Guildford & London Road
GUILDFORD Even though it is so close to London, Guildford town centre offers rich pickings for shoppers and culture vultures alike. The steep, cobbled, pedestrianised High Street has a wide variety of boutiques and specialist shops, and the Friary shopping mall has all the major chain stores. Architectural highlights include the Guildhall, with its famous 1683 projecting clock, and one of the country’s few modern cathedrals, designed by Sir Edward Maufe with a very plain interior. The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre attracts London-bound shows on their way to the West End, The Electric Theatre is a leading studio theatre, and the nine-screen cinema keeps film buffs happy. The Guildford Philarmonic Orchestra is also widely respected. Athletes head for the Spectrum leisure centre, which has an athletics track, an ice-rink, ice hockey and ten-pin bowling.
It is possible to live right in the centre of the town. A limited number of one-bedroom flats over the High Street shops will cost around £150,000; in St Luke’s Square (on the former hospital site), good one-bedroom flats sell for around £185,000. There are some streets of old houses around Guildford Museum, near the remains of the 12th-century castle at the bottom of the High Street. Most have been converted to business use, but the occasional three-bedroom terraced property comes up for a premium price of £350,000 upwards. Three-bedroom Victorian and Edwardian houses behind the High Street will fetch up to £350,000.
On the north side of town, in the Woodbridge Hill area, are the typical bay-fronted, net-curtained, respectable mind-you-own-business streets of provincial England. The houses are solid, with good-sized rooms, but even though it is convenient for the hospital, the cathedral and the university it isn’t the most popular area. A three-bedroom Thirties’ detached house will cost around £280,000; a three-bedroom semi £240,000. Cornhill Insurance has its headquarters here. More appealing is Fairlands, particularly with the over-60s, where housing built in the Sixties and Seventies has bedded down and matured nicely, and where a good community spirit has evolved around the school, the doctor’s surgery and so on. It even has its own free local news magazine. It is a good place to look for a bungalow – three bedrooms cost £280,000. A three-bedroom semi-detached house will cost slightly less.
On the north-eastern fringe is Burpham, no longer a village, but a sea of modern houses, designed with enough breathing space to make them palatable. Good primary and secondary schools make this a popular area for families. There are two developments – Weybrook Park and Weyley Farm. A tiny studio costs just under £100,000; a three-bedroom semi £250,000; a large four- or five-bedroom house from £450,000. There are also some large early 20th-century houses with five bedrooms and four reception rooms that sell for over £500,000. Nearby Merrow is now a suburb of Guildford with one development, Merrow Park. It has a golf course and leafy private roads where houses built in the Thirties now have the occasional bungalow wedged between them. Both bungalows and houses, with four to five bedrooms, tend to sell in the £600,000 range.
The south of the town is particularly well-heeled and attracts successful local professionals. White Lane has some large houses, built in the Twenties and later, with big gardens and views across to the North Downs. The likely price for one of these would be over £1m. Further to the south-west is Loseley Park, an Elizabethan country house which is open to the public and whose farm produces the well-known dairy products that bear the Loseley name.
A popular village to the south-east is Cranleigh (see entry for Ockley on the line to Horsham). Closer to Guildford’s southern flank is Bramley, which is well-liked and rather expensive. Its exclusivity is expressed by the presence of a prestige car dealer and well-subscribed golf club. There is a post office, florist and traditional electrical shop. Another attraction is the girls’ private school, St Catherine’s. A modest three-bedroom semi here will cost £300,000. A four-bedroom detached with a large garden and driveway over £500,000.
To the north-west of Guildford is Wood Street, a large village surrounded by farmland, with an ample village green, church, post office and two pubs. The council housing is discreetly tucked away and there is quite a lot of property built between the Thirties and the Sixties. For £280,000 you might pick up a three-bedroom Edwardian semi, or a more modern three-bedroom detached house with a large garden backing on to fields.