<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Surrey Life today click here

10 reasons to visit Guildford

PUBLISHED: 13:35 16 December 2015 | UPDATED: 13:44 16 December 2015

Guildford, Surrey

Guildford, Surrey


With its historic High Street, famous clock and views to the Surrey Hills, Guildford is a great place to visit at any time of year, but especially now when it is also festooned with twinkling Christmas lights

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine December 2015


Share your Guildford photography @ www.surreylife.co.uk/photos


Town centre, High Street GU1 3QT: 01483 452163 / experienceguildford.co.uk

The historic town centre has to be the place to start any visit to Guildford, with the famous Guildhall clock, dating back to 1683, jutting out over the cobbled High Street. Plus, with some 250 shops, it’s the perfect place for a bit of retail therapy (look out for Experience Guildford’s Little Book of Offers free with this issue). But, before you go mad with your credit card, do take a tour of our lovely county town, which even has its own castle ruin, by downloading the free app from Visit Guildford (go to handheldtours.co.uk and look for Guildford).

Guildford House Gallery, 155 High Street GU1 3AJ: 01483 444751 / guildford.gov.uk/guildfordhouse

Walk up the cobbles from the clock and, just a few yards away, you’ll find this delightful 17th century museum and gallery with the creakiest staircase in Surrey! With a varied programme of events and exhibitions, The Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition 2015 is in residence until Saturday January 2. Now in its 28th year, this prestigious show features the work of some 80 artists. Admission is free and the gallery is open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 4.45pm. For more cultural interest in Guildford this month, turn to our Art Life section on page 70.

Abbot’s Hospital, High Street GU1 3AJ: 01483 455591 / abbotshospital.org

Tucked away at the top of the High Street, Abbot’s Hospital is a bit of a hidden gem, with people walking past oblivious to the incredible Jacobean Grade I building just a few yards away. Founded in 1619 by former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Abbot, as a place of shelter for the elderly, it continues to this day to provide accommodation for 28 residents. Full tours start again next year in May, but be sure to take a peek inside the gates as you pass. Now, while you’re in the area, here is our little challenge… not far away is a small piece of history sitting quietly at the edge of the pavement: Guildford’s very own Boundary Stone, dating from the late 1700s, complete with descriptive plaque… but can you find it?


Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Millbrook GU1 3UX: 01483 440000 / yvonne-arnaud.co.uk


Celebrating its 50th anniversary, this much-loved theatre hosts local and national touring productions, including drama, opera and ballet, as well as producing its own work. Talking of which, ‘tis the season to enjoy Jack and the Beanstalk, with Dillie Keane leading the way as The Good Fairy and Kit Hesketh-Harvey as the nasty Dastardly Dick (he’s behind you!). Kick-off is Friday December 4 and the show runs until Sunday January 3. If pantos aren’t your cup of tea, there’s always The Snow Queen in the Mill Studio. Presented by the Apollo Theatre Company, it runs from Saturday December 19 to Sunday December 27, so get your skates on…!

Britten’s Restaurant, 
1C Sydenham Road GU1 3RT: 01483 302888 / brittensrestaurant.com

So you’re probably feeling a bit peckish by now? Well, just a short trot away from the High Street, Britten’s comes with the backing of a Surrey Life Food & Drink Award no less. Chef Daniel Britten and his crew took the trophy for Best Local Menu, with our esteemed judge, Professor Andrew Lockwood from the University of Surrey, praising the dishes for their “high culinary standard”. For this month, they have created a special Christmas menu – with three courses for just £34.50.

Guildford Institute, Ward Street GU1 4LH: 01483 562142 / guildford-institute.org.uk

Another easily-missed gem is this community hub tucked away in Ward Street. Housed in a beautiful Grade II listed building, dating from the late 1800s, they offer a range of courses, talks, music recitals, visits and more. There is also a great vegetarian restaurant called The Beano (tried and tasted by our lovely editor – review at surreylife.co.uk – so it must be good!) and a library that is like something out of Harry Potter (open Tuesday to Saturday for research and for members to borrow books). This month? Wednesday December 9 sees a talk on Christmas wines by a former chief inspector of The Met, Jeremy Blood, now owner of the Surrey Wine School.

Ben’s Collectors Records, 5 Tunsgate Road GU1 3QT: 01483 301165 / benscollectorsrecords.com

This little shop has to be the ‘grooviest’ independent in the town centre (sorry!). Found close to Guildford Castle, Ben’s is the first place to stop if you’re looking for that obscure record (vinyl, CD, whatever...) and with it you’ll also get a wealth of information and knowledge from the man himself. Working in record shops since 1984, Ben has built up a reputation among music fans and artists alike and still organises the monthly Guildford Record Fair in the nearby Guildhall.

