John Pounds Church is the home of Portsmouth Unitarians. There has been a place of worship on this site in Old Portsmouth’s High Street since 1662 when a Presbyterian chapel was opened by a clergyman who fell out of grace with St Thomas’s Church (now Portsmouth Cathedral). High Street Presbyterian Chapel became united with St Thomas’s Street Baptist Chapel founded in 1640. By the early 19th century the chapel had fallen into disrepair and was acquired for Unitarian worship.
John Pounds, the famous Portsmouth cobbler whose efforts to offer education, food, and clothing to poor children from his tiny workshop (see page “Who was John Pounds?”), worshipped in the High Street Chapel and his remains are buried in the churchyard. Both chapels were destroyed by enemy action in one of the most devastating raids on Portsmouth during WWII; the night of 10th/11th January 1941 when 300 raiders dropped 25,000 incendiary bombs on the city.
The foundation stone of the new John Pounds Church was laid by Adrian Cedric Boult on 24th September 1955 and the building was opened for worship a year later. There is also in the churchyard a replica of John Pounds’ workshop, erected due the original having similarly been destroyed in the raids.