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Some History of the Church of St George

Before the Norman Conquest the manor belonged to the Anglo Saxon royal family, this is known due to the fact that it is recorded in King Alfred’s private will dated A.D. 885.

After the Norman Conquest, King William gave his cousin William Fitz Osbern the Lordship of the island; this included the manor, which he in turn gave to the Benedictine Abbey of Lyre, in Normandy, France.

In King Stephens’s turbulent times in the twelve-century, the Abbot of Lyre would have found difficulty in collecting the tithes from Arreton. It is recorded that in 1140 that the Abbot in consideration of an annual payment of 40/- [forty shillings], made over the tithes of Arreton to the newly founded Abbey of Quarr.

There is some confusion on this point as Earl Baldwin de Redvers who founded Quarr in 1132 gave the Manor of Arreton to Quarr Abbey.

The stone to build the church was most likely quarried at Binstead as was stone used to build Winchester Cathedral and many other churches. In the reign of Henry II around 1160 the outer wall was taken down and the north aisle added with three supporting arches.

The west wall is shown to be beyond doubt to of pre-conquest workmanship by its west doorway and the interesting window high above, while the side walls are clearly earlier than the arcades cut through them, the considerable lengths of walling which remains at either end of each side wall are of the same construction as the west wall. The west doorway is a distinctively pre-conquest feature, light though its round head is not of through stone. The jambs and arched head are cut straight through the wall without rebates, and the jambs are built in “Escombe fashion” with alternate uprights and flat stones of which all the flat bonding stones and roughly half the uprights are through-stones.

The west doorway is 5ft 6inches wide and 8ft 9inches tall as measured from the floor of the nave and the west wall of the nave is 2ft 3inches thick. The old Saxon window is about 18.5ft above the floor of the nave and its aperture in the west wall is about 3ft tall by 1ft 6inches wide narrowing slightly towards the top. Internally it is widely splayed towards the nave, giving an opening 5ft tall by 3ft 6inches wide. The nave itself has external dimensions of 49ft long by 23ft 2inches wide, with walls 2ft 3inches thick and a height of 18ft to the offset below the round windows, total height to the roof plate is 23ft.

When the French invaded the island at the end of August 1377, they took away from the church an Episcopal document [see Wykehams Register]. During the wars with France the King of England was reasonable for the appointment of the vicars to Arreton and not the Abbot of Lyre. In 1400 Arreton was given to Quarr and in 1410 Newchurch came under Beauliue, this resulted in vicars being appointment by these abbeys and not by the abbot in Lyre in France.

In the 14th century the church walls were largely covered with murals paintings [polychromed] and traces of one are faintly discernable by the Norman window in the chancel.

In 1480 the low tower was heightened and strengthened by the existing buttresses, in the 16th century the aisle roofs were heightened to allow the fitting of the two Tudor windows on each side.

On the south wall of the south chapel there is a monument without inscription, records indicate this was place there during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The following is recorded in 1630 by Sir John Oglander, “Itt wase one Mr. Rychard Cooke, his awntient howse wase in Sussex, a place called Russington, but when he dyed he dwelt at Budbrydge, his owne inheritance. He wase olso ye fyrst Captayne of Sandam Castle, and there had undor his commande 20 gunners and sowldiers, and in those dayes the castles had not crept in undor ye commande of ye captayne of ye island. He wase a braue gentleman and rode allwayes to church in his foote cloth, 12 sowldiors wayghting on him with partisans, he dyed ye 2nd of Queen Elizabeth” [1559].

On a stone in ye sowth chawncell, there is ye picture of a man in brasse with a sworde by his side, and 3 woolfes hedes in a coate with this inscription; -
Here is y-buried under this graue
Harry Hawles his sowle god saue;
Longe tyme stuard of this yle of wight
Haue m’cy on hym god ful of might.
The brass still exists but the head and shield of the effigy have disappeared, it is believed at the time of Cromwell.

Awntient monuments in this church there are verie fewe; there is a fayre toombe at ye upor ende of ye northwalle of ye bsowth chawncell, wherein there hath bene ye portraiture of a man and women cutt in brasse, with divors scutcheons, but some sacreligious hand hath taken them awaye and bereft us of ye knowledge thereof. But I conceve it wase ye monument of ye Urryes that dwelt at Stanum for under or neyre ye toombe there wase a vault for theyre buryinge, which wase filled up with not long since. This was Sir William de Urrie who lived at East Standon Manor and also owned Budbridge Manor and died in 1401.

Under a blue marble stone [now disappeared] as you go up to the communion table in the chancel is buried Dowsabell Mill, wife of George Mill who owned Quarr and Heasley Manor. She was handsome and personable, and the best housekeeper in the island, she lived with Sir Edward Horsey the Governor of the Isle of Wight at Heasley Manor. She was a widow and if Sir Edward’s wife who was French had died before him they would have been married. Sir Edward was died in 1582 and was buried in Newport Parish Church,his monument is still there, his wife died 21 years later in 1603.

In the north side of the chancel in the Litton side is written;-
“Here in this toombe lyeth buryed ye bodye of William Colnett of Comely, Gent, whoe departed this lyfe ye first of July, in ye yeare of our lorde god 1594, Etatis suse 69”

William was a prince was gt nephew of the last emperor of Constantinople 1455, and was a cousin of Ivan the Terrible, Tsar of Russia 1533-1584.

By the west corner of the porch, the inner red brick tomb is of William Cromwell, who died 1720 and his wife Marthe, he was the grandson of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England.

In the south chancel [near the organ] is a stone on the floor to the memory of David Wavell born 1629 obit 1714 and his wife Elizabeth, hew as from the same family as Field Marshall Earl Wavell.

Next to the font under the red carpet is a grey stone with an inscription to Captain George Oglander who died 2nd May 1717. He lived at Hale Manor in this parish and the family owned Arreton Manor between 1670-1760 when the family died out.

There is also inscriptions to Henry Roberts who died 1731 aged 80, and his son John Roberts who died 1741 aged 53 who both lived at Standen House in this parish.

Also of the Searle family who lived at a house called Stone, William who died in1595 aged 59 left money for the poor of the parish, also George Searle who died in 1609.

On a stone in the south side of the middle chancel is written; -
Here lyeth ye the body of Thomas Lisle of Briddlesford, Esq. whoe departed December ye 17th Anno Domini 1621 Aetatis suae 70. A stoute gentleman, my good frynd, Unkell to Sir William [Lisle], his widow Elizabeth was buried with him in 1641, she was the daughter of Prince William Colnet.

Listed herewith are some of the old families that lived in the parish are; -

Arreton Parish Families
Colnet of Combley 1525-1651
Mill of Heasley 1536-1606
Harbert of Birchmore 1628
Harris of Heasley 1666
Holbrooke of Pagham 1672
Barber of Durton 1683
Rogers of Standen 1694

Coombs of Horringford and White of Merston plus many more.

Opposite the chest, the opening in the side of the chancel arch to the one time roof-lift, over it is the square aperture whence hung the Sanctus Bell presented in 1465 by Nicolas Searle

Church bells, the oldest was dated 1465 and was presented by Nicolas Searle and his wife Alice.

Date of this article, and identity of the author is not known.

Source: Permission has been given by a resident of Wootton to reproduce this article.

This page was last edited on: 26th January, 2022 17:50:34

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