The Royal Garrison Church

The Royal Garrison Church or Domus Dei was built in 1212 by the Bishop of Winchester, Peter de Rupibus. Known as Domus Dei or the House of God, it was built as a hospice for pilgrims. Situated in Old Portsmouth, the hospice served pilgrims who were on holy pilgrimages to shrines at Canterbury, Winchester and Chichester.

Over the centuries, the rise of Portsmouth brought a coinciding rise in the importance of the Royal Garrison Church. However, disaster struck in 1449. The Bishop of Chichester was murdered on the threshold of the Royal Garrison Church in a dispute over the pay due to the Garrison's soldiers and sailors. The crime was harshly punished with the entire town being excommunicated for a period of fifty years.

During the Dissolution, the Royal Garrison Church suffered the same fate as many other churches in England at the time. It was closed in 1540 while its Master, John Incent was rewarded for his loyalty to Henry VIII with the post of Dean at the great St. Paul's Cathedral. The Royal Garrison Church was turned into an armoury in the meantime.

In 1662, the Royal Garrison Church witnessed the wedding of Charles II to Catherine of Braganza. For the next couple of hundred years it continued to be used for services for the troops of the garrison. By the mid 19th century, the Royal Garrison Church had fallen into a state of disrepair and major restorations were performed with money generated from the public, army and navy.

On 10th January, 1941 an incendiary bomb fell on the Royal Garrison Church during one of the many air raids on Portsmouth during WWII. The nave was destroyed but fortunately the chancel survived with the help of the Verger, Mr J. Heaton and soldiers in the area.

On your visit to the Royal Garrison Church keep a look out for the memorial to John Mason which lists amongst his other titles, "Patentee and Founder of New Hampshire in America". As well as the many other memorials, if you check out the choir stalls you'll be able to see lingering evidence of the fire of 1941. Also of note are the beautiful stained glass windows which depict the history of the Royal Garrison Church.

Address: Royal Garrison Church, Grand Parade
Postcode: PO1 2NJ
Town/city or near: Portsmouth
County: Hampshire
Free Entry
Opening Times
Open Monday to Saturday from 1st April to 30th September from 11am to 4pm.
English Heritage

8 out of 10 stars (5 votes)

Been here before? Is it worth a visit? Rate it below.
Rate it


email this page   printer friendly page