Guildford Barracks

Army Billeting

Billeting, or quartering, therefore continued to be a burden, especially at such times as Races, Fairs and Assizes, for at such times innkeepers looked for good and generous customers among the general public who flocked in to enjoy the festivities. Petitions were regularly sent from such place as Reigate, Richmond, Croydon, Carshalton, Haslemere, Godalming and Guildford. The following letter from an innkeeper at Godalming illustrates the kind of grievance that developed when the War Office removed the strain from one town only to place it on another.

From Godalming, May 1792 to the Hon. T Tounsend (ie Townshend, Secretary of State).

"Sir, Although I can speak feelingly as to the constant Burthen of Soldiers yet at a time when your attention is too publicly engaged to attend to the concerns of Individuals I forbear to make any Complaints unnecessarily, and beg leave to represent one Circumstance to your Attention and Goodness. It has been assured me that the Militia quartered in this part of the County are not to be removed before Whitsuntide; and as the Whitsun Week is a time of the greatest advantage to me, and to the Town in general/owing to Guildford Races and the Preference the Jockey Club think proper to give to my House/I shall consider it a Mark of your particular Favor if you will be so indulging as to direct that the Soldiers be removed from hence for that week only; as it will be impossible to receive the Company at the time of the Races, without your kind compliance in this Instance. I beg leave to add that the people of Guildford always make a point of soliciting their Members Interest for the Removal of Soldiers from their Town upon this and every Public Occasion; thereby easing themselves of a temporary Burthen, to the very great injury of this small town, for the Routs of their relief being discretionary, the Commanding Officer has always sent the troops to this Place. I hope that the known worthiness which marks your character will see the Propriety of my Request in too reasonable light, not to allow of the Liberty I take on so essential an Occasion.' This moving appeal is endorsed 'Surrey Militia are ordered from their present quarters on Friday and no other troops will be sent to Godalming during Whitsun Week."


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