Church Buildings

The Ancient Priory Church of St Mary, Portchester. Hampshire


After our visit to Portchester Castle, we made our way over to the Ancient Priory Church of St Mary, situated in the far corner of the Roman enclosure.  

Built in the 1120s of Isle of Wight stone by Normans. It was given by Henry 1 to a small community of Augustinian or Austin canons/monks.   Their seats in the chancel with arched recesses may still be seen. The priory buildings that once stretched south to the Roman wall have completely disappeared. The canons moved some four miles away to Southwick for a more quiet life after some 20 years, but sent a canon until the Reformation in the 1530s to serve this parish.

The Norman west door is a wonderful example of Norman stonework with a variety of patterns.

The building is of outstanding simplicity, a nave with traditional Norman arches and rounded windows in the north and south wall.  

On the South wall is an Elizabethan plaque, dated 1577, the oldest of this type in the county and a note of the royal grant.  The flowing photos will take you on a tour of this interesting church.





St Magnus Cathedral – Kirkwall Orkney, Scotland

Iceland Cruise March 2018 – Continuing with our visit to Kirkwall, Orkney, we visited St Magnus Cathedral, where the door was open wide for all to enter.  Luckily there were only a few visitors, so I could take quite a few people free photos.  The building, to me, looks pink, a lovely rose pink, the stonework is a patched up here and there, but you are looking at a structure, that the earliest stages of building would have been in 1137.  Only fragments, of the building that was based on Durham Cathedral remain, the walls, ceiling and pillars would have would have originally been plastered and painted with colourful floral patterns.  

By 1152 the choir and three pillars of the nave had been built, by the mid 12th century the apse was also in existence at the east end of the Cathedral  behind the high alter.  Many years later a gasket containing the bones of St Magnus was discovered in this area. Over the years the Cathedral has been restored, with the white washed walls, which happen during the Reformation, removed, and the lovely warm red sandstone was then revealed. Stained glass windows, replaced formally plain ones.  But in the 1960’s it became clear the the whole building was in serious danger of subsiding.  Sinking foundations meant that the nave was gradually leaning westward and the gable was endanger of collapsing into the street.  An appeal committee raised £300,000 and in 1974 restoration works were carried out with metal support girders, which are concealed by the nave and clerestory and the building was saved.  More restoration work has since been carried out, and wherever possible the red sandstone is retained.

St Magnus is a building that requires lots of exploring, I really only had about 30 minutes, but I think I have caught some of that lovely red sandstone.  I loved the carved pew ends, they are not medieval, but come from one of the more recent restorations.  The headstones on the walls, are so interesting, they once covered burials in the nave.  The stones contain many reminders of death, skulls, crossbones and hourglasses.  I did miss a few things, so this post will have to suffice, until I can returned to photograph the rest.


The Italian Chapel, Lamb Holm, Orkney, Scotland

Iceland Cruise March 2018 – On my ‘want to do list ‘ was a visit to the Italian Chapel on Orkney, and guess what I got to see it, one of the coach trips included a tour… that was the one we went on, well husband got the whisky trip and I got the church.  I had always wanted to visit Orkney, as my great-grandfather was stationed there during WW1, teaching the Scottish ladies on how to make submarine nets.  He actually went to the Dardanelles and fitted them in place, but thats another story, maybe one day.  Well back to our visit, we travelled over a causeway to the small island of Lamb Holm and there, the only building left, is the beautiful Roman Catholic chapel which was constructed by Italian POWs during the Second World War.

In October 1939 a German submarine under the command of Gunther Prien entered Scapa Flow and sank the British battleship ‘Royal Oak’ with the loss of 834 lives. Winston Churchill, at that time First Sea Lord, visited Orkney and the decision was taken to construct barriers to close off four of the entrances to Scapa Flow to make the base for the home fleet more secure.  There was a shortage of manpower to build the barriers, so 550 Italian prisoners of war captured in North Africa, were transported to the Island of Lamb Holm to construction the barriers.

Following a request from the camp priest, Fr Giacobazzi, it was agreed that two Nissen huts would be joined together to provide a chapel. Among the Italians in Camp 60 was an artist, Domenico Chiocchetti, and he was given the task of transforming the two Nissen huts into a chapel. He was assisted by other tradesmen – in particular Giuseppe Palumbi a blacksmith, and Domenico Buttapasta a cement worker.  The chapel is the only building left of Camp 60.  I have added information boards at the bottom of the post.

