Pear Tree Church

Pear Tree Church in the ocean city of Southampton is the oldest Anglican church in the world, being the first church built and consecrated after the Reformation.

About this church

The ancient parish of St Mary Extra, was separated from Southampton by 'the great river Itchen, where the passage is very broad and often dangerous.' Licence to build a chapel was granted on 23 February 1617, and the chapel was consecrated 17 September 1620. The form of service used has formed the basis of all consecration services used in the Church of England since.

A small church, now called Peartree Parish Church, was built as Jesus Chapel by Captain Richard Smith. The original church building was fairly small and probably did not take long to build. Inside the church today, over the small arch near the font is a small shield which was once on the outside of the building and is incised with the date 1618.

The chapel as as first built was '20½ ft broad by 50½ ft long, fitted with a wooden chancel screen, a Holy Table, a font, a pulpit, seats on the floor and gallery, and a bell’. It has been enlarged and repaired again and again, so only the west end of the original building remains. In 1821 it was repaired, the south transept, west porch and gallery being built; in 1847 a north aisle and vestry were added; in 1866 additions were made on the east side of the south transept, and in 1882 a new chancel with a south aisle was built. Of its old fittings only the altar table remains, the old pulpit is used up as wainscoting in the vestry. The old bell, which is said to have come from Netley Abbey but is of much later date, is not hung, and the bell cote contains its successor from 1870.

The church stands in a crowded little churchyard facing on to an open green, where the pear tree grew from which the church and area is named.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • National heritage here

Visitors information

  • Level access to the main areas
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike

Other nearby churches

HampshireSOUTHAMPTONHolyroodChurch(oasthousearchiveCC-BY-SA2.0)1

Holyrood Church

The Holyrood church was badly bombed in 1940 and its shell now remains as a memorial to the dead of the Merchant Navy.

Cornerstone URC

Cornerstone URC has a history dating back to 1797, the coffee bar is a welcoming area to meet and greet friends or just to enjoy a quiet space.

Become a Friend of the National Churches Trust, for people who love church buildings!