: "..our hope being that there were golden years to be gleaned in this new home.")

George Watts
George Watts
Image in public domain

The chapel (GR: SU956475) was designed by his second wife and is a breathtaking example of architectural art nouveau intermixed with Celtic, Romanesque and Egyptian influences. Mary Watts had no architectural knowledge and sought inspiration from the Home Arts and Industries Association and practical help from the local villagers in order to erect this monument to her husband. Every interior surface is covered with gesso, a sculpting material used by George Watts when his rheumatism prevented him from handling wet clay. Watts' ashes are interred in the chapel. The chapel, now Parish property, is open daily from dawn until dusk with no charge for entry.

Watts' work is displayed in the Watts Gallery (GR:SU958479) alongside pieces created by his wife Mary and other Victorian artists, and is located a few hundred yards further along Down Lane from the chapel. Such was the high regard of the artist's work that 30 of his works are held at Tate Britain, the national portrait gallery in London. However there is much criticism of the Tate for providing little public access to them.

The Watts gallery opened in 1904 only two months after his death, and is well worth the visit. It provides an intimate and rather eccentric insight into Watts as the man as well as showing all of his important works. These include a large sculpture of his lifelong friend Tennyson and his wolfhound,together with a portrait of his first wife, the teenage actress Allen Terry. It is rumoured that the marriage in 1864, when Allen was only 17 and George was 46, was never consummated.

The gallery which is actively supported by the efforts of 150 volunteers is open daily (except Thursday) with free entrance but times do vary according to the time of year so it is recommended to phone beforehand.

There is a pleasant tea-room at the gallery that serves home-made cakes. The Watts Gallery Tea Shop reopened in April 2010 after a full revamp as part of the overall restoration project for the gallery. Redecorating focused on the use of red, green and cream to complement the gallery colours, and Internet access has provided a 21st-century touch. Revenues generated go towards the Watts Gallery charity to help maintain the site and run outreach art programmes.

The gallery attracts 25,000 visitors a year.

The Watts Gallery collection has been featured in a directory of paintings by the Public Catalogue Foundation. The Foundation, which has set out to make available a complete record of all oil paintings in public ownership, has included the Watts paintings in Discover The Paintings You Own - The Hidden Heritage of Surrey Revealed which is to be published in September 2006. Go to www.thepcf.org.uk for more information.

The artist's most prominent work is his sculpture of a mounted horseman Physical Energy that was erected in 1907 at the crossroads of seven paths leading to the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park.

An exhibition of Watts' works was on display at the Guildhall Art Gallery in London from January until April 2009 in what The Independent described as 'Life, the universe and everything: the supremely strange Victorian creator of visionary, allegorical paintings. Grand, absurd and irresistable'.

A high-ranking diplomatic initiative intended to create 'a special relationship' between the US president and the Watts Gallery collapsed (January 2010) when apparently Barack Obama turned down an offer made by prime minister Gordon Brown to loan the gallery's highest profile painting to the White House. GF Watts' 1896 painting Hope had been cited by president Obama is the inspiration behind his bestselling book Audacity of Hope. However the president apparently declined the offer on the grounds that he wanted the Oval Office to be as American as possible. To add insult to injury it was reported that Mr. Obama also turned down an invitation to view the painting at Buckingham Palace during his G20 visit.


TV Show Lifeline
for Watts Gallery

The BBC show Restoration Villages selected the Watts Gallery in Compton (see above) as a contender for £500,000 worth of funding that will be awarded to the winner.

The gallery is currently at risk of closure due to the rapidly deteriorating roof which is letting in water that threatens to damage its collection of paintings and sculptures.

Restoration Villages pitches 21 good causes from around the country against each other with the public voting to decide which of the needy buildings will secure the funding. The high profile exposure the programme brings also increases the chance of funding from other sources.

In the south-east, Watts Gallery was up against Massey's Folley in Hampshire and the Woodrolfe Granary in Essex. The other 18 needy buildings from around the UK included a twine works in Somerset, a Gothic folly in Yorkshire and a gun battery in Hartlepool. The show started at the end of July (2006) and profiled three contenders each week for 7 weeks. Previous winners included Edwardian swimming baths in Manchester and a grammar school in Birmingham, both now in advanced stages of restoration thanks to the show which is presented by Griff Rhys Jones.

The Watts Gallery Charitable Trust funds the gallery enabling it to stay open but the restoration work needed outstrips available finances.

"Watts Gallery is a local treasure of national importance that houses an internationally significant art collection," said the gallery's director Perdita Hunt. "We are thrilled to be on Restoration Villages. Just by being featured on the programme will show the country how important we are to our community and be a way of us acknowledging our debt to them and all our volunteers."

The presenter Griff Rhys Jones said that "rural areas are facing change and disruption over the next 100 years. It is going to be a challenge to all of us to manage that. It is these neglected, ordinary, familiar landmarks of the country that we need to save - barns, chapels, farmhouses, inns, workshops. Restoration Village is a fantastic opportunity to see what we value and why on the rural scene."

The episode featuring the Watts Gallery was broadcast on BBC 2 on July 28th and the gallery won its regional contest which assured it a place in the final.

Surrey Advertiser 14th July 2006 / bbc.co.uk 11th July 2006 / www.wattsgallery.org.uk 18th August 2006

The regional finalists up for the big prize decided in the final on the 17th September were:

  • Watts Gallery, Compton. Grade II* listed building built in the Arts and Crafts style by the artist George Frederic Watts and which now houses his work. South-east winner.
  • Newlyn Chapel, Newlyn west Cornwall. Complete early 19th century Grade II* listed Methodist chapel which played a key role in Cornish working and social life for over 200 years. South-west winner.
  • Chedham's Yard, Wellesbourne, Warwickshire. Near-derelict blacksmith's forge and wheel-wright's workshop with a collection of over 5,000 tools abandoned when it shut in the 1970s. Midlands winner.
  • Dennis Head Old Beacon, North Ronaldsay, Orkney. Category-A scheduled ancient monument built in 1788 and one of the oldest surviving purpose-built lighthouses in Scotland. Scotland winner.
  • Pen Yr Orsedd quarry workshops, Nantile. Grade II* listed 19th-century slate buildings including a hospital. The quarry closed in 1997. Wales winner.
  • Cushendun Old Church, Cushendun, Co Antrim. Parish church deconsecrated in 2003 and stands in this National Trust village which was designed by Clough Williams-Ellis. Northern Ireland winner.
  • Howsham Mill, Howsham, North Yorkshire. Vandalised and roofless Grade II corn watermill. North of England winner.
  • Cromarty East Church, Cromarty, Ross-shire. Late 16t century post-Reformation category-A church at the mouth of the Cromarty Firth. Runner-up.

Sadly Watts Gallery only just missed out on the big prize coming second in the live final. The gallery now awaits the news as to whether it will receive any funds from the restoration fund, but is already benefitting from featuring on the high profile programme.

"I feel desperately sorry for our fantastic team of volunteers who have campaigned tirelessly for us," said gallery director Perdita Hunt. "Just by being featured on the programme has doubled our visitor figures and the gallery has made more friends."

The Independent 14th September 2006
; Surrey Advertiser 22nd September 2006

A new exhibition devoted to the landscape paintings of the artist, who is better known for his portraits and allegorical pieces, opened in July and will continue until September (2006). The opening gave the threatened Watts Gallery some welcome publicity.

"This exhibition could not come at a more crucial point in the gallery's 100 year history," said Perdita Hunt. "Our beautiful Arts and Crafts home in Surrey, lovingly created by Watts and his wife, is falling apart. We are applying for help from the Heritage Lottery Fund and have launched a fundraising programme of our own called The Hope Appeal. Together we hope to raise the £10 million needed to save the building and ensure our future."

Times (Surrey) 15th July 2006

The gallery's appearance on the TV programme Restoration despite not winning in the final continues to help cement its future. The Prince of Wales' Regeneration Trust provides specilaist advice to the programme's finalists each year and The Watts Gallery representatives attended a seminar with the Trust in February (2007).

In addition to the grant of £4.3m awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund in December (2006), the impetus given to fundraising by the programme has proven invaluable with over £1m so far raised (February 2007) for the gallery's Hope Appeal. The conditions of the grant are that the gallery has to match the amount awarded. The gallery has a total target of £10m to achieve if it is to be able to implement all of the work needed to keep the gallery open.

Guildford Borough Council has approved (March 2007) a £50,000 grant from the Community Project Fund.

Watts Gallery is planning to raise the £2 million it needs to qualify for a £4.3 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant by March 2008. Once successful the gallery will be closed for two years for vital renovation and repairs. The gallery hopes to provide a study centre for Victorian art and social history when it re-opens.

The Watts Gallery has been voted (December 2007) the place which makes residents feel most proud in the South East of England. The online poll, promoted by seven local authorities in the region, required that votes be cast for one of ten locally-nominated top spots on the council websites. The Gallery beat Marwell Zoo and The New Forest into first place. Nationally nearly 37,000 residents voted, with the Neasden Temple of Shri Swaminarayan Mandir taking top place overall.

Following changes to the Museums Association's ethical code allowing members to now sell objects 'in exceptional circumstances', the Watts Gallery has announced its intention to sell two of its paintings. The paintings, Sleeping Woman by the 19th century neo-classical painter Albert Moore and The Triumph of Love by Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones, are regarded as both being major Victorian paintings and were donated to the gallery in 1954. The gallery urgently needs to raise funds to stay open, and after other public collections in Britain showed no interest the decision was made to put them up for auction. The paintings are expected to raise £1.4m.

The Gallery announced (April 2008) that Guildford Borough Council and the Government Office of the South East have approved their proposals for a major refurbishment. These will create a new interior gallery to allow drawings to be displayed for the first time and restoration of the original raised lantern skylight in the main gallery. Watts' sculpture of horse and rider Physical Energy will greet visitors from the new car park with the large sculpture able to be moved from behind a protective glass screen in fine weather. Local Compton worthies will be commemorated on a new outdoor Hope Wall and facilities for a research centre will be provided.

In order to receive their grant of £4.3m from the Heritage Lottery Fund Watts Gallery still needs to raise another £200,000 by the autumn of 2008. The gallery has taken the initiative (May 2008) to join TopLots 2008 which provides online fund raising auctions via eBay. TopLots allows members of the public to bid for unique experiences at heritage venues, for which the gallery has set up a lot which provides for a private tour of the gallery and chapel and a rare opportunity to visit George Watts' house which is not open to the public.

Television personality Jeremy Paxman following a visit to the gallery has agreed (May 2008) to present a short film to be used during the restoration project.

The Heritage Lottery Fund agreed (June 2008) to release funding of £4.3m although the gallery in reaching £4m in private donations hadn't quite matched the HLF fund. The gallery is confident to eventually raise another £300,000.

"Watts Gallery, one of Surrey's hidden jewels, has been enchanting everyone who walks through its door for nearly a century," said Carole Souter, chief executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund. "Quintessentially English, it's a small gallery that's big on charm. We're delighted to be supporting these vital restoration works which will not only secure the gallery's future but also enable it to continue to welcome local visitors as well as attracting new ones." Source: Surrey Advertiser 27th June 2008

The Watts Gallery closed for restoration (2009) and already works on site have generated some excitement. Examples of 1920s terracotta cross designs created by Mary Watts for her Compton pottery have been found along with a salt-glazed Compton Pottery bowl and a series of small decorative pottery headstones resembling those in the Watts Chapel. The headstones, which were found near Limnerslease, the Watt’s family home, are believed to have come from the family pet cemetery. The gallery is due to re-open in 2010.

Despite the awkward history between the Watts Gallery and the Tate in London, the Tate has nurtured a special relationship with the gallery. Alison Smith, head of British art to 1900 at the Tate, accepted the invitation to give the annual Watts Lecture at Charterhouse School in February 2009 which was attended by 150 people. George Watts, and many of his fellow Victorian artists, fell out of favour with the Tate (then the National Gallery of British Art) in 1930 when there was a change of director and a new emphasis on modern British and foreign art. Watts had originally given the Tate many of his paintings during his lifetime, but few of the 44 works ever make it to public display languishing instead in the Tate's stores.

"Alison Smith is one of the U.K.'s foremost Victorian scholars and curators, and we are honoured that she accepted our invitation to give the 2009 Watts Lecture," said Perdita Hunt, Watts Gallery director. "In addition to the Watts bequest, the close relationship enjoyed between the Tate and Watts Gallery can be seen in Mary Watts’ choice of Sir Charles Holroyd, the first keeper of the National Gallery of British Art, to re-hanging Watts Gallery after her husband's death. Holroyd subsequently became one of the first trustees of Watts Gallery. We value the ongoing support of the Tate which helped us enormously to take forward the vision of George and Mary to provide art for all." Surrey Advertiser 6th March 2009

The gallery launched their 2010 by 2010 campaign (July 2009) in a bid to attract financial support from the business community during the restoration work.

“We cannot conceive of a restored, vibrant Watts Gallery without the support of our friends. Without their generosity, we would not have been able to raise the £10m required for this vital restoration," said gallery director Perdita Hunt. “We are extremely grateful to Anne [Milton MP] for backing this campaign and we very much hope that this will be the first of many business networking events to take place at the Watts Gallery.”

"Watts Gallery has faced a mammoth task in raising funds for this vital restoration, " said Guildford MP Anne Milton. "Tremendous efforts have been made by the community to get this far, but alongside this is the need to secure ongoing funding. I firmly believe that partnerships between the private and public sector bring with them tremendous mutual benefit.” Source: Surrey Advertiser 24th July 2009

After extensive restoration work the Watts Gallery reopened in June 2011. The gallery exceeded its expectations when within four months it achieved its annual visitor target. There are now also over 300 volunteers giving their time to help run the gallery.

As well as taking awards for conservation and restoration at the Guildford Design Awards (November 2011) the gallery also bagged first place as overall winner. Watts Gallery has been shortlisted for the Art Fund Prize which will be announced in June 2012.

Watts Gallery directors, in a bid to win the title of museum of the year, provided a tour of the gallery and chapel for Art Fund Prize 2012 judges (February 2012). The winner will receive much needed funding which the gallery wants to use to purchase Limnerlease in Compton, the home and studio of George Watts. The house was sold in 1938 after the death of Watts' wife Mary and is up for sale.

"Watts Gallery has launced our search for the Art Fund Prize 2012 winner in an extremely impressive way," said judge Lord Smith of Finsbury. "It is a wonderful collection and a beautifully renovated building, but what really struck the judges was the sheer determination and commitment of both staff and volunteers to secure Watts' legacy for future generations to enjoy." Surrey Advertiser 2nd March 2012

The Watts Gallery was commended at the Civic Trust Awards (March 2012) for its restoration work.

"It's a wonderful feeling as it really puts Watts Gallery on the national map," said Adam Zombory-Moldovan, principal of ZMMA architects who were responsible for the project. "Having been standing for more than 100 years, it's given the gallery a new lease of life for another 100 years. The glass doors allow Watts' magnificent sculpture Physical Energy to be seen as you arrive outside the gallery, and when inside. visitors can appreciate the beautiful setting as the gallery is opened up to the landscape." Surrey Advertiser 9th March 2012


The village of Compton straddles the busy B3000 which carries traffic from the nearby A3 into Godalming. In days gone by the village would have been an idyllic backwater with its picturesque houses set against a backdrop of rolling fields. Traffic aside Compton still presents visitors with all that an old English village should and encompasses two antique shops, ancient church and an impressive manor house. Compton is also home to the Watts Chapel and Watts Gallery MORE HERE.

The Withies Inn, Compton

The two public houses remaining within the bounds of village, The Harrow and The Withies, bear witness to the shift typical throughout the valley over the last century with less emphasis on public houses providing a focus of village life. Compton once had several more public houses including The White Hart and The Bear, both now private residences with The Bear now renamed Brook House. The Withies, more a restaurant than a pub, is housed in converted 16th century cottages, and tends to attract a well-heeled clientele. The pub is rumoured to have once turned away Bing Crosby for being inappropriately dressed. The Stores, which operated both as a bakery and general store, closed in 1975 with the post office (now The Old Post Office Stores) following the same fate in 1986. The village school was also closed in 1975.

St Nicholas Church, Compton

The church of St Nicholas (GR: SU954470), which was listed in the Domesday Book, is located out of sight of the road and is set up a steep path in a churchyard with views of the countryside and a lake beyond. Local historians believe the religious site pre-dates Saxon times although the church that stands today has Saxon origins, with the south west corner of the nave and the chancel walls dating to this period. The main fabric of the church dates to the 11th century using locally quarried Bargate stone with the building dominated by a 14th century unbuttressed shingled square tower with simple rectangular openings for the bell chamber. The tower is crowned by a steep spire beneath which a clock dated to 1688 looks out awkwardly across the ridge of the roof.

The roof itself is unusual in that it sweeps down over the aisle in a catslide (1) and encompasses three dormer windows that throw light into the celestory. The church boasts a good many stained glass windows, one of which dates back to the 13th century. A scratch dial by a window in the south wall, which was re-opened in 1929, still bears the marks representing times of services across which a shadow would fall from a stick inserted into a hole in the wall. The dial provided a rough-and-ready clock for local worshippers similar in principle to a sundial. The highly unusual two-storey sanctuary was added to the chancel in the 12th century providing a separate chapel above a vaulted chamber. The Romanesque guard rail on the upper floor is one of the earliest pieces of church woodwork in the country. The font is of Norman origin.

