Fringe Box



‘Stag Hill Is A Memorial Site and Should Not Be Sold For Development’ Says Alderman

Published on: 20 Dec, 2016
Updated on: 22 Dec, 2016

Hon Alderman Bernard Parke.

A Hon Alderman and former Mayor of Guildford, Bernard Parke, has spoken out against Guildford cathedral’s proposal to sell off parts of Stag Hill for development.

He said: “Those involved should remember the history of this site. The Earl of Onslow gave the site, on which the cathedral actually stands, to the Church of England, but Stag Hill itself was to be put up for auction.

“Viscount Bennett of Calgary, a former Prime Minister of Canada, stepped in and bought the hill for £10,000 which he then gave as a gift to the church so the land would not only be a private memorial but also as a memorial in the name of the people of Canada, in recognition of those who fell in two world wars.

“During my period as Mayor of Guildford I received a a visit from the High Commissioner of Canada who unveiled a unique memorial stone which had recently been restored.

Surrey Advertiser article from October 1989.

A Surrey Advertiser article from the time reported that Viscount Bennett made the gift: “…as a result of deep personal sorrow. A life-long bachelor, he was devoted to his two nephews both of whom were killed while serving in the Canadian Forces shortly before the end of the [First World] war.

“He made the gift not only as a private memorial but also in the name of the people of Canada in recognition of the close association between Canada and Great Britain.”

27 years later, Alderman Parke stands by the memorial which states: “The land on Stag Hill about this cathedral was the gift of the Rt Hon Richard Bedford Viscount Bennett of Calgary and Mickleham Prime Minister of Canada 1930-1935 to commemorate the association between Canada and the Diocese of Guildford in two World Wars 1914-1918 and 1939-1945.”

Alderman Parke continued: “Surely these sentiments behind Viscount Bennet’s gift to the church should not be forgotten. Or are the memories of those Canadians, who so willingly stood with us in two world wars, so cheap that they can be so easily forgotten?

“Some years later I read a comment made by a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey, Antony Kelly, regarding the Canadian Memorial Foundation. He wrote at the time: “When as Vice-Chancellor of Surrey University I noticed a small plaque on the south wall of Guildford Cathedral. I was surprised to find that it was the only memorial within the UK to the many Canadians who fought and died with us in two world wars.”

The Canada Memorial to commemorate members of the Canadian armed forces killed during the First and Second World Wars, was subsequently erected in Green Park, London in 1992 and unveiled by the Queen in 1994.

See also: Cathedral’s Claim That Survival Depends on Housing Project is ‘Emotional Blackmail’

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