St. Alban's Church
ventnor, isle of wight
1923 - 2023
"My Favourite Island Church"
- Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman CBE (1906 - 1984)
Welcome to St. Alban's Church
Celebrating 100 Years of Worship
Welcome to St. Alban's Church situated in the Victorian town of Ventnor on the Isle of Wight.
Founded in 1889 as a chapel-of-ease in the Parish of Godshill to counterbalance the extreme evangelicalism that was prevalent in Ventnor during the late XIX century, St. Alban's Church proudly continues its traditional Anglo-Catholic worship through Song & Prayer just the same as in our mother-church of All Saints' - Godshill.
This year we are celebrating our centenary, paying homage to 100 years of worship within our permanent stone church which was funded by the people of the Parish of Godshill within Lowtherville Upper Ventnor.
A Special service will take place on Sunday, 22nd June 2023 at 09:30 AM.
All are welcome to worship with us at 9:30 a.m. on Sundays.
We are a Pet friendly church
Traditional Anglo-Catholic Worship
St. Alban’s Church – dedicated to the memory of St. Alban (d. c. 209 AD) England’s First Martyr, was founded September of 1889 under the Curate-in-Charge of the Parish of Godshill Rev. Richard Ussher.
With the ancient Mother-Church of All Saint’ Godshill at a distance of 4 & ½ miles, St. Alban’s Church was formed as the Chapel - of - Ease to the Parish of Godshill. After plot of land was donated to hold the new ‘Tin Tabanacle’ of St. Alban’s Church in May 1889 construction took place and on the 13th September 1889 the church was opened, followed by the first service held on the steps on 15th September 1889 on what we now know as St. Alban’s Steps on St. Alban’s Road and Gardens.
By the outbreak of WW1 the old corrugated “Tin” church of St. Alban had begun signs of its age which initiated the creation of fund to build a permanent new Stone Church which was continued by the then Priest-in-Charge Fr. Smale between 1904 - 1908 and his successor the Rev. Smith who saw the construction of the ‘Old Parish Room’ in May 1900. The Parish Room was located opposite the church gates on the steps, which would eventually become the Church Hall before being demolished in 2001.
With the former plans drawn by London Architect Mr. C.R. Baker-King, the New Stone Church of St. Alban’s was rejected.
It wasn’t until the last Priest-in-Charge of the old Tin Church Fr. Graham Hunt Castle, M.A. took over in 1921 when progress was made.
A design by Ventnor Architect, Mr. Frannco M. Coley of Zig Zag road was proposed and featured a nave, adjacent sanctuary and the Lady Chapel. By 1922 the foundation stone of the Romanesque - style basilica we have today was laid during a ceremony at 11:00 am on the 15th August 1922 attended by Lt. Col. W Hartley Maud, C.M.G., J.P., D.L. On the Feast of St. Alban – 22nd June1923 the completed church of St. Alban was consecrated by the Bishop of Winchester Rev. Frank Theodore Woods.
Although a bell tower was due to be built to house the old 1890 bell from the “tin” Church, construction ceased due to the sloping landscape that is prominent in Ventnor. Instead the original bell was placed in a cradle at the rear of the church and is still used today as it was over a century ago. Keeping in tradition many of the original Vestments and church fittings are still used today as they were back in the days of St. Alban’s former Iron Church. Our traditional Anglo-Catholic service – sung in traditional language is served with the original thuribles, Sanctus bells and processional cross whilst baptisms are held near our original 1889 baptismal stone font.
Extreme evangelicalism was prevalent in Ventnor town during the 19th century and the church grounds were vandalised with littered and the original Banner of Saint Alban had Vitriol acid thrown over it by the Kensit preachers during a protest under the church wall in 1911. To the distaste of the Kensit’s, St. Alban’s Church continued the Anglo-Catholic movement within the Anglican community which continues to this day. The banner of St. Alban was salvaged by one of the congregation and returned to the Church in the 1970’s where it is currently displayed on the left hand wall in the entrance of the church.
THE FISH SYMBOL was originally used on buildings 2000 years ago as code to identify them as Christian homes and is still popular with many Christians today. Was it mere coincidence that when this Church was built, a large fossilised fish was exposed on one of the large columns, carved from solid Purbeck Marble?
