St Olave's Church, Gatcombe, Isle of Wight - 4th October 2002

While out exploring one afternoon we came across this lovely church set in idyllic, peaceful surroundings.  St Olave was a king of Norway early in the 11th century.  He seems to have been anxious to promote the Christian Faith by severe action and was not always popular with his compatriots.  At one stage because of opposition to his rule, he fled the country.  He was killed when leading an army against those who opposed him.  He is often depicted carrying a battle axe.  Why he was chosen as a patron saint to this parish is not known.

Building began on the site in the 13th century and the church was dedicated in 1292.  It originally served the Estur family as a chapel to Gatcombe House.  The manor later passed into the hands of the Worsley family who provided the church with both financial support and a number of Rectors.

Gatcombe Church, Isle of Wight - MTC

Many changes have been made over the centuries. Buttresses of varying styles have been added to stabilise the walls.  Part of the original building can be seen in the vicinity of the lancet window in the south wall of the nave.  The tower was added in the 15th century, probably by the masons who were then working on the castle at Carisbrooke.   There are interesting grotesque carvings below the parapet of the tower.

The porch was rebuilt in 1910 by Churchwarden Robert Urry of Gatcombe Hill.  Timber for its rafters came from the warship Thunderer which fought alongside the Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.

In the 20th Century the chancel has been enlarged and tow narrow archways have been cut into the east wall of the nave (visible in the photograph below).

Inside Gatcombe Church, Isle of Wight - MTC

Window in Gatcombe Church, Isle of Wight - MTCWindow in Gatcombe Church, Isle of Wight - MTC

The windows in the Chancel and over the pulpit are the work of William Morris and his Pre-Raphaelite group.

The stained glass below is reputed to be the oldest on the Isle of Wight.  The unusual feathered angel stands on a wheel on a chequered board. A former rector, James Evans, believed the angel to be a symbol of Christianity surmounting the wheel of human destiny and controlling out lives with guidance and grace over the chequer board of life's vicissitudes.

Window in Gatcombe Church, Isle of Wight - MTCWindow in Gatcombe Church, Isle of Wight - MTC

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