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Royal Garrison Church

Hob Uid: 461980
Location :
City of Portsmouth
Non Civil Parish
Grid Ref : SZ6326209920
Summary : The Royal Garrison Church was founded in 1212 by Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester. It was a hospital for physical as well as spiritual needs. Following the Dissolution in 1540, the building was used as an ammunition store, and the complex fell into ruin. However, in 1559 the great Elizabethan project to enhance the defences at Portsmouth began and the medieval hospital became part of the governor's house. The church was restored and used by the garrison. Charles II married Catherine of Braganza here in 1662, and grand receptions were held in 1814 to celebrate Napoleon's defeat. It was extensively restored in 1866 to 1868 by architect G E Street, including a new south porch, vestry, flooring, furnishings, and memorial windows. During the Second World War the church nave was destroyed by bombing. The church aisles were re-roofed with slate in 1994-5 but the nave remains a shell since 1941. The medieval hospital was run by the monks of Southwick Priory and consisted of a large hall with aisles which were divided into bays for the patients, linked to the chapel (now the Royal Garrison Church) at the east end. The church is constructed of coursed rubble stone with ashlar dressings. The roofs of the chancel, chantry and vestry have plain tiled roofs, while the aisles have slate roofs. The style of the church is Early English, with a plan consisting of a five-bay aisled nave, with south and west entrance porches, and a three-bay chancel, north-east chantry, vestry and organ loft. The church contains a number of interesting stained glass windows. The east windows of the chancel have depictions of biblical figures, designed by Carl Edwards, in 1959. The north windows have stained glass dating to1904 and 1987; the latter with depictions of the Eighth Army and Royal Artillery during the Second World War. The south windows have stained glass designed by Farrah Bell in 1967 and 1970 which depict the history of the church. The church is in the care of English Heritage.
More information : (SZ 636990) Royal Garrison Church on site of GOD'S HOUSE HOSPITAL (GT)

('D' - SZ 63299920) Tablet (Site of Old Government House of Portsmouth (TI). (1)

(Centred at SZ 63309921) God's House. The whole of this block is shown as occupied by the buildings and grounds of God's House. (2)

A hospital, following the Augustinian rule, for the relief of poor men, was founded by Bishop Peter des Roches before 1214. Its dedication fluctuated between that of St. John the Baptist and that of St. Nicholas, but the hospital usually went by the name of Domus Dei or God's House. (3)

In 1535 its gross income was nearly £80. (4-5)

Charles II was married here to Catherine of Braganza (1662). (5)

On its surrender to the Crown, 1540, God's House was handed over to the military authorities and used as the Governor's House, until its demolition in 1826. (6)

The hospital chapel became the Chapel Royal attached to Government House and is now the Garrison Church. Full architectural description of Garrison Church. (7)

The Royal Garrison Church was rebuilt and enlarged in the latter part of the 19th century and the nave, except its shell, destroyed in the last war. Some 13th - 15th century work remains in the chancel, but nothing to show its origin as a hospital chapel.
Governor's Green, to the east of the Church, is now a military recreation ground: no traces of the buildings of either God's House or Government House survive, but an old mortar bears a tablet inscribed, "On this site stood the Old Government House of Portsmouth". (8)

No change. (9)

The church was part of 'Domus Dei' (God's house), a hospital for physical as well as spiritual needs, founded in 1212 and managed by the monks of Southwick Priory. It consisted of a large hall with aisles, which were divided into bays for the patients, linked to the chapel at the east end. Following the Dissolution in 1540, the complex became a ruin, but in the late 16th century the house of the military governor was built adjoining it, and the church was then restored to serve the garrison. It was extensively restored between 1886-88 by GE Street. The church is constructed of coursed rubble stone with ashlar dressings. There are plain tiled roofs to the chancel, chantry and vestry; the aisles were re-roofed with slate 1994-5; the nave has been roofless since being destroyed by bombing during World War II. The style of the church is Early English, with a plan consisting of a 5-bay aisled nave, with south and west entrance porches, and a 3-bay chancel, north east chantry, vestry and organ loft. The chancel has 1959 stained glass to east windows, by Carl Edwards depicting biblical figures. The north windows have stained glass of 1904, and also of 1987, depicting the Eighth Army and Royal Artillery of the Second World War. The south windows have stained glass of 1967 and 1970 by Farrah Bell depicting the history of the church. (10-14)

[NB: Source (11) states the windows of 1904 and 1987 as being by Harold Thomas and depicting the Eighth Army and Royal Artillery of the Second World War. This must refer to the 1987 window(s). It is unclear from the text whether Harold Thomas was responsible for the 1904 or 1987 windows.]

