Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth

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Diocese of Portsmouth

Dioecesis Portus Magni
Coat of arms of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth.svg
Bailiwick of Guernsey,
Bailiwick of Jersey
TerritoryHampshire, the Isle of Wight, the Channel Islands and parts of Berkshire, Dorset and Oxfordshire
Ecclesiastical provinceSouthwark
Deaneries24 (Pastoral Areas)
Coordinates50°47′56″N 1°05′28″W / 50.799°N 1.091°W / 50.799; -1.091Coordinates: 50°47′56″N 1°05′28″W / 50.799°N 1.091°W / 50.799; -1.091
Area6,339 km2 (2,448 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics (including non-members)
(as of 2019)
231,700 (7.3%)
DenominationRoman Catholic
Sui iuris churchLatin Church
RiteRoman Rite
Established19 May 1882
CathedralPortsmouth Cathedral
Patron saintSt. Edmund of Abingdon and The Immaculate Conception
Secular priests128
Current leadership
BishopPhilip Egan
Metropolitan ArchbishopJohn Wilson
Bishops emeritusCrispian Hollis
The diocese within the Province of Southwark. The Channel Islands are not shown.
The diocese within the Province of Southwark.
The Channel Islands are not shown.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth is a Latin Church Roman Catholic diocese that covers the Channel Islands as well as parts of England (Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and parts of Berkshire, Dorset and Oxfordshire). The episcopal see is St John's Cathedral in Portsmouth and is headed by the Bishop of Portsmouth. The diocese is part of the metropolitan Province of Southwark, which covers all of the far South of England as well as the Channel Islands.


The Diocese of Portsmouth, situated centrally within the Metropolitan Province of Southwark, extending as far as Abingdon in the North; and down to and including the Channel Islands in the South, and roughly from Liphook in the East to Andover in the West. The diocese adjoins the dioceses of Birmingham and Northampton to the North, the diocese of Arundel & Brighton to the East and the dioceses of Plymouth and Clifton to the West. It officially comprises the counties of Hampshire, Berkshire (south of the Thames), Oxfordshire (south of the Thames), Dorset (the Bournemouth area), the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands.

The area of the Diocese of Portsmouth is 6,339 km2 (2,447sq Miles) with a total population (2001 census) of 2,960,077. Its estimated Catholic population (2004) is 167,000. There are 112 parishes (2005) and 128 incardinated priests, with a further 86 from religious orders, congregations & societies. There are also 31 permanent deacons serving in the parishes plus 101 professed, non-priest religious and 255 professed women religious. Education comprises 48 primary/middle/ecumenical schools (aided and grant maintained), 8 secondary and 24 independent schools.


By a Papal Brief dated 19 May 1882, Pope Leo XIII created the Diocese of Portsmouth. It was formed out of the western portion of the Diocese of Southwark, as constituted at the re-establishment of the hierarchy in 1850.[1] The Southwark diocese had become too large for one bishop, extending as it did from London to Bournemouth and from the outskirts of Oxford to Dover and including the Channel Islands.

The new diocese comprised the counties of Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Berkshire, and the Channel Islands. It was thus almost co-terminous with the limits of the (Anglican) Diocese of Winchester. The obvious place for the cathedral and curia of the new diocese was Winchester. The Ecclesiastical Titles Act forbade a Catholic diocese to have the same name as an Anglican see. It would appear that the original intention was to fix the see at Southampton, with St Joseph Church in Bugle Street as the pro-cathedral. The construction of a large parish church in the centre of Portsmouth had begun, and it was decided to make it the future cathedral of the diocese.[2]

Bishop Vertue was succeeded by his vicar-general John Cahill. During Cahill's tenure a number of religious orders established houses in the diocese. In 1901 Benedictines from Solesmes Abbey settled on the Isle of Wight.[3] Benedictine nuns established St Cecilia's Abbey, Ryde. Benedictine monks from the monastery of St. Edmund's, in Douai, France, came to Upper Woolhampton and founded Douai Abbey in 1903 when the community left France as a result of anti-clerical legislation.


