Works by Percy Robertson
Click here to view a larger image. Guildford

The ruins of the old Castle will be the first objects to attract the visitor's attention. There was here, in all probability, an early English stronghold, built, as was the then prevailing custom, on a natural mound, improved and rendered more precipitous by artificial earthwork. Upon this foundation was constructed the Norman keep which we now see, and which has stood the devastations of time so much better than the surrounding buildings of the castle.

These must have been extensive, but they are so fragmentary that their purposes are hardly now to be identified. The principal storey, which was approached by a doorway 16 feet above the ground, had no communication with that below. This was supposed to be the great state room or hall. Built in the walls, which are 10 feet thick, are several small chambers, serving doubtless as ante-rooms or guard-rooms ; one, however, on the south-west corner, larger than the others, was apparently a small chapel or oratory, with vaulted roof and finely carved masonry. Guildford Castle was a place of some prominence, built as it was, doubtless, for control over an important ford of the River Wey, and at the junction of four principal roads.

There seems to be no record of Guildford ever having sustained a siege; it shares, however, the honour with the Castles of Reigate and Farnham of having surrendered to Louis of France in 1216, when on his way to Winchester in pursuit of King John.

The view from the top of the keep will repay the climb of only about 70 feet. It would be no great stretch of imagination to fancy oneself among the foot hills of Eastern Switzerland or the Tyrol, though it partakes, perhaps, more of the character of the latter. St. Mary's Church is the most interesting, for happily its antiquity has not been restored away. It consists of a nave, with north and south aisles, terminating in apsidal chapels, that on the north side very striking, with its groined roofing and grotesque fresco decoration in the spandrils of the arches. The church is built of chalk and flint - has even the columns in chalk, therefore very massive. At the west end under one corner of the window, is a square opening in the wall about two feet over, now glazed, but what its purpose was it is hard to say. In the south wall is a beautiful little piscina, with groined roofing like that of the chapel.

The Surrey Archæological Society's Museum close to the Castle is worth a visit. Notice the fine old chalk mantel-piece on the ground floor : also the collection of Celts and other stone implements of the Neolithic age, which is exceptionally interesting. As a picturesque old English town few can beat Guildford, with its many quaint old buildings and steep high street. This effect is well conveyed in our sketch, which is taken looking across the Wey where it forces its narrow passage between the Hog's Back and the hill on the side of which the town stands.

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