The first church on this site was a chapel constructed c1100 but all that remains of it is part of the north wall and south door of the church now here. A hundred years later the church was rebuilt in the Early English style. At the same time the south aisle was added and the size of the church was increased.
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In the 14th century the church was used in a strange way: the north chapel was served by Carisbrooke Priory and the south chapel was served by the vicar. By the mid 1500s, however, the church became a parish church alone.
In the 15th century the church underwent extensive remodelling, and this is basically what is on view today. The south wall was pulled down to make the south aisle into a nave, and a new south aisle was built with a different roof. At the same time the nave was extended to the west. This made the church have three aisles. There was a chancel for each aisle. There were two major additions to the church: the south porch with the date 1772 in the keystone, and the large south wall window.
The tower, also built in the 1400s, has a lower vaulted stage. It has a stone spire with a brass weathercock on top, dated 1617. There are five bells, three dating from the 17th century and the other two from the 19th.
In the interior of the church are a large number of early 1800s carved poppy heads on the 1600s pews. At the west end of the south aisle is an enclosed gun chamber. It is now a used as a vestry. The tall west windows have original tracery in the side aisle windows. A west window in the north aisle is dated 1623. The east window dates from 1360-1380, when the church became the parish church. It is transitional in style.
At the south wallís east end is a priestís door leading to the old vicarage. There is a Victorian coat of arms above it. The roof beam in the chancel dates from the 1400s and has carvings of St Michael, St Gabriel, and Christ. The altar in the Leigh Chapel was handcarved in 1661.
Over the north door is a wall painting of St Christopher. It measures 11ft wide by 6.5ft high and dates from 1440. The font dates from c1620. The pulpit is c1440 and is almost in the church centre, necessitating a different pew arrangement. The Jacobean canopy is from 1620, as is the hour glass stand. There are a large number of brass and stone monuments in the church.
Shorwell is at the junction of the B3399 and the 3323 near the south shore of the Isle of Wight.
Photos © by Barbara Ballard and courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Exterior by John Salmon; interior east end and north chapel by Nick MacNeill.