For taking my photos of this beautiful chapel, I had to rush in before our coach party descended on the chapel, as it would then be impossible to take any people free photos.  My practice of taking photos in a very short time, came into full use and I got most of them, then just aimed for the ceiling.  For those few moments of just me, the chapel felt so serene.  

Chioccetti set to work on the painting of the interior of the sanctuary. The end result is a work of art that is magnificent, and must have been utterly stunning to those imprisoned here. Another prisoner, Giuseppe Palumbi, who had been a blacksmith in Italy before the war, spent four months constructing the wrought iron rood screen, which still complements the rest of the interior today.

Iceland Cruise 18 – An Afternoon In Reykjavik, Iceland

Today in Scotland the 8th May 2018, the weather was the same as yesterday, wet morning, nice afternoon, so better than rain all day.  Tomorrow we are going on an all day trip to find wildlife on the Isle of Mull, fingers cross the weather is kind to us.  But back to our Iceland cruise……. After our snow drive in the 4 x 4, we spent the afternoon in Iceland’s capital city Reykjavik, from the Icelandic rejkja meaning “smoky’ referring to the steam, from its many hot springs.  I did mention in my pervious post about people falling over, well I didn’t fall over, but I did go over on my ankle, and it hampered my walking powers, somewhat.  So I didn’t get to explore as much as I wanted to, but I did manage to get to the Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral, I was really looking forward to visiting this amazing building, only to be told on entering, it was closed all afternoon, due to a funeral…… oh well lets find somewhere to eat.  We did find a wonderful Icelandic restaurant and had the most amazing fish stew.  Afterwards, we did jumper shopping, and yes I did buy one, but I wasn’t allow to buy the polar bear…… so I took a photo.  I took a few more photos, then we caught the bus back to the ship, so I could rest my foot, as the next day, was an all day trip for exploring the ‘Golden Circle’

Iceland Cruise 11 – Bøur Village & Church, Island of Vágar, The Faroes

After visiting Gásadalur on the Island of Vágar, The Faroe Islands, we retraced our tracks back through the road tunnel, to a little village we had passed earlier.  Someone on the coach needed a pitstop, the driver said he would stop at Bøur and we could have 10 minutes……10 minutes was all I needed.  I had spied a lovely little church, but the coach had parked at the top of the village in the car park, and the church was at the far end of the village.  Halfway down the road, the surface became a sheet of ice, I was trying to take photos and stay upright at the same time.  I did, but I never made it to the church itself, the road was just too icy and I still had to get back up, what I had come down.  It was worth every slippery step, to get some close up shots of those grass roofs and that wonderful little church.  

Bøur is a beautiful little village, that could date from 1350, on the west-side of Vágar.  It has a magnificent view over the sea and the rocky islet Tindholmur with its many peaks.  The village has charming old wooden houses and a traditional church from 1865.  Once we were all counted back onto the coach, just incase anyone had decide to stay, we made our way to the airport, as the pitstop in the village had been closed, so we got to look at the airport as well.  So next post, the airport and a wonderful church.



St Wilfrid’s Catholic Church, City of York, Yorkshire

While visiting York last year 2017, I noticed a sign ‘Church Open’, well that’s enough for me to venture into to any church.  The church was St Wilfrid’s Catholic Church, known as the ‘The Mother Church of the City York’ and stands in the shadow of York Minster.  I didn’t get a clear photo of the exterior and I wasn’t too sure if a service was about to start or was finishing, so I just took a couple of quick shots.  What I did see, quite impressed me and reminded me of some of the churches I had seen in Venice and Florence, which is not surprising as its ‘Gothic Revival Style’ a copy of 13th–14th century style church.  The building was started in 1862 and finished in 1864.  There has been a church dictated to St Wilfrid since medieval times and the present church was built on the site of an old chapel.

Road Trip Home to the UK, from Interlaken, Switzerland

The last photos of the trip home to the UK, from our holiday in Interlaken, Switzerland, in 2016.  All the photos are taken from the car window, husband driving, not me.  I know its terrible, but I cannot remember any of the place names although there are a few places that I would like to go back and visit.  Although the church on the last photo, will have a post all go its own, after our holiday to Iceland.  So really just a visual road trip home, through Switzerland and France.