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Portsmouth Cathedral

History

‘The Maritime Cathedral’, the original church founded in 1185, was dedicated to Thomas Becket murdered a decade earlier in Canterbury Cathedral. The church was chosen as the cathedral for the new diocese of Portsmouth in 1927.

 

Attractions

Building of the classical style nave and west front with its twin towers was completed in 1991.

Many interesting treasures and monuments can be found in the building including the remains of a medieval wall painting, a ceramic plaque by Andrea della Robbia, and work by the marine artist William Wyllie

The new bronze west doors have been designed by Professor Bryan Kneale to represent the tree of life, and it is here that the visitor can start a spiritual journey, from west to east. From the nave, one passes through the tower, containing the coffin-like font with its inscription from Cyril of Jerusalem, reminding us of our new birth in Christ - the sacrament of baptism shared by Christians of all denominations.

The 17th century classical style quire was the original nave of the parish church and is now the heart of the cathedral where week by week the congregations gather around the lectern and altar for worship.

Beyond the quire the spiritual journey reaches its climax in the medieval St Thomas’s chapel, with its hanging pyx and empty cross.

The Navy Aisle contains many memorials to men and ships, including Nelson and HMS Victory, and the Mary Rose grave.

The cathedral has in its care the original marriage certificate of Charles II and Catherine of Braganza, of 1662. Part of Catherine’s dowry included the Port of Tangiers; the cathedral now has the famous plate removed in 1684 from the church in Tangiers on the evacuation of the garrison.