St Catherine's Church

PO38 1SW

Early History

           The foundation stone was laid in June 1836 by Mrs Hamborough of Steephill Castle on its present site which was presented by Major Charles Poplin Hill.

            Mr John Hamborough built Steephill Castle and St Catherine’s Church which he endowed and presented to the Parish which was then the Parish of Newchurch. A district was thereafter created, and called the Ecclesiastical District of Ventnor. 
The stone of which St Catherine’s Church was built was quarried in the grounds of Elm Grove and from the base of St. Boniface Downs on which part of the Ventnor Railway Station stood. 

 

The Church is of early English design consisting of a broad aisle-less nave, lighted by Chancel windows with originally a tower and spire 100 feet high. The spire was removed in 1921 owing to it leaning. In 1842 the Church was enlarged and (beautified) again in 1850. 

The Consecration

Bishop Sumire of Winchester, on July 20th 1837, performed the consecration service one month after Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne.

 Church Changes

    The Chancel was built in 1849 and galleries erected on three sides, only one of which still remains. In 1864, Mr. Willis, a former Congregational Minister came to be the Vicar for the next ten years and was full of the energy of a convert to High Church Doctrine and to fit the edifice to his notions tore the Church to pieces.

The present organ chamber was built and the organ brought into it from the West Gallery.

 
    The pulpit, reading desk and high backed pews amongst other things were cleared out and a centre aisle with a new system of entrance doors was constructed. The floor of the chancel was raised and paved with Maur’s encaustic tiles. 
    The South Aisle was built as a permanent memorial to the Reverend John Hall Shaw who was incumbent from 1893 – 1897. The Clergy Vestry at the East end of the South Aisle was given in 1963 by Mrs Habe in memory of her husband who was Churchwarden from 1941 – 1960. Also in this year the font was moved from under the Gallery to its present position. 
St. Margaret’s Chapel was dedicated by the Lord Bishop of Portsmouth on June 30th 1967. 
    The Altar and furnishings were donated by Mrs Gore in memory of her husband, Churchwarden from 1963 – 1966.
    The Altar and rails were made by Mr. R. Clarkson, a local craftsman and the brass and candlesticks by scholars of Ventnor Secondary Modern School.
 
    In June 1971, the North Gallery was dismantled and St Margaret’s Chapel was moved to the north-eastern corner of the Nave. The seating on the north side of the nave was altered to form a North Aisle facing the re sited chapel. The South Aisle was screened off from the Nave, the upper part with architrave and the lower with movable wooden panels, designed by Newport Architect, Mr E. L. Smith. This area formed a long Parish Hall as at present.
 
The Vestry at the east end of the South Aisle was adapted for dual purpose use as a kitchen and choir vestry and was entered from the Nave by a newly installed door. Finally, provision was made for a  ladies cloakroom adjacent to the Porch.

                                                                                    Music

    Originally, music was provided by a Barrel Organ placed in the West gallery over the entrance to the Church which was blown by  means of a treadle, the handle of which was turned by a working man named Jeffery, who being somewhat of a musician, accompanied the singing in an alto voice. Later this organ gave signs of decay and occasionally startled the devotions of the worshippers by sighing un-exhausted wind.
    
Later, a member of the congregation lent a very fine Harmonium to the church, formed a choir, and greatly improved the musical part of the services. It was later replaced by an organ built by Forster and   Andrews of Hull. Being first erected in the now screened off area of the West Gallery and later moved to its present position and rebuilt in 1910.

 Address:- St Catherine's Church. Church Street.Ventnor. IW. PO38 1SW

www.isle-of-wight-memorials.org.uk/towns/ventnorindex.htm