Guildford Cathedral

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Guildford Cathedral

Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit, Guildford

Guildford, Surrey

Status: cathedral
Guildford Cathedral.jpg
Guildford Cathedral
Church of England
Diocese of Guildford
Location: 51°14’28"N, 0°35’24"W
Built 1936–1961
Gothic/Art Deco

The Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit, Guildford is the cathedral of the Diocese of Guildford, standing on a hill in the south of Guildford, the county town of Surrey. It is a modern church, designed by Sir Edward Maufe built between 1936 and 1961.

The cathedral stands in a commanding spot on Stag Hill, so named because mediæval kings used to hunt here. Its solid red brick outline is visible for miles around. It immediately overlooks the University of Surrey. Its bricks are made from clay taken from the hill on which it stands.


The Diocese of Guildford carved out of the Diocese of Winchester in 1927 to encompass the churches of western Surrey. Eastern Surrey was organised as the Diocese of Southwark earlier.

It was determined that no existing church in the new diocese would suffice to serve as its cathedral, and work to create a new cathedral church began nine years later. The diocese chose Sir Edward Maufe as its architect and the foundation stone was laid by Dr Cosmo Gordon Lang, Archbishop of Canterbury in 1936.[1] Construction was intended to be over many years to raise further funds, to achieve great height by incorporating exceptionally large arches and blocks of angular stone overlaid with brickwork. Work was suspended during the Second World War, and slow after the war because of a nationwide shortage of bricks. In the meanwhile, Guildford's restored mediæval Holy Trinity Church served as a temporary cathedral, untl the new edifice could be consecrated on 17 May 1961.[1]

In 1952 Walter Boulton, who had ministered mostly in India, was made provost of the cathedral and parish. He revitalized the fund-raising for the new cathedral. When it was completed sufficiently for public worship, another cleric was chosen as first dean of the cathedral by the bishop, after consulting with various benefactors and influential clergy within Anglicanism.[2]

In the 1950s a "buy a brick" scheme was used to raise funds for construction, to great success. Each brick cost 2s 6d and entitled the buyer to sign their name on the brick. The Queen and Prince Philip both signed bricks, which are on display inside the cathedral.


The vaulting of the South Nave side aisle

Writing in 1932, Sir Edward 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.'[1] Pevsner Architectural Guides described the building as 'sweet-tempered, undramatic Curvilinear Gothic', and the interior as 'noble and subtle.'

The tower is 160 feet high,[1] 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 (about 1.5 tons) and is tuned to the key of D. At the top of the tower stands a 15-foot 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 II* listed building.[3]

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.[4] The supporting pole for the angel houses mobile phone antennas for T-Mobile and 3.[5]

In 2008 the cathedral opened a garden, named the Seeds of Hope Children's Garden,[6] designed to help children and young people explore feelings of loss of all kinds. It is situated in the grounds at the east end of the cathedral and incorporates four areas, one for each season, together with a labyrinth and a bronze sculpture by Christine Charlesworth of two life-sized children.[7]

Stained glass

Guildford cathedral contains fewer stained glass windows than average, having predominantly a clear glazing scheme to complement the modernist architectural style of the building.[8] However it includes works by Moira Forsyth, William Wilson, James Powell and Sons, Ninian Comper and Lawrence Lee.[9]


The cathedral organ was installed in 1961 by the Liverpool firm of Rushworth and Dreaper. It is a reconstruction of an organ dating from c. 1866, previously in the Rosse Street Baptist Church in Shipley in Yorkshire.[10]

On film

  • Scenes in the classic horror film The Omen were filmed at the Cathedral.[11]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Guildford Cathedral)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Guildford Cathedral by Sir Edward Maufe. Pitkin Pictorals Ltd, 1966.
  2. Ferris, Paul (1962, 1963). The Church of England. The MacMillan Company. pp. 42–62. 
  3. National Heritage List England no. 1377883: Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit (Historic England)
  4. "Commonwealth War Graves Commission".,%20REGINALD%20DONOVAN. 
  5. "Planning Advice Note: PAN 62 Radio Telecommunications". 17 August 2005. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  6. BBC - Youngsters offered seeds of hope
  7. "Guildford Cathedral - Children's Garden". Guildford Cathedral. Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  8. "Guildford Cathedral: Sunrise Studio". Sunrise Stained Glass Ltd. 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  9. Eberhard, Robert. "Stained Glass Windows at Cathedral of the Holy Spirit". Retrieved 23 February 2014. 
  10. "Surrey, Guildford Cathedral of The Holy Spirit (A00957)". National Pipe Organ Register. Retrieved 2 April 2009. 
  11. BBC News - Police 'shoot man near cathedral', 30 November 2008