St.Olave's Church, Gatcombe

In the heart of the Isle of Wight

St.Olave's Church, Gatcombe

In the heart of the Isle of Wight
 St.Olave's Church,


The original St Olave's Church was dedicated in 1292, but over the years many changes and alterations have taken place. lt is unknown why it was dedicated to St Olave, the English spelling of St Olaf the patron Saint of Norway and of seafarers.

The church in the early years, served the Estur family as a chapel to Gatcombe House. The wooden effigy in the Sanctuary of a recumbent crusader is thought to be one of the Estur family. ln 1959 the then Rector, the Revd James Evans concocted a legend about a girl called Lucy Lightfoot who disappeared in a storm whilst in the church and was said to have gone back in time to be with the crusader. This fictitious legend proved very popular, with books written and films made about the story.

The small dog at the crusader's feet is said to come to life every hundred years and dance down the church path in the moonlight!!

Gatcombe House later passed into the hands of the Worsley family who gave ļ¬nancial support to the church and a number of Rectors. Over the centuries there have been many alterations. The tower was added in the C15th with some interior rebuilding. The porch was reconstructed in 1910 with timbers salvaged from H.M.S. Thunderer who fought alongside H.M.S. Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Sir Charles Seeley a later owner of Gatcombe House and much of the island, commissioned the choir stalls in memory of those who died in WWI. He also commissioned the large Memorial in the nave, to his son Capt. Charles Grant Seeley. The sculpture is by Thomas Brock who sculpted the Memorial outside Buckingham Palace, and this was his last commission. It was unveiled in 1922 by Oueen Victoria's daughter HRH Princess Beatrice, Governor of The lsle of Wight.

The window by the South door has, reputedly, the oldest piece of Medaeival glass on the lsle of Wight dating from 1430.

The church also has a large and very special East window and lancet windows in the Sanctuary, containing work by William Morris and the Pre Raphaelite artists.

There is a fully illustrated Guide Book that can be obtained in the church giving more details of the history of the church and its treasures.