All Saints is in the very heart of Portsmouth, the Parish also includes much of the main shopping centre – Commercial Road, and Portsmouth International Port, a busy hub for ferries, cruise ships, and commercial shipping, importing and exporting goods for the whole of the UK. The Parish is one of the very poorest in the whole of England.
The architect of all saints church was Thomas Ellis Owen. The foundation stone was laid in 1825 and was completed in 1828. The church was a waterloo church and as such was financed by the Government at a cost of £13000.
It was built using Portland stone with a wood trussed roof and finished in welsh slate. The pillars are unusually made of cast iron, a fact that comes to a surprise to many people. The interior is a Lathe and plaster six groined ceiling.
All Saints was initially a chapel of ease to the neighbouring St. Mary’s Church before becoming a parish church in 1835. the most popular service was evensong when the worshippers would leave their lanterns at the entrance to the church in the charge of Verger.The rough ground and ditches which surrounded the church made a lantern essential after dark.
Right up until 1870 (when the organ was given to the church by the vicar of the time , the Revd E B Churchill)., the singing of the hymns was accompanied by a fiddler who was based in the west gallery. There were often public arguments between the Parish Clerk and the Vicar on which hymns were to be sung.
There was for a while a All saints, a curate, a bachelor, the Revd J G Quarmley, who used to remonstrate from the pulpit if he saw courting couples not paying attention to the sermon. He would declare “if they are not ashamed of themselves, I am for them”.
In 1877 the magnificent Bath Stone Chancel was added, with a chalk ceiling to the design of an architect in Sir Gilbert Scott’s office. This is one of the finest specimens of Victorian architecture in the south of England.
During 1941 All saints suffered severe bomb damage to the Chancel organ and the East window which resulted in the Churches closure.
The Church reopened in 1946 and much work was needed to restore it in 1950. The new East window commemorates the people of Portsmouth and those associated with the area, such as Father Dolling. Some of the 19877 glass survives in the traceries.
In 1976 after a major reordering inside the church was reopened as it is today as an urban mission centre, with the offices and conference facilities on the ground and first floors.
The outside walls of the Church were cleaned in 1985 and 1987 the forecourt was completed with additional paving and railings. The West End stonework was repaired and maintained in 1993.
The church has no spire because the ground nearby is of Sand.
The church used to seat 2000 people.