Celebrating 150 years of Christ Church Portsdown

    10 July 2024

    IT has been a year of celebrations – which will continue with a church open day this Saturday.

    Christ Church in Portsdown is marking 150 years of faithful worship in their current church building with a series of events throughout 2024. They will include a celebration service with Bishop Jonathan in September.

    “The bishop coming to share in the celebrations will be an amazing moment,” says Graham Olway, who has been organising events with his wife Nicola and other volunteers.

    The anniversary events will continue this Saturday (July 13) with a church open day, including activities for children, displays from local groups associated with Christ Church, and a timeline of photos and information detailing the church’s 150 years.

    Since January, members of the community have been sending in photos and memories of special events and personal moments that have happened in the church over the last century and a half. The church has also hosted a talk from local historian Andrew Perrin reflecting on the surrounding area’s past.

    The church will also hold a Evening Communion service on July 30 to mark 150 years precisely since the building was consecrated. Then after the celebration service with the bishop on September 8, there will be a final service of thanksgiving and commitment on November 24.

    The history of the church is closely linked with the area’s military past. In 1860, the War Department compulsorily purchased Portsdown Hill for military purposes. Included within this purchase were nearly 190 acres of John Deverell’s estate, for which he was handsomely compensated. He entered into negotiations with the War Department, expressing concern at the lack of spiritual welfare for the troops based at the new forts on Portsdown Hill.

    The Secretary of State for War granted a one-acre site for the building of a church and John Deverell agreed to finance the building. In return for providing the endowment, he was granted the patronage of the church, which was to be known as Christ Church Portsdown – a parish in its own right. In return for giving the land, the Army was given rights to hold services in the church. The churchyard was to be used for military burials as required.

    In 1872, although not completed, Christ Church Portsdown was roofed and given a certificate so that it could be used by the soldiers in the forts. Records of baptism in the church began in 1871. And on 30th July 1874 Christ Church Portsdown was consecrated.

    In June this year, Christ Church paid tribute to the troops who were part of the D-Day landings in Normandy that hastened the end of the Second World War. It had also been 80 years since the church played a special role in those operations.

    On 4th June 1944, the headquarters staff of the Second Army met at Christ Church on the eve of battle to bless the troops before combat. The service was held “to dedicate to Almighty God the task which lay before them” and was organised General Sir Miles Dempsey, Commander of the British Second Army.

    The parish takes pride in the commemorative stained-glass windows, presented to the church by the generals and commanders to give thanks to God for their victory. They can still be seen in the church today, depicting soldiers and tanks landing in Normandy, alongside the figures of St Michael and St George.

    “Christ Church has meant a lot to so many people,” said Graham. “I am eager to look back on a year of joy and spirituality in our church.”

    Christ Church Portsdown

    London Road, Cosham, PO6 3NB

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