Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for GUILDFORD

GUILDFORD, a town, three parishes, a sub-district, and a district in Surrey. The town stands on the river Wey, the Arun and Wey canal, and the Southwestern railway, under Hog's Back downs, 30 miles SW of London. The Arun and Wey navigation connects it northward with the Thames, and southward with Godalming and the sea; and railways go from it, or its neighbourhood, in six directions, toward London, Farnham, Haslemere, Horsham, and Reigate, and give it communication with all parts of the kingdom. It possibly was the site of a very early settlement, perhaps one of the primitive Saxon marks; but it first appears on record in the will of King Alfred, and is there called Guldford or Gyldeford. It was given by Alfred to his nephew Ethelwald; and, after the death of Hardicanute, it was the scene of the massacre of Etheldred II. 's son Alfred, and his Norman followers. It belonged to the Crown in the time of the Confessor; and all or part of the manor coutinued to be held by the kings of England till the time of James I.; was afterwards given to the Earls of Aunandale; and passed to the Onslows of Clandon. A royal castle was built in the town; is alleged, by some writers, to have been a residence of the old English princes; appears, however, to have been not of earlier date than at least the time of the Conqueror; was taken, in 1216, by Louis, the dauphin; seems to have undergone enlargement and embellishment at subsequent periods; had, for constable, Sir Simon Burleigh, in 137 7; went into neglect before the time of James I.; was then given to Francis Carter, mayor of Guildford; passed, about 1810, to the late Duke of Norfolk; and belongs now to Lord Grantley. The chief parts of the pile occupied a considerable eminence to the south of High street, and there commanded the river; and the courts and out buildings occupied a surrounding space of several acres. Only a few shattered walls and shapeless fragments now remain to show the precincts; but the square keep or central tower, still stands, soaring above all circumjacent buildings, and forming a prominent object in the town's landscape. The keep is of late Norman character; was cased with chalk, flint, sandstone, and ragstone, with herringbone or fern leaf work; was divided internally into three stories; is at present about 70 feet high; and has walls 10 feet thick in the basement, and decreasing gradually upward. A royal palace is said to have existed in the town; but what is called so was really a part of the castle. Orders are on record, in the time of Henry III., for the repair of the great hall, the decorating of the king's bed, and the arranging of the queen's herbary. Henry II., John, and Henry III. frequently resided here; Prince Edward brought hither, to his father Henry III., the outlaw prisoner Gordon; and Edward III. was here in 1336, 1340, and 1347. The town stands partly on the W bank of the river, but chiefly on the E bank; and it consists principally of one long street, ascending the acclivity of a considerable hill, from a five arched bridge on the W, to the suburb of Stoke on the E. Its aspect is striking and picturesque; its principal street abounds in quaint old gables, overhanging panelled fronts, and long latticed windows; its irregularity of site, its diversity of buildings, and its mixtures of the ancient and the modern render it piquant and imposing; its thoroughfares also have a remarkable air of cleanliness and order; and its environs combine the attractions of fine close views and rich distant prospects. Cobbett says, "The town of Guildford, taken with its environs, I, who have seen so many many towns, think the prettiest, and taken altogether, the most agreeable and most happy looking that I ever saw in my life. Here are hill and dale in endless variety; here are the chalk and the sand vieing with each other in making beautiful scenes; here are a navigable river and fine meadows; here are woods and downs; here is something of everything but fat marshes and their skeleton making agues." A good view, both of the town itself and of the surrounding scenery, is got from Catherine's chapel, on a small adjoining hill; a wider view is got from the summit of Booker's tower, an edifice on the hill beyond St. Catherine's; and another good and extensive view is got from the top of Pewley hill. The guildhall, in High street, was built in 1683, when the old market house was taken down; has a projecting clock dial, with decorations of gilt iron work; includes a