766/5/11 SEVEN SISTERS ROAD
30-MAR-51 ST LAWRENCE
OLD CHURCH OF ST LAWRENCE
Very late C12 origins, S porch of 1805, bellcote early C19, chancel added 1842, restored 1926-1927 by Percy Stone.
MATERIALS: Stone with slate roofs
PLAN: Small two-cell church: nave with W bellcote, chancel to E, S porch.
EXTERIOR: S elevation: nave with two-light leaded windows with pointed or round-head arches and chamfered reveals of Victorian date except for window to E of porch which is earlier. Slate pitched roofs to nave, chancel and S porch. Gabled porch of 1805 with stone parapet and pointed arched doorway with drip stone. To W of porch, a bell in a wall mounted stone `cupboard¿ This originated from Appledurcombe Priory and is inscribed with the date of its gift from Sir Richard Worsley in 1777. Set-back chancel added in 1842 with a further two-light window. Chest-tomb, presumably Georgian with diamond decoration to S elevation, supports SE corner. E elevation: round headed E window within moulded rectangular frame. Further two chest tombs support the chancel E wall and NE corner. N elevation: scattered fenestration of similar form to S elevation but includes some single light windows. One such, to the E of the blocked N door, is set low in the wall and has a substantial stone head: this is possibly the earliest surviving window. Blocked N door with pointed arch. Window to its W has been foreshortened and is round-headed. W elevation: very shallow plinth. Simple W gabled bellcote with pointed arched opening. String course defining the division between bellcote and gable.
INTERIOR: S door with chamfered splays and plain round head on its S elevation, moulded Carnarvon arch to N, probably an original doorway which has been modified internally. Opposing blocked N door is later, probably mid-late C13 with a pointed arched and segmental outer moulding. Windows in deep reveals. Barrel-vaulted plastered roof. Exposed closely spaced tie beams at W end with a mix of raking struts, braces, and Queen posts, presumably to support bellcote. C13 aumbry or piscina with pointed arch in S wall. Stone floor to nave and chancel. Shallow steps up to latter. Victorian chancel, fixtures and fittings.
PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: Carved simple Victorian reredos. E window is the only one with stained glass: a depiction of Christ standing, in memory of Edith Holmes, again Victorian. Row of wooden coat pegs along N and S wall of nave of unknown date. Stone holy water stoop in NE corner of nave, possibly C15 and recovered from the churchyard pre-late C19 on historical evidence. Simple stone font in nave SW corner. Wall mounted decalogue on arched painted boards at nave W end. Also Royal Arms of 1674.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: Trio of chest tombs at E end which directly abut the chancel.
HISTORY: Although the first recorded rector of the parish was in 1201, the church dates to the very end of the C12. It probably originating as a manorial chapel before functioning as the parish church until 1878 when a new parish church of St Lawrence, designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, was built. From the late C19 onwards the Old Church is presumed to have become a chapel-of-ease.
Very little appears to have been written about the church and its history until the C18 and its relatively simple form means that little is revealing in terms of date. It is illustrated in Worsley's History of the Isle of Wight of 1781 when it is shown as having no chancel or porch but has a short stone bellcote with a pitched roof. The bellcote appears to be cracked in two. The only window shown is a two-light window to the E of the S door and a larger round-headed E window. Presumably this was moved to its current position in 1842 when the chancel was erected. A further painting of the church by John Nixon (1755-1818), the date of which is unknown but is presumed to be post 1781 because of the form of the building, can be found in the Carisbrooke Castle Museum. It shows the church largely as before but with an added square window to the SE but also with has a louvered bellcote with a spire that appears to be clad in wooden shingles. An article on display in the church, of unknown authorship but post-1878, recounts an illustration in 'Tomkin's Tour to the Isle of Wight' (1795) with a similar spire and indicates that the porch was an addition of 1805 by the Hon Charles Anderson Pelham. A view by Brannon of 1827 is described as showing the stone belfry in its current form. Mid C19 poem by John Green, churchwarden is entitled `On St Lawrence Church: Being the smallest in the British Dominions¿ a claim which it continued to make until it was lengthened by fifteen feet in 1842. An illustration in Barber's 'Isle of Wight' of 1845 shows the added chancel with the fenestration of the S and E elevations as at present. The chancel is attributed in the aforementioned article to the `late Lord Yarnborough' presumably Charles Anderson-Pelham, subsequently the 3rd Earl of Yarnborough (1835-1875).
Photographs from the early and mid C20 in the National Monuments Record show that it has changed little in the last century other than the electrification of the lighting (candles are shown on photographs of 1943). The 1777 bell was mounted on the south wall sometime in the first half of the C20. The roof was repaired in the late C20 when the slates were re-laid and the stone work repaired.
Lloyd, D and Pevsner, N., Buildings of England: Isle of Wight (2006), 767
Victoria County History, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Vol. 5 (1912), 193-195
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
St Lawrence Old Church, of very late C12 origins, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Date and form: a very small two-cell church of considerable charm and simple architectural form with much of its Norman nave surviving. Its sole enlargement makes it unusual as a little-altered medieval chapel.
* Fixtures: it retains an early font decalogue board and other items.