Things to do in Godalming - where to eat, shop and visit
PUBLISHED: 11:52 14 May 2015 | UPDATED: 11:59 14 May 2015
One of our most picturesque towns, Godalming is overflowing with fascinating history, great shops and nice places to eat. Here are our highlights…
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine May 2015
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High Street, Godalming GU7 1DP: godalmingmuseum.org.uk
Originally the old town hall, this 19th century octagonal building is affectionately known as The Pepperpot or Pepper Box due to its shape. Built in 1814 from a design by a local architect, John Perry, it stands on the site of an old market house. The site seems to have been the focus of the town for well over a thousand years in an area that saw the town pump, the stocks and the lock-up. Still home to a fruit and veg stall on certain days, The Pepperpot dominates the far end of the High Street and is well worth a look!
A really lovely part of the town leading away from The Pepperpot towards the Church of St Peter and St Paul, this beautiful old street has a great variety of small independent shops including an art gallery, Lingwood Samuel, which will celebrate its first birthday in June; an antiques store, Priory Antiques; and a tattoo parlour, Needlework Tattoos – not to mention a great pub, The Star Inn. With many excellent reviews of the food (and beer!), it’s difficult to walk past without popping in… The church itself is worth a visit too – as a rare Grade I listed building, it has two integrated medieval chapels and a fabulous oak-timbered spire clad in lead. The church is open for visits during daylight hours.
109a High Street, Godalming GU7 1AQ: 01483 426510 / godalmingmuseum.org.uk
Back the way you came – and right opposite The Pepperpot is the narrow entrance to the town’s museum. Founded in 1921 and administered by the Godalming Museum Trust, this is a treasure trove of local history. While you are there, have a look at the town clock, which used to adorn The Pepperpot – it’s hanging right above your head now as you enter… There’s lots of info here too on the town’s links with the ill-fated Titanic and how Godalming had the very first electric street lighting. Visit their website for information on the latest exhibitions.
Jack Phillips Memorial Gardens
Borough Road, Godalming GU7 2AE
Talking of the Titanic… John George (Jack) Phillips, the ship’s telegraphist who sadly didn’t survive the disaster, was a resident of the town. Now regarded as a hero, the 25-year-old famously stayed at his post, sending out distress calls even as the ship went down. Today, there is a pub in the High Street named after him and a memorial garden near the church. Take a wander down Church Street and past the church and you’ll find it on the right near the town’s bandstand. Jack also has a memorial in the churchyard in the shape of an iceberg – quite what he would have thought of this we don’t know… Find it in the Nightingale Cemetery, just off Deanery Road, north of the town. Check out the full story here.
Angel Court, High Street, Godalming GU7 1DT: 01483 808569 / cafemila.co.uk
Opened three years ago, Café Mila has made a name for itself with much more than just food and drinks. A studio upstairs holds workshops in yoga, as well as theatre, exhibitions and gigs. Owners Jane and Steve Shorney say they love Godalming and that it has a special feeling – modern and holistic with lots of energy. On Friday June 5, they are holding a Global Dinner with cuisine from around the world. Yum! Oh, and while you’re in the High Street, be sure to pop into award-winning deli, The Godalming Food Company, named Independent Retailer of the Year in the Surrey Life 2014 Food & Drink Awards.
Charterhouse Road, Godalming GU7 2DX: 01483 291500 / charterhouse.org.uk
Mention Godalming to anyone outside the town and, chances are, they will associate it with the famous Charterhouse School. Founded by Thomas Sutton in 1611 on the site of an old Carthusian Monastery in Charterhouse Square, London, pupils are still referred to today as Carthusians. Old Carthusians include Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout Movement, and Peter Gabriel – of the band Genesis. Jeremy Hunt, MP for South West Surrey and Secretary of State for Health, is also an OC. Fees are steep – boarding with accommodation costs almost £35k a year – putting the school fifth in the list of most expensive. Tours take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at £10 per person.
Hascombe Road, Godalming GU8 4AD: 01483 208477 / nationaltrust.org.uk
Beautiful at any time of year, this stunning area of natural woodland and shrubs is a must for any visit to Godalming. Lying a few miles south of the town, it is a wonderfully tranquil place to wander for a few hours. Maintained by the National Trust for over 60 years, there is a collection of more than 1,000 rare trees and shrubs. Now is also a particularly good time to visit, as this is when you’ll see fabulous magnolias, carpets of bluebells and the famous azalea staircase – a cascade of colour so bright it takes your breath away.
Wharf Street, Godalming GU7 1JL
Another lovely place for a spring stroll, start at the wharf, just near the Sainsbury’s store in Woolsack Way, and you have ahead of you a leisurely stroll along the banks of the River Wey. The towpath will take you to the town bridge where you cross the road and continue past the library and along Lammas Lands – an area of four flood meadows covering about 81 acres of land. Look out for narrowboats on the river and wildlife along the banks – in particular reed bunting and snipe.
King’s Arms Royal Hotel
22 High Street, Godalming GU7 1DZ: 01483 421545 / royalhotelgodalming.co.uk
If you’re going to make more than a day of it here then you’ll need somewhere to stay. With views of the river, the King’s Arms Royal Hotel also boasts loads of history – there’s been a building on the site since the 1300s with the current hotel dating back to the 17th century. Over the years, guests have included Henry VIII and also Peter the Great – whose ghost is rumoured to still be hanging around (if you’re okay with that, book into room 3…). Located just 10 minutes walk from the railway station, there’s also free parking if you arrive by car.
11 Wharf Street, Godalming GU7 1NN: 01483 429969 / godalmingfleurie.com
A very special place for a very special meal, Fleurie was one of the success stories of the inaugural Surrey Life Food & Drinks Awards in 2013 when chef Mark Harrison was a deserving finalist. Run by Mark and his wife Jenny, they use locally sourced ingredients to produce, in their own words, ‘quality dining without the pretensions’. Tucked away in Wharf Street, the restaurant is only open on Friday and Saturday evenings (so make sure you book early).
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