Carisbrooke Church from from Blacks Guide 1870
CHURCH, dedicated to St. Mary, was originally attached to the priory of
Carisbrook, founded here by William Fitz-Osbert (to whom William the Conqueror
granted the Isle of Wight) as a cell to his Abbey of Lire, or Lyra, in Normandy.
The PRIORY, which stood north of the church, and of which a few grey stones are
the only remains—-these stones having been made use of in the neighbouring farm—was
leased, at the dissolution of the religious houses, to Sir James Worsley,
and passed to Queen Elizabeth’s famous minister, Sir Francis Walsingham, on
his marriage with Sir James’ son’s widow (the reader must excuse this
complication of possessive cases). Walsingham thriftily converted the monastic
buildings to profitable uses, and to avoid the expense of repairing the chancel
of the priory-church, which, by lease, he was enforced to keep in due order, he
persuaded the people of Carisbrook that the church was too large for them, and,
with their consent, pulled down the chancel!
CHURCH is still a very stately
building, with a remarkably fine Perpendicular tower, of the same date as the
towers of Gatcombe, Chale, and Godshill. The south aisle is separated from the
nave, by a Transition-Norman arcade. An ancient slab, broken into two pieces,
commemorates one of the monks, vicars of Carisbrook. Very noticeable is the
sculpture dedicated to Lady Dorothy Wadham,
Queen Jane Seymour’s sister—the small figures in the background being
supposed to represent the deformed and lame whom her charity benefited. A
curious rhyming inscription (in too many quatrains to be quoted here) records
the merits of William Keeling, d.
1619, one of our early adventurers in the Eastern seas, and perpetuates the
affection of his wife, who, we fancy, was its author. The allegory which
surmounts the inscription is extremely quaint.
vicarage of Carisbrook—one of the best livings in the island—was granted by
Charles I to Queen’s College, Oxon, at the instigation of Henrietta Maria (A.D.
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Carisbrooke Church from Ward Locks Guide 1920's
Church is considered by Mr. Percy G. Stone, F.S.A., “the most important
ecclesiastical building in the Isle of Wight.”
church is mentioned in Domesday. Probably begun by William Fitz-Osbern, it was
originally attached to the Priory of St. Mary the Virgin, which was occupied by
monks from the Abbey of Lyra (now Lire), in Normandy. Being an alien house, the
Carisbrooke priory was dissolved during the French wars by Henry V, 1415.
The priory buildings were then let to laymen, who, having little use for
them, allowed them to fall into ruin, so that now there are practically no
remains of them, except the wall which forms the northern boundary of the
After the dissolution of the monastery, the church became more strictly parochial. Some hundred and fifty years after it had passed from its first owners, its chancel was pulled down by Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth’s Secretary of State, who was lay rector, and whose duty, therefore, it was to keep it in repair. Marks can still be seen on the exterior of the east wall showing where this chancel used to be. The remains of two round-headed windows which lighted the original church may be seen between the curves of the arches at the west end of the south wall of the nave. They were uncovered during the restoration of the building in 1907. The south aisle was added in 1140, but its two easternmost are of the fourteenth century. The opening above pulpit was a doorway leading from the monks’ dormitory into the church. The recess behind the pulpit was probably in connection with a nave altar.
noble tower, “the crowning glory of the church,” was erected fifty-five
years after the dissolution of the monastery. Later still are the two large
windows of the north wall. They date from the sixteenth century, when Bishop Fox
held the see of Winchester. His rebus, a fox, is carved on one of the label
beautifully carved altar and priest’s prayer desk are the gift of H.R.H.
Princess Beatrice. They were originally in Queen Victoria’s private chapel at
The most notable memorial is that of “the right worthy William Keeling, Esq., groom of the chamber to our Sovereign Lord King James, General for the Hon. East India Adventurers” (1619). It is a wooden tablet hanging on a pillar on the south side of the nave.
25 August 2005