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St John the Baptist, Niton, Isle of Wight

(50°35′16″N, 1°17′16″W)
SZ 505 767
  • John Margham
31 July 2016 , 5 July 2017

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Niton church consists of a nave with N and S arcades, a W tower, a S porch, a chancel with a vestry to the north and a continuation of the S aisle to its south. The nave N arcade of three bays is of a later 12thc date and the S arcade was constructed in the 13thc. The W tower may date from 17thc and the porch appears to have been built between the late 15th and early17thc (Lloyd and Pevsner 2016, 192). The vestry would appear to date from the restoration of 1864.

The Romanesque features are the cable-moulded font and the N arcade of the nave.


A church at Niton was given to Lyre Abbey by William fitzOsbern between 1067 and 1071 (Hockey 1981, no 4). The configuration of the parish boundary indicates that this small medieval parish was formerly part of a much bigger parochia which would appear to have been centred on Arreton. The place-name ‘the new tūn’ may have been of relatively recent origin when first recorded in 1086 (Margham 2017, 7). This, in conjunction with the evidence for a structure pre-dating the later 12thc fabric (below) and the existence of the church by 1071, may suggest an origin of the church in the earlier 11thc.


Interior Features






Stone recorded the discovery of vague traces of an earlier church at Niton: ‘In the 1864 restoration, the impost of the old chancel arch was discovered about 18 inches lower, and further south than the present one, but was plastered over again’(Stone 1891, I, 30). There is a possibility that this impost was from a building predating the later 12thc but unfortunately no further details were recorded. The font could have belonged to a church earlier than that indicated by the late 12thc N arcade. Sir Stephen Glynne visited the church in 1825. He commented that 'It had formerly a north aisle, as may be seen by the arches on the north aisle walled up'. The N aisle of the nave was presumably reinstated and the arcade unblocked as part of the restoration of 1864.


S.F. Hockey, The Cartulary of Carisbrooke Priory, The Isle of Wight Records Series vol. 2, Newport, 1981

D. Lloyd and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Isle of Wight, Yale, 2006

J. Margham, ‘From Weston to Woolverton: The tun Place-Names of the Isle of Wight’, Proceedings of the Isle of Wight Natural History and Archaelogical Society 3, 2017, 5-25

P. Stone, The Architectural Antiquities of the Isle of Wight, vol. 1, The East Medine, private publication, 1891