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The man who loved cathedrals

Every Church of England Cathedral has benefitted from the generosity of one man who so loved cathedrals he spent ten years of his life on pilgrimage visiting each one and has left them all a bequest in his will.

But the legacy is more than financial. Frank Buzzard, who died in 2022 at the age of 95, wrote his own guide to each of the cathedrals too, ranging from short reports to what he called an “epic poem.” And now his daughter, Christine is honouring her father’s legacy and is busy writing cheques and photocopying every “guide” to send to each cathedral, as her father intended. She said: “Everything my father did, God was at the heart of it. Whether it was his business, sport, or simply walking around the countryside, he always insisted that God was the most important thing in his life.”

Frank Buzzard has left a legacy of £4,000 to every Church of England cathedral - with one exception - Lichfield, his favourite, to which he left £5,000 and wrote the longest guide, spanning 26 pages, his very own “epic poem.” Frank Buzzard was never far from a notebook and pen. He wrote poetry and self-published poetry books during his lifetime. But his magnum opus was his A pilgrimage Around The Cathedrals of England – spanning 172 pages – it offers his guide to every one of the 42 cathedrals in England which he kept together in a ringbinder.

Here is a snippet from his guide to Guildford Cathedral: On the North side is the chapel of the Queens Royal Surrey Regiment, adorned with flags and on the opposite side is the Childrens Chapel in tasteful green with Girl Guide gates. East end is the traditional Lady Chapel where I sat, reasonably free from the schoolgirl babble. A carving of Our Lady and Child in lignum vitae wood is absolutely superb. The flow of curves is perfect and I cannot recall seeing a more outstanding Madonna. was absorbed by it for ten minutes and that masterpiece alone makes a visit to this cathedral worthwhile.

Frank Buzzard was brought up in the Church of England and loved cathedrals, and in particular the enduring faith of the centuries they represented. He trained as an accountant and always worked in finance, establishing his own company. His first job was in Peterborough, where he rented a place in the cathedral precincts before later moving to Sutton Coldfield, and discovering what would ultimately become his favourite cathedral, Lichfield, 'which he often visited'. But it wasn’t until he took early retirement in the mid 1980s that he could indulge his passion for cathedrals and he and his wife, Audrey, spent the next ten years on pilgrimage to every cathedral in England, compiling his unique guide to each of them as he went. “My dad wrote all his life; he always had a pen and notepad in his pocket, he would write down little notes and then when he was back home, he might craft them into a poem,” said Christine.

“Four thousand pounds might seem a drop in the ocean to some of the larger cathedrals, I know many of them cost more than that just to keep open each day, but for the smaller cathedrals, this might make a difference. “But it’s more than that, my dad’s faith was so strong and the cathedrals were his passion and it was his hope, as it is mine, that others will be drawn to them too. And maybe just reading his guides might inspire a new generation of cathedral lovers,” she added.

You can find Frank Buzzard’s individual “guides” in each cathedral.

The cathedral team are grateful to Frank Buzzard for the gift left to help to care for Guildford Cathedral in his Will.   Find out more about remembering the cathedral in your own Will, here