Although the original
grant of land was made by King Egbert in A.D. 826 and a
church was undoubtedly founded here shortly after there
are virtually no records of this early period. The entire
building was largely rebuilt in the 13th century and all
that remains of earlier work are traces, including the
window, in the west wall. Some authorities claim this to
be the most complete example of a 13th century church to
be found in the Isle of Wight. By tradition and practice
the north Transept became associated with Swainston and
the south with Westover.
Eventually, in the 15th century, the south Transept was
rebuilt and enlarged. It was probably at this lime that
an altar tomb, situated in the south aisle, was
dismantled and the brass placed on the floor. Late, In
1683, when the tower was fire damaged and fell. the brass
was badly damaged, and brass rubbers still suffer the
effects of the damage to this day. The Tomb was a false
one. said to be one of thirteen, which the Earl of
Salisbury. William Montacute's father, had erected in
memory of his son. Tradition has it that William was
killed by his father in a jousting tournament at Windsor
The north Transept was rebuilt in the 19th century
together with the burial vault underneath and also the
Two scratch dials, the only means of liming the services
in the early days, are to be seen on the Priest's Doorway
in the south side of the Chancel. The left hand one is
supposed to mislead the devil whilst the other gives the
correct time. The dials are much weathered but still
possible lo discern.
Inside, starling from the Sanctuary, there is a fine
carved replica of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Last Supper'
mounted as a Reredos. This fine work is early 19lh
century. The colourful tiles at either side were probably
put in at the same lime. The taste (or otherwise) of
these has been controversial ever since - hence the
lovely blue curtains.
Also in the Sanctuary is an unusual brass in memory of
Daniel Evance, the Cromwellian Minister. It may not be
rubbed as, duetto its thinness, it would be quickly
destroyed. There is a black and white replica of it in
The 13th century windows in the Chancel and south
Transept are described as splayed lancet with trefoil
piercing in the Chancel and qualrefoil piercing in the
south Transept. They illustrate an interesting
development in window tracery.
There are some interesting sculptures at the top of the
north and south Chancel walls. These six pieces show four
faces. Traditionally two would be of the reigning King
and Queen whilst the other two are probably of craftsmen
of the time.
The Pulpit is a product of the 19lh century restoration.
The marble columns, as those In the reredos. are supposed
to be from the Montacute mock tomb which was in the south
The Font is described by some authorities as early
English and by others as late transitional Norman. It
would seem certain that it was originally square and made
octagonal at some later date, thereby spoiling its
The socketed round stone to be seen at the end of the
pews near the west door are
remains of a choir and organ gallery at the west end.
Access was gained via the tower
first floor and the doorway still to be seen. The squint
was to allow the (Westover)
congregation in the south transcept to hear organ and
choir more clearly. The gallery
was removed as the result of a Vestry Meeting resolution
made 2nd November 1892. John Vicars was the Chairman.
The same meeting voted that the brass of the Knight on
the floor of the aisle of the
south Transcept "be removed as nearly as possible to
its original position near the east wall of the south
aisle." This brass was on the mock tomb previously
There are also some small 17lh century memorial brasses
on the south wall of the Chancel. The most westerly ones
commemorate Arthur Price, Rector of the Parish for 22
years, who died in 1638. They were erected by his wife.
Jane. The small memorial near the Priest's door Is to
Elizabeth of unknown family.
The tower, also 13th century, was destroyed in its upper
parts in 1683. It was eventually rebuilt in 1752 - a
tablet on the outside west wall commemorates this. It
says, "I am risen from ye ruins of near 70 years. T.Hollis
and J. Carford. Churchwardens." The tower supports
one bell which is dated 1793.
Victorian prints of the church show the tower surmounted
by a stubby spire, typical of other West Wight churches.
The tower now has a flat leaded roof and a brass cock
weather vane. The vane. removed during the last war
because it reflected moonlight and might guide enemy
bombers, was replaced immediately after the war.
The church plate is of little consequence except for a 17th
century Chalice which is now held by the Carisbrooke
Museum. There is also a coffin or joint stool which has
been dated 1600. Unfortunately, it has been amateurishly
The church also owns a pretty, trellised patterned chair
by Hepplewhite. It was probably brought to the church
from Swainston for some special occasion. Its companions
were probably destroyed by the firebomb which hit
Swainston in 1940. Again, unfortunately, the chair is
badly affected by woodworm. One other relic of interest
is the Parish Bier which now rests in the tower. It is
one of only three remaining on the Island.