Dating from the 13th century when it was the chapel for the Estur family at Gatcombe House, St Olaves is a picturesque village church boasting an altar window by William Morris and others by his pre-Raphaelite group. It has a pretty little churchyard carpeted with primroses in the Spring.

Image credit: David Oxtaby (


The top window to the left of the south door is probably the oldest on the Island and is of an unusual feathered angel standing on a chequered board - thought to be a symbol of Christianity surmounting the wheel of human destiny. On the south wall, close to the door, a plaque explains which artists produced the various Morris panels.

A large marble of a recumbent Capt. Charles Grant Seely, whose family lived at Gatcombe House, tells that he died in Gaza in 1917 and a wooden effigy of a crusader lies to the left of the altar, possibly a memorial to an Estur family member. A story from the 1950s tells of a local girl, Lucy Lightfoot, who spellbound by the effigy, travelled back in time to be with the knight at a crusade.

The crenelated tower was built in the 15th century and there are interesting grotesque carvings beneath its parapet and the original font stands beneath it. The chancel was enlarged in the 19th century and two narrow archways were inserted into the east wall of the nave. The porch was rebuilt in 1910 using timbers from Nelson’s warship Thunderer that was being scrapped on the Island.