New Website for St. Agatha’s, Portsmouth

The official website of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham tells the following story of the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth Group:

“This Group began at the outset of the Ordinariate provision, with a modest number of 17 Anglicans from Ryde, Isle of Wight, led by the former Vicar of Ryde (Jonathan Redvers Harris), together with 5 on the mainland.  They were all received into full communion with the Catholic Church, through the Ordinariate, at Easter 2011, and after Fr Jonathan’s ordination as a Catholic priest at the end of June 2011, a Sunday Ordinariate mass has been offered every week at St Mary’s Ryde, the Catholic parish which hosts the Ordinariate on the IOW.

Within a few months, a monthly Ordinariate mass was also begun on Saturdays at St Agatha’s, Landport (at that stage still being used by a congregation of the Traditional Anglican Communion). These gatherings in Portsmouth, together with visits to the Island by some of the mainland members, helped both to strengthen relations across the Solent and also to give the TAC people and clergy at St Agatha’s an opportunity to discern the way forward.   At Epiphany 2012, Robert Mercer, formerly the Anglican bishop of Matabeleland and afterwards a TAC bishop, was received into the Catholic Church at St Agatha’s where he had been worshipping in recent years.  This was followed by Fr Robert’s ordination to serve as a priest of the Ordinariate in March – by which time a group of 20 from St Agatha’s, including their clergy, John Maunder and Philip Penfold, had been preparing to join the Ordinariate.  They were received and confirmed in Holy Week, at St Agatha’s (no longer then a home for the TAC), along with one or two others from the Anglican tradition in a Catholic parish in Portsmouth.  Others, both on the mainland and on the Island, are also travelling with the Group, attending mass, and contemplating entering into full communion.

Group masses – details and contacts below – are now offered on a regular weekly basis on both sides of the waters.

Fr Jonathan Redvers Harris
T: 01983-567419
M: 07847-521717

Fr Robert Mercer CR
T: 01903 620772

Meeting at:
St Mary’s Catholic Church
High Street
Isle of Wight

Sunday:  Mass 9.15am

and St Agatha’s Portsmouth
Market Way

Sunday: Mass 11am
Saturday: Mass 11am”

St. Agatha’s now has a new website , and if I am not mistaken, St. Agatha’s must be the first Ordinariate church in the UK (Some Ordinariate priests are priests in charge of diocesan parishes, so that their Ordinariate groups have more or less a permanent home with the diocesans, but St. Agatha’s is exclusively Ordinariate).

It is great to note from the new site that it is planned to develop the church into a centre for Ordinariate campanology. Four bells having already been acquired and the remaining four of an octave are planned for – finance is the issue at the moment. So anyone looking for a worthy cause to donate to would do well to read this excerpt from the website:

“The St Agatha’s Ringing Centre


An appeal has been launched to provide a ring of 8 bells for St. Agatha’s Church in the heart of Portsmouth. This will establish the St. Agatha’s Ringing Centre, to promote the art of Church bellringing among the young people of the area. The bells will be rung regularly by the many ringers in the locality and from all over the country. How appropriate that St. Agatha is the patron saint of bellringing!

St. Agatha’s is sometimes called “The Cathedral of the Car Parks”. Standing virtually alone in what was an artisan area of Portsmouth, the church was the inspiration of the legendary Fr. Robert Dolling, champion of the poor, who was greatly loved and respected by all. Abandoned in 1954, it became a Naval Store for many years, and was restored for public use in 1994. St. Agatha’s now serves the community, not only as a church, but also as a concert hall and exhibition centre. The building is cared for by St. Agatha’s Trust, a registered charity that will also manage the appeal.

St. Agatha’s Trust has saved many fine artefacts no longer required by redundant churches and, with the help of the Keltek Trust, a registered charity that finds new homes for redundant bells, has now acquired 4 bells which will provide the 4 deepest notes of the octave. The money raised by the appeal will provide 4 new bells to complete the octave, hanging all 8 bells in a new bell frame and the fitting out of the Ringing Centre.

The largest bell weighs a little over 3 cwt. with a diameter of 25 ins. and together the bells will form the scale of F major. They will be hung to ring through 360º to allow ringing in the traditional English style.

There is considerable enthusiasm for this project in the bellringing community, as St. Agatha’s Ringing Centre with its new light ring of bells will provide an ideal venue for demonstrations and the teaching of new young recruits.

Opportunity for a lasting memorial


This bell will be the 6th bell of our ring. It was originally
in St. Nicholas’, Marton Moss, Blackpool (now demolished)

This project also provides the opportunity to allow the new bells to be cast with inscriptions on their waists.

Bells may be given as memorials to loved ones or to celebrate a happy occasion such as a wedding anniversary or simply marked as a gift. Bells may be given individually or donors may collaborate to share a bell.

We hope that one bell may be a memorial to those parishioners who lost their lives when the old parish of St. Agatha was destroyed by enemy action in 1940.

As well as appearing on the bells, the names of the donors and any dedications will appear on a plaque on the wall of the Church to celebrate this important installation.

There are bells in Hampshire that are still ringing regularly that were cast in the 14th. century. There is no reason why St. Agatha’s bells should not ring out over Portsmouth for many centuries to come.

Each of the new bells will cost £3,500 but, for those who do not wish to sponsor an entire bell, there are other ways to support the appeal. Individual frame members, costing £1,000, may be sponsored and may bear a plaque recording the donation. Gift aid envelopes are available by the visitors’ book and may be placed in the nearby donations box.

All contributions will be welcome, however large or small. All will be recognised on a plaque in the Ringing Centre.

The Tenor Bell will be the largest of St. Agatha’s new ring, and weighs just over 3 cwt. The bell has a diameter of roughly 25 ins. and, together with its sister bells, will form the scale of F major. The bell is now in the Church near the South Door.

The bell was originally part of a chime of 12 bells in Mount Zion Church, Quarriers Village, a small settlement in Kilmalcolm, Renfewshire, Scotland originally established as a 19th. century orphans’ home. It was cast by a Croydon based firm of well regarded bellfounders named Gillett and Johnston. Though they now operate as clockmakers, Gillett and Johnston cast bells from 1877 up until 1953. This particular bell was cast in 1946, and was donated to St. Agatha’s by the Keltek Trust, a charity that finds homes for redundant bells such as these.

    Mount Zion Church before its conversion to luxury apartments
    Ben and Dominic, two of St. Agatha’s young men, help to bring the bell inside the church.
    The tenor bell in St. Agatha’s
What next?
If you would like to know more about this exciting project please contact the Appeal Secretary:

Malcolm Powell
3 Poynings Place
PO1 2PB ”

This entry was posted in Ordinariate OLW, Traditional Anglican Communion. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to New Website for St. Agatha’s, Portsmouth

  1. I am a member of the Ordinariate at The church of Our Lady, Queen of Peace, Bournemouth. My father spoke greatly of Father Dolling. I visited St. Agatha’s on a visit to Portsmouth Cathedral on the acceptance of joining the Ordinariate. I hope to visit again in the very near future, as I have heard excellent reports of your liturgy. I would like to hear the bells too.
    Margareta Bower

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s