Fringe Box



Parke’s People: Viscount Bennett of Calgary And His Gift To Guildford Cathedral

Published on: 17 Jan, 2016
Updated on: 17 Jan, 2016

In another of an occasional series about people who have a connection with Guildford in one way or another, Bernard Parke recalls Viscount Bennett of Calgary and his link with Guildford’s Cathedral of the Holy Spirit.

There would probably not have been a cathedral on Stag Hill had it not been for the generosity of Viscount Bennett of Calgary and Mickleham.

Viscount Bennett of Calgary and Mickleham. Picture City of Vancouver archives.

Viscount Bennett of Calgary and Mickleham. Picture City of Vancouver archives.

Guildford was made a diocese in 1927 and Holy Trinity Church became the cathedral church. Perhaps it still would be today had it not been for the generous donation of £10,000 by Viscount Bennett, who decided to spend his last years far from his native Canada in Mickleham, near to his life long friend Lord Beaverbrook.

In the 1930s, the then Earl of Onslow gave the site on top of Stag Hill for a cathedral.

Land surrounding it was due to be sold, and this had occurred there would not have been an access to the cathedral site and subsequently the building would not have gone ahead.

As a memorial to the extreme sacrifice of his fellow Canadians during the First World War, Viscount Bennett bought the rest of the land at Stag Hill for the diocese. It is also to the memory of Canadian service personnel who died during the Second World War.

It was hoped then that the hill would remain unsullied as a fitting memorial in memory of those brave Canadians who served in the armed forces.

It could be said that it is the only such memorial of its kind in the UK.

Viscount Richard Bedford Bennett was a successful businessman who went into politics and subsequently became the 11th Prime Minister of Canada in 1930.

Guildford's CAthedral of the Holy Spirit on Stag Hill.

Guildford’s Cathedral of the Holy Spirit on Stag Hill.

However, his success in the business world did not match his ability of a government leader and sadly during his tenure Canada faired badly, leading to considerable hardship.

A bizarre transport idea that took his name was The Bennett Buggy. This was when petrol was in such short supply in Canada motor vehicles were fitted with shafts and pulled along by horses.

At the same time he did not hesitate to send money from his own purse to destitute families in need.

He found both peace and tranquillity living in the Surrey Hills until his death in 1947.

He remains were interred far from his home land in the quiet surrounds of the Church in Mickleham, near Dorking.

When I was Mayor of Guildford, I was asked take a delegation of high ranking Canadians to Stag Hill and to show them the memorial stone to Viscount Bennnett on the south side of the cathedral. They were disappointed that this was the only such memorial in this country to him.

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Responses to Parke’s People: Viscount Bennett of Calgary And His Gift To Guildford Cathedral

  1. Mary Bedforth Reply

    January 18, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    There is no mention of his link to Guildford Cathedral in this extensive Wikipedia entry for him.

    Any Wiki editors reading this able to make an edit?

    • Keith Reeves Reply

      January 22, 2016 at 8:59 am

      Anyone can edit Wikipedia entries.

  2. Ngaire Wadman Reply

    January 21, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    So, if Stag Hill is a war memorial, does that mean it must remain open land as it was given?

    I know I’d feel extremely uncomfortable about housing going up, covering over land that had been dedicated to the memory of fallen soldiers.

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