The Cathedral Church of St Thomas of Canterbury
Portsmouth Cathedral has a unique and dramatic history reflecting its close association with the sea.
The very first chapel on this site was built on land gifted to the town in 1180 by Jean de Gisors, a wealthy Norman merchant and Lord of the Manor of Titchfield. It was dedicated to the "glorious honour of the martyr Thomas of Canterbury, one time Archbishop, on (my) land which is called Sudewede, the island of Portsea". In the 14th century, this chapel became a parish church and after several enhancements and extensions, the building was designated a cathedral in the early 20th century. Over the years it has undergone many physical transformations; the majority of which can be identified in a charming little wooden model which can be found just inside the South Entrance.
The most recent addition has been the grand façade of the West Entrance, completed in 1991.
The ornate doors were later installed in 1997. Designed by Professor Bryan Kneale they symbolise the Tree of Life. The two towers make a fitting frame for the nautical weathervane which sits atop the small dome (called a cupola).
To the rear of the building is the Garden of Remembrance. A small and peaceful planted courtyard for the contemplation of loved ones or simply a quiet space to sit.
Inside, the open space of the nave and quire, lends itself to art exhibitions and musical events; both choral and orchestral.
Visit the following locations to answer the questions and obtain the co-ordinates of the cache. Once inside the cathedral, GPS co-ords won't help you, so instructions are given (in conjunction with the following diagram) to get you from place to place. You will make a circuit of the interior in a clockwise direction, then finish your visit in the middle.
The co-ordinates above will take you to the South Entrance where you can see a further example of the marine connection in the glass design on the doors which were engraved by Tracey Sheppard and installed in 2013.
Enter the building here and turn to your left. Just inside the door you will see a distinctively coloured ship which was once used for a purpose other than being the decorative piece of artwork it is today. There are 4 numbers at roughly head-height. Make a note of the 2nd number. This is A.
Walk to the west wall and stop just after the corner. You will see a small font recessed into the wall. Just above the bowl, there is a metal rectangle with a design embossed on it. If the design is:
- a flower, then B = 2
- a cherub, then B = 3
- a ship, then B = 4
- a moon and star, then B = 5
- a cross, then B = 6
Walk to the next corner and look at the nautical memorial stone on the floor. Count the number of letters in the first word of the second line. This is C.
Turn right here and walk alongside the wall, in an easterly direction towards a stained glass window above a circular font (pictured below).
If you look inside the font, you will see a fish design surrounding a chi-rho monogram (an early Christian symbol which looks like a 'p' and an 'x' combined). How many fish can you see? This is D.
Walk through the gift shop towards the Lady Chapel in the north-east corner.
Before you reach the chapel itself, to your left you will see some stained glass windows, some of which depict important figures in the history of Portsmouth and of the Cathedral. Of the 9 individual windows in this section, how many have their main picture depicting a person? This is E.
Crossing to the southern wall of the chapel of St Thomas you will find yourself walking in front of the altar. On the Chapel's southern wall can be found the imposing monument to the 1st Duke of Buckingham.
Look at the monument. On the left hand side of the central urn you will see a seated knight with an item tucked under his arm and gauntlet. If the item is:
- a sword, then F = 0
- a gun, then F = 1
- a lance, then F = 2
- a shield, then F = 3
Walk in a westerly direction through the Navy Aisle, past the memorial to a member of the ship's company of the Mary Rose. Just beyond it on your right, on a pillar, you will find an unusual memorial depicting a ship in an oval, above a rectangular brass plaque, which actually opens out to reveal the names of those commemorated. You'll see the little latch at the bottom. The front 'page' has a total of 6 numbers on it. What is the 2nd number? This is G.
Lastly, make your way to the centre of the building where you will find the main font placed there in 1991 and pictured below. It is made from Purbeck stone and is based on a 9th century Greek font.
There is an inscription carved in to the outer rim. Look for a small carved cross shape which has a word either side of it. One of those words has 4 letters, how many letters does the word on the other side of the cross have? This is H.
The cache can be found at:
N 50° 4A.BCD W 001° 0E.FGH
For full information on how you can expand the Church Micro series by sadexploration please read the Place your own Church Micro page before you contact him at email@example.com.
See also the Church Micro Statistics and Home pages for further information about the series.
For cachers using public transport, there are 3 bus stops in the vicinity of the Cathedral. The one right outside is for local buses. For those coming from further afield, the First Group X4 bus stops in High Street on the pavement opposite (to the east) and in front of the hairdressers in Pembroke Road. The railway station is approximately half a mile away at The Hard, where you will also find the main bus station; the terminus for the Stagecoach 700 service.
There is plenty of on-street parking surrounding the Cathedral and if you stay less than 1 hour (check to avoid the Pay and Display sections) you can park for free. Make sure you check the notices carefully on the stretch of road you choose; High Street has 1 hour free parking on one side and 'Pay and Display' on the other.
Collecting the answers and finding the cache is likely to take an average cacher roughly 30-40 mins (hence the 2.5-star rating). This will take longer if you have to wait for a service to finish or you want to take your time discovering the interior. This includes walking to the final location.