Guildford Castle in Guildford, the borough's main settlement.
Guildford Castle in Guildford, the borough's main settlement.
Fortiter et Fideliter
(Latin: Bravely and faithfully)
Guildford shown within Surrey
Guildford shown within Surrey
Coordinates: 51°14′46″N 0°33′07″W / 51.246°N 0.552°W / 51.246; -0.552
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
RegionSouth East England
Ceremonial county Surrey
Established1 April 1974
Administrative HQGuildford
 • TypeNon-metropolitan district
 • BodyGuildford Borough Council
 • MPsPaul Beresford (Mole Valley[n 1])
Michael Gove (Surrey Heath)
Jonathan Lord (Woking)
Angela Richardson (Guildford)
 • Total105 sq mi (271 km2)
 • Rank130th
 • Total145,673
 • Rank153rd
 • Density1,390/sq mi (538/km2)
Ethnicity (2021)
 • Ethnic groups
Religion (2021)
 • Religion
Time zoneUTC+0 (Greenwich Mean Time)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (British Summer Time)
ONS code43UD (ONS)
E07000209 (GSS)
OS grid referenceTQ0105550700

The Borough of Guildford is a local government district with borough status in Surrey, England. With around half of the borough's population, Guildford is its largest settlement and only town, and is where the council is based.

The borough includes part of the Surrey Hills, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The neighbouring districts are Surrey Heath, Woking, Elmbridge, Mole Valley, Waverley and Rushmoor.


The town of Guildford was an ancient borough, with its first known charter dating from 1257.[2] It was reformed to become a municipal borough in 1836 under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, which standardised the way many boroughs operated across the country. The borough boundaries were enlarged several times, notably in 1836, 1933 and 1954.[3][4]

The modern district was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, covering the area of two former districts, which were both abolished at the same time:[5][6]

Guildford's borough status transferred to the new district from its creation, allowing the chair of the council to take the title of mayor, continuing Guildford's series of mayors dating back to at least the fifteenth century.[7][2]


Guildford Borough Council
Masuk Miah,
Liberal Democrat
since 10 May 2023[8]
Julia McShane,
Liberal Democrat
since 11 October 2022[9]
Tom Horwood
since 2021[10]
Seats48 councillors
Political groups
Administration (25)
  Liberal Democrats (25)
Other parties (23)
  Conservative (10)
  Residents (7)
  Greenbelt Group (3)
  Labour (3)
Length of term
4 years
Last election
4 May 2023
Next election
6 May 2027
Meeting place
Millmead House, Millmead, Guildford, GU2 4BB

Guildford Borough Council provides district-level services. County-level services are provided by Surrey County Council.[11] Parts of the borough are covered by civil parishes, which form a third tier of local government for their areas.[12]

The council owns significant heritage assets that include monuments such as Guildford Castle, as well museums, art collections and civic regalia.[13]

Political control

The council has been under Liberal Democrat majority control since the 2023 election.[14]

Political control of the old municipal borough council from 1836 to 1974 was as follows:[15]

Party in control Years
Conservative 1836–1875
No overall control 1875–1877
Conservative 1877–1879
No overall control 1879–1880
Conservative 1880–1883
No overall control 1883–1885
Conservative 1885–1888
Liberal 1888–1889
Conservative 1889–1892
No overall control 1892–1892
Liberal 1892–1894
No overall control 1894–1895
Liberal 1895–1898
No overall control 1898–1899
Independent 1899–1957
No overall control 1957–1965
Conservative 1965–1972
No overall control 1972–1974

Political control of the modern borough council since the 1974 reforms has been as follows:[16]

Party in control Years
Conservative 1974–1991
No overall control 1991–1995
Liberal Democrats 1995–1997[17]
No overall control 1997–2003
Conservative 2003–2019
No overall control 2019–2023
Liberal Democrats 2023–present


Further information: Mayor of Guildford

The role of mayor is largely ceremonial in Guildford. Political leadership is instead provided by the leader of the council. The leaders since 2010 have been:[18]

Councillor Party From To
Tony Rooth[19] Conservative May 2010 11 Oct 2012
Stephen Mansbridge[20] Conservative 11 Oct 2012 19 Oct 2015
Paul Spooner Conservative 9 Dec 2015 15 May 2019
Caroline Reeves Liberal Democrats 15 May 2019 22 Sep 2020
Joss Bigmore Residents for Guildford and Villages 6 Oct 2020 11 Oct 2022
Julia McShane[21] Liberal Democrats 12 Oct 2022


Following the 2023 election the composition of the council was:[22][23]

Party Councillors
Liberal Democrats 25
Conservative 10
Residents for Guildford and Villages 7
Guildford Greenbelt Group 3
Labour 3
Total 48

The next election is due in 2027.


See also: Guildford Borough Council elections

Since the last boundary changes in 2023 the council has comprised 48 councillors representing 21 wards, with each ward electing one, two or three councillors. Elections are held every four years.[24]

Members of Parliament

See also: List of Parliamentary constituencies in Surrey

The borough straddles four parliamentary constituencies:

Constituency Member of Parliament Political party
Guildford Angela Richardson Conservative Party
Mole Valley Paul Beresford
Surrey Heath Michael Gove
Woking Jonathan Lord


Guildhall: Used for council's annual meetings.

