The Church A World Away

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.

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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.



15 thoughts on “The Church A World Away

  1. Those angels at the door look at tad … Doctor Who-ish. But the inside is indeed lovely. I am a fan of Wm Morris and the Arts & Crafts school. So, you have introduced another stop on our tour – whenever that may be. I certainly am still hoping for next year.

    Oh, and of course, congratulations on the position! They are quite lucky to have you.

  2. The tall, thin arches, marching in a row, make me think of a medieval wedding, or Robin Hood swinging in on a rope (Errol Flynn, of course) to fight Basil Rathbone. I can hear the swords clanking now. I wish I could come there and take a personal tour with you. It would be so nice. You have a dream job.

    1. I do, Gale: now to live up to it and tell the stories properly for this beautiful place! If you are EVER in the vicinity, drop me a line and I’ll give you the tour. It would, you are correct, be perfect for Errol Flynn.

    1. Thank you, Nancy: the official title is ‘The People’s Cathedral Interpretation Officer” , but it boils down to finding ways to tell the public the stories of the place in a way that will touch the hearts of everyone, from very young to very old. I’ve just been to see the Titanic exhibition in Belfast to see how they told the story of the ship….so many ideas!

  3. The angels plus references to Damian should be great storytelling material for you, Kate. I don’t see the gargoyles you enjoy, but I’m thoroughly confident that you are right person to uncover any hidden mystery left lurking!

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