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Swainston Manor, Swainston, Isle of Wight

(50°41′17″N, 1°22′32″W)
SZ 442 878
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Hampshire
now Isle of Wight
  • John Margham
3 August 2016

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Feature Sets

Swainston Manor is situated in parkland in the west-central area of the Isle of Wight to the N of the island’s lateral chalk ridge. Swainston Manor is a large house dating from the 18thc. Adjoining this are substantial remains from the medieval period. There is a rectangular block of largely 13thc date with a main story lit by lancet and later windows above an undercroft . Attached to the N side of this structure is a smaller range which is also aligned E-W. This was altered in the 18thc but its E wall dates from the later 12thc, indicated by the twin light window high up in the external wall (Lloyd and Pevsner 2006, 278).


The church of Winchester held the estate of Calbourne at the time of Domesday Book, when it consisted of 32 hides (Williams and Erskine 1989, 52v). A charter purporting from date to the 9thc but probably dating from the 10thc gives the bounds of this extensive estate (Margham 2006, 91-6). It is possible that the connection between Winchester and Calbourne originated with the grant of one quarter of the Isle of Wight to St Wilfred in the later 7thc (Finberg 1964, 216-17). It is not known when the bishop of Winchester established Swainston, near the eastern boundary of the parish, as a residence and administrative centre for the estate. This was presumably before the later 12thc, as the architectural evidence cited below would suggest. Swainston remained in the hands of the church of Winchester until 1283 when Edward I took possession (Lloyd and Pevsner 2006, 278).


Exterior Features



The upper story of the 13thc building has been referred to as a chapel in the past, but as Lloyd and Pevsner (2006, 280) state, this is unlikely, and it is more likely that this was a domestic chamber with an oratory altar at the E end. The later 12thc window in the adjoining structure would appear to have no ecclesiastical connections, lighting an upper room of secular function. As Lloyd and Pevsner point out, “Such an early feature in an essentially domestic building being a rare survival” (Lloyd and Pevsner 2006, 279). The upper part of the shaft appears to have been restored.


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

D.W. Lloyd and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Isle of Wight, Yale, 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 Archaeoogical 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, 2 volumes, privately published, 1891

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