Welcome to All Saints Church Godshill
Here people have worshipped for about a millennium. Before that it was a major pagan holy site, perhaps going back further thousands of years. The island was the last part of England to be converted to Christianity (C7) and we know a stone church was built here in the reign of Edward the Confessor (1042-66). Legend tells how the builders started to erect a church at the bottom of the hill only to find the stones repeatedly miraculously transported to the top. This it seemed was where God wanted the church and so that is where they built it. After the Norman invasion in 1066 the church was rebuilt and the building you are in is the fourth on the site. It dates to the middle of the fourteenth century, around the time of the Black Death, and is in Perpendicular style. A piscina (for washing Mass vessels) from the original Saxon church is incorporated into the wall to the right of the South altar.
One of the features of this church is that, as you can see, it is a double church. The north church belonged to the parish; the southern church was for the workers at nearby Appuldurcombe Priory. In the middle arches are slots where a wooden partition separated the two. The priest’s door, usually in the south wall, is therefore in the north wall. The door through which you entered dates back to the Cl4 church. The roof beams are mostly original (and resemble overturned ships), as are the windows, but not the stained glass. The lovely C20 stained glass window in the north wall was created by William Morris’ studio.
In the chapel on the South side is a most precious wall painting of Christ crucified, not on a wooden cross, but a lily branch. Known as the Lily Cross it is unique in this country. It was painted circa 1450 by an unknown Renaissance artist, possibly Italian. At that time the whole interior of the church would have been brightly painted with religious scenes (traces have been found on other walls). In the Cl6 and C17 Puritans ensured that these works of art were scrubbed off and church interiors lime-washed white. It is probable that the Lily Cross survived because it was carefully covered over to hide it. lt was rediscovered in 1842. The rood beam across the south church, with the figures of Jesus on the cross, Mary his mother and St John, is a replica of what would have been there in the Middle Ages.
Appuldurcombe Priory was “acquired” by Henry Vlll and rented to the Leigh family. On the tomb between the altars, the figures of Sir John and his wife Agnes have their feet, not on the usual dogs, but on boars (the cause of his death). The monks on the bottom of their shoes are praying for their souls (soles get it?).T he memorial on the north wall shows their daughter Anne and her husband, Sir James Worsley, at He had been Henry Vlll’s whipping boy, taking his punishments for him. (For this reason he was given the Appuldurcombe estate on his marriage to Anne.) The helmet has been recently dated to the C14 and was worn in battle by a Leigh, perhaps in the Hundred Years War against France. The church is full of the Worsley family memorials. One by the altar commemorates two young sons killed in a gunpowder accident at Appuldurcombe. The memorial to Richard Worsley (famous for suing his wife’s lover and getting only one shilling damages) is so grandiose and ostentatious that it has been hidden behind the organ; it is known locally as the bath tub. The St George statue commemorates a Godshill nineteen year old soldier killed in 1944. The latest memorial, right of the door, is for Admiral Sir Dudley Pound, First Sea Lord in WW ll. In the churchyard, on the left as you leave, is the CWGC maintained grave of an Irish soldier, a casualty in WW1, who died of wounds in the parish.
To worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, and to tell of His love to all the world.
We hold to the traditional Catholic Faith as taught by the Church of England.
As such we hope for our ultimate reunion with the ancient Churches of the East and West.
We give to the Mother of our Lord, holding especially dear her appearances at Walsingham.
Thus we pray that England once again may become The Dowry of Mary.
We are a traditionalist Church of England Parish under the episcopal oversight of the Bishop of Richborough and the Patronage of the Guild of All Souls and a member of The Society of St Wilfred and St Hilda
Christ crucified on a lily: 14th century mural in St Stephen’s Chapel, signifying those occasions (about 4 times a century) when Good Friday falls on Lady Day (The Feast of the Annunciation)
Links to more about the church:
Historian David Ross visits All Saints church in Godshill, Isle of Wight, with a church history, photos, and nearby historic places to visit. We love History! CLICK HERE
TripAdvisor with over 150 photos – CLICK HERE