Living in Guildford
What is life like in Guidlford
As the county town of Surrey, Guildford is packed with history, charm and fun in equal measures. There is plenty to do and much to see, all just 25 miles or so from central London and with excellent transport links to all parts of the south-east.
It is an extremely desirable place to live and is popular with families and young professionals, as well as older residents who have been there for many years.
The town centre is famous for its granite paved streets that are lined with historic buildings and beautiful parks. Boutique shops, cafes, pubs and a theatre are just some of the highlight of an incredibly smart settlement.
What's more, those living in Guildford have easy access to the surrounding countryside, which includes some of the most beautiful rural areas in southern England. It is located in a gap in the North Downs, where much of the land is designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
While Guildford has always been a popular place and a high-quality location for commuters, it is also attracting more business in its own right. The town has now become a focal point for video game developers, with many believing it to be the UK's major hub for this industry, creating plenty of new employment opportunities.
Guildford dates back to the Saxon times, with settlers founding the town shortly before 410 AD. It was built around the River Wey, at the point where Harrow Wey crossed the river. 'Guild' is thought to mean 'gold' and is a reference to the golden sands that were found on the river's banks at this time.
Over the years, Guildford developed a reputation as being the key trade point between Portsmouth and London. Its main industry was wool.
It did not change a great deal until the 19th century when the arrival of the railway sparked a boom in industry and notable trades in this period included brewing, engineering and printing.
The major development in the town in the 20th century was the consecration of Guildford Cathedral in 1961. This came some 25 years after building work on the structure had first started, only to be interrupted by World War II.
The most famous person to come from Guildford is the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Abbot, who built the Abbots Hospital Alms House as a gift to the people of the town.
Alan Turing, who famously managed to break the Enigma Code during World War II, also lived in Guildford, as did EH Shepherd, the man who drew Winnie the Pooh for the books of the bear's adventures.
Entertainment, sport and days out
Guildford Cathedral is perhaps the most spectacular building in the town and is well worth a visit, while the area is also home to Guildford Castle, Winkworth Arboretum, the Devil's Punchbowl, Waverley Abbey and Loseley House and Park. It means people in the town should never be short of somewhere to visit for a few hours.
The River Wey runs through the town and taking a boat trip on this is another great option open to those seeking an enjoyable day out with their loved ones.
Spectrum Leisure Centre is one of Guildford's most modern and impressive facilities and is located at Stoke Park. It features an Olympic-size ice rink, a variety of swimming pools, tenpin bowling, squash courts and an athletics stadium, making it a hit with all sportspeople.
Guildford is home to two theatres – the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre and the Electric Theatre. Both of these venues host a range of productions and are great places for anyone seeking comedy, music or drama throughout the year.
Eating, drinking & shopping
There are many stylish and tasty eateries in Guildford, with most of the restaurants in the town falling into the casual dining category. Caracoli is one good example of this, with the modern all-day café extremely popular among locals.
Another great place to head to for a bite to eat is CAU, which was founded by those behind the Gaucho chain of restaurants. The Riverview Restaurant at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre is another ideal spot for a meal and offers excellent British cooking.
Jamie's Italian is the perfect option for those seeking a menu designed by TV chef Jamie Oliver, while Thai Terrace and Relish at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel are other venues that come highly recommended.
When it comes to shopping in Guildford, the major advantage is that there is an incredible amount of choice available. Whether people are looking for designer stores, independent outlets or budget retailers, they will find them in the town.
The Friary Centre is the hub of the town's shopping offering, but it is ably backed up by a host of key retail streets. There is also a regular farmers' market that is well worth looking out for.
House of Fraser, Hugo Boss and Gant are some of the leading designer stores, while luxury goods and furniture are available from BO Concept, Bang & Olufsen and The White Company.
Schools & healthcare
A good range of private and state schools are in operation in and around Guildford. The most prestigious private institutions include the Royal Grammar School, Guildford High School and Tormead, while the state-run options are George Abbot, Guildford County School and Godalming College.
Locals will also be able to visit a number of hospitals should they require urgent medical attention while living in the town. These include the Royal Surrey County Hospital, the Nuffield Hospital and BMI Mount Alvernia.
Guildford is located around 30 miles south-west of London and it is just a few minutes from the A3, which leads straight into the capital. It is roughly 35 miles from the south coast, with Portsmouth sitting at the other end of the same road.
Rail links are similarly impressive, with direct services from Guildford to London Waterloo taking about 35 minutes. Alternatively, there are routes from Woking, Dorking and Haslemere to the city, which range from 23 to 50 minutes.
Heathrow Airport is 24 miles from Guildford and Gatwick Airport is approximately 28 miles in the opposite direction.