The Old St. Margaret's Church
Upper Ventnor's First Church
The Old Lowtherville Church of St. Margaret's is believed to be the first Church in Upper Ventnor which stood on Lowtherville Road as part of the former "Lowtherville National School". Built in 1884 and dedicated to St. Margaret of Scotland (c. 1045 - 1093) - the patroness of Ventnor, it was demolished in the early XX century when the first St. Alban's Church became the place of worship in Upper Ventnor.
The former National School was moved to Newport Road, where it became St. Margarets C. E. Primary School before it was remodeled as the Island Free School.
Today, St. Margaret's Glade and St. Margaret's Hall are just a few reminders of the old church, whilst a small part of the St Margaret’s Church remains at the font in St. Mark’s Church, Wootton Bridge after it was donated and installed in 1970.
Priests In Charge of St. Alban-On-The-Hill, Ventnor
Origional 'Tin' Church
1889-1894 RICHARD USSHER
1894-1899 OWEN 'ANWYI
1899-1902 GEORGE MATTHEW LOVIBOND M.A.
1902-1904 WILLIAM MABBOTT WOODWARD
1904-1908 HENRY JOHN SMALE M.A.
1908-1921 BENJAMIN HORACE PERROTT SMITH M.A.
1921-1924 GRAHAM HUNT CASTLE M.A.
Consecration of The New Church 22 June 1923
1925-1929 CYRIL ERNEST HARDY B.A.
1929-1932 HENRY JOHN STONE M.A. M.C.
1932-1933 DONALD PICKERING
1933-1938 CHARLES VINCENT BERNARD HADDESLEY
1938-1952 ARTHUR MILTON RUMBALL M.A.
1952-1955 WILLIAM SIMPKISS M.A. M.M.
1955-1960 GEORGE BENET CHAMBERS
1960-1963 STUART WILLIAM BRAND B.Sc.
1963-1967 PETER EDWARD SIDNEY DAVIE B.Sc (Econ)
1967-1971 PETER HARVEY GATES
1971-1977 PHILIP EDWIN ILOTT
1977-1993 THOMAS PETER JAMES HEWITT M.A.
1995-2019 JOHN MERRICK RYDER M.A.
2019 - Awaiting the installation of a new priest
St. Alban The Martyr
Our Patron Saint
Saint Alban - England's First Martyr, known as 'Albanus' was born in Verulamium - Roman Britain (modern-day St. Albans) during the 3rd century AD.
According to the historian Bede, Alban served in the Roman army and was converted to Christianity by a fugitive priest whom he sheltered and with whom he exchanged clothes, so that he was martyred in the priest’s place in c. 209 AD.
The Feast of St. Alban is commemorated on 22nd June, although some in the Church of England celebrate his feast on 17th June apparently because of misreading of the Roman numerals XXII.
St. Alban's tomb was venerated shortly after his Martyrdom, and a church had been built on the site as early as 429. Later, the Abbey of St. Albans was founded there, and around it grew the town of St. Albans in Hertfordshire.
It is believed that our Pulpit at St. Alban's Church - Ventnor was crafted from the former beams of St. Alban's Cathedral in which we still use today.
Prayer of St. Alban
O GOD, by whose grace Saint Alban gave himself up for his friend and received the martyr’s crown as the first in this land to shed his blood for Christ; grant, we pray, that following his example and supported by his prayers, we may worship you, the living God, and give true witness to Christ our Lord.
Donate today for the upkeep of your church
If you are unable to leave your offering within the church or just feel that you would like to make a contribution, you can donate to St. Alban's Church online.
All donations go towards the upkeep of St. Alban's Church and our overheads.
You can choose your desired amount for as little as £1 or £5, £10 and £50 or more via the Give A Little website.
"Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" - 2 Corinthians 9:7
Issued by All Saints' Godshill & St. Alban's Ventnor
To worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, and to tell of His love to all the world.
We hold to the traditional Catholic Faith as taught by the Church of England.
As such we hope for our ultimate reunion with the ancient Churches of the East and West.
We give to the Mother of our Lord, holding especially dear her appearances at Walsingham.
Thus we pray that England once again may become The Dowry of Mary.
We are a traditionalist Church of England Parish under the episcopal oversight of the Bishop of Richborough and the Patronage of the Guild of All Souls and a member of The Society of St Wilfred and St Hilda.