Skip to content

Guildford Walking Tour : Guildford Old Dispensary

The Old Guildford Dispensary

Originally dating as far back as the late 16th century/ early 17th century the building you’re looking at was at one point the King’s Head pub, and then the Guildford dispensary between 1859 and 1866. Providing medical care for the poor of Guildford, this was the predecessor of the original Royal Surrey County Hospital – the one on the Farnham Road – which opened in 1866. It’s a fabulous place to have a meal, with all sorts of architectural gems inside (Olivo – not the hospital).

Carefully cross over Castle Street and arrive at the Kings Head.

Dating back to the late 16th century, this building is purportedly Guildford’s oldest pub (contending with the Star), and is reported to be the most haunted pub in Guildford. If you feel an icy touch while you’re stood here, you’ve just met “Mary”…

Continue ahead for a few paces until you reach Guildford Museum.

Guildford Museum

Guildford Museum is a treasure trove of artefacts and information about Guildford, its luminaries, events, and items. Built in about 1630, and restored in 1898, it’s now home to the Surrey Archaeological Society. They’ve published numerous fascinating papers, and it’s well worth popping your head inside.

We’ll take a look at Castle Arch before walking through it. It’s safer to be on the pavement this side to do this.

Guildford old dispensary

Castle Arch

The arch is constructed from clunch – a hard form of chalk, and was constructed in 1256 by King Henry III’s master mason – John of Gloucester. At the time of building, Henry was spending lots of money on the castle buildings, and it was becoming one of the most luxurious royal residences in England. On either side of the gateway you’ll see the grooves where the portcullis once slid. The arch was damaged by a vehicle in the 60’s and the quarries in Racks Close were briefly mined again in order to effect repairs.

Take time to look behind you at the buildings along the length of Quarry Street – particularly the last one. On here, you’ll see a circular disc identifying the building as a Surrey County Council Building Special Interest. If you visit and search for Guildford, you’ll find out just how much of Guildford is listed!

*** STOP ***

Walking though Castle Arch must be done with great care – being extremely mindful of traffic coming down the hill that will not easily see you.

Minding for traffic, walk through the arch, staying on the pavement on the left-hand side. You’ll find Castle Cliffe Gardens immediately on your right. With due care (please), cross Castle Hill to the gardens.

Next : Castle Cliffe Gardens

Previous : St Mary’s Church

Home : Guildford Walking Tour