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St Mary, Brighstone, Isle of Wight, Hampshire

(50°38′32″N, 1°23′45″W)
Brighstone, Isle of Wight
SZ 428 827
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Hampshire
now Isle of Wight
medieval St Mary
now St Mary
  • John Margham
28 October 2015

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Feature Sets

The village of Brighstone is a little inland from the island’s SW coast and just to the S of the lateral chalk ridge. The church consists of a W tower, a nave, a N and S aisles, a S porch, a chancel, and a chapel to the S of the chancel (Page 1912, 213). The W tower is of uncertain date, the lower part may be of the 14thc, but the W doorway dates to the13thc, showing signs of being inserted from elsewhere. The three-bay N arcade is of the late 12thc with rounded piers, square thin abaci and thinly chamfered arches. The original N aisle was demolished and the arcade blocked, but reopened when the present aisle built in 1852. The wide S aisle is of c. 1500, but the windows in the aisle were altered in 1852. The S doorway is late medieval, set in a porch with a four-centred outer archway. The S chapel is probably slightly later than the aisle. The windows in the chapel are Victorian, whilst the four lancets in the N wall of the chancel are also of 1852 (Lloyd and Pevsner 2006, 98). The only feature datable to the Romanesque period is the N arcade of the nave.


Pre-conquest Brighstone would have formed part of the extensive estate of the bishop of Winchester which was centred on Calbourne to the N. This was defined in the bounds of a land charter purporting to date from 826, but is likely to have been a document of the 10thc (Edwards 1988, 155-6). This estate (Sawyer 1968, S274) consisted of 30 hides (mansae). Domesday Book provides a snap-shot of the fragmentation of the estate. The Domesday manor of Weristetone is probably to be identified with Brighstone (Mills 1996, 33-4), with three free men holding it of King Edward in alodium before 1066. There is no documentary evidence for the existence of a church here until 1291 (Caley 1802, 211), but the presence of the N arcade of the nave indicates the existence of a church or chapel here about a century before this date. Brighstone would appear to have been part of the parochia of Calbourne, for in 1305 it was recorded that the rectory of Calbourne had formerly claimed jurisdiction over that of Brighstone (Worsley 1781, 251).


Interior Features



The church would appear to have originated as a manorial chapel during the 12thc. The earliest extant dateable fabric is that of the N arcade of the nave. Despite the comments made by Lloyd and Pevsner cited above (2006, 98) and the elevation drawing by Stone (1891, vol. 2, plate LXVI) the arcade arches are semi-circular in profile, rather than pointed. However, the presence of dog-tooth at the springing of the arch above the abacus of the first free-standing arcade column from the W indicates a date of construction of this feature in the late 12thc.


J. Caley, Taxatio Ecclesiastica Angliae et Walliae Auctoritate Papae Nicholai IV, London 1802.

H. Edwards, The Charters of the Early West Saxon Kingdom, Oxford 1988, 155-6.

D. W. Lloyd and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Isle of Wight, London and New Haven 2006, 98.

A. D. Mills, The Place-Names of the Isle of Wight, Stamford 1996, 33-4.

W. Page, W. (ed.), The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, vol. 5, London 1912, 213.

P. H. Sawyer, Anglo-Saxon Charters: an annotated list and bibliography, London 1968, S274.

P. G. Stone, The Architectural Antiquities of the Isle of Wight, privately published 1891, vol. 2, plate LXVI.

R. Worsley, The History of the Isle of Wight, London 1781, 251.