Reasons to love Godalming
PUBLISHED: 20:05 04 April 2017 | UPDATED: 15:41 30 April 2020
In the first instalment of our new feature focusing on Surrey’s amazing towns, we visit Godalming and explore its well-known (and lesser-known) gems
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine March 2017
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High Street, Godalming: godalmingmuseum.org.uk
We just had to start here – this lovely building standing outside the museum at the junction of High Street and Church Street defines the town. Originally the old town hall built in 1814 by a local architect Mr. Perry, the Pepperpot replaced an old market house. The site seems to have been an important one as it has, over the centuries, been the focus of the town pump, stocks and lock-up! The building is still used to this day for trading in fruit and veg and is an absolute must for one of your souvenir photos if you are a first time visitor.
Hascombe Road, Godalming. GU8 4AD: 01483 208477 / nationaltrust.org.uk/winkworth-arboretum
Not too far to wander to catch this one – head south out of the town on the Brighton Road and after a few miles it’s on your left. A beautiful area of natural woodland, open walks and lakes makes this National Trust space an absolute delight, especially at this time of year. For over 60 years the arboretum has been slowly and sensitively developed into a lovely tranquil spot to while away a few hours. Café, car parking and lots of ideas for the kids there too – oh, and another good subject for your camera!
Farncombe Boat House.
Catteshall Road, Godalming. GU7 1NH: 01483 421306 / farncombeboats.co.uk
We’d like to bet there are not many Surrey Life readers who don’t like the thought of “messing about on the river…” Described as ‘One of Surrey’s best kept secrets’, the River Wey offers loads of opportunity to have fun and enjoy the gorgeous countryside from the tranquillity of your own boat. Pop along to the boathouse and you have the choice of simply taking out a rowing boat for the day or going completely mad and booking a two¬week cruise in a narrow boat. That gives you enough time to get, via the River Wey and Thames, to Oxford and back!
Mary Toft and the rabbits….
We thought we’d add a bit of intrigue to our 10 Reasons to Love features with some little-known snippets about your favourite towns. This fabulous story of Godalming resident, Mary Toft, tells of how, in 1726, she miscarried while pregnant and subsequently convinced several eminent physicians she had given birth to nine rabbits. Without going into too many details, it seemed she became obsessed with the creatures and managed to make it look as if they had, ermmm, arrived naturally. At one point her fame even made King George I want to know more, but she was eventually denounced as a fraud and actually jailed for a while.
Jack Phillips Memorial Headstone
Staying on the ‘Best Kept Secrets’ theme for a moment, how many Surrey Life readers know about Godalming resident Jack Phillips, the telegraphist on the ill-fated Titanic? Quite a few of you we’re sure, there is a lovely memorial garden dedicated to him near the parish church, of course. However, have you seen the incredible stone statue in the Nightingale Cemetery Chapel a couple of miles away in Deanery Road? It’s in the form of a large white iceberg with his name on, which, to be honest, seems a bit unfortunate considering it was an iceberg that sunk the ship in the first place!
The Cricket Green Hambledon, Godalming. GU8 4HF: 01483 208936 / nationaltrust.org.uk/oakhurst-cottage
An astonishing little cottage now owned and managed by the National Trust, Oakhurst is a beautifully-preserved example of how people lived centuries ago. This 16th century home is tiny (but you can visit, in groups of up to six, by booking with trust) and you will be well rewarded with a glimpse back in time. Tours start in April this year but bookings can be made from March 1. There is also a small garden, typical of the era, which is now being restored to its traditional style.
We’ve always supported the independent shops and these fabulous little shops are yet another reason to love Godalming. Here’s one or two to get you started: established in the town for over 50 years, Record Corner continues to be as popular as ever. You name it, they’ll have it. Classical, pop, sheet music, organ and choral CDs - it’s all here. They are just off the High Street in Pound Lane. If, however, your preferred way of spending time at home is DIY, Cornmeter, in Church Street, is the one. We understand there is a bit of friendly rivalry over who has been established in town longest, but this lovely shop, spilling out onto the pavement, is a treasure trove of all things DIY.
109a High Street, Godalming: 01483 426510 / godalmingmuseum.org.uk
Opposite the Pepperpot in the High Street, a narrow entrance leads into this lovely little museum of all things Godalming. First thing to look at is right above your head as you enter – the old town clock, which used to adorn the Pepperpot is now hanging here. For such a compact area the clever layout means there is loads of info at your fingertips. With galleries of arts and crafts, local history, living landscapes and more, you can browse for hours! There is also a café and a delightful little quiet garden area.
10 Queen Street, Godalming. GU7 1BD
You’ll need a good lunch or evening dinner after exploring all this lot so here’s a Asian fusion restaurant that comes recommended by those who know...
1, Angel Court, Godalming. GU7 1DT: 01483 808569 / cafemila.co.uk
If it’s just a quick lunch break or coffee you’re looking for while you work your way through the town’s treasures then here’s a really friendly and alternative coffee house, tucked away in Angel Court just off the top end of the High Street. We know this one from old and yes it’s good! Loads of delicious healthy options as well as fabulously indulgent things, such as the juicy sausages which are hand-strung by the local butcher). The interesting thing about the café, however, is that right above you in a studio room is Mila Yoga – a teaching area where you can learn the art of authentic yoga to leave you spiritually refreshed.
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