(1) A catslide is a roof with one side longer than the other and were often used to cover an extension to a building.

11th Century Graffiti, St Nicholas Church, Compton

On the wall by the pulpit are two well-preserved pieces of graffiti, one of which may have been scratched into the wall by a knight returning from the Crusades. Although it has not been possible to accurately date either piece, which are protected under glass, the noseguard of the helmet is typical of that period.

During renovation work in 1929 evidence of what could have been an Anchorite Cell (2) was discovered, although no documentation survives recording its use. Likely to have been used in the 11th and 12th centuries the small cell would have accommodated a religious hermit who elected to be incarcerated within the space often until death, dedicating their life to prayer. The hermit was effectively bricked into the cell only able to communicate with the outside world through a small hole in the wall, and through which food and water would have been passed. A similar cell exists in the north wall of St James's in Shere with documentation recording the incarceration of one Christina Carpenter.

(2) Anchorite (female Anchoress) comes from the Greek meaning 'to withdraw' and represented one of the earliest forms of Christian monastic living.

Eastbury Manor and St Nicholas Church, Compton

Adjacent to the church is Eastbury Manor (GR: SU953470) set in 18th century parkland of seven and a half acres and surrounded by magnificent cedar trees facing a lake across rolling lawns. The house has been converted into a 33-bed nursing home.

"There are one or two ancient timber houses of some interest in the village, which chiefly consists of a winding street straggling away to the south of the church.

"One of these, formerly the inn, a good deal 'restored,' stands on a raised bank, so high above the road that a basement story of stone is entered by a door on the street, the ground floor being approached by another door on the bank above. The first floor and attic stories have a considerable projection. The doors have flat arched heads; and the date of the whole house appears to be about the second quarter of the 16th century. (Pictured below)

"Several of the other cottages in the village are highly picturesque, and many date back at least to the 16th century. They are of timber construction, with tile-hanging over the upper stories, and high pitched tiled roofs, those of a farm-house at Compton being hipped over the wings of the front in a somewhat unusual manner. Some good chimneys occur. The coffee tavern is ancient and picturesque. Not far from it the manor pound still survives.
A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3 (1911) Editor H.E. Malden

The 'old inn' The Street, Compton near Godalming, Surrey

Compton was home to a conservation campaigner who for many years opposed inappropriate development in the Parish. Having moved to Compton in 1960 to teach at the village school Kathleen McAlmont soon took an active interest in the local countryside encouraging the village children to care about the environment around them. When the school closed in 1976 she retired and dedicated her time to protecting the landscape and its trees. Some years before, McAlmont's young daughter had died and in 1985 she established a conservation charity in her name. The Elizabeth McAlmont Memorial Trust championed the preservation of the local environment and became responsible for maintaining footpaths and bridleways in the parish as well as taking over the management of Glebe Wood (GR: SU963458) in nearby Binscombe, an ancient woodland owned by the diocese of Guildford. The Trust also manages Withies Pond (GR: SU964467), Hayden's Copse (GR: SU966460) in Binscombe and Farncombe Wood (GR: SU967455) close to The Manor House in Farncombe.

Puck's Oak Barn, Compton

In 1993 the Trust purchased the land the restored Puck's Oak Barn (GR: SU955469) now stands in, transforming a derelict builder's yard into a quintessentially English orchard which has been replanted with old varieties of English apples, pears, plums and quinces. The barn, which was named after the cottage in which McAlmont lived in the village, is equipped to provide a meeting space for educational and local use. McAlmont spent many years on the Parish Council and was eventually elected chairman ensuring her voice on environmental matters carried even more weight. She was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1995 for her contribution to public service. McAlmont was also instrumental in establishing another trust for the restoration of the Watts Chapel in Compton.

Field Place (GR: SU958467) in Compton resides in 242 acres (98 ha) of picturesque 18th and 19th century parkland. The property featured in the magazine Country Life's Top 12 Country Houses sold feature in 2006. Field Place was sold by estate agents Knight Frank for £6m. A lodge house is situated by the main gate and is provided as an independent let property with two bedrooms and two bathrooms with a rent of £1900 per month (April 2010).

The Village Hall was built in 1934 having been proposed by Mrs Watts, wife of the artist and sculptor, some five years earlier. She had started a fund-raising drive in 1929 to have a hall and a British Legion Club built in the village but failed to raise the necessary funds. Her £50 donation was passed to a board of trustees who managed to generate a total of £1,432 0s 11d to enable the project to go ahead. The site, next to The Harrow, was sold to the village by the Guildford-based Friary Brewery for £50. Mary Watts laid the foundation stone and Lady Boston of Monkshatch was the guest of honour on opening day for the hall that can seat 120 people and has a curtained stage.

Compton boasts a thriving amateur dramatic group, Compton Little Theatre, established in 1982 and which puts on three shows a year staged in the village hall. Compton Little Theatre, which describes itself thus: "The epitome of English village culture. A social group with a slightly eccentric community-based activity binds us together. We are an amateur dramatic society established in 1982 for the enjoyment of the people of the village of Compton." is a member of the Guildford Amateur Theatre Association which was set up initially as lobying group to support amateur dramatic societies in the area.

Compton Village Royal British Legion Club was demolished and has been replaced (2009) by the brand-new Compton Village Club providing modern facilities including a large bar area, function room, a full-sized snooker table with pool table and traditional darts play area.

The villagers run an annual fete held on the village green in May each year which attracts many visitors from the area. Proceeds from the event are invested locally with the 2010 fete providing funding for Compo (the Compton Village Association volunteer bus service), the village hall and planned 'traffic calming' measures. The sense of community in the parish is illustrated by good turnouts with initiatives such as litter picking, and clearance and conservation on Compton Common.

Compton Common (GR: SU964467) is located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty covering one acre (4ha) and was once important to the village allowing commoners to collect firewood, building material and fodder for animals

The A3 Crosses &
a Hidden Lutyens' Masterpiece

Often asked but seldom answered is why there are two large wooden crosses on either side of the bridge carrying the slip road (B3000) down from the A3 into Compton.

In the late 1920s Surrey County Council sought to build a new road by-passing local villages that would carry traffic from Guildford on towards Portsmouth. The plan required that the road would in part pass through the Watts property, permission for which was refused initially by Mary Watts. Following tortuous negotiation however, Mrs Watts finally agreed provided the road bridge tunnel was designed by Lutyens and two crosses were erected to mark the route of the Pilgrim's Way.

The tunnel dating from 1931 provides a good example of Lutyens' interest in geometry using a sequence of stepped arches. The original oak railings were replaced for safety improvement and the two crosses have been renewed in the years since.

The Bible & Key Divination

In the mid 19th century an unusual and unsettling practice had developed in Godalming to allow the populace to impose their own trial of suspects accused of theft. The offenders were held and a bible produced to be opened at the first chapter of Ruth. The stock of a large street door key, common at the time, was laid on the 16th verse, with the handle extending beyond the edge of the bible. A piece of string was tied around the key and the cover to securely bind the key to the book. The person working the charm placed his two middle fingers under the handle of the key which served to completely suspend the bible. He would then repeat in succession the names of the suspects with each name preceded by a portion of the verse over which the key had been placed. A guilty pronouncement followed when the key turned in his fingers and the bible fell to the ground. From The Notes & Queries Magazine 1850.

The Rabbit Woman

Godhelmian Mary Tofts in 1727 bizarrely declared that she had given birth to between 18 and 24 rabbits, and somehow managed to convince not only Mr Howard an upstanding Guildford surgeon but also Dr St André the royal physician. Opinion of the day was that Toft, who was dubbed The Rabbit Woman by wags at the time, had hoped to gain a royal pension, but under considerable pressure withdrew her claim and spent a short bout in prison for her pains. The two doctors were viciously lampooned by the famous contemporary artist Hogart at the time with a cartoon showing Mary lying in bed in much discomfort whilst a host of rabbits ran from the bottom of her skirt. Nothing quite so exciting has happened since in Godalming, more's the pity.

Mary Tofts
Mary Tofts - The Rabbit Woman
depicted in Hogarts' contemporarycartoon
Image in public domain

Location! Location! Location!

The picturesque Wey Valley often attracts the attention of TV and film makers and Godalming is no exception.

It may be February (2006) but in one street in Godalming it's still very much Christmas. Big Hollywood stars Jude Law and Cameron Diaz have been working in Church Street bedecked with Christmas decorations and fake shop fronts to film a series of scenes for a new romantic comedy, The Holiday.

The Holiday Film Set
Filming 'The Holiday' in Church Street, Godalming
Photo by Kei M

The film, which also stars Kate Winslett and Jack Black, is being managed by Shepperton based Waveland Pictures which has had its work cut out trying to deliver footage on time. Already at the time of writing the schedule had slipped by a few days, so it seems likely that this tiny corner of Hollywood is going to provide a little more entertainment for the local residents, and disruption for shopkeepers and their customers.

Teams of security personnel backed up by local police officers were on hand to ensure that the street, which was transformed into a Christmas scene, was kept clear of a growing throng of onlookers and the inevitable bussle of paparazzi jostling for the perfect saleble shot. Church Street had false shopfronts put in to portray a festive scene complete with a fake chemist, bakery, post office and a butcher shop complete with turkeys strung along its frontage.

The street received a covering of snow for one of the scenes, a make-believe picture repeated in the real village of nearby Shere where a mock cottage has been built and the church and surrounding streets had also duly been coated in artificial snow. The popular and historic White Horse pub in the centre of Shere was off-limits to locals for two days whilst scenes were filmed there. Shere parish council has reportedly received a donation of £10,000 to compensate the village for all of the disruption. No news has come to light of any like payment being made for the benefit of Godalming residents. The picturesque village of Shere is a sought after location for film production companies. As well as The Holiday the villagers have seen the stars of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004) with Renee Zellweger, Gemma Jones and Hugh Grant - the 12th-century St James' Church was used in the wedding scene; The Wedding Date (2005) with Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney; The Earth Dies Screaming (1965) with Willard Parker and Virginia Field; and A Matter of Life and Death (1946) with David Niven and Richard Attenborough. Peter O'Toole was also on set in Shere in The Ruling Class (1972). The Saxon church at neighbouring Albury featured in Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) with Hugh Grant and Simon Callow.

" . . . the entire film crew set up camp in the field next to our house, they took over our village with fake snow, fake shops and even a fake house. I'm sorry to burst the bubble, but the village of Shere in 'The Holiday' was a huge exaggeration of the true village. Parts of Godalming also became Shere including Godalming Station where they changed the station signs to read 'Shere' which was extremely disconcerting for all the commuters who intended to get off the train, saw that it wasn't Godalming and got back on again! Oh, and because we were at work all day, we never did see him, or Kate Winslet, or Cameron Diaz." Blogger: La Vie en Rose 28th October 2007

The remaining scenes were filmed in Los Angeles. The film, which was released in December 2006, tells the tale of Law who attempts to woo Diaz who is on the rebound and in England. Diaz befriends a British woman played by Winslett who is in a similar position. You can't get much more exciting than that . .

Shere also featured briefly at the end of the film Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004) in the wedding scene in which St James's Church was used as a backdrop.

A scene from the BBC's Doctor Who 1970 episode Doctor Who and the Silurians was filmed in Milford Hospital near Godalming. The scene depicts a security officer from the hospital's 'research centre' lying dead from a dastardly Silurian virus, whilst Jon Pertwee as the Doctor is attacked by the aliens.


The popular Channel Four programme Location, Location, Location took to the streets of Godalming (February 2007) to film background material for an episode in which homes in Godalming, Chiddingfold, Hascombe and Haslemere are featured. The TV programme, which features Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer trying to track down suitable properties for fussy househunters, had the presenters undertake to-camera pieces in Church Street and in the vicinity of St Peter's & St Paul's Church. SEE ALSO

Channel Four's series Grand Designs followed the build (2007) of an Art Deco house in Farncombe. MORE HERE

Did you catch the fourth series episode of the ITV drama Foyle's War that featured (yes, you've guessed it) Church Street, Godalming? Michael Kitchen as Foyle is assaulted by a suspect in the street and runs off in the episode Bad Blood which was filmed in April 2005. The murder mystery thriller which is set in 1941 required that Church Street be filled with vintage cars and populated with actors in period costume.

The popular ITV eight-part series Teenage Kicks (March 2008) starring Adrian Edmondson (of the 1980s The Young Ones and 1990s Bottom fame) starts with the central character Vernon (Edmondson) launching into a new life after a nasty divorce. After two decades of living off his high-flying wife in Godalming, with most of it spent in pubs, he begins to find out the realities of the real world - free, with no ties and no responsibilities - all to the chagrin of his teenage kids who he ends up living with. No footage of Godalming sadly . . .

Meridian Television featured Milford House on the Portsmouth Road in their series Love It or Lose It documenting efforts to save historic buildings.

A Nokia advertising campaign included footage of scenes shot in Church Street (July 2011) featuring a herd of sheep running about whilst users of their phones sent texts to their friends. The Finnish mobile phone manufacturer used the 40 second Completely connected QWERTY ad to plug their products' keyboards, with the first advert broadcast during Coronation Street on the 11th July. The advert, according to Marketing Magazine, was part of an '£80m overhaul of its brand positioning' following its announcement of a partnership with Microsoft.

The storyline:

A number of people are seen being held up by sheep wandering all around a country town. A mother and small daughter are seen sitting at a table outside a cafe when a flock of them emerge from Cow Lane and walk around the town centre. The mother takes a photo of the scene on her mobile and sends it to her friends to enjoy, and a businessman in a car sends a text to a contact to advises that he has been delayed by sheep. A selection of Nokia phones with qwerty keyboards is displayed. visit4ads.com

The advert was filmed by London agency Wieden & Kennedy.

"Nokia is committed to authenticity in our communications, using characters and situations that the British public can relate to," said Adam Johnson, head of brand and campaigns at Nokia. marketingmagazine.co.uk 12th July 2011

Watch the advert HERE.
Links to YouTube footage uploaded by Nokia UK
An onlooker's viewpoint HERE
Links to YouTube footage uploaded by daz71

Evidence of Otters in Godalming

The Surrey Wildlife Trust has been working closely with other wildlife and environmental organisations to improve the riverside habitat along the Wey. In March 2008 the Trust's otters and rivers project officer Chris Matcham came across evidence that otters have been frequenting the river through Godalming.

Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra)
Photo by Catherine Trigg
permission under Creative Commons Attribution


Eco- Friendly Light Fantastic
125th Anniversary

In 1881 Godalming became the first town in Britain to have public street lighting powered by electricity. MORE

To mark the event Godalming Museum invited (2006) local residents to design a power-generating water turbine and to support the efforts of local groups including the conservation group the Godalming Trust who are advocates of environmentally friendly projects in the town.

Although not expecting to unearth any world-firsts in terms of ground-breaking design, as the competition is geared towards encouraging local children and families to become more eco-aware, the event stimulated a lot of local interest.

The challenge was to design and build an operating water turbine which can generate measurable power for at least 10 seconds. The judges were looking for power generation efficiency and innovative design in the winning entries. The promoters cited the example of a design featured in the BBC's series Rough Science where a team had built a water turbine driven by a bicycle wheel, a dozen soup ladles and a length of hosepipe.

The competition, which is sponsored by the British Hydropower Association, was won by a single jet Pelton turbine constructed from recycled materials which included old paint cans, buckets and discarded supermarket plastic reward cards.

Light Fantastic, an exhibition at Godalming Museum to mark the power anniversary ran for two months in the summer of 2006.

Low-energy First

Determined to stay firmly in the limelight, Godalming has become the first town in the world (September 2006) to install innovative low-energy street lighting using state-of-the-art CosmoPolis lamps. These lamps, which have been installed in classically designed street lanterns, are 30% more efficient than traditional lighting systems.

"New energy efficient lighting technologies provide a unique opportunity," said Mike Moreton, national sales manager for public lighting at Philips. "The environment gains because of less CO2 emissions and the end user gains because of lower energy costs. What is more, the new lighting scheme reduces any unnecessary upward spill by at least 80%."

The lamps also enable people to see objects and facial features more clearly, and provides for much clearer definition for motorists.

"This is an exciting innovation for our town and a perfect way to start the 125th anniversary celebrations. The next step for us will be to consider dimmable lighting which will further increase the benefits of lower energy use at night," said Steven Haines, leader of the Electric Godalming project. "And beyond that the rapid developments in LED (1) technology will create even more possibilities in the future, so the prospects for Godalming are very forward looking indeed."

Surrey Advertiser 8th September 2006

(1) LED or Light-Emitting Diode is illuminated by the movement of electrons in a semiconductor and doesn't have filaments that burn out or generate much heat and have a long life.

Images of Godalming

Historian Hugh Turrall-Clarke has launched (July 2006) a computerised archive of images and information related to historic buildings and notable people from Godalming's past.

So far details of over 400 buildings and 50 people have been captured for the database which is maintained for Godalming Museum.

Access to the computer at the museum is free and volunteers are on hand to provide help if needed.

Wartime British Restaurant

During the Second World War the Ministry of Food issued a directive for the establishment of places where every citizen could go to obtain at least one wholesome cooked meal per day. These eating places became known as British Restaurants.

