St Mary’s Church in Southampton is more of a mini cathedral in scope, and is the largest church in the City. I lived quite close to the building but could never find an opportunity to go into it.
The current building is the 6th iteration of the church on this site, the 5th being destroyed during the attacks on the city on 20 November 1940. Holy Rood Church was also destroyed in the bombing. Restoration of the bells was completed by 1948, and the new church was consecrated in June 1956. I did find an image of the church from 1916, but it really shows the spire and chuchyard and not much detail.
My perseverance paid off though because one Sunday afternoon, on my way back from the harbour I made a slight detour and the doors were open and the organ playing, it was a perfect opportunity and just what I wanted.
It was light and airy inside and as big inside as it seemed outside. This was also the church of a maritime city so there was a slight leaning towards the sea and sailors, and there is a seafarers chapel in the church with a wonderful stained glass window.
The relative “newness” of the building does not ruin it’s lines and it is a very pretty church inside, although it does lack the many wall memorials that you would find in a much older church.
The truth is I did have a slight ulterior motive for wanting to visit the church because it also houses a Titanic Memorial in the form of the Titanic Musician’s Plaque
Then it was time to start leaving, I had really enjoyed my visit because I had managed to see what was one of the more iconic buildings in Southampton. There is even a song about the bells which was composed A. Emmett Adams and Douglas Furber who were inspired to write “The Bells of St. Mary’s“, later made famous by Bing Crosby in the film of the same name. Naturally one of my questions is: where is the churchyard?
In my meanderings through the grounds I saw no evidence of the churchyard, although it is is probable that the whole area around the church was covered in graves at some point. Given how the church was destroyed in the Blitz I am sure that the same is true of the churchyard. I do not know whether the graves are still under the grass, they probably are.
And the War Memorial? There actually was a small Roll of Honour inside the church building, but I did not see a major memorial inside or outside of the building.
St Mary’s is a survivor, the many iterations that came before it prove that the church is a part of the fabric of the city. No wonder that the football team is called “The Saint’s”. But that is another story altogether.
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