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Holy Trinity Interior

For over 180 years Holy Trinity church has stood in the main commercial and formerly residential street of Fareham as a reminder of God’s presence and the faith of those who worship here. Not only is it an oasis of quiet away from the bustle of everyday life, but it is also the base for many activities which show our Christian concern and participation in the life of Fareham.

As well as our daily services the church is open for private prayer and viewing between 11.00am and 3.00pm on weekdays and Saturdays when two members of the congregation are always ready to chat or to provide more information.

Changes in worship as reflected by the Interior of Holy Trinity church, Fareham.

By the Revd. Ian Jagger (now the Venerable Ian Jagger, Archdeacon of Durham)

Venerable Ian Jagger, Archdeacon of Durham

This church like most others is a living building. It was built for the purpose of those who first used it, and as the generations have gone by, and different things have become important, it has been changed, redesigned by each succeeding group of Christians. This page shows some illustrations from the archives which show that the building has changed many times to meet the needs of those worshipping God here. This is intended to try to explain why the various changes have been made.

Holy Trinity Interior in 1840

1840

This shows the church built as a ‘preaching shop’, every space used for seating, including the galleries and the high pews with no middle aisle. The 3-decker pulpit is central and there is little sign of a communion table or a ‘holy place’. Even the triple-arched reredos displays words (perhaps the commandments, the Lord’s Prayer or other suitable text). At this period large numbers of people came to church to hear the Word of God preached. There is no sign of music, no choir stalls, organ or hymn boards, though there may have been a band with singers in the gallery.

Pulpit at St John’s in Chichester

To see what Holy Trinity probably looked like at that time one needs to visit a church such as St John’s in Chichester. That church is now redundant and is in the care of the Churches Preservation Trust. However it’s interior is virtually unchanged from when it was built in 1812 and is a very good example of a rare surviving Preaching House.

1905

Holy Trinity interior in 1905

Here is the most far-reaching transformation of all, the introduction of the altar in place of the pulpit, which is now reduced in size. Holy Communion elbows the preaching of the Word aside. With Communion (and its altar) come a robed choir and an organ, placed as a barrier or intermediary between the people and the holy altar. The focus has changed: instead of the Word conducting our hearts to God the sacrament now does so. Even the words behind the altar have been covered over by soft curtaining: a sense of richness and decoration now replaces hard words. The new smaller pews with a central aisle conduct us more readily to the holy place, though access is severely limited by the narrow space through the choir. Notice too the hymn boards and the eagle lectern.

1920’s

Holy Trinity interior in the 1920'’s

The Communion movement has become completed. A whole new East end has been built to contain the altar. The screen increases the sense of distance from the high altar, the Holy place from where the people sit we move up steps through the screen. Moving through the robed choir, over the guarding altar rail to where the priest (with his back to us) offers the Sacrifice of our devotion to God. Only the priest, and his robed servers, go into what is a rich and beautified holy place (though the artwork of the new reredos was misjudged). The new larger East window gives a heavenly brightness to the scene and the crucifixion painting behind the pulpit enriches the imagery and the devotion which is now stirred, not by the preached Word but by ceremony, drama, music and staging. Now we go to church to be conducted towards holiness “through the veil” of screen, liturgy and beauty. The contrast with the ‘preaching shop’ could not be more complete.

1970’s

Holy Trinity interior in the 1970’s

In fifty years, though the layout of the building remains the same there is a reduced sense of the distant holiness of God. A plain curtain lessens the sense of focus of the East end. There is a large, plain altar behind which the priest faces us. We begin the movement towards communion is something of the people and for the people. The side altar speaks of smaller weekday celebrations and the Crucifixion now hangs devotionally above it. The organ has been moved to the other side.

1980’s

Holy Trinity interior in 1985

What had been coming in the 1970’s is now expressed in another reordering. The altar has escaped the screen and has come forward to the people. It is marked out by the least forbidding altar rail possible and there is no competing altar. The pulpit has gone completely: a lectern represents the Ministry of the Word to one side of the altar. What used to be holy place is now where the choir sing, screened and too distant for musical effectiveness. Our eyes are brought forward in this view from the gallery (no side galleries now) but from ground level the focus is more uncertain.

Holy Trinity interior in 2009

Today

The nave altar stands on a single, carpeted plinth around which sits the participants in the Eucharist. The choir has been brought forward so that the People of God are now gathered around the altar. The Word is proclaimed from a lectern in front of the altar. There is only one altar representing the gathering of the people of God around the Lord’s table in the Eucharist.

Chapel chairs and table

Behind the screen the Chapel chairs gathered simply around a circular table symbolizing the daily prayer going on here during the week and the groups in which members of the church work and worship every week.

There is also a prayer corner where candles are lit and prayer requests are attached to a cross, speaking of the individual and the availability of the building to the passer by as a place where prayer may be offered.