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St Michael and All Angels

Mission Church

Opening of the New Church at Wootton Common September 1885

Index to article
Conscration of Burial Ground
Proposed Closing

Picture of Mrs Mary Nunn Harvey
Mrs Mary Nunn Harvey

Due to the generosity of Mrs Nunn-Harvey of Shanklin, who donated the land [which was part of the Briddlesford Estate] and paid for the building of the church and Sunday school it opened for the first time on Wednesday 13 September with a large congregation in attendance. Wootton Common at the time was in the Parish of Arreton and therefore some distance for people to travel to worship at St Georges Church in Arreton.

The new church is sited at the four-way junction at Wootton Common [now Whiterails/Briddlesford Road junction*]. It is constructed of corrugated galvanised iron, and will accommodate 250 people. There is an octagon-roofed chancel, with vestry and organ chambers on either side, with arches included in the design. At the west end of the church is a fine window, which together with those on either side of the nave allow a considerable amount of light into the church, the design is impressive. On the outside of the church at the west end, there is a turret capped with a cross rising some 17 feet from the ridge. The general style is Gothic and the overall appearance is attractive, the designer and builder was a James Lee, Wenlock Street, Chester Road, Manchester.

It is intended to erect a school to accommodate 120 scholars on the south side of the church. The land has already been given by Mrs Harvey who will also fund be building of the school.

The first service opened with the signing of hymn “We love the place, O Lord”, the prayers read by Rev. W. I. Betts, curate of Arreton, the lesson by Rev. G. V. Garland of Bonchurch and the pre- communion service by Rev. H. B. Philips, vicar of Arreton. The choir was composed principally of girls from the home at Broadlands, Newport [Note: - also supported by Mrs Harvey]

Note: -The church was built running lengthways along Whiterails Road with the entrance on the Briddlesford side facing the Woodman’s, the Sunday school was built on the Briddlesford farm side of the church, again facing the Woodman’s.

Consecration of the Burial Ground at Wootton Common

December 1893

The consecration of the new burial ground was conducted by the Bishop of Winchester in the presence of a large congregation. The Bishop was received by Rev. Canon Phillips [Vicar of Arreton], Rev. Mills Robbins [curate-in-charge of St. Paul’s Wootton Common], Rev. Dr. Coleman [rector of Wootton] and others.

Accompanied by clergy, choir, and congregation the Bishop walked round the new burial ground, afterwards a short service was held in St. Paul’s Church the choir being supplemented by members of the choir from Arreton. Special hymns and chants were sung with Mr Scadding the organist from St. Thomas Church in Newport presiding.

During the service the Vicar announced that owing to the fact there is a St. Paul’s Church in adjoining parish [we believe this is St. Paul’s, Barton, Newport], the church would henceforth be known as St. Michael and All Angels. The Registrar then read out the deed of consecration.

Proposed Closing of St. Michael’s Churchyard

Local Government Inquiry

Wednesday 27 February 1901

Col. Slacke, R.E., an inspector of the Local Government Board held an inquiry at St Michael’s Schoolroom, Wootton Common, with a view to enable the Local Government Board:-
“Determine whether, as regards the burial-ground adjoining the Mission-church, Wootton Common, in the Parish of Arreton, in the Isle of Wight, with their approval shall be given to the use of the said burial-ground for the purpose of interments or whether for the protection of the public health, burials shall be discontinued in such grounds.”

There were almost 40 people present at the inquiry representing various bodies, which included Rural District Council, Medical Officer of Health, Vicar of Arreton, North Arreton Parish Council and others, together with local people.

Col Slacke said that having read the details concerning the inquiry his brief was to hear complaints against the continuing use of the burial ground. He thought the simplest way to proceed was for the Clerk to the Rural District Council to give him the listings and the current usage of the burial ground. In response the Clerk to North Arreton said that the population of South Arreton was 1008 and North Arreton 998 and increasing.

The Clerk for the Rural District [Mr Stratton] then said, the case before the inspector was a very simple one, he produced a map showing the boundary of North Arreton including most of Wootton and said it was not disputed that the burial ground was needed and therefore should remain open. The inspector was then advised how the site came into being, this was due to the generosity of Mrs Nunn-Harvey.

The Vicar of Arreton [Rev. Black Hyland] said the land was freehold, but the church was only licensed, not consecrated and the deeds were held by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
Mr E. Brading agent for the late Mrs Nunn-Harvey said the church was built and maintained by her for several years and produced a copy of the deeds showing two separate gifts of land, the church and the burial ground.