The date of G E Street's restoration should be 1866-68; Street died 1881, and 1866-68 is the date given in Archdeacon H P Wright's book, "The Story of the Domus Dei of Portsmouth", 1873, p39ff.
The Domus Dei reached an agreement in 1228-29 with St. Thomas's Church, intended to preserve the latter's parochial rights. (15)

The Garrison Church was originally part of 13th century Hospital of St John and St Nicholas. At the dissolution it was converted into a store and then in the late 16th century into a residence for the military governor. In 1827 all the buildings except what is now the Garrison Church were demolished. In 1866 the building was restored by Street. It suffered bomb damage in 1940; the chancel was undamaged but the nave lost its roof. (16)

The Royal Garrison Church was constructed c1212 as part of a hospital complex. It was fire bombed in 1941 and the nave was badly damaged. (17)

A brief history and description. (18)

In May 2009, the Time Team carried out an archaeological evaluation at the site of the Domus Dei and confirmed that at least part of the original building was re-used in the construction of the Governor's residence. The location of the trenches were decided using a map from the 1540s, a plan of the site contained in "The Story of the Domus Dei of Portsmouth" by Archdeacon Wright, and a geophysical survey of the site.The first trench was dug in the area of the stables and the bakehouse. A second trench was opened over the area thought to be where the hall of the hospice should be located. Historians suggested that there may have been a cloister associated with the Domus Dei, as almost all of the known hospices had one. Trench three was in an area to the south of the Garrison Church across what was later to become the Parade Ground, primarily to see if the Pay Chamber still existed but also to check for the possible presence of a cloister. Trench Three revealed no archaeological remains. Trench Two revealed a wall which may have been a part of Government House, and the boundary wall was identified. The area immediately outside the hospice was excavated and identified the original road that ran from the modern day Pembroke Road towards the sea. A paved area in trench 2 may have been part of the original hall of the hospice. In Trench 4, in an area to the south-east of the church identified as the main entrance, were robbed foundations. In a part of Trench Two they excavated what was thought to be the original northern wall of the hospice Hall, and found two pieces of 13th century pottery. (19)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 25" 1952
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Source Number : 2
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Copy of Cottonian MS Aug A1 "Plan of Portsmouthe", c1590, in Portsmouth Public Library.
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Source Number : 11
Source : Portsmouth
Source details :
Page(s) : 13
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Source Number : 12
Source : Hampshire and the Isle of Wight
Source details :
Page(s) : 404-7
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Source Number : 13
Source : Buildings of Portsmouth and its environs : a survey of the dockyard, defences, homes, churches, commercial, civic and public buildings
Source details :
Page(s) : 12
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Source Number : 14
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Offord J. 1989. Churches, Chapels and Places of Worship on Portsea Island
Page(s) : 28
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Source Number : 15
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : E mail from Alan King, Historical Collections Librarian, Portsmouth, dated 14-JUNE-2007
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Source Number : 16
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 12-Mar-84
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Source Number : 17
Source : English Heritage Visitor Handbook 2009/10
Source details :
Page(s) : 73
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Source Number : 18
Source : Heritage Unlocked: London and the South East
Source details :
Page(s) : 72-73
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Source Number : 19
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : History in Portsmouth. Tim Backhouse/CIS 2007-2011. 'Government House' <> [Accessed 02-FEB-2011]
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Source Number : 3
Source : Medieval religious houses : England and Wales
Source details :
Page(s) : 300
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Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Valor Ecclesiasticus.
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Source Number : 5
Source : A history of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, volume two
Source details :
Page(s) : 206-8
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Source Number : 6
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Historical Manuscripts Commission Report, iv, Appendix 207.
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Source Number : 7
Source : The Victoria history of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, volume three
Source details :
Page(s) : 191
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Source Number : 8
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 VJB 11-AUG-55
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Source Number : 9
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 ASP 10-JAN-69
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Source Number : 10
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : 18-Mar-99
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Founded 1212
Monument End Date : 1212
Monument Start Date : 1212
Monument Type : Hospital, Chapel, Augustinian Monastery, Priory
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Dissolved in 1540
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1540
Monument Type : Chapel, Hospital
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Late 16th century reuse
Monument End Date : 1600
Monument Start Date : 1567
Monument Type : Military Chapel
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Restored 1886-88
Monument End Date : 1868
Monument Start Date : 1866
Monument Type : Military Chapel
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Second World War
Display Date : War damage in 1941
Monument End Date : 1941
Monument Start Date : 1941
Monument Type : Military Chapel
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Late 20th Century
Display Date : Re-roofed 1994-5
Monument End Date : 1995
Monument Start Date : 1994
Monument Type : Military Chapel
Evidence : Extant Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : HA 138
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 474638
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 215
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 107909
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SZ 69 NW 3
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 238499
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SZ 69 NW 3
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1955-08-11
End Date : 1955-08-11
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SZ 69 NW 3
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1969-01-10
End Date : 1969-01-10
Associated Activities : Primary, INVESTIGATION BY RCHME/EH ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-11-14
End Date : 1995-11-14
Associated Activities : Primary, GOVERNOR'S GREEN, PORTSEA (TIME TEAM)
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31