Guildford, Surrey, England
Guildford Castle is located 30 miles south of London in centre of Guildford town.
The castle’s gardens and original shell keep are the only remaining parts of the castle complex still remaining. Constructed from light colored stone the two storey keep has been conserved with a new roof and floors with some crenellations visible.
The tower is open daily between 10am and 5pm April to September 10am to 5pm and at weekends during March and October and the grounds open from 8am until dusk.
Visitors can see inside the main tower where some rooms are open to the public and also gain access to the roof for views over the grounds. In addition the tower is also used to exhibit items related to the castle’s history.
The gatehouse is used as the Guildford Museum with local history and archaeology items on display as well as a specialist needlework collection.
Guildford Castle was built by William the Conqueror after the battle of Hastings and was originally a Norman motte and bailey castle.
Early in the 12th century the wooden defenses were replaced by a stone castle. A polygonal shell keep, a further two story square flanking keep and an outer bailey were all added in the 1130’s and the keep became both a jail and the headquarters for the county sheriff.
During the 13th century Henry III ordered improvements to be made. The great hall was decorated with paintings and colored glass windows, his apartments were painted green with gold and silver stars, he added a garden with marble columns and the bailey was extended with a set of rooms being built for his son Edward.
The castle was never involved in any battles or sieges and from the 14th century started to fall into disrepair, by 1379 everything but the Kings chamber and the keep had fallen down. The keep continued to be used as a jail until 1544 when it relocated and the gardener John Daborne was left in charge.
In 1611 King James I granted the castle to Francis Carter who removed the roof and rented out parts of the grounds for farming. In 1885 the current owner Lord Grantley sold the site to the Guildford Corporation who restored the walls and tower and opened it to the public.
In 2003 a conservation and restoration project was started on the keep which revealed the original crenellations; a new floor and roof were also constructed.
Other Castles in the Area
Farnham Castle, Surrey
Windsor Castle, Berkshire