Guildford’s modern brown-brick Cathedral comes as a surprise in such an ancient town, but the bishopric was only established here in 1927. Plans for a brand new Cathedral on Stag Hill were drawn up in 1933 by architect Edward Maufe, and building started three years later, but the arrival of war meant everything stopped. To raise new funds, in 1952 ordinary people were encouraged to ‘buy a brick’ for the completion of the building and write their name on it. By 1961 more than 200,000 bricks had been ‘sold’, creating a unique link with the local community. Building finally finished in 1966, although later adornments include the modern statues by Charles Gurry, added to the West Front in 2004. The interior is lofty, Gothic and rather severe. One unusual feature is the Children’s Chapel. The Cathedral is currently undergoing an ambitious 30-month project combining urgent building repairs to remove acoustic plaster from its ceiling, with an exciting community engagement programme to capture the rich heritage and history behind this stunning 20th-century building. The Cathedral is still open, however parts of the building have restricted access. Please refer to the Cathedral website for further details.
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About the area
Surrey may be better known for its suburbia than its scenery, but the image is unjust. Over a quarter of the county’s landscapes are official Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and along the downs and the greensand ridge you can gaze to distant horizons with hardly a building in sight. This is one of England’s most wooded counties, and has more village greens than any other shire. You’ll find sandy tracks and cottage gardens, folded hillsides and welcoming village inns. There’s variety, too, as the fields and meadows of the east give way to the wooded downs and valleys west of the River Mole.
Of course there are also large built-up areas, mainly within and around the M25; but even here you can still find appealing visits and days out. On the fringe of Greater London you can picnic in Chaldon’s hay meadows, explore the wide open downs at Epsom, or drift idly beside the broad reaches of the stately River Thames. Deep in the Surrey countryside you’ll discover the Romans at Farley Heath, and mingle with the monks at England’s first Cistercian monastery. You’ll see buildings by great architects like Edwin Lutyens and Sir George Gilbert Scott, and meet authors too, from John Donne to Agatha Christie.
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