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Panel of Guildford Cathedral door reduced to a box of glass shards

15 January 2024

Guildford Cathedral

The damaged Angel Door in the west front of Guildford Cathedral

The damaged Angel Door in the west front of Guildford Cathedral

A PANEL of the Angel Door in Guildford Cathedral, engraved by the renowned artist John Hutton, has been smashed by vandals.

“The police were called to the cathedral in the early hours of Friday morning after vandals smashed one of the glass panels and an investigation is under way,” a statement from the cathedral said. The damaged panel is part of the engraved doors at the cathedral’s west front, which are described as “an acclaimed piece of 20th-century art.”

The cathedral’s chief operating officer, Matt O’Grady, said: “Everyone at the Cathedral is devastated by this senseless act of vandalism at a holy place.” He said that the glass panel was “irreplaceable”.

“We hope that the whole community will come together to recognise that acts such as this serve no purpose and that places such as our Cathedral need to be preserved as shrines of peace, tranquillity, and spirituality in a troubled world.”

The engraved glass doors were put in place in 1961. Hutton died in 1978.

Surrey Police said in a statement on Wednesday that a man had been charged “in relation to a series of offences that took place in Guildford on Thursday 11 and Friday 12 January, including a report of criminal damage at Guildford Cathedral”.

It said that Joshua Sandford, aged 31, of no fixed abode, had been “charged with five counts of criminal damage, one count of burglary, and two counts of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm and distress”. He is due to appear at Guildford Crown Court on 12 February. He is currently released with bail conditions.

The cathedral has set up a campaign to raise funds towards the cost of repairs, estimated to be £15,000 + VAT, which are not fully covered by its insurance.

Guildford CathedralShards of glass from the Angel Door of Guildford CathedralAnother act of vandalism this week has seriously damaged the east window of St James’s, Sussex Gardens, in London.

On a GoFundMe page set up to raise money for repairs, a statement says: “In the week after New Year, our beautiful post-war east window — known as the Te Deum window — was badly damaged by vandalism. Over the course of five nights, an individual repeatedly attacked the church, damaging virtually every panel of the window. Some panels have been completely destroyed, others badly damaged.”

The Evening Standard reported that British Transport Police had arrested a 26-year-old man on suspicion of criminal damage. He has since been bailed.

The Vicar of St James’s, the Revd Tim Handley, told the Standard: “Our east window is a familiar and much beloved sight for many people as they come to Paddington. It’s now had to be completely boarded and will have to remain so until we are able to carry out repairs. The beautiful interior light of our church has been dimmed, temporarily.

“It’s caused a lot of upset to many people — Christians, non-believers and people of other faiths — as St James’s is there for everyone and is very much seen by locals as their parish church. We are all extremely upset.”

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