Prosperity in the Middle Ages – an illustrated talk and walk about Guildford’s wool trade

10th March 2020, 10:30 - 12:30

An illustrated talk followed by a guided walk
10 March 2020
10.30 – 12.30
Holy Trinity Centre , Guildford




Join Honorary Remembrancer, Matthew Alexander, who will give an illustrated introduction to Guildford’s wool trade and its merchants followed by a short guided walk to see the fascinating historical sites connected with the trade that formed the basis of Guildford’s early prosperity.

Matthew Alexander first came to Guildford in July 1975 to become assistant curator of local history at Guildford Museum. He has spent most of his life since then exploring Guildford’s fascinating past. He was elected the Borough’s Honorary Remembrancer after retiring as the museum curator in 2010 and is widely regarded as one of Guildford’s most knowledgeable historians.

The prosperity of medieval Guildford was largely based on the wool trade and for a relatively short time Surrey’s County town was famous for the production of “Guildford blue” cloth, which was exported across the world. Matthew will tell us about how the wool trade flourished and why it eventually dwindled. His illustrated talk provides a fascinating account of Guildford in the middle ages and the factors that contributed to its prosperity. 

After the talk Matthew will lead us on a guided walk that will take us to Racks Close, a hidden chalk quarry, which is often a surprise to many locals. Here Guildford Blue after dyeing with woad, was fixed on wooden racks to allow it to dry without shrinking. Our walk of about 45 minutes will go through the Town’s historic quarter and we will pass through the grounds of Guildford’s Norman Castle and hear about some of the other sites that were so important to the wool trade.

Guildford Castle Photo by Mike Peel

The walk will finish at Racks Close and there will then be the option to join us at the King’s Head in Quarry Street. The Kings Head is Guildford’s oldest and allegedly most haunted pub. Constructed in the late 1500s it was built in the traditional manner using timber beams and is situated next to the Castle.

Alternatively, there are over 50 eating establishments in Guildford to enjoy if you prefer.

The cost will be £10.00 for members and £15.00 for non-members, which includes tea or coffee, cakes and biscuits.

Booking is Essential. Please book online OR download the booking form and send a cheque and stamped addressed envelope for confirmation of your booking.  Closing date for entries is 6th March.

For further details and enquiries, contact us at or on mobile 07530 949302.

Cancellation by Member
If you wish to cancel your booking please email our Coordinator at  Any fee paid will be non-refundable, although the Society may in its entire discretion authorise repayment of all or part of the fee if, in the opinion of the Society, there are reasonable circumstances justifying the cancellation. If there is a waiting list for the event and adequate notice of cancellation has been given, our Coordinator will try to find a replacement booking and the Society may in its discretion refund all or part of the booking fee if the Coordinator is successful.

Cancellation by the Society
The Society may in its absolute discretion cancel any event by giving notice to the person, who has made the relevant booking. In such circumstances the booking fee will be fully refunded. The Society rarely cancels events, but it is sometimes obliged to do so due to circumstances outside its control or if insufficient interest is shown in an event.

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Please note that the Surrey Hills Society and its Event partners accept no responsibility for any loss, damage or personal injury during events. Participants are requested to wear appropriate clothing and footwear and take due care and attention. The Society uses photographs for our social media and on our website. If you are not happy to have your photo taken during this event, please notify us in writing prior to the event and make the event organiser aware on the day.


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Bookings are closed for this event.


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