Godalming wandering

12 December 2023 by Chris Kempster

Godalming pepperpot high street george james architects

Godalming is a pretty little market town in Surrey located on the banks of the River Wey, which was once a thriving centre of papermaking. The town has an attractive high street, with a wonderful variety of shops, cafes and many traditional coach houses that are a treat to visit!

Kings Arms hotel godalming george james architects

Architecture in Godalming

Godalming town has a wonderful, unique character which is partly due to its many well persevered historical buildings, with about 125 listed buildings in the town itself there are many wonderful examples to enjoy when simply strolling through the streets.

You cannot miss the iconic, Georgian ‘Pepperpot’ which is situated on a triangle of land at the junction of the High Street and Church Lane. The building was originally used as the Town Hall, but is now available to hire for private functions. This Listed building gained its nickname due to its unusual elongated octagonal shape, which was reminiscent of the silver pepper pots of the era.

Flanking the Pepperpot are some great examples of black and white timber framed Tudor buildings on Church Street, from which you can meander down to the Church of St Peter & St Paul, with its dramatically tall spire you can see from afar. 

At the other end of the High Street, you will find the grand, Kings Arms & Royal Hotel. The handsome red brick, Listed building has an attractive Georgian frontage, although there are earlier aspects of the building. The interior has been renovated, but keeps the original character of this stunning period building. Have a look out for the plaque on the front of the hotel which commemorates Tsar Peter the Great’s stay here, where he allegedly left without paying his bill!

Godalming canals george james architects

To do in Godalming

Aside from taking in the charm of the town and the architectural gems, if you have time then it is well worth getting to the Godalming Museum which tells the story of the town and the surrounding area. We particularly enjoyed the collection focused on Gertrude Jekyll, the renowned landscape designer who frequently worked in the area and often collaborated with our much admired, arts and crafts architect Sir Edwin Lutyens (see our blog about Goddards). They also have a rotating display of work by members of the Surrey Guild of Craftsmen, showcasing local talent in the arts.

Located between the Church and the River you can find the Phillips Memorial Cloister, within the Phillips Memorial Park. The Grade II Listed building was designed by Hugh Thackerary Turner and built in 1913 as a memorial to John George Philips, a native to the town who was Chief Wireless Operator of the ill-fated SS Titanic.

The River Wey offers a scenic way to explore the local area, with plenty of opportunities to hire a variety of vessels from places such as Farncombe Boat House , from rowing boats up to narrow boats. The river is also suitable for kayaking, paddleboarding or canoeing, but do be warned that you need a license before you launch, you can find more details on this and where to book your small craft can be found here.

Thyme for Tea Godalming High Street George James Architects

Eat & Drink in Godalming

There are many options throughout the town for you to stop for a meal or refreshment. At the centre of town is the grand Kings Arms & Royal Hotel, where you can enjoy a classic afternoon tea in the historic surroundings. 

Just off the high street is The Rose & Crown, a charming Tudor, timber framed public house, which has recently had a renovation and now offers a more modern menu, with a vibrant cocktail garden and music evenings, making it a perfect spot to hangout out in if you are not in a hurry.

A mile or so out of the town is the Stag on the River. A charming, historic riverside pub makes a great stop along the circular river walk between Godlaming and Eashing.

If you are just looking for a quick bite to eat, we recommend heading to the cosy Antiques Café where they serve great coffee alongside really delicious pastries and sandwiches, including a good selection of vegan options. Thyme for Tea on Church Street in the center of town is a cute, traditional café which is perfect for your pots of tea and homemade cakes. 

Godalming surrounding George James Architects

Local Area across Surrey

There are so many options for things to do in the local area, here are just a few that we have recently visited and enjoyed. The Winkworth Arboretum is a wonderful place set around a large lake with over 1,000 species of trees and shrubs, creating a stunning place to visit throughout the seasons and for us, as the gardens are also dog friendly, it makes it is a perfect place to explore with Archi. The arboretum was originally the brainchild of Dr Wilfred Fox in the early 20th century, and bequeathed to the National Trust who have built on his original vision.

Oakhurst Cottage is another National Trust property near Godalming, a pretty 16th century timber framed cottage now offers an insight into domestic life of the mid 19th century. It is currently only open for pre booked visits, but we did enjoy the walk from here to Winkworth Arboretum via Oakhurst. 

Witley and Milford Common, another National Trust managed area, with well managed paths across the countryside and well-behaved dogs welcome (Archi was in heaven) it is a beautiful spot for soaking up the joys of the Surrey landscape.

Munstead Wood, the private home of Gertrude Jekyll, the arts and crafts home which was designed by her long term collaborator Sir Edwin Lutyens. The property had been in private ownership, but recently purchased by National Trust and is currently undergoing renovation work before it opens to the public, so unfortunately at this time it is only possible to view from the outside. This property does however highlights what drew us to the area, stunning countryside dotted with inspiring examples of Surrey style, arts and crafts properties.


I do hope you have enjoyed my suggestions of places to visit in and around Godalming, you might also like to read pervious articles about other local destinations such Guildford, FarnhamPetworthChichester and Petersfield

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