The Rev. Black Hyland said the reason the church was not a permanent structure was lack of funds to maintain two churches and a further problem was, both plots had been consecrated as a burial ground. Unfortunately this action had taken place without the permission of the proper authorities. Mr Stratton said they were now asking that formal permission to be given the general consensus was that the site should remain open [hear, hear].

The inspector then asked if there was any opposition to the motion. None for North Arreton was the response. Rev. Black Hyland opposed on sanitary grounds, but would have no objection if the correct sanitary arrangements were in place.
Mr. Stratton said if the burial ground closed it would cause great inconvenience to the people of Wootton, as the burial ground at South Arreton was around four miles away, he also advised the inspector that the population of the village was around 800 and increasing.

Much discussion then took place about the state of the burial ground and its legal status. The vicar said he had put up a notice informing people that only those with relatives already buried there would be permitted burial, the inspector informed the vicar that he did not have legal authority to permit burials. The inspector then ask who would be responsible if permission to formally open the ground was given, Mr Souter [Wootton] thought member of the Burial Board would take over providing no expense was involved.

The discussion then moved on the possible contamination of drinking water at the nearby rectory [down Whiterails Road on the left]. The Vicar said there had been a well used by the Rectory but this was now condemned and second one was in use. The Curate Rev. Monk Smith said he had not known where the well was until it was found accidentally two days ago, some 62 yards from the iron fence at the top end of the burial ground. Mr. Young [Wootton] said he had known the Rectory for some time and had never heard of any illness. The Curate informed the inspector that he found no problem with the water and it was always boiled and filtered.

Dr. Groves, Medical Officer for Health agreed there was a need for a burial ground in the area and had discussed the matter some years previous with the late Mrs Nunn-Harvey. At that time he had advised her that due to the clay subsoil it was not place to have a burial ground. He also informed the inspector that the well near the rectory had been contaminated by the nearby leaking cesspit and the current well was some 8ft deep and lined with bricks. He did not think there was any risk to health with interments in clay.

Mr Marks, surveyor to the Rural District Council said he had examined the well, which was 8ft deep with a diameter of 4ft 3inch, and contained about 4ft 3inch of water, it was lined with brick, clean with no signs of staining. He had checked the sub soil and in his opinion there was no need for special drainage from the burial site.

Mr Edgar Chatfeild Clarke C.C. explained he and his family owned the land opposite and they were building some cottages using an existing well which had been there for over a 100 years. They were in favour of the graveyard being reopened and had previously raised no objections.

At the conclusion of the inquiry Mr Stratton asked the inspector if he would willing ask those present on a show of hands, if they were in favour of the burial ground remaining open, the vote was unanimous.

Sequel to the Inquiry

5 June 1901

A meting was held at Wootton School chaired by Rev. Black Hyland to discuss the report received from the Government Inspector, there were at least ten other people present when the report was read out.

Subject to the following conditions, the burial ground will be allowed to remain open: -
“In order to prevent any drainage from the burial ground passing into the land to the south-west, an open trench 3ft deep or alternatively a 3ft deep trench with agricultural drain pipes at the bottom and filled with brick rubble to the surface. This was to be parallel to and close along the south west fence of the burial ground, with an outlet to the land on the west side of the adjoining road.”

The Vicar explained that he had funded the work to date but now wanted he churchwardens to assist both in the work and raising money, to date the only contribution he had received was from Miss Shedden and Mr Perras. He explained that if money was not forthcoming he could close the burial ground, but once formally open it could not be closed. However he wanted to open the burial ground for the parishioners of North Arreton, and the place must be in a proper state of repair. A fee of 8 shillings and sixpence was fixed as the price for a burial of which 6 shilling when to the man digging the grave, however there may be a reduction for the poor.

After further discussion it was agreed that the vicar should go ahead with work and help would be given to raise funds.

The Closure


With the opening of St Marks, the Church of St Michael and All Saints was now surplus to requirements and was sold for 55 Pounds and taken to Cornwall, around 1932-33 the Sunday school we believe was sold for 18 Pounds as scrap.

Note:Mrs Mary Nunn-Harvey of the Cliff, Shanklin died in October 1897 age 62, her father H. W. Nunn owned the lace making company based in what is now the old part of Broadlands House, Newport. On his death she became a very rich person and was very generous in supporting community projects. She was buried in the family vault at St. Paul’s Church, Barton, Newport.

Source: Isle of Wight County Press

This page was last edited on: 26th January, 2022 17:50:48

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