The council is based at Millmead House on Millmead in Guildford. The original house dates from the late seventeenth century, with extensive modern additions to the rear.[25] Prior to the local government reorganisation of 1974, the building had been the headquarters of Guildford Rural District Council.[26] The council's annual meeting when new mayors are appointed each May is held at Guildford Guildhall.[8]


Guildford has the second largest population of Surrey's eleven districts (based on census statistics, only 600 residents behind Reigate and Banstead).[27] Approximately half of the borough's population live in the town of Guildford.


The central part of the borough, corresponding to the pre-1974 borough and covering the majority of the Guildford built-up area, is an unparished area.[12][28] This area includes Bellfields, Boxgrove, Onslow Village, Park Barn, Stoughton, Westborough, and the (former) villages of Burpham, and Merrow.

The rest of the borough is covered by civil parishes:[29]

Map of Guildford Borough showing its parts: Guildford town and civil parishes which provide an additional layer of government.

Notes and references


  1. ^ Mole Valley UK Parliament Constituency and two of the others include some peripheral wards.


  1. ^ a b UK Census (2021). "2021 Census Area Profile – Guildford Local Authority (E07000209)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 5 January 2024.
  2. ^ a b Malden, H. E., ed. (1911). A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. London: Victoria County History. pp. 560–570. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  3. ^ Municipal Corporations Act. 1835. p. 456. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  4. ^ "Guildford Municipal Borough". A Vision of Britain through Time. GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  5. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan District (Definition) Order 1972",, The National Archives, SI 1972/2039, retrieved 12 January 2024
  6. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Names) Order 1973",, The National Archives, SI 1973/551, retrieved 3 January 2024
  7. ^ "District Councils and Boroughs". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). 28 March 1974. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Council minutes, 10 May 2023". Guildford Borough Council. Retrieved 19 July 2023.
  9. ^ "Council minutes, 11 October 2022". Guildford Borough Council. Retrieved 19 July 2023.
  10. ^ Coady Stemp, Emily (1 November 2021). "New £150,000 joint chief executive set to be appointed to lead Waverley and Guildford councils". Farnham Herald. Retrieved 19 July 2023.
  11. ^ "Local Government Act 1972",, The National Archives, 1972 c. 70, retrieved 31 May 2023
  12. ^ a b "Election Maps". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 9 January 2023.
  13. ^ "Guildford Borough Council Statement of Accounts 2011-12, pp 4, 12 and 79". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  14. ^ "New borough council administration kicks off by re-electing Lib Dem Leader". Guildford Dragon. 18 May 2023.
  15. ^ Ottewill, Roger (2005). Guildford Borough Council: A Compendium of Municipal Election Results, 1835–1974. Plymouth: LGC Elections Centre. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  16. ^ "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. Retrieved 9 September 2022.
  17. ^ For the loss of the Liberal Democrat majority on Guildford Borough Council during 1997 see a) 2 Liberal Democrat councillors for Stoughton quit the party to be Independent Liberals in February 1997 reducing the number of LD councillors from 23 to 21: b) Liberal Democrats lose Merrow & Burpham by-election to Conservatives in May 1997 reducing number of LD councillors from 21 to 20. Fuller details of this by-election are listed on this Wikipedia page; and c) 1 Liberal Democrat councillor for Tongham quit the party to join the Put Ash Vale First Group (which was then renamed the Independent Group) in May 1997 reducing the number of LD councillors from 20 to 19. See: . At the time 23 seats were needed for a majority.
  18. ^ "Council minutes". Guildford Borough Council. Retrieved 14 July 2022.
  19. ^ "Tony Rooth resigns as Guildford council leader". Surrey Live. 19 September 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2022.
  20. ^ Edwards, Mark (19 October 2015). "Stephen Mansbridge resignation 'the right thing to do' according to opposition parties". Surrey Live. Retrieved 14 July 2022.
  21. ^ Giles, Martin (12 October 2022). "New Guildford Council Leader Elected In Planned Handover". BBC News. Retrieved 1 July 2023.
  22. ^ "Local elections 2023: live council results for England". The Guardian.
  23. ^ "Guildford election results in full as Liberal Democrats take control". SurreyLive. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  24. ^ "The Guildford (Electoral Changes) Order 2022",, The National Archives, SI 2022/1178, retrieved 12 January 2024
  25. ^ Historic England. "Millmead House, Millmead (Grade II) (1188094)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 14 July 2022.
  26. ^ "The Rural District Council of Guildford". London Gazette (33887): 7597. 29 November 1932. Retrieved 14 July 2022. the Rural District Council Offices, Millmead House, Guildford...
  27. ^ List of English districts by population
  28. ^ "Surrey: Diagram showing administrative boundaries, 1971". National Library of Scotland. Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  29. ^ Surrey County Council Archived 26 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine