Domus Dei

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Domus Dei
Domus Dei Oct 2007.jpg
LocationOld Portsmouth
Coordinates50°47′20″N 1°06′14″W / 50.788967°N 1.103943°W / 50.788967; -1.103943Coordinates: 50°47′20″N 1°06′14″W / 50.788967°N 1.103943°W / 50.788967; -1.103943
OS grid referenceSZ 63269 99205
Builtca 1212
Architectural style(s)Early English
OwnerEnglish Heritage
Listed Building – Grade II
Official name: Royal Garrison Church
Designated18 Mar 1999
Reference no.1245790
Domus Dei is located in Hampshire
Domus Dei
Location of Domus Dei in Hampshire
The interior of the church

Domus Dei (Hospital of Saint Nicholas and Saint John the Baptist) was an almshouse and hospice at Old Portsmouth, Hampshire, United Kingdom. It is now also known as the Royal Garrison Church and is an English Heritage property and a Grade II listed building.[1]


The hospice was established by Peter des Roches (sometimes wrongly named as de Rupibus), Bishop of Winchester in around 1212 A.D.[1]

In 1450 an unpopular advisor to the king, Bishop Adam Moleyns of Chichester was conducting a service at the chapel of Domus Dei when a number of naval seamen (resentful of being only partially paid and only provided with limited provisions) burst into the church, dragged out the bishop and murdered him.[2]

As a result of this the entire town of Portsmouth was placed under the Greater Excommunication, an interdict which lasted until 1508, removed at the request of Bishop Foxe of Winchester.[3]

In 1540, like many other chantry buildings, it was seized by King Henry VIII and until 1560 was used as an armoury. After 1560, a mansion built close by the south-side became the home of the local military governor. Throughout this time the chapel attached to the hospital remained in use. In 1662 the mansion hosted the wedding of King Charles II and Princess Catherine of Braganza.[4]

Towards the end of the seventeenth century it fell into disrepair until it was restored in 1767 to become the Garrison church. Once again, the Church fell into disrepair and in 1865 a new restoration project began under the direction of G. E. Street which lasted ten years.[4]

On 10 January 1941 the buildings of Domus Dei were partially destroyed in an attack by German bombers, when all the stained-glass windows were blown out and the nave was rendered roofless by incendiary bombs and a single high explosive bomb. New glazing was subsequently fitted. Apart from the East window with its traditional design, all the other windows show much of the British Army's relationship to the Church and the City of Portsmouth; the chancel is intact, but the nave remains roofless.[1]

Further reading[edit]

  • Henry Press Wright (1873). The Story of the 'Domus Dei' of Portsmouth: Commonly Called the Royal Garrison Church. James Parker and Co.


  1. ^ a b c Historic England. "Royal Garrison Church (1245790)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Beginning of the Wars of the Roses". The Orb. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  3. ^ Wright, H.P. (1873). "The story of the 'Domus Dei' of Portsmouth, commonly called The Royal Garrison church". James Parker & Co. p. 148.
  4. ^ a b Elliott, Julia (2005). Heritage Unlocked - Guide to free sites in London and the South East. London: English Heritage. pp. 72–73. ISBN 1 85074 881 0.

External links[edit]