English: habitational name for someone from Gadshill in Kent, either of two places called Godshill in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, or Godsell Farm in Wiltshire, which were all originally named Godeshyll ‘God’s hill’.
This interesting and curious surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from any of the places called Gadshill (Kent), recorded as “Godeshyll” in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles in 973; Godshill (Isle of Wight), which appears as “Godesmanescamp” in the Domesday Book of 1086; or Godshill (Wiltshire), found as “Godeshull” in the Episcopal Registers of circa 1270. These placenames are composed of either the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name “Goda”, Good, or “god”, god, plus the Olde English “-hyll”, a hill. During the Middle Ages, when migration for the purpose of job-seeking was becoming more common, people often took their former village name as a means of identification, resulting in a wide dispersal of the name. The surname first appears in records in the early 13th Century (see below), while one Hugh de Godeshull is recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Hampshire in 1230. Other early examples include Thomas de Godeshelle, mentioned in the “Letter Books of London” in 1309, and Richard Godeshulle, who appears in the Sussex Subsidy Rolls of 1327. James Godsell married Sarah Dixon on October 13th 1682, at St. Mary Magdalene’s, Old Fish Street, London. A Coat of Arms granted to the family depicts a gold cross botonee on a black shield, and a Crest showing an arm erect holding a spade proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugh de Godeshill, which was dated 1225, in the “Assize Court Rolls of Somersetshire”, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as “The Frenchman”, 1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to “develop” often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Isle of Wight
Old postcards are sometimes poorly produced and grainy, I’ve done my best to scan them. Please click thumbnails for full size picture. Dates are from the card or my estimate (where possible).
The origin of the name Godshill supposedly results from the foundations of the church being moved from the bottom to the top of the hill on three occasions whilst it was being built. This was taken to be a sign from God that the church should be built on the hill, hence the name Godshill. It is now considered one of the prettiest villages on the Island with its thatched cottage and is the home to several tea rooms.
Godshill village and church Godshill High Street
Looking across the field to Godshill village and church. postmarked 1908
Godshill Village, 1906
Godshill Village Church Hill, Godshill
Godshill village, undated but probably around 1910
Looking from the main road up the hill towards the church.
Queens Cottage, Godshill Godshill church
Queens Cottage, Godshill opposite the church
A poorly produced card of Godshill around 1905
Godshill Church by night Godshill church from outside
Godshill by Andrew Beer with his distinctive moonlit style,
probably from around 1920
Godshill church outside, undated
Godshill Leals Tea Garden Godshill Summer Evening
Leal’s Tea Gardens, Godshill postmarked 1931 “Summer Evening” near Godshill I. o. W.
English: habitational name for someone
Gadshill in Kent,
Memories of Gads Hill
“ This red-brick Georgian house, with bay windows and surmounted by a small white cupola, was coveted by the author Charles Dickens ever since he was a boy living at Chatham; he often passed it on long walks with his father. He eventually…” read more
From Victorian and Edwardian Kent Photographic Memories
in Kent, near Rochester. Famous for the attack of Sir John Falstaff and three of his knavish companions on a party of four travellers, whom they robbed of their purses. While the robbers were dividing the spoil, Poins and the Prince of Wales set upon them, and “outfaced them from their prize;” and as for the “Hercules of flesh,” he ran and “roared for mercy, and still ran and roared,” says the prince, “as ever I heard a bull-calf.” Gadshill is also the name of one of the thievish companions of Sir John. (Shakespeare: 1 Henry IV., ii. 4.)
Charles Dickens lived at Gadshill.
Godshill in Hampshire
Godshill is a village in Hampshire, United Kingdom, close to Fordingbridge. The town is small, somewhat rural in setting and has a strong sense of community.
Godshhill Isle of Wight
Welcome to Godshill’s secret garden. We’ve hidden our little treasure behind a high stonewall to keep it special and unique. Our beautiful garden is home to 2 churches, 4 pubs, an airfield, a railway, 3 hot air balloons, an airship, over 2,500 carefully shaped conifers and shrubs…plus countless little islanders going about their daily lives.
This year we have opened our newly renovated self catering apartment, overlooking the garden. We are thrilled that is has been given 4 Stars by Visit Britain! Have a look and see – if you book to stay with us you have unlimited visits to the Model Village during your stay.
Our family has tended this wonderful folly for the past 35 years and we passionately believe you will be amazed by what you find here…
Use your nose, map or satellite navigation to seek us out!
See you soon!
Penny & Stuart
or Godsell Farm in Wiltshire
Godsell’s Church Farm Cheese
We are fifth generation dairy farmers producing a range of farmhouse cheeses using milk from our Stroud herd of Friesans.
 We sell at Stroud and Nailsworth farmers’ markets.
 We produce Cheddar, Double Gloucester, Single Gloucester, Cheshire, Smoked Cheese, and Cotswold soft cream Cheese.
 Our cheese is also available from the following local retailers: Pound Farm shop, Over Farm Market, Frocester Fayre Farm shop, Tony’s Delicatessan in Kings Stanley, Whiteshill Village Shop, Tortworth Estate Farm Shop, and Local Co-ops. We also supply retailers and caterers.
 National Dairy Farm Assured Scheme Members
 Visitors welcome by arrangement
which were all originally named Godeshyll ‘God’s hill’.