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St George, Arreton, Isle of Wight

(50°40′39″N, 1°14′44″W)
SZ 534 867
medieval St George
now St George
  • John Margham
9 April 2016, 6 July 2017

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Arreton is a small village in the central part of the Isle of Wight, about 3 miles SE of Newport. The church is situated to the S of the lateral chalk ridge, and adjoins the site of Arreton Manor. The structure consists of a chancel and an aisled nave, a W tower and a S porch. The nave and W two-thirds of the chancel N wall date to the 11thc or to the early 12thc, whilst the N arcade of the nave was built in the late 12thc and the S arcade was erected in the early 13thc. The masonry of the external walls of the N aisle can be dated to the early 13thc. The W tower was added in the late 13thc, and the S aisle external walls, the E third of chancel, and part of the chancel S arcade connecting with the contemporary S chapel can be referred to this phase. In the 15thc the tower was reinforced by the diagonal buttresses, and in the 16thc the S porch was added (Lloyd and Pevsner 2006, 73-5).

The Romanesque features of this site are the N arcade of the nave and a fragment of a dragon’s head attached to the E wall of the N aisle.


The first extant written reference to Arreton is to be found in the will of King Alfred. This dates from between 872 and 888, probably from the 880s. Various estates were bequeathed to family members, including his son Æthelweard, whose inheritance was to include Eaderingtune (Keynes & Lapidge 1983, 175). It is quite possible that a church served this estate. Arreton was one of the churches given by William FitzOsbern to his abbey at Lyre in Normandy between 1067 and 1071 (Hockey 1981, no 4). The church was referred to in Domesday Book along with other holdings of the Abbot of Lyre in the manor of 'Adrintone' (Munby 1982, 39c). In about 1150 an agreement was made and confirmed in 1289 by which, in exchange for a pension of 40s., the Abbot of Lyre conceded to the Abbot of Quarr the tithes of Arreton. However the advowson was reserved to the Abbot of Lyre and belonged to his successor until 1400, when it was given to the abbey of Quarr (Page 1912, 150).


Interior Features



Loose Sculpture


Before the construction of the W tower, the nave was entered through a W doorway of Anglo-Saxon character. The jambs of this doorway are constructed ‘Escomb fashion’ with the alternating horizontally-set blocks being through-stones. Above this doorway is a single-splayed window also constructed of ashlar which would appear to be contemporary with the doorway. The W doorway has a total height of 2.41 m above the second step up from the nave floor and is 1.06 m wide. Taylor and Taylor (1965, 30-1) give the dimensions of the aperture of the window above as about 3 ft tall and about 1 ft 6 ins wide, but narrowing a little towards the top, with the sill being about 18½ ft above the nave floor. The N window of the chancel is single-splayed and is constructed of ashlar. Traces of wall painting can be seen on the splays of the window. Taylor and Taylor (1965, 31) give the dimensions of this window as having an aperture of about 3 ft tall by 8 inches wide in the outer face of the wall.

The core of the present church structure would appear to be of one building phase: the W wall of the nave with the doorway and window above, the N and S wall of the nave through which arcades were later inserted, and the W end of the N wall of the chancel, with its single-splayed window. An early 12thc date can be suggested for this construction phase (Margham 2014, 9). The N arcade was inserted into this fabric in the late 12thc. The dragon head may have formed a label stop for the former chancel arch.


S.F. Hockey, The Cartulary of Carisbrooke Priory, Isle of Wight Record Series 2, Isle of Wight County Records Office, 1981.

S. Keynes and M. Lapidge, Alfred the Great: Asser’s Life of Alfred and other contemporary sources, Harmondsworth 1983, 175.

D. Lloyd and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Isle of Wight, New Haven and London 2006, 73-5.

J. Margham, ‘New Churches for Old: St George, Arreton and the rebuilding of Island Churches’, Proceedings of the Isle of Wight Natural History and Archeological Society, 28 (2014), 5-29.

J. Munby (ed.), Domesday Book: Hampshire, Chichester 1982, 39c.

W. Page (ed.), The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Hampshire and the Isle of Wight 5, London 1912, 150.

H.M. Taylor and J. Taylor, Anglo-Saxon Architecture, Cambridge 1965, 30-1.