hall, about 50 feet long, containing portraits of Charles II., James II., and Speaker Onslow, and a picture of the surrender of the Dutch flag after the battle of Camperdown; and has, over the hall, the council chamber, containing a curious chimney piece brought from Stoughton House. The county hall was built in 1862, at a cost of £3, 500; is in late Gothic style; has a frontage of 82 feet, with a depth of 150 feet; and includes two halls, the one 80 feet by 37, the other 55 feet by 35. The public hall, previously used for the assize court, and containing reading room, lecture room, and museum of the literary institute, was built in 1845. The corn exchange in High street, opposite the guildhall, was built by subscription in 1818, and cost £4, 675. The barracks for the Surrey militia stand in Friary street, on the site of an ancient Dominican friary: and were erected in 1856. -Trinity church superseded an ancient one; was built in 1763; stands on the summit of the hill, in the E part of the town; is an edifice of red brick, with a square tower 90 feet high; includes a chantry chapel, with monuments of the Westons; and contains tombs of Archbishop Abbot and Speaker On slow. St. Mary's church stands on the declivity of the hill, in Quarry street, a little south of High street; is supposed to have been built by some of the Testard family; consists of nave, aisles, and chancel, with a chapel having semicircular apses on each side of the chancel, which itself had originally a semicicular apse; has a tower resting on four open arches; includes Norman and early English parts, in irregular connection with later portions; underwent restoration in 1862, at a cost of £2, 520; and has a large later English east window, which was filled with stained glass, as a memorial to the Rev. T. Ludham, about the beginning of 1865. St. Nicholas church stands on the west bank of the Wey, near the bridge; was built in 1837, in lieu of a previous ancient church, which had a round tower; is in the early English style, with a square tower; and includes a side chapel, of previous erection, containing some interesting monuments of the Mores. St. Catherine's chapel, on a site already indicated, was built by Henry II., for the use of his tenantry; went into decay; was rebuilt, in the time of Edward I., by a rector of St. Nicholas; fell into disuse; and is now an interesting ruin. Au Independent chapel in the town was built in 1863, at a cost of nearly £3, 000; and is in the decorated English style. There are chapels also for Baptists and Wesleyans.-A Dominican friary was founded by Eleanor, queen of Henry II I., on the ground now occupied by the barracks; was converted, in late times, into assembly rooms; and has completely disappeared.-The grammar school stands at the upper end of High street; dates from the time of Henry VIII.; was constituted a free grammar school by Edward VI.; is a Tudor edifice, of collegiate appearance, with interior quadrangle; has an endowed income. of £123, with one exhibition; and had, for pupils, Bishops Parkhurst, Cotton, and Abbot, and Archbishop Abbot. A middle and lower class school was recently formed by uniting what was called the bluecoat school with buildings and funds left by Archbishop Abbot to establish a factory. There are also national and infant schools. Trinity hospital, at the head of Highstreet, was founded, in 1619, by Archbishop Abbot; is a Tudor edifice of red brick, with stone dressings; forms a quadrangle of 66 feet by 73, with square entrance tower, and turrets at the angles; contains a hall, a chapel, a library, and apartments for 12 men and 8 women; and has an endowed income of £66 4. The total of the town's charities, including one of £845 for the poor, is £1, 857. The Surrey county hospital stands close to the railway station; was built in 1865, at a cost of £15, 000; has accommodation for 60 patients; and was constructed on arrangements approved by Miss Florence Nightingale. Some remarkable vaults are in High street, under the Angel Inn, and in a house nearly opposite; have traditionally, but without any fair evidence, been regarded as works connected with the castle; possess groined roofs, supported by circular columns, all of early English character; and were, not improbably, the under ground stories of ancient houses. Extensive, ancient, artificial caverns were long known to be deep in the chalk ridge on which the town stands; and, at the cost of much laborious excavation, were re-discovered in 1869. The town has a railway station with telegraph, a head post