Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
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Churchyard Tour
Churchyard Tour

Summer Outing to St Mildred’s Church, Whippingham

St Mildred’s Church at Whippingham was the perfect setting for our summer outing. Saturday was bright and sunny and one of the hottest days of the year, a stark contrast to the gales and torrential rain for our visit to Carisbrooke Castle in 2011. 25 members gathered at Whippingham ready and eagerly awaiting the tour.

There has been a church on the site at Whippingham since Anglo-Saxon times, its name coming from an Anglo-Saxon Princess who died about AD700. The church was redesigned by the Victorian architect John Nash in 1804 but is best known as Queen Victoria’s church. The Queen decided a new and more splendid church was needed, and designs were drawn by Prince Albert, the Prince Regent, himself. Building started in 1854, partially dismantling Nash’s church and erecting the new Chancel. The remainder of the building was replaced in 1861.

We enjoyed a guided tour of both the fabulously ornately decorated interior of the church and then of the churchyard. The church is cruciform in shape with a lantern tower, approx 30 metres high. As you look up, you see a replica of the Order of the Garter in the centre of the tower. Both transepts have rose windows, miniatures of windows in Notre Dame Cathedral. The pulpit was presented by parishioners of Whippingham in memory of Queen Victoria and has five panels cast in plaster and cupronised (coated in copper) depicting the Beatitudes.

There are exhibitions showing photographs of the Royal family, the history of the church and the recent restoration works which have taken three years to complete. Outside the peaceful churchyard, with views towards the creek, has tombs of royalty, royal servants, military, designers, engineers as well as many of the local parishioners. A large polished granite stone commemorates Uffa Fox, the renowned yacht designer. Parts of the churchyard are left to nature and a mass of meadow flowers encourage butterflies and wildlife.

The church is still in regular use and was decorated with white ribbons ready for a wedding later that afternoon. The tea rooms were closed due to the wedding but our perfect hostess Shelagh invited everyone back to her house for lunch.

It was such a beautiful summer’s day we all sat in Shelagh’s garden, some selecting the shady spots while others preferring full sun on the raised decking. We enjoyed quiche, new potatoes and salad followed by Shelagh’s special strawberry pavlova, trifles, and this time summer pudding. There were little leftovers!

Tea and coffee was served as quiz papers were handed out. Just for fun with all the questions based on Island history, the competitive side of our members soon emerged! Vying for top spot, teams huddled together conferring and shielding their answers from one another. Lots of laughter and smiles (maybe some smirks!) greeted the scores and results.

A great day was had by all.

Thanks to Shelagh for arranging the outing and for her extended hospitality at home. Thank you too to all the ‘kitchen staff’ who helped prepare, serve and clear away lunch.