GUILDFORD, comprises the parishes of Holy Trinity, St. Mary, and St. Nicholas, it is a market town, parliamentary and corporate borough, and the county town of county Surrey, locally situate in the first division of Woking hundred, but exercising separate jurisdiction, 30 miles S.W. of London, by the turnpike road through Kingston, Cobham, &c., and nearly 1 mile more by the South-Western railway, which has a station here. It is very pleasantly situated on the chalk downs and river Wey, and the Arun and Wey canal passes through it.
In the Saxon times it was called Guldford, or Gyldeford, and it appears that Alfred the Great gave the manor to his nephew, Ethelwald. In 1036, Alfred, son of Ethelred II., was taken prisoner here by Earl Godwin. Charles I. bestowed it upon the earls of Annandale, and it afterwards passed to the family of Onslow. A castle was built here at an early period, which was taken in 1216 by Louis, Dauphin of France. The town was first incorporated in the reign of Henry III., and its charter subsequently confirmed by several succeeding monarchs.
The government, under the Municipal Reform Act, is vested in a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 common councillors. The borough has returned two members to parliament since the reign of Edward I. Its boundary was extended by the Reform Bill, so that the municipal and parliamentary limits are now co-extensive. They include 1,464 houses, inhabited by a population of 8,032, having increased in the decennial period since 1851 by 1,292.
The High-street, in which is situated the townhall and county court offices, forms the principal part of the town, and is on the declivity of a hill, tending towards the river Wey, which is here crossed by a bridge of five arches. The houses are well built, and the place is paved, lighted with gas, and has a good water supply. It has corn and cattle markets, the former a good modern edifice opposite the townhall, two commercial banks, a savings-bank, a large modern public hall, in which the assizes are held, a literary institute, with its reading and lecture rooms, also museum, theatre, and two prisons. The Second Royal Surrey Militia have their barracks here. The corn and timber trades are extensively carried on, and many of the people are employed in the foundries, carriage works, and mills. Artington and Stoke are suburbs of Guildford.
The town is divided into three parishes Holy Trinity in the E., St. Mary in the centre, and St. Nicholas in the W. The two first are united for ecclesiastical purposes, the living being valued at £155. The living of St. Nicholas is a rectory,* value £600, in the patronage of the Bishop of Winchester. Trinity church is a red brick edifice, built about the middle of last century, upon the site of a former one. It has a lofty square tower, containing a peal of eight bells; and, being situated on the top of the hill, is a conspicuous object for a long distance. In it are monuments to Archbishop Abbot, Speaker Onslow, and Lord Mayor Parkhurst.
St. Nicholas stands on the S. side of the river, and has recently been rebuilt. It is a handsome structure, and contains a brass and tombs of the Mores and Molyneuxes. St. Mary's church is the most ancient, and was built by the Testards; it has two round apses, or chapels, some Norman arches, and wall-paintings in the vestry. There are numerous charities, the principal of which is Smith's, for the poor, producing about £845 per annum, and others realising upwards of £1,000.
Archbishop Abbot's hospital was founded in the time of James I., and provides for a master, 12 brethren, and 8 sisters. The Independents, Baptists, Wesleyans, and Roman Catholics have chapels. There are two well endowed schools, Abbot's, and the royal free grammar, besides National, British, and infant schools.
There are some remains of Guildford Castle, which appears to have covered a large space of ground, but with regard to the date of its erection, nothing certain can be ascertained. In the guildhall, which was built about 1683, are portraits of the Stuarts, and of William III.; and in the hall of Trinity Hospital are portraits of Wycliffe, Calvin, Fox, and Archbishop Abbot, whose chair is still preserved here. Wednesday and Saturday are the market days for corn, meat, poultry, and general produce, and frequently for cattle, sheep, &c. Fairs are held on the 4th May and 22nd November, for the sale of horses and live stock.