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Premiere of Film That Tells Amazing Story of Guildford Cathedral

Published on: 20 Apr, 2012
Updated on: 29 Apr, 2012

by David Rose

The building of Guildford Cathedral was an amazing project – something we seem to take for granted now. But I bet in years to come it will be looked back on with awe.

Piles are driven into Stag Hill as building work begins in 1936.

Why? Firstly, it is only the fourth cathedral to be built in this country since the Reformation and the first on a new site.

Secondly, its construction began during the tough depression years of the 1930s, and work ground to a halt during the Second World War.

Thirdly, it could easily have been a target for enemy aircraft should the Luftwaffe have homed in on it as they did with other places of worship in other historic towns and cites. I guess it may have been spared as it was too new, plus you still hear stories today that point to the fact that the half-built cathedral was actually a handy navigation aid for enemy airmen!

And lastly, when work did begin again after the war, the odds on the cathedral being completed within 10 years were stacked up against it. Building materials were scarce, the building of homes was really more important, and there was little money left in the cathedral’s building fund.

The cathedral nears completion in the late 1950s.

However, there were those who were completely dedicated to do God’s will and to complete His cathedral. Their faith was strong indeed. Funds were raised, and in 1961 the Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit, the name given to Guildford Cathedral, was consecrated by the Queen.

Now an important addition to the telling of this amazing story has been made – and it is all on film. Guildford’s award-winning Circle Eight Film Group will be premiering its latest local interest documentary in the Nave of Guildford Cathedral on Wednesday, April 25, at 8pm.

The Queen and Prince Philip sign bricks on their visit to Guildford Cathedral in 1957.

The new film entitled, The Story of Guildford Cathedral, has been produced with the assistance of the cathedral’s archives and tells the history of Guildford’s famous landmark from its beginnings in 1927 (when the new Diocese of Guildford was created).

Using rarely seen archive film, Circle Eight tells the story of one of Guildford’s most famous buildings. Sequences include the laying of the foundation in 1936, the deserted half-finished building on Stag Hill and its uses during the Second World War, the buy-a-brick for 2/6 campaign of 1952, the cathedral pilgrimage of 1955 to mark the start of construction of the Nave, the consecration in the presence of the Queen in 1961 and coverage of events during cathedral’s silver jubilee in 1985 and golden jubilee in 2011.

The film, which is narrated by Matthew Alexander, also includes rare interviews with the cathedral’s architect Sir Edward Maufe, who elaborates on the design of the building which he first drew up in 1932 and Eleanora Iredale, who was in charge of fund raising to complete the building between 1952 and 1962.

Also featured is a cinema commercial, which was produced specially to raise funds for the construction of the building in 1939 and shown in local cinemas at that time.

Tickets for the film’s premiere – priced at £10 – can be obtained from the Guildford Cathedral box office by calling 01483 547870, or booking online at

The proceeds from the premiere will be donated to cathedral funds.

Guildford Cathedral on Stag Hill. Who likes it as a building, and who doesn't? Why not leave a comment in the reply box below.

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