Archive Item of the Week: Alms Bags

Welcome to Archive Item of the Week: Where we delve into the archives to highlight some of the unique items within the collection.

This Week: Alms Bags.  Our People’s Cathedral Archivist shares items within the collection that demonstrate just what goes into designing an alms bag.

The textiles of Guildford Cathedral are very unique and have a set look and feel about them.  The reason for this is that the architect of the Cathedral Sir Edward Maufe was so heavily involved in the design process.  He was not just involved in designing the physical building of the Cathedral, he was very much involved in the nitty gritty design elements within the inside of the Cathedral including the textile items – such as kneelers, alms bags, frontals etc.

Within the archive collections we have fascinating glimpses into just how the look of our Alms Bags came to be and the involvement of Sir Edward Maufe.

We have a collection of Alms Bags patterns within the archive collection and they depict the various different religious symbols and iconography. Some of the designs are very simple black and white drawings like the one below:


Some of the designs are more detailed coloured drawings like the one below:


And those readers with keen eyesight will spot that there is some text at the bottom of the design.  It reads:

Guildford Cathedral, Alms Bag E.M 1937



The E.M in question is indeed Sir Edward Maufe proving that he was involved in designing the look of our Alms Bags.  To have such tangible evidence of how much he was involved on features that wouldn’t ordinarily be labelled at architecture is a fascinating thing.


Within the Archive we also have evidence as to how the designs were tested out before they were made into the finished article.  Below is an unfinished Alms Bag  using the same materials that would be used in the completed product the design is a simple blue and white design with a gold Cross in the centre.


If you want to find out more about our Alms Bags please head over to our Archive Website to find out more