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Two of Guildford’s Historic Buildings to Get Some TLC

Published on: 27 Dec, 2021
Updated on: 27 Dec, 2021

Two of Guildford’s most valuable heritage assets are to have important repair work carried out to safeguard their future.

The work is to commence on the Guildhall and Guildford House Gallery in January and will last for 25 weeks at Guildford House, from January 4, and around 12 weeks from late January at the Guildhall.

The repair work will focus on the back gable wall of Guildford House Gallery and outside structure of Guildhall, including the clock and bell tower.

Cllr John Redpath

Cllr John Redpath, lead councillor for Economy, said: “Both buildings are an important piece of Guildford’s history and enjoyed by residents and visitors. This work will make sure that they continue to stand for future generations. The restorative work is needed. It will tackle the decay and deterioration of these buildings that happens over time, mainly because of the effects of weather, wear and tear.

“The work will be carried out with care and sympathy both to look after the buildings and those who will be visiting them. The scaffolding will be freestanding, so the buildings will not be put under any unnecessary strain. The scaffold will also be designed in such a way that will mean continued access along the High Street for pedestrians and cars.”

At Guildford House Gallery a temporary roof over the back of the gallery will be erected. Additional scaffolding will be placed on the neighbouring property to gain access to some areas. This has been agreed with third parties and a licence in place.

Tiles covering the back gable wall will be removed to allow inspection and any necessary repair of the timber frame. The tiles will be carefully placed back to their original position. During this work, Guildford House Gallery will be open.

The Craft Shop and Tourist Information Centre will re-open after a short festive break in mid-January 2022. The gallery’s programme of events and exhibitions is to be announced in the New Year and will be available on the GBC website. 

The Guildhall

Work on the Guildhall, including the clock, will take around 12 weeks and be completed in March 2022. Free-standing scaffolding will be erected to enable the town clock and bell tower to be safely accessed. Repairs to woodwork, windows, leadwork, and ironwork are expected in addition to redecoration. The Guildhall will continue to be used for civic functions and be available for hire while the work is carried out.


The Guildhall building dates back to the 1300s with various additions made over the centuries. The Tudor Hall was extended in 1589 when Elizabeth I visited, and in 1683 the first-floor council chamber and clock were added. The Guildhall was a court of law until 1986 when Guildford Crown Court opened. The configuration of the inner ground floor of the Guildhall is still that of a courtroom with a judges’ bench and prisoners’ dock.

It was also where in the Middle Ages the Guild Merchant met. They were the people who had the right to trade in the town, and from the Guildhall they regulated business in Guildford.

Guildford House Gallery

Guildford House is a 17th century Grade 1 Listed townhouse originally built for John Childs, a lawyer and, later, three times Mayor of Guildford. In 1726 it was bought by John Martyr, also a lawyer, and remained in the family until 1850 when it was bought by Frank Apted as a shop for his brush and carpentry business.

From 1914 to 1928 it was a stationers and booksellers. After a year as the carpet department of the adjoining draper’s store, it was converted into a restaurant in 1929 which operated until 1956. it still has many original features including a carved staircase, panelled rooms, original decorative plaster ceilings and wrought iron window fittings.


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Responses to Two of Guildford’s Historic Buildings to Get Some TLC

  1. Paul Spooner Reply

    December 28, 2021 at 9:58 am

    Does this mean that plans by the GBC Executive to sell off Guildford House have been shelved? I do hope so.

    Paul Spooner is a Conservative borough councillor for Ash South & Tongham

    • George Potter Reply

      December 28, 2021 at 11:18 pm

      As Cllr Spooner well knows, there were never any plans to sell Guildford House (despite misleading Tory attempts to pretend otherwise).

      George Potter is a Lib Dem borough and county councillor.

  2. Peta Malthouse Reply

    December 28, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    Good grief, were there plans? It was bad enough when we found out the then borough council had given the Surrey Archaeological Society notice to quit the museum with a suspected aim of flogging it off. Then there was Burchatts Farm…

  3. David Smith Reply

    December 29, 2021 at 12:46 pm

    I know funds are limited, but the railings outside Wagamama [at the bottom of Guildford High Street] are in serious need of painting and Castle Car Park is falling into disrepair. Has anyone seen how dirty the render is on the front elevation?

  4. Shirley West Reply

    December 29, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    This is the best news I have heard for a long time. The Guildhall is definitely in need of repair and the interior upkeep too because it has really gone downhill.

    It’s our main building for visitors to look at when visiting Guildford and appreciating our heritage.

  5. Richard Mills Reply

    December 31, 2021 at 11:19 am

    It is good news about the Guildhall and Guildford House, but sad that what seems little more than routine maintenance is newsworthy these days.

    I suppose it reflects the fact that we are witnessing the decline of so much of the town’s social capital – our pavements, estate roads, surface waters and discharges to rivers, etc?

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