The church’s foundation stone was laid on 24 May 1875, and can be seen today under the east window. Several coins of the day were buried nearby. The building committee was headed by the Vicar, the Revd William Bray.
The church is Gothic in style, with a nave, north and south aisles and a decorative and ornate chancel. Coloured bricks are used abundantly and the dressed Bath stone gives a warm and pleasing effect.
An arcade of four bays divides the nave from the south and north aisles. The piers carrying the arches forming the arcades are diagonal on plan and have detached columns of Bath stone running up the four angles. Large octagonal capitals rest on the arches, delicately carved and of the decorated naturalesque type.
The nave roof rests upon vaulting shafts supported by stone corbels. Of these corbels, twelve represent the heads of the apostles and the rest show leaves and flowers probably to reflect local benefactor Frederick Townsend’s love of botany, so prominent in other areas of the church. The aisle is laid with Staffordshire tiles. The internal woodwork is of pitch pine and the roofs are of timber, open and unvarnished. In the chancel they are panelled and topped at each intersection by carved bosses.
1884 saw the north transept completed for an organ chamber. The organ was added in 1885. The proposed spire was not built: instead in 1887, the funds for an alternative tower were given by Mrs Franklin of Shedfield Lodge, in memory of her husband. In 1895 it was decided that more room was needed and the north aisle was added. Various stained glass windows were fitted to windows in the south wall between 1885-1900. The William Bray windows were fitted into the south aisle in 1896, and in 1898 the large stained glass east window was fitted in memory of Admiral Sir Augustus Phillimore.
The chancel floor was laid with marble in 1903. Marbles used include white Italian, Cippolino and Verde Antico in the centre and Irish Rossa and Belgian Dove in the narrow bands.
Outside, the apexes of the different gables are crowned with foliated crosses of stone with steeply pitched tiled roofs. The tower originally held a peal of six bells, cast by Taylor & Co of Loughborough. Two additional bells were added in 1941 and rang for the first time in 1942 to celebrate victory in El Alamein in 1942. It was-face clock, was set into the south wall of the tower in 1891.
The west door is of oak and was given by the Revd William Bray, who died in 1879, just before the church was completed.
The octagonal pulpit, given by the Townsends of Shedfield Lodge, is of Caen stone, stands in a central shaft. It was in memory of Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Winchester (1869-1875). The carved stone displays many varieties of plants and fruits.
The Townsends also gave the font and its beautiful canopy was carved by Thomas & Co of Winchester and given in 1905 by the Revd A B Alexander in memory of his sister, Elizabeth Buttemer.
Once the church was established, many artefacts were given as memorials. These include the processional cross of cast and chased brass, given in memory of Lt Matthew Phillimore by his parents. It displays the crucified Christ in the centre, along with medallions symbolising the four evangelists.
The brass lectern was given by the church’s architect, John Coulson, in memory of his parents.
The beautifully-carved oak choir stalls were given by the Revd Alexander’s family in 1905, carved under the direction of his daughter. The parishioners gave the reredos in memory of the Revd Alexander in 1906.
The oak chancel screen, was added around 1922. The doors reflect the emblem of the Diocese of Winchester (the Diocese of Portsmouth was not created until 1927). The organ was made by A J W Walker & Sons and was purchased in 1885 at a cost of £280. It has had several overhauls, the latest being in 2008, and continues to give excellent service.
The Lady Chapel was created in the north aisle in 1961, along with the ribbed oak doors to the organ chamber. Both are the gift of Admiral Sir Desmond Dreyer.
During his incumbency (1954-63), the Revd Eric Staples made various changes to the church’s interior. The font was moved to the south aisle, (but subsequently restored to its current position), the chancel roof was repainted and the front pews were removed with Portland stone being laid between the pews and the chancel screen.
The choir vestry was created in 1974. Pews were removed from the south transept behind the choir stalls and plate glass was used to make the best use of light. The pews at the rear transept were removed in 1996 and replaced with the chairs.
The embroidery displayed on the north wall was created by members of the parish to celebrate the millennium.
The most recent addition to the church is the Study Centre, the inspiration of the Revd Geoffrey Morrell, not only vicar of this parish for 25 years, but also the longest surviving kidney dialysis patient in the UK. The Study Centre was designed by Terry E. Roberts, built by local company H H Builders of Bishop’s Waltham, and dedicated by the Bishop of Portsmouth in September 2003.