first settlers were believed to be the Saxons, they probably
arrived in the C5 after the departure of the Roman legions.
The town's name is believed to take its name from a Saxon phrase meaning ‘ford of
the golden flowers’.
River Wey Navigation near Shalford
The old ford of the Harrow Way (an
ancient track along the North Downs) crossed the River Wey here so
that part is easily explained, but to which golden flowers were they
referring? Now the
Navigation is a source of pleasure, although it has been used for
commercial purposes in its day, especially before the railways came
to Surrey. On peaceful summer days its lush green banks slope down to the narrow river
quietly flowing unnoticed beneath the busy streets above. Pleasure boats can be hired along
some of its length from the Boathouse
in Millbrook, Guildford and from Farncombe Boathouse in
Catteshall Road Godalming.
town of Guildford
grew up around the spot where the great east/west road along the chalk ridge
dropped sharply down hill and crossed the River Wey. The steep approach
from the east became Guildford’s famous cobbled high street and the
west approach remained more cut off and residential, in time
everything else in Guildford was to follow on from this.
A Royal castle was built
south of the High Street and two
subservient roads developed in parallel to the High Street now known
as North Street and Castle Street, but formerly known as
Lower Back Sides! North Street was the site of the cattle market
until the C19 and still hosts a thriving street market every Friday
and Saturday. The growth of the wool trade made Guildford a
wealthy town during the Middle Ages and even with the demise of this
industry the town continued to flourish as it became a
convenient stopping off point on the route between London and
Portsmouth. A host of coaching inns grew up along the High
Street where now The Angel Posting House and Livery is probably the
uildford’s great character stems from the
steep slope of the High Street where the southerly view is twinned by an equally
steep rise on the opposite side of the river. Over the
river on the high ground of Stag Hill, Guildford
cathedral is built in a modern style. Constructed
as recently as
1936 there were further additions over the next thirty years by Edward Maufe who
won the job of designing the cathedral in open competition. The Gothic style results in a cruciform church with a bulky
central tower, not something of true traditional wonder, but it is
imposing in its commanding position and when lit after
dark it is particularly awe-inspiring. Guildford minted its
own silver coins as early as the reign of Edward the Martyr in 957,
showing an early indication of its status.
The Royal Castle
built by William the Conqueror became the centre of local government
in Surrey. Now the oldest part is a huge C11 motte. This was added to in the usual
way in the early C12 with a masonry shell keep around the top, now
visible chiefly on the southwest side.
This was in turn replaced around 1170 by the impressive Tower Keep
built on the east side of the top of the motte, in complete contrast to
Surrey’s other surviving castle at Farnham. Guildford was a royal
castle and the building represents the grim official architecture of
Henry II. Now roofless
and floorless and with nearly all the dressed stone details gone, the
rather bizarre late Victorian detailed landscaping of the motte is a
stark contrast to the bleakness of the castle’s ruins.
Some outer building still remains by a simple two-order arch
in Quarry Street from the outer gateway beyond.
Just south of
Castle Hill within a little park is a disused quarry where entrances to
old clunch mines can be seen which were later used as Castle cellars.
Tel: 01483 444702 for further information.
quick mention here too of Semaphore House built in 1821 on Pewley Down which was one
telegraph line from Portsmouth to Whitehall (also at Chatley Heath and