Building » Havant – St Joseph

Havant – St Joseph

West Street, Havant, Hants

A competent and relatively unaltered essay in fourteenth century Gothic, by the architect of Portsmouth Cathedral. It has an impressive interior, with carving by Farmer & Brindley, and good stained glass by Hardman and others. The exterior, with its contemporary presbytery, former school and boundary wall, forms an intact and original grouping. 

According to an account of 1915 by Sister Mary Maurus Corney, Mr John Bulbeck (her uncle) began a subscription to raise money for a new Catholic church in Havant in 1836. The ground for the church was given by Mr Joe West, a local resident. In the 1870s West Street, then known as Turnpike Road, was rural. Adjoining the site of the church was a farmyard and large barn, and cattle grazed behind the building after its completion in 1875.

St Joseph’s church, along with the adjoining presbytery and school, were built to plans by John Crawley of Bloomsbury, architect also of Sacred Heart, Fareham (1878) and Portsmouth Catholic Cathedral (1877-81). The builders were the local firm of Stallards, using Hampshire flint. The finished building was 78 ft long and 42 ft wide. In 1878 Waite’s History Gazetteer described St Joseph’s as follows:

‘…An elegant Gothic structure consisting of nave, chancel, aisles and south porch…built in 1875 at a cost of, including the erection of the school and presbytery, £3,000, raised by subscription, augmented with the proceeds of a sale of property here. The church, which will seat 300 persons, contains a magnificent altar and a fine organ’.

Other accounts describe the church, ‘parsonage’ and school costing approximately £3,400. As well as providing the land on which the church was built, Joe West donated the east window and built a wall around the cemetery.

The Hampshire Telegraph’s contemporary account of the opening of the church describes the altar as ‘one of the best, if not the best, we have seen in the district’. The altar, reredos and tabernacle, by Messrs. Farmer and Brindley of Westminster Bridge Road in London, cost £475 and were the gift of John Bulbeck; the original design was published in Building News of 30 September 1881. Farmer & Brindley (who worked extensively for Sir George Gilbert Scott) also supplied the ten corbel angels at the base of the roof of the nave. The four-light east window depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Joseph, St Clare and St Francis and can be attributed on stylistic grounds to Lavers, Barraud & Westlake; it dates from about 1873 and is in memory of Mary West. The window on the south side of the sanctuary, depicting St John the Evangelist and St Barbara, was added in 1883 and is by Hardman. Opposite this is a window of 1905 depicting St Elizabeth of Hungary and St Cecilia which looks like the work of Lavers & Westlake, given by a Miss Watkins. The church was consecrated in 1907.

In 1974-5 alterations were made to the church to accommodate the new liturgy. Plans were drawn up by Bartlett & Purnell of Buckingham Palace Road, London. Changes to the sanctuary are described by Houseley as ‘fairly extensive’, although alterations to the altar seem to have been minimal. They included incorporation of the panel from the original altar frontal, depicting the death of St Joseph, to form the frontal of the new forward altar. A new organ was installed as part of these works. At the same time, stained glass in the lower part of the nave was replaced with clear glass. In 2005 the church roof was restored.


St Joseph’s conforms to the standard plan for a smaller parish church as advocated by A.W.N. Pugin – nave and aisles, raised west bellcote, lower sanctuary. The exterior is faced in flint with stone bands and dressings to Decorated tracery windows. The roof is covered with slate, with alternating bands of lighter and darker colours. At the west end of the nave is a stone gabled bellcote containing one bell and surmounted by a stone cross. The main entrance to the church is via a single-storey, slate-roofed porch adjoining the southwest end of the nave.

The nave roof has a scissor truss roof, with the principals sitting on ashlar posts supported by carved corbels. Between these are the clerestory windows, containing clear glass. Moulded chamfered arcading supported on octagonal piers, aisle windows with Decorated tracery and small, square, leaded panes of clear glass. At the west end is a moulded and painted gallery. The nave pews had been moved in order to lay a new floor at the time of inspection; they are a simple, late nineteenth century or early twentieth century design. The west window, formerly with clear glass, has recently been replaced with a new stained glass window. Tall sanctuary arch with wall posts and corbels; hanging crucifix. The original high altar is of intricately carved stone and marble, in Gothic style. The sanctuary windows and altar are as described above.

Entry amended by AHP 23.12.2020

Heritage Details

Architect: John Crawley

Original Date: 1875

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed