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by David Rose
Rarely seen footage, not only of building work, but the consecration of Guildford Cathedral, is included in a new film that traces its history from the forming of the Guildford Diocese in 1927, up to the present day.
The film is another gem made by the multi award-winning local film makers Circle Eight Film Group. The premiere of The Story of Guildford Cathedral took place on Wednesday, April 25, to an audeince of more than 220.
This first showing could not have been held anywhere else other than inside the cathedral itself. A large screen was placed in the nave. Before the film was shown, the Mayor of Guildford, Terence Patrick, had a few words to say. Not as mayor, but in his role of Circle Eight’s chairman. And he wasn’t joking when he said he and his fellow film makers were up well into the small hours the night before putting some finishing touches to the film after an unfortunate technical hitch!
However, everything was all right on the night and the audience enjoyed a film that is just under an hour in length.
It’s a remarkable story of how the Anglican Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit was conceived and built during the 20th century amid some very difficult times – the depression of the 1930s, work interrupted by the Second World War, and the cathedral’s own funding crisis shortly after.
The film contains lots of historic footage, including foundation piles being driven into Stag Hill and building work taking place. Archive interviews have been discovered. One is an interview with the architect, Sir Edward Maufe, and another with Eleanora Iredale, a most important fundraiser of the 1950s.
There is also footage of the Easter pilgrimage to the cathedral site in 1955, to which hundreds of people took part, plus several of the visits made by the Queen (1957, 1961, 2006 and 2011). Another section of the film features part of the actual consecration in 1961. Added to these are clips from the cathedral’s silver and golden jubilee celebrations, and finally, an interview with the current dean, the Very Rev’d Victor Stock. He talks about this wonderful building and all it has to offer, but is mindful just how much it costs to run!
The film is narrated by historian Matthew Alexander. One clip shows the Guildhall clock being removed for safety’s sake during the Second World War. In the film Matthew states that the clock was stored in the then unfinished crypt of the cathedral. This may prove to be a talking point as the film is shown to wider audiences, as some local people question whether the crypt was in fact used, as it may have been a somewhat damp place at the time. Some now suggest that the famous clock was stored at Holy Trinity Church in the High Street, as it was the ‘cathedral church’ at the time.
As perfect a setting as it was for this first showing, the film’s sound did echo somewhat around the high building. However, I am sure future showings in places such as the Electric Theatre will be fine.
After the film Mr Patrick presented the dean, who is retiring later this year, with a copy of the film.
Circle Eight hope to release the film on DVD at some stage – as it has done with previous works. Mr Patrick said there are a number of copyright issues to be overcome before that can be done.