The guildford institute

The Guildford Institute founded 1834 

A social and educational community hub in the heart of Guildford

  • Annual Membership Subscription Rates: Single £30; Joint £50; Single Life £500; Joint Life £750
  • Currently over 500 members
  • Membership application form available at


The Institute (originally the Guildford Mechanics Institute) has been serving its members since 1834. It moved to its present town centre home in 1892 and developed with a range of social, cultural and educational activities. The Library has occupied the same room since that date; it originally accommodated the book collection acquired during the latter half of the 19th century. The Guildford Institute has a special place in the heart of the local community. It is a unique venue where people of all ages and backgrounds can get together to learn, explore, create and meet old and new friends.With a wide range of courses, talks, music recitals, clubs and visits, there are many ways to enjoy what’s on offer. Our Library holds both historical and modern volumes so you can research here or read at home, and we manage one of the most important local history archives in the area with a fascinating collection of photographs, playbills, brochures and leaflets and other important documents.

We offer affordable room hire for external societies and organisations, and our vegetarian restaurant is one of Guildford’s best-kept secrets.

The Guildford Institute is open to everyone – come and be a part of our extraordinary community.


With its floor-to-ceiling bookcases, fine collection of historical volumes and Victorian periodicals, modern fiction and non-fiction, our Library is a haven of tranquility in the middle of a modern, bustling town. The Library has been in the same room since 1892 and is open Tuesdays to Saturdays for research and for Members to borrow books. Our eclectic Archive Collection is used by researchers in Guildford and across the world, helping investigations into family history, local events, changes in the environment and much more. Now almost fully digitised, these records are available to search online, making this an exceptional local history resource.Each month we bring new fiction and non-fiction stock into the Library.


Grade II listed building. The Guildford Institute has remained on the same site in the centre of Guildford for over one hundred years, inspiring, delighting and uniting people across the local area.

Contact information

Ward Street, Guildford, Surrey GU1 4LH
tel: 01483 562 142 / email:

Open Tuesday-Friday 10.00-15.00, Saturday 10.00-14.00

Non-member library enquiries to the Librarian by telephone, email, letter or in person


The Institute takes its role as a community hub for Guildford very seriously. We constantly strive to offer a broad range of activities that meet the needs of our members and users in a welcoming and friendly environment and encourage feedback and input from everyone. The new lift and stairs which are being installed will enable the building to match our aim of being accessible to all and will mark a new era in the Institute's development.


Registered charity no 1125031