The Hampshire Advertiser, Saturday October 23, 1841

A meeting was held, on Tuesday last, at Major General Sir H Willoughby Rooke’s, bart, for the purpose of carrying into effect the building of a new church, at St John’s, near Ryde. Our respected townsman, Mr Thos. Hellyer, is appointed the architect, and has submitted the plans to the Diocesan Building Society at Winchester, which has been pleased to contribute the handsome sum of 250l towards so desirable and holy an object. The following gentlemen have also contributed very considerable sums towards it: Sir R G Simeon, bart, the site and 100l; Lieut. Col. Vernon F Harcourt, 100l; John Young, esq, (Westridge) 100l, Major-General Sir H Willoughby Rooke, bart, 25l; John Perceval, esq, 50gns; Charles Payne, esq, 20gns, &c.

The Hampshire Advertiser, Saturday April 30, 1842

The foundation stone of a new church of St John’s, in the parish of St Helen’s, was laid on Friday afternoon last, at three o’clock, by the Right Hon Lady Catherine Vernon Harcourt, daughter of the Earl of Liverpool. The clergy and neighbouring gentry met at St Clare, the seat of Lieut-Col F W Harcourt, amongst whom we noticed: Major General Willoughby Rooke, bart., Lady and Miss Rooke, Mrs Young and family (of Westridge), J Black esq., Mrs Black and family, (Sea-grove), T B Maynard esq., John Perceval esq., Thos. M Leacock esq., (Oakhill), Captain Jas Johnson, Miss Johnson, John Johnson esq., Lewis Wyatt esq., Edward Gross Smith esq., Miss Wall, Heathfield Smith esq., J Callander esq., and Mrs Callander (Springfield), the Reverend G Middleton, Rev Augustus Hewitt, Rev Wm Moore, Rev C A Griffith, Rev John H Vernon and a large number of spectators from Ryde and the neighbouring parts were present at this interesting scene. The children of St Helen’s and Ryde National Schools sang the old hundredth psalm at the commencement, and the Rev Wm Young, LLD, the Incumbent, read the office of prayer in a very solemn and impressive manner.

The following inscription on zinc was placed on the stone: The first stone of this Church, raised by subscription of the Inhabitants of the Parish, aided by grants from the Diocesan and Incorporated Church Building Societies on the site given by Sir Richard Gordon Simeon Bart, and dedicated to St John the Evangelist, was laid by the Right Honorable Lady Catherine Vernon Harcourt on the 22nd of April 1842. William Young LLD, Incumbent, Thos Hellyer, Architect, James Langdon and John Denham, Builders.

A silver trowel was kindly lent by the Freemasons of the Ryde Lodge for the occasion. (The town hall trowel, perhaps?) The children of St Helen’s National Schools took tea together in their schoolroom afterwards. We are happy to see this good work begun. It was only set on foot about the middle of last summer, and is expected will be ready for consecration in November next. The Church will accommodate about 400 persons, the greater part to be free seats. Its erection will cost about 1,200l. The site of the church is a hamlet of the parish about one mile from Ryde, a beautiful and picturesque spot near the seat of Sir R G Simeon, bart., called St John’s. There is a population of not less than 500 within its immediate vicinity, besides a great number of poor cottages contiguous, at Oakfield, and the parish church is nearly four miles off.

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