Probably the best
architectural view of this ancient Fane's interior is got
by standing at the back, in the centre, then lifting up
your eyes to the light shining through the Calvary Window
over the altar.
Nearer to hand, notice those intersecting arches with
their soft line moulding, finely conceived and strikingly
Note too that deep splayed aperture in the middle of the
arch whence pealed the sweet tones of the Sanctus Bell in
the pre-Reformation period.
Opposite the pulpit is the massive gilded wood lectern
supported by an eagle. The lectern is over 200 years old
and was originally in Frome Church, Somerset.
Of the two side chapels, the one on the left now serves
as the vestry and has an interesting past The other
enshrines The Francis Bamford Window, Newchurch's most
beloved Vicar ever (1896-1934) and has recently been
Note also the low walled up door in the northern aisle. A
Scandinavian legend has it The Devil comes in from the
North so the folk of Newchurch, sometimes a little
apprehensive (they burnt a so-called witch, Alice Porter
in 1584), blocked up this northern door.
In the glass case, by this door is a rare copy of the
1716 Vinegar Bible so called because atthetopofthe page (LukeXX)
there is printed "The Parable of the Vinegar"
instead of "Vineyard".
Over the southern door of entry is emblazoned the Coat of
Arms of William of Orange 1700. In an exuberance of
patriotism the artist substituted the face of his royal
master for that of the lionas incidentally, some 4,500
years before, did the maker of Egypt's Sphinx who
sculptured Pharoah*s head on the body of the lion.
THE MUSIC OF THE CHURCH.
About 1420 a rood loft over the rood screen in front of
the Chancel Arch was built. From its narrow gallery
"The Cantor" would intone. Then in 1780 a
gallery at the back of the church, against the West wall
was put up. That was in the days of the fiddles, the
flutes and the bassoons. In 1857 this too was dismantled,
and the present organ installed. If, as not infrequently,
the 'new' organ broke down, a 'dumb organist' was
affixed, when a selection of five hymns could slowly be
played by the organ's 'help mate'. This barrel organ is
preserved and kept by the Churchwardens' Chest at the
back of the Church.
This perhaps takes the visitor into the vestry itself
which from the 13th to the 17th Century was a chantry;
tradition has it that this transept was built in 1204 by
Eudode Morville of Knighton Manor that masses might be
said for his father - one of the four Knights who in 1170
had murdered Thomas a Becket.
When the de Morville family became extinct, the great
Knighton Manor nearby was bought in 1562 by Antony
Dillington of Somerset His descendant Sir Robert, in 1688,
obtained permission to change this de Morville chantry
into a mortuary chapel. So it is that in the floor of the
present vestry are the engravd slabs commemorating this
apparently most attractive good looking family. Their
direct line came to an end in 1721 with the tragic death
of Sir Tristam. His sister, mistress Hannah in 1737
presented the silver chalice and paten which are still
used for Holy Communion.
WILLIAM THATCHER'S TABLET.
High up on the north wall of the nave is a tablet
inscribed to William Thatcher who died just after
Waterloo. Squire Thatcher of Wacklands Farm was the
Island's champion breeder of fighting cocks. His 'cocks'
indeed are reputed to have fought at Westminster with an
all-England team. Not far away on the road to Arreton,
The Fighting Cocks' Inn still commemorates his prowess
THE EVOLUTION OF ALL SAINTS.
When built by Fitz Osborne in William the Conqueror's
reign, the church simply consisted of a rectangular nave
and a low roofed chancel rounded off in an apse (semi-circular).
Narrow deep splayed openings in the thick walls would
supply the dim religious light. Incidentally the three
lancet windows, without grooves for glass in the north
side of the chancel (left of the altar) are of this early
In the 12th century the Cistercian monks from Lyra Abbey,
to whom William Fitz Osborne had made over the tithes.
etc, of 'AllSaints;, enlarged the nave by building on the
two side aisles. The church was s till further enlarged
in the 13th century, by the construction of its lateral
transepts, thus giving the church its present cruciform
shape and more amply providing for the needs of the
parish which, until 1861, stretched from sea to sea (Ryde
In the 14th Century the southern porch was added together
with the exquisite little rose window-best seen by
standing at the altar rails whence this 'circle of
loveliness', high up on the western wall, shows itself
between the tie beams.
