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St Agnes Church, Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight | by Norman Atkinson
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St Agnes Church, Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight



In 1908 it was decided to build a church in Freshwater Bay and so make a Place of Worship for residents and visitors.


Prior to this date, Services had been held in the ‘Iron Room’ in the Square. The building was unsuitable in every way – too cold in winter and too hot in summer, and looked unattractive outside.


The Reverend A. J. Robertson was Rector of Freshwater at that time and he made a water colour painting of the kind of building he felt he would like for a real Church in the Bay. The Architect, Mr. I. Jones designed the Church from the painting that the Rector had done.


An appeal for funds went out and met with a ready response, and the order to build was given to Messrs. C & W White. On August 12th, 1908, the new Church was consecrated by Bishop Ryle, then Bishop of Winchester.


The site for the Church was given by Lord Tennyson, son of the Poet Laureate – who lived at nearby Farringford. It was Lady Tennyson who suggested that the Church should be dedicated to Saint Agnes, as she had always admired this young and beautiful Saint.


Lady Tennyson gave the Church Porch as a memorial to her mother.


The stone used to build the Church came from an old and derelict farm house on Hooke Hill, Freshwater, and the date stone 1622 was incorporated into the vestry wall, thus rather misleading those who think the Church belonged to the 17th century.


The Church was thatched with Norfolk reeds by Messrs. Boulton and Paul of Norwich, and was probably the first building to be thatched with reed on the Island. The original roof lasted many years, but in 1962, it was necessary to re-thatch, and this was done by an Islander at the cost of £600 – the reeds again came from Norfolk.

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Taken on January 13, 2008