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Church of St Boniface (Old Church)

A Grade II* Listed Building in Ventnor, Isle of Wight

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Latitude: 50.5991 / 50°35'56"N

Longitude: -1.1848 / 1°11'5"W

OS Eastings: 457787

OS Northings: 78023

OS Grid: SZ577780

Mapcode National: GBR 9F5.78K

Mapcode Global: FRA 87DH.47J

Plus Code: 9C2WHRX8+J3

Entry Name: Church of St Boniface (Old Church)

Listing Date: 30 March 1951

Last Amended: 6 January 2011

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1224516

English Heritage Legacy ID: 420596

Location: Ventnor, Isle of Wight, PO38

County: Isle of Wight

Civil Parish: Ventnor

Built-Up Area: Ventnor

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Isle of Wight

Church of England Parish: Bonchurch St Boniface

Church of England Diocese: Portsmouth

Tagged with: Church building

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(South side)
Church of St Boniface (Old Church)

(Formerly listed as:
(Formerly listed as:

C12 nave and C13 chancel. The west bellcote is of c.1830. The church was restored by Percy Stone in 1923 and 1931.

MATERIALS: Isle of Wight stone rubble with C20 tiled roofs.

PLAN: Three bay nave with west bellcote, south porch and lower two bay chancel.

EXTERIOR: The nave has stone coping to the gable ends with kneelers and a cross-shaped saddlestone to the east. The west end has a paired round-headed window, a square buttress and the roof has a square stone bellcote with small round-headed bell openings surmounted by a cross-shaped saddlestone. The south wall of the nave has two paired round-headed windows with leaded lights. The large gabled central south porch has a cross-shaped saddlestone and kneelers. Behind is a simple round-headed arched doorway with studded door probably of C17 date. There is a buttress to the east. The north side of the nave has no windows. The lower chancel has a paired round-headed window with leaded lights and a lancet window on the south side. The east end has a paired trefoil-headed window and buttress. The north side has a lancet window.

INTERIOR: The nave has plastered walls with incised lines to imitate masonry, except for the upper part of the north wall, and a tiled floor. A c.1900 photograph shows a plain round-headed chancel arch which was embellished by Percy Stone c.1930 with carved impost blocks and dogtooth ornament. He also added a step leading into the chancel. The roof of the nave was refurbished at the same time. The chancel has a further two steps by the altar, wooden altar rails not shown in a c.1900 photograph and a deep splay to the east window.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The upper part of the north wall of the nave has remains of Romanesque wall paintings of the first third of the C12 which include parts of two draped figures, a tower-like structure and swags decorated with stars. The top of this painting was lost when the height of the wall was later reduced. The chancel has a C17 Flemish wooden cross behind the altar on a base with winged cherubs, scrolls and swags, brought here in the early C19. A 1943 photograph shows a circular tooled stone font in the nave.

HISTORY: The present church was founded by monks from the abbey of Lyra in Normandy who had been granted the tithes of Luccombe and Bonchurch by William Fitz Osborne, Lord of the Island. However the dedication to a Saxon saint, St Boniface, who joined the Benedictine monastery at Nursling in Hampshire in 700 AD, later became Archbishop of Mainz and was martyred at Dokkum in North Holland in 755 AD, suggests there was a Saxon church on the same site. There is a legend that St Boniface preached here to fishermen on his missions from the Benedictine monastery. The parish of Bonchurch first occurs in Domesday Book as Bonecerce, a contraction of Boniface together with 'cerce' the Anglo Saxon for Church. The list of Rectors of Bonchurch starts in 1283. Charles I was brought here from his prison at Carisbrooke Castle to attend the burial of Sir Ralph Chamberlayne. The poet Swinburne was baptised here. This church ceased to be used as the parish church of Bonchurch in 1848 when the new church was consecrated. In an unmarked grave in the churchyard is buried the Chevalier D'Aux, leader of the French, killed in the 1545 attack on Bonchurch. John Sterling, the writer and poet (d. 1844) and William Adams, Church of England Clergyman and author (d. 1848) are also buried in the churchyard.

List of rectors of Bonchurch derived from Episcopal Archives in Winchester.
Whitehead, J L, The Undercliffe of the Isle of Wight, 1911.
Stacpoole, H de Vere, The Ancient Church of St Boniface, Bonchurch, Published by the Bonchurch Parochial Church Council. 1931. Re-published 1945.
Lloyd, David W. and Pevsner, Nikolaus, Buildings of England. Isle of Wight, Revised 2006. Ps 86-87.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entries for John Sterling and William Adams.

The Church of St Boniface is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural merit: a small Norman church with C12 nave and C13 chancel.
* Interior features: it has the only Romanesque wall painting on the Isle of Wight.
* Historic interest: this church was visited by King Charles I during his imprisonment at Carisbrooke Castle and the poet Algernon Swinburne was baptised here.

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