Explore the Villages
The borough of Guildford has so much to offer, not only the bustling county town of Guildford but the numerous quirky and beautiful villages and hamlets with rich history surrounding it.
North West Villages:
Worplesdon, just 4 miles from Guildford, is largely common land with mixed landscapes of heather, copses of woodland, grasslands and bracken, known also as Whitmore Common. The Memorial Hall in the centre of the village is used for social events and home to The Sidney Sime Gallery. The grade I listed St Mary's Church is central to parish life. The ruins of a Roman villa can be seen at Broadstreet Common.
Wanborough is an ancient rural village on the northern slopes of the Hog's Back first mentioned in 8000bc. The former Wanborough Manor - erected on the site of ancient springs was home to the Order of the Cistercian with connections to Waverley Abbey - built 'The Great Barn' in 1388 to store crops. The barn can be visited on special open days during the summer. Wanborough Village grew to service the Manor, the modern version was started in 1670! Now private dwellings they have had a very colourful life, hosting political and royal guests including Gladstone, Asquith and even Queen Victoria. During the war it was a training centre for secret agents.
South West Villages:
Moving to the South West of Guildford the area is mostly woodland with a few hamlets, Puttenham with a pub, a church and pretty cottages, Eashing now famous as the home of the channels 4's 'Supervet' and Compton.
Compton village features two pubs (one being The Withies Inn, the oldest building in the village) a range of small shops, a Little Theatre, allotments and village hall. The village even has a phone box with its own Instagram page! Compton's best known resident was the artist George Frederic Watts and his wife Mary Seton Watts. They lived in the village at their house called 'Limnerslease' which is now part of the Watts Gallery, a popular spot to visit. After George's death Mary commissioned the Watts Mortuary Chapel to be built on a hill overlooking the village. Open to the public, it is a stunning example of architecture and design with beautiful ceilings.
South East Villages:
To the South East of Guildford, loosely following the River Tillingbourne, there are a series of very pretty villages starting with Shalford. The village sits on the banks of the River Wey and benefits from a railway station. There is cricket on the green, fishing on the Wey (a popular pastime along the banks of the river managed by landowners, usually though officially sanctioned clubs - please check), Shalford Mill operated by the National Trust and an annual village fete.
Next on the route is Chilworth with 3 churches, a railway station and a lovely pub. The village is within the boundaries of the Surrey Hills AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). It has a rich industrial past having been the location of a wire mill, paper mill and gunpowder factory. The Chilworth gun powder works were established in 1625 by the East India Company and finally closed in 1920. It was an important supplier of gunpowder to the Government. A significant number of buildings belonging to gunpowder factory can still be found.
Further along this route is the small village of Albury which is well-served by a post office, pubs, churches, a recreation ground and a busy village hall. The surrounding countryside offers many walking routes and bridle ways, and the ponds within the Albury Estate Fisheries club offer many fishing. The main street though the village is lined with timber framed and flint cottages with the most fantastic chimneys. Albury has its own Vineyard located at the foot of the North Downs just across the A25 at Silent Pool. Home also to the award winning Gin with legends relating to the pool itself.
The picturesque route now follows the A25 eastwards passing through firstly Shere; widely considered to be one of the most quintessentially English villages in Surrey. It has a central cluster of a old houses, a few shops, a tea house, art gallery, two pubs, a Norman church and a museum, with a steam running through the middle. There are also some fantastic examples of Lutyens architecture here, too - quite romantic really. Apparently, he was in love with a local girl and kept coming back to build something else to impress her! It is clear to see why Shere has been used as a location for many films.
North East Villages:
North of the A246, is Clandon which is home to two National Trust properties, Hatchlands Park with huge expanses of woodland to explore and Clandon Park, a Palladian mansion which is undergoing huge changes after its devastating fire in 2015. Legend has is that a dragon once blocked the route to West Clandon. A soldier killed the dragon with the help of his dog in return for being pardoned for desertion. The modern village sign depicts the battle between the dog and the dragon.
Moving eastwards the next villages are the Horsley's; East and West. A notable feature is Horsley Towers, now a hotel was the main residence of Lord and Lady Ada Lovelace in 1845 onwards. There are many examples of the Lovelace estate around the villages with the distinctive red brick and flint design being a trademark. Lord Lovelace built a warren of 15 bridges to enable him to traverse his land. 10 of these still exist and form a trail called the lovelace bridges of Horsley. The village church dates back to the 13th Century with later additions from Lord Lovelace. West Horsley Place is Grade I listed building in West Horsley with 300 acres of open land perfect to explore. There are eight further Grade II buildings on the estate. The house dates back to the 15th century and was built out of the red brick drum design echoes the beautiful brickwork of the manor house and the 18th-century garden walls.
Ripley, a little further away was located on the A3 as a coaching stop between Portsmouth and London. In the 1970s the village was granted a bypass to protect it. The coaching inn, The Talbot Inn - now a boutique hotel, dates back to 1453. The village church of St Mary Magdalen has a fine Norman chancel, is one of more than 20 listed buildings and cottages in the village others are Pinnocks Cafe, the Ship Inn and Ye Old Sweet Shoppe, the Clock House and the Old Pharmacy; is a historical place of interest with a Blue Plaque commemorating the production of penicillin for the first time in the UK, possibly the world, for civilian use, by Kenneth White in 1944.
Enjoy exploring the borough, it's clear to see there is something for everyone!