photophoto photophotophotophotophotophotophoto

Portsmouth Cathedral has a unique and dramatic history reflecting its close association with the sea.

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, one time Archbishop, on (my) land which is called Sudewede, the island of Portsea". From humble beginnings, this chapel was to become in turn a parish church in the 14th century and a cathedral in the 20th century.

The medieval building, cruciform in shape with a square tower over the crossing, was built of assorted stone including Caen and Binstead. It was consecrated in two stages: chancel and nave by Bishop Toclyve of Winchester in 1188, and the two transept altars and churchyard on the 12th March 1196 by Godfrey de Lucy, Toclyve's successor. The style of the architecture is known as "transitional", between Norman and Early English. The chapel served the spiritual needs of the sea-faring community based on the Camber and also for Gisor's family chantry masses. Of this building, the chancel and transepts remain

King Richard I realised the importance, both financially and strategically, of having control of this new town of Portsmouth and its harbour. The harbour was a rallying point for his armies and fleet setting off in battle towards France. Richard had land in both England and Normandy, with Royal Treasuries at Winchester and Caen - and Portsmouth was a valuable link. He had built a royal residence, the "King's House" or "King's Hall", to the south-east of, and close to, St. Thomas's. In 1194 Richard seized Portsmouth from de Gisors as punishment for the latter having sided with Prince John while Richard was held in captivity after the Third Crusade, and the King claimed Portsmouth for the Crown.

Think about the things that are true and honourable and right and
pure and beautiful and respected…And the God who gives peace will be with you.