30 July 2009

GUILDFORD - My Ideal English Town

I've been posting about my trip to Europe in my last few entries and I’m now as tired of writing them as I know you are of reading them. But before I draw the curtains down once and for all, there’s one place that I’ve particulary wanted to write about – Guildford.

Guildford is the county town of Surrey, as well as the seat for the borough of Guildford and the administrative headquarters of the South East England region. It is situated 43 km southeast of London and some 40 minutes away by train.

Staying in Guildford for most of my days in England, I had grown fond of this beautiful little town. It had fitted perfectly well with all my imagination of how a typcial little English town would look like.

When I had first arrived in Guildford, my attention was caught by a tall cone-shaped tower that jotted out over the other buildings in the town center. So much so that when I had my first opportunity to hit into town, I went to search for it. I had come to find out that it was a church named St. Savior’s Church.

One thing about the church that caught my attention was how they adapt Christianity into their modern life. Just look at their notice board. They have all sorts of advertisements including ones for vacany and plumbing services. They even put up an advert of dogs for sale!

I think they are just being realistic. Churches in Malaysia should learn a little bit from them.

Guildford town center is full of beautiful streets with great choices of coffee house and restaurants.

Errrr, you Malaysians would never kempunan of those hot2 & spicy2 one.. I know your tounge preferences..

They even have their own street entertainers.

And believe me, they sing very well that I was left wondering as to what the fuss over Susan Boyle was all about. Euwww!!

But of all the streets across Guildford, High Street is probably the most prominent one. It used to be a road but was eventually close for traffic to become a fully-pedestrian street. It has since become a major shopping area. It was relaxing just to sit at one of the benches and watched the world passing by in front you. Guildford townfolks are interesting to watch - they come in different outfits and styles.

Somewhere along the High Street is the famous Guildhall Hanging Clock. The story is told of a London clock maker, named John Aylward, who presented the projecting clock to the Corporation of Guildford in return for freedom to trade in the borough.

Further up the street is another tourism highlight – the Abbot's Hospital. It is a Jacobean almshouse still in use after four centuries as a home for elderly residents of Guildford. It is all about charity guys!

Just across the road from it is another centuries old church – the Holy Trinity Church. Here I found a perfect spot for some photography session. And the results were terrific.

Errrr, a did a little bit of Byford-wanna-be here..

In case you're curious, the sunglasses had once made me USD 300 poorer instantly after I bought it at a shopping mall in Kota Kinabalu. Don't play2 owhh! :-P
Just like most other churches all over UK, the church compound here also serves as a cemetary groundyard. And believe me, they look good on camera.

Scary, huh? :-X

I walked further up the hill where I found the Guildford Castle Ground.

Surrounded with beautiful gardens with tulips of different colors being in full blossom, it is just a perfect place to just sit down and relax. The beautiful town of Guildford and its surrounding is best viewed from here. I just took some time to take it all in.

Believe me, the gardens are so surreal.

The picture of flowers seems to come out straight from a postcard or one of the wallpapers I used to put on my computer screen back in my office.

Only this time, I was being among them. I could touch and smell them..

The Guildford Castle is thought to have been built shortly after the 1066 invasion of England by William the Conqueror.

I wished I could stay there longer but I knew I had to move on. Just on the outside of the ruins is the Guildford Museum. I was lucky because I had not known about it. I just happened to run into it.

Despite its small size, Guildford museum was suprisingly quite worth dropping by. It has a wide collections of ancient artifacts dating back to the Paleolithic time up to early modern era. I didn’t even remember those difficult history phrases that I used to avidly try memorizing when I was about to sit for my PMR history papers. Here, I went through a brief History lesson...

The museum tells a lot about the history of early settlement in Guildford and the important events that happened there including a series of visits by Queen Elizabeth I.

Further down the street is the St. Mary’s Church – the oldest surviving church in Guildford. History tells that the church was first built by a group of Saxon settlers who became Christians back in the 7th Century – at that time was a wooden building. The church would have been rebuilt into concrete in late Saxon times and the tower part of the building is the only remaining original structure.

With the triangular concrete tombstones adding on to its already eerie looks, my head was itching to take some photos of myself with the church in the background.

I just hope I didn’t offend any of the ‘settlers’ there. I just hope they wouldn’t come haunting me in my dreams. Besides, it is a church. The settlers are supposed to be of those with pure hearts and free of impurities. Or so I believe.

Further down the High Street, just across the River Wey is where the St. Nicholas Church is located. This is another church with a very long history. It has those medieval looks that could have made it a perfect filming set for a Harry Porter movie.

I continued walking off along the riverbank of the River Wey. The river used to be a bother to the local settlers due to flood occurances during rainy seasons. It has now become a popular lesuire spot.

It offers a lot of leisure activities such as canoeing and boating.

The river is like the lifeline of Guildford. My continued walk further up the river had eventually brought me into a beautiful countryside.

As much as I had wanted to go even further on, the time wouldn’t permit me to do it. By then, the sky was darkening over Guildford. Guildford, like most other towns in England, has a time set to close for business. At 7pm, the previously lively streets had turned into this.

It seemed like I had the whole town all to myself. Getting a little bit paranoid, I hastily got onto a coach and returned to my boarding place.

Without doubt, Guildford is such a very beautiful town that I can’t even perfectly describe them in words. The whole town and its surrounding seem like a vast display of landscaping superiority.

Everything seems to have been placed to match one another.

Seriously, if I were to stay in England for a long long time, Guildford would be the perfect place for me...


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