Top Religious Buildings (Self Guided), Portsmouth

The old church life in Portsmouth is not one of the richest, yet it is most closely connected to the local history and culture. Their history and origins are either connected to real historical events with true personages, or are based on old local legends. In taking the tour you will not only get acquainted with these events and stories but you will also enjoy fine sightseeing of these historical places of worship.
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Top Religious Buildings Map

Guide Name: Top Religious Buildings
Guide Location: England » Portsmouth (See other walking tours in Portsmouth)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 Km or 2.4 Miles
Author: Lilly
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Domus Dei
  • Portsmouth Cathedral
  • Saint Georges Church
  • Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
  • St Agatha's Church
  • St. Marys Church
Domus Dei

1) Domus Dei (must see)

Domus Dei, or Hospital of Saint Nicholas, was an almshouse and hospice established in 1212 by Pierre des Roches, Bishop of Winchester. It is now also known as the Royal Garrison Church and is an English Heritage property and a listed Ancient Monument. In 1450 an unpopular advisor to the king, Bishop Adam Moleyns of Chichester was conducting a service at the chapel of Domus Dei when a number of naval seamen (resentful of being only partially paid and only provided with limited provisions) burst in to the church, dragged out the bishop and murdered him.

As a result of this the entire town of Portsmouth was placed under the Greater Excommunication, an interdict which lasted until 1508, removed at the request of Bishop Fox of Winchester. One of the conditions for the removal of the interdict included the building of a chantry chapel next to the hospital.

In 1540, like other religious buildings, it was seized by King Henry VIII and until 1560 was used as an armory. After 1560 it became the home of the local military governor. Throughout this time the chapel attached to the hospital remained in use and in 1662 it hosted the wedding of King Charles II and Princess Catherine of Braganza.

Towards the end of the 17th century it fell into disrepair until it was restored in 1767 to become the Garrison church. On 10 January 1941 the buildings of Domus Dei were partially destroyed in an attack by German bombers. The Garrison church remains, albeit roofless, as a popular tourist attraction. It was also used as the set for Horatio Hornblower's wedding in Hornblower:Duty, 2003.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Portsmouth Cathedral

2) Portsmouth Cathedral (must see)

The Cathedral Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, Portsmouth, commonly known as Portsmouth Cathedral, is the Church of England cathedral of the City of Portsmouth, England and is located in the heart of Old Portsmouth. It is the seat of the Bishop of Portsmouth. Around the year 1180 Jean de Gisors, a wealthy Norman merchant and Lord of the Manor of Titchfield, gave land in his new town of Portsmouth to the Augustinian canons of Southwick Priory so that they could build a chapel "to the glorious honour of the martyr Thomas of Canterbury". This chapel was to become in turn a parish church in the 14th century and then a cathedral in the 20th century. Between 1902 and 1904 the church was closed for restoration work to be carried out. In 1927 the Diocese of Portsmouth was created. In 1932 Sir Charles Nicholson published plans to enlarge St Thomas's. In 1939, due to the outbreak of World War II, work on the extension scheme stopped, and was not recommenced until 1990.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Saint Georges Church

3) Saint Georges Church

According to some sources, Saint Georges Church has played an important role in the life of the locals and the region. Its construction was not only paid by the local population in the 2nd half of the 18th century, but also built by 15 local shipwrights, 3 people, a carpenter, a grocer and a tallow chandler. For so long it has been the main representative monument of the region of Portsea. Although it has lost some of its territory, its external appearance has lost very little from its original appearance.
Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

4) Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

It is important to mention that the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist is happily situated close to the center of Portsmouth city and also near the royal navy. It has had this same location since the year 1882. From an architectural point of view, the building belongs to 19th century French Gothic architecture; the building has shallow transepts and a curved apse to attest to this. Some parts of the building, especially the areas around the windows, are dressed in Portsmouth stone and these parts proved their resistance when the building was bombed during the 2 World Wars.
St Agatha's Church

5) St Agatha's Church

St Agatha’s Landport was built due to the inspirational leadership of Father Robert William Radclyffe Dolling, an Irish Anglo-Catholic priest whose social conscience lead him to fight against a range of domestic ills for his impecunious parishioners. At the same time he was able to charm astonishing amounts of money out of the wealthy residents of nearby Old Portsmouth.

The formal opening of the church took place on 27 October 1895 with a ceremony involving mass being said at the old mission church followed by a procession to the new church. The inside of the church was equally sumptuous but the intensity of the ritual lead to a row with the Bishop of Winchester. His successor Father Tremenheere continued to beautify the interior until 1914 when another long serving incumbent arrived. Work done during this time included the completion of the murals and the addition of a wooden pulpit.

Tremenheere's successor Father C.W Coles was to serve the parish through two world wars until 1954 when the last service was held. For the next 40 years it became a naval store until the Traditional Anglican Communion took it over for a form of worship very similar to that originally provided by Dolling. The church survived this time largely intact although the lady chapel was demolished in 1964. The church is now also used for concerts but faces an uncertain future as its locale is developed as part of the “Northern Quarter” initiative.
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. Marys Church

6) St. Marys Church

St. Mary's Church is considered to be one of the oldest of the area. It was even traced back to the 11th century. Although the church building was erected in the year 1880, it does keeps its tours proudly visible miles around, just like the old churches were. An interesting fact about the place is that it has been steadily visited for over 120 years.

Walking Tours in Portsmouth, England

Create Your Own Walk in Portsmouth

Create Your Own Walk in Portsmouth

Creating your own self-guided walk in Portsmouth is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Portsmouth Cultural Venues

Portsmouth Cultural Venues

Portsmouth is a city with rich history and preserved traditions, so its cultural life presents a point of interest for tourists from all over the world. Different museums and galleries will show you the city from different points of view, and the following tour will help you to feel as if you are a part of its cultural life.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles
Portsmouth Introduction Walking Tour

Portsmouth Introduction Walking Tour

One of England's most notable naval bases and ports, the city of Portsmouth is closely associated with sea. Still, despite its seafaring background, Portsmouth has quite a bit to offer its guests on the dry land as well. Follow this orientation walk to familiarize yourself with some interesting facts about historic and contemporary Portsmouth manifested in various sights and landmarks.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 Km or 3 Miles
Historical Dockyard Tour

Historical Dockyard Tour

Naval life has played a crucial role in the development and in the existence of the city. Most of the events that the area experienced are connected to its exit to the sea. This tour is aimed to reflect them in the region's museums and other monuments that will help you discover the beautiful sea history and present port life of the city. Take the tour and explore these beautiful events in...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles