Fringe Box



Guildford History Question Time Leaves Audience Wanting More

Published on: 24 Feb, 2017
Updated on: 27 Feb, 2017

The Keep pub in Castle Street was packed on Wednesday evening (February 22) with people keen to learn more about Guildford’s history.

The panel at The Guildford History Question time at The Keep pub.

Guildford History Question Time was organised by The Guildford Dragon NEWS and the Guildford Heritage Forum and hosted by the Facebook group Guildford Past & Present, run by Ben Darnton of Ben’s Collectors Records, and The Keep pub.

Chaired by Guildford Dragon editor Martin Giles, there was a panel of local historians – Matthew Alexander, Gavin Morgan, David Rose and Mary Alexander – who have a wealth of historical knowledge in their respective areas of interest.

Attendees were asked to supply questions on any aspect of Guildford’s long and rich history and Martin Giles selected a number of these. He then invited each member of the panel to give their answers and opinions in a style similar to BBC TV’s Question Time, with the person who supplied their question also asked to comment on the information the panel had supplied.

Other members of the audience were encouraged to add their views as the evening went along.

The panel was asked to comment on a wide variety of Guildford history topics that included: the myths concerning the various tunnels rumoured to exist under the streets of the town centre. What was Guildford’s first hospital? What was on the site of the Friary Centre after the Dominican friary and before the Friary Brewery was built?

The questions kept coming but none seemed to phase the panel. Is there an ancient burial site off the Woking Road near Whitmoor Common? When was the Farnham Road bridge over the railway built? Any details of the Avery family removal firm who used to operate out of Woodbridge Road? And what could be done about archiving photographs of Guildford that are in many separate collections so they can be safely kept and perhaps made available for all to use and enjoy.

The pub was packed for the Q&A session.

During the evening Gavin Morgan outlined the exciting plans for improvements to Guildford Museum and encouraged anyone with an regard for Guildford’s history to also take an interest in those plans for our museum and the developments as they take place.

Along with enough breaks in the questioning for people to replenish their glasses, the Keep’s hostess Jane Lyons also served up free sausages and chips for everyone.

At the end of the evening Ben Darnton arranged a voluntary collection and £82 was collected which is to be donated to the Mayor of Guildford’s local distress fund.

Jan Messinger who attended said: “As many of The Dragon News readers are, I am a Guildfordian. We are very lucky here in this town to have so many talented people interested in local history. Those who attended were given a delightful free evening and have come away with just a little bit more knowledge about Guildford and happier for it. I look forward to there being another question time and will certainly be attending.”

Julie Howarth said: “Thanks to Martin Giles for chairing the panel event so well last night. It was a very interesting and entertaining evening and good to meet up with like-minded folk and learn from such experts.”

Many of those who attended said they would like the evening to be repeated. A date will be set for later in the year.

Meanwhile, Ben Darnton and The Keep have other local history nights lined up. Keep a look out for details.

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Responses to Guildford History Question Time Leaves Audience Wanting More

  1. Ben Darnton Reply

    February 26, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    Thanks to everyone who participated in this interesting evening I can’t wait for the next Guildford History Question Time. I think everyone who attended learnt something about Guildford’s history they didn’t already know.

  2. Jackie Montague Reply

    March 1, 2017 at 10:46 am

    I really enjoyed Guildford History Question Time it was very interesting. I am now looking forward to the next event.

    I also wanted to ask that if anyone has any pictures or information about the history of Avery & Sons Removal Company, whose premises were at the town end of Woodbridge Road, I would be very interested to exchange information with them.

    • Rebecca Balding Reply

      November 11, 2018 at 3:22 pm

      Hi Jackie,

      I have just read your post on Genes Reunited. Morgan McClellan Avery was my grandfather’s uncle. His father (George McClellan Avery) was your relative’s brother, I think. My grandfather was Harold Samuel Jupp Avery (his mother was Susan Jupp).

      I was looking up Morgan today, it is Armistice Day. His name is on the war memorial in Shalford and he’s been mentioned in a book about Shalford during the war. I fact, there is a wedding photo of him and his wife with their wedding party. I think his wife was the daughter of the pub on the river in Shalford [The Parrot, Ed]. After he died I seem to remember that his wife Moved to Eastbourne.

      So, if your Morgan and my Morgan are the same, we must be related. Harold and Joan Avery (my grandparents) lived in Saffron Platt, Guildford since before WW2. They had one son who was my father, Richard Avery. He died in 1989 when I was 18, and although I knew the relatives in Guildford I didn’t have any contact with them. Harold and Joan spoke of them all fondly as he was one of the youngest in a very large family.

      I grew up in Fleet but regularly went to Guildford to see my grandparents. My siblings went to RGS and Guildford High School (where I went for sixth form). I now live in Brighton, and since doing a bit of family history have found out that prior to Guildford, the Avery family have history throughout Sussex.

      Anyway, I’m unsure that this will get to you but it would be great if it does.

      Cheers! Rebecca Balding ( nee Avery)

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