"My Favourite Island Church

- Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman CBE (1906-1984)



St. Alban’s Church – dedicated to the memory of S. Albanus (c. 209) England’s First Martyr, was founded September of 1889 under the curate-in-charge of the Parish of Godshill Rev. Richard Ussher. Upper Ventnor Lowtherville’s first place of worship was the Church of St. Margaret’s; built in 1884 in Lowtherville Road and dedicated to St. Margaret of Scotland (c. 1045 - 1093), The patroness of Ventnor.


With the ancient Mother-Parish-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 thefirst 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.


Serving the community of Upper Ventnor – Lowetherville, St. Alban’s became a focal

point of community life and held the funeral of Business woman and owner of the

former Royal Marine Hotel on Belgrave Road; Mrs. Ellen A. Judd (18889 – 1893) whos

funeral cortege consisted of 12 Carriages.  Mrs. Judd together with her husband

Mr. William Mew-Judd (1818-1913) is buried in Ventnor Cemetery.


By the outbreak of WW1 the old corrugated “Tin” church of St. Alban had begun signs

of its age which lead to 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.

Fr. Smale’s successor Fr. Smith continued the fund and saw the construction of the‘Old Parish Room’ in May 1900 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 for 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 late 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 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 soild Purbeck Marble?




founded in 1889 by rev. r. ussher


'         The Fish' symbol as used

         by Christians for 2000 years

      The Fish Fossil in a marble    

        column, is probably over

           100 million years old