Perfectly positioned between London and the South Coast, the charming town of Guildford, in Surrey, is the area of choice for discerning buyers looking for a prestigious country property with easy access to the capital.
Despite having a diocesan cathedral and a university, Guildford has managed to avoid city status and remain an exclusive country market town instead; a status which has only added to the value and appeal of property in this area. A number of internationally recognised commercial businesses have chosen to base themselves here, with large offices for Allianz, Ericsson and Colgate-Palmolive in the Guildford area.
The original settlement of Guildford dates back to the Saxon period, and has long been a key town in the South of England – an early version of the English Royal Mint was even established here in AD 978. Guildford Castle was a significant Norman stronghold, the remains of which can now be seen in the centre of the town.
Guildford grew in size and stature with the construction of the Guildhall during the 14th century, while canalisation of the River Wey and new rail routes during the Industrial Revolution paved the way for the bustling, vibrant town we see today. Only twenty-five miles from London, the excellent road and rail links between Guildford and the capital allow for quick commutes and frequent visits to the city if desired.
Former residents of the area include Lewis Carroll, Piers Morgan, Roger Taylor, Alan Turing and Phil Collins, all of whom were seduced by this highly desirable town
Architecture in Guildford
The long and illustrious history of Guildford has led to a significant portion of Medieval, Georgian and Victorian buildings scattered throughout the town. Notable architectural structures include the iconic Grade I listed Guildhall and the modern Cathedral, while the attractive High Street is paved with granite sets and often used as a filming location.
The villages in the Surrey Hills surrounding Guildford offer beautiful Edwardian architecture in the form of detached family homes and country estates such as Polesden Lacey, and the influence of famed Edwardian domestic architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens, is clear to see.
What makes Guildford special
Guildford perfectly combines tranquility and history with modern conveniences such as excellent schools and restaurants, a combination which could seem jarring in a less charming town. Unlike some areas in the North of England, the affluence in Guildford is subtly present in beautiful architecture, large properties and boutique amenities, and you’re unlikely to ever see an ostentatious display.
The close proximity to London allows for easy access to all the cultural activities of the capital, while Guildford residents benefit from the greenery, countryside and family space.
Guildford property types
This lovely town caters for every type of resident with a wide variety of properties, from grand country estates in the villages surrounding Guildford to handsome townhouses on prestigious roads.
For those looking for a large detached property with land, the desirable villages of Shere, Shamley Green, and Shalford offer both historic estates and modern mansion houses with grounds, tennis courts, swimming pools, luxury fittings and a contemporary decor.
In the town of Guildford the most exclusive roads are considered to be Albury Road, Semaphore Road and Epson Road, where large Georgian and Victorian townhouses can be found within a short walk of the town centre.
Schools in Guildford:
The historically affluent nature of Guildford has led to a number of leading independent schools establishing themselves in the area such as Charterhouse, one of the UK’s finest public schools with day and boarding options for both sexes.
Other excellent schools in the area include Guildford High School, St Catherine’s Preparatory and Tormead School for girls, while Lanesborough School and the Royal Grammar School are popular choices for boys.
Things to do
Residents of Guildford are spoilt for choice with a wide range of cultural attractions in and around the town, as well as a selection of exclusive restaurants.
The town is home to three theatres which hold regular performances, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Rhoda McGaw Theatre and Electric Theatre, while Guildford House Gallery is the most visited art gallery in Surrey. The remains of Guildford Castle is a popular tourist spot, as is the impressive modern Guildford Cathedral, and a relaxing stroll by the river or in nearby Stoke Park is an unbeatable activity on a summer afternoon.
Guildford offers discerning diners a number of premium restaurants, including the independent Kinghams, Olivo, Positano and Al Vicolo as well as renowned chains such as Jamie’s Italian, Loch Fyne and Cote Brasserie.
Shopping in Guildford
Don’t be fooled by the compact size and pretty streets of Guildford – this charming town was named ‘luxury shopping capital of the UK’ by Experian in 2013, and around £900m is spent annually in the many premium boutiques here.
North Street, the High Street, Chapel Street and the Lanes are considered to be the main shopping destinations in Guildford, and between them are home to nearly 100 shops and three covered shopping complexes. Fine fashion can be found at Hugo Boss, Hobbs, Jaeger, Whistles, Reiss and Jigsaw, while Barbour and Russell & Bromley will provide chic country wear for walks in the Surrey Downs. Residents can also apply for a Guildford Privilege Card, which gives them exclusive offers in some of the town’s finest shops and restaurants.
For interior decor and technology try Farrow & Ball, House of Fraser and Bang & Olufsen, or the antique shops found in nearby villages such as Coach House Antiques, Perry Hill and Barn Antiques..