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St. Blasius Old Parish Church

Shanklin, Isle of Wight

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Other features of the Church interior

The visitor coming into the church by the main South door will immediately notice the font, the pulpit and the cruciform shape of the building. The shape dates from the mid-19th century rebuilding when the North and South transepts were added with the Baptistery (now the Parish Room), and the old chapel was elongated to the West, where the organ loft is now.

The font

Some twentieth century guidebooks have referred to the font as "modern" but in the vellum register containing Records of baptism, from 1724 (mentioned in Mr. Hewson's memorandum of the neighbourhood) the date is given as 1697. Certainly, the stonemasons who moved the font when the Baptistery was transformed into the Parish Room said that the stonework was much older than the Victorian mortar, which had been used to hold it together. Part old, part modern, massive and plain, it now stands opposite the entrance in the South transept - a symbol of entry into the Church by baptism.

The pulpit

The impressive pulpit is raised in the South East corner of the transept and is clearly seen from all parts of the church. It was made in the mid-19th century at the time of the rebuilding and refurbishment, using older (probably 17th century) panels of strong Flemish or German carving.

Shown in the five panels, in order from the steps, are:

  1. St. Peter with his keys and book.
  2. St. Thomas, patron saint of builders, with his block.
  3. A smaller central panel of the Virgin with the infant Jesus.
  4. St. Bartholomew with the knife used when he was flayed alive.
  5. St. Paul with an enormous Sword of the Spirit.

The sanctuary and the chancel

The panelling and pavement around the Sanctuary dates from 1912 and is a memorial to the Reverend Barry Cole, curate and rector of the parish for 42 years.

The panels of the Ten Commandments, on either side of the East window were painted in the 1950's by Len Dunkinson who was organist and choirmaster at the church for some years.

The stalls in the chancel, now used by the choir, were originally for the use of the Lords of the Manor.

The kneeler by the altar rail begins the raised sanctuary area, and half conceals five fine black memorial slabs to members of the Popham family. The present kneeler cushions were embroidered by Mrs. Anne Burnett and dedicated for use in 2003. The new level makes the priests' 12th century sedile (seat) too low to be used. Next to the sedile may be seen a 12th century trefoil piscine for washing the sacred vessels.

At the crossing are two fine reproduction Jacobean chairs and two kneeling desks for the use of the priest and reader. The kneeling desks were constructed from old oak panels brought from Brittany. A table with Jacobean legs, formerly used as the altar, is now in the clergy vestry.

The parish room

The former baptistery was converted to a Parish Room in 1997, the work being designed and supervised by Eric Walsh, churchwarden. With the exception of the double glazing units, which had to be specially made, all the work in creating this facility was carried out by local craftsmen. The Parish Room not only houses the Silksted chest, it also contains a number of photos and engravings of the church in the past, and a case containing a family Bible of the Popham family, dating from the late eighteenth century.

The church's silver

The church possesses five chalices; the two early ones are in the shape of early drinking cups with no stems; the earliest, 1681, has a crest on it; the other, dated 1855, has the letters I.H.S. The three later ones are:

   one dated 1940 with the initials K.E.A.R. And    L.C.R;

   one dated 1965 and in memory of Alma James    Newman Nice, for nearly fifty years a chorister

   one from 1992, given by Mary Smith in memory
   of her son.

There are four assorted patens: the largest is from 1823 and marked "Shanklin Chapel".

There is a silver-plated flagon dating from 1855, the gift of George and Jeanette Forbes; this has a bulbous base ringed with two bands, one of which has in Latin the words, "This is my blood of the New Testament shed for many", the other has a pattern of grapes and leaves.

The silver wafer box was given in memory of Frances Carrie Cooper who died in 1952, a member of the church for 82 years. There are three communion sets for the sick, one of which, made in 1893, has a beautiful miniature chalice, paten and flagon, and was originally presented to a Rev. C.J. Whitehead.

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