A British Restaurant was housed in Angel Yard off the High Street and Godalming Museum has on display an original token dispenser and tokens.


Witley, the Underwater Billiards Room, and the Cyanide Capsule

The village of Witley lies two miles south west of Godalming and has a population of 2,571 living in 1,040 households (2001 census). Set in rolling countryside the picturesque village with its row of cottages in Church Lane became popular with Victorian artists and writers.

George Eliot wrote her last novel Daniel Deronda (1876) whilst staying in the village, and artist Helen Allingham (1846 - 1926) lived for seven years in the 1880s at Sandhills. Many of her paintings feature country cottages in the area, many of which have long since been replaced with more modern houses. A number of timber-framed tile-hung cottages remain in the village, with Surrey tiles typical of the area each with triangular ends or fish-scale effects. The watercolour artist Myles Birkett Foster (1825 - 1899) built his house The Hill at Witley in 1863. The house, which was furnished and decorated with modern decorative art, has not survived. Foster is said to have produced some of his best landscapes whilst living here.

Whitaker Wright (1846 - 1904), a wealthy mining company owner, in 1890 bought Lea Park Estate on the outskirts of Haslemere and the adjacent South Park Farm. He combined the two into a huge single estate he called Witley Park in a development that was to cost an incredible £1.85m (appx £114m in today's money) and was one of the most lavish private residences in the world at the time. South Park Farm was bought from the Earl of Derby for £250,000, who used it to entertain his weekend guests on shooting parties. Title to the land brought with it manorial rights for the Manor of Witley, which included Hindhead Common and the Devil's Punchbowl. South Park Farm itself was established when in 1599 Queen Elizabeth I sold Witley Park to the Mores of Loseley who broke the land up into separate farms one of which was bought by the Earl's family.

The extensively landscaped grounds of 450 acres included a series of three interconnected lakes and an underwater domed glass and steel constructed billiards room. Lea Park House was converted into a sumptious mansion with 32 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, a private theatre and observatory. Wright had over 500 labourers working on his project which included digging the three lakes by hand.

In a ramshackle wood, next to a walled kitchen garden, you'll find a holly tree wrapped around a hut with a door in it. Go down the spiral concrete steps, and there, 40ft beneath the surface, lies a teardrop-shaped tunnel that leads to Britain's most extraordinary folly — a ballroom, built of iron and glass, beneath a lake. Leading off it, an aquarium-cum-smoking room was added, where guests puffed on their cigars and admired the passing carp. Above the domed, glazed ceiling of the underwater ballroom, a yellowish natural light shines through the murky lake water. A giant statue of Neptune stands at the dome's peak, poking above the surface, apparently walking on water. This underwater ballroom is the last, mad, magnificent fragment of a Victorian fantasy world that made Michael Jackson's Neverland look like a dull municipal park. dailymail.co.uk 8th November 2011

The house and gardens were packed with treasures gathered from across the globe. Reportedly one of the sculptures, that of a dolphin's head, was so large it got stuck under a bridge whilst being transported by road from the docks at Southampton, and the road surface had to be excavated in order to free it. Wright also erected stables for 50 horses.

The work was never finished for in 1904 Wright committed suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule after his business empire ran into financial difficulties and he had been sentenced to seven years imprisonment for fraud. His financial downfall appears to have been due to his involvement with the building of the new London Underground. His London and Globe Finance Corporation, which was particularly investing in the Bakerloo Line, went bust in 1900 and he was accused of misusing invested funds.

The story goes that Wright hid himself away in the ice house at Witley Park for a week to avoid his pursuers who had a warrant for his arrest, before fleeing to New York by sea. Unfortunately for him the warrant was waiting for him when he landed in America and despite his use of false identity he was apprehended. After extradition he faced a particularly unsympathetic judge and jury at his trial in London and in 1904 was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. It was at this point Wright decided he couldn't face prison or his creditors and committed suicide. He had smuggled a cyanide tablet into court and having asked his solicitor for a glass of whiskey and a cigar, upon his proclamation 'I will not need this where I am going' in handing his watch over, he swallowed the tablet and collapsed. Wright had obviously been desperate to find a way out if the trial went against him for later the police found he'd also hidden a revolver in his clothes.

He was reportedly immortalised by HG Wells as the character George Ponderevo in his 1909 novel Tono-Bungay, a conman who makes money selling a miraculous cure to unsuspecting punters who suffer the effects of poisoning as a result.

Wright is buried in the graveyard of All Saints in Witley, his grave marked by an imposing marble slab.

The estate was wound up and put up for auction in Godalming as 50 lots. The all important Lot 47 became the focus of national debate over the preservation of open spaces, as this related to the manorial rights over Hindhead Commons including the Devil's Punchbowl, Gibbett Hill and 750 acres of woodland. With the support of the Commons Preservation Society a local committee was formed to raise funds. In the auction in 1905 the group won with a bid of £3,625 (app £330,000 today). In 1906 the group transferred ownership to the newly formed National Trust, and was the first Trust property to be managed by local committee.

The house was bought by Lord Pirrie, the chairman of Harland & Wolff who built the SS Titanic, for $1m and became his family's principal residence. The mansion was destroyed by fire in 1953 and the surviving buildings today provide facilities for a conference centre under the name of Witley Park.

The distinctive Milford Lodge Gatehouse (GR: SU931398) on the A286 Milford to Haslemere road marks one of the entrances to Witley Park and the lakes still remain with the largest today known as Thursley Lake.

The underwater ballroom still survives, empty and unused, a monument to Wright's ultimate folly.

Witley and Milford Commons

Witley and Milford Commons adjacent to the busy A3 are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a European Special Protection Area, and are an important wildlife habitat of heathland and scrub with woodland fringes. During both World Wars the Commons were used as army camps and at its peak housed 20,000 soldiers, which included Canadian and Polish troops. Bronze Age burial mounds and iron workings dating to the 16th and 17th centuries are also found here.

The Witley Centre, Witley Common

Milford Common (GR: SU937414) is the area lying to the north of the now truncated Webb Road (that once linked the A3 with the A286 Haslemere Road) and Gasden Lane. An old baseball ground used by Canadian troops stationed in the WWII camps on the common can just be discerned close to Webb Road and not far from the access to Witley Centre carpark (see below). Milford Cemetery is located in the northeastern corner of the common. Witley Common (GR: SU928405) is bounded to the south by Lea Coach Road. At its centre are the remains of a parade ground for the WWII Canadian military camp, linked to the Witley Centre by an aptly named footpath called Soldiers Stroll. Prior to the 20th century the heathland was used by the local community for grazing, turf-cutting and other activities to support their day to day needs. Owned and managed by the National Trust, today the Commons provide a protected habitat for a range of wildlife.

Rodborough Technology College pupils have undertaken detailed research into the history of Witley Camp during the First and Second World Wars. The college can trace back its origins to the camp as the school was originally housed in the old army barracks in 1951 before being relocated to its current site in 1960, and its name originated from here.

The first camp was built on Witley Common and was occupied by Canadian soldiers in 1915 where they undertook training before being sent to France. The camp apparently was burned down during a riot in 1919. When again facilities were needed for Canadian soldiers in the Second World War the camp was rebuilt at Rodborough Common (GR: SU933415), this time expanding considerably to include a hospital, chapel and theatre as well as living quarters and a parade ground. The soldiers garrisoned here undertook their training on the surrounding commons and were instructed on the use of folding boats on the Hammer ponds.

A German pilot was detained by soldiers from the garrison when he parachuted to safety having been shot down over the common in 1944.

Heritage Lottery funding of £43,000 also enabled a special exhibition to be mounted at Godalming Museum and for a Garden of Remembrance to be constructed at the site. Canadian veteran Al Cunningham, who is also the national president secretary of the UK Canadian Veterans Association, stayed at the camp in the Second World War and had the honour of opening the gardens. The sculpture garden contains three linked artworks Metal Morphosis created by Jonathan Holmes as well as totem poles, carved wooden benches and willow bowers (1). The garden, which is in the school grounds on the A283 Petworth Road (GR: SU947413), was landscaped by Anita Smith through additional funding provided by the county, borough and parish councils and three charitable trusts.

(1) A bower is an arbour woven out of willow to provide a shady shelter to sit under.

On both commons the reclamation of heathland from pine woodland and bracken has provided a habitat for a number of different species including breeding-birds and insects. Nightjar, Siskin and a variety of warblers are now resident alongside heathland butterflies including Green Hairstreak, Silver-studded Blue and Purple Emperor. Reptiles including the Common Lizard and Adder are common, and Roe Deer can also be occasionally seen.

The National Trust-run Witley Centre (GR: SU932406) was until 2009 a purpose-built visitor and education centre providing a countryside exhibition about the Commons. The centre, which had a small shop selling light refreshments, maps and gifts, was closed to the public by the Trust in April 2009 "due to new staffing arrangements", although the Trust have committed to maintaining it as an education centre for pre-booked school parties.

After a flurry of complaints the National Trust reversed its decision to close the Witley Centre and it reopened for two months during the summer holidays until early September 2009.

The car park, from which there is a short walk to the centre, is accessible from Webb Road opposite Gasden Lane off the A286 Haslemere Road.

The Surrey Wildlife Trust as part of their Surrey Greenspace Project have been clearing the Royal Common near Milford. The project encourages schools to use local greenspaces and to take part in enhancements which also benefit wildlife. Students from King's College in Guildford carried out work (February 2012) to remove unwanted scrub and small saplings of scots pine and birch, both of which stifle heather growth which in turn depletes rare wildlife including adders and silver-studded blue butterflies.

King Edward's School

King Edward's School (GR: SU948384), founded in 1553, is located nearby on the main A283 Petworth Road and provides independent co-education for boarders and day pupils. The school was originally formed on the back of the gifting of Bridewell Hospital in London by King Edward VI to house destitute children after a suggestion by the Bishop of London, Nicholas Ridley. The London Livery Companies provided the money to refurbish the almost derelict hospital buildings. The school successfully established itself as providing poor children with skills such as spinning, weaving, wire drawing, the making of pins, knives, nails goves and combs through seven-year apprenticeships, that would enable them to make their way in the world. Additional education was provided in reading, writing and music.

King Edward's School, Witley

The school moved to Witley in 1867. During WWII the pupils were housed in Hambledon whilst the Admiralty Signals Establishment undertook top secret development of naval radar at the school, not returning until 1949.

HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was a guest of honour at the school in 1956.

"I was a pupil at King Edward's during the time of her visit. Mr. Gordon Humphries MA was the Headmaster at the time, and it was the only occasion upon which we pupils had seen him at all flustered. HM had lunch with us in the dining hall, and the two things that stick in my mind about the day was meeting this tiny, smiling lady, and that we had something called 'vol au vents' for lunch. These were considered by us to be a complete denial of the human child's right to a square meal! To this day I find it difficult to picture royalty eating without envisioning their plates being full of little crusty puddles of French goo." Mycroft Holmes : francisfrith.com

A local artist was commissioned to create a sculpture garden to celebrate the school's long association with the late Queen Mother, who was its president for 49 years. Nick Ashman, of Cranleigh, created a bust of the Queen Mother which is the focal point in a quiet courtyard that also features works by fellow Surrey Sculptor Society members Maggie Butler, Martin Cundell and art teacher Mark Swan. The garden was opened in March 2009.

"Nick's sculpture captures the image of each HRH towards the end of long life and as she will be remembered on her last visit to the school,” said Judith Mott of the school. "He has captured her special twinkle and her enjoyment of life. The whole community now enjoys this very attractive area right in the heart of the school, but pride of place is rightly reserved for the Queen Mother's sculpture." Surrey Advertiser 6th March 2009

All Saints Church, Witley

All Saints Church (GR: SU946397) with its 13th century tower and peel of eight bells (the oldest cast in 1604) was built over previous Saxon churches from the 7th century, and local historians claim that there is evidence of Saxon craftsmanship in some of the windows of the church standing today. The nave was begun before 1066 and the south doorway is Norman. The wife of Edward I, Queen Eleanor of Castille provided for the building of Manor Chapel in the church, and also in 1283 gave royal warrant for a weekly market to be held in the village.

Royal connections with All Saints Church continued until the reign of Elizabeth I with many clues as to the favour of royalty evident throughout the building. These include fragments of heraldic glass in the Manor Chapel, one of which depicts the arms of Mary Tudor, and monuments including inscriptions to the Duke Of Clarence who was granted Witley Manor in 1462, Thomas Jones the official foodtaster to Henry VIII, and Henry Bell the Clerk Controller for the household of James I. A hatchment (1) over the west window depicts the arms of George III.

The Grade I Listed building boasts many paintings including scenes of the beautitudes on the ceiling of a Victorian barrel vault and medieval wall paintings and frescoes in the Nave. The frescoes, which date from 1130 and depict the life of Jesus, were inadvertently damaged by the misguided efforts of Victorian conservationists who covered them with a protective coating causing the painted surface to blister as the wall was prevented from breathing. Modern conservation work in the 1980s and 90s has helped reverse the damage.

The Victorian artist Miles Birkett Foster and the financier Whittaker Wright are buried in the graveyard.

(1) A hatchment is a funeral armorial shield enclosed in a black lozenge-shaped frame. The shield was hung above the door of the deceased person's home for six to twelve months before being removed and placed in the parish church.

White Hart Inn Witley

The White Hart stands on the site of an old hunting lodge on the Petworth Road with the existing building dating back to the 16th century. Local historians lay claim to the fact that Edward I (1239 - 1307) held court at an inn on the site for five days in 1305. Bellringers from All Saints Church regularly use the pub for relaxing after their sessions and rang a specially composed peal of 1,698 changes of Stedman Triples in 1998 to mark the 300th anniversary of the pub's brewers Shepherd Neame.

The Witley Institute was built by one John Foster in 1883 and in 1911 it held 'a reference library of 240 volumes, and a lending library of over 700 volumes' (A History of the County of Surrey. H.E.Malden). Witley was one of the first villages in England to establish its own Scout Troop in 1911 utilising an old stilted hut that was once part of the WWI Canadian Army Camp on Witley Common. The building was dismantled and re-sited in 1920 where it served the local community, including as a canteen during the Second World War, until being replaced by the Jubilee Hall in 2002.

The village is graced by a very grand village hall with seating of up to 250 people and facilities for the cricket club who play on the adjoining pitch. Chichester Hall, named after Major Chichester of nearby Enton Hall after his widow donated the money to purchase the plot of land on which it stands, was opened in 1935. With the outbreak of war the hall became a casualty centre for the Red Cross and dances were often held there attended by Canadian troops billeted in local camps, revellers being returned to camp by a military lorry that locals fondly referred to as the 'drunk truck'. The villagers clubbed together to install a bench (May 2009) on the veranda overlooking the cricket pitch to commemorate the lifetime commitment of Ruth Mullard who served on the Chichester Hall management committee for 60 years.

Witley Parish Council are proposing (April 2007) to provide the village with a an official village green. Currently a grassed area on the Petworth road opposite the Star Inn is used informally for festive events but the council plan to secure the title deeds for the ground to adopt the land and retain the green for posterity. In times past the unofficial green was even used to settle disputes.

"Some time back, village events there on Boxing Day included a tug of war, followed by a boxing match," said Brian Groves, parish council clerk. "Disputes could be settled with organised matches, obviously all washed down with a pint at The Star."
Source: Surrey Advertiser 13th April 2007

Milford Burton Cricket Pavilion

Witley and the Mobile Farm

In 1954 the village of Witley located to the south of Godalming experience an incredible spectacle. A Yorkshire farming family relocated their entire farm 255 miles (410km) south from Langdale Farm, Northallerton to the 75-acre Hazelgrove Farm in Brook.

The farmer, Dick Penrose, uprooted his farm lock, stock and barrel and transported it by chartering a goods train. The train, laden with farm implements and machinery as well as the family's domestic furniture, travelled overnight before pulling into sidings at Witley Station in the early hours of the following morning. A caravan of tractors and lorries was waiting to complete the last two and a half miles (4km) of this extraordinary journey by towing and carrying the unusual cargo, which included 16 tons of grain which had first been unloaded by crane at Guildford. The relocation included Peggy the carthorse, Gyp the sheepdog and five farm cats.

Hiring the engine and 11 trucks cost Mr Penrose a princely £250 (appx £14,000 today). He had decided to move south to downsize his agricultural interests and move on from farming beef cattle and sheep.

"I shall re-stock down here, where I propose to have a mixed farm with the accent on poultry," said Mr Penrose to the Surrey Advertiser reporter at the scene. "There is not a lot of incentive to go for a big farm nowadays, for there are labour problems to contend with."

Family friend, one Stanley Hiscutt, added a tribute. "Mr Penrose is a very fine farmer."

Surrey Advertiser 9th February 2007

Rodborough Common

Rodborough Common (GR: SU930417) which was declared a Local Nature Reserve in 2005, is an area of open heathland covering 62 hectares with woodland and acid grassland, and is owned by Surrey County Council  who purchased the site in the late 1960s. The common is managed by the Surrey Wildlife Trust. The area is also designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI) and acts as an important buffer to the neighbouring Thursley National Nature Reserve and the Thursley, Hankley and Frensham Site of Special Scientific Importance (SSSI). The smaller Moushill Down is located immediately to the north of Rodborough Common.

The Trust actively manages the control of bracken, which in suppressing all other plant species lowers the diversity of wildlife, and encourages heather growth. Mixed deciduous woodland on the common consist mainly of oak, hawthorn and birch. Other trees on the common include hazel, rowan, hornbeam and sweet chestnut.  In the open heathland areas forestry management includes the control of Scots pines and birch which left to their own devices quickly colonise the open spaces.  Visitors will notice a good many large ant hills across the common, a sure sign of a healthy population of a number of ant species and supportive to other wildlife. Until 1990 the small valley located to the southernmost edge of the common was heavily wooded. Having been cleared and harvested the valley has been returned to its original heathland state.

Water boreholes, Rodborough Common, Milford

A mown area of grass, which looks out of keeping given its natural surroundings, is maintained by a local model aircraft flying club as a runway, and who in return for using the site for their hobby assist in tree and bracken clearance.  From the highest point of the common close to the runway there are views across to the Hog’s Back. There are two boreholes sited in the woodland which provide access when required to underground water reserves 200ft (61m) below. Both are capped for safety. On the northwestern extremity of the common are significant ancient earthworks, these being ditch and dyke systems used in times past to mark out boundaries of land ownership. The remnants of a hedge on one of the dykes has been dated to at least 300 years old.

Earthworks at Rodborough Common, Milford

Green woodpeckers are quite common in the woodland areas thriving on the plentiful supply of ants, as do grass snakes and lizards. The carefully managed woodlands, where fallen trees are allowed to remain, also harbour healthy populations of fungi including velvet shank.

The Surrey Wildlife Trust has established a signed circular trail starting and ending in the public car park (GR: SU938418), which is accessed from the A3100 old Portsmouth Road linking Milford to the A3. The Trust has graded the trail as ‘an easy going route with a sandy surface and two gradients, but no gates or stiles to negotiate’. From our research onsite the trail would not be suitable for wheelchair users. An information board and printed visitor guide (when available) can be found in the car park.

Hambledon, Wobbly Hill
and the Workhouse

Two miles away from Witley is the small village of Hambledon where in 1992 the local community took matters into their own hands when their only shop was threatened with closure. Hambledon Village Shop and Post Office was opened as a community venture run by volunteers from the village under the auspices of the Hambledon Village Trust. Thirteen years on the venture received (2006) a grant of over £28,000 from Defra's Rural Development Service to restore the adjoining 18th century barn to provide additional space. The villagers intend to expand the produce on offer to include more locally grown and organic produce, and launch a coffee shop to provide a social focal centre. The mobile County Library uses the shop as a calling point.

A special open morning (September 2010) was held to raise awareness with the local and wider community and to drum up ideas as to how the community shop can be developed to further benefit the village. The joint volunteer manager Philip Underwood, who also owns vineyard Greyfriars on the Hogs Back, was on hand to pour out glasses of his range of still and sparkling wines.

"It went very well," said Mr Underwood. "We were dishing out wine in the shop and everyone was very happy. We wanted feedback on how we could do better and now have 40 good ideas. We had a meeting to discuss them and want to do them all. The main one we would like to progress is converting the garage into a proper coffee shop with a mini library and computers. We would also like to sell more local produce and a better variety of items from the bake-off." Surrey Advertiser 17th September 2010

Merry Harriers in Hambledon

Hambledon, which in the last census had 550 people living in 278 homes, was listed in the Domesday Survey of 1086 as a manor of 300 acres called Hameledune.

In Hambledon is the Merry Harriers public house (GR: SU967391), once renowned locally for advertising its services as 'warm beer and lousy food' and for the extensive collection of chamber pots (1) hanging from the ceiling of its main bar. The late 17th century pub used to host the annual Wobbly Hill Races where all-comers risk life and limb racing hand-made karts down a steep hill in the field behind the pub.

The current owners have transformed the pub (2009) into a much more proactive entertainment venue and as well as hosting regular beer and cider festivals together with music events they have also launched (2010) a 'movie club' through which they are screening a monthly arthouse movie. The Merry Harriers, probably uniquely in the area, holds an ancient licence allowing it to open at 7 am on May 1st every year. This is thought to date back to times when the start of summer was a pagan festival and the pub was allowed to serve the revellers in support. May Day is still celebrated today and the Cup Hill Morris Men together with the ladies of Fleur de Lys Morris Group took full advantage (May 2010) of this ancient rite to perform their annual dancing in the summer.

"We had a great time, with the forecasters being totally wrong," said landlady Julie Stoneley. "It was a beautiful morning when they danced at Hydon's Ball (2). By the time they made it to the pub at opening time the sun felt quite warm. There was a massive turnout to see them. There were at least 100 people at the pub, of whom 79 enjoyed the full English breakfast on offer. Many stayed on to sample the delights of our three days cider Festival, which offered ciders from all over the UK. The Morris Men were still dancing at 9 am and then they went off to The Star Pub in Godalming and returned here later in the day." Surrey Advertiser 7th May 2010

There is a one acre field opposite the pub set aside for campers with ablution facilities. The landlord and landlady also operate llama trekking from the Merry Harriers throughout the year. The Surrey Hills llamas provide popular treks where participants walk with the animals (though not ridden) across the North Downs. The couple have (2010) nine llamas including Pandu, Running Cloud and the youngest Goji, who was born in 2008.


(1) Chamberpots consisting of a bowl-shaped container with a handle and usually stored under the bed were used extensively until the 19th century when domestic toilets began to be installed.
(2) Hydon's Ball is a 587 foot (179m) hill at Hydestile 3.5 miles (5.6km) from Godalming MORE

St Peter's Church Hambledon

The church of St Peter's (GR: SU 971390) was built in the 19th century over the site of the original 14th century building, parts of which were used in the more modern structure. Located at the top of a narrow winding lane the churchyard looks out over rolling farmland towards Hydon's Hill standing at 587ft (179m) and at the top of which is a memorial to Octavia Hill, a co-founder of the National Trust. The Trust owns the hill and surrounding heathland, through which the Greensand Way long-distance footpath runs. There are two large yew trees in the churchyard, one of which has a 30 foot (9m) circumference with a hollow large enough to seat four people. Local folklore says that pacing the interior of the hollow three times will summon a witch.

An ancient lime kiln that was in use until the 19th century can be seen in the lane opposite the church. The kiln is on National Trust land and the Trust undertook (July 2008) repair work to the masonry wall. The work, undertaken by a professional bricklayer using lime mortar in keeping with the original construction, was combined with a staff training day and public demonstration on conservation methods. Most of the damage to the structure had been caused by tree and other invasive root damage.

Ancient lime kiln at Hambledon

Next to the village green the National Trust has restored a 16th century labourer's home.

In 1836 the Hambledon Poor Law Union took over the management of a workhouse that had been established in the village in 1786. A plaque on the original Gilbert Union workhouse reads:

'This house was erected by the united Parishes of Bramley, Chiddingfold, Dunsfold and Hambledon for the better relief and employment of the poor. Anno Domini 1786'

The 1797 survey conducted by Sir Frederic Eden to report on the poor of England recorded the following about the Hambledon workhouse:

'The Poor have been farmed for more than 20 years; this reduced the rates by one-half and has kept them at about 2s. 6d. in the pound. The contractor receives £550 a year. The average number in the house is 60, never more than 75 or less than 45, but always highest in winter. They are chiefly employed in spinning coarse woollen or linen yarn, but their earnings are small. Bill of fare: Breakfast—Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, broth; Tuesday, milk porridge; Thursday, Saturday, milk porridge or gruel. Dinner—every day, meat and bread. Supper—every day, bread and cheese or butter. Each person has a pint of small beer at dinner and supper. The provisions are plentiful, wholesome and good. In case of sickness the Poor are attended by a doctor. The children are taught reading and catechism by one of the elder paupers.' The State of the Poor: A History of the Labouring Classes in England, with Parochial Reports, 1797. Sir Frederic Morton Eden

The main workhouse consisted of a block of buildings constructed in a square with workrooms, a washhouse, dining hall and kitchens servicing the needs of segregated groups of boys, able-bodied men, able-bodied women and aged men. A school was also provided at the workhouse. The site was taken over to accommodate Hambledon Infirmary in the 1870s. After the hospital closed in 1948 the hospital buildings underwent various changes of use including a residential home for the elderly and offices for the Institute of Oceanographic Sciences before being converted into private residences.

Villagers have compiled a scrapbook documenting village life over the last 100 years, and which is held for safekeeping at the Godalming Museum.

Field of wheat near Hambledon, Surrey

Surrey Community Action awarded (September 2008) the village of Hambledon with the title of Surrey Village of the Year in recognition of its strong community spirit and innovative ideas. The nomination entitles Hambledon to run in the national competition where winners can benefit from a share of a £40,000 cash prize.

This accolade was repeated in 2009 again cited as in recognition of the village’s strong community spirit and innovative ideas. This time around Princess Alexandra accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey Sarah Goad made the presentation and unveiled a plaque commemorating her visit.

Hambledon won the sustainability category for the South England Region Calor Village of the Year 2009. The prize was £500.

“For a village to win a category award it really does have to excel within that area, so Hambledon has done incredibly well and the villagers should be extremely proud of their success,” said Holly Sims, Calor Village of the Year manager.

Great Tangley Manor

An 11th century moated manor house in Wonersh near Godalming, the Grade 1 listed Great Tangley Manor (GR: TQ022467) was used by King John on visits to the area and was earlier listed in the Domesday Book.

Tangley was a parcel in Bramley Manor which was owned by the Crown, and in the 12th century was referred to as 'King John's Hunting House' in reference to his use of the house as a starting point of the chase in the Forest of Anderida, where he would hunt deer and wild boar. Anderida covered huge swathes of southern England between the North and South Downs.

The lodge was converted to a medieval hall house in the 13th and 14th centuries, and major alterations carried out in 1582 are said to incorporate timbers from the Armada fleet which are visible in the dining room.

The Victorian novelist, poet and preacher George MacDonald (1824 - 1905) rented the house for a time after his tour of the United States in 1875. He was to move to St George's Wood in Haslemere.

One Wycham Flower bought the property in 1880 and commissioned the acclaimed Arts and Crafts architect Phillip Webb (1831 - 1915) to further extend the house and design the moat and Arts and Crafts gardens. The music room was designed by George Jack. King George V and Queen Mary visited the house and reputedly their signatures were engraved on the window of the dining room with a diamond ring.

The artist Anna Lea Merritt (1844 - 1930) sketched the house in 1886 with the sketch now owned by the City of London and held by Guildhall Art Gallery. Other famous visitors include the diarist John Evelyn, the founder of the Arts and Crafts Movement William Morris, Lord Grantley, Edward VII, the landscape designer Gertrude Jekyll and the notorious Victorian socialite Alice Keppel.

The house was divided into two private dwellings in 1959. The current owners (2007), Anne and Glyn Powell-Evans, have lived in one half of the house, the East Wing, for the past 10 years and acquired the West Wing in 2005. Conservation architects Steadman and Blower have been working under the guidance of English Heritage to restore and modernise the West Wing for the owners. The house will eventually be restored to a single dwelling.

To the west of the manor house is Great Tangley Manor Farm which has two Grade II listed barns. Both were built in the late 16th century originally as threshing barns but were subsequently converted for alternative uses including a dairy, stabling and for estate office use.

The Manor has been chosen (July 2007) as a winner in the biennial Waverley Design Awards for their ultra-modern glass extension which replaced a cumbersome plastic conservatory. The extension was designed by conservation architects Stedman and Blower of Runfold near Farnham.

'Garden Grabbing' Concerns

Wey Valley residents in Godalming, Haslemere and Farnham have joined forces to protest against what they see as the 'garden grabbing' activities of property developers in the area.

In a street protest (October 2006) organised by the local MP Jeremy Hunt residents defied the torrential rain and marched to get their message over to Waverley Borough Council (WBC). Their concerns are the unprecedented attempts by developers to buy-up large back gardens for housing developments. The developers have taken to scrutinising satellite photographs for potential sites across the Valley.

"This is where we, the silent majority, the council tax payers, the customers, need to be able to rely on our elected public servants, or perhaps more accurately masters, to protect our interests in return for our taxes and patronage," said Godalming resident George Markland.

"Garden grabbing is a real threat to the character of our area, which is why these marches will highlight the strengths of local feeling," said Jeremy Hunt. "I hope Waverley will take note."

The MP is also concerned that residents do not realise that gardens surrounding private homes are classified as brownfield sites (1) and as such are easier planning targets.

"I am really concerned about the fact that this Government believes there is enough brownfield land in the South East to accommodate over 400,000 new homes," said the MP. "Quite clearly given this statistic, they must be including private gardens in their figures which will do nothing more than encourage more garden grabbing."

Surrey Advertiser 6th October 2006

(1) Brownfield is a term used to describe previously developed land and popularly thought as only covering industrial land. The government has targeted this type of land in their national property development plans.

Newly revealed statistics (June 2007) show that in the Waverley borough half of all new homes have been built on land that was taken from existing back gardens. Legally there is no way to prevent development on these sites which under planning rules are classified as brownfield. MP Jeremy Hunt has called for this planning 'loophole' to be closed:

“The data shows a rise of 3% on the previous year, indicating that despite much opposition developers are still going ahead and building on residential land more than ever before. While 50% is in itself an astonishing figure, what really worries me is the fact that the number is increasing, despite much campaigning and local opposition.”

Surrey Advertiser 22nd June 2007


Godalming Based WWF
Launches Sustainable Living Project

The WWF (1) based in Weyside Park, Godalming has since 2005 been running a local three-year sustainable living project in keeping with their worldwide mission of stopping the degradation of the Earth's natural environment.

The Department of Food and Rural Affair's (Defra) Environmental Action Fund (EAF) provided the finance for what was in effect a pilot project involving 30 different parts of the country to demonstrate better ways of working to the Government. The WWF project, which has helped people lead a more environmentally friendly life through local groups and organisations, has (2007) just been awarded an additional £64,000 to complete the work.

"Our aim was to support the groups to change their behaviour towards living more sustainably," said Niamh Carey, WWF project co-ordinator. "We did some research and discovered that when people work together in groups, they find change a lot easier. In this final year we will be supporting the groups, and also the World Wildlife Foundation will be using their experiences and learning from them. The hope is that we can take what has been done here, what has been difficult, what has been successful and use these experiences to help others to set up similar projects."

Local projects have included schools focusing on how to reduce and recycle waste and other groups exploring water issues, composting and the reduction of food waste. Reigate Park Church in Guildford have been working on an 'eco-congregational award' which as well as educational and practical issues relating to environmental issues also provides a focus on spiritual and community change.

The WWF project is one of four South East based initiatives to benefit from a total of more than £2 million worth of funding from Defra's EAF.

(1) WWF when it was formed in 1961 originally stood for World Wildlife Fund. In 1986 it became the World Wide Fund for Nature but since 2000 has officially become simply WWF with the descriptor 'For a Living Planet'. The WWF is an international organisation that conserves endangered species, protects threatened habitats and addresses global threats.

wwf.org.uk; Godalming Times 3rd February 2007;

The WWF announced (January 2009) that after 20 years in the town the charity is to move to purpose built headquarters in Woking. Their lease at Panda House in Catteshall Lane expires in 2012 and their move is in part possible due to a £5m donation from the Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation. (2)

(2) The Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation is an independent grant-making trust working with nature conservation projects in developing countries.

Death-knoll for Grant Scheme?

The Community Partnerships Fund, which has provided vital financial support for many organisations in Waverley since 1988, is threatened with closure by Guildford Borough Council which administers the fund. Funding covers key areas including arts, church restoration, community building, environment, heritage projects, schools and sports.

The fund, which provides a source of money for community and voluntary organisations for projects and capital costs, has been suspended for 2008/09 whilst the council conducts a review into the financing of these organisations.

Schemes in Godalming benefiting from a share of Waverley and Guildford £300,000 grants in the current financial year include £1,313 for Godalming Museum to install safety handrails in the Jekyll Garden and for the Godalming St Mark's Active Residents group to install activity areas for children.

Further funds including £48,000 in the main grant and £40,000 for small grants remain to be allocated for this year (August 2007).

Waverley Borough Council August 2007; Surrey Times 1st August 2007

Milford Hospital
Land Development

Milford Hospital, which was opened in 1928 as the Surrey County Sanatorium, has after 20 years of uncertainty as to its future had the threat of closure removed. The hospital accommodates the only dedicated rehabilitation centre for the elderly unit in Surrey. The hospital was originally dedicated as a specialist chest unit, but as tuberculosis-related diseases became virtually eradicated in the country it evolved into a specialist day surgery and elderly rehabilitation unit. This resulted in a large proportion of the buildings on the site, including long-stay recuperation wards, becoming redundant.

The hospital was designed by architect Sidney Tatchell in a style described by English Heritage as 'solid Neo-Georgian'.

NHS Surrey agreed (August 2009) to invest £1 million into upgrading the hospital and adding 20 more beds. The Milford Hospital Campaign Group, which has been at the forefront of the battle to save the facility, is understandably delighted.

"Many of us have been active in the group for over 10 years and have given a great deal of time and support to retaining this well-loved hospital," said Margaret Jago, chairman. "They commend the commonsense approach that NHS Surrey has adopted in allowing clinical advice to dictate this welcome decision. We feel special mention should be made about all the loyal members of staff at the hospital who have continued to give superb, sessional care to patients during a protracted period of indecision."

