He was the son of the Coroner, Charles James Woods, the first Town Clerk of Godalming, who lived in Hart's Lane (now Mint Street), and later at The Square in the High Street, and who was himself the son of a Godalming Solicitor, Henry Meale Woods (1776-1841). Percy was educated at Cheltenham College. In the 1861 census he was a solicitor's managing clerk. In 1863 he obtained a nomination to the Admiralty, and in 1871 he was a clerk in H.M.Admiralty living at Stoke, Guildford. He was transferred in 1880 to the Treasury.
In 1881 he married the daughter of Canon Trimmer, Rector of Holy Trinity and St Mary's Guildford, Helen Marian. In 1881 he was an assistant accountant in H.M.Treasury living in Clapham. They had two daughters, but his wife died in 1888 and he was left with two young children. He moved to Bromley in Kent and retired from the Treasury in 1902. In that year he was awarded the C.B. at the same time as his elder brother, Henry Woods, of the Royal Yacht.
He was a very generous donor to Godalming: the Mayoral chair was presented by him in 1908, and a silver bowl in memory of Queen Victoria. He also made many gifts to the museum.
In 1914 he collaborated with Mr E.W.Swanton, curator of the Haslemere Museum, in the publication of Bygone Haslemere, a book which deals exhaustively with the history of the town.
For 22 years he was a member of the Surrey Archaeological Society, and served on its council. He contributed many articles to the Proceedings of the Society, and acted as Hon. Secretary for the Guildford district. He was a foundation member, on the committee, and an ardent worker for the Surrey Record Society.
He died at in 1922 at "Sylvan", Epsom Road, Guildford and was buried in the Old Cemetery in Godalming.
No one knew more than he about old Godalming. He compiled a history of the families and properties in the Godalming area. His handwritten notes and transcripts of early deeds and documents from the 14th century, topographical and genealogical, along with documents and pictures are in two series. The 'Hundred' series consists of 21 bound volumes covering the history of the towns and villages. The 'Collection' series of manuscripts consists of 100 in number of which 54 are bound in 38 volumes, and others are unbound or in boxes. He left deeds of which there are 280, some of which are on Access to Archives (A2A) web site. These were bequeathed to the town by the family, and are a unique historical record, and the volumes are currently being digitalized.
The library in the museum is named after him, and there is a picture of Percy Woods on the wall in the library.
Godalming Museum © 2007