Oral History Project

Guildford Cathedral has a truly unique construction history, founded on the personal generosity and commitment of individuals and organisations across the community. After the devastation of the Second World War and its aftermath, more than 200,000 ordinary people ‘bought a brick’ to provide the necessary funds to complete the construction of the Cathedral.

It was a remarkable act of public support and an extraordinary demonstration of modern community spirit. Guildford Cathedral is intensely rooted in local identity and living memories through these many brick-givers and their families; many thousands of people have a direct and personal link with the building and think of it as ‘their Cathedral’.

This idea of ‘The People’s Cathedral’ is an important story within the life of Guildford and the region, in particular in relation to 20th century history. We are keen to capture the memories of the brick-givers and those involved in its construction and early days.

The memories captured will help to tell the story of the Cathedral to future visitors through use in educational workshops and interpretation materials. In addition, recordings and written memories will be placed in the Cathedral’s Archive and deposited at the Surrey History Centre for the wider community to access and enjoy.

legacy

The People's Cathedral Project completed in August 2017. During this time, a dedicated band of volunteers, recorded, transcribed and oversaw the detailed administrative work associated with oral history.

85 interviews have been recorded - exceeding our project target and 57 written memories have also been captured.

All interviews have safely been deposited in the Cathedral Archive and a selection have been sent to the Surrey History Centre. Extracts of interviews can also be listened to on the touchscreens within the Cathedral. Extracts from memories will also be used in our new educational offerings in history and geography.

Some memories we have been sent...

During the appeal to buy a brick I cycled across Ranmore with one of my friends ... On two occasions I paid my 2/6 and wrote my name on each brick. On one occasion my friend and I were kicking a football around on the grass when the virger came up and told us off. At that moment a priest came up and overturned that decision saying that he was sure God would not mind us playing!

 

Just before the War we were living in Guildford Park. The Cathedral was being built and there were lots of exciting opportunities for us young boys to have fun. ... We made rafts out of discarded building materials – planks, oil drums etc – and went floating around the flooded foundations pretending we were exploring underground treasure caves

 

My late mother, on learning that the angel atop the Cathedral’s steeple was made out of copper, decided that it was, in fact, the recycled remains of our recently discarded copper hot water tank!