Located at a gap in the North Downs at a crossing point of the River Wey, Guildford has been a place of strategic and commercial importance from the earliest times.
The earliest written reference to Guildford dates from c. 880, when it is described as a royal possession in the will of King Alfred the Great, king of the West Saxons and the Anglo-Saxons, who lived between 848/9 and 899.
By the 10th century, the town was home to a royal mint and coins struck at Guildford have been found from the reigns of Ethelred the Unready, Cnut, Hardicnut, Edward the Confessor and William I. In general, however, archaeological evidence for the Saxon period remains sparse, although it seems that Guildford was a typical planned town of the period, surrounded by a ditch and a bank to defend the inhabitants .
In 1086, William I commissioned the Domesday Book, to collate data concerning land-holding and local populations throughout England, so that the conqueror-king would have a complete knowledge of his possessions. In Domesday, it is recorded that Guildford was a royal possession and that King William has 75 sites, whereon dwell 175 men, figures which denote an actual population of around 750 people.
Surrey History Centre holds the following registers:
- Guildford Workhouse Births 1866-1910 (SHC ref BG6/37/1)
- Guildford Workhouse Deaths 1887-1914 (SHC ref BG6/38/1-2)
- Guildford Infirmary Deaths 1933-1939 (SHC ref BG6/38/4)
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