Thursday, 11 March 2010

Living on the land of the clan of Godhelm

The deeply fragrant and very lovely Katyboo not so long ago wrote a post about Leicester and made it sound deeply fragrant and (almost) lovely. It inspired me to do the same as I live close to a small town that has lots of lovely architecture that you all ought to see.  Sadly I know very little about practically all the buildings so am going to be a useless tour guide but, hey, you're not paying anything for this so you, heckling at the back, shut up in them shoes, yeah?

First off, to save me having to do much (or, in fact, any) research into its history, I've blatantly cut and pasted this from some website or other:

"Godalming was first recognised as a settlement back in Saxon times when it was given its name which means "of the family or clan of Godhelm". The town grew rapidly and is documented in the Domesday book with the industries provided by watermills creating its wealth and prosperity.

In the 13th century Godalming became the property of the See of Salisbury with a thriving market and annual fair. During medieval times, further industries prospered with the town being recognised as a major manufacturer of woollen cloth, paper and leather. Godalming is still famous for knitwear today.

In 1764 trade in Godalming was greatly enhanced with the opening of the Godalming Navigation which connected the town to the Wey Navigation at Guildford. Although trade ceased many years ago, Godalming Wharf is today very popular with canal boats as it is the most southerly navigable point on the main canal and river network of England.

By 1881, Godalming had found itself well and truly placed in the history books, as it became the first town in the world to have a Public Electricity Supply.

By the 1950's most of the industries which had kept the town afloat for many years were in decline, or had disappeared altogether. However, the interesting and lengthy history of Godalming is still evident to see in its range of buildings and architecture, including the 19th century town hall, nicknamed the Pepperpot due to it's unusual shape.

Today, Godalming is a prosperous commuter town for London and is twinned with both the towns of Joigny in France and Mayen in Germany."

I would pick holes with the statement that Godalming is famous for its knitwear ('pick holes' 'knitwear' - geddit?  Oh, please yourself....) as the Alan Paine factory (they made some nice jumpers and cardis, I believe) has long since gone to the Far East, but the stuff about the electricity's quite interesting, isn't it?  It isn't?  Oh well.

On to the pictures, then (don't forget you can click on any of them to make them bigger).  Although it was cold and v windy today, it was also very bright so I decided to walk into Godalming (I live about a mile and half outside it) and would take the camera and finally get round to taking pictures of the lovely buildings.

The Church of Saints Peter and Paul, and a quite gingerbready house next door which is a solicitors' office.

View down Church Street, towards the High Street.  This street and its buildings were used as a location in that execrable 2006 film 'The Holiday' with Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet and Jack Black.

This is our local! Dating from 1832, The Star does a vast range of real ales and ciders, plus they make a wicked burger.

I think this may have been a coaching inn once, as you can still see the gap the stagecoaches would go through.  It's now a gift shop and a rather fabulous (and pricey) antique jewellery shop.

This is a gorgeous building.  Most beaming on the front of these black and white Medieval houses is straight and perhaps some slight curves (see the coaching inn above) but this is loads of circles.

This is the Pepperpot, built in 1814, which used to be Godalming's Town Hall.  I can't believe I forgot to take a picture of it today, so I've downloaded this from the Dover Directory website.  I hope they don't mind.

This fabulous jetted Medieval building also has a very tall gap through which coaches could pass, so this was probably an Inn as well.  There were originally 84 pubs/inns/hostelries in Godalming so it could well have been. I have just looked it up and, interestingly, it used to be the White Hart Inn, dates from the 16th century and it is reputed that Dick Turpin stayed overnight!

The bank is 16th/17th century but I'm more taken by the black warehouse loading bays next door - turns out it used to be a wool merchant's house and the hoist to load the bales of wool is still there somewhere.

This is just lovely.  I don't know the date but I think it must be late 17th century because the brickwork on this obviously Flemish-inspired building is very similar to the next building pictured, which is dated 1663.

The windows in this building look like lace - it's just beautiful.  The white oval plaque says 1663.


This is Crown Court, although I'm not sure why.

There are other, plainer but still lovely buildings down the High Street.  This looks very Georgian to me.

The biggest pub and hotel in the Town is the King's Arms which dates from 1753.  Its main claim to fame is that Czar Peter the Great stayed overnight here in 1798.

There's a plaque to commemorate this.

I just wanted to put this in - it's Knit Along, the wool shop that is a relic from the days of Miss Marple which is sadly now closing.

