Guildford Cathedral, which was created through the determination of the local community, was built thanks to more than 200,000 people -from schoolchildren to The Queen -who contributed 2s 6d (12.5p) to a 1950s Buy a Brick campaign. Now, the public is being asked to donate again, this time to help with urgent repairs to the much-loved Surrey landmark, whose lofty position on Stag Hill allows it to rise majestically out of the town.

The acoustic plaster in the cathedral’s ceiling vaults has deteriorated and needs to be removed because it contains asbestos. There is also the need for new lighting and sound systems, improved archiving and refurbishment of the organ.

It’s hoped that the Heritage Lottery Fund will help with the £7 million needed for the entire project, but the cathedral has to raise the first £1.3 million itself by August and has launched the Make Your Mark campaign to encourage donations.

One donor, Christine Gibbons, writes: ‘As a schoolgirl in the 1950s, I “bought a brick”. I feel the Cathedral is an important spiritual landmark; long may it continue to be so.’ Another, the Rev Christopher Bedwood, adds: ‘My parents bought bricks. I was involved in its design. Years later, I was ordained in the Cathedral.’

The idea for a modern cathedral for Surrey’s county town was conceived in the 1920s and, in 1933, an architectural competition was held, with the brief ‘to produce a design definitely of our time, yet in the line of the great English cathedrals, to build anew on tradition’. Sir Edward Maufe beat 182 other contestants to win the contract and the foundation stone was laid in 1936.

However, completion was interrupted by the Second World War and subsequent financial strictures. When restrictions on building and materials were lifted, work began again, although there was little money. However, the local community happily responded enthusiastically to the Buy a Brick campaign and the building-known as ‘The People’s Cathedral’-was eventually consecrated in 1961 in the presence of The Queen. To contribute to the appeal, visit www.guildford-cathedral.org or telephone 01483 547878.

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