Stag Hill, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7UP
- Contact us:
- Opening hours:
Daily: 8.30-17.30h (for visitors)
Sunday: 8h, 9.45h, 11.30h (not 2nd Sun), 18.30h
Mon-Fri: 7.30h, 8h, 13.15h (Fri only), 17.30h
Sat: 8.40h, 9h, 17h
Visits may be restricted during services. See web-site for gift-shop, refectory and bookshop
5 reviews of Guildford Cathedral in English
I've been going to Guildford for 50yrs but only got around to visiting the cathedral 2 yrs ago. I won't try to duplicate dmj1962's extensive review.
A guy I work with in Farnborough contributed to the cost by buying a brick. He told me that it was designed to be rendered in white - if true, that idea was abandoned. The red brick exterior is a little stark & resembles a water works! Saying that, it's not ugly but utilitarian.
The interior gives the impression of vastness & is a wonderful space that's covered in pale stone. The main entrance is under the west window. It comprises of 3 sets of glass doors that are etched & the surrounds carved.
The organ pipes or at least some of them are above the entrance to the treasury in the North Transept that mirrors the the west doors in shape that cave large wrought iron gates. The organist sits opposite above the south transept that's accessed by a railed spiral set of steps to the south aisle.
The cathedral is set on Stag Hill with the university directly north. A huge wooden cross erected well before WWII has a Naval connection is situated near to the eastern wall. Beyond that is a delightful garden dedicated to childhood with a sculpture of a boy & girl at play. The south edge of this garden lies a footpath that's the shortest route on foot to the railway station & town centre.
The main drive up the cathedral is from Onslow Village splits in two before rejoining at the west doors. The north part houses a cafeteria, souvenir shop & administrative rooms. Car parking is beyond, also on the north side. There's also a path fom the south transept doors to the road below.
Guildford Cathedral cannot be missed. This was where one of “The Omen” films was shot. It is picturesque and clean. Perfect for a walk in the morning or even evenings. The university holds its convocations there too. The interiors are beautiful with stained glass windows, marbled floor which make it a bit slippery.
New at the Cathedral is the Seeds of Hope garden. This was recently opened by Dame Jacqueline Wilson. It is a place where children who have suffered bereavement can visit;find solace and hope. It is also a place where parents of any age, can go and remember children they have lost, whether before or after birth. This garden is worth visiting and caring for. An information pack is available, which includes a range of activities and information for carers, teachers and parents.
Guildford is an ancient town, but its Cathedral is modern - to be precise, the only cathedral to be built on a new site in the southern province of England since the Reformation (Liverpool having been built in the north, and Coventry rebuilt). Whatever its status, there is no doubt that the Cathedral, set high on Stag Hill, completely dominates the town below.
The need for a new cathedral came about when the diocese of Guildford was carved from part of Winchester diocese, in 1927, reflecting the population growth of the Surrey commuter belt in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The competition for its design was won by Sir Edward Maufe, who was appointed architect in 1933. The site was donated by Earl of Onslow - the name Stag Hill recalling the time when it was a Royal hunting ground.
After the foundation stone was laid in 1936 by Cosmo Lang, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the first major task was to insert hundreds of concrete piles into the clay of the hill to provide a solid foundation. This was completed in 1937, in the presence of Queen Mary. Work continued at a quick pace, but halted with the outbreak of War in 1939, with the chancel and crossing only partially completed. Because of the post-war shortage of building material, work did not recommence until 1952. It was consecrated in 1961 in the presence of Queen Elizabeth.
Maufe's design is essentially a modern take on Early English Gothic, with clean lines and scale replacing ornament and detail, and a traditional plan of nave, transepts and chancel, with a robust 160ft (50m) crossing tower. The exterior has, however, often been criticised as being dull: built of red brick made from the clay taken from the hill itself, it has been unkindly likened to a large civic crematorium. Pevsner, the architectural critic and historian, was a little kinder, calling it "sweet-tempered, undramatic Curvilinear Gothic".
I tend to share his view (just as well - who am I to dare to disagree with Pesvner..?): it's not my favourite modern building, but the scale and setting is dramatic and there is actually quite a lot of detailing, in the form of statues and decoration once you get close. And the views around are superb. I don't like the main road approach - it's a bit featureless and windswept - but the pedestrian approach via Cathedral Close is rather nicer.
The interior is more widely admired, and is something of a shock after the exterior: the walls are faced with creamy, pale Somerset limestone with a floor of white Italian marble. Flooded with light through the tall lancet windows, the interior is awe-inspiring, the relative sparsity of decoration adding to the effect. The poet John Betjeman said "Its red brick exterior belies the really splendidly proportioned nave and aisles within". Quite.
The interior has a number of chapels, some with modern carvings and sculpture, and there are memorials to previous Bishops. In the Ursula Porch are bricks signed by members of the Royal family (bricks were 'sold' to help pay for the cathedral), and the Treasury contains an impressive collection of gold and silver belonging to the Cathedral and various churches in the diocese.
Guildford is famous for its choir school, and maintains a strong tradition of music: on my last visit, there was a choir and orchestra practising an impressive selection of Haydn, Bruckner, Mahler and Mozart.
The Cathedral has step-free access via the West Door, a hearing loop for the deaf and is able to provide large print hymn books, orders of service and news sheets on request. There is a refectory providing refreshments, lunch and afternoon tea, a bookshop and gift-shop. The Cathedral contains a library of some 5000 theological texts, available to members only - details of access are on the web-site.
vilmoskörte, 2 March 2008: Remarkable building, indeed. It's pity that the "new qype" scales down to photographs to so tiny dimensions.
dmj1962, 2 March 2008: I agree about the restrictions: actually, it's a width restriction, so tall thin photos are shown as much larger than wider ones!
le_gourmet, 5 March 2008:
added to our list o churches
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