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Parish History

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History of Holy Trinity Church, Fareham

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 (except for Thursday, which is open until 1.00pm) and 11.00am until 1.00pm on Saturdays when 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
Reverend Ian Jagger
By the Reverend Ian Jagger (Venerable Ian Jagger, Retired)

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. The building has changed many times to meet the needs of those worshipping God here.

Holy Trinity Interior 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.


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, its interior is virtually unchanged from when it was built in 1812 and is a very good example of a rare surviving Preaching House.

Holy Trinity Interior 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.

Holy Trinity Interior 1950


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.

Holy Trinity Interior 1984


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.

Holy Trinity Interior 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 2017


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 the eagle lectern in front of and to one side 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 & 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.

A Tour Of Holy Trinity Interior
Based on an original pamphlet written in 1975 by the late Richard Wade,
with subsequent updating by Steve Ellis

The Interior

We cannot help being impressed by the pleasing design of the church interior. The architect was Thomas Ellis Owen (11/03/1805 – 11/12/1862), who was very well known in his day as one of the early developers of Southsea. Thomas Ellis Owen decided to use an iron framework in the interior, so that the very slender and elegant pillars in the nave are of cast iron. He was paid a fee of £200 for his design. This is a follow on to his earlier and similar design of All Saints church, Landport, Portsmouth built in 1828. This was one of the first such uses of iron and enabled Owen to create a lighter interior.

East Window

The gallery at the west end was put in when the church was built. Originally there were galleries down each side as well as the west end.

This was a normal design for the times as the church was primarily a preaching house. To see what Holy Trinity may have looked like in the 1830’s one should try to visit the redundant church of St John the Evangelist in Chichester where the original interior with its three decker preaching desk is still in place.

The side galleries were removed during the restoration of 1908 – 1913. However, the windows and pews, except for the west window, were not part of the original design, the pleasantness of which has been brought out by the redecoration of the church done in 1960 to a design by Stephen Dykes Bower (18/04/1903 – 11/11/1994). The painting of the pews in black, while acceptable then, is now felt to be one of the less desirable changes. A service of thanksgiving and blessing was held on Wednesday 10th February 1960, at 7.00pm.

The Chancel

Following the introduction of a nave altar, the original Chancel is now used as a prayer chapel.

The east window is in memory of Helena Tyler who was the sister–in–law of the Reverend Charles Lowther Arnold (28/12/1859 – 10/03/1942), vicar from 1902–1923, and her nephews Edward Gladwin Arnold and Alban Charles Philias Arnold, who were both killed in the First World War. It depicts St Helena the mother of the Emperor Constantine who made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. According to tradition she found the True Cross in a grotto under what is now the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. The window was designed by Henry Wilson (12/03/1864 – 07/03/1934) and made in 1922 by James Powell & Sons (Whitefriars Stained Glass) of London. It was planned before the First World War, but the artist who made the design, John Houghton Maurice Bonnor (C.10/1875 – 29/01/1917), was killed during the Great War whilst carrying out decorations at the new Parliament House, Ottawa and so the job passed to Wilson (who worked for the London County Council and who had been Bonnor’s teacher at Central School of Arts & Crafts and a friend). The window was unveiled at a dedication service at 3pm on Sunday 28th May 1922 by Sidney Morse, brother–in–law of Helena Tyler. The Reverend Charles Lowther Arnold conducted the service, assisted by the curate, the Reverend Thomas William Mundy.


On the South side of the chancel are sedilia, seats for the clergy and servers, put up in memory of Patience Crout (1855 – 27/06/1907) who was organist for 19 years and for 25 years a Sunday School teacher.

The Rector’s stall was designed and presented by Charles Reader (17/05/1850 – 25/12/1917) whose family were keen church workers and very interested in the Mission church in Mill Road. Originally there was opposite a stall in memory of Emma Alexander (C.1827 – 28/04/1892), the wife of Major General Frederick Llewellyn Alexander (14/03/1826 – 16/09/1896) of the Royal Marine Artillery. The Bishop’s chair is in memory of Norman Henry Atkins (19/06/1870 – 16/04/1948) who was for 25 years honorary architect of the church.

The sanctuary lamp was in memory of John Henry Jackson (21/03/1883 – 21/04/1961) the organist from 1941 to 1961. He had been organist of St Matthew’s, Portsmouth, but he lost both church and house (6 Herbert Road, Portsmouth) in the blitz. This lamp had to be taken down in December 2014 for health and safety reasons as advised by our insurers. A wall mounted sanctuary lamp dedicated to Geoffrey Burr (24/04/1940 – 09/07/2012), the late husband of Reverend Ann Burr, was dedicated by Bishop Christopher Foster, Bishop of Portsmouth on Sunday 14th May 2017 as part of the High Time completion celebration service. The glass north door (12/2016), south door, back vestry doors and kitchenette (03/2017) were also dedicated during the same service.

The chancel screen, which was dedicated by the Lord Bishop of Portsmouth, Neville Lovett, on Sunday 7th October 1934, is in memory of Mary Elizabeth Harvey (b. C.1855 – 22/04/1931), widow of Thomas Henry Harvey (b. C.1858 – 15/04/1915) of Blackbrook Grove. Their home, given to the Diocese, became Bishopswood, the Bishop’s former house. One of the previous occupants, Captain George Thomas Maitland Purvis (10/06/1802 – 07/10/1883), married Mary Jane Austen, the niece of Jane Austen the novelist, at the parish church in Chawton on 07/06/1828. The screen was designed by Thomas Lawrence Dale (04/03/1884 - 29/03/1959) of Oxford and manufactured out of oak wood by Eric Norman Sharpe (05/12/1888 – 17/10/1966) of Martyr Worthy, Winchester. The Bishop has since moved to ‘Bishopsgrove’, a new residence in Osborn Road.

