India-Oman-United Kingdom Postgraduate Student at Uni of Surrey
University of Surrey
As part of the welcome week activities, University of Surrey provides you with tours to introduce you to the town along with an experienced tour guide. And I signed up for the same even before coming here, so here goes how it went...
The Historic Walking Tour of Guildford began at the Stag Hill campus from where those who signed up for the tour had to walk to the Tunsgate Arch in the twon centre in Guildford. Do be careful with your timings and reach on the time specified because this involves an uphill walk that will have you running short of breath once your reach the spot. Waiting for us over there was our lovely guide Steve who voluntarily takes part in the Guildford Walks Guide Community.
After introducing ourselves and getting to know each other over a good five minutes, we started our journey. After listening to a bit about Tunsgate Arch, earlier an important market for the wexchange of corn and now serves as a popular landmark in the shopping centre. We walked uphill through the Arch to make our way into the Guildford Castle.
Built by William the conquerer after 1066 when the Invasion of Normandy took place. the castle was used as a royal palace, remnants of which still stand to this date. We wlaked around the castle, the view from behind the fence being magnificent. A perfectly sunny day made it even better. The grounds were bought by the Guildford corporation and turned into public gardens in 1888 marking Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee; the fiftieth anniversary of her accession.
Then on, he explained how a major part of the revenue of Guildford switched to wool while it were the taxes earlier. Wool trade was popular and the quality and colour of the materials gave the name 'Guildford Blue', something purely associated to the town.
After hearing about the Bishops, Deacons, the Dioces and about the Cathedrals and two Churches in the town, we headed downhill. The Guildford Cathedral was consecrated in the presence of HM The Queen. The construction of the Church was halted and continued post the second world war.
What we encountered there was a beautiful statue picturising Lewis Caroll's book Alice through the Looking Glass. Lewis Caroll's family is said to have lived in a house behind the statue which is now a private residence.
After exiting the Castle Grounds, we walked past a few sytreets to reach the St Mary's Church and the burial grounds associated with it.
A darker part of history here was the massacre of the troops of Prince Alfred Hethling who apparently visited here after an invitation from Earl Godwin. The bones discovered showed signs of torture, binding and decapitation. It was unbelievable to say the least that this quiet little town could have a past so ominous.
The Walk to Town Centre
We headed out to the streets after the graveyard. We were informed about the Guildford Museum which is free to visit. Olivo, a restaurant nearby was particularly spoken about for its 16th century timber wooden carvings on the roof. Then we walked past The Star Inn which hosted the first performance of the Stranglers in 1974. After a long walk again back to high street we saw the building of Lloyd's bank building which was earlier a drapery business of William Haydon. What looks like air vents in the shape of buttons reminds us of the history of the business.
The next destination was in front of the Tunsgate Arch where we began; the Guildhall to which the clock was a gift from a London clockmaker in return for trading in the borough. Unfortunately for us, it is covered in scaffolding at the moment, but should be opening soon.
After a pretty exhausting journey, we ended up having our lunch at 4 from wagamama's after a walk downhill again. Pretty affordable and delicious stuff.
The narrow alleyways, the sight of the river, the Mount with the trees and the timber frame houses, the cobbled streets werew among the many beautiful sights we got to see that day. If you're in the UK or are planning to travel to UK, Guildford can be confidently given a spot in your itinerary. You will not regret it. Until next time.
Alice Through the Looking Glass
© 2022 Rushali Prasad