Godalming in 1842
Godalming is in the hundred of Godalming, about 4 miles south-south-west of Guildford, on the Portsmouth road. The area of the parish is 8,470 acres. The manor of Godalming was bequeathed by Alfred the Great to his nephew Ethelwald, and on his revolt, or death (A.D. 905), reverted to the crown, to which it belonged at the time of Domesday Survey, in which it is called Godelminge.
The town is of little historical interest. It was in 1724 the scene of a gross imposture by one Mary Toft, a woman who professed to be delivered of 17 young rabbits. The matter excited great attention ; and numerous pamphlets, engravings, and squibs were published on the occasion.
The town is situated in a valley amid the green-sand hills, on the south bank of the Wey, which is navigable up to the town. The principal street is about three-quarters of a mile long. The suburb of Mead-row and the village of Ferncombe on the north-east are nearly united to the town by intervening buildings. There is a brick bridge over the Wey. The town is paved and lighted : the houses are in general small and of mean appearance.
The church lies back from the High Street, not far from the river; it is a cruciform church, having a low tower rising from the intersection, surmounted with an ordinary spire of timber covered with lead. There are some portions of early English architecture, and some curious windows of a later date. In it is a monumental tablet to the memory of the Rev. Owen Manning, the historian of the county, as well as a gravestone in the church-yard, where he was buried. There is a neat modern town-hall, and in the town and neighbourhood are some dissenting places of worship.
The population of the parish, in 1831, was 4,529. Godalming had formerly a flourishing manufacture of kerseys and other woollen cloths, but this is now decayed ; the manufacture of silk and worsted stockings, shirts, drawers, fleecy hosiery, and gloves is still carried on. There are several corn, paper, oil, and fulling mills near the town. Timber, planks, hoops, bark, flour, and paper are sent by the Wey to London. There is a market on Wednesday for corn, and another on Saturday for provisions, and there are two yearly fairs.
Godalming was made a corporate town by Queen Elizabeth. The limits of the borough are said to comprehend rather more than the present town, but are not exactly known ; the corporation has no jurisdiction, civil or criminal, and no property ; and the town was, before the Municipal Reform Act, lighted and watched under a local act unconnected with the corporation, and applicable to a very restricted district not exactly coincident with the borough. A more extended boundary has been recommended for the borough, which under the Municipal Reform Act has four aldermen and twelve councillors, and no commission of the peace.
The living is a vicarage, of the clear yearly value of £461, with a glebe-house, in the rural deanery of Stoke, the archdeaconry of Surrey, and the diocese of Winchester. There were, in 1833, one infant-school with 52 children of both sexes ; two national schools, with 207 children, namely, 109 boys and 98 girls ; two Lancasterian schools, with 270 children, 140 boys and 130 girls ; six other day-schools, with 225 children, namely, 137 boys and 88 girls ; and two Sunday-schools, with 184 children, namely, .53 boys and 131 girls.