Saturday, 20 August 2011
St Thomas' Church, Portsmouth
Looking for old cards with trees, I found plenty of views but none had much of a story to tell until I came across this one showing St. Thomas' Church in Portsmouth on the south coast of England. The card dates from somewhere between 1902 and 1909 because it allows "for INLAND communication" only. that regulation applied in the UK from 1902 but not in the rest of the world for a few years, France followed in 1904, Germany in 1905, with 1907 for the USA.
I didn't recognise the church at all and assumed that it had been destroyed, like so much of Portsmouth, during World War II. A little investigation made me realise that I had missed an opportunity to visit it because it is now, greatly extended, Portsmouth Cathedral.
The original church dates all the way back to the early 12th century and was dedicated to Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury assassinated by Henry II in Canterbury Cathedral. It was attacked by the French in 1337; it was closed for a time when the whole town of Portsmouth was excommunicated after the Bishop of Chichester was murdered in Portsmouth; it was damaged by cannon fire during the Civil War 1642–1651. The cupola on top was added in 1702.
It wasn't until 1927 that the church was chosen to be the cathedral for the newly created diocese of Portsmouth. It obviously had to be enlarged but the work was suspended at the outbreak of war in 1939.
It survived the Blitz but the building works remained incomplete until 1991.
I used to live in Hampshire and while there I did take this photo of the cathedral. It's very different now, as you can see, but I like to think the large tree on the right could possibly be at least related to the one shown on the card.
Apparently Ronald Reagan once said, "A tree's a tree. How many more do you want to look at?". You can find out how many more there may be at Sepia Saturday.