Holy Rood Church, Southampton, Hampshire

Holy Rood Church in Southampton is a reminder of the devastation wreaked by the Luftwaffe in 1940 but it's also a memorial with links to the city of Belfast

The church of Holy Rood in Southampton has stood on its present site since 1320. Now, left ruined by the Luftwaffe, it’s a place to come to quietly remember the destruction of World War Two and to honour the lives of those who gave their all on the seas.

Holy Rood Clocktower

The south-west clocktower of Holy Rood Church in Southampton is one of the standing remains that now makes up part of the listed monument. Photo taken on 4th June 2014.

Southampton – A City Bombed

Like Belfast in April and May 1941, Southampton suffered devastating Nazi Luftwaffe blitz raids. On 30th November 1940, German bombers dropped 9,000 incendiaries and 800 high explosive devices. Explosions tore the city centre apart.

Ruins of Holy Rood

The ruined walls and tower of Southampton’s Holy Rood Church remind visitors of the destruction caused by Luftwaffe bombers in November 1940. Photo taken on 4th June 2014.

The Luftwaffe struck twice within a week. Two hundred and fourteen people lost their lives and over 500 properties were completely destroyed. Holy Rood Church was one such building. While the nearby church of Saint Michael stood unscathed, Holy Rood became a smoking ruin.

The church of Holyrood erected on this site in 1320 was damaged by enemy action on 30 Nov 1940. Known for centuries as the church of the sailors the ruins have been preserved by the people of Southampton as a memorial and garden of rest, dedicated to those who served in the Merchant Navy and lost their lives at sea.

Merchant Navy Memorial – Holy Rood Church, Southampton

Holy Rood Church Memorial

The ruins of Holy Rood Church in the old centre of Southampton are a permanent memorial to the men and women of the Merchant Navy who lost their lives in the Second World War. Photo taken on 4th June 2014.

In 1957, the ruins and rubble of the old church were restored and scheduled as an ancient monument. The south-west tower, eastern chancel and a section of north facing wall are all that remain. The monument now stands as a reminder not only of the blitz but as a lasting memorial to the men and women of the Merchant Navy.

Memorial plaque at Holy Rood Church

The remaining ruins of Holy Rood Church serve as a reminder of the Southampton blitz of 1940 but also a memorial to members of the Merchant Navy who left from the port city. Photo taken on 4th June 2014.

Holy Rood’s Titanic Memorial

The bonds between Belfast and Southampton exist beyond the scope of the Second World War. On 2nd April 1912, the infamous liner RMS Titanic left the Harland and Wolff shipyards bound for the English port. It was from Southampton, she would begin her ill-fated maiden voyage.

Holy Rood Titanic Memorial

Southampton and Belfast were united in grief in 1912 with the sinking of RMS Titanic. This memorial stands in the ruins of Holy Rood Church. Photo taken on 4th June 2014.

This one moment in history solidified the relationship between the two proud maritime cities. Belfast’s City Hall boasts a new Titanic memorial garden in memory of 1,500 lives lost. Holy Rood Church in Southampton houses a memorial fountain. The fountain first stood on Cemetery Road on Southampton Common where it remained from 1912 until its removal to the current site.

Holy Rood Arches

The arches of the eastern chancel of Holy Rood Church in Southampton are one of the few parts of the medieval building to survive the Luftwaffe blitz of 1940. Photo taken on 4th June 2014.

It now stands alongside the other memorials and ruins of Holy Rood; a stark reminder of the often tragic history shared by Belfast and Southampton.

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