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Guildford Cathedral

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 land on which the cathedral stands. Designed by Edward Maufe and built between 1936 and 1961, it is the seat of the Bishop of Guildford.

Guildford Cathedral
Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit
Guildford Cathedral.jpg
Guildford Cathedral is located in Surrey
Guildford Cathedral
Guildford Cathedral
Shown within Surrey
Coordinates: 51°14′28″N 0°35′24″W / 51.2411°N 0.5900°W / 51.2411; -0.5900
LocationGuildford, Surrey
CountryUnited Kingdom
DenominationChurch of England
Architect(s)Edward Maufe
StyleNeo-Gothic/Art Deco
Years built1936–1961
Number of towers1
Tower height48.8m (160 feet)
DioceseGuildford (since 1927)
DeanDianna Gwilliams
SubdeanStuart Beake (SSM)
Canon ChancellorJulie Gittoes
Canon(s)Andrew Bishop (SSM; University Chaplain)
Paul Smith (Canon Liturgist)



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 as its architect and the foundation stone was laid by Cosmo Lang, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1936.[1] 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.[1] 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 the cathedral by the bishop, after consultation 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. Elizabeth II and Prince Philip both signed bricks, which are on display inside the cathedral.


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. Its bricks are made from clay taken from the hill on which it stands.


Guildford Cathedral
The vaulting of the South Nave side aisle

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.'[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 (49 m) 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 (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 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 during World War II.[4] The supporting pole for the angel houses mobile phone antennas.[5]

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.[6]

Stained glassEdit

Guildford cathedral contains fewer stained glass windows than average, having predominantly a clear glazing scheme to complement the modernist architectural style of the building.[7] However it includes works by Moira Forsyth, William Wilson, James Powell and Sons, Ninian Comper and Lawrence Lee.[8]

Carved glassEdit

One of three carved glass angels above the south porch doors at Guildford Cathedral, by John Hutton

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.

Dean and chapterEdit

The Dean and Chapter consist of:[9]

  • DeanDianna Gwilliams (since 15 September 2013 installation)
  • Sub-Dean (SSM) — Stuart Beake (Archdeacon of Surrey 2005–2017; canon residentiary since 2010)
  • Canon Precentor — vacant since Nicholas Thistlethwaite's retirement, December 2016
  • Residentiary Canon (SSM) & Chaplain to the University of Surrey — Andrew Bishop (since September 2011)[10]
  • Residentiary Canon (for education, i.e. Chancellor)[11] — Julie Gittoes (since 6 May 2012)
  • Canon Liturgist — Paul Smith (since 5 November 2017)



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, West Yorkshire.[12]


Organists at Guildford Cathedral have included the composer Philip Moore.

In cultureEdit

The cathedral was used as the location for a scene in the 1976 film The Omen.[13]

In 2008 the cathedral opened a garden, named the Seeds of Hope Children's Garden,[14] 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.[15]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Maufe, Edward. Guildford Cathedral. Pitkin Pictorals Ltd, 1966.
  2. ^ Ferris, Paul (1963). The Church of England. The MacMillan Company. pp. 42–62.
  3. ^ Historic England. "Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit (1377883)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  4. ^ "Commonwealth War Graves Commission".
  5. ^ "Planning Advice Note: PAN 62 Radio Telecommunications". 17 August 2005. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  6. ^ "Guildford Cathedral: Outside Tour Notes" (PDF). Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  7. ^ "Guildford Cathedral: Sunrise Studio". Sunrise Stained Glass Ltd. 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  8. ^ Eberhard, Robert. "Stained Glass Windows at Cathedral of the Holy Spirit". Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  9. ^ Guildford Cathedral — Contact (tab: Staff; accessed 13 January 2018)
  10. ^ Guildford Cathedral — Accounts, 2011
  11. ^ Guildford Cathedral — Annual Report, 2016 (Accessed 13 January 2018)
  12. ^ "Surrey, Guildford Cathedral of The Holy Spirit (A00957)". National Pipe Organ Register. Retrieved 2 April 2009.
  13. ^ "The Omen film locations". 11 October 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  14. ^ BBC - Youngsters offered seeds of hope
  15. ^ "Guildford Cathedral - Children's Garden". Guildford Cathedral. Retrieved 23 February 2014.

External linksEdit