St Joseph's Church
ST JOSEPH'S CHURCH
QUEENS ROAD, ALDERSHOT GU11 3JB
St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church was built in 1912/13 by George Drysdale and is Grade II listed. It is a wedge-shaped plan, with a rounded (east) end at the junction of Queens Road with Edward Street. It features high flank walls pierced by a doorway on each street (at different levels) with windows above which provide clerestory lighting; a bell-turret is prominent by virtue of the ground falling to the east. Inside, the church is a basilica with an impressive character, richly textured and complete with original furnishings. Externally, everything is in brick-work, with upper levels of dark brindle, and the flank walling in brindle-banded red.
The Foundation stone was laid by the third Bishop of Portsmouth, Bishop William Cotter on St Joseph's Day (19th March) 1912 and opened by him for worship on 30th January 1913 when the first Mass was celebrated in the new church. Over 100 years later, the church is still serving Catholics across Aldershot.
The church was originally designed in line with the liturgical practice of the time, with a high altar at the liturgical east end of the church (almost against the wall) for ad orientem celebrations of the Holy Mass where the priest faced the same direction as the people - towards the east, leading the people in prayer towards God, as was the practise for hundreds of years, rather than facing them as is popular modern practise, following the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
The photograph shows the Pontifical Mass for the opening of the church on 30th January 1913, celebrated by Bishop William Timothy Cotter, third Bishop of Portsmouth (1910-1940)
It was to be nearly 70 years after the opening of the church in 1913 before the church was consecrated in 1982.
In line with the revisions following the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, the church was modernised (or re-ordered) in the 1970s. The original altar was destroyed and replaced by a new permanent altar further away from the east wall so that Holy Mass could be celebrated versus populum (facing the people) as became the popular norm in line with those liturgical revisions. The re-ordered church was consecrated on 22nd September 1982 by the sixth Bishop of Portsmouth, the Right Reverend Anthony Emery. The Parish Priest at the time was Fr Nicholas France (now Monsignor Nicholas France MBE). The church has changed little since then, apart from the addition of the various paintings along the north and south arcades of the church which are the work of local artist Robert Senior. The picture shows how the church looked at Christmas 2023.