The Cathedral

Guildford cathedral from campus
Guildford cathedral, by Steve Heritage.
(From the old University of Surrey image bank).

In 1927 the first Bishop of Guildford was appointed at the Holy Trinity Church in town.  The Earl of Onslow donated the site for the cathedral on top of Stag Hill and there was a competition for the design of the building.  Sir Edward Maufe’s design was accepted in 1932.  It is cross-shaped (as viewed from above):  365′ long (112.3m),
40′ wide (12.3m), 70′ high (21.5m), with the tower 160′ high (48.8m).

Construction started in 1933 with several hundred piles being driven in to the clay to support the foundations.  The Archbishop of Canterbury laid the foundation stone in 1936 and building commenced using bricks made from the clay of Stag Hill itself.

Work stopped during the war.  The crypt was used to store the town treasures.  The work recommenced in 1955, but a shortage of money hindered it.  One way money was raised was through people buying bricks and signing them to help pay for the building:

per brick (12.5p).

The building was finished and consecrated in the presence of the Queen on the 17th May 1961.

It is the only cathedral to have been built on a new site in Southern England since the 16th Century reformation.

The cathedral has ten bells made by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which is in the Guinness Book of Records as Britain’s oldest manufacturing company; established in 1570 and in continuous business since.  They also made the original American liberty bell which is on display in Philadelphia (cast over 250 years ago) and the great bell of Westminster (known as Big Ben) whose 150th anniversary was celebrated in April 2008.

It is a popular misconception that a place in the United Kingdom which has a cathedral is automatically a city.  Only a royal charter can make an official city.  Guildford applied for city status unsuccessfully in 2002
(losing out to Preston) and remains a borough.