History of Phillips Memorial Park


 In August 2011, it was announced that  the Phillips Memorial Park has been awarded five years' funding for restoration and enhancement works through the Parks for People programme, a joint grant scheme run by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund (BIG).

The grant offer is based on an overall projected cost of £441,700 (of which £335,000 represents the HLF grant, with £77,200 to be contributed by Waverley Borough Council and £29,500 as cash equivalent volunteer time).  The planned  restoration and improvement works over five years to July 2016 include:

  • Restoration of the Grade II Phillips Memorial Cloister in time for the centenary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic (completed in time for the formal re-opening on 15 April 2012)
  • Restoration of the associated planting, assisted by the Surrey Gardens Trust, with a scheme based on the original design by Gertrude Jekyll (completed)
  • Better information provision including new interpretative boards, improved web site and leaflets
  • Improved signposting (installed in December 2012)
  • Improved planting throughout the Park (ongoing)

Jack Phillips Memorial

  • Enhanced biodiversity, including meadow area and pond restoration (pond dug out February 2012)
  • Landscape enhancement, taking account of the important views over the Lammas Lands and the need for continuity of tree cover (tree removal, coppicing and replanting on-going over 5 years)
  • Access improvements, including installation of a raised boardwalk and addition of perches to provide resting points for users with impaired mobility
  • Seating improvements based on the original Arts and Crafts benches designed by Hugh Thackeray Turner
  • Development of two self-guided trials - one based on Jack Phillips life in Godalming and one Arts and Crafts Trail linking the Park with the Watts Gallery and Chapel in nearby Compton (Phillips Trail in progress)
  • Establishment of a volunteer group to help carry out work throughout the Phillips Memorial Park, with regular work parties during the week throughout the year and at weekends in winter
  • Training of park keepers, borough council staff and volunteers (on-going)
  • Workshops in old gardening and countryside management techniques including besom making, willow spilling, garden basket making, charcoal making and hedge laying
  • A series of events which led up to the 100th anniversary of the sinking These included a special exhibition in  Godalming Museum, plus a film show (A Night to Remember and two black and white silent newsreels from 1914 and 1917) and an Edwardian inspired picnic.

History of Phillips Memorial Park

The Phillips Memorial Park is named after John George (Jack) Phillips, who, as well as being a resident of Farncombe, was Chief Wireless Telegraphist on the RMS Titanic. Jack remained at his post sending out distress messages in Morse code, as the ship sank, after striking an iceberg, on 15 April 1912. He was one of the first people to use the new international emergency call sign SOS during an actual disaster, which he interspersed with the old Marconi-preferred version CQD. The Memorial Cloister, at the western end of the Park, was built in 1913, through public subscription, to commemorate his selfless act.

The Cloister was designed by Hugh Thackeray Turner (1850-1937), a local architect renowned as an exponent of the Arts and Crafts style, who also helped to found the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

The garden inside and around the Cloister was designed by Gertrude Jekyll, who is also well known for her work with Edward Lutyens, and for her book on old west Surrey (highlighting a way of life which was disappearing). The Cloister was created in 1913, by the Municipal Borough of Godalming, at a cost of £700, following the purchase of the surrounding land for £300 (which created the Phillips Memorial Gardens). The Cloister was opened on 15 April 1914. Today the Cloister exists in a slightly altered form, the southern wall (facing the Church) having been replaced with an open pergola structure in 1965.

In 1914, the grounds were laid out with paths, seats and fences, along with a variety of planting schemes. In 1922, Gertrude Jekyll and Thackeray Turner planted the two yews, still evident, either side of the War Memorial (which was designed by AR Powys, a business partner of Thackeray Turner).

Following representations to the Council in 1923, the bowling green was constructed at a cost of £170. This was let to the Godalming Bowling Club in 1924, and is now home to the Godalming and Farncombe Bowling Club.

In 1933, the then Lord of the Manor, the Rector of Saint Peter and Saint Paul Church, presented the Rectory Manor animal pound to the people of Godalming. This structure, made of Bargate stone, is a reminder of the days when free-roaming animals would have been impounded by the Lord of the Manor, and only released when a fine had been paid. The pound lies immediately opposite the Cloister, and part of one wall forms the boundary with Borough Road.

In 1965, the southern wall of the Cloister was taken down and replaced with an oak pergola, allowing greater views of the interior of the Cloister.

In 1993, Waverley Borough Council, together with the Surrey Gardens Trust, undertook partial restoration of the Cloister and the planting within it, including restoring the ornamental water feature in the centre of the Cloister courtyard, which in the 1980s had been filled with earth.

In July 2010, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced that a development phase grant had been awarded to assist with the production of a full application through the Parks for People grants programme. This second stage application was submitted in February 2011.

In July 2011, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund further announced that funding had been awarded for a five year programme of restoration and enhancement works.

Page owner: Harri Robinson. Last updated: 07/01/2016 12:23