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10 reasons to love Guildford

PUBLISHED: 13:53 18 December 2017 | UPDATED: 13:53 18 December 2017

Guildford illustration

Guildford illustration

Emily Westwell

From its controversial cathedral and setted (not cobbled!) High Street to its indpendent shops and riverside location, Surrey’s county town ticks a lot of boxes

1. Guildford Cathedral

Stag Hill, Guildford

Web: Guildford-cathedral.org

The jewel in the crown of Guildford, the cathedral becomes more alive than ever over the Christmas period. Recent refurbishment has given this inspiring building a new lease of life – you can simply come along for the peace and tranquillity of a regular service, or do a whole tour including, on Saturday afternoons, a guided walk up to the top of the tower where you’ll see the town laid out around you – a strenuous climb but well worth it when you see the fabulous angel close up!

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2. Ben’s Collectors Records

5, Tunsgate, Guildford

Web: benscollectorsrecords.com

Down to earth now, with one of the best little independents in town, at the top of the newly revamped Tunsgate. Ben Darnton has been a prominent figure in Guildford for years and for those of you with an interest in music (who hasn’t?!) this is the man who can find that elusive CD or vinyl for you. Classical, Jazz, pop – you name it and it’s probably tucked away somewhere in this fabulous little shop. Beware; Ben has a keen interest in all things Guildford including steam trains so you’ll find yourself chatting for hours if you’re not careful.

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3. Abbot’s Hospital

High Street, Guildford

Web: abbotshospital.org

A beautiful Grade 1 Listed Jacobean building founded in 1691 by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, George Abbot. Gifted to the town as a shelter for the poor and elderly of Guildford, it still offers accommodation for local people under the care of the resident Master. Although a private building, you are welcome to wander into the entrance off the High Street and see the gardens and courtyard from the inner gate. The hospital’s Monmouth Tower houses a rare copy of a “Vinegar Bible” – so called due to a misprint – and it was here the Duke of Monmouth stayed the night on his way to the Tower of London where he was executed for treason

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4. Dapdune Wharf and the River Wey

Wharf Road, Guildford

Web: nationaltrust.org.uk/river-wey-and-godalming-navigations-and-dapdune-wharf

One of the best reasons to Love Guildford is the beautiful River Wey. Described as a, “tranquil waterway running for nearly 20 miles through the heart of Surrey”, you can choose to take on the whole stretch for an invigorating walk (don’t worry – there are plenty of pubs on the way…), or simply a gentle stroll along the tow path.

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5. Chapel Street

Guildford, GU1 3UL

We thought we’d include the entire street for this one, as there are some lovely little independent shops here just off the High Street. First up is The Whisky Shop at number 25. Simple really – if you love a wee dram of the stuff then look no further. Some say there are over 400 different kinds here but we haven’t counted. A short step away at number 23 we have Surrey Hills Coffee – a lovely little café serving blends of artisan coffee produced at a local roaster at Leith Hill. Lots of gorgeous cakes too – try the Swedish chocolate ball. Finally on our grand tour of Chapel Street there is Partisan Cheesemonger and Deli at number 14a. Quite simply everything cheese with an incredible display on offer – Stinking Bishop anyone?

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6. De Nada tapas bar

12a Market Street. Guildford

Web: denadatapas.co.uk

Time for a bite to eat and what better than our very own Surrey Life Food and Drink award winners – De Nada. Picking up our ‘Newcomer of the Year’ medal this splendid little tapas bar is just off the High Street, so not far to stagger with your Christmas-gift laden shopping bags. Relaxed and cosy with, in their own words, a taste of Spanish sunshine, you’ll have a hard job deciding what to pick – the menu is huge. Mix and match is the key here so dive in and try a few – there’s stuffed peppers, chorizo with sherry, scallops in pesto butter, acorn-fed rustic chorizo… and then of course there are the desserts…

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7. Guildford House Gallery

155, High Street, Guildford

Web: guildford.gov.uk/guildfordhouse

This is one of the most magnificent buildings in Guildford and is strategically placed just a short stroll from the Guildhall with the famous clock. The gallery has a fabulous history with parts dating back to 1660 – the beautiful staircase with its creaking steps just has to be seen (and heard!). There is a constantly changing round of exhibitions as well as a lovely café and shop, so call in and soak up even more of the Christmas atmosphere! Admission is free and open Monday to Saturday 10am to 4.45pm.

8. Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Millbrook, Guildford

Web: yvonne-arnaud.co.uk

No Christmas is complete without the panto…(Oh yes it is!..Oh no it isn’t…) and here it is – starting December 8, you can sit back and join in with the old favourite Dick Whittington causing mayhem and laughs on stage. With Judy Cornwell of Keeping Up Appearances and Eagle Radio’s Peter Gordon you’re in for a treat. It runs until January 7 so get those tickets booked soon.

9. The Little Beer Corporation

Building.3, 14-15 Midleton Road

Web: littlebeer.co.uk

Yet another of Guildford’s little independent treasures is this micro brewery tucked away just outside the town. Run on co-operative principles the brewery welcomes new shareholders to the business, which has grown from a 2.5 barrel set up to a 10 barrel brewery in Midleton Road. Founded in 2012 by Jim Taylor, the aim is simple – to produce some of the best artisan beers in the world. Don’t take our word for it though, the brewery is open for shop sales Monday to Saturday (check times on the website), and you can browse and buy online too. Cheers!

10. The High Street

Guildford

We thought we’d end this seasonal glimpse at the Guildford’s best bits by taking you on a quick stroll down the most attractive street in the county. See if you can find the boundary stone in the upper High Street – it’s near the Royal Grammar School – and then onto the cobbles past the statue of George Abbot. The historical Trinity Church on your left is opposite Abbot’s Hospital and then you’ll see Guildford’s wonderful clock on the Guildhall. Down past the ancient coaching inn of The Angel and you’ll pass the statue of the scholar – always late for his lectures... then you’re at the River Wey with all its local history to be enjoyed. Happy Christmas from Guildford!

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