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St Mary the Virgin – Brading, Isle of Wight – Walks with a Vicar

Explore the glorious Church of St Mary the Virgin with Rev. Peter Barham (Northern Vicar), discover church history and a little of the island too.

“I’m having a day out on the Isle of Wight,” I said. The good folk of Derby gave me the look they have reserved for their daft Vicar, and I escaped on Wednesday 1 November (2017). I had an event in London that evening, so why not cross the Solent to get there? The reason for doing the Isle of Wight is that it is a major piece of track I have not since I was 40. The line runs from Ryde to Shanklin and is 8.5 miles long, all the remains of a network of 53 miles. This short line was electrified in 1967. It has been run by old London Underground trains, but needs about £40 million over the next few years, including £8 million for Ryde Pier. The current class 483s are 1938 tube stock, which were refurbished for this line and introduced in 1990. They won’t last much longer. Bus would be cheaper, tram might work … but, whatever, I need a ride.

I got off at Brading station and walked up the main street to the church of St Mary the Virgin – SZ 606873. According to the guidebook, “the tower – open on three sides – is one of only four like it in England”. I could do a google to find out where the other three are …  The steps lead to the bell tower – the oldest bell is 1594.

The main body of the church is C12, north aisle widened and roofed in the C13, windows C15. The font dates to 1631 – I assume the wooden cover is more recent, it is rather well-carved.

Interesting North Chapel and Chancel, with an interesting piscina and couple of tombs.

On the south side is the Oglander Chapel – a family who came to the island in the wake of the Norman Conquest, and have been at Nunwell ever since. The first tomb says “Here lyeth the body of Sr John Oglander of Runwell Kt., whoe was in his lifetime Deputy Govenor of the Garrison of Portsmouth under the Earl of Pembroke, Lord High Steward of England. He was alsoe Deputy Lieutenant of ye Isle of Wight under ye Lord Viscount Conway & under ye Earl of Portland. He was Justice of ye Peace & Coruner at 22 years old. He married Ffrances ye youngest daughter of Sir George Moore of Loseley in he County of Surrey Kt. She departed this lyfe at Runwell ye 28th. November 1655 in ye 70th yeare of his age. Sic transit Gloria Mundi.”

These tombs, and why is my first photo out of focus, is another John Oglander – apparently he was a famous diarist and friend of Charles I, he tried to help him when he was held at Carisbrooke. He died in 1655, aged 70. The armour he is wearing is C14, and the crossed legs were thought to represent a Crusader – perhaps he thought of himself as a Crusader. It is a lovely image – I want one. The smaller one above is his son, another John, I think. Probably carved in France.

On the south side is Oliver Oglander, father of the first John. The sun was in the wrong place. Apparently this effigy is French as well – did they buy a job lot and ship them over together? How did you buy an effigy in the days before e-bay?

An older tomb for Oliver Oglander, then a marble tomb for Henry Oglander. Rather gorgeous angels. Thank you Oglander family. The funeral of Henry Oglander is mentioned in the diary of Francis Kilvert.

I walked through the churchyard, past a rather lovely stone and what I assume is an old cross.

I walked down the east of the village, the area that was the original harbour, and crossed the line before returning to the station.There is a café and heritage centre here in the summer. Must come back and visit it, and visit the Roman Villa as well (visit their website here).

Walk with a Vicar – St Mary the Virgin, Brading, Isle of Wight contributed by Rev. Peter Barham, All Rights Reserved – Originally Published on in Dec 2017.

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Written By

Now retired, Rev Peter Barham is the Northern Vicar, a lover of exploring the UK and it's cultural heritage, we share his exploration diaries.

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