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Photographer's Note

This may look like something out of a Hammer Horror film, and Dracula is probably rising from his tomb. But this is in fact Royal Garrison Church, a partial ruin in Old Portsmouth, left standing as a memorial to the damage suffered by the town during the Blitz. Although the nave was badly damaged in a 1941 fire-bomb raid, the chancel remains roofed and furnished.

The church was founded in about 1212 by Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester, as part of a complex of buildings serving as a hostel for pilgrims and a hospital for the sick and elderly. It consisted of an aisled hall (now the ruined nave) and a chapel behind a wall in the east end (the surviving chancel). Medieval hospitals placed the beds in bays in the aisles within sight of the chapel. In 1540, after the Reformation, the building was used as an ammunition store, and it started to decay.

In 1559 the great Elizabethan project to build up the defences at Portsmouth began. The medieval hospital became part of the governor’s house, where two significant events in the history of the site took place. These were the marriage of Charles II to Catherine of Braganza in 1662 and the grand receptions held in June 1814 to celebrate the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig and his subsequent abdication. The receptions were attended by the Prince Regent, the Emperor of Russia, the King of Prussia and his general, Field-Marshal Blücher, the great ally of Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington.

In the 19th century the architect GE Street was responsible for a 10-year refurbishment and repair programme of the church, including a new south porch and vestry, new flooring, and specially designed furnishings and memorial windows. This was completed by 1871, and the church took on a 13th-century appearance that it had not presented for many centuries.

In 1933 the church came into the care of the Office of Works, but the firebomb raid in 1941 destroyed the nave. The nave ruins now stand divided from the intact chancel by a modern screen wall.

I think I prefer the less prosaic Gothic Horror "reading"! By the way, I got quite wet!

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Additional Photos by Will Perrett (willperrett) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1069 W: 301 N: 3042] (13923)
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