131 High Street
The Guildhall in Guildford High Street is where the Mayor and Corporation of Guildford met to regulate the commerce of the Borough, and where the various Courts of Law sat in judgement.
The hall is Elizabethan, but probably stands on the site of the medieval Guildhall which is known to have existed in the 1300s. It was extended at the north end in 1589, on the occasion of one of Elizabeth I's visits to the town and her Coat of Arms in stained glass was inserted in the window above the Judge's Bench.
Later the Arms of James I's Queen, Anne of Denmark, were also inserted, together with the Arms of the Borough itself. There are paintings of Charles II, James II and William and Mary, and also one of the colour party of the Queen's Regiment commemorating the presentation of the Freedom of the Borough in 1946.
In 1683 the Guildhall was refurbished with the insertion of a Council Chamber at first floor level, with fine wood panelling and a carved chalk fireplace. The Guildhall also holds the Borough Plate silver collection.
There are guided tours of the Guildhall on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2pm and 3pm.
The Borough Plate collection of silver includes pieces which form the insignia of municipal authority and items used in connection with banquets and other functions.
Guildford has the rare distinction of having two maces: the older is of silver gilt and may date from the late 1400s although it was altered in 1581. The larger mace was given by Henry Howard, High Steward, in 1633. An unusual item is the Mayor's Staff of campeachy wood or logwood, said to have been given by Elizabeth I. It bears the date of 1565 and the castle which figures in Guildford's Coat of Arms.
The Mayor's Badge and Chain are of gold, dating from 1673, and there are similar badges in gold for the Mayoress and silver for other dignitaries.
Outstanding among the silver used for municipal entertainments are the basin and ewer bequeathed in 1574 by John Parkhurst, a Guildfordian who had become Bishop of Norwich. Notable also are several fine silver tankards and table decorations. Every item in the collection has been given to the town and people of the borough.