Guildford Architecture

08 June 2022

An Unrecognised Talent

Guildford has an amazing number of buildings designed by architectural ‘names’ Voysey, Shaw, Lutyens and in recent times Grimshaw at the University of Surrey.  A lesser-known architect is Alfred Claude Burlingham who was active in the early part of the 20th Century, and had a considerable influence on the development of Guildford.


He was born in 1885; and attended the Birmingham School of Arts and Crafts which, at that time, was the focus of the Arts and Crafts Movement which had been born out of the "Birmingham Set"; whose members included Wiliam Morris  and the artist Edward Burne-Jones. On completion of his architectural studies, he became a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Moving south, he practiced with Alfred Taylor, a developer, in Sutton from 1909. His earliest work included twenty four private houses around Sutton, Purley and Wallington. He also designed a Memorial Home for nurses in Evesham and carried out work on Lord Falmouth’s estates in Kent.

Following the completion of Abbotswood, his first work in Guildford,  Burlingham and Taylor went on to develop other significant residential estates in Guildford at Fairway, Trodds Lane, Ganghill, Meads Road and Green Lane all in Guildford.  Burlingham  is known to have lived at Trodds Lane for part of his life.

A Mystery

It is difficult to discover details of his practice and other work.  He did design a very large office building for London & Manchester Insurance at Finsbury in the City of London, which was very similar in style to Lutyen’s building for the Midland Bank at Poultry. The office block was demolished in 1972, despite many objections at the time.

There may be other buildings still standing that have not been recognised as by Burlingham


One of the finest collections of his houses can be found at Abbotswood which was conceived as an early 20th Century Garden Suburb. It originally consisted of 46 houses built mainly before and just after the First World War for the professional and more affluent residents of Guildford. Burlingham created several different designs for large and medium sized houses, in some cases with space for servants’ quarters.

Abbotswood Residents Website has a gallery of some of the buildings Burlingham designed.  The Abbotswood Estate was designated a Conservation Area in 2011.


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