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Holy Cross Church

Picture of Holy Cross Church
Holy Cross Church

The Church of the Holy Cross stands on the high ground at the northeastern corner of the parish, and consists of a nave and chancel built of the local stone, the employment of which probably accounts for the apparently early 'herring-bone' work in the walls.27 The church was probably erected for the use of the workers in the quarries, c. 1150, and was originally much as it is shown in Tomkins' print of 1795.28 From Tomkins' print of 1794, Sir Henry Englefield's description of 1816, and Mr. Withers' notes and drawings in Weale's Quarterly Papers, the church originally consisted of a nave and chancel, separated by a plain semicircular arch springing from roughly carved Romanesque imposts and lighted by small narrow single lights.29 In the latter part of the 13th century a remodelling must have taken place, as is shown by the windows of that period still remaining and the vestry door now walled up. A south porch was added in the 18th century, and in 1844 the nave was pulled down bodily and rebuilt. The south wall of the chancel has a square-headed low-side window, and in the sill of the south window is a trefoiled piscina. In the outer face of the north wall is an aumbry recess, and below the east window, now blocked by the modern reredos, is another recess, the door of which, with its 15th-century hinge,30 is in the vestry. In the west wall two Romanesque keystones have been built in, as has also a rude representation of the Sanctus Spiritus over the porch. All three came from the ancient nave, as did also the present entrance to the churchyard, which was originally the north door of the church. In the new belfry hangs an ancient bell inscribed in black letter 'Sancta Maria ora pro nobis,' which may have come from Quarr. There are no monuments of any interest, but in the churchyard is a pictorial headstone to Thomas Sivell, 'cruelly shot on board his sloop by some officers of the Customs at the Port of Portsmouth, June 15, 1786.' Sir John Oglander notes that one of the early pioneers of Arctic research, Captain John Gibbons, 'comminge from ye northwest passage—being imployed thethor for ye discoverie of that passage by Prince Henry, sonn of Kinge James … dyed at Ride and … wase buryed in ye midle of ye chawncell' (of Holy Cross, Binstead).31

The plate is modern.

The registers are in three books: (1) burials 1710 to 1759; (2) baptisms and burials 1758 to 1812; (3) marriages 1755 to 1812.


The advowson has always been, as now, with the see of Winchester,32 and on the surrender of the bishop's lands in the Isle of Wight in 1284 was specially reserved with those of Calbourne and Brighstone, the king resigning 'all right he might claim to the said churches by reason of his manor of Sweyneston or for any other cause.33 The rector of Calbourne claimed archidiaconal jurisdiction over Binstead, but was resisted in 1321 by the parson of Binstead, John de Witney, who, however, had to give way and resign in favour of Nicholas de Yestele (Eastleigh), collated by the bishop.34 The church paid a yearly pension of 2s. to Winchester,35 and was served in the 16th century by an obedientiary of Quarr.36 After the Dissolution, Sir John Oglander notes,37 the rectors assumed the abbot's privilege of marrying without licence and proving wills, 'and all thinges that ye Abbot in former times cowlde doo; whereupon ye parsons for longe time afterwardes weare called Bischoppes of Binsteede. But that power, as it wase butt usurped, so it wase taken from them when Bilson and Andrewes weare Bischoppes of Winchester'38(1597–1628).

27. The stone is extremely tough and hard, and it may be the 'waste' was used in the building of the church, so that herringbone would have been a not unnatural construction.
28. Chas. Tomkins, A Tour to the Isle of Wight (1796).
29. One of these remained in the north wall of the nave before the 1844 rebuilding (vide Stone, Archit. Antiq. of Isle of Wight, i, pl. vii).
30. Stone, op. cit. pl. vi.
31. Oglander MSS. at Nunwell (I.W.).
32. Cal. Pat. 1334–8, p. 11, 29.
33. Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, p. 273; Harl. R. CC 21.
34. Winton Epis. Reg. (Hants Rec. Soc.), 478, 480.
35. Return of the dean of the Island to Bishop Woodlock, 1305, penes F. M. Nichols. Obedientiary R. of St. Swithun (Hants Rec. Soc.), Introd. p. xlvii.
36. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 26.
37. Oglander MSS. at Nunwell.

38. Ibid. From: 'Parishes: Binstead', A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 5 (1912), pp. 151-155. URL: External link image

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

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