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The Andrews Pages Picture Gallery : Godalming, Surrey
A selection of photographs and postcards of a Surrey country town
 
Godalming Bridge & Congregational Church


Three early postcards of Godalming's Town Bridge, all showing an eighteenth century property on the river bank and the Congregational Church on the opposite side of Bridge Road, then Bridge Street. The image above in late nineteenth century, the second picture was taken in 1907 and the third postcard was printed before 1918.

Harold Pitt mentioned who used to live in the house, having come over the bridge from Bridge Road: "on the left was a house by the water front, one could look out of the windows and see the river flowing by. This house was occupied by Miss Octavia Marshall, a member of a very prominent Godalming family"[1]. The Marshalls were timber merchants, a product that was indispensable for the local tanning industry, and their business address was at the Wharf. Old maps show their garden and part of the Wharf connecting to each other.

Their large old house on the left bank of the river was "The Bridge", and it was home to several generations of the Marshall family for well over a hundred years[2]. This would have been where George and Sarah Marshall brought up their children before building Broadwater and was, in turn, where their eldest surviving son Murray and his wife Eliza brought up theirs. Octavia was their youngest daughter, although not their youngest child.

Confusingly, there was also a property called "Bridge House" in Bridge Street; Richard Balchin was there in 1867[3] and afterwards it became the home of Alderman Rea, a Magistrate, Tanner and Town Mayor, who lived at "Bridge House" with his family for a number of years[4]. There was and still is also property called "Bridge Cottage". All three houses were a few doors from each other.

The Congregationalists or Independents had been in Godalming since 1715 according to two twentieth century directories[5]. Godalming's Congregational church, which replaced the Independent (Ebenezer) Chapel in Hart's Lane (now Mint Street), was "erected by voluntary subscriptions in 1869, at a cost of about £3,660, is a handsome structure, in the Early Decorated Gothic style, and built of native rubble stone, with Bath stone facings : the tower with spire is 85 feet in extreme height[6]".

The rubble stone referred to is Bargate Rock, or Bargate Stone as it is more usually called these days, and is a sandstone found in the Godalming and Guildford area of South West Surrey. It was used in "the erection of churches and other public buildings[6]" in the town. It is usually extremely hard but is sometimes friable.



The church was registered to solemnize marriages on 4 March 1869[7]. There is what may seem to be a slightly amusing story about a marriage at the former chapel a couple of years earlier, but it relates to rules applying to marriages in Nonconformist churches after Civil Registration was introduced in 1837. Despite the Independent Chapel in Godalming being registered for solemnizing marriages in 1844, the Superintendent Registrar was required to attend[8].

In 1867 Rev. T. Davies, minister of what was then the Ebenezer Chapel, was set to marry a Farncombe lady to a gentleman "from a distance", but the registrar did not appear. The service began, but there was still no registrar. Without his presence the marriage would have been illegal. So the minister had to stop the wedding and the couple returned a few days later and were finally married[9].

Anniversary services were held the year after the Bridge Street church opened; a Dr Halley of London preached to large congregations at the main services in the morning and evening, whilst others delivered addresses. The choir sang "select pieces" and a collection was made after each service in aid of the organ fund[10]. Rev. Jabez Marshall was the first minister of the new church[11].

The Congregationalists wished to provide more for the town that being just a place of worship and foundation stones for new Sunday Schools and classrooms were laid by Miss Hallam of Llanaway House on 18 July 1883[12]; the schoolroom, with room for 700 children, and the mission hall were erected in 1884. In 1891 there were 500 sittings and Rev. A. J. Crighton was the minister[13]. He was succeeded in 1893 by the Rev. F. R. Goodfellow, formerly of Matlock Bank,[14] who was the pastor here for seven years. His retirement was caused by ill-heath[15].


Winter scene, before 1918.


After the Goodfellows' departure The Manse seems to have been let for a while to a house decorator and his family. Joseph Harding advertised wallpaper for sale whilst his daughter set up a girls' school with a preparatory department for boys. Her advertisements also stated that "delicate and backward children are specially care for. Drawing lessons given to private pupils"[16]. Rev. Frank W. Collyer was appointed pastor in 1913 and lived at The Manse with his family[17]. He had formerly lived in Johannesburg and had been chaplain of the Transvaal Volunteers. Rev. Collyer's son, Trooper F. Howard Collyer died of wounds in October 1915, having been injured in the May[18]. Around the same time Harry H. Evans was ordained as co-pastor[19].


