Cathedral of St John the Evangelist, Portsmouth

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St John the Evangelist, Portsmouth
Cathedral Church of St John the Evangelist
St John the Evangelist, Portsmouth is located in Hampshire
St John the Evangelist, Portsmouth
St John the Evangelist, Portsmouth
Shown within Hampshire
50°48′1″N 1°5′39″W / 50.80028°N 1.09417°W / 50.80028; -1.09417Coordinates: 50°48′1″N 1°5′39″W / 50.80028°N 1.09417°W / 50.80028; -1.09417
OS grid reference SU6392300478
Location Portsmouth, Hampshire
Country England
Denomination Roman Catholic
Website portsmouth
Consecrated 1882
Status Active
Functional status Cathedral
Heritage designation Grade II
Designated 10 January 1953
Architect(s) Joseph Hansom
Style Gothic Revival
Years built 1882
Diocese Portsmouth (since 1882)
Province Southwark
Bishop(s) Philip Egan
Dean Dominic Goulding
Director of music Peter Newman
Organist(s) Catherine Christmas

The Cathedral Church of St John the Evangelist (also known as St John's Cathedral) is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Portsmouth, England. It was opened in 1882 and is the first cathedral to have been built in Portsmouth. It is the mother church of the Portsmouth diocese and seat of the Bishop of Portsmouth, currently the Right Reverend Philip Egan. It was dedicated on 10 August 1892.

The cathedral is one of two cathedral churches in the city, the other being the Church of England Cathedral Church of St Thomas which is located about one mile to the south.



Before 1791 it was illegal for Catholics to have chapels within towns of Borough status, like Portsmouth. The Second Catholic Relief Act of 1791 allowed Catholics to open a chapel in Portsmouth. A group of Catholic lay people in the town appealed to the Catholic bishop in London for a priest whom they would support. The first priest was John Cahill who had a chapel in a private house in Unicorn Street. He was succeeded in 1794 by Joseph Knapp who opened a purpose-built chapel in 1796 in Prince George Street to seat 300 people. This chapel was enlarged in 1851 because of the ever-increasing number of Catholic soldiers in the British Army (about 30%) and Portsmouth was a major garrison town. By the late 1870s an even larger church was needed. The land that this cathedral is built on was purchased from the War Department in 1877 because Portsmouth's defensive ramparts, 100 metres to the west, had become redundant and were demolished.[1]


It is the first cathedral to have been built in Portsmouth as the Anglican Cathedral Church of St Thomas was not opened until 1927. The new church was opened for worship in August 1882 and was immediately made the mother church of the new Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth. The old chapel was closed and the cathedral was completed in four phases: 1882, the nave; 1886, the crossing; 1893, the chancel; 1906 the narthex and west Porch. The cathedral was badly damaged when enemy bombing in 1941 destroyed Bishop's House next-door. Since restoration in 1950 the inside of the cathedral has been reordered three times: in 1970, 1982 and 2001.

Until 1884, the cathedral and chapel which proceeded it were the only Catholic churches in the Portsmouth area. In 1884 St Swithun's Church was opened in Southsea.[1]


In 2013, Canon David Hopgood and Father Philip were transferred to other parishes. Canon Dominic Golding and Father James McCauley took their places.

Choir and Altar Serving[edit]

The choir is led by Peter Newman, who also plays the organ with Catherine Christmas. Alter Servers are always at Mass, and the leader varies.

On the Internet[edit]

Portsmouth Cathedral Masses are now being recorded and are available to see online.


The cathedral may be described architecturally as 19th century French Gothic because it has a curved apse and shallow transepts. It was originally designed by John Crawley to have a tall spire at the south-west corner, but the underlying geology made this impossible. Crawley died just as building started and his partner Joseph Hansom took over the project and modified the design. The church is built of Fareham Red Brick with Portland Stone dressings. Most of the stained-glass windows sustained some bomb damage in 1941, especially those over the high altar. The round window in the south transept was the only one not damaged. An elaborate baldacchino surmounting the high altar was removed in the 1970 reordering. The last part to be built was St Patrick's Chapel in 1924.[2]



There are now seven Catholic churches within the City of Portsmouth. Besides its function as the mother church of the diocese, St John's Cathedral serves a parish of some six square kilometres with regular services.[1]

Discovery Centre[edit]

The Cathedral Discovery Centre is a multi-functional resource of the parish. It includes a resource centre that hosts a range of educational and Catholic courses for schools and parishes and a repository which sells books and rosaries. As well as a coffee shop, there are also syndicate and training rooms and an adjacent car park.[3]


The diocese is within the Metropolitan Province of Southwark. It includes the whole of Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands as well as parts of Berkshire and Dorset, stretching from Abingdon, Berkshire]], in the north to the island of Jersey (near the French coast) in the south.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c History of the Cathedral, Portsmouth Catholic Cathedral
  2. ^ British Listed Buildings
  3. ^ Discovery Centre, Portsmouth Catholic Cathedral

External links[edit]