My Neighbourhood | Matt Pinches on Guildford

Guildhall Guildford, My Neighbourhood

Co-Founder of Guildford Shakespeare Company, Matt Pinches, reveals his favourite places to dine, visit and discover in and around Guildford, Surrey. 

Home is…
After 11 years spent living in Guildford, I moved to Woking in 2015 – I got the keys to my new flat in the production week of The Taming of the Shrew, and spent the first fortnight living out of cardboard boxes! I’m in one of those new blocks that look like a cruise liner by the train station.

Matt Pinches, My Neighbourhood, Guildford

Work is…
I am the Co-Founder (alongside Sarah Gobran) of Guildford Shakespeare Company – a professional theatre company that celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2016. GSC is a registered charity, non-profit organisation, and we specialise in site-responsive theatre productions – basically theatre, but not in theatres! So our productions could take place in a park, a garden, a Spiegeltent, a castle, a lake, or a church. Last year, GSC created 116 jobs for artists and our performances were seen by over 17,000 people. GSC also has a busy education department, with regular workshops for schools and our nine in-house drama clubs attract all ages from seven to 70! I truly look forward to going to work every day – working with talented, happy people is very inspiring.

Favourite place to spend a relaxing Sunday…
I love a good walk – I walked the 146 miles from Stratford-upon- Avon to Shakespeare’s Globe last August in nine days to raise money for GSC. Locally, the route from Guildford to St Martha’s Hill and down into Chilworth is breathtaking (literally!).

St Marthas Hill, Surrey, My Neighbourhood

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Most memorable meal I’ve had locally…
I once had dinner with the in the parlor of Guildford’s Guildhall. It’s a wonderful building, so full of history, and eating off plates that had the Guildford crest made me feel very special! The Mayor was Mike Nevins, a wonderful man who loved the arts. My favourite place for a meal though, where the atmosphere and food is always memorable, is Positano in Tunsgate; a beautiful restaurant amid the beams and wooden panels of Old Guildford. Francesco and his team always make you feel at home and the food is divine!

Favourite place for a  night out with friends…
The Drummond, just outside Guildford Cricket Club, which has a great range and comfy seats; The Keep on Castle Street for awesome gin and tonics; and I still enjoy visiting my old local, The Royal Oak, behind Holy Trinity Church, which has just had a great renovation.

Local building I’d most like to live in…
I’m not sure I would be allowed to live in it, but my favourite building is St Mary’s Church on Quarry Street in Guildford. St Mary’s is Guildford’s oldest building, dating from around 990AD, and the place oozes history and charm. I find churches fascinating places to visit and St Mary’s boasts some incredible features, from the corbels in the ceiling to the pilgrim passages, from the Lewis Carroll pulpit to the tiny Saxon windows. I’ve been fortunate to perform in there a number of times with GSC, and it’s a very special place – full of centuries of people’s memories.

Favourite local discovery…
When I first moved to this area, I instantly fell in love with St Catherine’s ruin, on the outskirts of Guildford. There is something gothically romantic about this ruined chapel on the top of a hill overlooking the town and valley. The first winter I moved here it snowed and the scene up there was magical. I think the fact that no-one really knows its exact history adds to the mystery. Woking Palace was a fabulous discovery last year – I was doing one of my training walks ahead of my Bard Walk in August, and came across this ruin in the middle of a field. It also ties in with a great walk from Woking to Guildford along the River Wey to Shalford.

Best spot for a family day out…
My mum and dad live in Worcester, so when they visit we really enjoy a walk along Newlands Corner. In the summer, a Sunday ploughman’s lunch at Gomshall Mill is just right.

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