"I worked at the hospital as a night auxiliary for 16 years and I know very well from a job that I did, just what a fantastic place it is," said Jacky Robini, chairman of Milford's League of Friends. "The wonderful thing about Milford is the magic effect it has on elderly people who go there after being treated at the Royal Surrey County Hospital, which is such a busy place with so much noise and so many lights. The first thing they say when they come to Milford is how peaceful it is and how wonderful it is to have staff there that have got the time to hear their concerns. They can go out and sit in the garden and they are already starting to feel better within a very few days. We are an ageing population and it would have been an absolute disgrace to have closed a facility like Milford."
Surrey Advertiser 7th August 2009

The 32 acre (13 hectare) Upper Tuesley site around Milford Hospital was declared surplus in 2000 by the Surrey Primary Care Trust and ownership was transferred to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). The HCA is the national housing and regeneration agency for England.

In Waverley Borough Council's Local Plan 2002 it was identified as a 'major developed site' within the greenbelt in order to facilitate its re-development. The council officially adopted its Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) for the site in 2003 and 'additional guidance' was provided in 2006.

The site is located off Tueslay Lane between Milford and Godalming and contains 26 existing dwellings plus a three-storey now redundant nurses' accommodation block and a range of single storey buildings and storage and workshop space. The majority of the structures have been deemed as in sufficiently poor condition for demolition. Twelve semi-detached cottages remain occupied in The Crescent on the north-eastern corner of the site. These are described thus by Waverley Borough Council's draft planning document (SPD:

Whilst the layout of these is distinctive, they are poor quality buildings and detract from the setting of the adjacent listed building (Crowts) to the north of the site. This is compounded by the fact that the crescent faces outwards, which does little to help foster a sense of community or ownership.

A large water tower dominates one end of the site being of 'a plain almost industrial character that contrasts with the more Arts and Crafts / Neo-Georgian style of the better hospital buildings', according to the author of the SPD.

Away from the developed part of the site are areas of old orchard, grass and woodland, part of which is Springwood Copse covering 11 acres (4.4 hectares) and which is listed on the ancient and semi-natural woodland inventory. A spring-fed stream skirts around the south-western boundary of the site as a tributary of the River Ock. A Tree Survey (2007) noted that the wooded parts of the site had visible signs of supporting nested birds and activity of Daubenton's bats and dormice, both protected species. The most common species of tree recorded were oak, ash, sycamore, birch and conifers. The survey concluded that 'overall the vegetation and trees on site are of high amenity and ecological value'.

Although none of the buildings are officially listed as of 'local merit' by the council, English Heritage have stated that the site could be rated as of 'local importance' and may take the step of having some of the buildings designated as 'heritage assets'. Two of the buildings tagged as of local historic interest are Allison House and the former staff dining hall. The site is within an official Conservation Area.

The Godalming Healthcheck (June 2006) prepared by local volunteers' group Godalming Together, specifically highlights the Milford Hospital site as an 'important development site'.

A property developer put forward plans (2007) to build a 210 home village on Milford Meadows. The new village proposed by Crest Nicholson planned to include 72 affordable homes and 25 'first time buyer initiative homes'. Fifteen acres (six hectares) of 'informal and formal open space' and a village shop was included within the plans. The development, a mixture of flats and houses, will be adjacent to the specialist rehabilition facility for the elderly operated by the hospital.

The developers had identified within the build the need to have 10% of energy consumption within the homes to be provided through renewable energy and all units to be Ecohomes 'Excellent'.

Local residents voiced their concern over the size of the development and the strain it is likely to place on the area's infrastructure.

At the time of the application the hospital itself was being threatened with closure and relocation.

The future of the land surrounding Milford Hospital continues to be debated. A new consultation has been launched (February 2012) by Waverley Borough Council to finally provide a definitive way forward for the Upper Tuesley site. The council have suggested that a development of around 120 homes on a 'footprint' of 8,000 sq m (86,000 sq ft) would be appropriate provided 40% of them were made available as 'affordable homes'. This would equate to 72 private and 48 affordable homes.

The draft also specifically states that:

As an important part of the site's history, the orchard character should be spread across the new development and integrated within the overall landscape strategy. Due to its wildlife habitat importance, the existing orchard close to the southern boundary should be incorporated within the new scheme where feasible. Allotment areas should also be provided as part of the overall scheme. The existing ancient woodland and terraces to the south are to be retained and where possible enhanced, subject to ecological assessment.

A green corridor should link through the site, connecting the Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI) to the north of the site with that to the south. This should be separated from the main vehicular route. Its purpose is not only to improve landscape and wildlife connections between both ends of the site, but also to provide an attractive recreational link for pedestrians and cyclists. This will also add to the site's biodiversity improvements.

The council intends to present its findings as a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) in July 2012, which will replace the now out-of-date SPG previously formulated in 2003.

waverley.gov.uk; Surrey Advertiser; Crest Nicholson.


Eashing Cemetery

After the churchyard at Godalming parish church was closed in 1855 for new customers the town council opened two cemeteries. The first was in Nightingale Road Farncombe (HERE), where a memorial stone was erected on the family grave for Jack Phillips and where today the educational charity Skillway have their workshops housed in the chapel and morgue. Nightingale Road by the early 1890s was nearing capacity and so in 1892 the spacious Eashing Cemetery on Ockford Ridge was opened, and to this day still provides burials.

The Chapel at Eashing Cemetery, Godalming, Surrey

The 20 acre site was purchased for £2,000 and was estimated to be able to cater for 20,000 internments. After a total of £5,000 was spent on preparing the land and constructing the chapel the first burial took place in 1900.

The cemetery has been divided into a large area for consecrated graves and two smaller areas for unconsecrated and natural burials, the latter facility having been introduced in 2008. Burial plots measuring 9' x 4' or ashes lots measuring 2' x 2' can be purchased, with the natural burials section accommodating coffins made of sustainable natural materials having been planned by a garden designer to allow a more informal grave layout. There is also a garden of remembrance at the cemetery.

There are eight first world war military burials at Nightingale Road and several in the Eashing Cemetery. George Marples, a professional skater who in the 1920s built a skating rink in Farncombe, is buried in Eashing.

The Lodge House by the gates of the cemetery, which had been built in 1931, had fallen into disrepair and so the Joint Burial Committee decided in 2007 to refurbish the property with a view to letting the house on a shorthold tenancy at a proposed £13,200 per annum.

The Lodge at Eashing Cemetery, Godalming, Surrey

The refurbishment, along with the construction of a new wall and gates at the entrance, were finally completed in early 2009 at a cost of £140,000 with the mayor of Godalming conducting the official opening ceremony in July of that year. Jenny Steele, as the daughter-in-law of Thomas Steele the first cemetery keeper to live in the Lodge and who spent the first few months of her married life at the house, also attended the ceremony. The refurbishment retained some of the house's quirky features with its angled walls and windows that vary in shape and size from room to room.

The committee also provided a budget to employ the services of a gatekeeper who attends to the gates at dawn and dusk in the hope of discouraging unwelcome visitors out of hours and reduce the incidences of antisocial behaviour and graffiti. Fly tipping had also become a major problem, although CCTV cameras installed in 2002 by Waverley Borough Council don't appear to have been a deterrent.

Also in 2007 the Surrey probation service provided a task force on community service to undertake some clearance and maintenance work at the cemetery.

Reference to a 'joint burial committee' describes the group representing Busbridge parish council and Godalming town council who are responsible jointly for the two public cemeteries in the town.

In 2009 vandals desecrated a number of graves at Eashing Cemetery causing anger and upset throughout the whole local community. The attack in November resulted in nine gravestones being completely smashed with initial estimates to repair the damage put at £6,000. Led by the Surrey Advertiser and the Godalming Chamber of Commerce an appeal was launched to raise the money. In the event stonemason firm Stonecrest offered to undertake the work at a greatly reduced rate and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission together with the town's joint burial committee topped up the fund.

Eashing Cemetery, Godalming - repair of vandalised milititary gravestones 2010

The new memorials were unveiled at an official ceremony in February 2010 attended by the Rev Mervyn Roberts, Godalming's rector, and representatives from Surrey Police, the Armed Forces, the Town Council and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The nine graves desecrated included two memorials to soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War. Commonwealth War Graves Commission stepped in to replace the military stones having had special stone prepared and engraved in Normandy in France and shipped to Britain in a matter of weeks. The process usually takes up to 18 months.

The gravestones that have been replaced include that of Arthur Thompson, who committed suicide by stepping in front of a train at Godalming in 1914. Thompson, a miner who had only been in the army for three months was being punished for being three days overdue from leave and was stationed at nearby Witley Camp. Another miner, Charles Wheatley, had been killed during the First World War when he fell under a heavy field artillery gun at an army training exercise at Manor House in Binscombe. Bertha Alice May Dance drowned in the River Wey in 1918. She had been diagnosed as being depressed according to the inquest whilst working as a domestic servant at Hascombe Court, and had been concerned about her lover who was serving overseas. The other graves include former Godalming Mayor Edward Stedman; Ellen and John Burgess from the Wyatt Almhouses on Meadrow; George Turvill a labourer; and Edward Garratt a bricklayer.

No one has been arrested in connection with the attacks although the police are still actively investigating.

"This case remains a high-priority for the team," said Sgt Danielle Mead from Godalming's neighbourhood team. "It is very important that anyone with any evidence comes forward and speaks to us so we can make some arrests. This is a terrible thing to have happened, and we know that someone in the area knows who it was. I would really appeal to that person to speak to us to give us a name." Surrey Advertiser 5th February 2010

The Old Godalming Graveyard,
Skillway Workshops and Jack Phillips

The chapel and mortuary in the Nightingale Cemetery in Deanery Road, Farncombe has since 2002 operated as a workshop for 14 to 16-year-olds identified as low academic achievers by their schools. Established by the charity Skillway under the Warehouse Christian Trust the facility provides youth vocational training in small groups in practical skills such as carpentry, metalwork and craft skills.

Old Godalming Graveyard Chapel and Mortuary, Farncombe

Skillway aims to develop at least two skills for each of their students who attend the workshops one day each week. Groups of six are instructed by two tutors.

“The birth of Skillway in our own ‘upper room’ (1) has added a practical dimension to our caring work. We see this as an attempt to value and affirm the ordinary young people who have been discouraged by their inability to succeed in the academic rat-race so prevalent in our education system today. It is wonderful to see these youngsters coming alive as they discover a joy and usefulness in creating and achieving through the work of their hands in a workshop environment.” Chris Jagger, chairman Warehouse Christian Trust - The Cellar Comes of Age 2006

(1) ‘upper room’ refers to the top floor of The Cellar cafe in Godalming also run by the trust.

The chapel workshop provides an extensive range of activities for both sexes including woodworking and furniture making, practical engineering and motor mechanics, creative art, lathework and metalwork, carving letters in stone, stained glass, jewellery and leatherwork.

Students recently (2007) restored a water pump manufactured in the 1940s for the Rural Life Centre in Tilford.

Skillway workshop at Farncombe cemetery

The charity receives some financial support from the European Social Fund and other non-government sources and is keen to attract further funding to expand their activities. The Batty Charitable Trust (1) in 2007 provided a grant of £5,000 to support core training activities.

Skillway founding director Crispin Hill (MORE HERE) passed away in January 2008 at the age of 85. Ex-headmaster of Aldro School (MORE HERE) in Shackleford, he was committed to his vision of training for young people and was instrumental in the realisation of the Godalming project. Securing the Old Cemetary Chapel for the workshops and the charity's branding were primarily his doing as was securing fundraising to launch the original project in 1997.

(1) The London based Batty Charitable Trust was established in 1999 from gifts of £50m made by the estate of the late Christina Batty aka Christina Foyle and under a Board of Trustees makes regular grants to smaller charities working at a grass roots level with local communities. As Christina Foyle she was accredited to keeping the family's Foyles, the world famous and largest bookshop in the world running in the face of hardening competition and from whence came the family fortune.

A memorial stone crafted by Jim Honeywood, a specialist stone engraver and Skillway staff member, dedicated to Skillway founder Crispin Hill was unveiled (October 2008) at the workshops by his widow. At the official ceremony attended by Godalming Mayor Paul Rivers and Dr Chris Jagger of the Warehouse Trust the inuaugural Crispin Hill Progress Award was launched. The first recipient of the award received a crafted box containing hand tools.

A memorial grave to 'Jack' Phillips, the Farncombe born wireless operator who perished with the Titanic, was erected close to the Deanery Road perimeter of the graveyard. The headstone, erected on the family grave, has the outline of an iceberg.

Jack Phillips gravestone, Godalming Old Cemetery, Farncombe

Members of the family buried there are Ann Phillips (1844 - 1925), George Phillips (1845 - 1928), Elsie Phillips (1874 - 1953) and Ethel Phillips (1874 - 1922). MORE ON JACK PHILLIPS HERE

Farncombe's Skating Rink

In 1925 a skating rink was opened to great local excitement in Station Road, Farncombe. Professional skater George Marples, who was an instructor at the rink in Holland Park, London and later at the London Ice Rink, built the rink at the Northbourne Hall (now the Farncombe Working Men’s Club) and employed one Eddie Clinton, a local pianist, to provide the music.

In 1927 Marples applied to open an open-air skating rink complete with a temporary roof on Easter Monday at the bottom of Kings Road (then Church Road) but inexplicably the local magistrate refused him permission to do so. MORE ON GEORGE MARPLES HERE

The Farncombe Villager May 2009



Godalming and The 2012 Olympics

A Godalming resident has won the competition to design Surrey's logo for the London 2012 Olympics. Rachel Cresswell, who is a student at the University for Creative Arts in Epsom, beat seven other designs shortlisted and was congratulated by silver medallist Roger Black at an award ceremony in May 2009.

Surrey County Council launched a series of five Olympic themed library cards (March 2012) featuring Surrey athletes. The cards, which are being issued automatically to new library users or for a small fee to registered users, include one that features track athlete Adelle Tracey. Tracey, who is a member of the Guildford and Godalming Athletics Club, won the English Schools National Senior 800m championship. She is also one of the young local athletes to be supported by Godalming Sports Go For Gold initiative that helps fund training for Olympic hopefuls. MORE ON GO FOR GOLD

"The 2012-themed cards are just one of the ways our libraries are celebrating the Games coming to Surrey," said Denise Saliagopoulos, Surrey County Council's Cabinet Member for Community Services and the 2012 Games. "They will also host themed events and quizzes and will become 'pop-up' tourist information points during the Games to help cater for the influx of tourists and to promote local attractions and businesses. It's also a great opportunity to showcase our talented athletes." surreycc.gov.uk 1st March 2012

Adelle Tracey featured winning a race
on one of five Surrey library membership cards.

Godalming was selected by the London 2012 Games organiser LOCOG (March 2012) as one of 11 locations in Surrey to be honoured with Olympic Flame torchbearers. Having been carried through the villages of Shere and Gomshall the flame is to be driven to Godalming where a series of runners will carry it down Meadrow and on through the High Street into Eashing Lane. Next stop - Guildford.

Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, marked the announcement by meeting in Godalming with torchbearers past and present. Austin Playfoot carried the 1948 Olympic Flame through Guildford, and brought his 64-year-old torch to the event.

"I am really excited that the torch is coming through Godalming as I have lived in the area since I was a young lad," said Playfoot, who was 18-years-old when he was torchbearer. "I am looking forward to see the London 2012 torchbearers carry the Olympic Flame through Godalming and on to Guildford, where I carried it. I can still get really emotional remembering the event back in 1948. I was only a country lad and never in a million years did I think I would be picked." Godalming and District Messenger 27th March 2012

Milford resident Dan Eley was tragically paralysed after a diving accident whilst working as a charity worker in Columbia with street children, and will be wheelchair-bound whilst carrying the torch through the centre of Godalming. He was nominated by his MP Jeremy Hunt. Eley has set up (January 2012) the Dan Eley Foundation to help children and young people in Columbia.

Other torchbearers joining Eley in Godalming are Becky Robinson from Brierley Hill, Michael Harris from London and Rachel McLean from Twickenham.

Interview with Cllr Jennifer Powell of Guildford Borough Council 7th November 2011. YouTube video clip HERE

MP Hunt was interviewed (January 2012) by local paper The Surrey Advertiser during which the Olympics Minister revealed that despite Godalming not being on the original torch relay route he was able to rectify the ommission. YouTube video clip HERE.

The official route follows from the flame's starting point in Meadrow on past The Three Lions to the roundabout by Godalming House, and through to the High Street by Bridge Road and Bridge Street. From there it will wind along Church Street, Station Road and Mill Lane before rejoining the main road to travel along Ockford Road finishing in Grove Road.

Council's Webcasts
Proclaimed a Success

Waverley Borough Council, which is headquartered in Godalming, launched an innovative webcast project in 2004 which has since been proclaimed a success. Supported by funding from the EU the project has enabled members of the public to observe committee meetings online which the council believes has resulted in a greater interest in local affairs from residents.

Initially webcasts, which were funded by the Countryside Agency and from funds available as the authority's 'beacon council' year (1), were broadcast to encourage younger residents who were more familiar with the technology to become involved in 'healthchecks' on the town.

