Ryde Churches, The Isle of Wight was divided into parishes which ran from North to South. This was the unusual arrangement which led to Ryde and Ventnor both being included in the Parish of Newchurch. A boundary stone, marked ‘N’ for Newchurch, and ‘St H’ for St Helen’s, can still be seen on the pavement opposite Cornwall Slip. The Parish Boundary runs through the middle of a house, which must have posed a dilemma for the inhabitants – which rate to pay?
Until the 18th century, the people of Ryde had to walk to Newchurch for services. Then in 1719, the Lord of the Manor of Ryde, Thomas Player, built a Chapel of Ease in the town. This was on the site of St Thomas’ Heritage Centre, the building you see today being built in 1827, by Thomas’ grandson, George. The Church of St James, in Lind Street, was also built in 1827, and had an impressive tower, later removed.
The Hampshire Advertiser, of Saturday, July 15th, 1843, tells of a new church in the pipeline:
‘The new Church, built at St John’s, near Ryde, will be consecrated on Tuesday morning next, at 11 o’clock. The Lord Bishop of Winchester will preach in behalf of the new funds for the church. (Begun in March, 1842, the architect was Thomas Hellyer, and the builders Messrs Langdon and Denham, of Ryde.)
The Rev R Waldo Sibthorpe, who has recently purchased a house and land at Nettlestone, near Ryde, intends converting the house into a Popish Chapel.
The Rev Robert Montgomery, MA, preached two excellent and eloquent sermons, to large congregations, at St James’s Chapel, on Sunday morning and evening last. We understand the same Rev Gentleman will preach at St Thomas’s Church, Ryde on one of the Sundays in August, in behalf of the New Church building in this town.’