The knitting Gallery in Godalming Museum
Whereas the Towne of Godalminge in the County of Surry is an Auncyent clothinge Towne
and the Inhabitants thereof of long tyme and beyond the memory of any man to
the contrary have been principally ymployed in the making, dying,
fulling and dressing of Woollen Cloth...
Ordinances and Constitutions of Godalming, 1620
There is a woolsack on Godalming's seal and in the centre of its coat of arms, which also includes a ram and shears. From medieval times, the area was known for its woollen cloth. John Aubrey (1626-97) noted "this town is eminent for clothing, the most of any place in this county. Here they make mix'd kersies, and blue kersies for the Canaries, which for their colour are not equalled by any in England".
From the 17th century Godalming became a centre of the framework knitting industry. Framework knitters worked long hours in workshops and factories producing stockings in wool, silk and, from the 1 760s, cotton. The work was proverbially ill-paid, so that the phrase 'as poor as a stockinger' became common. In 1735 Mary Monger of Godaiming left money to apprentice her grandsons "to a handycraft, except that of framework knitter".
A specialism in 'Fleecy and Segovia' hosiery saw the town through tough times in the early 19th century until, with the establishment of Pitcher's (later Jaeger's) and Paine's knitting factories, the industry flourished again. The last knitting factory left Godaiming in 1990.
Going back in time
For enlargements, click images
Sheep in the High Street in 1901
Return to Industrial GodalmingGodalmings Industrial Past