7 Dec

10 things you might not know about Godalming

  1. In 1726 a Godalming maid servant called Mary Toft caused a national scandal when she pretended to have given birth to 16 rabbits. She was later  found out after been seen smuggling rabbits into
    her home.
  2. The name Godalming is of Saxon origin and is referred to in the will of King Alfred the Great in 899 as ‘Godhelms Ingus’. This translates as ‘the family of Godhelm’ who were thought to have been lords of the manor during this time.
  3. The village has a prosperous and industrious past in clothing, leatherwork, paper-making and the quarrying of Bargate Stone. At one point the town had 16 quarries. The last clothing factory there closed in the 1960s.
  4. In 1881 Godalming was the first town in the world to have a public electricity supply. A Siemens AC Alternator and dynamo were installed and powered by a waterwheel at Westbrook Mill on the river Wey. They reverted back to gas power some years later due to issues with flooding.
  5. The town has 138 listed buildings including a number of Tudor-framed and 17th century brickwork houses. It’s most famous building is its old town hall – known at the Pepperpot or Pepper-box because of its shape. Other significant buildings include the Red House by architect Edwin Lutyens’s and the well-known public school Charterhouse.
  6. Charterhouse School was in fact where Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks met and formed the band Genesis.
  7. Godalming was the first town in the country to have its own independent lottery. Set up in 2008 the by the Go-Godalming Association, GOLO has raised nearly £20,000 for local projects. Tickets are £1 and a draw takes place on the last Saturday of every month.
  8. Russian Czar Peter the Great visited Godalming in March 1698 and stayed overnight at the Kings Arms Inn in the High Street. A bronze plaque with a bust of the Czar and his crests in relief is proudly displayed on the front of the building.
  9. Famous residents of the town include garden designer Gertrude Jekyll, mountaineer George Mallory and Jack Philips, who was
    the chief radio controller on the Titanic. He is commemorated in several places in the town including a memorial fountain,  cloister and garden walk near the village church. The Wetherspoon’s pub in the town also bears his name.
  10. Godalming is not an erogenous zone,” says Reggie Perrin to secretary Joan in David Nobb’s book The Return of Reginald Perrin, which was made into a popular TV series.  The book contains a footnote by the author which states: “It is believed that this book mentions Godalming more than any other book ever written.”