image: Godalming Town Council


Ebenezer Gammon (1835-1908) moved to Godalming and established himself as a linen draper in the High Street. Ebenezer was born on the 5th August 1835 in Petersfield, son of Thomas and his first wife, Mary Shawyer. Ebenezer married Sarah Mounsten from Chard, Somerset, in 1860, and had three boys and four girls.

He became an apprentice in Braintree by 1851 and in the 1861 census is listed at 139, Long Lane, Bermondsey as a draper with one assistant. Ebenezer had been in partnership with Thomas Burberry as drapers, clothiers and general outfitters in Basingstoke but this was dissolved on the 4th August 1864. A partnership between Ebenezer and his brother, James Fielder Gammon (1842-1916), was made on the 5 August 1864 for 9 years as Gammon Brothers in Godalming.

James, in a deed is recorded as having been ‘incapacitated since 9th August 1869’, and the partnership was dissolved in c1871. James started a business in Guildford in 1878. He traded in North Street, and Market Street, with branches in Cobham, Woking, Ripley, Cranleigh, and in Kent. He married twice and had 14 children. His son, Frank, became a partner in 1919 with Sidney Clarke to form Clarke Gammon, estate agents in Guildford. After James’s death in 1916 the business was continued by his sons and grandsons until 1961, when it was taken over by Debenhams, who demolished the premises, and built a new store in Millbrook, Guildford.

In the 1871 census Ebenezer was living in Godalming High Street listed as a draper (master), with two draper’s assistants and three draper’s assistant apprentices, a governess, two servants, and an assistant milliner. The 1875 Godalming Directory lists him at nos. 2, 3, & 4 High Street. The 1881 census lists Ebenezer in Marshall Road with a private governess, one draper’s assistant and one domestic servant. The 1891 census lists him at Highfield House, Brighton Road, with sons, John and Charles, as draper’s assistants. In 1894 the Godalming Directory printed a Trade Advert for Gammon Bros, outfitters and tailors at Godalming and at Farncombe, Haslemere, Northchapel and Petersfield, with a full description of the household drapery and their ‘Beehive Boots’. The 1901 census lists him at Highfield, draper’s outfitter. The business traded under his name after his death in 1908. In June 1962 part of the premises were demolished, but the name Gammons of Godalming Ltd, retail draper, was listed at least until 1975 at 14 (originally no. 4), & 36 High Street .

Ebenezer died on the 17th July 1908. The Eashing Cemetery records he was a draper, aged 73, of Highfield, Godalming, His wife, Sarah died on the 26th April 1911, aged 78, at Highfield. They, and sons, John Mounsten Gammon (1863-1929), and Alfred James Gammon (1865-1938) and his wife, Beatrice, are buried in Eashing Cemetery.


Gammons shop in 1957

image: John Bennett

Ebenezer was buried on the 21st July, a service was held at the Congregational Church where Ebenezer worshipped, and had raised funds for the Octagon. The Surrey Advertiser reported the funeral as a “remarkable tribute of respect”. The Town Council acknowledged his service for about 26 years of which 17 or 18 were as an alderman (Ebenezer was Mayor in 1889-90, 1899-1900, and JP). There were wreaths from his friends and acquaintances among whom were Godalming and Farncombe Radical and Liberal Association, The Lay Preachers Association, along with the Town Council of the Borough of Godalming, and the Council School.

Godalming Museum © 2010