Guildford: a few of your favourite things

Surrey Life visited Surrey's county town to discover just what it is that people most love about Guildford. Here, ten popular local figures share a few of their favourite things

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine December 2010

Surrey Life visited Surrey’s county town to discover just what it is that people most love about Guildford. Here, ten popular local figures share a few of their favourite things

What do you most love about Guildford? Share your thoughts at, or write to


The custodian of Guildford Castle and leader of the town’s ghost tours, Philip Hutchinson

“Though quite small, Ben’s Collectors Records in Tunsgate is one of the best and cheapest second-hand record shops around and well worth a browse.

“Meanwhile, for those with a sweet tooth, Sweets in Chapel Street is a gem of nostalgia and, for years, after my weekly Ghost Tours, Sir & Madam in Jeffries Passage has provided my take-away.

“A lesser known attraction in the area is Guildford’s awe-inspiring workhouse museum, The Spike, which is deserving of masses of tourists. Slightly more obvious, I suppose, is Guildford Castle, which I’ve run since 1994, and my ghost tours.”

Organiser of the Toast of Surrey Awards 2011, Natalie Maxim

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“My perfect day in Guildford would start with a bit of shopping. If you like unusual gifts and jewellery then there are plenty of independent boutiques to browse in and find something a bit different.

“Also, if you take a detour off the main High Street, you’ll find side streets and alleys with plenty of extra character, too. There’s even a guide to Secret Guildford, which can be picked up in the tourist information centre.

“The town is also great for food and if you are a pizza fiend then head to The Ship on the Old Portsmouth Road – it’s a cosy pub serving gorgeous stone baked pizza!”

Leader of Guildford Borough Council, Cllr Tony Rooth 

“I love walking up the cobbled setts in the High Street, especially during the day with no traffic. I pass (and sometimes drop into) lovely buildings like the Guildhall (for its clock and council chamber!), Guildford House’s art gallery and shop, Abbot’s Hospital and Holy Trinity Church – a tranquil haven in a busy world. I also like to stroll through Tunsgate or the arch to the Castle and down the alleyways, precincts or through shops into North Street for the market and shopping centre. Our High Street’s character and variety acts as a spine for the town centre – little wonder Guildford remains a lovely place to live, work and visit.” 

Manager of the Guildford branch of Westwood Rocks, Sophia Magneron

“My secret passion is food – or more precisely, eating! And, what a choice I have in town – from the usual Chinese and Indian, to Thai, French, and even Mexican! Trust me when I say it was very hard to narrow it down to a top three but, in no particular order: The White House pub, which serves hearty portions at great prices and their pies in particular are amazing – it is also well-located right by the River Wey at the bottom of town; Loch Fyne, whose famous shellfish platter with lobster is just exquisite; and the Coal Grill and Bar – you’ve got to try their fire-sticks (I’ll say no more!)”

Owner of The Mandolay Hotel, Stephen Hay

“Hotel guests frequently ask about the attractions that Guildford has to offer. Of course, the town is rich in history and the quality of the shopping speaks for itself but my answer is often to direct people no further than the wonderful Stoke Park. One hidden gem that is often overlooked is its sensory garden; a real oasis of calm packed with flowers and plants chosen for their smell and touch as well as their beauty.”

Director of Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, James Barber

“I have lived in Guildford for a very long time and I love this town – the huge choice of cultural activities across so many venues, the fabulous restaurants, the choice for shoppers and the beautiful older parts of the town – it would be invidious to say anything other than go and see them all! However, I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t urge you to come to our wonderful theatre, too.”

Surrey Chamber of Commerce business development manager, Amanda Masters

“Think Guildford, think shopping! I love all the big names here, but the little lanes and side streets off the High Street are packed full of smaller retail gems, with loads of independent stores to investigate. Also the regular markets, particularly the farmers’ and craft markets, are a major pull for me and many others.

“When in need of refreshment, I sometimes enjoy a swift drink in The Albany, The Three Pigeons or at The Boatman on the riverside, which are all fabulous venues. For dining in the evening, the food and view from the Thai Terrace (which is at the top of a multi-storey car park!) are great.

“I also love the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford Shakespeare Company’s productions and there is always somewhere to see live music in town, with a new major venue coming next year, too.”

Partner at Flowers by Rosemary, Steve Eales

“Just five minutes’ walk from the High Street, you’ll find the National Trust property at Dapdune Wharf, which feels like it’s in the heart of the countryside. I love the fact that the boats still run up and down to Godalming just as they have done for centuries. A walk down by the water is always a great way to relax, too. Having a shop in the town, as well as branches in Godalming and Woking, means that I am lucky enough to travel around on a regular basis and one aspect of the area that I particularly enjoy telling people about is the beauty of the countryside on the doorstep.”

Panto regular and 96.4 Eagle Radio breakfast presenter, Peter Gordon

“I love history and I love things that are free! Among the many things that fit into both categories in Guildford are the castle grounds, a marvellous oasis of heritage and colour, just yards from the town centre. I remember my grandmother taking me there as a boy (even then, I only lived a ten-minute walk away). Nowadays, if time allows, I like to slip away from the radio station, ramble through Tunsgate Arch and make my way through the wooden gate near the keep. Just a few steps to travel back centuries. What a privilege. Sometimes, the best things in your home town really are for free!”

What do you most love about Guildford? Share your thoughts at, or write to