The parish of Ryde, All Saints, formed in 1867, was the last of the Victorian Church of England parishes for the growing town, carved out of the historic parish of Newchurch. The resultant landmark church, majestically overlooking the town and Solent (and used for years as a navigational aid), was built to a decorated Gothic design of Sir Gilbert Scott and could be described as the crowning glory of that era. In the past she has been referred to as “the cathedral of the Island”. Its foundation stone having been laid in 1870, the church was consecrated in 1872 and the tower and spire completed in 1882. An elegant vestry was added in 1891, designed by Pemberton Leach. In the 1960s a modest utilitarian church hall, with kitchen (now improved), committee room and lavatorial facilities (now with ramp and access for wheelchairs), was built onto the south west of the building (concealed from both the north and east elevations which form the building’s frontage). The incumbent was “the Vicar of Ryde” and the church is still referred to as “The Parish Church”. Of course, now, the whole town is embraced by the ministry teams from St John the Baptist church, Aspire and All Saints, with the Priest in charge having the responsibility for the souls of those who live in the parish of Swanmore.
The present parish extends to the shore on the north boundary, to the edge of the Binstead estate on the west, to Haylands residential area on the south, and takes in a large part of the town centre to the east. The population of the parish is some 7,000, with a mix of housing/populace: shops, businesses, flats, large houses, small terraces, housing association accommodation, nursing/care homes and several schools (two primaries, one Church of England Voluntary Controlled middle, one senior academy, and the Island’s main independent school, Ryde School).
The parish includes a proprietary chapel, St. James, whose emphatic Reformed tradition and conservative evangelical theology have given them cause to leave the Church of England, and also the redundant chapel of ease, St. Thomas.
All Saints has had a major role in the life of the town, especially for civic events, and there is now once again a Town Council with its Mayor. The church, which can seat up to 600, is served by a modest but very useful car park within its curtilage, is moderately heated, has excellent acoustics, and is a popular venue for concerts. All Saints’ is used by different community groups for special services, and the town’s annual Remembrance commemoration is held here (where the Standards of the Ryde Branch of the Royal British Legion are laid up).