Portsmouth Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, Portsmouth, commonly known as Portsmouth Cathedral, is the Church of England cathedral of the City of Portsmouth, England and is located in the heart of Old Portsmouth. It is the seat of the Bishop of Portsmouth. The Anglican cathedral is one of the two cathedral churches in the city, the other being the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St John the Evangelist, Portsmouth which is located about one mile to the north.

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". This chapel was to become in turn a parish church in the 14th century and then a cathedral in the 20th century. Of this original building, the chancel and transepts remain. The church survived a French raid in 1337 but in 1449 the Bishop of Chichester was murdered by local sailors. The town's inhabitants were excommunicated and the church was closed. In 1591 Elizabeth I worshipped in St Thomas's church. In 1642 during the English Civil War the church was bombarded by Parliamentarian forces. In 1683-93 the old tower and nave were taken down and replaced by a new nave, aisles, and west tower. Between 1902 and 1904 the church was closed for restoration work to be carried out. In 1927 the Diocese of Portsmouth was created. In 1932 Sir Charles Nicholson published plans to enlarge St Thomas's. In 1939 due to the outbreak of World War II work on the extension scheme stopped, and was not recommenced until 1990. Whilst incomplete a blank brick wall ended the west end of the nave. However, as the building had been used for many years without extension it was quite usable, and there was no urgency to finish the work. In the mid 1980s, however, the temporary brick wall was found to have become unstable and in danger of collapse which made the completion work more urgent. Originally the nave was intended to be longer, in the traditional style of an English cathedral, but the changing needs of the diocese meant that the building was finally built with a foreshortened nave, the final west wall being located close to where the temporary structure had been. In 1991 the completed building, much smaller than the original plans envisaged, was consecrated in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. The central tower contains a ring of 12 bells which were cast at Taylors Bell Foundry at various dates. They are hung in the wooden octagonal part of the tower. In 2005 the Duke of York unveiled a plaque to the 111 British service men killed in the British naval and air-force action in the Baltic in 1919 which led to freedom for the Baltic states. This was a duplicate of one already in the Estonian capital Tallinn and later another was unveiled by the Duke of Edinburgh in the Latvian capital Riga.

The Cathedral Choir consists of men and boys who sing five services each week. David Price (musician) is the Organist and Master of the Choristers, and Marcus Wibberley is the Sub-Organist. Andrew Cleary acts as Assistant Sub-Organist: directing the youth choir, Cantate. The Parish Choir sings at the Parish Eucharist on Sunday mornings, and is directed by the Sub-Organist.

Details of the organ from the National Pipe Organ Register


  • 1930 Mr Pease
  • Hugh Davis
  • 1978 David Thorne
  • Rosemary Field
  • 2005 Marcus Wibberley
See also the List of Organ Scholars at Portsmouth Cathedral.

  • Very Rev'd David Brindley (Dean)
  • Rev'd Canon Michael Tristram (Canon Pastor)
  • Rev'd Canon Nicholas Biddle (Canon Precentor)
  • Rev'd Canon David Isaac (Diocesan Director of Education)
  • Rev'd Canon Nick Ralph (Social Responsibility Advisor)

  • 1927 Hugh Burry
  • 1933 T. H. Newboult
  • 1944 John Davison
  • 1959 Maxwell Menzies
  • 1964 Peter Stevenson
  • 1968 Christopher Gower (later Organist at Peterborough Cathedral)
  • 1977 Tony Froggatt (previously Assistant Organist at Guildford Cathedral)
  • 1990 Adrian Lucas (later Organist at Worcester Cathedral)
  • 1996 David Price (previously Assistant Organist at Ely Cathedral)


2 photos

Building Activity

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