In 2011, Godalming Town Council adopted its first policy for the according of a title of Dignity, which allows the Council the power to confer the title of “Honorary Freeman/Freewoman” of the Town of Godalming to persons of distinction who have demonstrated outstanding service and/or contribution to the wellbeing of the town, or exceptional feats of endeavour or achievement that bring credit to the community.

Nominees for this high honour will be members of the community who have demonstrated extensive and eminent service to the Civic Parish of Godalming and its local community; or who have made a significant contribution to the well-being of its residents such as; the preservation of its historic character or its natural or built environment. The nominee’s contribution to the Town will be seen to have been a wholly altruistic and a public-spirited desire to contribute to the benefit of the town and its residents. Exceptionally, a nominee may have achieved outstanding feats of endeavour or achievement which brings national or international credit to the community.

The Honorary Freeman Scheme Policy and criteria can be found here.


It is with immense sadness that Godalming Town Council announce the passing of Mrs Zadie Caudle, Honorary Freewomen of Godalming, aged 90 years, in the early hours of 28 February 2024 at her beloved home.

Zadie resided in Godalming for many, many years, and along with her late husband Peter, played an active part in the life of Godalming. Although the town has gone through many changes, it has retained its identity and inherent history to which Peter and Zadie contributed in many different ways. Peter and Zadie, throughout their lives, worked together to preserve the historic heart of the town, not only by ensuring that Church Street’s historic buildings were maintained to the highest standard, but also by nurturing new and small independent businesses.

As a leading opponent to the demolition of significant parts of Church Street for the construction of a relief road in the 1970’s, which led to the creation of the original Town Centre Conservation Area, Zadie continued to work for the protection of the town’s historic character. Although a private person, who did not seek the limelight, Zadie had a deep love of Godalming and its people, which through her philanthropic ethos had been of inestimable benefit to local organisations and community groups over the years and despite the loss of her life-long partner; Zadie unstintingly carried on and built upon this long commitment to ‘their’ town where they enjoyed their life together.

As part of her commitment to the town, Zadie created The Peter Caudle Memorial Trust, which supported many town initiatives that have and will continue to provide benefit to the community for many years to come. These initiatives included the reinstatement of the historical Boarden Bridge.  Without Zadie’s support it is unlikely the bridge would have ever been restored for public use. Zadie also supported the dedication of the ‘New’ ‘Godalming War Memorial, which for the first time commemorated all those from the town who died in 20th century conflicts. There were many other projects that Zadie generously supported including the creation of an outside learning space at The Burys Scout HQ and the internal refurbishment of the town’s iconic Pepperpot so it could be used as a learning centre for Godalming Museum’s work with the children of the town.

Zadie’s commitment to the town was not just preserving its past, but also providing for its future. This she achieved through improvements to the facilities at Broadwater Park Community Centre and works needed to convert it to become the Broadwater Youth Centre. She also gave generously to support the Godalming Community Store and enjoyed the opening night of the Wilfrid Noyce Centre that she had helped to fit out with state-of-the art kitchen facilities and tiered seating in the new ‘Caudle Hall’.

Zadie’s love of the town, in which she met and married her husband, shone out in every conversation she had, and, by her actions, she kept Peter’s memory alive with such good grace. Zadie Caudle more than demonstrated, through her actions, her outstanding commitment to the wellbeing of the town and its residents, and without doubt, made an exceptional personal contribution to the promotion, achievement, and delivery of community services.

On behalf of the Godalming Town Council, Mayor of Godalming Cllr Adam Duce said “It is with great sadness to hear of the passing of our Freewoman of Godalming, Zadie Caudle. What is so evident to see from all her work for the town is the community spirit that she embodied with her husband, Peter. The conviction to lead by example and invest in the infrastructure of the town to preserve its history but also anticipate its future needs is one that inspires me as the mayor and a local councillor.’

Zadie supported Godalming and was always aware that there were people less fortunate than her.  It was her wish that any donations are made to the Godalming and Villages Community Store.

In remembering Zadie, Mayor of Waverley Cllr Penny Rivers, recalled that “in times gone by I often saw Peter and Zadie together. They would walk their dogs in Church Street and the Burys and always took the time to say hello. They were well-known and greatly respected residents of Godalming.

When Peter died, Zadie wanted his name to live on, and she gave generously to Godalming. When elected to Surrey County Council, I was asked by residents to replace the long-broken, fenced-off Boarden Bridge – a much-loved bridge walked by children of all ages, and a beautiful feature of our town. It is with thanks to Zadie that we have a new, well-crafted wooden foot bridge and in May 2018 on a lovely sunny day Zadie cut the ribbon and opened the bridge for us all to enjoy.