The European eTEN programme (2), which was established to promote technology within local government, took over as the main source of funds for the project which was then expanded to cover key council meetings. This funding however is due to end after 2009 which will leave the council facing annual costs of £25,000 to keep the service going. The council appears to be in support of continuing with the webcasts after EU funding is withdrawn.

"This is a small additional cost to the cost of overall cost of demographic representation in the borough," said Cllr Adam Taylor-Smith, Waverley's portfolio holder for communications.

"Interestingly, we have also found that along with the increased attendance at meetings because of viewership, we have also experienced an increased attendance at council meetings in person," added Waverley's head of economic development and partnerships, Iain Lynch.

During 2007 a total of 94 webcasts were broadcast attracting 7,307 viewers. The webcasts have covered full council and executive meetings, planning meetings and special planning forums, and meetings with town and parish councils. Recordings of the broadcasts are maintained in an accessible online archive for six months.


(1) The Beacon Scheme was established in 2000 by the government to 'disseminate best practice in service delivery across local government'. Ministers select themes for each round of the scheme representing issues which are considered important in the day-to-day lives of the public and that 'reflect key government priorities'. Beacon status is granted to an authority that demonstrates 'a clear vision, excellent services and a willingness to innovate within a theme'.
(2) eTen was a European Community programme that was in operation from 2004 until 2006 and was charged with funding projects to make new technologies available throughout the EU.
Allocated with €42m the fund was available to public sector authorities to promote schemes from a choice of six which included 'eGovernment', 'eLearning', 'eHealth', and 'eInclusion'.

Surrey Advertiser 29th February 2008

The Rock Band
and Fisher Lane Farm

In the heady days of the late seventies the rock band Genesis, which had originally been formed in 1967 by pupils (1) at Charterhouse School in Godalming, was really beginning to take off. Their first album, From Genesis to Revelation, released in 1969 had proven to be a disaster having sold only 700 copies, with their next album A Winter's Tale released a few months later suffering a similar fate. However, undeterred the band soldiered on under the wing of music promoter Jonathan King (also educated at Charterhouse) and developed a unique brand of music that was to make them one of the greatest bands of their time.

Genesis in the USA 2007
Genesis on Tour - USA 2007
Photographer Andrew Bossi
licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike

It is generally thought that the band's early albums suffered through the lack of studio experience of the band. In 1981 the band decided to invest in their own recording studios to give them the time and space to really develop their music, and although by this time they had begun to produce commercially successful music the strategy was to pay off.

An American, Dale Newman, had been recruited by Mike Rutherford from the beginning to work as the roadie and tour manager for both Genesis and then Rutherford's own band Mike and the Mechanics. Newman's job evolved to become more closely involved in their recording sessions so it was a natural choice for him to be charged with finding the band a location where they could establish their own studios.

Newman is said to have reviewed over 400 sets of property details when, close to breaking point, he stumbled across a 16th century rambling farmhouse in Chiddingfold, and poignantly not far from the band's Godalming roots. Fisher Lane Farm, described as a 'fine three bay-end smoke bay house with many original features', proved to be the perfect choice as both Genesis and Mike and the Mechanics went on to produce chart-topping music. The farm, with its extensive barns and outbuildings and located on a remote lane set in beautiful Weald countryside two miles (3.2km) outside of Chiddingfold, provided ample space to build a state-of-the-art studio and provide storage for the tons of equipment a modern band needed for the extensive worldwide tours it was undertaking. Genesis' album Abacab (1981) was the first to be recorded here.

This extract from an account of a visit to the studios by the British-made Shergold guitars (3) in 2000 gives a glimpse into studio life at the farm.

"Until recently almost every piece of equipment Genesis had ever owned was stored in this and a second barn. A large quantity (enough to fill a 45 foot articulated lorry) of this was cleared recently (auctioned on Ebay). In racks at the near end of the barn, are all of Mike's guitars (a quick estimate of around 40) that are not in current use. The labels on the edges of the flight cases hint at the contents - Fender, Steinberger, Rickenbacker, Giffin to name a few - and of course the four Shergolds. Along with all this guitar stuff, other notable piles of flightcases were nearly all the keyboards Tony Banks has ever used, four Moog Taurus units and the whole tour stage from the last tour.

"While on the way back from the barn, Dale offered to give a quick tour of the studio area. Visiting there was strangely unsettling - a sense of deja vu no doubt from the little snippets that I've seen on documentaries about the band. It seems smaller than it appears in the video footage I'd seen, and once the recording area has had all the equipment set up in it, there is apparently very little space to navigate around drum kits, amps and keyboards. Mike's rig was in the recording area, along with bits of Paul Carrack's keyboard rig in preparation for some work with the Mechanics. Back in the mixing room, the sound engineer was in the process of transfering old analogue master tapes of Genesis recording sessions onto digital media, in preparation no doubt for the next boxed set. " Source: shergold.co.uk June 2000

An innovative piece of music was recorded (2008) at Fisher Lane Farm to raise funds for the charity Teenage Cancer Trust. Mike Rutherford and drummer Kenney Jones (2), using instruments manufactured from 'genuine Ford motorcar parts', performed Six O'Clock, a composition by Richard Watson. Rutherford played 'clutch-plate guitar' and Jones 'wheel rim drums'. A 20-piece orchestra was recruited from leading classical musicians to play other car parts which included the 'rear-suspension spike fiddle' and a fender bass and flute made from a strut and air-conditioning tubing.

(1) Members of two school bands, Garden Wall and Anon, merged to create Genesis. Founding members, both Charterhouse pupils, were Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks. The original line-up was Gabriel (vocals), Banks (keyboards), Anthony Philips (guitar), Mike Rutherford (bass & guitar) and Chris Stewart (drums).
(2) Kenney Jones was the drummer with Small Faces, Faces and The Who.
(3) Mike Rutherford has regularly used Shergolds throughout his career.

Milford House

A grand Grade II Listed 18th century mansion looks out imposingly over the A31000 Portsmouth Road linking Godalming with the village of Milford. Built circa 1730 for Thomas Smith, a wealthy trader and landowner, Milford House (GR: SU952423) was almost completely destroyed by a devastating fire on New Year's Day 1983. At the time the house was a hotel and restaurant.

Milford House near Godalming

The roof, 18th century interior, distinctive Wren style arched timber panelling, entrance hall, vaulted basement and ornate staircase were destroyed leaving just a shell of brick and stone. A number of ornate stone cornices (1), especially to the rear of the building where the fire had started, were also damaged when the severe heat caused fossils in the stone to expand blowing out their surfaces.

Reconstruction of the house was delayed until 1991 and was faithful to many of the techniques used in the original construction including the use of lime mortar on brick and stonework. The property now provides upmarket residential apartments in both the original house and also a cleverly obscured development of three-storey town houses and apartments to the rear. In 2008 a second-floor apartment was on the market for a guide price of £249,999 and a three-bedroomed town house was available to rent for £1,650 per month.

In 1763 Thomas Smith's daughter Mary married Philip Carteret Webb from a local family, and the house was to stay in the Webb family for the next 163 years. Philip Webb's father was Solicitor to the Treasury and through his passion for books amassed a considerable library collection. His grandson, Philip Barker Webb dedicated his life to the study of natural history and in recognition was bestowed as Fellow of the Linnean Society (FLS) in 1818. He was to undertake extensive research around the Mediterranean.

"Early in 1826 he set out on a botanizing excursion in Spain, where, during two years, he visited the whole of that fertile region which extends along the shores of the Mediterranean, from the foot of the Pyrenees to the mouth of the Guagalquiver. He then examined the plants throughout the greater part of Portugal, from Braga in the north to the chains of Cintra and Arribida in the south; and, crossing to the coast of Africa continued his botanical researches from the mountains around Tetuan to the south of Cape Spartel." Obituary in The Literary Gazette 1854.

In 1885 lady of the house Barbara Webb met 16-year-old Edwin Lutyens and was so impressed by the young man she became the first sponsor to support his desire to become an architect. Lutyens was to go on to become one of the most prominent architects of his time and continued to regularly visit her until her death in 1897. The architectural historian Jane Brown in her book Lutyens and the Edwardians (Penguin 1997 ISBN 9780140242690) believes that Lutyens was greatly inspired and influenced by the interiors and architecture of Milford House. Lutyens designed many notable houses in the area and was to work closely with local garden designer Gertrude Jekyll for much of his career. The Surrey History Centre holds a collection of family and estate papers related to the Webb family at Milford House between 1510 and 1911.

Meridian Television featured Milford House in their series Love It or Lose It documenting efforts to save historic buildings. The architects involved in the restoration were presented with a Borough Historic Building Award in 2001 by the local council.

(1) Cornice is a projecting horizontal moudling.

Secretts' Secrets

Close to Milford House on the Portsmouth Road, Milford is a thriving horticultural business. Founded by Frederick Augustus Secrett the business of the same name was launched in 1908 in Kew, London where a market garden was developed on 20 acres of land purchased for £1,000 using a loan provided by his father. As the business expanded so it needed to move to larger farms, and after several relocations Secretts was established in 1937 at Hurst Farm, Milford where it has prospered ever since. Secrett was a highly respected horticulturalist who won several Royal Horticultural Society Gold Medals and worked as an advisor to the Minitry of Agriculture during the war years.

Two years later the family's fields of flowers were ploughed over to provide much needed acreage for the growing of food crops to support the war effort. The Secrett family had been growing tulips and daffodils alongside food crops since 1915, a luxury crop that was not to be reintroduced until 1950 when wartime restrictions were eased allowing the farm to reintroduce its flower production. The farm was now cultivating fields covering 300 acres and a half-acre greenhouse was built for the production of salad crops and cut flowers.

In the 1960s the farm installed an extensive irrigation system which is still used today significantly increasing the efficiency of the operation and allowing an expansion in the range of crops grown. By this time the family were delivering 40 - 50 tons of vegetables to London's Covent Garden and the market in Brentford where FA Secrett had established his very first vegetable produce stall in 1908.

During the 1970s with increasing competition from overseas flower and food producers to the British market the Secrett family made the decision to build a garden centre, which was opened in 1970 at a time when the British public were beginning to spend more time and money on developing their gardens at home inspired by a new wave of coverage in the media. The Farm Shop was opened nine years later to take advantage of direct supply from their fields immediately behind the site.

Much of the Secrett family's success has been through their ability to predict market trends and this was to continue until the present day. In the 1980s the family continued their streamlining of the business started in the previous decade when cut flowers production had been halted and cart horses had been replaced by more modern farming methods and equipment. The horses stables today house the farm shop. Crops became confined to primo cabbage and lettuce, and spotting another opportunity spinach was introduced to supply the growing numbers of supermarkets around the country, the first growers in Britain to do so. In 1981 a pick-your-own operation was launched and in 1988, having turned over two thirds of an acre to vine growing, the Secrett family produced their own Milford Rose English Table Wine for three years until 1996. Over 7,000 bottles were produced in its last year of operation.

The 1990s witnessed the family being the first growers in Britain to introduce production of wild rocket specifically to supply top London restaurants who had been championing the plant as a trendy new foodstuff. Cut flowers were re-introduced in 1992 when a 2.5 acre glasshouse was constructed with much of its output sold through a specially built flower shop on site and via their initiative to market flowers by post, which was also a method used for boosting sales of fresh asaparagus and sweet peas. By 2006 the family had launched Secretts Direct to extend their hold on the London resturant market and had been awarded the Observer Food Monthly Best Producer award.

Waverley Borough Council chose the Secretts farm as the site of their first Farmers' Market in 1999, and the 100th market was celebrated in February 2008. Today 50 farm stallholders regularly sell their produce at the monthly market, which has twice been awarded Best Farmers' Market in the south east, the most recent in 2007 the same year that Milford Farmers Market set up stalls at the House of Parliament to mark its eighth year of operation.

The Farmers' Market since opening in 1999 has become an ever popular monthly event. Over the decades it has also raised more than £10,000 for charity. To mark its first decade a new venture has been launched under the lottery-funded Making Local Food Work programme. It will operate as the South West Surrey Farmers Market Cooperative (SWSFMC). This will mean that the stall holders will be more closely involved in the running of the market.

"The strength of the farmers market during the last decade is demonstrated by the fact that the new co-operative contains three people who were stall holders back at the first market in Milford in 1999,", said John Emerson, chairman of the SWSFMC. "It is great to be marking 10 years and also pleasing at the farmers market concept is moving forward."

The new venture is only the second such organisation of its kind to be set up in the country under the Making Local Food Work programme.
Surrey Advertiser 26th June 2009

Post-war Poles settled in the area initially having to live in nearby Tweedsmuir camp, a converted army barracks (MORE HERE), and from where many of the camp's women travelled to work on the farm in the early 1950s. Here is an account written by one of the working mother's children:

From 1948 to 1952, mum stayed home to look after us. In the summer of 1952, however, she secured work as a land-girl on Secretts Farm in Milford. She worked there with other young women from the camp. Early in the morning she would get up and then attend to us before preparing herself for the journey to work. Like our father, she too was taken to and from work on the back of a canvas covered lorry. In those days, the livery colour of Secretts’ lorries was orange/yellow. The workers were picked up at the camp and driven to the farm to start work. Together with other pre-school children we were left behind to be cared for in a nursery school, or kindergarten; a converted barracks.

There were times during the school holidays when some of the Tweedsmuir children were allowed to accompany their mothers to the farm. We would clamber up onto the back of the lorry and wrap ourselves in coats to protect us from drafts as the lorry lurched from side to side making its way through the country lanes to the farm. Although this may sound uncomfortable, which it probably was, for us children it was quite adventurous.

A land-girl’s work on Secretts Farm consisted mainly of crop picking; spinach, potatoes, sweet corn and tomatoes were typical crops. The children would be huddled together in one spot of the field whilst the mums would disperse and start their work. During the winter holidays the scene was truly atmospheric. A quiet misty field, women bent over reaching down to the plants, a distant chatter of ‘Polish gossip’, punctuated by the sudden raucous cries of crows rising skyward as they escaped an unseen threat on the ground.

The sweet corn field was next to the London to Portsmouth railway line, which gave us something to look at whilst mum worked. We would stare at the steam trains rushing past, whistling as they approached a tunnel entrance not far away. Although the spot was interesting for us, mum was often anxious because the three to four metre high sweet corn plants made it difficult for her to keep an eye on us.

Produce picked by the women was brought to collection points dotted around the field, loaded onto the back of horse drawn carts and taken to the business end of the process where it was unloaded and prepared for sale. Sometimes, we were allowed to take rides on the carts as a treat. We loved this but again, mum was rather nervous as we were out of her sight for some time.

One perk of working at Secretts was the chance to go on the annual works’ outing. One year the trip was to a pantomime in London. Secretts had hired a coach to take the Polish workers and their children to the show. This indeed was a treat! The show was colourful, exciting and memorable. We remember a magician pushing lighted cigarettes into one ear and pulling them out of the other. We remember the music and the dancing troupe. We do not, however, remember the journey back to Tweedsmuir probably because we slept through most if it.
Source: Wies and Zen Rogalski - Living in Tweedsmuir Camp - 1948 to 1957

The Hog's Back brewery in Tongham created a special Centenary Ale for the Secrett family's celebrations of their 100th year (2008) as growers. The celebrations provided for a free public event at the farm.

Secretts was rated 36th by The Independent newspaper (November 2008) in their The 50 Best Farm Shops feature.

"Well known for growing their own asparagus - which is on sale, in season, in the farm shop, Secretts is just a great all-rounder," says Matthew Drennan, editor of Delicious magazine. "You can buy fresh fruit and veg from the farm, or pick your own when available, and there's a superb meat-counter and delicatessen. This is a sharp outfiit and an adjoining tea shop and flower store complete the picture."

In at number one was Spitalfields City Farm in London. No other farm shops in Surrey were featured.

Secrett’s Farm Shop was featured in The Daily Telegraph’s Top 50 Farm Shops in the Home Counties in May 2009. The reviewer highlighted it as ‘traditional salad and asparagus farm, with a stunning farm shop selling a huge range of local produce and excellent wet fish’.

Secrett's was featured on BBC TV's The One Show (December 2011) as part of a feature on 'Heritage vegetables'. The TV crew filmed at the farm in Milford before moving on to The Dog and Pheasant pub in Brook on the Haslemere Road where Observer food critic Jay Rayner joined chef Remi Ravaux in the pub's kitchen to watch him prepare vegetable dishes. The One Show were featuring locally produced 'Heritage vegetables' and wanted to screen 'farm to table'. Heritage vegetables are deemed to be traditional strains untouched by scientific plant-breeding programmes and chemical treatments.

Vann House

Set in a formidable five-acre landscaped garden Vann House (GR: SU984376) in Vann Lane, Hambledon near Godalming dates from the 16th century, although reference to an estate at Vann can be traced back to the 12th century. The name, with variations including 'Venne' and 'Fenne', relates to old English meaning fen or bog and in historical documents referred to a small hamlet on the wetland beneath surrounding sandstone hills.

"There are gardens where the fusion of art and nature, the wild and the cultivated, is so seamless that they feel like dream landscapes-too natural to be man-made yet too perfect to be real. The woodland water garden at Vann is one of these enchanting places…." Sunday Telegraph Magazine March 2002

The current owners, the Caroe family, have occupied the house for 100 years (2008). W.D. Caroe, an ecclesiastical architect, bought the house as a weekend retreat and was to make his own additions to the house. Previous ownership of an earlier house here date back to 1180 and include a mayor of Guildford in the 15th century. The new house built in 1542 was also occupied by a mayor of Guildford later in the 17th century.

