Garden Walks, Historic towns, Housesitting, Housesitting in the UK, Life of adventure

A Day in Guildford

With a small amount of information, we set off to spend time in Guildford. Sometimes it is more interesting to have an element of pleasant surprises than knowing all there is to know before visiting a new place.

Firstly, one of the main reasons for heading into the city was to inject some new items of clothing into our very limited wardrobe. After a few hours, it was evident that it wasn’t going to happen today. I am not the most ardent shopper, and I tend to have this constant conversation with myself, which goes something like this,

” Do I need it? Do I really like it? Perhaps, I could find another one at a more acceptable price down the road?”.

In the end, the clothing item is returned to the rack. Though there are times when I do find something that I am 100 percent happy with, then I have no doubts what so ever in parting with some cold hard cash. There are numerous shops that would excite the more prolific shopper amongst us. I do love the smaller independent shops and the creative art establishments. Not forgetting a large number of Charity Shops for more of a bargain or two.


There is more to Guildford than retail therapy to be enjoyed. For me, it was the enjoyment of walking around admiring the various architecture and gardens.

The temperature was rising, viewing the colourful and cheery gardens around the city of Guildford, it did indeed feel like spring was here. Too lovely a day to be spent in and out of shops.

Where did we go?

Places of interest

Abbot’s Hospital

This building and its purpose over the years intrigued me the most. I loved how it is still being used today in a very community orientated way.


It was founded in 1619 by George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury (born and educated in Guildford and a translator of the King James Bible) to provide accommodation for local older adults. Today this Grade 1 listed Jacobean building offers self-contained town centre housing for 26 residents.


Much of the building remains unchanged, and many original features are still in place. A guided tour reveals 17th century stained glass in the Chapel, unique furniture in the panelled Common Hall, incredible architecture and beautifully maintained courtyard gardens. The newly developed Exhibition provides additional insight into the life and history of this unique building.

As the tenants’ rent is subsidised and with the building maintenance an ongoing cost. A donation box is at the entrance, and there are also guided tours available May to September on Thursdays and Fridays at 11 am (no need to book) with the cost being ยฃ5 per person.

Guildford Castle

We wanted to view a panoramic view of Guildford, and the only place to do so was at the top of the Great Tower. The climb gave us a 360-degree panoramic view of Guildford and the beautiful surrounding countryside.


In 1888, saw the grounds at Guildford Castle opened to the public. This was to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee which was in the previous year. The gardens were gorgeous and well kept, displaying a fantastic array of colourful bedding. These are centred on the 11th Century Castle Keep.

As we walked along, we came across a life-size statue of Alice Through the Looking Glass, then the famous bowling green.


With many people taking advance of the great weather and having lunch around the various parts of the gardens. The cheekier lawn dwellers were sitting right beside a sign stating “Don’t walk on the grass”. With the gardener not far away, some people love to live on the edge of common courtesy.


Famous People

Let’s start with coming across “the best-kept secret in Guildford”. Nothing too tantalising, it refers to Alan Turing, who was from this town. Want to know more about where his family lived including more intriguing information, and you happen to be in Guildford during June and July, then take in a free guided walk. Coming across information regarding his family residing here many moons ago, had me remembering the movie we watched on Alan Turing’s life, I have never sworn so much during a film as I did during that one. The way this man was treated after the incredible work he did for the war effort, leaves me speechless or more accurate, I found it hard to articulate how society and governing authorities could be so cruel.
Lewis Carroll was another figure who made his presence known many years ago in Guildford with annual summer visits to his cousin, who lived not far from the castle.

Another plus for us was the independent cafes; we enjoyed a tasty lunch in one just off the main road. No food porn.

It’s quite easy for time to rush by when exploring a new city. Talking of rushing, we had timed it, so we did beat the worst of the day’s traffic. This part of Surrey is a busy place. The roar of the motorway is a daily reminder here that the much more bustling destination of London is not that far away.

A Day in_edited

43 thoughts on “A Day in Guildford”

  1. Another ‘non-shopper’ person here! I lived near Guildford for 7 years and only ever visited to do some shopping, often returning home empty handed. A nice little town, but very, very busy. A decent music shop there too, my OH tells me. Nightmare to drive in/through/park. Best to take the train. Oh, and the A3 is not a motorway and is best avoided near Guildford around 5 pm as traffic builds up. Not so far away is the amazing Watts Cemetery Chapel just off the A3.

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    1. That is one of the reasons we did not enjoy the Guildford area was the huge amount of traffic. We were housesitting supposedly in the countryside where people spend millions to live and the noise was awful!!! Thanks for the link and advice, Jude. We are now in the more quieter area of North Yorkshire.

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      1. Yes, I loathe returning to Surrey and the south-east because of the constant noise and traffic. Having lived in counties with no motorways I have acclimatised to slow travel. North Yorkshire is stunning in spring. Hope you manage to get out on the moors.

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          1. Yes. I read your post on getting travel tired. Living where I do (Cornwall) people seem to think I should be out every day on the beach or exploring the countryside. Actually I don’t do that as much as when I used to visit on holiday! I am most content just to be at home, tend my tiny garden and enjoy the view from my window. Maybe I really am getting old ๐Ÿ™‚

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            1. Exactly! After I quit teaching I spent a good few years accompanying the OH to conferences around the world until recently and enjoyed every minute (OK maybe not the long haul flights), but now I have a place of my own and happy to make a home.

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  2. Enjoyed that. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have driven through, and then past, Guildford, but have visited rarely – and then mostly for tedious business reasons. I need to return. Love that Alice statue!

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      1. You do get a lovely view going over the Hog’s Back. On a nice day I always wish I was a passenger so that I can look at the view properly. When I was going up and down on the A3 fairly regularly I often saw ballons going up – that’s proper balloons with people in baskets, not party ballons.

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  3. Guildford is a lovely town and Abbots Hospital a fascinating place. Glad you had such good weather for your visit and you’re so right about the clothes shopping, we often decide to do the same and end up not bothering.

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  4. Oh how I miss charity shops when I’m not in Britain (which is mostly) … first stop for me whenever I visit my family is a morning trawling in Oxford which given it’s architecture and heritage many might find odd but believe me the Charity Shops are of the highest calibre there. As they are in Guildford, I imagine since it has quite the upper demographic. I know the town well having family nearby and you certainly found some treasures to share. That Alice lurks on a bowling green is not something I knew … I do enjoy learning from you!

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      1. Do NOT ever go into the Oxfam charity book shop in Oxford … it is lethal if you need to travel light!!! My ultimate aim is to get France to understand the value of the charity shop …. it’s such a win-win but so far even in the city I have found it difficult to get people to grasp the concept. I am, however, nothing if not bluddy minded so I will persevere and succeed if it kills me!!!

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    1. Yes, I would say parts of it are posh, as in most places have both parts to each city. Some villages or smaller towns in the UK are indeed more poshier, if the house prices are anything to go by. Though not all homes reflect the prices, I am guessing that the land is the most valuable which is the same principle no matter where the house is situated. We much prefer the countryside villages and smaller towns.


  5. I love this description of shopping….. “!to inject some new items of clothing into our very limited wardrobe.” I didn’t know that Turing came from Guilford. When I worked in Egham at ACS, I had the local university bring the Enigma machine to our school for our enrichment program. It was fascinating.

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  6. I managed 9 months there at the college of law in 78/79..then the high street seemed full of shoe shops and building societies. Mind you I do recall a couple of dodgy clubs too and the Yvonne Arnaud theatre known locally as the Avon Gumby after Monty Python which was good to visit..never did manage the sites as you’ve described but in my defence I was 21… I need to return

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