Guildford can probably owe its existance to the nearby prehistoric trackway which cuts across the north downs. There doesn't appear to be any hard evidence of Roman settlement so the towns story can be best traced from the Saxon settlers who made their homes here some time in the sixth century. The oldest stone building in Guildford is the tower of St Mary's church on Quarry street.
The Norman King's built a motte and bailey castle in the twelfth century and Guildford became a favourite destination for the early Plantagenet's who found the hunting in the nearby forest's to their liking.
Guildford Guest House
117 Stoke Road
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.
The 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 Upper and 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 most famous.
Guildford’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.