GUILDFORD, a borough and market - town, having separate jurisdiction, and the head of a union, locally in the First division of the hundred of Woking, W. division of Surrey, 30 miles (S. W.) from London; containing, exclusively of that part of the parish of St. Nicholas (called Artington) in the hundred of Godalming, 4074 inhabitants. This place, of which there is no mention either in the British or the Roman annals, is supposed to be of Saxon origin, and to have derived its name from Guild, a fraternity, and Ford, the passage over a stream. It was held in royal demesne, and, by Speed, is said to have been the residence of some of the Saxon kings. About the year 900, Alfred the Great bequeathed it to his nephew Ethelwald; and in 1036 it became memorable for the perfidious cruelty of Godwin, Earl of Kent, who, when Alfred, the son of Ethelred II., had reached Guildford, on his arrival from Normandy, by invitation of Harold Harefoot, then king of England, inhumanly massacred his retinue of 600 Normans, and delivered him up to Harold, by whose orders his eyes were put out, and he was detained a prisoner at the monastery of Ely, where he died. The castle is thought to have been erected subsequently to the Conquest, but by whom, or at what precise time, has not been ascertained: the remains consist chiefly of the keep, which occupies the summit of a mound now forming part of a private pleasure-ground, and some traces of the outer walls in the Quarry and Castle streets and other parts of the town, which serve to mark out its former extent; there are also some extensive caverns remaining, through one of which the workmen had to descend in sinking a well for the house of correction. Henry II. built a palace here, in which he frequently held his court; and emparked a considerable tract of land on the north side of Guildford Down. It was also the occasional residence of several of his successors. Eleanor, queen of Henry III., founded a house of Friars Preachers, which Edward II. ineffectually attempted to convert into a nunnery of the order of St. Dominic; and according to Speed, there was likewise a house of Crouched friars; but of these no remains exist.

The town is romantically situated on the declivities of two chalk hills sloping to the river Wey, which flows in a narrow channel between them; it consists, for the most part, of one spacious street, containing several handsome houses, and is paved, lighted with gas, and well supplied with water by a company. Near the site of the friary were very extensive cavalry barracks, which have been pulled down, though the site and land are still held by government, for any future necessity of rebuilding them. A mechanics' institute was founded in 1834, and a literary and scientific institution in 1835. The theatre, a neat and well-arranged edifice, is opened occasionally; and not far from the town is a good course, where races take place annually, and the queen's plate of 100 guineas is run for, but they are now very little patronised. The trade is chiefly in timber, corn, malt, and beer, which are sent to the metropolis by the Wey, that river having been made navigable to the town in 1650, principally by the exertions of Sir Richard Weston, Bart., and the navigation since extended to the town of Godalming. There is an iron-foundry; and on the banks of the river are several corn-mills. The Wey and Arun Junction canal branches from the Wey at Shalford common, midway between Guildford and Godalming, and, proceeding through the Weald of Surrey and Sussex, joins the river Arun at Newbridge, thus opening a communication with the sea at Arundel and Littlehampton, from the Thames and the port of London. A branch of the London and South-Western railway was opened in May 1845, to this place; its length is six miles. In 1846, acts were passed for making two railways from Guildford, one leading to Godalming, and the other to Farnham and Alton; and in the same year, an act was obtained for a railway from Reading, by Guildford, to Dorking and Reigate. The market-days are Wednesday and Saturday, the latter for corn, of which there is an ample supply. The fairs are on May 4th and Nov. 22nd, for live-stock: the May fair has commonly a very extensive supply of sheep, which are sold here and forwarded into Kent and Essex. A large quantity of poultry is sent to London on the market-days; and there is a fair for lambs on the Tuesday preceding Easter, and on every succeeding Tuesday till after Whitsuntide. The corn-market is held in a building erected in 1818, by subscription; the portico is a fine specimen of the Tuscan order. The market for vegetables is kept in a lofty room, built in 1798, by Lords Onslow and Grantley, originally for the transaction of public business, and the holding of convivial meetings.

Though Guildford was doubtless a corporate town in the time of Alfred, the first regular charter of incorporation on record is that of Henry III., which was confirmed by Henry VI. and Henry VIII., the latter monarch changing the designation of the chief magistrate from seneschal to mayor; and by James II., under whose charter the government was vested in a mayor, high steward, recorder, seven aldermen, and an indefinite number of bailiffs, "or approved men," seldom exceeding 24. Under the act of the 5th and 6th of William IV., cap. 76, the corporation consists of a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors, the mayor being one of the 16; it appoints a high steward, and has a recorder, with a separate commission of six magistrates. The recorder holds a court of quarter-sessions for offences committed within the borough. The elective franchise was conferred in the 23rd of Edward I., since which time the town has returned two members to parliament. The right of election was formerly vested in the resident freemen and freeholders paying scot and lot, in number about 170; but by the act of the 2nd of William IV., cap. 45, it was extended to the £10 householders of the borough and an adjacent district, the limits of which comprise 482 acres: the mayor is returning officer. The town-hall, erected in 1683, is surmounted by a turret, in which is a clock; the interior is decorated with portraits of some of the sovereigns, and with other paintings. The summer assizes for the county are held alternately here and at Croydon, and the quarter-sessions for the same once in the year. The petty-sessions for the division are also held at Guildford, which is the place of election for the western division of Surrey. The powers of the county debt-court of Guildford, established in 1847, extend over part of the registration-district of Guildford, and over the parishes of Shalford, St. Martha-on-the-Hill, and Wonersh. The house of correction for the county, completed in 1823, occupies an elevated situation.

