Guildford: The Town

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.

Ichnography of Guildford, 1739

Ichnography of Guildford, 1739

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)

Transcripts of these registers have been created by a Surrey History Centre volunteer, Nick Kurn, and are now available as pdfs to view and search on the Surrey History Centre website.

Read Surrey History Centre’s December 2019 Marvel of the Month about the development of Guildford High Street.

Please follow the links on the left to find out more….

2 thoughts on “Guildford: The Town”

  1. Jill Pretorius says:

    I was just wondering if anyone knows how Agraria Road or Denzil Road in Guildford got their names? All I know is they date from Victorian times. Thanks, Jill

  2. Joanne McGinty says:

    In Italy there are records of the Cultural centre of Guildford being a Religious centre, under the cobbled High street, used by the Church. All references are translated from Aramaic, the International language between 10th and 13th centuries, before Latin. There is a link to all the International Church sites of the day, which could explain the Earliest records in England, for a vast array of oxthodox faiths. It is believed that there are still 10th Century, seeds and tree stocks buried under the High Street, which would classed as ancient woodland. Although the Valley belongs to Lady Gill, formerly, Manor Park, Guildford, would any records survive in the British Museum?

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