Guildford Friary

Plan of Guildford Friary

182/3+ Guildford Friary

It has always been of interest to me that this site is on the SOUTH LINE, being the central spine of the ten-degree alignments, but the actual location of the friary is poorly defined on the Ordnance Survey, shown only as a comment ‘Site of Friary founded 1275’; therefore the accuracy of any alignment had been unverified, but I have now obtained a copy of the ‘Research Volume of the Surrey Archaeological Society No 9’ titled ‘Excavations on the Site of the Dominican Friary at Guildford in 1974 and 1978’, by Rob Poulton and Humphrey Woods, published by the SAS in 1984.   By today’s standards, the location plan is not brilliant, being more of a sketch than a survey, but with enough information to enlarge it to 1-200 scale, enabling the measurement of the discovered foundations and adjoining streets to be transferred into the AutoCAD base.  This digital drawing was overlaid on my OS masterplan as a block and adjusted to obtain a best-fit with the neighbouring streets.  The report also included an aerial photograph of the excavated site, which I have used to further enhance the fit. I now feel that I have the position of the friary buildings to within perhaps three metres of accuracy.

My wife examining the excavations

My wife examining the excavations

The area of the demolition of the old Friary Meux Brewery to facilitate the construction of the Friary Centre shopping mall covers a large area, and the excavated foundations take up perhaps fifteen per cent of the site at the most.  Therefore I was surprised to see that the two alignments passing through the site crossed within the Chapter House, with the SOUTH LINE passing through the nave at the choir end (see plan).  Once again I am impressed with the coincidence of my findings.  Photographs showing the stages of construction show that the archaeological remains were dug away to allow for the underground parking and foundations to the shopping mall.  Only the west end of the nave is unexcavated as it lies just within the roadway of Onslow Street.  Maybe one day, it will be possible to reveal this to survey the location of the Friary accurately.


I think this is looking east across the site, but background buildings have gone making it difficult to orientate.

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