Godstone Parish Council
Surrey RH9 8DY
The Parish Council meets monthly usually on the first Monday in the month, unless that is a Bank Holiday when the meeting moves on one week. The meeting moves around the Parish and alternates between the White Hart Barn, Godstone; the Forman Institute, Blindley Heath; and the Parish Rooms at South Godstone.
Prior to the formal start of the meeting there is always an Open Forum session at 7.30 pm for 15 minutes when parishioners can raise any issues to the Parish Council. If no member of the public is present at 7.45 then the formal part of the meeting commences.
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To celebrate 100 years of Godstone Parish Council Arthur Crowhurst, then Chairman of the Council compiled a booklet of extracts taken from the minutes.
Godstone Parish Records commencing 1845
In 1845 the Parish of Godstone extended from Tillingdown and Marden Park in the North to the Sussex boundary at Felbridge in the South – approximately 11 miles in length
In view of the fact that the Parish Council has no permanent office accommodation it was decided some years ago that the Council’s completed Minute Books and other records should be deposited with the County Archivist at County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, for safe keeping.
Recently, amongst a batch of Council documents being prepared for transmission to the County Records Office, was a well-preserved, handwritten Minute book recording Parish meetings covering the period 1845-1894. These records reveal much of the village life of those days and throughout this period there are a number of extremely interesting items which, it was felt, were worthy of note prior to the book leaving Godstone for the archives at County Hall.
This Minute Book covering 130 years is, however, divided into two very distinct periods, names 1945-1894 and 1894-1994. This is due to the fact that Parish Councils did not exist until late in the last century when they were, in fact created by the Local Government Act of 1894. Prior to that date there was no democratically elected body dealing with village affairs as is the case today – it seems that Churchwardens, together with certain local tradesmen or dignitaries, formed a Committee, usually chaired by the rector, and met three or four times a year. In Godstone these meeting were held in the local public houses alternative between the Hare and House, the Clayton [now the White Hart] and the Rose and Crown [premises now occupied by Campton Insurance Brokers].
Today it is, of course, illegal for any local authority to hold meetings on licensed premises – one cannot help wonder whether there was any significance in making such a law!
These Village Committees were principally concerned with the valuation of properties, the levying and collection of rates, drainage problems, fire-fighting, school attendance, poor law administration and last, but by no means least, the annual distribution of the funds arising from the several local charities. In these connection I quote an extract from the book – ‘An Accurate Map of the County of Surrey by Emanual Bowen – 1760’
Extracts from Minutes of the Vestry [or Village’s Committee]
Meeting at Bell Hotel, February 1845
Complaint received regarding the condition of the Bay Path – Surveyor authorised to carry out repairs although it was agreed that the path was in fact privately owned.
Tramps and vagabonds are to be taken by the constables to appear before the magistrates to have ‘the benefit of the Vagrant Act’.
Meeting at Rose and Crown, August 1845
It was agreed that a new door should be fitted to the village cage – [believed to have been on site of premises now occupied by Rayner’s Estate Office]
Meeting at White Hart, November 1845
Following the complaint being made from the Bench that the Beer Shops in the Parish are not properly conducted it was decided that – ‘Notice should be given them that if not altered for the better the Constable should inform against them’.
The Constable’s bills were presented and examined. The charges made were not satisfactory and the meeting decided that ‘the Magistrate’s opinion should be taken before they were paid’
Meeting at Hare and Hounds, August 1846
Resolved that parishioners who have been in the habit of receiving a share in the Thomas Gift be informed that in future no ‘out-parishioners’ were to participate. Also resolved that Mr John Goodwin be requested to use his best exertions to carry out the views of the contributors to the St Thomas Fund in purchasing ‘a good and useful bullock looking rather to quantity than quality’.
Meeting at Bell Hotel, February 1847
The list of parties claiming exemption from payment of the Poor Rate was ‘gone over and revised’.
Resolved that Committee of three gentlemen be appointed to make the necessary enquiries with regard to the proper steps to be taken to obtain the appointment of a Police Office for the District comprising Godstone and the neighbouring parishes.
Meeting at White Hart, December 1847
Mr Paget [Overseer] reported that several of the tenants of the cottages at Lagham Station [now South Godstone] had refused to pay Poor Rates on the grounds that they were not tenants when the rate was made.
The Churchwardens were requested to take measures to lower the pews in the body of the Church and also to give directions for the removal of the brickwork at the lower part of the West Window.