Borough of Waverley
Waverley Abbey, after which the borough is named.
Waverley Abbey, after which the borough is named.
Official logo of Borough of Waverley
Oppida Rusque Una
(Latin: Town and countryside in unity)
Waverley shown within Surrey
Waverley shown within Surrey
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionSouth East England
Non-metropolitan countySurrey
StatusNon-metropolitan district
Admin HQGodalming
Incorporated1 April 1974
 • TypeNon-metropolitan district council
 • BodyWaverley Borough Council
 • LeadershipLeader & Cabinet
 • MPsJeremy Hunt
Angela Richardson
 • Total133.3 sq mi (345.2 km2)
 • Rank117th (of 314)
 • Total128,229
 • Rank182nd (of 314)
 • Density960/sq mi (370/km2)
 • Ethnicity
97.4% White
Time zoneUTC0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BSTa)
ONS code43UL (ONS)
E07000216 (GSS)
OS grid referenceSU9660743750

The Borough of Waverley is a local government district with borough status in Surrey, England. The council is based in the town of Godalming. The borough also contains the towns of Farnham and Haslemere and numerous villages, including the large village of Cranleigh, and surrounding rural areas. At the 2021 Census, the population of the borough was 128,200.[1] The borough is named after Waverley Abbey, near Farnham. Large parts of the borough are within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The neighbouring districts are Guildford, Mole Valley, Horsham, Chichester, East Hampshire, Hart and Rushmoor.


The district was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972. The new district covered the area of four former districts, which were all abolished at the same time:[2][3]

The new district was named after Waverley Abbey in the parish of Farnham, which was the earliest Cistercian monastery in Britain.[4]

For the first six years of its existence, the council was based outside the district at the former Hambledon Rural District Council's offices at Bury Fields in Guildford.[5] In April 1980, the council moved to purpose-built headquarters at The Burys in Godalming, behind Godalming Borough Hall.[6][7] The district was awarded borough status on 21 February 1984, allowing the chair of the council to take the title of mayor.[8][9]


Waverley Borough Council
Penny Rivers,
Liberal Democrat
since 23 May 2023
Paul Follows,
Liberal Democrat
since 27 April 2021
Tom Horwood
since December 2017[10]
Seats50 councillors
Political groups
Administration (38)
  Liberal Democrats (22)
  Farnham Residents (13)
  Labour (2)
  Green (1)
Other parties (12)
  Conservative (10)
  Independent (2)
First past the post
Last election
4 May 2023
Next election
Meeting place
Council Offices, The Burys, Godalming, GU7 1HR

Waverley Borough Council provides district-level services. County-level services are provided by Surrey County Council. The whole borough is also covered by civil parishes, which form a third tier of local government.[11]

Political control

The council has been under no overall control since 2019, being run by a coalition of the Liberal Democrats, Farnham Residents, Labour and Greens. The same coalition continues to run the council following the 2023 election.

The first election to the council was held in 1973, initially operating as a shadow authority alongside the outgoing authorities until the new arrangements took effect on 1 April 1974. Political control of the council since 1974 has been as follows:[12]

Party in control Years
No overall control 1974–1976
Conservative 1976–1991
No overall control 1991–1995
Liberal Democrats 1995–1999
Conservative 1999–2003
Liberal Democrats 2003–2004
No overall control 2004–2007
Conservative 2007–2019
No overall control 2019–present


The role of mayor is largely ceremonial in Waverley. Political leadership is instead provided by the leader of the council. The leaders since 2003 have been:[13]

Councillor Party From To
Chris Slyfield Liberal Democrats 2003 2005
Gillian Ferguson Liberal Democrats 2005 May 2007
Richard Gates Conservative May 2007 11 May 2010
Robert Knowles Conservative 11 May 2010 10 May 2016
Julia Potts Conservative 10 May 2016 21 May 2019
John Ward Farnham Residents 21 May 2019 27 Apr 2021
Paul Follows Liberal Democrats 27 Apr 2021


Following the 2023 election, the composition of the council was:[14]

Party Councillors
Liberal Democrats 22
Farnham Residents 13
Conservative 10
Labour 2
Independent 2
Green 1
Total 50

The next election is due in 2027.


See also: Waverley Borough Council elections

Since the last boundary changes in 2023 the council has comprised 50 councillors representing 24 wards, with each ward electing one, two or three councillors. Elections are held every four years.[15]


Waverley's landscape is influenced by its position within the landform of the Weald. It contains parts of the North Downs and the Greensand Ridge and large parts of the borough are within the Surrey Hills AONB. It has the most green space in absolute terms in Surrey at 293.1 km2 (113 sq. mi.) according to the central government-compiled Generalised Land Use database of January 2005, approximately half of which is woodland.[16]

Blackheath Common, in the north of the borough, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, as is the Devil's Punch Bowl in the south of the district.


A Legatum Prosperity Index published by the Legatum Institute in October 2016 showed Waverley as the most prosperous council area in the United Kingdom.[17]


Civil parishes

Waverley is entirely divided into civil parishes. The parish councils for Farnham, Godalming and Haslemere take the style "town council".[19]

See List of settlements and parishes in Waverley

See also


  1. ^ "Waverley (Local Authority): Key Figures for 2011 Census". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  2. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Definition) Order 1972",, The National Archives, SI 1972/2039, retrieved 31 May 2023
  3. ^ "Waverley welds historic towns in a new unity". Surrey Advertiser. No. 12950. 1 April 1974. p. S2.
  4. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Names) Order 1973",, The National Archives, SI 1973/551, retrieved 31 May 2023
  5. ^ Heritage Appraisal, Forum Heritage Services, November 2017, page 6 (accompanies [planning application] 17/P/O2341), "Buryfields House was constructed as offices for the Hambledon Rural District Council by architects Crossmaker and Armstrong in 1938."
  6. ^ "Waverley moves house". Surrey Advertiser. No. 14357. 14 March 1980. p. 1.
  7. ^ "Timeline from 1837". Godalming Museum. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  8. ^ Harlow, Amanda (6 January 1984). "Borough plan approved by the Queen". Surrey Advertiser. No. 14609. p. 1.
  9. ^ "Waverley collects its borough charter". Surrey Advertiser. No. 14615. 17 February 1984. p. 5.
  10. ^ "WBC appoints new chief exec to £124k post". Farnham Herald. 30 December 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2023.
  11. ^ "Local Government Act 1972",, The National Archives, 1972 c. 70, retrieved 31 May 2023
  12. ^ "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  13. ^ "Council minutes". Waverley Borough Council. Retrieved 14 July 2022.
  14. ^ "Local elections 2023: live council results for England". The Guardian.
  15. ^ "The Waverley (Electoral Changes) Order 2022",, The National Archives, SI 2022/1136, retrieved 5 July 2023
  16. ^ Physical Environment: Land Use Statistics. (2011 census and 2001 census) Retrieved 2015-03-27.
  17. ^ Braiden, Gerry (13 October 2016). "Scots authority named amongst UK's top 10 most prosperous – as neighbouring city props up table". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  18. ^ Waverley twinning info Archived October 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Surrey County Council". Archived from the original on 3 September 2012. Retrieved 10 April 2013.

51°11′3.45″N 0°37′3.29″W / 51.1842917°N 0.6175806°W / 51.1842917; -0.6175806