Guildford, the county town of Surrey, is one of the most bustling towns in the south west of England. Its name Guildford, deriving from "the golden ford", describes both its origins and its location, namely its development by the "ford" that was cut by the River Wey through the great chalk wall of the North Downs and by the slope which on its western side is covered in "golden" buttercups and celandine in the summer.
The first documentary record of Guildford originates from about 900 AD in the will of King Alfred the Great. By the 11 th century Guildford possessed its own castle, which the Plantagenet kings turned into a palace during the 12 th century. Guildford was a prosperous town already in medieval times, evidence of which is provided in abundance by its quaint, cobbled and charming High Street in which stand many historic buildings.
At the top lies the Tudor Royal Grammar School. Founded in 1509, it is set around a quadrangle in the style of the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge universities. The school houses the famous chained library that is open to visitors by appointment. Further down the High street lie the Holy Trinity Church, which dates back from the 16 th century and the Hospital of the Blessed Trinity, a magnificent almshouse founded in 1619 by George Abbot, a local man who became the Archbishop of Canterbury. It still houses 20 elderly people of Guildford.
One of the most impressive buildings on the High Street is the Guildhall, the seat of local government since the early 1300s. The original building, however, was little more than a barn. It was extended and improved for the visit of Elizabeth I to the town in 1589. The building was further improved during the late 17 th century when the ornate façade and panelled Council Chamber were added. The most noticeable external feature of the Guildhall is its ornate projecting clock. Guildford's oldest building is St Mary's Church that was founded on Quarry Street in about 1050 and was used as a chapel from the 12 th century when Guildford Castle, a short way down the road, began to be used as a royal palace.
Guildford offers the visitor an ideal base for exploring Surrey, its beautiful countryside, its numerous charming villages with their old cottages, inns and churches. Apart from its history, Guildford boasts a variety of modern attractions and types of accommodation. And all this within easy reach of London.