So perhaps I can start by bidding you cross the Emerald City with Citizen Kane’s Xanadu.
It would in no way prepare you for the exterior of the cathedral at which I have just taken up the post of Storyteller-In-Chief, for the outside was built to a budget, of red brick; and most people simply find it stark and forbidding. So much so that it was chosen as the Church Damien Really Didn’t Want To Go To in The Omen.
But. Just. Step. Inside.
Past the angels at the doors…
Into a slightly crazy, Nordic-spare arts and crafts wonderland. A vast space which would not seem out of place in Tolkien or even out of this world, On some Cloud City.
I itch to tell you every story I have heard over the past week about these halls of Elvenkings and their creator, Edward Maufe. But these things are best left to unfold in their own time, and for now it seems right only to fill you in details in a spare fashion.
Edward Maufe was the son of a Yorkshire Draper who moved with his family into the house designed for William Morris as a young boy. When architecture began to call, the Morris influence was never far away, but Maufe coupled his arts and crafts leanings with a glorious love of Scandanavian architecture. He won a competition to design Guildford Cathedral – possibly because his design fell comfortably in budget – with an interior design which belies the cathedral’s outward utilitarian appearance.
It is, quite simply, a wonderland: he has built it as a temple to light, and perspective; it is a work of art all its own, with deeply familiar and comforting curves and lines, the doorways shaped much like the imprint of a rowing boat, the arches made impossibly tall and thin because of the revolutionary pre-cast-concrete construction.
I can tell you all of this, but you won’t quite understand.
To get it: to experience the extraordinary pull this building has on the person who crosses the threshold: then you must come and walk the flagstones for yourself.
See you there.
Guildford Cathedral is at Stag Hill, Guildford – details of how to find it here.
NOTE: The views expressed on this blog are mine alone and do not reflect the views of my employer.