Sunday, 12 May 2019

St Michael the Archangel, Southampton

Founded around 1070, shortly after the Norman Conquest, St Michael's is the oldest building in Southampton and the only church in the area of the original mediaeval town which is still in use.

Of the original Norman church, only the lower part of the central tower survives. Originally cruciform, later additions have resulted in its present rectangular floor-plan. The church was expanded in the 12th century with the addition of aisles, and the rebuilding of the chancel. North and south chapels were added in the 13th century. Both aisles and chapels were widened in the 14th-15th centuries. A major rebuilding of the nave and aisles in 1828-9 was undertaken to insert galleries: since removed, all that remains are the delicate arcades and plaster ceiling. The tower spire was erected in the 15th Century and rebuilt in 1732, then further heightened in 1887 to make it a better landmark for shipping.

The interior contains the impressive the tomb of Sir Richard Lyster, Lord Chief Justice to Henry VIII, and a font of Tournai marble from the late 12th Century decorated with three roundels on each side, one of which supposedly depicts St Michael the Archangel; the others depict creatures that might be Griffins or winged lions. The church also contains two rare mediaeval brass eagle lecterns from the 15th Century, the finer of which was rescued from the bombed ruins of Holy Rood church in the Second World War. The East window has depictions of the original five churches from the town.

The church has a busy parish life, with worship in a traditional style (some services with incense) with a sung Eucharist.
St Michael the Archangel, 55 Bugle Street, Southampton SO14 2AG

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