300 years

This year marks the three hundredth anniversary of the consecration of the new Church of St Helen that replaced the old Church on the Duver that had been washed away by the sea.

In the year 704 A.D., Bishop Wilfred (c.633 to 709) sailed to the Island and landed at Brading Haven. A few years later, his chaplain, Hildila, built a church, almost certainly of wood, on the Duver.

In the year 998, when Ethelred (the Unready) was King, the Danes gained complete mastery of the Island leaving a trail of destruction. It is probable that the wooden church of Hildila was burnt to the ground during this incursion.

Following the foundation of a Priory at St Helens in the late 11th or early 12th century, the monks built a new church of stone, which also served as their chapel, adding a tower during the reign of Henry III (1216 to 1272).

The church fell into a state of disrepair following the departure of the monks when alien monastic orders were suppressed during the reign of Henry V (1413 to 1422).

By the middle of the seventeenth century the buiding was in a state of almost complete ruin. With the exception of the tower, the church was eventually washed into the sea.

The tower was bricked up as a seamark in 1703 and remains to this day. In 1717 work began on building a new church further inland that was completed two years later and consecrated by Bishop Trelawney, Bishop of Winchester, on 27th June 1719.

This June we are celebrating the 300th anniversary of that consecration.

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