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Guildford Walking Tour : John Monsell and Alice

Facing towards the river and town, walk the length of St Nicolas church, and turn right into Millmead. Pause at the end of the church as you turn the corner.

Immediately on your left is The White House pub – where Artington Mill once stood. Working as a corn mill until the late 17th century, Artington Mill was once fed by the millstream, which ran where you are likely now standing – before it was filled in.

On your right, on the end of St Nicolas church, there’s an engraving for a fallen soldier – Erasmus Stuart Ommaney – the son of the vicar of the time. 2nd lieutenant Alfred Erasmus Stuart Ommaney was killed at Gueudecourt (France), in 1916.

Continue along Millmead for about 25m (to the end of the White House)

John Monsell

On the wall to your right is a plaque – dedicated to Dr John Monsell. Born in Londonderry in 1811, Monsell pursued a vocation in the church throughout his life, including being chaplain to Queen Victoria. During his life he wrote 11 volumes of poems and more than 300 hymns. He was responsible for the building or rebuilding of three churches, including St Nicolas. It was during work on St Nicolas that he fell, and later died from associated complications.


On your left you’ll find an area of lawn, with sculptures of Alice, her sister, and the white rabbit. The area where Alice and her friends may be found was once Westnye Island (later Bennett’s Island) – being surrounded by water. The spectacularly ugly building beyond the river is currently (July 2022) Debenhams, though with their demise, this is due to be redeveloped. This site was once home to John Moon & Son’s Timber yard – being redeveloped in 1962 to house Plummers Department store. The building you’re currently looking at is symbolic of what can be achieved when little sympathy is given to the local landscape. To your right as you walk along Millmead you’ll find Westnye Gardens, inside which you’ll find the Millennium Sundial (created by Joanna Migdal). This sundial seems to have had a couple of “homes” over the years, so if it’s not here, it’s probably continued its road-trip around town.
Alice and the Rabbit

Carry along past the Britannia Pub until you reach Porridge Pot Alley

This alley (legend has it) got its name after a woman was assaulted in the 14th century at this very spot – with a porridge pot! There are suggestions that this was once known as “piss pot alley”. I’ve not verified either.

Turn left at Porridge Pot Alley, and walk over the iron bridge across the River Wey. You’ve arrived at Millmead Lock.

Next : Millmead Lock and the Wey Navigations

Previous : St Nicolas Church

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