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Binstead

A delightful corner of the island, it has views of Spithead through its trees, and quarries to which Winchester and Chichester cathedrals sent for stone.

Binstead Church

The Norman church was built by an Abbot of Quarr, who "would not have all his tenants and the inhabitants of Binstead come to trouble the Abbey Church." The 19th century church has kept its Norman chancel with early 14th century windows and a mediaeval bell, and some of the carvings of the old nave are built into the west wall of the new one. The old south doorway (1150) is made into a gateway of the churchyard; the stout little man with a beard sitting above it on the head of a queer beast must have looked down on many generations of Binstead folk. From this Norman gateway we have the best view of the fine little chancel. There is a grinning face curiously set in curling feathers below the bell turret, and a tiny heraldic beast at the head of the two lancets. Some of the early herringbone work has been preserved.

The chancel is lined with beautiful quatrefoil panelling, and stalls once in the chapel of Winchester College. Between the two uprights of a reading desk is a striking piece of old Flemish crafts- manship carved in wood,representing Aaron and Hur supporting the hands of Moses while the Israelites fought the Amalekttes. A vigorous scene carved on a smuggler's gravestone in the churchyard shows the smuggler trying to outsail the officers of the law, who won the race by shooting him on board his ship. It was in the porch of this church that Horace Smith, writer of the famous Ode to an Egyptian Mummy, wrote these lines on leaving the island:

Farewell, sweet Binstead! take a fond farewell
From one unused to sight of woods and trees,
Amid the strife of cities doomed to dwell,
Yet roused to ecstasy by scenes like these;
Who could for ever sit beneath thy trees,
Inhaling fragrance from the flowery dell.

By a farmhouse at the end of a lane, with lancet endows, a parapet, and a bellcot, is a stretch of grey ruined wall which is all that remains of old Quarr Abbey, consecrated by Henry de Blois in 1132. The whole island came feasting here to crown so good a work, in which every inhabitant had lent a helping hand. The feast was on a summer's day in 1150; we called on a summer's day in 1932 and found cattle grazing where the proud founder lies-Baldwin de Redvers, who sleeps hereabout with his wife Adeliza and two sons Richard Lionheart loved. There are no marks for their graves, but in this little place they lie, proud folk of Norman England, their glory passed away.

They are not forgotten, for a new abbey has arisen, built by French monks in 1904, its walls of pure red brick inside and out, its pinnacled turrets designed by one of the community. It is the only church we have seen of its size built with entirely new ideas, and its extended nave and long choir, with the continuous line of arches from west to east, is one of the striking spectacles of the island.

Bonchurch

It looks out to sea from the slope of St Boniface Down, the noblest height in the island, rising 787 feet; the down and the village are both named after the Saxon saint to whom the tiny church is dedicated, a Devon man who was educated in Hampshire, evangelised Germany, and was murdered at Dokkum.

The old church, standing on a Saxon site, has been fashioned through the centuries and has a doorway believed to be made up with the curved stones of a Norman arch. The door itself is of very great age, studded with nails and built up of two layers of planks. The altar rail is made from the old roof beams. It is thought that the first church on the site was founded by Boniface before he left the monastery of Nursling for his lifework on the continent.