Following from the expropriation of the foreign Priories,
Henry V in 1420 granted Newchurch to Beaulieu Abbey in
Hampshire, thus closing its 333 years connection with the
Abbey of Lyra in distant Normandy.
The Beaulieu monks made a tower over the southern porch.
Had they put it at the west end, it would have been too
dangerously near the "shute". This was rebuilt
in George II's time, with the present over-lapping
The monks also erected a rood screen surmounted by the
usual rood loft cutting a way to it through the massive
southern tierevidence of which risky undertaking
still remains. In the very early days of Queen Victoria's
reign, however, both the screen and the rood loft were
On the dissolution of the monastries in 1537, Beaulieu
Abbey lost Newchurch which went to The Crown. Henry VIII
then bestowed it on his newly founded Bishopric of
Bristol, subsequently to be merged into Gloucester
to which See the the great tithes of the parish were paid
until taken over by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. To
this Century also belongs the oldest of the present peal
of six bellsbeing cast in 1589, the year after the
defeat of the Spanish Armada.
Probably in the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell (1649-1660)
the church was completely lime washed and plastered thus
covering over the polychroming (mural painting) of the
monks of Beaulieu. When this white covering was finally
scoured off in 1843, the painting had faded beyond
The 18th Century was The Churchwardens' Century'. They it
was who blocked up the north door, inserted the none too
ornate windows in the north and south walls and
introduced "Horse-box" pewing.
In the drastic restoration of 1883. the then Vicar. Rev.
Dicker, removed the old high pews, had the plaster
ceiling beaten down and in so doing uncovered the open
timbers of the roof and the Sanctus Bell opening over the
great chancel arch.
During the last few years the whole of the nave roof has
been re-tiled and the Church has been redecorated
throughout In September, 1966, the newly furnished Lady
Chapel was re-dedicated, together with the fine new Oak
Doors in the South Porch and the new Lighting System
which was installed by one of our Parishioners. New
Carpeting in the Sanctuary and the Nave was provided by
the untiring efforts of another faithful Parishioner. The
lovely Processional Cross was also dedicated just before
Christmas in 1966 in memory of Miss Norah Mabey for many
years Churchwarden of the Parish.
THE SETTING OF THE CHURCH.
Nor should the vistor leave the church precincts without
taking stock of its magnificent setting. To do this he
should stroll along the path to the northwest comer of
the churchyard. Directly beneath lie the water meadows
through which the Yar winds its three mile way to Brading
Haven. In bygone years it is said the river Yar came
right up to the foot of the "shute". Then let
the eye appraise the two solid Georgian farms, the well
kept plough lands and grass lands stretching up to the
stencilled hedged Downs, indented with shell-like Century
old chalk pits now veiled with verdure.
Before, however, leaving the churchyard, go up to the
Dillington Sundial, standing among the graves facing the
the Downs. Fashioned by Robert Marks of London in 1678,
it once stood on the bowling green at Knighton Manor.
Five years before Squire Bisset had the Manor demolished,
in 1821, he gave it to the Parish, who in turn had it
erected in its present position.
HOW "NEWCHURCH" NAME MAY HAVE ARISEN.
Hearsay has it that in pre-Conquesttimes there used to be
a Saxon chapel just above the flood level of the Yar,
nearby the water-mill ofAlverstone, once known as "Alfred's
When William the Conqueror gave the Isle of Wight to his
kinsman, William Fitz Osborne, the latter viewed askance
the Saxon site. In true Norman fashion he commanded a
'new church' to be built on the edge of the wooded
plateau, 1½ miles away, dominating the central vale of
LEST WE FORGET.
Be that as it may, "the Church upon the the Hill"
has now looked down on 35 worshipping generations. Within
these very walls the first generation knelt to pray for
succour from the ravages of the Vikings, six generations
later they prayed to be defended from The Black Death
which swept over the Island; then in 1377 to stop the
French from advancing after they had sacked Newport. Two
centuries later the Spanish Armada sailing past Ventnor
in 1588 was the imminent dangerand so we might go
on turning over the pages of its Registers.