Living here - why Surrey?

Four nurses smiling

There are plenty of reasons why Guildford, Surrey is a great place to work and live. If you are thinking of joining us, then take a look at the below for more information.

Location and transport links

Welcome to Guildford - the historic and vibrant county town of Surrey. Situated in the centre of the county of Surrey in South East England, Guildford is just 27 miles south west of London and 37 miles north of Portsmouth. Guildford has all the richness and amenities of a city and yet remains compact enough to explore and enjoy with ease.

Guildford is within easy reach of Heathrow and Gatwick Airports both only around a forty minute drive away, and has a direct rail link to Gatwick. Guildford also has exceptional rail links to London with trains to London Waterloo taking just 40 minutes and running approximately every 15 minutes during peak time. Guildford also has excellent rail links to the South Coast (around 50 minutes by rail). Guildford is just 15 minutes from the M25 and is also served by the M3 and A3, Making Guildford the perfect spot from which to explore the whole of South East England.

Things to do

As a place to shop, Guildford has a recently refurbished Friary Shopping Centre alongside a particularly good selection of stores situated on the picturesque and historic High Street. There is also a huge variety of smaller, independent and specialist shops.

Offering a rich variety of entertainment throughout the year, the Yvonne Arnaud theatre stages pre-and post-West end productions and G Live hosts everything from stand-up comedy to classical concerts by Guildford's own Philharmonic Orchestra.

A number of festivals are held from spring through to autumn, celebrating music, literature, arts and crafts and even cricket! The wide range of activities available at The Spectrum Leisure Centre includes swimming, ice-skating and tenpin bowling, while the recently refurbished 1930's Lido is ideal for swimming outdoors in the summer months.

Guildford and the surrounding areas also offer many places of interest. In the streets and lanes around the cobbled High street, there awaits a wealth of history to discover including the castle built by William the Conqueror - Surrey's only Royal castle - and the house and grave of the author Lewis Carroll.

Near Guildford, Loseley Park, a beautiful Elizabethan mansion with exquisite gardens, has been home to the same family since the 16th century. Hatchlands, a handsome brick-built house with interiors by Robert Adam, is home to a most unusual collection of keyboard instruments. Here an audio tour allows the visitor to listen to the instruments once played by Mahler, Chopin, Elgar and Marie-Antoinette. The Royal Horticultural Society Garden at Wisley is acclaimed by gardeners throughout the world and close by is Painshill, a delightful restored 18th century landscape garden.

Although not technically a city as Guildford is yet to receive a royal charter, Guildford has a cathedral. Consecrated in 1961, Guildford Cathedral dominates the town and is floodlit to spectacular effect at night. Inside, the honey-coloured stone and white marble floors combine with soaring arches to give an impression of lightness, space and tranquillity.

Wanting to relax in Guildford? Why not hire a narrow boat or rowing boat and splash about on the National Trust's Wey Navigation, which turns through the town? Alternatively, there are lovely walks along the towpath out into the countryside where you will find a host of charming villages, beautiful gardens and historic buildings to explore.

Schools and colleges

Guildford and the surrounding areas are home to a number of exceptional schools. The majority of primary and secondary schools in the area have either a Good or Outstanding rating from Oftsted. The Royal Grammar School in Guildford has an extensive history dating from 1509 and is rated as one of the best schools in the UK, with 95% of students achieving grades of 7-9 in all of their GSCE’s and is behind Guildford High School where 98.7% of GSCEs were grades 7-9 in 2018.  Locally to the Royal Surrey County Hospital there are some excellent comprehensive schools including Queen Eleanor’s Church of England Junior School and Northmead Junior School, both of which were rated Good in their most recent Ofsted reports. Secondary schools in the area include Guildford County School and George Abbot School, all of which score well above the national average in passes achieved at GSCE. For example at George Abbot School 82% of students attained grades at 4-9 in 2018 and is rated as Outstanding by Ofsted. 

Guildford also offers many options for Higher Education. Guildford College offers a broad range of courses from A-Levels to Access into Nursing Courses. The College of Law in Guildford, offers law degrees and post-graduate courses. Guildford also has a reputation for the arts with the Guildford School of Acting (which has recently merged with Surrey University), the Academy for Contemporary Music and the Italia Conte dance school all being based here.

Guildford is also home to the University of Surrey. Originally The Battersea Polytechnic Institute, the university moved to its current site and changed its name in 1966. The University of Surrey conducts extensive research on small satellites with its Surrey Space Centre and has strong links with Royal Surrey. Surrey University has a continuing and exciting programme of future development and expansion.  

Interesting facts

Here are some random facts about Guildford!

  • Guildford has one of the highest life expectancies in Britain
  • Despite having a cathedral, Guildford is not a city. It needs a Royal Charter for that, and we haven't got one yet
  • In his tales of the Knights of the Round Table, Sir Thomas Mallory called Guildford "Astolat", where the fair Elaine died for the love of Sir Lancelot
  • Alchemists were forerunners of modern research chemists, except that they tried to turn cheap metals into silver or gold. The last alchemist in England, James Price, committed suicide in his laboratory on Guildford's Upper High Street in 1783 when he failed to demonstrate this magical process to sceptical scientists
  • George Abbot, the Archbishop of Canterbury whose statue stands on the High Street, accidentally killed a gamekeeper while out hunting with a crossbow
  • The High Street is not paved with cobbles. We have brick-shaped blocks of granite called "setts".

Royal Surrey Charity