Built in 1170 by Henry II on top of a mound that itself was built shortly after the Norman Conquest of England in the 11 th century, the Keep of Guildford Castle, surrounded by its beautiful ornamental gardens, makes for an impressive site. For a time it served as a royal palace and was a particular favourite of King Henry III (1207-1272). At the time it boasted glass windows, a very rare luxury in the 12th and 13th centuries. The castle was captured by the French during the reign of Henry's successor, King John. In the late 14th century it was used as a prison and today its tiny chapel betrays some poignant carvings made by its prisoners. However, apart from a couple of Romanesque windows few of the original decorative details remain.
During the 16th century the castle became a private house but in 1885 was acquired by the local authority that allowed the public access to the Castle.