It was a privilege to have known Zadie and I cherish the memories of her kindness and hospitality. Zadie enjoyed living in Godalming. She gave graciously and we are grateful.

Peter and Zadie are together again, and we give our thanks for their example, and we will continue to care for and conserve our town, the town they loved”.

Honorary Freewoman of Godalming Mrs Zadie Caudle

Zadie Caudle receiving the Honorary Freewoman Certificate from the Mayor of Godalming, Councillor Nick WilliamsIn a moving ceremony in the Council Chamber on Thursday 15 March 2019, Zadie Caudle was invited to and graciously accepted the title of Honorary Freewoman of Godalming Town and was honoured for her generosity and services to Godalming, its residents and the natural and built environment.

This honour was bestowed to her by the Mayor of Godalming and Zadie the first woman to be invited to do so by Godalming Town Council in modern times.

Zadie is honoured by the Town in her own right, though her honour encompasses the memory of her beloved husband Peter Caudle. Zadie created the Peter Caudle Memorial Trust which has supported many town initiatives that have or will provide benefit to the community for many years to come.

These initiatives include –

  • the reinstatement of the historical Boarden Bridge; once the only access across the River Wey, which had deteriorated to the point that it had to be closed for public safety (without Zadie’s support it is unlikely Boarden Bridge would have ever been restored for public use);
  • as one of the last generation with a direct memory of those who fought in the Great War, Zadie supported the dedication of the ‘New’ ‘Godalming War Memorial, which for the first time commemorates all those from the town who died in 20th century conflicts;
  • beautification of the town centre by being instrumental in the creation and design of Floral Godalming and providing the required infrastructure to launch the scheme;
  • supporting the patient reception area of the Mill Medical practice;
  • supporting The Burys Scout HQ to create an outside learning centre;
  • supporting the internal refurbishment of the historic and iconic Pepperpot.
  • supporting improvements to the communal facilities at Broadwater Park Community Centre;
  • providing a public bench for people to enjoy the beauty of Church Street and heritage bollards to protect the listed iron stones;
  • the provision of a state of the art kitchen in the newly refurbished Wilfrid Noyce Centre and retractable tiered seating, which now provides a much sought after and popular modern community facility;
  • supporting the renovation of the Cellar Café

To read Zadie’s complete citation please click here.

Honorary Freeman of Godalming Mr John Young (Deceased 2020)

John Young became the first Honorary Freeman of Godalming Town and was honoured for his outstanding contribution to Godalming Community Life on 3 May 2012.

John Young was born in Station Road, Farncombe over eighty years ago but lived nearly all of his life in Victoria Road, Godalming, in the home originally belonging to his grandparents.

John’s first job after leaving school was to drive the van for Godalming Laundry, his feet barely reaching the pedals.  He then started in the building trade and ended a long career project managing commercial building and refurbishment works.

It was John’s love of Godalming, the depth and detail of his knowledge of the history and fabric of the town that was truly staggering.  There wasn’t a drain, not a natural spring trickling under our feet that escaped inclusion in John’s meticulous records. This dedicated, scholarly attention to detail made him an invaluable contributor to the work of Godalming Museum.  He worked as a librarian there on Tuesday afternoons for over twenty years. One volunteer remarked:  “When a visitor arrives with a query it is always with great delight that I tell them to go upstairs to the library, where John will certainly be able to help them, using his considerable knowledge and librarian skills to find the answer.”

John used his knowledge and skills as a professional builder to voluntarily project manage the 1998 and 2008-09 museum refurbishments.  He also created the Lutyens style decorative brick pavement in the Arts and Craft gallery in 1998.

As an active member of the Godalming Trust he did everything he could to ensure that Godalming’s heritage was protected and the environmental schemes appropriate.  John attended Town Council planning meetings for 50 years, missing only a handful over all that time.  He was an enormous help to Waverley Borough Council officers and members on planning matters affecting the town, most recently the hydrology and working history of the Key site.

He was an active member of many local organisations including the Surrey Postcard Club and had an amazing collection of 30,000 postcards and 1000 slides.  He regularly gave highly acclaimed talks to groups and schools.  John was a natural communicator and could hold a class of children in the palm of his hand. He put together a slide show on Jack Phillips and the Titanic in preparation for the centenary of the sinking of the ship in 2012.   It was largely through John’s long-term support that the Jack Phillip’s memorial garden was refurbished.

John was also a gifted photographer and continued to chronicle the life of our town, with a keen understanding of history in the making and the need to pass this on to the next generation.

John made a truly outstanding contribution to our community life. John was a much loved and well-known resident of this town. He was the kindest neighbour, a modest, charming and gentle man who was, for many, simply “Mr Godalming”.

Zadie Caudle & John Young - Honorary Freewoman and Honorary Freeman of Godalming - April 2019
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