• 18Feb

    angel-posting-house-01.jpgIt is often the case that you don’t appreciate or realise what is on your own doorstep. How many times have I walked past this place on the way up the High Street, concentrating instead on the glitzy modern shops and what I needed to buy. OK, I’ve admired the outside of the building but never thought of venturing inside or finding out more about its history.

    The first time I heard it talked about was on Philip Hutchinson’s Ghost Tour of Guildford which we braved one Halloween! Incidentally a brilliant tour with a guide who is also a well known ghost hunter and sits on the council of the Ghost Club (the world’s oldest organisation associated with paranormal research). It was historically interesting and also quite scary to someone like me who has a very active imagination. Apparently Room 1 of the Angel Hotel, the rightmost front window I believe, is haunted by the ghost of a nineteenth century military man with a moustache – the couple who saw him in the wardrobe mirror at 3am were even able to draw him! It is also said that the wood used in building was bought in from timbers of old ships and that is why sea-faring ghosts can be seen in the mirrors.

    The current building dates from 1527 and stands on the site of Whitefriars Monastery. It was a ‘Posting House’ where coaches could rest or exchange their horses between London and the Naval base of Portsmouth. Famous guests have included Lord Nelson, Charles Dickens, Lord Byron and Jane Austen. Can you believe that in 1989 it was bought by property developers wishing to turn it into shops! Thank goodness there was a public outcry, instead the current directors (who took over the following year) carefully restored and refurbished the building to retain the atmosphere and historic detail. You can read more of the building’s history on the hotel website here.

    Anyway, Tim and I finally went inside on Saturday and could have stayed much longer than it took to drink a wonderful capuccino and munch the accompanying biscuits. We sat on a comfy sofa in the galleried lounge, opposite the magnificent Jacobean fireplace and surrounded by beautiful wood panelling. Over the stairs hangs a stunning 17th century Parlimentary Clock which used to inform travellers when their coach was about to depart. I could sense the atmosphere and history all around, it really was like stepping back in time and felt quite surreal to look out the front window to see present day Guildford High Street still buzzing about its business.

    Before leaving I picked up a leaflet informing me it is a member of “Small Luxury Hotels of the World”… well we shall need somewhere to stay once we have moved and are back visiting Guildford at some future date. Now that is something I won’t forget!

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