Fringe Box



Cathedral Seeks Pictures Of When Angel Wind Vane Was Lowered in 2000

Published on: 16 Jan, 2016
Updated on: 16 Jan, 2016

Guildford Cathedral has launched an appeal for anyone who might have pictures of the day – back in summer 2000 – when its iconic angel wind vane was winched down from its vantage point for re-gilding.

One picture Guildford Cathedral has of the angel wind vane lowered for re-guilding in 2000. It hopes others can supply further images.

One picture Guildford Cathedral has of the angel wind vane lowered for re-guilding in 2000. It hopes others can supply further images.

The search was instigated following an interview with the man who supervised the two occasions the angel has been taken down from its place: steeplejack Peter Harknett.

Mr Harknett told a member of the cathedral’s oral history team how he watched the angel being hauled up in 1963 and then gilded up on the roof: “I didn’t realise then that I would get to know Gabriel quite well over the next 40 odd years.”

The 15-foot angel, which weighs nearly a ton, was brought to ground level on July 5, 2000, as the gold leaf, which was used to finish it, had undergone wear and tear.

Made of sheets of hand-beaten copper, the angel made an impressive site as a crane lifted it down – and it was captured on one video and a very small number of still pictures.

Cathedral staff and volunteers are hoping there were other members of the public on hand with cameras that day – and may have as yet undiscovered stills of the well-known and loved symbol of the Cathedral as it underwent removal and restoration.

The oral history project is part of the People’s Cathedral, an ambitious 30-month initiative, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, combining urgent building repairs with a community engagement programme to capture and reveal the rich heritage and history behind the stunning 20th century building.

A team of trained volunteers from the cathedral has been engaged and its members are busily collecting reminiscences about the Cathedral since its inception in 1936.

It is hoped that many more people will come forward with memories of this iconic Grade II* listed building to share their personal accounts building a library of recollections – and a lasting record of its extraordinary history.

Also, The Guildford Dragon NEWS’ David Rose has long been seeking evidence about a story that is believed to date back to the years soon after the wind vane had been installed and that the angel was soon turning green!

A friend and fellow local historian of his swears that at the time he read a story in a national newspaper that stated the gold leaf had begun to change colour and was indeed looking rather green.

An number of people who David has asked have said they do remember the incident, but no-one has yet come up with a date or any further details.

The archivist at Guildford Cathedral has checked its record but has not found any details on file.

If you have some details, please leave a reply in the box below.

And if you have any photographs of the time the angel was brought down to be re gilded – or if you have memories of the fund raising, building or early days of Guildford Cathedral, People’s Cathedral manager Helen Ellis would love to hear from you.

You can drop into the cathedral offices, telephone 01483 547860 ,or e-mail Helen on

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