Visit Guildford and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Guildford, Surrey. The capital of Surrey, Guilford is an old town, although its history is neither turbulent nor spectacular. There may have been pre-Saxon settlements here, but it is first mentioned in the time of Alfred the Great. In medieval times the town became a favourite of a number of monarchs who had palaces and a castle here; the palaces have disappeared and little remains of the castle. It was at a friary near Guildford that Henry VIII signed the order dissolving the lesser religious orders.
The medieval Pilgrim's Way that led from Winchester to Canterbury and the shrine of St Thomas Becket, following a prehistoric track along the downs for part of its route, crossed the River Wey just south of Guildford.
During the Middle Ages the town was a prosperous centre of the wool industry until its decline in the reign of Elizabeth I, and although this was followed by difficult times its strategic position ensured prosperity. Today it is a bustling town with many historic monuments.
The original Anglo-Saxon fortification was built on a partly artificial mound. The Normans built a keep on this mound and the castle grew up around it. In medieval times the castle was a favourite royal residence and was regarded as a royal nursery; a number of young princes spent their early years here. Today, only the keep remains, a square solid structure about 60 ft high. The interior is a bare ruin but the top is easily reached, and from here there is a fine view over the town. Surrounding the keep are pleasant gardens, in the corner of which is the remnant of a building which may once have been part of the Anglo-Saxon fort; adjoining is another small garden - the Garden of Remembrance containing the War Memorial.
Below Castle Hill in Quarry Street is the Norman Arch, all that remains of the entrance of the old castle; beside this is the headquarters of the Surrey Archaeological Society, which also houses the Guildford Museum. Here are exhibits concerning local archaeology and history, also items connected with Lewis Carroll, author of The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland. Carroll, whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, was the son of a Yorkshire clergyman, and never actually resided in Guildford, but he spent much time with his six unmarried sisters who lived in a rented house called The Chestnuts. This house, where he died in 1898, is about 100 yds inside the Norman Arch; it is marked by a plaque, but is a private residence and not open to the public. Carroll is buried in the Mount Cemetery.
In the centre of the High Street is the Guildhall, a handsome but quite modest building with a turreted roof. A large, gilded clock, bearing the date 1683, juts out right over the street - a famous Guildford landmark. The Guildhall also dates from 1683, and it replaced a former medieval guildhall on the same site. Both the court room and council chamber are elegantly panelled, and above the bench hangs a great two-handed sword of 16th-century German make, which is carried before the mayor in formal processions. The Corporation plate (which is shown by special arrangement) includes a silver-gilt mace presented by Henry VII; it is one of the few 15th-century maces in the country. There are also a number of fine 16th- and l7th-century pieces. The Council no longer meets in the Guildhall except for the mayor-making ceremonies and the annual meetings. New municipal buildings were erected in the early 1930s.
Further along the High Street, on the same side, stands the Abbot's Hospital, or Hospital of the Blessed Trinity, founded by George Abbot, a Guildford man and Archbishop of Canterbury under James I. Built in 1619 as a home for 12 old men and 8 widows or spinsters, it still accommodates 23 old people of the town. The brick building is much as it was originally, and particularly interesting is the chapel with splendid l7th-century stained-glass windows depicting the story of Jacob in eight panels.
Nearby Towns: Aldershot, Cranleigh, Dorking, Farncombe, Farnham, Godalming, Leatherhead, Woking
Nearby Villages: Albury, Blackheath, Chilworth, East Clandon, Fairlands, Flexford, Jacob's Well, Send, Shalford, Sutton Green, Woodstreet Village, Worplesdon, West Horsley
Have you decided to visit Guildford or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Guildford bed and breakfast (a Guildford B&B or Guildford b and b)
- a Guildford guesthouse
- a Guildford hotel (or motel)
- a Guildford self-catering establishment, or
- other Guildford accommodation