About our church
The church is in the centre of the small, beautiful and historic Hampshire village of Southwick. It sits in the valley North of Portsdown Hill that overlooks the City of Portsmouth with its long and proud connections with the Royal Navy.
It is unique in several ways not least that, in spite of its country location, two services (at 08.30 & 10.45) are held each Sunday in the Church. The early service follows the ‘Book of Common Prayer’ order whilst the later one follows the ‘Common Worship’ format and this is followed by coffee. Children of any age are very welcome – the chaplain is very able and happy to talk a little louder if necessary! Books and toys are available in the church and the vestry is available for anxious parents or nursing Mums to use if necessary. Unfortunately there are no toilet facilities but the ones in the ‘D’ Day Memorial Hall, a short distance away, can be a life saver.
The church is open from 09.00 to 17.00 each day and visitors come from all over the world. Many comment on the feeling of peace they experience as they enter and those of us who regularly worship there know what they mean.
If you are able to join us you will be sure of a warm welcome – rarely do visitors manage to get out of the church without someone talking to them unless they make a determined dash for the door.
The history of the village and its church is long and fascinating. A Priory, founded by Henry I at Portchester in 1133, was re-established at SOUTHWICK during the period 1145-53, but the church of St. James, the Parish Church, was probably in existence before the Priory was built and maybe before the Norman Conquest. The Church was restored in 1566 by JOHN WHYTE and clearly much work has been done since then and, in recent years, by the present Squire, Robin Thistlethwaite. The Parish is unique in being a ‘Peculiar’ (one of only two left in the country). The Rev. Bob Green (the Chaplain) was not appointed by the bishop but by the Squire who is officially the ‘Lay Prior, Ordinary, Patron and Rector of the Peculiar and Parish of Southwick’.
The ‘D’ Day landings were planned in Southwick House commandeered for the purpose from the Squire at the time. After the war the navy stayed in residence as HMS Dryad which was used for training in navigation, aircraft direction and general maritime warfare. For the past five years ‘Southwick Park’ (as it is now named) has been the joint service training school for military policemen and women.
Note. A much fuller account of the church and its history is available on visiting