The Nave

The brass lectern is in memory of the Reverend Frederick Smith (C.1818 – 27/01/1893) who was Vicar of the church from 1856 – 1893. A pulpit was also erected in his memory and that of his family by Edith Grace Holdom, one of his daughters. The pulpit was taken out of general use in 1985 at the last reordering.

The South Aisle

The stained glass window is in memory of Isa Florence Quarry (15/04/1864 – 07/11/1933) who lived in “Redlands”, a house in Redlands Lane that came down in 1930. The upper panel shows St Martin of Tours giving half his cloak to a beggar. The lower panel shows St Veronica. According to tradition she stepped from the crowd and wiped the face of Jesus on His way to crucifixion and the picture of His face appeared on the handkerchief she used. The window was made by Archibold Keightley Nicholson (28/03/1871 – 25/02/1937) in 1936.

The most important memorial in the aisle is that to Vice Admiral of the Red, Sir Charles Thompson Bart. (C.1740 – 17/03/1799) which was moved from St Peter and St Paul Church in 1835. He was the father of Sir Henry Thompson (05/11/1796 – 01/07/1868) who built the church. Sir Charles joined the Navy in 1755 and took part in many battles against the French and Spanish, in particular, being second–in–command to Admiral Sir John Jervis (09/01/1735 – 14/03/1823) at the battle of Cape St Vincent in February 1797. He was eventually recalled from the fleet because he objected at the execution of four mutineers on a Sunday. Notice the standing figures in uniform, one with a rope and one with a sextant. The memorial was designed by John Flaxman R.A. (06/07/1755 – 07/12/1826), who worked for Josiah Wedgwood (12/07/1730 – 03/01/1795) and became the first Professor of Sculpture for the Royal Academy in 1810, a position which was specially created for him. He was responsible for the Nelson memorial in St Paul’s Cathedral.

Memorial to Sir Charles Osborn

Also in the south aisle is a memorial to Charles Osborn (1797 – 27/01/1863) who lived at Down End House and who developed Osborn Road after whom it is named.

Seymour Robert Delmé (13/08/1807 – 12/03/1894), an extract from whose will is on the wall, was a member of the family who were the most important landowners in the area. He lived in Cams Hall (now offices). The Delmé family worshipped and were buried at St Peter’s, Titchfield.

Memorial to Sophia Dickson

There is also a memorial to Sir Henry Thompson’s first wife Hannah Jean Grey (10/09/1803 – 05/06/1829) and the members of her family. Her father, the Honourable Sir George Grey, Bart. (10/10/1767 – 03/10/1828), Captain, held an important post as Commissioner of the Dockyard in Portsmouth. When King George III (04/06/1738 – 29/01/1820) had visited Portsmouth he stayed at the Commissioner’s house.

West End

Above the gallery is the finest window in the church. It depicts Faith, Hope and Charity and is a copy of a window by Sir Joshua Reynolds (16/07/1723 – 23/02/1792) in New College, Oxford, which was made by Thomas Jervais (d.29/08/1799) of Windsor c.1770 – 1790. The glass was reset and restored by John Absalom Edwards (13/07/1791 – 01/05/1850) in 1835 and given to the church by Sir Henry Thompson. The top of the centre light contains the Royal arms of King William IV, the side lights the episcopal arms of Bishop Charles Sumner of Winchester and those of the Thompson Family.

West Window

There is a fine memorial on the west wall to Sophia Georgiana Dickson (d.26/03/1846) and her infant by Edward Hodges Bailey R.A. (12/03/1788 – 22/05/1867) of Bristol, who was a popular sculptor and did a considerable amount of work at Buckingham Palace, Marble Arch and the National Gallery.

Sophia Georgiana Dickson was the daughter of Vice Admiral Wilson Braddyll Bigland, who for a time lived in Heathfield House. Charlotte Mary Yonge (11/08/1823 – 24/05/1901), the Victorian novelist, was a visitor to the house and some of the people there appear in her writings.

There is also a memorial to 2nd Lt. John Barron (09/12/1885 – 05/04/1907) of the 108th battery, 1st Heavy Artillery Brigade, and Lilian Derham, the nurse who looked after him at Fort Fareham. They both died from typhoid fever in April 1907.

The North Aisle

There is a memorial to John Wild (1762 – 28/10/1837), a Customs Official or Kings Meter. This reflects the importance of Fareham as a port at the beginning of the 19th Century.

The window to Patience Crout who was organist for 19 years contains representations of St Elizabeth, St Barbara, St Cecilia and St Ursula and was by Percy Bacon.

Elizabeth Thompson memorial

The large memorial to the east of the aisle is to Lady Thompson the mother of Sir Henry. She was a great benefactor to Fareham and built the National School in what is now Gordon Road. She lived at 68 High Street, which is now the Fareham and County Club.

Sir Henry’s memorial gives details of his career.


The church is full of memorials, mostly to famous people.

“And some there be which have no memorial”...
So perhaps we should end by giving thanks to God for the thousands of ordinary people who have worshipped in Holy Trinity down the generations.

We must never lose sight of the fact that the church is not buildings but people, famous and unknown, and that God’s house is not His home unless there is a family living in it.

Currently there is a lively family of all age groups that fills this church Sunday by Sunday and uses it fully during the week. If you live locally we shall be pleased to welcome you as part of that family.