The original low tile-hung building of 1542 was added to in 1696 with a tall William and Mary brick wing. Caroe in 1908 adopted the then locally-popular Arts and Crafts style for his own additions which included chimneys constructed from layers of red roofing tiles, low porches, and beautifully detailed door furniture

A unique water garden was designed by Gertrude Jekyll in 1911 linking a succession of small ponds from a reservoir held in Quarter-acre Pond. The garden, which includes stone paths and bridges criss-crossing the stream, was planted with 1,500 water-loving plants by Jekyll. The Surrey Gardens Trust recently provided a grant for the de-silting of the pond.

The current owner Mary Caroe, who married W D's grandson, is planting a new garden border to mark the 2008 centenerary of the Caroe's at the house.

Both the house and garden are rated as 2* by English Heritage and II* by the Surrey Garden Trust. The garden is only open to the public during the National Gardens Scheme usually four times a year, although the family will also allow access by prior appointment. There is an admission charge.

"I have been meaning to visit the garden at Vann for quite some time. I first came across it by virtue of watching a BBC2 programme 'The Curious House Guest', where Jeremy Musson, an architectural historian and journalist with Country Life magazine visits and presents his thoughts on various private historic houses and how they and the families that live in them for generations have adapted and evolved over time.

"The House is very beautiful, and the central parts of it originate in the early 16th Century. It has been transformed and has known many guises, from humble workmen's cottages to Gentleman's residence. In 1907 it was purchased by W.D. Caröe who doubled the size of the building and created a beautiful home; the Caröe family continue to live there. The Arts and Crafts influences of the time can be seen in the buildings and the layout of the gardens.

"In 1911, friend and neighbour Gertrude Jekyll was asked to advise on how to make use of an area below an existing quarter acre field pond. We normally know her work with colour in borders, but she also enjoyed creating wild areas, where the garden could merge and become part of the surrounding landscape. With her help the Caröe's were able to create a woodland water garden with four smaller ponds surrounded by verdant and exotic plantings including huge ostrich ferns, hostas, ranunculus, and lots of fritillaries. I walked amongst the pools and made my way across narrow stone bridges and paths that meandered between them, but it was quite difficult to make the design out. I suspect the planting needs a little thinning. Much more detail can be found about the planting plans and lists as her original note books are held at Godalming's Museum." Source: Zoe. Garden Hopping blogsite 10th June 2008.

“When you enter the front gate you feel garden history calling you. Vann [the garden] was designed by the famous Gertrude Jekyll, the mother of modern-day flower borders, in 1911. (Most of us serious gardeners worship her.) Gertrude was well known for her mastery of colors, but this place is a fine example of her ability to integrate the garden into surrounding landscapes without formal division or boundary. You revel in the cottage garden front and spot the hugest hedge of yew you've ever seen.

“In the back is one of Jekyll's few remaining pond gardens. The pond is highly planted, with giant gunnera plants whose leaves can grow to be four feet across. The pond water is covered in floating lily pads. Large cinnamon stick ferns, iris, mahonia, astilbe and other plants grow around the edges.

“You have another hour to visit the pergola, the yew walk, an orchard, a vegetable garden and an herb garden. Revitalized, we pile back into the car and talk about how in 1908, Gertrude lived in this area and rode around in her buggy with her good friend Edwin Lutyens through this scenic country discussing garden design.” Source: Linda Cobb GoUpstate.com (Spartanburg Herald-Journal, USA) 1st August 2008

Chiddingfold Forest

Lying seven miles (11 km) to the south of Godalming is Chiddingfold Forest, a key conservation site that houses an important habitat for some of the rarest butterflies in Britain. The forest falls within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), includes a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Surrey Trust Reserve and a Woodland Trust Reserve. It is also a core forest area within the West Weald, an internationally important area for nature conservation.

The forest, which consists of a number of areas of woodland falling within a triangle (GR: SU986357; SU 994310; TQ017344), is managed by the Forestry Commission through Forestry Enterprises successfully balancing timber production and wildlife conservation.

The West Weald Landscape Project was recently formed to raise awareness as to the importance of the area and work with local landowners and farmers to encourage the development of rare species.

"Butterfly Conservation has just been awarded £289,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund and has begun one of its biggest ever landscape projects," said the Project's manager Rich Howorth. "Chiddingfold Forest will be the unofficial fourth area to benefit and the butterfly group is working with my project and Forestry Enterprises."

Funding for local land owners, encouraging them to reinstate traditional land management such as woodland coppicing, is provided through Woodland Improvement Grants, and it is through schemes like this that large areas of the West Weald have been joined together enabling butterflies to disperse over a wider habitat.

The new Environmental Stewardship Scheme has also enabled formerly isolated habitats to be joined together as buffer strips and hedgerows are reinstated. Hedges are particularly important to dormice who use them as cover to move from one woodland to another, and for bats who use them as flight lines for navigation.

"Dormice are really important within the West Weald and they are under-surveyed. We did a survey on one part of Chiddingfold Forest that confirmed their presence there," said Howorth. "Bechstein's Bat is also in Chiddingfold Forest and we are working with the Forestry Commission to make sure its needs are incorporated within the management plan."

Beatrice Phillpotts - Surrey Advertiser 30th May 2008

The Crown Inn in Chiddingfold was being used as an alehouse as early as 1353 with conversion to an inn for travellers two decades later. Prior to that time a building erected as a rest house for Cistercian monks stood on the site. One of the oldest inns in Britain and the oldest licensed house in Surrey 'Le Crowne', as it was referred to in the 16th century, boasts some famous visitors including King Edward VI. The king, who stayed there in 1552 whilst visiting Shillinglee, was attended by a full entourage of state officials, courtiers and peers. An army of 4,000 soldiers encamped on the village green. Queen Elizabeth I stayed overnight in 1591 with an entry in the royal accounts at the time recording a payment of two shillings to pay for a large assignment of wine that was delivered to the inn from Ripley for the occasion. Two other medieval hostelries documented in Chiddingfold were the Swan, since rebuilt, and the Thorne Tree, which in ensuing centuries had name changes including the Blackbird and Bush and later the Bush Inn.

Shillinglee House (GR: SU968325) near Chiddingfold was the subject of an exhibition held in the village (April 2009) to highlight the long rich history of the Earls of Winterton estate. The house has according to the organisers borne witness to ‘charges of high treason during Cromwellian times, bribes, the purchase of an Irish earldom and hardship in the desert with Lawrence of Arabia.’ When the sixth earl inherited the estate in 1907 he complained that he was too poor to run the house, which boasted a dining room large enough to double as a ballroom, and rented the property to the Indian cricketer Ranji the Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, who played with the legendary WC Grace and who held invitation matches at the estate. The house having been requisitioned in WWII was gutted by fire in 1943 after a drunken party.

A Royal navy minehunter is named after the village. HMS Chiddingfold was launched in 1983 and operates in frontline operations. The ship is one of four minehunters deployed to Bahrain for several years at a time. Most Navy ships are named after towns and cities in Britain, but minehunters always take their titles from fox hunts. The ship's crew fondly refers to the vessel as Cheery Chid. The first HMS Chiddingfold entered service during the Second World War,and was partly funded by people living in the village. Source: Surrey Advertiser 17th September 2010

Fire in the Sky

A resident in Witley near Godalming was astonished to see (August 31st 2008) what he described as a huge red ball of fire hanging in the air outside his flat.

“It was a perfect circular ball, the length of a London bus, unbelievably vivid, like a ball of fire, but with no flames, no edges to it, and it didn’t move,” he said.

Soon after spotting what experts are stating was an abnormal weather-related electrical phenomenon Bill Brooks said there was a blinding flash followed by a huge crack of thunder that shook the building throwing pictures to the floor.  Brooks also reported that two large fir trees in the garden were badly damaged with one having had a hole punched right through it and the other suffering a rip from the top to midway down the trunk.

Ball lightning
19th century depiction of ball lightning
Image in public domain

Neighbour Gary Brown who had been in the garden of the flats at the time was taken to hospital after the intense flash had enveloped him “like a fluorescent light bulb, shimmering all over”. The electrical aberration, reckoned to be an exceptionally extreme form of ball lightning, caused damage to computers, television sets and security systems throughout the block of flats.

The Times 20th September 2008

The true nature of ball lightning is still scientifically disputed mainly because its occurrence is extremely rare and unpredictable. Most reports are still regarded as fantasy or a hoax by the scientific community primarily due to a lack of reliable data and physical evidence.

One of the earliest and most destructive occurrences was recorded during what became known as The Great Thunderstorm in Widecombe-in-the-Moor in Devon in 1638. During a severe storm a ball of fire stretching eight feet (2.4m) across was seen entering the church whereupon it wreaked total destruction killing four people and injuring another 60. Various hypothesis have been published trying to explain the phenomenon but none have yet been proven.

Godalming Transition Town

Godalming has joined local towns including Farnham in establishing a local group, Transition Godalming, to provide a local response to the challenges of depleting oil reserves, climate change and the latest phenomenon - the credit crunch.

Founder of the group Chris Frost opened their first public meeting at the Friends Meeting House in the town in October 2008.

"I have three main messages. The first, that this is not just a passing economic slump. It’s going to be very bumpy indeed for a generation or two," he said. "Second, the Government  probably can’t do much about it. So we’re going to have to do something about it ourselves, and we’d be better off doing this together. Third, if we get on and doing something now, we actually stand a chance of creating a world that’s going to be far better for our children and grandchildren – not worse."

The local mayor has also publicly supported the group by attending their inaugural meeting.

"It all starts when a small collection of motivated individuals comes together with a shared concern: how can our community respond to the challenges, and opportunities, of Peak Oil and climate change?" said Godalming Town Mayor Paul Rivers. "Don’t say you don’t have enough time. As the saying goes, you have exactly the same number of hours that Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Enstein had. You, too, are heroes in the making."

The Group have incorporated the image of a swan into their logo to represent graceful transformation.

Transition Godalming have announced a series of events and workshops where it is hoped that they will be able to stir local residents into action and provide momentum to the new group. More about Transition Godalming HERE.

The transition town aim is to prepare local communities for the changes that they see coming, and to build ‘resilience’ into local communities to influence the way they lead their lives in everything from travel and work to to shopping habits and leisure pursuits. The term ‘transition’ relates to the move away from an oil-dependent society into a post-oil world.

The UK movement started in 2006 in Totnes in Devon when British environmentalist Rob Hopkins inspired the local community to rise to the challenge of developing sustainability without oil and where the group estimates that up to 15% of the town’s population are now in some way involved with projects. Hopkins describes ‘transition culture’ as ‘an evolving exploration into the head, heart and hands of energy descent’ and has published The Transition Handbook: from oil dependency to low resilience (Green Books 2008 ISBN 978 1 900322 18 8).

Godalming Crunch Art in High Street

An initiative by the Transition Godalming group to brighten up the town was launched (April 2009) when the efforts of Year 6 pupils from Loseley Fields primary school were revealed. The group’s aim is to decorate the growing number of empty shops in the town through the efforts of budding young artists and draw attention to the challenges of fossil fuel depletion, climate change and the credit crunch. The schoolchildren had designed a mural based on Aboriginal designs and on the day scaled up the design by painting it onto the empty windows of number 38 The High Street, previously The Natural Cafe. A notice posted by the group said:

Fighting the Crunch Together. We'd like to thank all those who have responded so positively to fighting the Crunch with Art, powerfully illustrating the impact that a united community can make.


Godalming Leisure Centre

Many years of debate and false-starts have finally culminated in the building of a brand-new £6m leisure centre. The centre, which will accommodate a 25m (82ft) six-lane swimming pool with 12m learner pool and poolside seating for 60 spectators, a 120 sq m (1,292 sq ft) dance studio combined sports arena, 60-station gym and a cafe is due to open in the autumn of 2012. The new facility will be designed by Pozzini architects, constructed by ISG and will continue to be managed by the existing centre's incumbent DC Leisure for the council. ISG was contracted to refurbish the leisure centres in Cranleigh and Farnham.

The project was approved in March 2011 after the result of a questionnaire random mailing to 10% of Godalming and Farncombe residents showed that 64% of the respondents (representing a quarter of those mailed) favoured the plans.

"What was really heartening to read in the survey of Godalming residents is that they would also really welcome a new council-owned leisure centre," said Cllr Roger Steel, WBC executive member for leisure. "Another important finding was the high number of people who don't currently take part in a leisure centre activity who said they would if there was a new centre in Godalming."

The building boasts a biomass boiler and solar panels to reduce running costs.

Waverley Borough Council decided that building a new centre would make more financial sense than having to continually pour money into repairing the deteriorating buildings of the existing 1970s-built leisure centre. Early plans (2007) included the possibility of demolishing the Guildford Rugby Club on Meadrow by Broadwater Lake or for the council to stump up an initial outlay of £800,000 to undertake a major revamp of the existing buildings on Summers Road. Much to the relief of the local sporting community the council decided to construct the new centre on little-used tennis courts sited near the entrance by Summers Road.

The council is funding £2.6m from existing funds and is having to raise the balance from loans to be repaid over a 15-year period.

The council issued (March 2011) the following explanation as to why they had decided to undertake a new-build rather than revamp the existing centre.

Building surveys showed that it was not financially viable to continue to maintain the current leisure centre building. The decision to build a new leisure centre will reduce the risk of Waverley being faced with a hefty bill for urgent repairs or maintenance to the old building and will ensure we can continue to provide a leisure facility in Godalming. The day-to-day running costs of a new leisure centre will also be much cheaper than the costs of the current centre.

Demolition of the old leisure centre will take place once the new facility has opened, with the land on which it has stood to be returned to a grassed area for 'informal recreational use'.

The project suffered an early setback when vandals caused £5,500 worth of damage (June 2011). Plant machinery was damaged and the armoured cabling supplying power to the site was stolen. The attack happened only a month after the official 'digging-out' ceremony attended by the Mayor of Waverley.

An ongoing debate about the lack of squash courts continues to be fuelled by a group of local sports enthusiasts. The old centre has two courts.

bbc.co.uk; waverley.gov.uk; Surrey Advertiser; 964eagle.co.uk

Fairtrade Godalming

Godalming was bestowed with Fairtrade Town status in August 2008. Two local residents Dick and June Higgins are credited as being the inspiration and persuasion behind the effort to have the town actively support the Fairtrade movement (1).

To qualify, local organisations, retail outlets and businesses have to be seen to be using or selling Fairtrade products in a meaningful way - which in the case of Godalming includes support from the local council which passed a resolution supporting the fair trade concept and serves Fairtrade refreshments at meetings, in its offices and canteens. Local shops and cafes actively retail Fairtrade products and local businesses have committed to using Fairtrade products on their premises.

Garstang in Lancashire lays claim to being the first town in the world (2000) to have Fairtrade status. Woking (2005), Guildford (2008) and Haslemere (2007) are also Fairtrade towns. The University of Surrey and Guildford Cathedral have also independently achieved Fairtrade status.

Dick and June Higgins were recognised for their contribution by being awarded the Mayor’s Award for Volunteers in May 2009.

The town has launched Fairtrade Fortnight to continue to raise the profile of the scheme with the first having taken place between 23rd February and 8th March 2009.

(1) Established by the Fairtrade Foundation in 1992 and marked with their distinctive blue and green logo depicting a blue and green swirl in a black box, the organisation is committed to transforming trading structures and practices in favour of the poor and disadvantaged. In effect this means wholesalers and manufacturers paying decent rates for raw materials and products at source and for the end consumer to support the movement by buying the end product at retail bearing the Fairtrade mark.

Godalming Greening

A fledgling national organisation hopes to be able to launch a group in Godalming to help fight climate change. Godalming Greening is to hold its first public meeting in the town on 30th October 2009 at which it will ask the community to commit to eight ways to save energy.

The group intends to print the challenges, including not running electrical items on standby, on cards and distributing these to 8,600 households in the town who will be asked to tick off the tasks that are completed and then display the cards in their windows for their neighbours to see. The Godalming Greening team intend them to tour the town to count the number of cards displayed and use that information to calculate how much carbon dioxide has been saved.

"We will not be asking anyone to sell their car or give up their central heating," said Carrie Anderson one of the campaigners. "This is about everyone doing their bit, changing those tiny habits like pressing the off button instead of the standby button, or making one-off changes by putting insulation in the loft. This is about us as a community, so it is for people living in Godalming to suggest the eight challenges that we as a town adopt. They can be big or small, but we all need to talk about them and agree on them. The environment is the issue, it is a national issue and it is a local issue, and it is time that we did something about it. Everybody doing these very small challenges will make a very big difference to our planet."

The Greening Campaign, which has over 140 active communities (October 2009), was launched in Petersfield in 2008 by Terena Plowright in response to the threat of global warming. The idea is to help motivate people to reduce their energy consumption and therefore lower their personal and community carbon footprint. The group claims that Petersfield has made a saving of 23 tonnes of carbon dioxide since the scheme was launched.

