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Guildford Walking Tour : Royal Grammar School

Royal Grammar School

The Royal Grammar School stands on what was originally known as Spital Street (shortened from “hospital”) and so named after St Thomas’ leper hospital that once stood at the junction of the Epsom Road with the London Road.

As an institution the Royal Grammar School was established in 1512 alongside Guildford castle, though the building you see before you now was opened in 1586 after a charter was granted by King Edward VI.

A court case in 1598 included reference to Grammar School boys having played cricket at the site in about 1550, and this is generally viewed as the first recorded reference to the game.

Cross the High Street using the pedestrian crossing in front of Royal Grammar School.

Turning to look across the High Street you’ll see a red brick building with stone steps that have iron railings, and a wrought iron metal balcony above. This is Somerset house.

Somerset House

Somerset House was built in the late 17th century by the 6th Duke of Somerset (1662-1748). Historical accounts state that The Proud Duke wanted a place to break his journey between London and his seat in Petworth, and having fallen out with pretty much everyone in Guildford, built his property a couple of paces beyond the town boundary – thus avoiding certain taxes.

It’s a fine example of the contemporary Queen Anne style, and was a private home until the 1920s. With the stunning and now demolished Allen House directly opposite, this section of the High Street was once wealthy and imposing.

Having looked at Somerset House, walk up the High Street (away from the town centre) for about 50m, reaching Eastgate Gardens on your left.

Turn left into Eastgate Gardens, walk 25m, turn right, walk through a small a small car park for 50m, and turn left – picking up Eastgate Gardens again. Walk along here for 75m and before the road turns sharp right, turn left through a metal gateway into Allen House Grounds.

Next : Allen House Gardens

Previous : George Abbot

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