The borough comprises the parish of the Holy Trinity, containing 1506; that of St. Mary the Virgin, 1676; and part of that of St. Nicholas, with 892 inhabitants. The parish of the Holy Trinity comprises by admeasurement 142 acres, of which 125 are arable land, and the rest, sites of houses, gardens, and roads. The living is a rectory, with that of St. Mary's united, valued in the king's books, the former at £11. 11. 0½. and the latter at £12. 5. 5., and in the patronage of the Crown; the tithes of the two rectories have been commuted for £142. The church was rebuilt in 1763, after the damage it sustained from the fall of the tower in 1740, and is a handsome brick edifice; the central east window contains a representation of Our Saviour on the Cross in ancient stained glass, and there are monuments to Archbishop Abbot, and Arthur Onslow, speaker of the house of commons. St. Mary's church is an ancient structure of flint and chalk intermixed with pebbles, situated on the slope of a hill, and supposed to have been erected soon after the Conquest; it consists of a nave, aisles, and chancel, with a chapel on each side, circular at the eastern extremity. It was repaired under the superintendence of the late Rev. Henry P. Beloe, by whom many of its most interesting features were judiciously restored. The chapel on the north side of the chancel is now the vestry; a portion of the roof is groined, and in the compartments are various old paintings in fresco. The living of St. Nicholas' is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £21. 0. 10., and in the patronage of the Bishop of Winchester: the tithes have been commuted for £720. The church was taken down, with the exception of the tower and of Loseley chapel on the south, and re-erected in 1837, at an expense of £2700, defrayed by subscription, aided by a grant of £500 from the Incorporated Society. In Loseley chapel are a splendid monument to Sir William More and family, and several neat tablets to the family of Molyneux; and under a niche removed from the old church is an ancient monument of a priest in a recumbent position, with the inscription, "Arnold Brocas, rector, died 1395." This chapel, and the monuments, have been restored and beautified, at an expense of about £300, by J. More Molyneux, Esq., a descendant of the More family. There are places of worship for Baptists, the Society of Friends, Independents, and Wesleyans.

The free grammar school was originally founded in 1509, by Robert Beckingham, of London, who assigned to it lands and tenements; and was endowed by Edward VI. with £20 per annum, under the title of Schola Regia Grammaticalis Edvardi Sexti. In 1671, Joseph Nettle devised land, now producing £32 per annum, for an exhibition from the school to the University of Oxford, or Cambridge. In the Blue-coat school, 22 boys are educated in a part of the tower of Trinity church. An hospital for a master, twelve aged men, and eight unmarried women, was founded in 1619, by Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury, who afterwards endowed it with £200 per annum; and it was incorporated by letterspatent of James I., in 1622, under the title of "The Master and Brethren of the Hospital of the Blessed Trinity." The archbishop also left £100 per annum for setting the poor to work, half of which is distributed to them, and the other half applied to the support of four additional women in the hospital. Sir Nicholas Kempe, Knt., left £600 to the master, brethren, and sisters; Mrs. Jane Molyneux, of Loseley, in 1798, £2000 in the 3 per cent. Bank annuities, the interest to be given to the inmates of the hospital, except the master; and Thomas Jackman, Esq., in 1785, £600 to the four sisters who were added. The buildings occupy a quadrangular area, on the north side of which is a small chapel, containing some very fine specimens of stained glass, with portraits of the founder, Sir Nicholas Kempe, and Mr. Jackman, and a valuable painting of Our Saviour in the Sepulchre, with Mary Magdalene, &c., weeping over him; the scriptural subjects are said to have belonged to the priory founded by Eleanor, wife of Henry III. The Poyle charity, from a bequest by Henry Smith, amounting to £500 per annum, is under the management of trustees; and there are several other benefactions for the relief of the poor. In 1676, Caleb Lovejoy left funds for endowing almshouses for four widows, and for instructing boys belonging to the parish of St. Nicholas. The union of Guildford comprises 21 parishes or places, and contains a population of 23,085. On the banks of the river is St. Catherine's Hill, so called from the remains of a chapel on its summit, founded about the time of Henry III. Richard De Wauncey, Parson of St. Nicholas', procured a charter to the chapel in 1328, for holding a fair on this hill, on the eve, day, and morrow of St. Matthew, which is still held according to the new style. Loseley House, an ancient mansion near the town, was frequently visited by Queen Elizabeth. Archbishop Abbot, a native of St. Nicholas' parish; Arthur Onslow, speaker of the house of commons; and Bishop Parkhurst, were buried in the church of the Holy Trinity. Robert Abbot, elder brother of the archbishop, was also born here, and raised to the see of Salisbury in 1615. Guildford gives the title of Earl to the family of North.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.