Bembridge - St Michael

Walls Road, Bembridge, Isle of Wight

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The church is one of three Post-War churches in the diocese designed by C. Sheppard of Ryde. It is of no particular architectural or historical distinction.

From 1842 Mass was said in a private chapel at nearby St Helens and from 1859 in the private chapel at the home of Prime Minister Gladstone’s sister, Helen, who also lived at St Helens. It was not until 1935 that a permanent Catholic church was provided at Bembridge and this was in the former Wesleyan Chapel in Kings Road (built in 1844 and now a private house). Bembridge expanded greatly in the 1950s and a purpose built church was built, to designs of C. Sheppard, and opened on 20 June that year.

The church was an inexpensive building, costing £12,000 in 1965. It is a portal frame clad in red brick and roofed with concrete tiles. It is a straightforward rectangular church with only the entrance porch and sacristy projecting from the rectangle. The exterior is given interest by the use of stone facing on the gabled entrance wall, either side of a full-height glazed slot. The south side has a trio of full height windows which break through the eaves, whilst the north side has high level horizontal windows.

The interior is a single uninterrupted space, plain but dignified, light and spacious, with pews and sanctuary furniture of 1965. Only a few statues of saints were brought from the old church. The sanctuary lamp is Victorian and comes from St Mary’s, Ryde. The Stations of the Cross, which appear to be in some form of GRP, date from the 1940s and were brought here in the 1970s from a church in Hampshire. The corpus on the external cross mounted on the west window was brought here in the 1980s from St Joseph’s, Guildford were it had been part of a war memorial.

A £9,000 restoration was carried out in 1990 under architect and parishioner Andrew Mankowski.

Diocese: Portsmouth

Architect: C.A.F. Sheppard of Ryde

Original Date: 1965

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed