Following the Napoleonic wars, there was a massive increase in the population of St Peter Port; the suburbs gradually crept up the hills surrounding the medieval town, clustered around the Town Church.
By the middle of the 19th century, the number of free seats in the Town Church had become totally inadequate, and there was an urgent need for another Anglican Church. It was agreed that a Chapel of Ease should be built to serve the western part of the Parish.
An appeal was launched in 1860 by the Dean and Rector of St Peter Port. In 1862 the foundation stone was laid and St Stephen’s was opened for worship on 6th January 1865, the Feast of the Epiphany. The church was not consecrated until 28th July 1866, when the Bishop of Mauritius visited the island. St Stephen’s became a Parish Church under an Order in Council dated 31st December 1884.
The architect, George Frederick Bodley, a pupil of Sir George Gilbert Scott, designed the building in the Early English Gothic Revival style, with tall arches and long, narrow windows. Built with local pink and blue granite, the church has pillars and arches made of Caen stone.
In 1920, the Rood was added in memory of Fr Lowe, the first Vicar. During the next twenty years, many alterations were made, including the building of the organ loft and the creation of the Chapel of the Resurrection.
The second World War and the Occupation of Guernsey brought further development to a halt for several years.
In 1953, the only external Calvary in the Island was erected, and alterations were made to the Chapel of the Incarnation, now known as the Lady Chapel.
A striking feature of St Stephen’s is the abundance of light which flows through its windows. Most are filled with stained glass, much of which is the early work of William Morris.