Godalming (St. Peter and St. Paul)

GODALMING (St. Peter and St. Paul), an incorporated market-town and parish, in the union of Guildford, First division of the hundred of Godalming, W. division of Surrey, 4 miles (S. S. W.) from Guildford, and 34 (S. W.) from London; containing 4328 inhabitants, of whom 2183 are in the town. This place is supposed by Aubrey to have been called Goda's Alming, from Goda, Countess of Mercia, to whom it belonged, and from the circumstance of her having bestowed it in alms upon a neighbouring monastery; but with greater probability, perhaps, Manning derives the name from its Saxon possessor, Godhelm, and from its situation at the extremity of an ing or meadow; which latter supposition is in some degree strengthened by the designation Godelminge, applied to it in several ancient documents. The lordship was given by King Alfred to his nephew Ethelbald, upon whose rebellion against Edward the Elder it was confiscated to the crown; and was bestowed by Henry II. upon the see of Salisbury, from which, with the exception of the advowson of the living, it reverted to the crown in the reign of Elizabeth.

The town is pleasantly situated on the road to Portsmouth, by Guildford, and in a richly-wooded vale on the banks of the river Wey, over which a handsome bridge was erected in 1782, at the expense of the county, on the site of a former one belonging to the lord of the manor. It consists principally of one spacious street, from which several smaller streets diverge, and is paved, and lighted with gas; the houses are in general small, but there are many respectable residences of modern erection, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with excellent water. The chief articles of manufacture are fleecy hosiery, worsted and cotton stockings, shirts, and drawers, silk, paper, and tanned and oiled leather; and a considerable trade is carried on in corn, timber, bark, and hoops, of which great quantities are sent to London. The river Wey, at an expense of £8000, subscribed in shares, was in 1780 made navigable to the town, where is a spacious wharf. Acts were passed in 1846, for a railway from Godalming to Guildford, and another from Epsom, by Godalming, to Portsmouth. The market is on Wednesday, for corn, and on Saturday, also for poultry and vegetables; the fairs are on Feb. 13th and July 10th, at the former of which many hoops are sold. The inhabitants received a charter of incorporation, in 1575, from Queen Elizabeth; it was confirmed by Charles II., and the government was vested in a warden, eight assistants, and a bailiff. By the act of the 5th and 6th of William IV. cap. 76, the corporation now consists of a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors; the mayor and ex-mayor are justices of the peace, but the county magistrates have a concurrent jurisdiction. Courts leet and baron are held in October, at the former of which constables, tything-men, and other officers, are appointed. The powers of the county debt-court of Godalming, established in 1847, extend over the parish of Godalming, and the greater part of the registration-district of Hambledon. The town-hall was erected in 1814.

The living is a vicarage, endowed with a portion of the rectorial tithes, valued in the king's books at £23. 17. 11., and in the patronage of the Bishop of Winchester. The tithes have been commuted for £1700, whereof £600 are payable to the vicar; there are two acres of glebe. The church, an ancient cruciform structure in the early English style, with a central tower surmounted by a spire, was greatly enlarged and improved in 1840 at an expense of £3800, raised by subscription, under the auspices of the Rev. John G. Bull, the vicar, aided by grants of £500 and £400 from the Incorporated and Diocesan Societies. The nave was extended towards the west, the galleries over the north and south aisles were enlarged, and galleries erected in the north and south transepts; by which the number of sittings was increased to 1880, whereof 1150 are free. A district church was built at Ferncomb in 1846, and dedicated to St. John the Apostle and Evangelist; the cost of erection was £2600, including £1000 endowment. There are places of worship for General Baptists, the Society of Friends, Independents, and Wesleyans. The buildings formerly used as a workhouse have been purchased by the vicar, and fitted up for national schools on an extensive scale, at an expense of £900, of which £750 were defrayed by subscription and grants from the National and Diocesan Societies. Almshouses for ten men were founded in 1618, by Richard Wyat, who bequeathed £500 for the erection, and lands producing, with subsequent benefactions, more than £150 per annum for their endowment; and part of an estate yielding nearly £140 per annum, left by Henry Smith for the relief of the poor, is appropriated to the clothing and apprenticing of children. In Bridge-street is an old house, said to have been a hunting-box of Henry VII. Within the boundary of the borough is Westbrook, formerly the seat of Gen. Oglethorpe, who is supposed to have had the Pretender concealed in it for some time in 1745. The Rev. Owen Manning, F.R.S., author of the History and Antiquities of Surrey, and 37 years vicar of the parish, was buried here.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.