Sunday, 19 January 2014


Portsmouth is another city we visit often and in which we have never given time to look in to the Cathedral.  So this weekend we went to Portsmouth just to visit the Cathedral.  I think I have posted pics of the outside before, but anyway here it is again.


The building is interesting - the original 12th century church is the 2-storey structure on the right. 

In the 17th century, the red roofed section and central tower was built.  Further modifications were added in the early 18th century.  And here the first of the building's links with the sea were set with the addition of the wooded cupola on the tower with a light to assist ships entering Portsmouth harbour.

In the 1920s the church was confirmed as the new Cathedral of Portsmouth (there was already a Catholic Cathedral) and the extensions to the left and right of the tower and the additional nave were added soon after.  By the 20th century, the brick end wall had become unstable, but work to replace the end wall with a small extension eventually ran out of funds in the Second World War.  The new entrance, with its flanking towers, was eventually completed in 1991.

From the moment you enter the doors, you are reminded of the sea, but not only the strong naval connection.

I thought the lighting in the choir resembled ships bells, but the cathedral officials assured me that was coincidence.

You can see the maritime influence too in the badge worn by the officials.

This then is the interior, viewed from the modern section into the mediaeval sanctuary.

The simple mediaeval altar in the old church somehow has a clean contemporary look. 


On the exterior wall of the original church there remains a fragment of the original  fresco

and some  ancient carved figures, now looking as if they are carved out of driftwood.


But it is the gravestones which give the lie to the modern feel.

In another grave, an unknown representative seaman from the 1545 sinking of the Mary Rose has been reintered.

I thought this was a nice, and moving, touch, given the number of other military monuments in the various chapels (inevitable in a town with so much naval history).

And I liked the cross above it

This is the D-Day memorial


and this is the more modern memorial to the men of HMS Glamorgan, which was lost in the Falklands War.

This is the oldest memorial, to the Captain who led the expedition to capture Cadiz in 1596, but who died on return to Britain in 1600.


And this is a copy of the marriage certificate of Charles II who was married here in 1662.

The maritime theme is continued in the hassocks (the one on the left bears the curious Islamic lookalike Portsmouth arms).


The original weathervane, again nautical in design, is now inside the church, having been replaced on the spire with one which is lighter in weight.

Afterwards, we didn't have to go far to find a cafe for lunch.

I had not heard it put quite this way before, but one of the guides told me that the streets used once to crowd in on the Cathedral, such that it was almost invisible except from the air, but one benefit of the constant wartime bombing of Portsmouth was that the surrounding alleyways and narrow lanes were cleared, leaving the Cathedral visible in all its glory.  The nearest surviving houses are now a street away.

The Cathedral itself emerged almost unscathed from the War.


  1. Thanks for this Neil. Portsmouth obviously doesn't have any claims to great architecture on the scale of Lincoln, Ely or Chartres but well worth a visit.

  2. Neil now I'm very sorry and thankful to you for showing me this wonderful cathedral . When I was there , almost 4 years ago at Potsmouth , I somehow missed visiting it . Thank you again for taking me there .