The Boileroom, 13 Stoke Fields GU1 4LS: 01483 440022 / theboileroom.net

Sticking with the music and arts theme, a short toddle past the new Waitrose site in York Road will take you to this unique venue, which hosts live alternative music, arts and crafts and community events. A bar serving drinks and pies is just a tiny part of this place. Dedicated to helping creative start-ups in the area, The Boileroom also has three artists-in-residence showcasing their work – Esoteric Screenprinting, Poppy Porter (an abstract artist-jeweller) and Boileroom Tattoo, where you can have “I Love Surrey Life” carefully written across your chest (just joking, but if you do, please send us a photo…).

River Wey, Millmead GU2 4BE: walkthiswey.co.uk

Away from the town centre, a leisurely potter along the towpath of the Wey is a lovely way to relax. Our choice would be to start at the bottom of the High Street, crossing the town bridge and turning left by The White House pub. As you wander down Millmead, look out for Alice and The White Rabbit on your left – a sculpture by local artist Edwin Russell celebrating Lewis Carroll’s connections with Guildford. The path also takes you out along open meadows and, after a mile or so, you’ll reach St Catherine’s – the ruins of a 14th century chapel on the hill overlooking the river. Well worth the detour up to Ferry Lane to see it.

G Live, London Road GU1 2AA: 01483 369350 / glive.co.uk

Winner of the Entertainment Venue of the Year at the Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards 2015, G Live offers music, theatre, comedy, films and events – and this month Father Christmas himself will be there to get the kids in the mood. Santa Claus and the Night Before Christmas starts the festive countdown on Wednesday December 9 and runs until Christmas Eve. Something for the grown-ups? Try the New Year’s Eve Ball with champagne, three-course dinner, live entertainment and – slightly worrying – a Survivors’ Breakfast, all for £65 per person.


Get in touch:

Share your own favourite places in Guildford by sending an e-mail to the editor at editor@surreylife.co.uk or by joining us on Twitter and Facebook




Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Surrey visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Surrey staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Surrey account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Located at the tripoint with Hampshire and West Sussex, Haslemere has always been a fiercely independent Surrey town and harbours a number of surprising hidden gems. Visit and you’ll soon see what has, through the ages, inspired writers, artists and residents alike

Read more
Monday, January 8, 2018

If you thought January was supposed to be quiet, think again. We pick 13 of the best events taking place in Surrey this month

Read more
Monday, January 8, 2018

Floral beauty may be scarce in the winter but it is the snowdrop that is the first herald of spring. Displays of these hardy little blooms can last from January through to March. We pick seven of the best places in Surrey to find snowdrops

Read more
Monday, January 1, 2018

Surrey villages are some of the most beautiful in Britain – think red-bricked cottages, cosy pubs, village greens and picture-worthy streets. We picked 14 of the prettiest Surrey villages to live.

Read more
Monday, December 18, 2017

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

Read more
Friday, December 8, 2017

Enjoy Surrey all year...

Read more
Monday, December 4, 2017

Guildford Fringe Theatre Company is back again with another risqué panto strictly for the over 18s from the Back Room of the Star Inn.

Read more
Thursday, November 30, 2017

Enjoy a delightful two mile heath and woodland walk around this country park, which recently achieved the highest rating from Natural England. A must for all the family – both two and four-legged!

Read more
Monday, November 20, 2017

Surrey is a county full of festive delights. Think cosy pubs, frosty views and long winter walks. We pick 22 wonderful reasons to spend Christmas in Surrey.

Read more
Monday, November 6, 2017

Surrey is England’s most wooded county and the Surrey Hills boasts almost 40 per cent woodland cover. These woodlands hide a wealth of archaeological features. We pick some of the best woodland walks to explore

Read more
Sunday, November 5, 2017

Surrey has been used as a film location for many a blockbuster movie and the county’s hotels, woods and villages are no stranger to visits from the Hollywood A-list. Here’s just a few of the movies that have been, at least in part, filmed in Surrey

Read more

Head to the far east of the county and you’ll find a charming town with a big personality set at the foot of the North Downs

Read more
Monday, October 23, 2017

Foxhills Club & Resort is in the running for a prestigious national prize, after being shortlisted in two categories for the third consecutive year in the National Fitness Awards

Read more
Sunday, October 15, 2017

Thirty years ago, the face of Surrey changed almost beyond recognition as The Great Storm ripped through the county, felling over a million trees and leaving a terrific trail of destruction in their wake.

Read more
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad
Surrey Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Surrey's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search