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If you happen to be passing through Guildford, or are based in the town at a Surrey hotel or small guesthouse, be sure to visit the Abbot's Hospital. It's the town's finest old building founded in 1619 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was born there and wanted to give something back. It's original name was the Hospital of the Blessed Trinity and the intention was to provide a shelter for older poor people in Guildford, rather than be a hospital in the modern sense.
The deserving poor who took advantage of the services here were strictly limited to 12 men and 8 women, all of whom had to be unmarried. It was an arrangement reminiscent of Trollope's Hiram's Hospital in The Barchester Chronicles and delightfully English. The Resident Master looked after them just as Septimus Harding does in The Warden, and even now, four centuries on, the old building still offers accommodation in the town centre for local elderly citizens. It's a heart-warming tale of strong local traditions and charitable, selfless acts.
Visit the Abbot's Hospital today in Guildford from your local Surrey hotel or guesthouse and you'll find a magnificent Jacobean building. It has been Grade I listed and is one of the finest examples of its kind in the country. The fact that it's still doing the job for which it was founded only adds to the interest, and with a little act of imagination you almost find yourself transported back in time to the reign of King James I. George Abbott, the archbishop who founded it, is buried just across the road in Holy Trinity Church and he'll probably still be delighted at the way things have turned out for his old charitable institution.
Visit the Abbot's Hospital in Guildford to see some real living history. It's easy to find from your Surrey hotel, and there are plenty of other attractions in town to keep you busy, including some excellent shopping in the high street.