A tour of Portsmouth Diocese

Over the next few months we’ll visit various churches across the Diocese.

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Today let’s motor across to the market town of Petersfield, in the South Downs National Park. The town was founded in the 12th C. and soon grew in prosperity due to its position on frequently travelled routes, local sheep farming, and cottage industries including leather and cloth. There were weekly markets in the town square for sheep, horse and cattle trading, and two annual fairs, in June (on the feast of St Peter and St Paul) and November (on the feast of St Andrew).

The Catholic church of St Laurence (Grade II listed) was commissioned in 1890-91 by Laurence Trent Cave of Ditcham Park, a prominent local Catholic landowner. A few years after it opened, the apse and transepts were added in order to accommodate the tomb of the founder, who died in 1903. The architect was John Kelly, of Kelly & Birchall.

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The church is a cruciform design in an Italian style with a nave, transepts, chancel and two side chapels. It has a prominent octagonal copper dome surmounted by a lantern. The exterior is red brick with stone dressings. The interior is well lit from clear upper storey windows. The sanctuary is entered through ornamental gates set in a marble balustrade, and the altar is marble faced. The marble font stands in the chapel to the left of the main altar. The pulpit and confessional were made by Edward Carter Knight in 1902 and were the gift of Mrs Cave. It is understood that the interior was reordered in the 1960s.

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List Description:

Cruciform Church of red brick in Italian style. Copper dome over octagonal drum, each face defined by Order and containing one round_ arched window. Copper cupola, with small octagonal drum, above. 4-bay, 2-storey nave with Order to each storey. Round arched lst floor windows with springing band, that in West end taller with cornice rising in arch above it. 1-bay transepts with large, round blank arches in ends. Chancel of 1 pedimented bay with lower apse to East. All ends pedimented. Inside, segmental vault to nave.

The single storey, brick built church hall is attached to the church. The presbytery is a substantial brick built house.

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