A rich Home County town with plenty of class and country charm, which boasts some genuinely charismatic cafés and pubs, plus some unique shops. Lovely walking opportunities along the River Wey too.
Four meandering miles down the River Wey from Guildford, Godalming is a classically beautiful Surrey market town. It's been around since at least Saxon times, and even gets a shout out in the will of King Alfred the Great, who shuffled off this mortal coil back in 899. The market is still very much in operation, and the High Street and surrounding laneways are lined with quality shops. Godalming is also liberally sprinkled with restaurants, good pubs and cracking cafés, and it's a top spot for gourmands to get out and explore. Visually, the town's epicentre is a lovely little building known as the Pepperpot, which was once the town hall, at the crossroads of Church Street and the High Street. The River Wey runs past the town's doorstep, providing lovely walking along its banks. Historically, Godalming was the first town in Britain to get electricity, and more recently most of the town acquired free wireless internet access, thanks to a hub placed in the Pepperpot. It's also the one-time home of Mary Toft, the 'Rabbit Woman', who in 1726, for reasons best known to herself, managed to genuinely convince medical science that she'd given birth to rabbits. Other famous former residents include actors Terry Thomas, Terry Scott and Sam Worthington, singer Alvin Stardust, and Jack Phillips – chief wireless operator on board the Titanic. Famous posh public school Charterhouse, where Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks formed the core of Genesis, is nearby, and Alan Hansen is a local – although you don't need a professional pundit to point out why the town scores very highly in Britain's top places to live surveys.
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Follow the Old Portsmouth Road (or River Wey) southwest from Guildford. Godalming is also on the main train line running between Portsmouth and Waterloo, London.