Stop denying it: Guildford is the best hometown in the UK
Ever since the middle-class teenager first started making the pilgrimage to bigger, edgier, similarly wealthy cities to pursue their education at university, the question has been asked: which is the best home town? Well the answer is clear my friends, it’s Guildford. Nestled in the Surrey Hills, the heart of, arguably, the most stereotypical home county Guildford is the perfect place to grow up before you enter the madness of uni and the rest of the world. If you make it to 18 without being run down by a 4×4 or becoming a Tory, you know you can achieve anything.
You won’t find a more beautiful place for an awkward first kiss
The River, Stoke Park and Castle Grounds were the locations where you almost undoubtedly had your first kiss and/or got drunk for the first time (because no parents of 15-year-olds would allow a party in their newly refurbished, cream-carpeted house). To be fair, as recreational grounds go, they are pretty scenic. Let’s at least have a nice view while we sip our Smirnoff Ice.
You’re pretty much guaranteed that your school will be really good
All the schools are good, it’s just that most of them you have to pay for. There’s friendly competition, I mean St Peter’s and George Abbot really rate each other and totally don’t resent their close geographical proximity. The fact the Royal Grammar School basically runs Guildford High Street between the hours of 12 and 2pm is completely chill and all the suburbs getting blocked up with sports cars and Land Rovers at 3pm when all the private schools close is character-building and will provide great banter in Freshers’ Week when you inevitably run into fellow Guildfordian Tallulah who you met at that party once.
We must never forget the most important thing we learned at school: District Sports at Spectrum running track taught us all the importance of the tennis ball throw. We carry that forward in our lives every day.
You get to act a bit ‘country’
Guildford provides prime locations for country walks thanks to The Chantries. The Sunday walk before your roast will include inordinate amount of dogs (mainly golden retrievers and spaniels) and you’ll smile and say “afternoon” to every Hunter welly-clad passer-by. It’s nice though, and very beautiful. Made In Chelsea style, you can also ensure you have awkward walks with people you may or may not be seeing. They’re always fun.
All your mates get the train with you to Godalming College (until one of you learns to drive)
Godalming College maybe isn’t exactly in Guildford but nearly everyone from Guildford goes there. The train to and from college (until your friend passed their driving test), the walk up that hideously steep hill (until your friend passed their driving test) and chilling in the car park with the Fiat 500s (when your friend passed) were all formative experiences that shaped who you are today. Started at the car park, now we here.
The pricey pubs mean you’ll never go to uni and find the prices are too high
All the pubs are expensive but there’s a positive to a pint costing £4: it makes everywhere else seem cheap and prepares you for London. Your first under-age pint was probably in The Stoke (the hub where all the oddballs would unite) because they served you and there were pool tables, (you need something to distract you from the fact you’re breaking the law when you’re 16). The Brit and King’s Head were there to welcome you when you finally had ID and treated you to good music and lovely beer gardens.
MNG and The Fratellis made every Monday night special
Your first night out was a Monday Night Guildford, MNG, at Casino and although it’s a shit hole you had some cracking nights there you’ll never remember. The floor is sticky and the downstairs looks as though it’s come out of a 90s R&B video but they’ll play Chelsea Dagger at the end of the night upstairs and you’ll probably go back next week. A home town is all about the great shit night out.
A big night out in London is never too far away
People might think that if one of the best things about a place is its proximity to another then it can’t be that great but it’s simply not true. Guildford is 40 mins to Waterloo and it’s so bloody handy. You can go out, pull an all nighter and just get the first train back in the morn. Being so close to London is also a good antidote to the “Surrey bubble” which would just turn you into a complete wanker without any of the irony if you’re not careful.
We used to have Guilfest
Guilfest was, as the name suggests, a festival in Guildford. It’s renowned in Surrey, one year Bastille even played. If ever there was a better place to get completely wasted dancing to music in a field yet still know that if anything bad happened mum or dad could come and pick you up, I am yet to come across it. R.I.P. Guilfest, we wouldn’t have ended up where we are without you.
All the best indie bands come to The Boileroom
The Boileroom is a little venue where the likes of Swim Deep, Lucy Rose, Spector, Theme Park, Passenger, Catfish and the Bottlemen and Ed Sheeran have all played. Even Guildford can be indie sometimes.
So yes Guildford is severely middle class and you grow up loving your friend’s mum’s home-made pesto but the Rasta busker will provide a soundtrack to your life as you exit M&S and the Big Issue Man at the top of the high street will always ask you how your day was.
The Tab is running a best hometowns competition. If you think yours is better than Guildford, email your submission to [email protected].