St George's Portsea moves into the future

Published: Friday, January 1, 2016

 

St George’s Portsea, Portsmouth, a Grade II* Listed building, is celebrating after the successful completion of its ambitious £167,000 project to repair serious water damage and install new facilities.

St George’s is a rare example of a church in the 18th New England Colonial style, reflecting Portsmouth’s links with the early American colonies. Built by 15 dockyard workers in 1753, it is still known as the shipwright’s church. St George’s has survived significant damage in its turbulent history. It was closed for ten years following severe bombing damage during the Second World War, and underwent significant restoration in the 1950s and 1970s.

However, St George’s position right on the waterfront means it is exposed to driving rain and heavy winds. This causes serious water damage, and, in 2012, the need for major work to secure the fabric of the building was identified.

The repair project

Supported by a National Churches Trust £10,000 Repair Grant, and funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the east elevation, roof, and bell cote are now watertight; doors and windows have been repaired; and new toilets and baby changing facilities have been installed. This latter project is a key part of St George’s focus on its role in the local community. The facilities were needed for it to remain a viable community space.

The unique maritime heritage of the church is also to be preserved, with the installation of a timeline of the history of the church, and a display of the tools used by the 15 original dockyard workers.

The future

The repair project has generated renewed local interest in the church, with new users already booking the refurbished premises. Local community groups have promised a donation of £5,000 for the next phase of the project, the refurbishment of two community halls and the installation of heating. The repair work has enabled the community to engage in what they still see as ‘their church’.

The Rev Belinda Davies, vicar of St George’s, said:

“We are taking the opportunity given to us by funding to open up access from the church to refurbished toilets, which will enhance not only the appearance of the church, but also the quality of experience for those who use it.

“We can see a physical change to the building and our plans coming to fruition.

“As an important building in this community, and with hopes of seeing the church being used by more people, I am confident we can rise to the challenge of continuing to improve the facilities.”

Dave Pearson, Parish Development Officer, expressed his thanks to the National Churches Trust for helping to fund the repairs, saying “the project might not have happened had not the grant from the National Churches Trust arrived when it did.”    

Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust, said “We are delighted that our support has made such a difference to St George’s. Our 2016 grants programme will help us to continue this work with many other churches around the UK.”

Support churches like St George’s

The National Churches Trust relies on the generosity of our supporters to fund our work and help rescue churches like St George’s.

Since January 2015, we have helped UK churches and chapels by providing funding to community and repair projects through Partnership and WREN grants totalling £2,158,941.

You can help us to continue saving churches by becoming a Friend, making a donation or leaving a legacy in your will. For more information, visit http://www.nationalchurchestrust.org/support-our-work.