Guildford is in the heart of the ‘stockbroker belt’ that houses the wealthy commuters who work the money markets of the City of London. Visitors may assume that the University of Surrey and the impressive modernist cathedral on the hill gives Guildford ‘county town’ status. In fact Surrey’s administration centre is Kingston-on-Thames, which left Surrey to join Greater London back in 1965. But you could easily be forgiven for thinking that this is the real capital of Surrey when you walk down the high street of this prosperous market town in the heart of southern Toryland.
Though somewhat off the tourist radar, there’s plenty to see in the heart of what was the old medieval centre. The Guildhall in the High Street goes back to Tudor days. Guildford museum is housed in what was once the gatehouse of Guildford Castle and the art gallery is in a 17th century town house. Both are well worth visiting along, with the nearby castle that has been recently repaired for the benefit of tourists.
The Norman keep was re-roofed in 2004 to provide for an interpretative display and small shop. For a very modest fee you can even walk up safely to the roof for spectacular views across the Wey valley. In the summer you can see an amazing display of flowers in the castle gardens as well as a life-size statue of Alice of Looking Glass fame, a reminder of the fact that Lewis Carroll stayed nearby in his sisters' house, from 1868 until his death in 1898.
Guildford is easily reached by road and is just 35 minutes away from London Waterloo by train. It’s well worth a day-trip and it’s also an ideal base for longer visits to other attractions in the county.