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Guildford Cathedral

General Information

Other name(s): The Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit, Guildford
Beginning of works: 1936
Completion: 1961
Status: in use

Project Type

Function / usage: Cathedral
Architectural style: Neo-Gothic
Art Deco


Location: , , , ,
Coordinates: 51° 14' 27.87" N    0° 35' 23.74" W
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Technical Information


tower height 48.8 m

Excerpt from Wikipedia

The Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit, Guildford, commonly known as Guildford Cathedral, is the Anglican cathedral at Guildford, Surrey, England. Richard Onslow donated the first 6 acres of land on which the cathedral stands, with Viscount Bennett, a former Prime Minister of Canada purchasing the remaining land and donating it to the cathedral in 1947. Designed by Edward Maufe and built between 1936 and 1961, it is the seat of the Bishop of Guildford.


The Diocese of Guildford was created in 1927, covering most of Surrey. Work began nine years later on its cathedral. The Cathedral Committee chose Edward Maufe (later Sir Edward Maufe) as its architect and the foundation stone was laid by Cosmo Lang, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1936. Construction was intended to span many years to allow necessary funds to be raised, but building work had to be suspended during the Second World War. In the meantime Guildford's restored Georgian Holy Trinity Church served as pro-cathedral. In 1952 Walter Boulton, who had ministered mostly in India, was made provost (head priest at the pro-cathedral and pastor of the parish), and revitalised the fund-raising for the new cathedral. The building could not be consecrated until 17 May 1961. When it was completed sufficiently for public worship, another cleric was chosen as first Dean of Guildford by the bishop, after consultation with various benefactors and influential clergy within Anglicanism. Construction was completed in full in 1965.

In the 1950s a "buy a brick" scheme was used to raise funds for construction, to great success. Each brick cost 2s 6d (roughly £6 in today's money) and entitled the buyer to sign their name on the brick. Elizabeth II and Prince Philip both signed bricks, which are on display inside the cathedral, along with bricks signed by other members of the Royal Family. Before the war, the bricks themselves were made from the clay removed during the installation of 778 piles, driven 50 feet into the hill. They were made by the brickworks at the bottom of Stag Hill. After the war, the brickworks ceased to trade, and bricks were then bought from a brickmakers in Beare Green, Sussex. There is a slight colour variation between the local bricks (forming the eastern end of the cathedral) and the Sussex bricks, forming the western end, tower, garths and Lady Chapel.


It stands in a commanding spot on Stag Hill — so named because the Kings of England used to hunt there — and its solid red brick outline is visible for miles around; it immediately overlooks the University of Surrey's Stag Hill Campus. The location was partly chosen because it stood apart from Guildford town, reflecting the cathedral's status as mother church of the Diocese, not the town.


Writing in 1932, Maufe said: ‘The ideal has been to produce a design, definitely of our own time, yet in the line of the great English Cathedrals; to build anew on tradition, to rely on proportion, mass, volume and line rather than on elaboration and ornament.' Pevsner Architectural Guides described the building as 'sweet-tempered, undramatic Curvilinear Gothic', and the interior as 'noble and subtle.'

Maufe was influenced by the Continental cathedrals, notably Albi Cathedral in France, and favoured clean modern design in a Gothic Revival style. It is said that the design for Guildford Cathedral in turn influenced the design of Auckland Cathedral in New Zealand.

The tower is 160 feet (49 m) high, and contains twelve bells, ten of which were cast by Mears and Stainbank in 1965. The bells were augmented to 12 with two Whitechapel trebles in 1975. The largest bell weighs 30cwt (just over 1.5 tonnes) and is tuned to the key of D. At the top of the tower stands a 15-foot (4.6 m) gilded angel, which turns in the wind. Inside, the cathedral appears to be filled with light, with pale Somerset limestone pillars and white Italian marble floors. It is a Grade IIpage listed building.

The angel on the top of the tower was given in memory of Sgt. Reginald Adgey-Edgar of the Intelligence Corps, who died on active service in 1944 during World War II. It was designed by William Pickford and created by four silversmiths, before being positioned in Spring 1963. The supporting pole for the angel houses mobile phone antennas.

The wooden cross which stands outside the eastern end of the cathedral was erected in 1933 before construction work began in order to mark the site of the new cathedral. Known as the Ganges Cross, it is made from timbers of Burma teak from the battleship HMS Ganges (1821). The ship's emblem — an elephant — is embedded in the wood.

Sir Edward Maufe's wife, Lady Prudence Maufe - an internal designer, Director of Heal and Sons Ltd. and noted broderer - was instrumental in the design of the textiles within the cathedral. Unusually, Maufe's contract included complete control over the internal fittings and colour scheme of the cathedral. This colour scheme references Guildford's wool trade past, notably the blue colour that Guildford wool was famous for. The 1,447 kneelers, using a combination of standard and individual designs, were each reviewed and approved by Lady Maufe and her committee. They were made by over 400 individuals, mainly from the British Isles, but including people from other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand. Whilst most were made during the late 1950s and early 1960s, there are examples dating back to the late 1930s, and they collectively form a fascinating record of society and life at that time.

20th Century sculptors and artists are well represented at Guildford Cathedral, notably Eric Gill, Vernon Hill, Mary Spencer Watson, Dennis Huntley, Alan Collins and local artists John Cobbett and Douglas Stephen. Charles Gurrey created a series of sculptures above the West Front, to mark the Millennium, whilst Canadian sculptor Nicholas Thompson completed a sculpture of a WWI mother and child in 2016.

There are three side chapels. The Children's Chapel is dedicated to children who have died, and holds a book of remembrance for children of any age. The Chapel of the Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment holds the regimental colours and was dedicated in 1959 to the Honour of King Charles the Martyr (King Charles I, father of King Charles II). The Queen’s Royal Regiment was founded in 1661 as the Tangiers Regiment on the marriage of King Charles II and Catherine of Braganza. The Lady Chapel was built using funds donated by the Canadian people, in recognition of the support for Canadian troops stationed in the area during both world wars. It contains a figure of the Madonna and Child, carved in lignum vitae by Douglas Stephen, the then manager of Barclays Bank, Chelsea. The altar and altar rails were originally used in the chapel in the crypt, the place of worship for the original parish, during the construction of the cathedral. The crypt chapel is now used as the choir room.

Stained glass

Guildford cathedral contains fewer stained glass windows than average, having predominantly a clear glazing scheme (using opaque glass to soften the light) to complement the modernist architectural style of the building. However it includes works by Moira Forsyth, William Wilson, James Powell and Sons, Ninian Comper and Lawrence Lee.

Carved glass

The cathedral has carved glass works by New Zealand-born artist John Hutton. One set adorns the panel at the west entrance; the other is above the internal doors to the south porch. Hutton achieved particular acclaim for his work at Coventry Cathedral, and he worked on both Coventry and Guildford Cathedrals at the same time.

Text imported from Wikipedia article "Guildford Cathedral" and modified on 23 July 2019 under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license.



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