Portsmouth Protestant Cathedral, Hampshire

Full Dedication: Cathedral Church of St. Thomas of Canterbury
Became a Cathedral in 1927

A chapel was built here around 800 years ago and dedicated to the recently martyred Thomas Becket. The tower was converted into a watchtower (to keep an eye out for the French). After extensive damage in the Civil War King Charles II, in gratitude for the assistance of staunchly Royalist Portsmouth, granted money for the church to be rebuilt (although the tower was equipped to continue its life as a watchtower).

This church remained more or less intact until work began to convert it into a Cathedral in the 1930s (it became Portsmouth's Protestant Cathedral in 1927, unusually some 40 years after Portsmouth gained a Catholic Cathedral). Enlargement began to plans by Sir Charles Nicholson but they were interrupted early on by the outbreak of World War II.

Work did not resume again until the mid-1980s and the Cathedral was only completed in 1991. This gives the whole building a very modern look, particularly from the outside. The nautical feel of the Cathedral is unique in Britain and the very naval cupola on top of the main tower is the most distinctive feature.

Inside, amongst other things, it is worth looking out for the D-Day stained glass window and the medieval wall painting which has survived the many phases of rebuilding.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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