The group held their first conference in May 2009, opened by the mayor of Petersfield, which included presentations from Greening groups in other Wey Valley communities including Alton, Alresford and Elstead. The Greening Campaign has received sponsorship from county councils including Hampshire and West Sussex, as well as the Southern Co-operative (1) and SEEDA (2).

(1) The Southern Co-operative is a regional Co-operative Society based in Fareham, Hampshire and formed in 1873. It operates (October 2009) 120 Co-op Community stores in Hampshire and along the south coast.
(2) SEEDA – South East England Development Agency ‘
is responsible for the sustainable economic development and regeneration of the South East of England’ and is a government agency established in 1999.

www.greening-campaign.co.uk; Surrey Advertiser 16th October 2009

Godalming Greening undertook its formal launch in the town on 26th February 2010. Supporting the launch were dozens of organisations who set up stalls in the Borough Hall and the town saw dancers from the Fleur de Lys Morris group run through their routines in the street outside.

"I had been planning this event for more than a year and I wanted to make sure it was as good as we could make it," said Carrie Anderson. "We were aiming to make sure people know we are here and what we are doing, and I'm just so pleased with how the day went. So many people came down to see what was going on, Borough Hall was absolutely packed and the people I spoke to said they were really impressed with all the different stands. We also had people driving past and beeping their horns in support. It was a real community effort."

The eight promises around which Godalming Greening has been launched have been printed onto cards which are going to be distributed to the 8,600 households in the GU7 postal area. The aim is to encourage households to undertake the challenges and tick them off when they are achieved. It is hoped that householders will display these in their windows so that the Godalming Greening team can calculate how much carbon dioxide initiative has saved.

Surrey Advertiser 5th March 2010

Grand Design Art Deco Style

Channel Four's series Grand Designs followed the build (2007) of an art deco house in Farncombe. Grey Lea House, on the corner of Nightingale Road and Chalk Road (GR: SU974444).

The project evolved from the original idea of merely extending an existing house bought by pilots Andrew and Helen Berry in 2000.

"There was a Fifties cottage on the site when we bought it in 2000," said Andrew. "It only had two and a half bedrooms. We initially just thought about extending it."

But their vision expanded when their builder Alan Overton advised that it would be cheaper to demolish and rebuild than renovate and extend the existing property. The building was inspired by visits the Berry’s had made to Napier in New Zealand, which had been completely rebuilt in deco style after an earthquake in the 1920s, and South Beach, Miami, famous for around 800 art deco buildings.

The couple spent a great deal of time researching ideas for their new home which included trips organised by the Miami Preservation League to private houses in Miami and library based research. The art deco style so apparent on the outside has been painstakingly developed to the interior too. This includes reclaimed walnut furniture, metal banisters inspired by Charles Rennie Mackintosh grid patterns, and a specially made maple and poplar kitchen with an art deco fan-emblazoned breakfast bar. The master bathroom contains black and green tiles inspired by a Miami house and the orange tiles in the second bathroom by the ceramics of Clarice Cliff.

"Being pilots we're both technically minded," said Andrew. "Helen has a science degree, and I have an engineering background. Diagrams and complex graphics hold no fears for us, so we weren't scared off by the idea of incorporating eco features."

"Once you insist on authentic details, such as the sunburst details on the door knobs, then you really have to pursue it all the way, otherwise it doesn't work," said Helen.

The house is a white rendered rectangular box with rounded corners and has a facade featuring classic Art Deco detailing.

“The general design and proportions of the elevations were greatly influenced by the Art Deco period and in the spirit of this idea, a considerable amount of care and attention was given to detailing and proportioning, including parapet features, band courses, fenestration and the rendered external wall finishes. In addition, individual features were incorporated, such as the decorative, central 'wing' motif to the front elevation and the curved entrance lobby and door canopies.

“Although fundamentally of an Art Deco style externally, the interior spaces were designed primarily to accommodate a 21st century lifestyle. This approach was carried through from the 'open plan' style central core of the house in the kitchen/family area and into the building services themselves, which provide for environmental considerations such as a `rain harvesting' system which collects rainwater, filters and purifies and then re-circulates back to the house for w.c.s, washing machine and external taps water use, solar panels to the roof, and a heat exchange/re-circulation system which utilises the cool and warm air produced in different parts of the building and creates a balanced temperature at low power use, avoiding the need for mechanical extract, other than a dedicated cooker hood. On the ground floor in particular, many internal design details follow the Art Deco theme, including the doors and door handles, the vaulted dining room ceiling, the kitchen cabinetry and the curved, glass brick wall features.” Adams Associates – architects

The project  has won a Civic Design Award, and design and sustainability awards from Waverley Borough Council. The building is also designed to be energy efficient. The following quotes were highlighted by the architects from the judge’s report for the design award:

“Like the hard landscaping details that echo the design of the house”
“The front is art deco mid thirties while the rear is early 1930s modernist”
“an innovative design – brave and cheeky!”
“the lighting in the upstairs corridor is very good”
“great attention to detail, particularly like the double drops in the dining room ceiling and the staircase”

The walls are constructed with recycled power station ash blocks which have a high thermal mass allowing them to store heat during the day and gradually release it at night. The owners also installed a 1,000 gallon (5,000 litre) underground rain-fed tank providing water for washing machine, toilets and garden watering and a solar water-heating system backed up by a condensing boiler. Radiators at skirting board level help with the clutter-free modernist style, and a heat recovery ventilation system, special insulation and an efficient wood burning stove in the living room all combine to make this one of the most eco-friendly properties in the area.

"We went over budget and at one stage our builder recommended we jettison the solar heat system to save money," said Andrew. "But we're glad we didn't – what's the point of burning gas on a sunny day to heat water when there's all that solar energy out there just waiting to be tapped."

The Berry’s paid £230,000 for the original cottage and spent £330,000 on the rebuild. This included £12,000 for demolition, £5,000 for solar heating, £2,000 for the heat recovery ventilations system, £6,500 for the rainwater recovery system and £2,500 for Triso Super 10 insulation.

The house, which has been described as 'spectacular' by the programme makers, is not open to the public.

telegraph.co.uk 11th May 2009; adams-associates.com

Godalming Music Festival

Founded in 1947 the Godalming Music Festival is one of the biggest and longest running performing arts events in Surrey. The Festival attracts participants from all over the region with over 3,000 taking part every year. The focus of the event is to provide competitors of all ages, ranging usually from 5 to 75 years and with the majority under 21, with an opportunity to perform in public and then be judged and assessed by an expert adjudicator. There are 300 different classes grouped by ages and discipline with individual performers, small groups, whole bands and choirs competing against one another within each class.

There are a wide range of opportunities to win prizes, certificates and cups. Specific classes provide an opportunity in which to perform as a soloist with a concert orchestra and the possibility of winning a bursary worth over £450 to attend the annual European Youth Summer Music School at Haileybury College. Top performers also have the opportunity to be invited to compete in the annual Rotary Club of Godalming Young Musician of the Year competition.

Lucia Chan won the 2009 bursary and Myles Wakelin-Harkett the Rotary Young Musician of the Year 2009.

The public are welcomed to the event to watch competitors perform in dance, speech and drama, musical theatre, choirs, organ, piano, singing, strings, brass and woodwind.

The historic home of the festival is the Borough Hall in Godalming where Dr. RH Hunt, the organist at Godalming parish church and music master at the grammar school (today the Sixth Form College), originally appointed the committee under his chairmanship to devise and run the event. The first festival which was for choirs only, with local MP Sir John Jarvis elected as president, took place at the hall in November 1947. Ralph Vaughan Williams, one of Britain's most eminent composers who was a local resident and old boy of Charterhouse School, enthusiastically supported the event and presented the certificates. The festival the following year saw English composer Herbert Howells adjudicate.

The competition is run during the month of March each year, and as well as the Borough Hall other venues including local schools are featured. More information at www.godalmingmusicfestival.org.uk.

Peter Martin. Round & About Magazine February 2010; www.godalmingmusicfestival.org.uk 8th February 2010

Demise of The Red Lion, Milford

The expansive Red Lion pub on Old Portsmouth Road Milford was closed down in 2007 and despite many false hopes of a reopening it has been confirmed (October 2009) that a supermarket has purchased the property with the intent of converting it into a convenience retail outlet, very likely sealing the fate of yet another Wey Valley pub. Tesco are reported as intending to submit a planning application to open it as a Tesco Express.

"One of the things we have found out about Tesco is that it doesn't respond," said Cllr Sandy. "But we know that it would like to open the store before Christmas. It has admitted it realises that's a very ambitious target. A lot of people have already approached me to say they are very concerned and I have been informed that when Tesco did the same thing in Liss, it killed off the butcher, the baker and two greengrocers and the village died as a result. I don't want to be the elected representative of a village where Tesco's steamrollers its way in and killed Milford off as a result and I want to hear from as many people as possible what they think about the plan. Part of Waverley's policy is to care for the environment, which includes village life. It's desperately important that villagers should have their say and I want to know if hundreds of people are against it. If they put a Tesco Express on that site it'll only be 100 yards from the Milford Co-op and a parade of shops and includes a butcher and fishmonger and a wine merchant. All the businesses in Milford are very concerned by the prospect of a Tesco express coming to the village." Surrey Advertiser 9th October 2009

Ironically the inaugural meeting of the Surrey Hampshire Borders Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) was held in the Red Lion in 1975. The branch has since grown to be one of the largest in CAMRA with over 1600 members, bizarrely however given this historic association there is no mention of the plight of the Red Lion on their website (16 October 2009).

The Red Lion was managed by the licensees that now run the White Lion in Portsmouth Road, Milford and according to one of their press advertisements in March 2007 the pub staff also followed them there:

The White Lion Restaurant. Do you enjoy the Red Lion in Milford? If so come and drink and eat. The same chef, same staff and the same welcome at the newly refurbished White Lion (we’ve just changed colour). What’s On - To Dine For (online edition) 23rd March 2007

Over the years the pub went through a number of transformations but on the whole tended to cater as a friendly pub food restaurant rather than a general ‘local’. Prior to closure it was trading under a Food Emporium banner who used the following description in their marketing blurb:

A warm welcome awaits you at the Red Lion. We are open 7 days a week. Our team of international chefs and bar and waiting staff have over 150 different menu choices to tempt you. Sunday lunches are a speciality and our huge walled beer garden is ideal for drinking and dining 'al fresco' during the summer months. Take advantage of our 'early bird' special if you can order food by 6.45pm and get a 10% discount of your food bill. Our wine list is packed with award winning wines and we always have 3 real ales available at the bar. There are 3 separate dining areas which are all non smoking but smoking is allowed in the bar. We have excellent disabled facilities and even a large car park. See you soon.

An application to extend the licensing hours in 2005 was turned down after objections from local residents which included the following comments:

The area that the pub is located in is both a conservation area and residential. The Red Lion is a restaurant and I do not understand why they need extended opening hours to complement their core business of serving food.

As we live next door to the Red Lion pub, we are already frequently disturbed by customers leaving at or after closing time, be it by shouting, singing, in car music systems or revving of car engines. All this is tolerable at the current closing time, but would become a major nuisance and disturbance if the opening hours were extended. Nor do we understand why the extension of hours is required- the Red Lion is a successful restaurant and not a drinking pub!

The provision of live music late into the night will be a nuisance to the surrounding neighbourhood. The Milford House development backs onto the Red Lion and we are already able to hear the pub music, clientele, and staff (after closing), especially in the summer when the large garden is in use. To extend the opening hours and allow live music later into the night will without doubt create more noise for the local residents to endure.

Reports of the Radio Two DJ Chris Evans buying the site in 2007 eventually proved to be unfounded. An online news digest reported the following at the time:

DJ Chris Evans has bought the Red Lion pub in Milford, Surrey, for £1.5m. He intends to develop it with an expanded restaurant and B&B chalets. (Sunday Mirror) The Sunday Papers 30th September 2007

and online blogs at the time were buzzing:

"Evans has picked up the currently closed Red Lion in Milford, and has outlined plans to revive its fortunes by expanding the restaurant and building B&B chalets to add to its eight guest rooms. But Evans is stuck in red-tape limbo in his attempts to create a hospitality hot-spot as he awaits Council approval. Apparently the pub is connected to a 14th century "listed monastic building" by way of a tunnel of 'historic importance'. Those of you who listen to Evans' Radio 2 show will know he is a self-confessed foodie, so there is every chance that this is less of a place for the once notorious drinker to indulge in his hobby and more of a serious hospitality business. But can celebrities run a pub?" The Caterer blog Christopher Walton 1st October 2007

Evans owns the Mulberry Tree (formerly The Rams Nest) just outside Chiddingfold as well as an inn in Monmouthshire.

The successful bid by Tesco to take over at the Red Lion site and convert it into a Tesco Express outlet has met with a lot of local opposition. One local resident has pointed out that the number of objections received by the council's planning department is more than four times the number of objections received concerning Godalming's Key Site plan - also a contentious development.

The conglomerate's plan for the building was approved in February 2010 by the borough council. However it would appear that Tesco have boxed cleverly in that their application was to apply for a 'certificate of lawfulness' which meant the arguments put forward to the planners by objectors on the basis that the store will be potentially damaging to the village could not be taken into account. The legal argument, which was accepted, was that the building had been used as a pub for 10 or more years and therefore it was a lawful move to simply switch its class A1 use to that of a convenience store.

The Milford councillor, John Sandy, had received 2,275 objections and has challenged the borough council's central committee decision - who had voted eight in favour with four abstentions - saying that legal advice they accepted was too narrow in its view.

Another councillor, Jane Thomson who is also against the plan, described the arrival of Tesco as 'the march of the rhododendron' a highly invasive plant saying that "they look very nice, but everything under them withers and dies".

The south-west Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt also opposes the Tesco development.

"I am really concerned about this," he said. “Tesco is a great British company, but setting up in Milford would have disastrous implications for local shopkeepers who are the lifeblood of the community and a really important part of its unique character and distinctiveness. We must do all we can to keep Milford special. I am concerned for the future of Witley Wines, Witley’s TE Francis newsagent and the community-owned Hambledon Shop if Tesco Express opens. A recent change in the planning law broadly allows for a pub to turn into a shop without requiring an application for a change of use, but it gets slightly muddy with the Red Lion because it used to also do bed and breakfast and so it could be a change of use."

Tesco say that the shop will create around 25 new jobs and would sell 'a broad but carefully selected range of essential products'.

"It’s still at a very early stage, but we are delighted to have the opportunity to regenerate this disused site and are currently working up our plans,” said Carol Leslie from Tesco. “We want to make the best and most attractive use of it and plan to retain, refurbish and enhance the existing premises. Express stores are designed to encourage more people to shop locally without having to use their cars to drive to large out-of-town stores. However, parking is provided for people already passing by the site, perhaps on their way to and from work. Because of their very nature, our Express stores are always situated close to residential properties. We are certainly mindful of this fact and operate a ‘good neighbour’ policy.”

Surrey Advertiser 19th October 2009; 29th January 2010

Hydon's Ball

Hydon's Ball (GR: SU975407) at 587ft (179m) is one of Surrey's highest points and is located at Hydestile 3.5 miles (5.6km) from Godalming and with Hydon Heath covers 126 acres (51ha).

This area of heath and woodland falls within the Surrey Hills AONB providing commanding views across the Surrey landscape and was gifted to the National Trust who are responsible for its upkeep.

It is thought that the term 'ball' refers to the fact that a signalling station once stood on the summit. Hydon's is also sometimes referred to as Cup Hill, to which the unknown author of the following poem pays tribute:

On Hydon's top there is a cup
And in that cup there is a drop
Pick up the cup, and drink the drop
And place the cup on Hydon's top.

The woodland is a mixture of plant species with natural regeneration, and includes oak, rowan, holly, birch, pine and chestnut. Gertrude Jekyll planted two non-native shrubs here, Amelanchier (juneberry) and Gaultheria (wintergreen), as an embellishment to the woodland. The remaining heath around the summit is quite small. Hydon's is home to a wide range of birds including Nightingale, Sparrowhawk, and Lesser, Great-Spotted and Green Woodpeckers. Redpoll, Siskin and Brambling.

A memorial to Octavia Hill (1838 - 1912), one of the founders of the National Trust, was erected here by her family in 1915 in the form of a stone monument and seat. Trigpoint (1) pillar TP4093 is sited on the summit. A reservoir was installed at Hydon in 1899 to serve the local population. A hybrid rhododendron 'Hydon Ball' is registered with the Royal Horticultural Society and local 'pan-European psychedelic folk' band The Free Radicals named their CD album (2008) Hydon's Ball.

There is a car park located on a minor road between Hascombe and Hidestile (GR: SU979402).

(1) A trig point refers to a trigonometrical point which was erected by the Ordnance Survey to provide a network of triangulation points enabling surveyors to accurately measure distance and height. There is usually a triangulation pillar in place on top of which a brass plate is fixed to position a theodolite. Each pillar has a benchmark on the side marked with the letters OSBM (ordnance survey bench mark) and the reference number of the trig point.













© Wey River 2005 - 2012 : All Rights Reserved

Supported and created by volunteers from Wey River Freelance Community Visit our nice sponsors Getting to know the river Introducing the two Navigations Transport along the Wey Navigations Industry along the Wey Valley Wildlife in the Wey Valley Places of interest in the Wey Valley The people of the valley who made names of themselves The art of the valley Climb out of the river