The foundation stone of St John the Baptist Church was laid on 24th May 1875 and can still be seen today under the east window along with several coins of the day which rest nearby. The building committee was headed by the vicar Reverend William Bray.
The church design is in a Gothic 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. Upon the arches rest large octagonal capitals, 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 twelve apostles and the rest show leaves and flowers probably to reflect 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 with the organ being added in 1885. There was to be a spire but this was not built but, 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 and 1900. The William Bray windows were fitted into the south aisle in 1896. Then 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 and the marbles used are Cippolino and Verde Antico in the centre, Irish Rossa and Belgian Dove in the narrow bands also with white Italian.
Outside, the apexes of the different gables are crowned with foliated crosses of stone with steep pitched tiles roofs. The tower originally held a peel of 6 bells, cast by Taylor and Company of Loughborough and. Two more bells were added in 1941 and rang for the first time to celebrate the victory in the battle of Alemein in 1942. It was hoped that a four faced clock would adorn the new tower. However, funds were not sufficient and so we have a single face clock, dating from 1891, set into the south wall of the tower.
The main oak door was given by the Reverend William Bray, who alas died in 1879, just before the church was completed.
The pulpit, given by the Townsends, is of Caen stone, octagonal in shape, and stands in a central shaft. It was erected in memory of Samuel Wilberforce, late bishop of Winchester 1869-1875. and the carved stone displays many varieties of plants and fruits.
The font was given also by Mr and Mrs Townsend and the beautiful canopy was carved by Thomas and company of Winchester and given in 1905 by the Reverend A B Alexander in memory of his sister Elizabeth Buttemer.
Once the church was established many artefacts were given as memorials including 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 with medallions of symbolic figures for the four evangelists: St Matthew the man; St Mark the lion; St Luke the ox; and St John the eagle.
The typical lectern is again of brass and was given by the architect John Coulson in memory of his parents.
The choir stalls, beautifully carved in oak came from the Rev Alexander?s family in 1905 and carved under the direction of his daughter. The parishioners gave the Reredos in memory of Rev Alexander in 1906.
The chancel screen, again carved in oak was added around 1922. The doors reflect the emblem of the Diocese of Winchester prior to the creation of the Portsmouth Diocese in 1927. The organ was made by A J W Walker and Sons and was purchased in 1885 at a cost of £280.00. It has had several overhauls, the latest being in 2008, and is still giving excellent service.
A Lady Chapel was created in the north aisle in 1961 along with the ribbed oak doors to the organ chamber. This gift from Admiral Sir Desmond Dreyer again reflected the great naval history connected with this church. In the window of the chapel lies an Oberammergau carving of Christ on the cross with is mother keeping her vigil. The two prayer desks were later additions and made locally by Mr Hammond of Moorhill.
The Reverend Eric Staples made various changes to the interior during his incumbency (1954-1963). 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.
A choir vestry was created in 1974 by removing rows of pews from the south transept behind the choir stalls and by using plate glass to retain the best use of light. The pews at the rear transept were removed in 1996 and replaced with the chairs.
The Parish embroidery displayed on the north wall and was stitched by ladies of the Parish to celebrate the millennium.
Finally, the latest addition to the church is the Study Centre. It was a lifelong ambition of the Reverend Geoffrey Morrell who was not only vicar of this parish for 25 years but also the longest surviving kidney dialysis patient in the United Kingdom. It was designed by Terry E Roberts, built by a local company H H builders of Bishops Waltham, and dedicated by the Bishop of Portsmouth in September 2003.