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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloSaturday 25th August 2018 Day 5 – (day in Guildford to explore) 4.68 kms / 12,773 steps elevation 65 meters

I had a lovely 5 km amble around Guildford this morning.

The town is located near the site of the “Golden Ford” an established crossing place; it is this Ford to which Guildford owes its name. An ancient track-way which ran along the North Downs descended to this river crossing. The first written record relating to King Alfred about Guildford dates from around AD 885.

Retracing my steps from previous visits I walked up the fantastic cobbled and pedestrianised High Street where I passed the Abbot’s Hospital; founded in 1619 by George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury as a gift “out of my love to the place of my birth”. Built as a shelter for the elderly poor of the town – 12 single men and 8 single women, it’s not open to the public for touring, but if the door is open do pop in to the edge pf the courtyard for a glimpse of the courtyard. It’s a stunning building and I enjoy popping in whenever I’m in Guildford.

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Abbot’s Hospital built 1619

abbots hospital guildford, history of guildford, walking the pilgrims ways, long distance walks of england

Abbots Hospital built 1619

The High Street contains some fantastic old buildings, the Guildhall with it’s marvellous clock.

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the Guildhall and it’s fabulous clock

I passed the Three Pigeons Pub; a mid-18th century pub with a fabulous facade modelled on a late 17th century house in Oxford.

Further up the High Street at the junction of Upper High Street, is a statue of George Abbot looking not quite down the High Street.

On my way back down the High Street I stopped off at the Holy Trinity Church where George Abbot is buried. There was a choir practising for a concert that night; Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’….I wish now that I had made the effort to go watch. Missed opportunity.

I  strolled along the Town Path, a narrow lane that takes you out towards the castle.

There’s a wonderful sundial featuring Edward and Eleanor (1272-1307) on one of the buildings in Castle Street.

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Edward and Eleanor sundial Guildford

A visit to the castle is a must, with fabulous views across the town. Built shortly after the 1066 invasion of England by William the Conqueror, today the Keep is the most substantial section that remains. It is however not mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book so was probably built later. The gardens are a kaleidoscope of colourful flowers and plants.

I searched for the Alice Through the Looking Glass sculpture eventually and found it within a small garden in the perimeter of the castle grounds; a memorial to Lewis Carroll who stayed in his sisters’ house; The Chestnuts from 1868 until his death in 1898.

I walked downhill and passed through Castle Arch; constructed in 1256 by John of Gloucester , King Henry III’s master mason.

As I strolled along Quarry Street I passed the Guildford Museum so popped in for a short visit…..the museum forms the gatehouse and annex of Guildford Castle and houses as fantastic collection of artefacts with over over 75,000 objects, dating from c.500,000 BC (the Lower Palaeolithic) to the modern day.

I had planned to walk along the River Wey to find the Alice and the Rabbit sculpture, so set off, first visiting St Mary’s Church where they were preparing for a wedding. Sadly no pilgrim’s stamp.

I crossed the medieval town bridge, constructed with wood in 920, it has stood for 7 centuries (albeit partially destroyed in 1900 by a flood),

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Guildford Bridge

and found what I was looking for…what a delight.

Along the way I passed St Nicholas Parish Church which didn’t appear to be open. It’s a marvellous looking building and a church has stood on that site since 1300.

Another delightful sculpture is at the bottom of the High Street; The Surrey Scholar by Allan Sly, unveiled in 2002.

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The Scholar, Guildford

After a few hours I made my way back to the airbnb and spent the rest of the day, preparing a good meal, repacking my backpack and resting…a long sleep was beneficial.

Here’s a link in case you’re interested in finding out more about the Abbot’s Hospital
https://www.abbotshospital.org/

In all, Guildford is a fascinating town with a wonderful history and so much to see. Although I have visited Guildford a few times in the past, I was glad of the opportunity to spend some more time there. It’s such a fascinating place.

In case you missed Day 4 of my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way – click here
I’ve made a short video of my day in Guildford

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