Surrey has a number of interesting religious landmarks that span the ages, from medieval to modern.


Guildford Cathedral

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Surrey’s only cathedral at Guildford also happens to be one of the most modern in Britain.  Until the early 20th century, Holy Trinity church on the High Street in Guildford had been acting as the towns cathedral for many years, however by 1928 it was clear that it wasn’t big enough.  That year the Diocese decided to build a new cathedral.  Unfortunately WWII took place delaying the building of the cathedral, and it wasn’t until 1961 when the new cathedral was consecrated by HM The Queen, followed by all building works completely finished in 1966.  Its design is modern, and is built uniquely completely from bricks, many of which were bought by local people.  Instead of traditional fundraising activities to raise money for the building of the new cathedral, a ‘buy-a-brick’ campaign was started.  In total 200,000 people bought a brick for the new cathedral.

Waverley Abbey

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At opposite ends of time are Newark Priory and Waverley Abbey.  Waverley Abbey was the first Cistercian house to be established in Britain.  Founded by the Bishop of Winchester in 1128, it started with 12 monks and 1 abbot, however almost 60 years later it had a residence of almost 190 monks and lay brothers.  Newark Priory dates from around the 13th century and was for the canons of St Augustine.  Both were successful and prosperous religious orders until the Dissolution of the Monasteries ordered in 1536 by Henry VIII.  Both buildings have never been used since and remain as architecturally important historical landmarks in Surrey.

Across Surrey many of the towns and villages contain churches which date back to Saxon and Norman times.  St Nicolas at Wisley is one of the county’s oldest village churches dating from the 12th century, St Mary’s in Guildford dates to nearly 800 years, but is also well known, as the writer Lewis Carroll was a lay preacher at the church.  Holy Trinity in Guildford is one of the only Georgian churches in Surrey, St Giles in Ashtead contains Roman bricks in its walls, St Martha’s at Chilworth is on top of the Surrey Hills and has one of the best views of any Surrey church.  St Martin’s in Dorking has one of the tallest spires in England, whilst St Mary’s in Reigate is reputably one of the first lending libraries in Britain.  Watts Cemetery Chapel was designed by the wife of the famous Victorian artist GF Watts, Mary Watts.  Designed in a Gothic revival style Mary painted most of the walls and ceilings.

Surrey is also home to the London England Temple, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Built in the 1950’s it was the first built Latter-Day Saints church in Britain and only the second in Europe.  It is located near the pretty village of Lingfield in the south-east of the county.

Brookwood Cemetery just outside Woking was created in 1854 and is the largest cemetery in the western world.  At one point it was the largest cemetery in the world.  Also known as the London Necropolis it was created due to a shortage of burial space within London.  Originally the cemetery had two train stations bringing both the deceased and visitors direct from central London, although both stations are now long gone.  Today the cemetery holds over 250,000 burials and covers 400 acres.  It is an all faith cemetery as well as offering non-faith burials and internments too. 


Peace Garden, Woking

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Surrey has another first, the Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking.  Europe’s first purpose built mosque was built in 1889 and today is grade 2 listed.  Today it’s the focal point of the Muslim community in Woking.  In addition to the mosque is the Muslim Burial Ground – Peace Garden.  Built in WWI the Burial Ground was created to bury soldiers of the Islamic faith who died during WWI.  During the 1960’s the burial ground was vandalised and the bodies of the soldiers were moved to new grounds at Brookwood Cemetery.  The Burial Ground then lay neglected until 2015 when after a 3 year restoration it was re-opened as a Peace Garden.  Today its open all year round for those looking for quiet contemplation space.