Starting as a Saxon village, Godalming established itself as a flourishing community by the time of the Domesday book, somewhere in 1086. It had a population of around 400 people back then. It might seem like a pretty small community, but the standard of living of the people of Godalming even at that time was similar to that of any large village.
In 1806, the king was the owner of the manor of Godalming. Later, the Lord of Manor was shifted to the Bishop of Salisbury during the Middle Ages. The Lord of the Manor was allowed and given the right in 1300 to hold a weekly market in the village of Godalming. An annual fair was also allowed to be held at the same time. The fair was held to attract sellers and buyers from nearby areas.
During the medieval times, Godalming turned into a busy little town. Making wool was the main industry in Godalming at that time and hence, was the only way of earning money. The wool was fulled once it was woven by wooden hammers by the watermills. Godalming also had a flourishing leather industry at about the same time.
The 16th century saw the wool industry in Godalming flourishing by leaps and bounds. This made the town prosperous. Godalming was made a borough in 1575 by Queen Elizabeth I.
During the early 17th century, almshouses were built in Godalming by the money left in the will of Richard Wyatt. These almshouses, which later came to be known as Wyatt almshouses, were built in 1622.
The wool industry in Godalming began declining in the 17th century and the focus of the industry shifted from Godalming to northern parts of England. This put the small town in quite some hardships. The town recovered in the 18th century when it became noted for its stockings making industry.
Godalming later had a flourishing paper making industry in the 17th century. It was also an important stopping point for stagecoaches in the 18th century traveling between London and Portsmouth. The Town Bridge was built in 1782.
During 1801, the town had a population of just over 3,400 people. The town grew rapidly in the 19th century and by 1851, the population of Godalming had grown to over 6,500 people.
In 1814, the Town Hall was built underneath which markets stalls used to stand. The streets were lighted and paved in 1825 under an Improvement Act. Gas light reached Godalming in 1836 and it became the first town to get electricity in 1849.
The old industries of paper making and tanning died out. In 1975, the Godalming College was opened. The population of Godalming today is over 21,000 people. It is one of the most famous tourist spots in Surrey with all the facilities of a modern town. The town might be small, but it has the grandeur of a big one.