Guildford, with its cobbled High Street, has all the charm of a country town. Tucked into a gap where the River Wey cuts through the North Downs, you’ll never lose sight of the rolling Surrey Hills. Guildford offers visitors first-class entertainment, excellent restaurants and some of the finest shopping in the South East, as well as a traditional weekly street market and monthly farmers’ market.
Our suggested day out focuses on the town centre of Guildford and the attractions that are within walking distance of the High Street, as well as an alternative to escape to the countryside. There are a host of other attractions around Guildford- see suggestions below.
Starting at the top of the cobbled High Street, you’ll find Abbot’s Hospital. It was built in 1619 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Abbot, “out of love to the place of my birth”. The Hospital is not a hospital as we know it today, but a place for shelter, providing housing for the elderly poor of Guildford. The building resembles one of the contemporary Oxford and Cambridge Colleges and is one of the finest examples of Tudor brickwork in the country.
Abbot’s Hospital has restricted access as it still provides residential accommodation; however, if the door is open (most days), you are invited to walk in or to visit as part of a guided walk with the Guildford Tour Guides. Formal tours are available on Saturday afternoons, which include roof access. Donations are welcome here to contribute to conservation projects.
Continuing down the historic High Street, you’ll find the Guildford House Gallery, a 17th century Town House with many original features, including a finely carved staircase, panelled rooms and decorative plaster ceilings. It has a changing temporary exhibition programme throughout the year and a gift shop and refreshments are available here. The Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10.00am – 4.45pm. Admission is free.
Located behind Guildford’s magnificent bracket clock is the Guildhall, a 16th and 17th century building of great historic interest, formerly a courtroom and Council Chamber. The ground floor is of Tudor origin. The building houses the civic plate and many other rare items. Tours around the building take place on Tuesday and Thursday at 2pm and 3pm (check before travelling) and admission is free.
If it happens to be the first Tuesday in the month, you can enjoy the Farmers’ Market that takes place in the High Street. If you would like further information on Guildford, the Tourist Information Centre can be found through Tunsgate Arch at 14 Tunsgate.
As you walk down to the bottom of the cobbled part of the High Street, you can take in the views of the countryside opposite. Continuing to your left into Quarry Street, you’ll find the Guildford Museum, which houses collections of archaeology, local history and needlework. The Museum is open Monday to Saturday, 11am – 5pm. Admission is free.
From here you can walk up to the Castle grounds and see the Great Tower, which has undergone extensive renovation. The Tower contains a model of the original castle c1300 and interpretation panels tracing the Tower’s history to the present day. The Great Tower is open April through to September every day from 11am – 6pm or on Saturday and Sundays, 11am – 4pm, in October, November and March. It is closed in January, February and December. Admission is £2.00 for adults and £1.00 for concessions. The Castle grounds are open all year round and admission is free. Here you will find a statue of “Alice through the Looking Glass”, a tribute to Lewis Carroll, the famous author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, who is buried in Guildford.[_/su_spoiler]
As you leave the Castle grounds, you are perfectly placed for the selection of cafés and restaurants in Chapel Street.
Either continue along Chapel Street to the High Street, and spend the afternoon in the collection of shops located here, or spend the afternoon on a guided walk of historic Guildford. From May to September guided walks are offered on Wednesdays and Sundays at 2.30pm. From May to the end of August walks are also offered on Thursday evenings at 7.30pm. Walks are free of charge and start at Tunsgate Arch (opposite the Guildhall Clock) in the High Street. They last for about 70 – 90 minutes and cover about half a mile.
For those wishing to see more of the countryside, you can take a walk along the River Wey following our “Water to Down” walking route.
If you take a drive out to Newlands Corner, you can sit and admire the views of the Surrey Hills or amble along to the villages of Shere, Albury and Chilworth. Other walks in the area are also available from the walking routes section of this website.[_/su_spoiler]
Why not extend your day in Guildford by taking in a performance at the Yvonne Arnaud, Electric Theatre or at the Odeon cinema. Or listen to live music at The Keystone, Pizza Express, The Star Inn or The Three Tuns ( check who is playing before you go).