GUILDFORD, a market town and municipal borough, and the county town of Surrey, England, in the Guildford parliamentary division, 29 m. S.W. of London by the London and South Western railway; served also by the London, Brighton, and South Coast and the South Eastern and Chatham railways.
Pop. (1901) 15,938. It is beautifully situated on an acclivity of the northern chalk Downs and on the river Wey. Its older streets contain a number of picturesque gabled houses, with quaint lattices and curious doorways. The ruins of a Norman castle stand finely above the town and are well preserved; while the ground about them is laid out as a public garden. Beneath the Angel Inn and a house in the vicinity are extensive vaults, apparently of Early English date, and traditionally connected with the castle. The church of St Mary is Norman and Early English, with later additions and considerably restored; its aisles retain their eastward apses and it contains many interesting details. The church of St Nicholas is a modern building on an ancient site, and that of Holy Trinity is a brick structure of 1763, with later additions, also on the site of an earlier church, from which some of the monuments are preserved, including that of Archbishop Abbot (1640). The town hall dates from 1683 and contains a number of interesting pictures. Other public buildings are the county hall, corn-market and institute with museum and library. Abbot's Hospital, founded by Archbishop Abbot in 1619, is a beautiful Tudor brick building. The county hospital (1866) was erected as a memorial to Albert, Prince Consort. The Royal Free Grammar School, founded in 1509, and incorporated by Edward VI., is an important school for boys. At Cranleigh,6 m. S.E., is a large middle-class county school. The town has flour mills, iron foundries and breweries, and a large trade in grain; while fairs are held for live stock. There is a manufacture of gunpowder in the neighbouring village of Chilworth. Guildford is a suffragan bishopric in the diocese of Winchester. The borough is under a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. Area, 2601 acres.
Guildford (Gyldeford, Geldeford), occurs among the possessions of King Alfred, and was a royal borough throughout the middle ages. It probably owed its rise to its position at the junction of trade routes. It is first mentioned as a borough in 1131. Henry III. granted a charter to the men of Guildford in 1256, by which they obtained freedom from toll throughout the kingdom, and the privilege of having the county court held always in their town. Edward III. granted charters to Guildford in 1340, 1346 and 1367; Henry VI. in 1423; Henry VII. in 1488. Elizabeth in 1580 confirmed earlier charters, and other charters were granted in 1603, 1626 and 1686. The borough was incorporated in 1486 under the title of the mayor and good men of Guildford. During the middle ages the government of the town rested with a powerful merchant gild. Two members for Guildford sat in the parliament of 1295, and the borough continued to return two representatives until 1867 when the number was reduced to one. By the Redistribution Act of 1885 Guildford became merged in the county for electoral purposes. Edward II. granted to the town the right of having two fairs, at the feast of St Matthew (21st of September) and at Trinity respectively. Henry VII. granted fairs on the feast of St Martin (nth of November) and St George (23rd of April). Fairs in May for the sale of sheep and in November for the sale of cattle are still held. The market rights date at least from 1276, and three weekly markets are still held for the sale of corn, cattle and vegetables respectively. The cloth trade which formed the staple industry at Guildford in the middle ages is now extinct.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)