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Living in Godalming: The Local Area Guide

Godalming, Surrey, is a historic market town and civil parish in the South-East of England. Between Portsmouth and London, and near to Guildford, it is a popular place to live with commuters and is well known for its deep woods, rolling hills and breathtaking, tranquil beauty. The quality of life on offer is very high, and it is one of the most desirable property hotspots in the UK.

The town has been an important hub since before the Norman invasion. In the 9th century, King Alfred the Great gifted the town to his nephew in his will, and following the conquest of 1066, it became an important trading town due to its closeness to London.

Its economy has been remarkably adaptable over the centuries. For a long time it relied heavily on the wool trade but when this began to falter, the town began paper manufacturing, with some success. Quarrying was also a big employer, and with its varied industries and proximity to London, Godalming had then grew to be one stage larger than even Guildford.

Its rich history is visible even today; with nearly 140 listed buildings dotting the town's streets and beautiful architecture abounding. One of the more significant buildings in the town is the Red House, designed by the famed architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. There are also many traditional English churches on show.

Godalming has been the birthplace and home of many significant figures, including the writer Aldous Huxley and the musician Peter Gabriel, of Genesis fame.


As of the 2011 census there were just under 22,000 people living in Godalming.

The town has an unusually well-off social grade profile, thanks to its popularity with commuters. When categorised by the occupation of the main household earner, more than 40% of households belong to social grade AB. This is enormously high, especially when compared to this figure for the rate of England as a whole: 23%. 30% of households belong to grade C1, leaving less than a third in grades C2 and DE. For the country as a whole, nearly half of households are in the lower two grades.

The town's employment rate is very high too. Just 6.6% of people are on some form of benefit - half the rate for the rest of the country, while only 1.1% of people are claiming Jobseeker's Allowance. Home ownership is also very high - more than 70% of households are owner occupied, nearly 10% higher than the national rate. 37.7% of households are owned outright with no mortgage, and only 10.4% are privately rented. Social housing takes up just 12.5% of the total. Like most rural areas in England, it has a slightly above average mean age of 41.5. Around a fifth of people in Godalming are of pensionable age.


Godalming has some fantastic schools of differing faiths and approaches. Its primary schools are all co-educational, and there are 10 run by the state. Most of these achieve excellent results, and feed into the town's two state secondary schools which are Rodborough Technology College and Broadwater School. Many pupils choose to go to a further educational college after the age of 16, and for this, Godalming College is a popular choice. It has consistently achieved excellent results and is one of the county's top performing colleges.

There are also three independent schools in the town. The most well-known is Charterhouse School, and the other two are Prior's Field School and St Hilary's School.


Godalming is not just a commuter favourite for its aesthetic beauty and peaceful atmosphere, but also offers excellent transport links. The railway station is on the Portsmouth Direct Line and offers a swift and direct journey to London Waterloo in one direction, and Portsmouth in the other.

For motorists it is also well placed. Major trunk roads which link to Guildford, Winchester, Brighton and London include the A3, the A31 and the A281.

Amenities and shopping

Godalming remains a market town, and every Friday local producers offer some fantastic high-quality meat, vegetables, cheeses and other goods. Throughout the town there are a number of small boutiques and shops offering antiques, gifts, books, jewellery and some beautiful artisan goods. Godalming also has a good selection of places to eat and drink including cafes and tearooms, plenty of pubs and bars and some very good restaurants.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact

p>All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith

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