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All Saints, Calbourne, Isle of Wight

(50°40′39″N, 1°23′59″W)
SZ 425 866
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Hampshire
now Isle of Wight
  • John Margham
31 July 2018

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Feature Sets

All Saints stands on the southern margin of a small village green in the centre of the nucleated village of Calbourne. The village lies to the north of the Island’s lateral chalk ridge in the west-central area of the Isle of Wight, on a NS route-way and just to the south of an EW route-way. The church consists of nave, chancel, S aisle, tower to the south of the nave and west of the aisle, a porch and chapel to the north of the nave and a small porch to the west. The base of the tower is of the 14thc. with the upper part rebuilt in 1752. The S aisle and chancel are of the mid-13thc. The church experienced ‘a vigorous restoration’ by A. F. Livesay in 1838–42. He was responsible for the neo-Norman north porch, the adjoining Simeon chapel, and the S arcade of the nave (Lloyd and Pevsner 2006, 101–2).


Thirty hides at Calbourne were purportedly granted to the church of Winchester by King Ecgbert in 826. It is likely that the charter is a fabrication of the 10thc. Winchester nevertheless appears to have enjoyed possession of this estate from an early date. The bounds detailed in the charter are authentic, delineating an estate bounded by the Solent to the north and the English Channel to the south. It is possible that the Calbourne estate formed part of the quarter of the Isle of Wight granted to St Wilfrid by King Cædwalla in the late 7thc. (Bede, 382–3 (IV 16); Finberg 1964, 216–17; Margham 2006, 91–3). In 1086 Mauger held the church of the bishop of Winchester’s manor of Calbourne, along with half a hide of land (Williams and Erskine 1989, 52v). Calbourne Hundred formed an Episcopal hundred within Bowcombe Hundred (the western half of the Isle of Wight) in Domesday. The manor belonged to the see of Winchester until 1284 (Page 1912). Swainston Manor, just within the Calbourne parish boundary 2 km to the east of the church, had become established as the centre of Winchester’s interests on the Isle of Wight by the late 12thc.





There is no fabric at Calbourne church which can be confidently dated to before the 13thc. However, there is pictorial evidence for the existence of two round headed external doorways before the restoration by Livesay between 1838 and 1842. An illustration of the S side of the church by Englefield in 1802 (reproduced in Stone, 1891) includes a hood-moulded doorway in the S wall of the S aisle. This wall has been refaced, probably during Livesay’s restoration, and the inside of the wall is now plastered over. Tomkins published a view of the church from the north west showing a hood moulded doorway in the north wall of the former north transept, which was rebuilt as the ‘Simeon Chapel’ by Livesay (Tomkins, 1796). Cox commented: 'The font is well worth attention. It is generally described as Early English, and the bowl is octagonal. But in my mind it is of late or Transitional Norman. It was undoubtedly in the first instance square in the bowl, and has had the angles chopped off, possibly in 1842, to improve it into an octagon; thereby destroying the arcading and other rude patterns with which the four faces had originally been carved’ (Cox, 1911, 51). A Romanesque font of similar form at Milborne Port in Somerset received similar treatment at sometime between 1839 and 1888 (Fanning and Wray, 2016, 20). The original design of the east face of the Calbourne font would appear to have been something akin to the double disc in Pictish stone sculpture.


Bede, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, ed. & trans. B. Colgrave & R. A. B. Mynors, Bede's The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, OMT, Oxford, 1969.

J. C. Cox, Isle of Wight: its Churches and Religious Houses, George Allen and Sons, London, 1911.

J. Fanning and L. Wray, A short history of the church of St John the Evangelist Milborne Port, Milborne Port History and Hertiage Group Booklet Number 1, 2016.

H. P. R. Finberg, The Early Charters of Wessex, Leicester, 1964.

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

J. Margham, ‘The Anglo-Saxon Charter Bounds of the Isle of Wight, part 1: The West Medine’, Proceedings of the Isle Wight Natural History and Archaeological Society 21, 2006, 77-106.

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

P. G. Stone, The Architectural Antiquities of the Isle of Wight, volume 2, The West Medine, privately published, 1891.

C. Tomkins, A Tour to the Isle of Wight, volume 2, Kearsley, London, 1796.

A. Williams and R.W.H. Erskine (eds.), The Hampshire Domesday, Alecto Historical Editions, London, 1989.