Enlargement of the sepia card above, showing - from the left - the Congregational Church, The Manse and the distinctive
polygonal roof of the rear section of the mission room. The Manse was next to the road; today it would be in
the grounds of the local library.


The Bridge was demolished in August 1959 and the church spire was also removed around the same time[20]. The Bridge was replaced by an office block (named Bridge House, now on Flambard Way) and the church (by then the United Reformed Church) closed about 1978. After this the building was first used by a local auctioneer, then became a restaurant and it is now a retail outlet (2019).


1. "Godalming Bridge and Congregational Church" published by F. Frith & Co. Ltd., Reigate No.26148. Not posted. Original photograph dates from before 1895.
2. "The River Wey, Godalming". Valentine's Series. No. 60100 Published in 1907. Not posted.
3. and 4. "Godalming. Congregational Church and Bridge". Published by Craddock, Stationer, Godalming [before 1918]. Not used.
Postcards in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References:

[1] Harold Pitt mentions Miss Marshall in "Memories of Farncombe and Godalming" (1981), The Godalming Trust.

[2] The Bridge was recorded as the name of this house in some census returns (apart from 1901 when the Enumerator called it Bridge House), the 1939 Register, a number of probate records of the Marshall family and nineteenth and twentieth century trade directories.

[3] "Post Office Directory of Surrey", 1867.

[4] There is more about Thomas Rea and his tannery on Mill Lane, Fire at Rea and Fisher's Oak Bark Tannery, 7 March 1905 and View from Holloway Hill, Godalming, about 1900

[5] Kelly's Directories of 1913 and 1924 state that the Congregational Chapel was founded in 1715.

[6] "Post Office Directory of Godalming", 1878. "Kelly's Directory of Surrey", 1891 also gives the year as 1869.

[7] "The London Gazette", 12 March 1869. "NOTICE is hereby given, that a separate building, named the Congregational Church, situate at the foot of Bridge-street, in the parish of Godalming, in the county of Surrey, in the district of Guildford, being a building certified according to law as a place of religious worship, was, on the 4th day of March, 1869, duly registered for solemnizing marriages therein, pursuant to the Act of 6th and 7th Wm. IV., cap. 85, being substituted for the building-known as Ebenezer Chapel, in Hart's-lane, Godalming aforesaid, now disused". The Ebenezer Chapel did not remain disused as it was subsequently sold to the Wesleyans and was re-opened by them on Tuesday, 21 Dec 1869.

[8] "The London Gazette", 30 July 1844. "NOTICE is hereby given, that a separate building, named Ebenezer Chapel, situated at Godalming, in the parish of Godalming, in the county of Surrey, in the district of the Guildford union, being a building certified according to law as a place of religious worship, was, on the 27th day of July 1844, duly registered for solemnizing marriages therein, ... this 27th day of July 1844".

[9] "Surrey Advertiser", 6 April 1867.

[10] "ibid", 5 November 1870. They held similar celebrations the previous year.

[11] Information from various census returns. Jabez Marshall was born in Northampton and lived in Marshall Road in 1871. By 1891 the family had moved to Frith Hill House and he was described as both the Minister and a Schoolmaster. He was still in Godalming ten years later.

[12] "West Surrey Times", 14 July 1883.

[13] "Kelly's Directory of Surrey", 1891.

[14] "West Surrey Times", 8 July 1893. In 1891 Robert Goodfellow was boarding with Mrs. Nicholson at Bridge House in Matlock. See the census entry in another part of this site | Pastors of Matlock Congregational Church.

[15] "ibid", 29 September 1900. Since it was built the church had only had four pastors. Godalming's parish church had four vicars in the same period.

[16] Information from the 1901 census, "West Surrey Times", 30 August 1901 and "West Surrey Times", West Surrey Times 15 July 1905.

[17] "West Sussex Gazette", 11 June 1914.Surrey Mirror 12 September 1913. Rev. Collyer moved to Lavender Hill and passed away in 1918.

[18] "Surrey Advertiser", 13 October 1915. Death of Trooper Collyer, aged about 25.

[19] "Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette", 9 October 1915.

[20] Janaway, John "The Story of Godalming" (1983) Local Heritage Books, Newbury ISBN 1 86368005 4. The Surrey History Centre gives the date for demolition as August 1959.



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