St. Mary’s Church – Portsmouth

St Mary’s Church, Portsea is only a 10 minute drive from where I live, it is a very prominent so why I have not been before yesterday I really do not know. It was very cold and wet so it took me a while to get these pictures.

St. Mary’s Church

The building stands on the oldest church site on Portsea Island with a history stretching back to the 11th century. Archaeological research indicates that there was a church there in 650 although recorded history refers to 1170 as earliest date.

This video presentation was produced by a member of the local community and is a great way of discovering something of what lies within St Mary’s Church – both the beauty of the building and the life of the community who use it. It places the Church in the context of the local area and its own history.


Throughout its history the church has played an important role in the life of the island, especially for the local communities of Fratton, Landport and Buckland. The current church was built in the 1880s to a design by Arthur Blomfield and is a major landmark in the city. Its tower can be clearly seen rising above the surrounding terraces. The church was built with the support of W. H. Smith, then the First Lord of the Admiralty, to serve the needs of the city and to be an inspiration to all who saw it.

The building is a notable example of its era and contains many fine pieces, especially the Walker organ designed for the church. The organ has been described by a contemporary expert as being of “national importance”. In addition to building the parish church, a number of other buildings, institutes and mission halls were built to serve all who lived and worked in this area of the city, especially those struggling in what was a deprived area. The history of this period is nationally known and St Mary’s holds a place in folk lore, particularly as two vicars at the start of the 20th century went on to become Archbishop of Canterbury (Lang) and Archbishop of York (Garbett). The building is Grade II* listed and sits in an extensive churchyard.

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