Situated in St Michael's Square, the church is the oldest in central Southampton, dating from 1066-1076, the time of the Norman invasion or soon after. Some of its surviving fabric dates from the 12th century. In the medieval period it served the French inhabitants of the town, situated, as it was, in the French quarter. It was originally a three-gabled church (image 1), but its appearance changed dramatically during a major reconstruction in 1826-28, when the walls were raised and the present flat roof built (image 2). The flat buttresses on the west wall were originally at the angles of the medieval un-aisled church, and are therefore before the late 12th century. The west door is 15th century and is flat arched in a square frame. The fine east window is originally from the 15th century, but was reconstructed in 1872, replacing the original five-light window. The two aisle windows are of the late 14th century. The stained glass was blown out by a bomb blast in the Blitz. The church is Grade I listed.

The traditional parish covered the south-west quadrant of the walled town south of the castle but excluding St. John's parish. It is now the only surviving Anglican church in the walled town - apart from Holy Rood ruins - and administers a cumulated parish.

The black marble Tournai font (image 4), one of a number in Hampshire churches, dates from the late 12th century.

The original vicarage, The Glebe House, was at 55 St Michael's Street, but by 1870 when the Rev Francis Maundy Gregory became the minister the building was derelict, and as a result the church bought 9 Portland Place as the minister's residence. The living at this time was worth £150 a year. The Glebe House was repaired and returned to use as the vicarage from 1886, though the Rev Gregory's widow was allowed to live there after his death and into the 1900s.

1. St Michael's Church

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St Michael’s Church‘s. Church A drawing, probably of the late 18th century, showing the church before the reconstruction of the 1820s. It is the only depiction showing the church as a three gabled structure, ( the third gable is hidden behind the tree on the left).

2. St Michael's Church

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St Michael’s Church‘s Church T. H. Skelton’s engraving of c1835, showing the church after the 1826-28

3. St Michael's Church

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St Michael’s Church‘s Church. A Modern photograph of the church, c2000.

4. Black Marble Tournai Font

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Engraved by J Craig from a drawing by S Frost, 1809

See also:

Further reading:

History of St Michael’s Church, by Doris Cotton. (HS/j)
Story of St Michael’s Church, by K. W. H. Felstead. (HS/j)
St Michael’s Church, Southampton: Its History and Architecture. (HS/j)
Buildings of England: Hampshire and the I.O.W., by Nikolaus Pevsner and David Lloyd, p521-524. (H/i)
Southampton’s Historic Buildings, by R. J. Coles, p7. (HS/k)
History of Southampton, by Rev. J. S. Davies, p382-394. (HS/h)


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