The Church of the Virgin Mary
St Mary's Church stands on a very early Christian site, it is recorded, though difficult to prove, that during the 680’s Saint Wilfrid landed in Brading Harbour, raised the standard of the cross and preached to the heathen Islanders from this site and thus began the conversion of the Island. We do know that Wilfrid was Bishop of Ripon from 634-709, that he was at the Council of Whitby in 664 (which was largely responsible for the dating of Easter as we have it today.)
Various additions have been made to the church over the years, one being the Oglander Chapel. Named after the Oglander family who came to the Island in the wake of William the Conqueror. Sir John Oglander's will dated 10-11.1649 made provision for erecting a tomb for his father, Sir William, and himself. The family have been at Nunwell ever since. The Oglanders are descendants of the D’Oglande family of Valognes, in Normandy, one of whom came over as Marshal to William the Conqueror in 1066. After the family settled in the Island, records show that the name went through such changes as Doglondre and Doggelander before it took its present form.
The Brading Church tower having an unusual feature of being built on four piers of which there are supposedly only three others like it in England. Prior to 1887 the tower contained four bells which were sound but needed rehanging. In the Jubilee year of 1887 four smaller bells were added and the whole rehung to make a full octave. A niche in the wall above the west facing tower entrance undoubtedly contained a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This was probably dislodged and smashed by the Cromwellians. Other signs of their desecration are to be seen inside the church. The stone spire rises from within the parapets of the tower. Its sides have a decided entasis, that is to say that they have been purposely built with a convexity or outward curve so as to correct the visual illusion of concavity.
In the churchyard beyond the south east corner of the church lies the gravestone of Little Jane Squibb of Little Jane's Cottage in The Mall. The cottage of the young cottager, (the original date of which is, however, unknown) has been the site of a thatched farm tenant‘s dwelling since the 16th. century.
Jane Squibb lived there and was immortalised in "Annals of the Poor" written by the Rev Legh Richmond, curate-in-charge of Brading and Yaverland 1757 to 1805. Jane used to visit his Sunday School classes held in Brading churchyard and church. She died of consumption aged 15 years on 30th January 1799.