John Vertue (1826–1900) was appointed the first bishop of the new diocese. He was consecrated by Cardinal Manning on 25 July 1882 and on 10 August of that year opened the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist at Portsmouth. When the new bishop took possession of his see, he had about seventy priests and forty missions.[1]

Since 1900 the diocese has had seven bishops: John Cahill, 1900–1910; William Cotter (who came from Cloyne in Co. Cork), 1910–1940; John Henry King (who was given the personal title of archbishop in 1954), 1941–1965; Derek Worlock (translated to Liverpool as Archbishop 7 February 1976), 1965–1976; Anthony Emery, 1976–1988; Crispian Hollis, 1988–2012;[2] Philip Egan, 2012-.

Current bishop[edit]

On 11 July 2012, Egan's appointment as the eighth Bishop of Portsmouth was announced in an official press release from the Vatican Information Service (VIS), an arm of the Holy See Press Office. At the time of his appointment Bishop Egan was serving as the Vicar General of the Diocese of Shrewsbury.[4] Bishop Egan's Episcopal Ordination took place at St John's Cathedral, Portsmouth, on Monday 24 September 2012, the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham.[5]

Egan was born on 14 November 1955 in Altrincham, a suburb of Manchester. After classical studies locally at St. Ambrose College and at King's College London, he completed training for the priesthood at Allen Hall, Westminster, and at the Venerable English College in Rome. On 4 August 1984, he was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Shrewsbury. From 1984 to 1988, Egan served as parochial vicar at St. Anthony's, Woodehouse Park, Manchester. From 1988 to 1991, he served as an assistant chaplain at the University of Cambridge. From 1991 to 1994, he served as parish vicar and chaplain at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral. From 1994 to 1995, he completed theological studies at Boston College in the United States, going on to serve, until 2007, as a professor of fundamental theology and dean of studies at Oscott College seminary in Birmingham. In 2007–2008, also in Boston he attended Lonergan post-doctoral fellowship Studies. In 2008, Egan became parish priest of Our Lady and St Christopher's in Stockport. In 2010, he was named to his previous post as Vicar General of the Diocese of Shrewsbury.

Emeritus bishop[edit]

Roger Francis Crispian Hollis, bishop emeritus of Portsmouth, was educated at Stonyhurst College and ordained on 11 July 1965.

He was installed as bishop of Portsmouth on 27 January 1989. He had been chairman of the Catholic Media Trust and chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Europe. He is a member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in the Vatican. He is the chairman of the Bishops' Conference Department of Mission and Unity, representative for the Bishops' Conference of the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, and a member of IARCCUM (International Anglican Roman Catholic Committee for Unity and Mission).

He reached the standard retirement age of 75 in November 2011.

On 11 July 2012, the acceptance of his resignation was announced in an official press release from the Vatican Information Service (VIS), an arm of the Holy See Press Office.[4]

Coadjutor Bishop[edit]

  • Thomas Holland (1960-1964), did not succeed to see; appointed Bishop of Salford

Auxiliary Bishops[edit]

Other priests of this diocese who became bishops[edit]

Other notables of diocese[edit]

  • Vicars general: Michael Dennehy and Paul Townsend (also vicar for clergy)
  • Moderator for the curia: Michael Dennehy
  • Episcopal vicar for vocation: Jeremy Garratt
  • Episcopal vicar for education: PJ Smith (also dean of the cathedral)
  • Episcopal vicar for evangelisation: Mark Hogan
  • Judicial vicar: Simon Thompson
  • Chancellor for the diocese: Stephen Restori

Pastoral areas and churches[edit]

Following a period of consultation, the diocese's new pastoral areas were launched at the time of Pentecost in 2006, with the aim to eventually turn them into parishes in the future. There were originally 24 pastoral areas. There are now 22. Deaneries were re-introduced in September 2014.

