Guildford Cathedral has been crowned the city’s favorite building in the inaugural Guildford Design Awards 2023.
This groundbreaking award category, organized by the Guildford Society in collaboration with Guildford Borough Council, allowed local residents to cast their votes and celebrate architectural excellence in the community.
The Guildford Design Awards, traditionally recognizing achievements in architecture, urban design, planning, and public art, took a step further this year by introducing a new category—Favorite Building, where the winner was decided by the votes of the public. Guildford Cathedral emerged triumphant, winning the hearts of the local community.
Construction of the cathedral commenced in 1936 but faced a setback due to the outbreak of the Second World War. After a hiatus, work resumed in 1954 with limited funds and materials. In a remarkable display of community spirit, a ‘buy a brick’ campaign was launched, mobilizing over 200,000 ordinary people who purchased and donated bricks to support the cathedral’s completion. This collective effort was hailed as a testament to modern community spirit.
The interior of the cathedral also bears the mark of local generosity, with furnishings largely provided by the community. Notably, 1500 hand-made kneelers from that era still adorn the cathedral today. Matt O’Grady, the Chief Operating Officer of the cathedral, accepted the award with joy, stating, “We are delighted to win this award. It seems fitting that over 200,000 members of the public helped us build the Cathedral with our ‘buy a brick’ campaign and helped us fund the restoration project in 2016/2017.”
Expressing gratitude, O’Grady continued, “So, we feel honored to have won the public’s first vote and would like to thank everyone who voted for us. Our mission is ‘Open to all,’ and we welcome everyone to come and visit this marvelous building and see all that we have to offer.”
The cathedral’s ‘buy a brick’ campaign became a symbol of unity during a challenging period, showcasing the strength of community bonds. The award is a poignant acknowledgment of the enduring impact of this initiative and the cathedral’s significant role in the local community.
Guildford Cathedral, with its rich history and community-driven legacy, now stands as a symbol of triumph and collaboration. As it opens its doors to the public, the cathedral’s Chief Operating Officer hopes to welcome visitors during the Advent season and the journey leading up to Christmas, emphasizing that all are welcome at any time throughout the year.
With this prestigious award, Guildford Cathedral not only cements its place as a favorite landmark but also reaffirms its commitment to being a space for everyone. As the community rallies around this beloved building, the cathedral continues to serve as a testament to the enduring spirit of Guildford’s residents.