Facts about Guildford
Guildford is a town in Surrey, England. It lies 27 miles (43 km) southwest of London on the A3 trunk road midway between the capital and Portsmouth. As of the 2011 census, the town has a population of about 80,000 and is the seat of the wider Borough of Guildford which had an estimated 147,889 inhabitants in 2018. Guildford has Saxon roots and historians attribute its location to the existence of a gap in the North Downs where the River Wey was forded by the Harrow Way. By AD 978 it was home to an early English Royal Mint. The building of the Wey Navigation and the Basingstoke Canal in the 17th and 18th centuries, respectively, connected Guildford to a network of waterways that aided its prosperity. In the 20th century, the University of Surrey and the Anglican Guildford Cathedral were added.
The root of the first part may be the word ‘gold’ rather than Guild, a society or meeting of tradesmen: the only known 10th-century (Saxon) record uses Guldeford and in the 11th century Geldeford; both meaning gold and ford. Local historians with an interest in toponyms cite the lack of gold in the region’s sedimentary rocks and have suggested that the mention of ‘gold’ may refer to golden flowers found by the ford itself, or the golden sand; several older sources such as Lewis’s topological dictionary of 1848 prefer and give an unreferenced assertion there was a guild.
Rural Celtic Bronze Age pieces have been found in the town. Some of the tiles built into Guildford Castle may be Roman, and a Roman villa has been found on Broad Street Common at the end of Roman Farm Road just west of Guildford’s Park Barn neighbourhood.