The Pastoral Areas with their respective churches are:

Channel Islands (SS Helier & Samson) Deanery[edit]

Bailiwick of Guernsey Pastoral Area: Alderney (SS Anne & Mary Magdalene), Delancey (Our Lady Star of the Sea), Guernsey SS Joseph & Mary, Guernsey Notre Dame du Rosaire

Autonomous Parish of Jersey: St Aubin (Sacred Heart), St Brelade (St Bernadette), St Clement (St Patrick), St Helier SS Mary & Peter, St Helier St Thomas, St Martin (Our Lady of the Annunciation), St Peter (St Mathieu)

Southeast Hampshire & Isle of Wight (St Wilfrid) Deanery[edit]

Isle of Wight Pastoral Area: Bembridge (St Michael), Cowes (St Thomas of Canterbury), East Cowes (St David), Newport (St Thomas of Canterbury), Ryde (Sorrowful & Immaculate Heart of Mary), Sandown (St Patrick), Shanklin (Sacred Heart), Totland Bay (St Saviour), Ventnor (Our Lady & St Wilfrid)

Stella Maris (Our Lady Star of the Sea) Deanery[edit]

Southampton Central & West Pastoral Area: Southampton St Edmund, Southampton St Joseph, Southampton Lordswood (St Vincent de Paul), Southampton Millbrook (Holy Family), Southampton Shirley (St Boniface)

Southampton East Pastoral Area: Hedge End (Our Lady of the Assumption), Netley (Annunciation), Southampton Bitterne (Christ the King & St Colman), Southampton Portswood (Immaculate Conception), Southampton Woolston (St Edmund)

West Solent (Pope St John XXIII) Deanery[edit]

Avon Stour Pastoral Area: Christchurch (St Joseph), Fordingbridge (Our Lady of Sorrows & St Philip Benizi), Highcliffe (Holy Redeemer), Iford (St Thomas More), Ringwood (Sacred Heart & St Thérèse), Southbourne (Our Lady Queen of Peace & Bl Margaret Pole)

Bournemouth Pastoral Area: Bournemouth Annunciation, Bournemouth Corpus Christi, Bournemouth Sacred Heart, Bournemouth St Edmund Campion, Westbourne (Our Lady Immaculate)

New Forest Pastoral Area: Brockenhurst (St Anne), Holbury (St Bernard), Hythe (St Michael), Lymington (Our Lady of Mercy & St Joseph), Lyndhurst (Our Lady of the Assumption & St Edward the Confessor), Milford-on-Sea (St Francis of Assisi), New Milton (Our Lady of Lourdes), Totton (St Theresa of the Child Jesus), Waterside


Deaneries used to be used in the Diocese of Portsmouth, until pastoral areas were created to replace them. In 2005, they originally were: Portsmouth, Aldershot, Alton, Basingstoke, Bournemouth, Fareham, Havant, New Forest, Southampton, Winchester, North East Berks, South Berks, Kennet Valley, Vale of the White Horse, Reading, Isle of Wight, Guernsey and Jersey.


The Portsmouth Diocese is part of the Catholic Association Pilgrimage.


  1. ^ a b King, John Henry. "Diocese of Portsmouth." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 31 January 2020Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ a b "History of Portsmouth Diocese". Catholic Association Pilgrimage. Archived from the original on 16 April 2014. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
  3. ^ "Tragedy, scandal and wealth – the story of one great house". 5 May 2014. Archived from the original on 5 May 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  4. ^ a b Pope Benedict XVI appoints Senior Cheshire Priest as Bishop of Portsmouth from Diocese of Shrewsbury, retrieved 13 December 2014
  5. ^ Fr Philip Egan ordained as Bishop of Portsmouth from BBC News, retrieved 13 December 2014

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Diocese of Portsmouth". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

External links[edit]