Assumed to be on the site of a timbered Saxon church, the existing Norman church in Shalfleet laid nameless for centuries until 1964 when it was dedicated to St Michael the Archangel.  It was recorded in William the Conquerors’s Domesday Survey of 1086, and the oldest part is its tower.

Image credit: John Salmon (geograph.org.uk)

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Built in the late 11th century, the tower has walls over 5ft thick and was built as a stronghold for the local inhabitants as this area was prone to attack by invaders such as the French, who laid waste to nearby Newtown in 1377; and pirates.  Accessible only by ladder, with no openings at ground level, the tower was invulnerable. Until 1779 a 3 pounder gun inscribed ‘Schawflet’ was kept within its walls.

In 1270 the church was remodelled and enlarged and the south aisle with its fine arcade of Purbeck stone piers added as a vicarial church. This was likely to house the manorial tenants as the original nave would have been reserved for the Lord of Shalfleet Manor and his family, across the road.

Many repairs were made in 2003 and 2006, including the rehanging of the two tenor and sanctus bells. The 13th century piscine remains in the south wall, the font has a 16th century bowl and the oak pulpit dates from the time of Charles I. There are four stained glass windows of note, including a nativity scene featuring the adopted children of the architect John Nash who had brick kilns built on nearby estuaries.