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Church of St George at Arreton, Isle of Wight

St George Arreton by Barbara Ballard The church of St George sits on an ancient site of worship. King Alfredís family owned Arreton manor and a tiny wooden church here.

William I gave the lordship of the Isle of Wight to William Fitz Osborn after the Norman conquest. This included the church which then belonged to the abbey of Lyre in Normandy.

In 1140 the abbot of the abbey gave the church and manor to the abbey of Quarr for an annual rent of 40 shillings. At the time the church did not have side aisles or a tower, and its chancel was shorter. The monks enlarged it and added the north aisle in 1160. Three early English arches supported this aisle.

During the 1200s the south aisle was built and the chancel was lengthened at the east end. Larger windows and a south chapel were added. An arcade was erected between the chancel and south aisle using Purbeck marble for the pillars. At the end of the 13th century a squat west tower was added, and three circular windows were put in the north and south walls above the low aisle roofs. Traces of medieval wall paintings can be seen in the north wall of the chancel.

In the 1400s a rood screen was added across the chancel arch. It was removed in 1886. Around 1480 the tower increased in height, and buttresses were added to it. In the 1530s the side aisle roofs were raised. A Tudor window was added.

After the dissolution of the abbeys under Henry VIII, the church became the property of John Myll, a Southampton merchant. In 1610 Sir Thomas Fleming bought the church from Sir Richard Myll.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, a ceiling was put in below the rafters. The medieval paintings were covered with whitewash as was the custom at the time. The Tudor benches were removed and replaced with box pews. In 1797 the gallery was added against the west wall. In 1865 the whitewash was removed from the walls and the choir stalls were installed. In 1886 the nave ceiling was taken down, the box pews were removed, and an organ was installed.

St George Arreton bell by Barbara Ballard The church was electrified in the 1950s and further restoration work took place in the 1960s and 70s. The belfry has a peal of six bells, dating from 1559, 1601, 1699, 1896, and 1951. The Elizabethan porch has a sundial above the entrance, and by the west corner is the tomb of Oliver Cromwell's grandson, William, and his wife Martha.

Inside the church are:

1. The Burma star memorial window designed by Alan Younger and made by David Knowles. It was dedicated in 1992 by the countess Mountbatten of Burma.

2. The pulpit dated 1925 designed by island architect Percy Stone.

3. On the east wall of the north aisle is a dragonís head beneath which are the remnants of a 13th century font.

4. A 1679 oak chest is located at the back of the church.

5. An old edition of the Book of Common Prayer and Fox's Book of Martyrs are at the back of the church.

6. The west wall of the church has a Saxon archway leading into the tower.

7. Memorials in the church include, on the floor of the side chapel, the headless figure of Harry Hawles, who fought at the battle of Agincourt in 1415.

The church is located on the A3056, south-east of Newport, Isle of Wight.


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