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The History of Guildford

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The ancient town of Guildford is positioned within the county of Surrey and dates back many centuries, the Anglo Saxons were farming the land when the Danes invaded following in the footsteps of the Roman Legions who had finally left. Peace was disturbed once again with the arrival of William the Conqueror from Normandy, after he had tasted victory at the bloody battle fought in 1066 . He marched across the land with his army, conquering and sacking towns and villages as he went, changing the face of the land forever with the impressive architecture of churches and castles, using the ancient track of " The Pilgrims Way" which journeys through Guildford.

On their arrival they built an imposing castle to fortify, and strengthen the town which guarded The Pilgrims Way. The ancient Keep of the castle remains and would share its part in a chequered history throughout time, being captured by the French, entertaining King John and even becoming a prison at one stage.

When the Cistercian Monks set up an Abbey close by they were instrumental in introducing the farming of Wool, which was a thriving industry leading to growth right up until the 18th Century from there it declined. The strategic location of the town led to its continued prosperity so much so that Guildford became home to a Royal Mint in the 10th Century supplying coin until all production of coin was eventually moved to the Tower of London in the 13th Century where it remained until 1811.

The town has many houses and buildings from across the years including St Mary's Church which stands in Quarry Street and is the oldest building within the town and continues to grace the skyline with its impressive Saxon Tower which has stood the test of time. The Tudor and Elizabethan period also saw impressive structures created with the School which still remains today, and there's also the Guildhall which was built in Medieval times and stands on the site of an earlier building erected during the 1300's.

The 17th Century heralded important changes with the opening of the Holy Trinity Hospital which cared for the sick, and, after much discussion and compromise the opening of the Canal which had a positive effect on trade. The increase in trade, and upturn of people led to Guildford becoming an important Staging Post, until the arrival of the Railway which rattled through in 1845; and there was also the opening of an Iron Foundry during the 18th Century.

The 19th Century saw flour, timber, coal and gunpowder being transported by barges on the Canal, and the talented writer of Alice in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll living in the town. A fabulous Lido was constructed in the 1930's, and, as tensions quickened in Europe and the onset of the Second World War arrived it became apparent as the bombings and raids increased of the need to protect the Public. Small communal shelters were constructed, however the need to provide safe and secure protection during the raids became urgent, Guildford was lucky as there was a disused chalk quarry near to the centre of town. The quarry was transformed into an impressive communal shelter, complete with first aid facilities, and a sleeping area, which could accommodate a thousand people, when the threat of attack from enemy forces subsided the shelter was sealed, this has resulted in an unspoilt link with the past as it is now open for all to share. The changes that occurred during the twentieth Century would also see the consecration of Guildford Cathedral in 1961, and the sailing of the last commercial Barge which travelled the Canal in 1969.

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On this day:
Battle of Ashingdon - 1016, Chewing Gum first goes on sale - 1911, BBC Formed - 1922, First Brit Awards - 1977
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