The Nave


Move first to the crossing at the back of the church underneath the organ loft. You can see the nave and sanctuary looking east. There are five bays in the nave with thick, short pillars with heavy caps supporting segmental arches. The corbel figureheads that support the roof and walls show the traditional supporters of the church; kings, princes, bishops, abbots, nuns etc, with the angels above bearing scrolls with the beatitudes written in Latin and given by Christ at the Sermon on the Mount. ("Blessed are the poor, the humble, those who mourn etc"). This is a reminder to those who raise their eyes up to Heaven; they will see the angels reminding them of the conditions necessary for entry into God's holy Kingdom. High above the chancel arch was a mural by Philip M. Westlake depicting Our Lord in Majesty with Our Lady and St. John the Baptist on either side and surrounded by angels. Regrettably this has been lost over the passage of time. Older parishioners will remember the stencil work that used to adorn the pillars, together with the words of the "Pater noster", "Ave Maria", "Gloria" and "Credo". Unfortunately these have also been lost. Behind you the new glass doors were installed to celebrate the recent millennium. To your left is a brass plate memorial to the Hamilton family, past parishioners and benefactors of the church. The brass sconces and consecration candles around the walls commemorate the dedication and consecration of the church by Bp. Thomas Grant of Southwark on 21st May, 1863; apart from Winchester, the earliest church in the Portsmouth Diocese to be consecrated. These candles are lit each year on the anniversary of the consecration. The trap door in the centre aisle leads down to the crypt and was used to assist with the evacuation of the faithful during the war in the event of an air raid. The congregation would have the option of taking their chance by staying in the church or evacuating down into the crypt. Whilst older members of the congregation preferred to remain, it was a novelty for the children to descend the stairs through the trap door down to the crypt.


The Baptistery


Move towards the Baptistery in the south west corner. This is the original font on an octagonal base and carved from white Yorkshire stone with an oak cover and cross. When the north aisle of the church was extended in 1880 the font was moved to the north west corner of the Church, near the door, in order to emphasise the early Christian tradition of the necessity of Baptism to enter God's holy House. Fr. Dunne moved it back to the south west corner during restoration work in 1992. Baptism is the first Sacrament of the Church, by which we are cleansed of original sin and become members of God's Holy Church. The holy oils used for Baptism are kept in the ambry (safe) in the corner of the Baptistery and the Baptismal water is blessed each year at Easter. The Baptistery is now surrounded by the original carved oak altar rails that once separated the nave from the sanctuary, and where the faithful knelt to receive Communion. The stained glass window behind depicts the Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan by his cousin and prophet, John the Baptist, son of Zecharia and Elizabeth. The dove in the upper window is the symbol of the Holy Spirit who comes to us through this Sacrament of the Church, and the triangle with its three sides, reminds us of the Blessed Trinity; three Persons in one God; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


The South Aisle


Along from the Baptistery is the statue of St. Theresa of Lisieux (1873-97) known as the "Little Flower". She was a French Carmelite nun of great spirituality who was canonized in 1925. Her statue also reminds us of the Carmelite Convent that used to be in Star Street until 1915. Move towards the Lady Chapel. You will notice some fine Victorian stain glass windows - St. Raphael the Archangel (patron of young people, marriage, healing and travel.) We therefore look to St. Raphael as a typical guardian angel; in this Old Testament story, he is guiding the child, Tobias. The position of this window symbolises that having been baptised, we still need the guidance of the angels to grow in the likeness of Christ.


St. Wilfrid, Benedictine monk, Archbishop of York and Patron of the Isle of Wight is depicted in the next window. He introduced Roman customs to the Christian Church in the north (not without opposition) and was frequently involved in litigation against the civil and ecclesiastical authorities, which resulted in several journeys to Rome for a papal review. As he returned from one of these journeys, he had a dream in which St. Michael the Archangel asked him to take the Christian message to the Isle of Wight. In the lower section of this window he is landing on the Island in A.D. 687 asking permission from the local king, Caedwalla, to preach Christianity. The scene is the Undercliff and the Needles rocks and Freshwater Bay can be seen in the background. The Latin inscription translated, recalls the words of St. Wilfrid to Caedwalla, "You have conquered with the sword; now in God's name, let us make an assault on the Island armed with the gospels".


The next windows are those of the Dominican nun, St. Rose of Lima (first American saint); St John the Apostle (patron of the Cathedral) with the eagle and a pen symbolising his work as an evangelist; and finally the Assumption of Mary. This window is based on the painting by the famous Spanish Baroque painter from Seville, Bartholome Murillo (1618-82) showing Mary rising up through the clouds, with the moon at her feet, clouds and stars behind her and the angels holding the crown of the Queen of Heaven. All these windows were designed and installed in 1880 by Nathaniel and Philip Westlake of London. There is an interesting marble and alabaster portrayal of Christ's Resurrection carved into the wall with Sts. Edmund and George standing either side of the tomb. This was a gift from Edmund and Georgina Randolph, generous benefactors and past parishioners. Today it is often referred to as the 15th Station of the Cross. The beautiful mosaic floor with the symbol of the sun, leaves, rose and the "fleur-de-lis" (lily flower) reminds us of the virtues of Mary. The "fleur-de-lis" is evident in various parts of the Church and the three leaves from the one lily stem also remind us of the Blessed Trinity; three persons in one God.


The statue of St. Joseph beside the Lady Chapel shows him holding a lily, a sign of purity. St. Joseph, the husband of Mary, foster father of Jesus and patron saint of a happy death, was declared patron of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX in 1870 and the patron saint of workers by Pius XII in 1955.


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