Church of St Peter & St Paul, Godalming

Church of St. Peter and St. Paul

The church viewed from the churchyard
Denomination Church of England
Churchmanship Broad Church
Dedication Saint Peter and Saint Paul
Parish Godalming
Deanery Godalming
Archdeaconry Surrey
Diocese Guildford
Province Canterbury
Vicar(s) Rev'd Keith Roberts[1]
Canon(s) Rev. Canon Mervyn Roberts

Coordinates: 51°11′13″N 0°36′57″W / 51.1870°N 0.6159°W / 51.1870; -0.6159

The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Godalming, Surrey, England is a Church of England parish church. The parish is mostly urban and excludes rural outskirts, and has another church, St Mark's, in which the joint clergy provide less formal and family services.

The church building replaced in about 1100 (after the Norman Conquest) an early Anglo-Saxon church on the site and is the settlement's oldest building, set on the town centre thoroughfare Church Street, in the urban part of the market town that doubles as a commuter and retirement town. The building's core is made from the local type of hard sandstone, Bargate stone from the nearby Greensand Ridge which the town climbs on both sides of the River Wey. The town's central parkland adjoins that is much of the original Lammas land. The church is in the highest (Grade I) architectural category and has two integrated medieval chapels.

Social history


A church has stood on the site of Saint Peter and Saint Paul since at least the mid-ninth century. The church contains carved stones which have been dated to circa 820-840 and a few Anglo Saxon remnants survive in the present structure, which was largely rebuilt in the 12th century.[2] In 1086, the Domesday Book recorded that Ranulf Flambard, justiciar of William Rufus, held Godalming church.[3]

The lammas land complemented a substantial glebe in the parish to provide for a well-endowed building in the Middle Ages.

The church in the European wars of religion and English Civil War

Godalming's vicar at the time of the end of the reign of Charles I was Dr. Andrews, whose Calvinistic parishioners petitioned against him in 1640.[3] This group would welcome preacher Thomas Edwards who in this age of horseback or horse and cart took to coming to the town (on the Portsmouth Road) as one of his main audiences three or four times per week from London during the 1640s.[4]

The area thus saw a diversity of leading clergy due to the landowning here of Salisbury Cathedral and was a byword for piety and purity according to a proverb of the 17th century:

He that shall say well, do well, and think well in mind,
Shall as soon come to heaven, as they that dwell at Godalming.[5]

The rectory, considered here a manor, was not owned by the church, so its lay owner appointed a vicar, in 1066 this was Ulmaer, who held it under Edward the Confessor. Save for 11 years of seizure under the governments of Cromwell it was held by the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury Cathedral between 1128 and 1846. In that year the Ecclesiastical Commissioners took charge of it and it was sold about 1860 to John Simmonds, who devised it to Mr J. Whateley Simmonds.[3]

Architectural history

Church interior

Built during Anglo-Saxon and early Norman periods, the structure has been proven in ecclesiastical records to have been a redevelopment of an Anglo-Saxon church:[3]

The nucleus around which it has grown lies in the centre, the eastern half of the nave representing the simple aisleless nave of the pre-Conquest church, and the central tower its short, square chancel. This would give a nave of about 32 ft. by 20 ft.; the chancel...being 16 ft. 6 in. wide and in length originally about a foot longer. This Saxon church had walls averaging 3 ft. in thickness, and disproportionately lofty—about 25 ft.—as was commonly the case in work of this period...
About the year 1100 the primitive church received its first enlargement, in the form of a long chancel (about 33 ft. 3 in. by 17 ft. 3 in.), a low tower being raised upon the gabled walls of the original chancel, and the eastern wall thickened by about a foot on the western side, an arch of two plain orders, with chamfered imposts, being pierced through it. This arch still exists, but in 1879 it was lifted up on higher piers...

In the thirteenth century, the cruciform church of the Norman England was converted into a rectangle by the construction of the north and south chapels and widened nave aisles. An original arch was raised as described above. In the same century the magnificent oak-timbered spire was constructed, which before 1911 was clad in lead as it remains.[2]

Further building work followed in subsequent centuries, particularly in the 14th century. The nave was lengthened and the aisles were extended westwards and widened in the 19th century, and the 20th century saw the construction of a porch in 1911 and vestries in 1925.[3][6][2]

The structure gained listed status in 1947 and is classed as Grade I.[2]


The church is open during daylight for visiting, a coffee is served and a member of the clergy is available at 11.00 a.m. on Tuesdays. One hour later a Holy Communion providing the only weekday service in this building of the two churches of the parish takes place. More choral and liturgical services occur before and during Easter and Christmas.[1]

Holy Communion 1662 version is said in 11/14th century east end of the church on Sunday at 8:00 a.m.[1]

The second, third and fourth Sundays of the month celebrate in choral Eucharist at 10.00 a.m.[1]

Chapels and paintings

In the two chapel sections are decorative mural paintings and a medieval painting of St John the Baptist.[2]


The church has interior monuments to Judeth Elyott, d.1615: a figure of lady kneeling before book on lectern in elaborately-decorated aedicule, the cornice surmounted by coat of arms, shields and end pedestals with skull and hour-glass, and tablet with skull and cross-bones underneath; Thomas and Joan Purvoche, d.1509, John Barker, d.1595 and John and Elizabeth Westbrook.[2]

Wall paintings on its window frames have been re-exposed in the 21st century.[6]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 St Peter and St Paul, Godalming Church of England
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1044546)". National Heritage List for England.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 H.E. Malden (editor) (1911). "Parishes: Godalming". A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 25 October 2013.Malden, Henry Elliot (1911). Wikisource link to The Victoria History of the County of Surrey, Volume 3. London: Constable and Company Limited. Wikisource.
  4. s:Edwards, Thomas (1599-1647) (DNB00)
  5. Additional Manuscript of the British Museum, 6167, fol. 167 cited by the compilers of the Victoria County History (1911)
  6. 1 2 History of the church (section)
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