9 things you probably didn't know about Guildford

The Guildford Guildhall Clock 

The Guildford Guildhall Clock - Credit: Matt Brown / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Guildford is the county town of Surrey and home to 77,057 people (2011), but how much do you really know about Guildford? Here are 9 things you may not have known about the Surrey Town

1) Guildford's name has contentious origins; it is believed that it comes from the Saxon for gold and ford; historical sources have the town as Guldeford and Geldeford in the 10th and 11th centuries, respectively. And because there is little to no gold found in the region's sedimentary layers, instead, the name is said to be a reference to golden flowers that apparently grew near a ford or that there was Golden sand near the ford. Other historical sources suggest that there was a Guild, and that is instead where the name came from. One thing for certain is that Guildford's etymology is a mystery.

2) The first written record of Cricket being played in England was made by John Derrick in a court hearing about land in 1598. His testimony said, "Being a scholler in the ffree schoole of Guldeford hee and diverse of his fellows did runne and play there at creckett and other plaies". With Derrick being a 59-year-old at the time of the court case, it is estimated that the boys of Guildford were playing Cricket at the very least some 50 years earlier. 

3) Guildford Cathedral made an appearance in the 1976 cult classic horror movie The Omen 

Guildford Cathedral from a different perspective

4) Acclaimed novelist and Nobel Prize in Literature winner Kazuo Ishiguro moved from Nagasaki in Japan to Guildford when he was 5. His most famous books are The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, are both set in the English countryside.  

5) In June 2007, the Odeon cinema in Guildford was the first cinema in the world to show digital 4K films to the public.

6) Clandon Park is home to 1 of only 3 Māori meeting houses or wharenui that can be found outside New Zealand. The sacred house is named Hinemihi and was visited by the New Zealand Olympic team during the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Hinemihi - Maori Meeting House

Most Read

7) In 1995, the remains of what is believed to be the oldest synagogue in western Europe were uncovered. The aforementioned remains of the 12th-century synagogue was an underground chamber believed to have contained the Aron Kodesh or Torah Ark as historians discovered scorch marks that would have belonged to the Ner Tamid or everlasting flame always accompanies a Torah Ark.

8) The Guildford Guildhall clock was created by London clockmaker John Aylward in the 17th century in exchange for him being allowed to trade in the area.

9) Guildford Castle is the only royal castle in the whole of the county. It was built by William the Conqueror shortly after his victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

Guildford Castle