Next to the wool shop is this building which, in the 1980s, housed a recording studio where I've recorded.  I think it's now an accountants, but it looks like it was originally another wool merchant's place, what with the big double doors all over the front.

There are plenty other buildings in the High Street and surrounding streets I could have photographed, but I had to get back for Roger the Boiler Man so he could make my house all warm again.  However, on my walk back I passed a couple of interesting houses:

Those of  you who enjoy a bit of Kevin McCloud and have good memories, may recall this house featuring on Grand Designs, way back in 2006.  Built by a couple of airline pilots to resemble a 1930s Art Deco house.  They said it was in Guildford, but it isn't.

This is a gorgeous little Victorian Gothic revival house, ideally situated right at the entrance of the municipal cemetery - this so appeals to the Buffy in me!

So there we are, that's a very brief trip round Godalming.  Hope you enjoyed it.


Kella said...

Thanks for the tour of your town, the historical architecture was all very interesting to read about, so thanks again for sharing.

I do remember the Grand Design house your pictured as well.

Anonymous said...

It is a stupendously pretty place. I do remember that Deco airline house! how bizarre. You have shamed me into roaming about with my camera on the next fine day, although my shots will not be half as beautiful and in focus as yours.

LittleBrownDog said...

Gosh, what a wonderfully interesting post. I'd no idea Godalming was so pretty - I kind of thought it must be filled with Cafe Neros and Starbucks and Estate Agents' windows, but it looks perfectly lovely. And I love that picture of the baskety sit-up-and-beg bike in front of the wool shop - it looks as though Miss Marple has just popped in for a ball of double knitting or perhaps some bamboo needles in a size 4 (although of course a) she'd never use bamboo and b) she'd doubtless already have about 10 pairs of size 4s.

I suppose Godalming must have been on a busy coaching route, like Chippenham near us, which was one of the main coaching stops on the Bath to London post route. Except, sadly, Chippenham isn't nearly so well preserved.

Really enjoyed this - beautiful photos, too (and thank you for stopping by on mine).

PS My word verification is sprop. Sounds like a verb for leaning your bike briefly against a wool-shop window. Well, to me it does.

OmegaMom said...

Sigh. All that history & interesting stuff. Nuttin' like that hereabouts; imagine an L.A. suburb picked up and dropped--strip malls and all--into the middle of Alaska.

Oh! We do have the Iditarod Museum! That's nice!

Anonymous said...

Godalming looks so pretty! I would love to live somewhere that looks like that!

But where I live in Canada, if a building was constructed in the 1930s, it's considered "historic". And then they tear it down. (Well, not so much any more, but often enough to annoy me.)

Mrs Jones said...

Kella - The Grand Designs house is sort of okay, but it's a bit out of place. The street where it is is full of large Victorian and Edwardian villas but it is a nice location. Needs repainting now though.

Katy - Yes, it is pretty but because I see it every day, it's easy to forget. TLH never notices at all until I make him look above the shop fronts. Guildford is also fantastic and I'll do that at some point too - it even has a castle which I'm ashamed to say I've never been in, even though I've lived in the area since 1967! Perhaps this will make me do it & I'll post about it... The pictures are only in focus because my camera does it for me, but it also makes all the buildings look like they're leaning back! Yes, more pictures from you, please, Missus.

LBD - don't be fooled, Godalming is just as filled with estate agents, coffee shops and charity shops as everywhere else, more's the pity (although, thankfully, we don't have a Starbucks, at least not yet). I couldn't believe my luck to see the old-timey bike parked outside the old-timey wool shop! I stopped in and the shelves had been picked clean. Such a shame. I don't think the inside has been touched since the 1950s - it still has a fireplace along one wall! It's now going to be a greengrocers, but as we also have a big Waitrose and even bigger Sainsbury's in town, he'll have severe competition. Still, at least it's not another charity shop. Godalming was on the main coaching route from London south, to either Portsmouth or Brighton and is about halfway (the A3 runs very close now).

OmegaMom - Ah, but you have mountains and lakes and unbelievably majestic natural scenery - I'd trade the nice buildings for some of that any day. Hope your mum's feeling better, BTW.

Pinklea - Ah, but you have mountains and lakes and unbelievably majestic natural scenery, etc., etc. I have relatives in Canadialand but they're over the other side in Toronto. I so want to see the Pacific North West. I was glued to the Olympics coverage not just for the brilliant (but mental) sports but for the jaw-dropping footage of mountains. Lovely.