Diocese of Portsmouth

    HRH Prince Edward celebrates reopening of Newport Minster

    1 May 2024

    HRH Prince Edward helped worshippers celebrate the reopening of Newport Minster after an ambitious transformation project.

    The Duke of Edinburgh attended a service with 400 worshippers from across the island and beyond, to mark the completion of the final £2.6m project to finish the external restoration and refurbish its interior. The Minster now has new flooring, heating, toilets, kitchen facilities, seating and meeting rooms. 

    The Prince has been the royal patron of the campaign to renew Newport Minster since it started in 2006. He was given a tour of the newly-refurbished building ahead of the service, meeting some of the craftspeople, professionals, donors and volunteers who have been instrumental in ensuring the transformation happened. 

    He was shown around by operations manager Gemma Torrington, and met 96-year-old church historian Paul Gustar, who told him about the minster's historic pulpit. He was able to see how old pews had been woven into the fabric of the new building as they were re-purposed for other uses.

    He left temporarily for County Hall before returning in pouring rain once 400 worshippers had arrived in the Minster for the special service. They included local clergy, community groups, choirs, uniformed organisations, schoolchildren and congregation members. The Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight and the High Sheriff were among the island dignitaries attending.

    Bishop Jonathan led the service, which included hymns, worship songs, prayers and readings. Hector Kier, the former chair of the Friends of Newport Minster, read Psalm 122, and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh read from the gospel of Matthew.

    Before delivering his reading, the Prince said: "It has been an absolute pleasure to have been the patron of this appeal. I want to add my thanks to everyone who has been involved in it, everyone who has supported this, for all the wonderful craftsmen who have been involved in restoring this fantastic minster, and to say what a pleasure it is to be here at this event to see it being fully reopened and restored. It is what we set out to do. We are handing it back to you and please make the best use of it."

    The church choirs from Newport and Carisbrooke sang John Rutter's For the Beauty of the Earth before the service. Newport Minster's Community Choir sang Only You, the choir of Newport C of E Primary School sang Ready Set Go, and the worship group from Christ the King College in Newport led the congregation in singing Bless the Lord, O My Soul and Thine Be The Glory

    The Ven Steve Daughtery, Archdeacon of the Isle of Wight, preached on the feeding of the 5,000, emphasising the overwhelming need that presented itself and the underwhelming resources that Jesus transformed. After the service, savoury snacks and cakes were served with wine, and the Newport Minster bell ringers rang a quarter peal 'Grandsire Doubles'.

    HRH the Duke of Edinburgh meets congregation member Paul Gustar, who told him about the history of the Minster
    Students from Christ the King College's worship band led the congregation in one song and one hymn as part of the service
    HRH the Duke of Edinburgh read from the gospel of Matthew during the Minster reopening service

    Newport Minster now aims to become a valuable venue for community groups, as well as a spiritual hub for the island. The church will reopen to the public on Friday 3rd May from 10am-1pm, and the first community group to use the building will be the Play Café toddler group on May 7.

    The £2.6m project to complete the renewal of the building’s exterior and to refurbish its interior has been funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England, the National Churches Trust, the Benefact Trust, other grant-giving bodies, private individuals and local fundraising. It followed a multi-phase project to conserve and renew the building which began in 2006.

    Bishop Jonathan led the service to mark the reopening of Newport Minster
    The Archdeacon of the Isle of Wight, the Ven Steve Daughtery, preached during the reopening service

    There has been a place of worship on the Minster site for at least 1,000 years, with a medieval structure completed in 1175 and named after St Thomas a Becket. It is grade 1 listed building and welcomes up to 30,000 visitors a year.

    It has had significant royal connections for the past 400 years, and is the final resting place of Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King Charles I. She died, aged 15, in 1650 but her grave remained unmarked until it was uncovered by workmen in 1735. The impressive memorial in the Elizabeth Chapel was commissioned by Queen Victoria, who also commissioned the windows to the north of the chapel and the memorial for Prince Albert.

    HRH the Duke of Edinburgh has supported the Minster and visited on several occasions over the past few years, tracking the multi-phase project to renew the building.

    Newport Minster

    St Thomas' Square, High Street Newport, PO30 1SG

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