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St Peter and St Paul, Mottistone, Isle of Wight

(50°39′5″N, 1°25′42″W)
SZ 405 837
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Hampshire
now Isle of Wight
  • John Margham
  • John Margham
10 April 2016, 5 July 2017

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St Peter and Paul’s church adjoins the green at the centre of the small village of Mottistone and is on the opposite side of the road from Mottistone Manor. The village is a short distance inland from the island’s SW coast and is situated to the south of the lateral chalk ridge. The church consists of a W tower, a short nave with N and S aisles, a S porch and a double-gabled east end comprising the chancel and N chapel. There is now no fabric which is dateable to the 12thc or earlier. Much of the church dates from the 15thc or later, and was restored in 1863 by Willoughby Mullins. He is reputed to have replaced a round headed Romanesque archway between the tower and the nave with the present Gothic arch (Lloyd and Pevsner 2006, 163-4). The late medieval Cheke N chapel, which has a Tudor rose on the S external label stop of the E window (Lloyd and Pevsner 2006, 164), incorporates a Romanesque linear moulding low down on the external east wall featuring two creatures and a head of human form.


There is no documentary evidence for the existence of a church here until the Taxatio survey 1291 (Caley 1802, 211).


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration

String courses




Mottistone church lies on the opposite side of the road from Mottistone manor house. This proximity implies that the church originated as a manorial chapel. The manor and church site do not lie within the reconstructed bounds of the bishop of Winchester’s pre-Conquest estate of Calbourne (Margham 2006, 91-93) and Mottistone church has no documented link with Calbourne church. However the church is dedicated to St Peter and Paul, which is one of the dedications of Winchester cathedral, which may indicate a medieval link with Winchester via Calbourne church. Up to 1863 the nave apparently had a round-headed western doorway of twelfth century date, but no representation of this doorway exists (Stone 1891, II, 41; Lloyd and Pevsner, 2006, 163).

The font is described by Lloyd and Pevsner as being ‘Square with angle columns, Norman in style. It may in part be original late 12th century’ (2006, 164). It was modified during the church restoration in 1863 according to Cox (1911, 63). However, Stone (1891) published an illustration of the font which shows it before it was modified. Assuming that Stone’s illustration is correct and dates from the 1880s or early 1890s, then the font was not modified in 1863 but at a late 19th or earlier 20thc date. The following description is based on Stone’s drawing: The upper surface of the font was square in plan and unadorned except for a hollow chamfer on its lower side. The central stem of the font would appear have been square in plan. It is difficult to see whether the four angle shafts were connected to the stem or not. The shafts were plain with plain roll-necking and scallop capitals. The four bases consisted of acanthus-type leaves with a simple roll-moulding at the base of each shaft reflecting the necking above. The base of the font was square in plan with the areas between each shaft base cut down with a plain chamfer rising up to the stem. Sir Stephen Glynne visited Mottistone church in 1825 and recorded that ‘The font is a large square, with round shafts at the angles’.

The horizontal moulding on the external east face of the late fifteenth/early sixteenth century Cheke chapel which includes Romanesque sculptures of a lion-like creature, a gotesque head and a recumbant creature is likely to fall in the date-range of 1120-1160, quite possibly originating in the second quarter of the twelfth century (personal communication, Ron Baxter). The head, with its bulbous eyes, invites comparison with the head at Yaverland, now reset over the southern doorway of the nave there.


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

J.C. Cox, Isle of Wight: Its Churches and Religious Houses, London 1911.

D.W. Lloyd and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Isle of Wight, 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 of Wight Natural History and Archaeological Society 21 (2006), 77-106.

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