THE GARRISON CHURCH
The Domus Dei, or Royal Garrison Church, has a curious history. It was founded in 1212 by the Bishop of Winchester as a hospice - offering
accommodation to travellers and pilgrims as well as to the sick and the elderly. It was dedicated to St John the Baptist and St Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors.
In 1450, the Bishop of Chichester, Adam Moleyns, was murdered near the Domus Dei. He had been sent by the King to pay some of the soldiers and sailors. However, the amount did not
equal what the men were owed so they killed the Bishop. For this crime the whole town was excommunicated and remained under an interdict for fifty years.
The Domus Dei was closed when the monasteries were dissolved in 1540. After a brief spell as an armoury, part of it became the residence of the military Governors of Portsmouth.
As such it was used for the marriage of Charles II to Catherine go Braganza, the Infanta of Portugal, on 21st May 1622. Catherine brought Tangier and Bombay to the King as part of her dowry and this
was the beginning of the British interest in India.
In 1827 the Governor’s House was demolished except for the infirmary hall and the chapel which became the Royal Garrison Church. It was diligently restored in the 1860s by the
eminent Victorian architect, G.E. Street, but was badly damaged during the Second World War. The chancel largely dates from the thirteenth century, the roofless nave is nineteenth century. It is
owned by the Department of the Environment and is open to the public, but it is still a consecrated church.
Private cremations had been taking place sporadically since the 1880s. In 1902 the Cremation Act came into force, extending the rights of burial
authorities to allow them to establish crematoria from 1st April, 1903. No crematorium could be closer than 50 yards to any public highway, or within 200 yards of any dwelling house without the
written consent of the owner. Private cremation on an open-air pyre was subject to a penalty of up to £50.
ISLE OF WIGHT RECORD OFFICE DELAYED
The Isle of Wight Council has delayed plans to build a new £4 million record office because of budgetary pressures. The council had been discussing
plans for a new facility at Westridge with the National Archives. But in March it rejected the proposals, because of the need to make savings worth £4.5 million in its 2020/2021 budget. Instead, the
council will maintain and improve the existing record office in Newport.
THE 1939 REGISTER
Many websites covering this period feature memories and oral histories, but when it comes to hard evidence, the 1939 Register is the nearest we have
to a census. It records the 40 million-plus people alive in England and Wales on 29th September, 1939, just weeks after Operation Pied Piper began. The register reveals more about your ancestors’
war-time experience than just a census. It includes Home Front roles such as the ARP Warden, special constable or St John’s Ambulance volunteer. The register is available on Findmypast at
Almost 1,700 new burial plots could be created at Hound Cemetery in Netley Abbey. The proposal is to convert a disused field behind St Mary the Virgin
Street in Hound Road.
More than four billion digital record images are now searchable by place on familysearch.org. The world’s largest free family history website holds
billions of historic images, but about eighty per cent, have not been searchable by name. However, members can now type the name of a city, county, state or country into a new Explore Historical
Images tool at familysearch.org/records/images and view collections of browsable records.
Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie was born on 15th September, 1890 at Ashfield, Torquay, Devon. She was to become the best-selling novelist of all time,
and the writer of the longest-running play, The Mousetrap.
Frederick Henry Royce, co-founder of the Manchester firm FH Royce and Co. married Minnie Grace Punt at St Andrew’s Church, Willesden, Middlesex on
16th March 1893. The company produced its first car in 1904, and the spin-off Rolls-Royce was born two years later.