Out and about in Guildford

Things to do in Guildford

Located just 30 miles from London, Guildford is midway between the vibrant, cultural capital city and the sea-faring city of Portsmouth. While, it is surrounded by interesting places to go and visit, there are also many attractions right on the doorstep. We take a look at six of them.

Polesden Lacey

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, honeymooned at Polesden Lacey, the Edwardian country retreat in the heart of the rolling Surrey Hills, describing the place as “delicious” . The house began life many centuries earlier, with the first house built on the site in 1336. It was completely rebuilt in 1824 in the Regency style of the times.

It became famed as a hang out to famous celebrities when it was bought by society hostess Margaret Greville in 1906, and her collection of art and ceramics – from Dutch Old Masters to Faberge objects – is a sight at which to marvel. Mrs Greville left the house to the National Trust when she died in 1942. 

Today, the house and gardens are open to the public from March to October.

The gardens are fantastic, with climbing roses, a bustling herbaceous border and a winter garden full of yellow aconites.

There are four way marked trails across the estate for people who like to walk and explore the countryside.

Hatchlands Park

This beautiful house was built in the 1750s for naval hero Admiral Edward Boscawen and his family. Since then it has been through many reincarnations as a family home, a girls’ school and a printing press. These days you can visit the parkland, stop at the Kitchen Cafe or look around the house, which is open four days a week.

Hatchlands Park is home to the Cobbe Collection – the largest collection of keyboard instruments in Europe. The collection is the work of Alec Cobbe, and includes instruments that belonged to Bach, Chopin and Elgar.

The grounds include 400 acres of parkland and woodland and is one of the largest country estates in the area. There are way marked paths, allowing you to explore all over the parkland.

Loseley Park

Loseley Park is a Grade One listed building and historic manor house in the hamlet of Littleton. The original house was replaced in 1562 when Queen Elizabeth I declared it “inadequate.” The new house was larger and grander, with a Great Hall and a Minstrel’s Gallery. The queen eventually made it to Loseley and her visit has been commemorated with carvings above the fireplace depicting her visit.

The walled garden, based on a design by Gertrude Jekyll, contains a series of “rooms” with different themes running through them. These include a Herb Garden, a White Garden, a Cut Flower Garden and an organic Vegetable Garden.

Loseley has been used as a location in several films and tv programmes, including Sense and Sensibility and Agatha Christie’s Marple.

Watts Gallery

The Artists’ Village is an art gallery in the village of Compton, near Guildford. It is dedicated to the work of Victorian painter and sculpture George Frederic Watts, who moved to the village in 1891.

The architect of the Gallery was Christopher Hatton Turnor. He was inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, and the influence is seen in the top-lit galleries that allow Watt’s work to be seen under natural light.

Watts Gallery, which contains more than 100 paintings by the artist on a permanent basis, is the only gallery in the UK dedicated to the work of a single artist and it is often hailed as a national gallery in the heart of a village. 

Dapdune Wharf

Our last offering of great places to visit is the Dapdune Wharf, which is found on the edge of the River Wey. The Wey was one of the first British rivers to be opened to barge traffic, after it was made navigable in 1653. The 15-mile waterway links Guildford to Weybridge and the visitor centre at Dapdune Wharf tells the story of the navigations and the people who lived and worked on them.