Although it was mentioned in the Domesday Book, the current church of St Mary’s in Carisbrooke dates from around 1120. The Saxon church was granted after the Norman Conquest by the first Governor of the Isle of Wight, William Fitz Osborne, to the Abbey of Lyra in Normandy.

Image credit: Richard Greenwood,


In 1190 the church was converted into a Priory Church with chancel and cloisters added to the north and the south aisle was built. By 1260 six monks and their Prior lived here. The tower was built in 1470 and in 1645 Charles I presented the Living of the church to Queen’s College Oxford who are still the patrons.

A large coat of arms on the wall is of Queen Anne (1704) superimposed on those of James II and Charles I. Before being imprisoned in nearby Carisbrooke Castle it is thought that Charles I worshipped here.

The oldest part of the building is the remains of Norman windows above the line of pillars down the centre of the church and a small Norman door in the north wall that led to the cloisters. The huge irregular roof beams are 500 years old.

An ornate tomb featuring cripples from the hospital she founded is of Lady Margaret Wadham, second wife of Nicholas Wadham, Captain of the Island from 1509 to 1520. The altar cross is thought to be Venetian from around 1450 and the font dates from 1612.

The present sanctuary was entirely redesigned by Seely and Paget in 1967.