Fringe Box



Secret Site of Guildford’s Medieval Royal Hunting Lodge

Published on: 3 Apr, 2012
Updated on: 8 Oct, 2015

Hunting deer in medieval times.

By David Rose

There’s a site on the edge of Guildford that, in the story of the town’s royal history, is rather significant – but few seem to know about it.

It was once the location of a medieval royal hunting lodge (or manor house) and is close to the Surrey Sports Park.

It’s at Manor Farm, an area to the west of Guildford and north of the A3.

Since the creation of the Surrey Sports Park by the University of Surrey, access close to the site is now fairly easy. The site is a scheduled ancient monument. Although you should not walk on the exact site, you can get a glimpse of parts of the moat, that once surrounded the position of the former hunting lodge, by a public footpath that runs close by.

The remains of the moat that once surrounded the royal hunting lodge or manor house near today’s Surrey Sports Park.

This area is, without doubt, of considerable historic interest. The hunting lodge stood within Guildford’s medieval royal deer park.

The deer park was quite literally a venison farm, created in 1154 by Henry II. The park covered about 1,620 acres, and included what today we know as Onslow Village, Westborough, Park Barn, parts of Woodbridge Hill, Guildford Park and The Mount.

The deer park was one of 13 such parks within Windsor Forest. It would have been surrounded by a ditch and a large bank with wooden posts on top.

There were gaps in the banking where wild deer could wander in, but were unable to get out. These were known as deer leaps. Remains of this bank can been seen today, some 800 years after they were created, on The Mount where it borders Green Lane, and between the woodland known as Strawberry Grove and the Surrey Research Park.

Remains of the bank that once surrounded Guildford’s royal deer park can be seen where Green Lane borders The Mount.

There would have been tracks through the park and a number of lodge buildings. A park keeper, a highly favoured courtier of the king, would have lived at the main manor house (today’s Manor Farm).

Medieval meets the space age! Remains of the bank and ditch that once surrounded the deer park can be seen right next to Surrey Satellite Technology’s new building on the Surrey Research Park.

Local historian Helen Chapman Davies has written extensively about the fascinating history of Guildford’s royal deer park in her book Guildford’s Hidden History (Amberley Publishing, 2010).

How the hunting lodge may have looked. Illustration by Boris Fijalkowski, reproduced in Helen Chapman Davies’ book, Guildford’s Hidden History.

She notes that the hunting lodge or manor house is believed to have had a number of gabled buildings around a courtyard, with one side having a gatehouse tower.

Records show that Edward III spent Easter at the park in 1336 and Christmases there in 1337, 1340 and 1347. Edward IV stayed there in 1479 and 1482, and Henry VIII in 1546.

It is also believed Elizabeth I visited on several occasions. However, the house gradually fell into disrepair and in 1609 building material from the derelict house was sold to George More of Loseley.

The areas around the various lodge houses then became farms. These were once known as Guildford Park Farm and Bannisters Farm, for example. Deerbarn Road, off Aldershot Road on Woodbridge Hill, was once the site of Deerbarn Farm.

There were a number of archaeological excavations at the main manor house site during the 1970s. These have helped historians build a picture of what it was like and of the people lived there.

For a detailed report of the royal deer park, see Professor Alan Crocker’s report that was published by the Surrey Archaeological Society. Click here.

Copies of the book, Guildford’s Hidden History by Helen Chapman Davies, can be bought at Guildford Museum.

To find the footpath that runs past the site of the royal hunting lodge, go to the Surrey Sports Park, off Egerton Road. Follow the path beside the road that leads in a westerly direction past the playing fields. This view looks back to the Surrey Sports Park’s main buildings. See next picture.

Then take a path that goes to your left (south), past a newly created pond. Then bear right and the the remains of the moat and the derelict buildings of Manor Farm are to your left. Please note: there is no public access to the site itself, but you can glimpse the water in the moat from the footpath through the trees.



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