office, ‡ three banking offices, and three chief inns; is a seat of summer assizes alternately with Croydon, a seat of sessions, the head quarters of the county constabulary, a polling place, and the place of election for West Surrey; and publishes five newspapers. Markets for country produce, meat, poultry, and pigs are held on Saturdays; markets for meat, poultry, and vegetables, on Wednesdays; markets for cattle, sometimes fortnightly, sometimes monthly, throughout the year; and markets for lambs, weekly for some time before and after Eastertide. A fair also is held on St. Catherine's hill on 2 Oct. The manufacture of cloth was a chief employment till the time of Elizabeth; but the trade in corn, owing to the richness of the surrounding country, and to the abundance of the supply, is now the chief employment. Considerable traffic in corn, malt, and coals is done by the Wey navigation; a large iron foundry is in the town; and paper and powder mills are in the vicinity. The town is a borough by prescription; sent two members to parliament from the time of Edward I. till 1867; was then reduced to sending only one; and is governed, under the new act, by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors. The limits parliamentarily and municipally are the same; and include the extra-parochial tracts of Bowling Green and Friary, the parishes of Trinity and St. Mary, and parts of the parishes of St. Nicholas, Shalford, and Stoke. Electors in 1868, 725. Pop. in 1851, 6, 740; in 1861, 8, 020. Houses, 1, 466. The town gives the title of Earl to the family of North. Bishops Abbot and Parkenhurst, Archbishop Abbot, and the artist John Russell, were natives. The three parishes of Guildford are Trinity, St. Mary, and St. Nicholas; the last of which includes the tything of Artington. Acres of T., 135; of St. M. with Bowling Green and Friary, 44; of St. N., 2, 836. Real property of T., £9, 030, -of which £225 are in the canal; of St. M., £8, 852, -of which £789 are in the canal; of St. N., £2, 664. Pop. of T., 1, 708; of St. M., 1, 713; of the part of St. N. within the borough, 1, 421; of all St. N., 2, 005. Houses of T., 296; of St. M., 302; of the part of St. N. within the borough, 262; of all St. N., 324. Losely Hall, 2 miles from the town, is a handsome mansion, said to have been built by Sir Thomas More, and now belonging to the Molyneux family. Sutton place, erected in 1521, by Sir Richard Weston, is a venerable structure. The ruins of Newark abbey are in the neighbourhood of the town. The livings of the three parishes are rectories in the diocese of Winchester; and those of Trinity and St. Mary are united. Value of T. and St M., £155; of St. Nicholas, £600. Patron of T. and St. M., the Lord Chancellor; of St. N., the Bishop of Winchester.—The sub-district contains the parishes of Trinity, St. Mary, St. Nicholas, and Stoke, and the extra-parochial tracts of Bowling Green and Friary. Acres, 5, 329. Pop., 9, 634. Houses, 1, 730. The district comprehends also the sub-district of Woking, containing the parishes of Woking, Pirbright, and Worplesdon; the subdistrict of Ripley, containing the parishes of Send, Wisley, and Ockham; the sub-district of Albury, containing the parishes of Albury, East Horsley, West Horsley, East Clandon, West Clandon, Merrow, and Shere; and the sub-district of Godalming, containing the parishes of Godalming, Compton, and Wanborough. Acres, 65, 592. Poor rates, in 1863, £20, 781. Pop. in 1851, 25, 072; in 1861, 29, 330. Houses, 5, 606. Marriages in 1862, 166; births, 905, -of which 37 were illegitimate; deaths, 521, -of which 153 were at ages under 5 years, and 16 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 1,809; births, 8, 237; deaths, 5, 201. The places of worship, in 1851, were 25 of the Church of England, with 9, 670 sittings; 7 of Independents, with 1, 487 s.; 4 of Baptists, with 570 s.; 2 of Quakers, with 350 s.; 1 of Wesleyans, with 384 s.; 3 undefined, with 310 s.; 1 of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, with 50 s.; and 1 of Roman Catholics, with 120 s. The schools were 28 public day schools, with 2, 167 scholars; 46 private day schools, with 843 s.; 26 Sunday schools, with 2, 231 s.; and 2 evening schools for adults, with 70 s. The workhouse is in Stoke.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, three parishes, a sub-district, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Guildford CP       Guildford SubD       Guildford RegD/PLU       Surrey AncC
Place: Guildford

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