Holy Trinity Church Cowes, Isle of Wight
Holy Trinity ChurchCowes, Isle of Wight

Our Church Building

Holy Trinity, Cowes is a Church of England parish in the Diocese of Portsmouth and is situated on the north coast of the Isle of Wight, which is the largest Island in England. The seaside town of Cowes is world famous for its yachting and other sea-related activities including the premier yachting event 'Cowes Week', the races for which start and finish almost directly in front of Holy Trinity Church. The church is situated opposite the prestigious Royal Yacht Squadron, to which the Vicar is honorary chaplain. The church building is therefore clearly visible from the sea.


Holy Trinity Church was consecrated on Midsummers Day by Bishop Sumner, Bishop of Winchester, as "a place of worship on Cowes foreshore for the sailors and seafarers". It was built at the sole expense of Mrs Sarah Goodwin, formerly of Faringdon in Oxfordshire, to provide her son-in-law, the Reverend Maximillian Geneste with a "living". It was built in distinctive yellow Isle of Wight brick in the Gothic style. The interior is very light and free from pillars. It cost £6,687.


Sadly because of insurance restrictions we are unable to leave the church building open and unnattended, however on a Wednesday afternoon between two and four we have an 'open house'. People are welcome to come in to look around or sit quietly and pray, and then join our stewards for a refreshing hot drink and a chat.

Our Church Family

The church family is led by the Vicar. He is assisted by the churchwardens and by authorised members of the congregation who offer intercessions (prayers), read the lessons, serve at the altar and assist with the Holy Communion as Chalice Assistants. Music for services is provided by the organist, Mr. David White and the small Choir. For the monthly family services there is also the church Music Group.


Outside of services the Churchwardens also perform many of the everyday tasks that are required in order for the church to function, and there is also the Parochial Church Council which guides and adminsters the running of the church. As Christians we all have a role in leading our church forward. 


The parish of Holy Trinity is twinned' with the neighbouring parish of St. Mary's. The two parishes share a Vicar and a number of the parish activities are organised jointly.


We are also very dog friendly, as well as the fun dog show and annual pet's service, well behaved dogs are welcome at all our usual services.

Our Church History

Holy Trinity Church was consecrated by Bishop Sumner of Winchester on Midsummer Day in 1832. The building was erected at the sole expense of Mrs. Sarah Goodwin of Faringdon, in Oxfordshire. It was built to povide a living for her son-in-law, Rev. Maximilian Geneste, who was the first incumbent. The building was designed by Mr William Bramble of Portsmouth and built with yellow Isle of Wight bricks in the Gothic style. The absence of pillars in the church makes for a particularly light and pleasant interior.


In 1862 the church was enlarged by the addition of the Chancel and Sanctuary. This work was done at the expense of Charles Mew Esq. A member of a well known Island family.


Holy Trinity has always been closely associated with the Royal Yacht Squadron who have their headquarters at the old Castle just across the road from the church. Many of the memorial plaques on the walls of the Nave are to former members of the RYS and are a unique feature of the church. The church has always been regarded as the yachtsmen's church ever since it was built as "a place of worship on the foreshore, for sailors and seafarers". Today the links with the RYS are just as strong and we host the Regatta Services during Cowes Week. The Vicar of Holy Trinity is also Honorary Chaplain to the RYS. The church is always open during Cowes Week to allow visitors to enjoy the calm and peace of our lovely building. Our dedicated team of volunteers provide refreshments throughout the week to many people. The garden in front of the church is also a popular viewpoint for the famous Cowes Week Fireworks.


In the gardens at the front of the building can be seen the national Fastnet Memorial. This commemorates the Fastnet race of 1979 when many lives were lost in a terrible storm. Stone from the Fastnet Rock was used to make the striking memorial in the centre of the garden. The garden was dedicated on the tenth anniversary of the race.


The tower contains a peal of eight bells, cast "at the sign of the three bells" in Whitechapel by Messrs. Mears and Stainbank. The bells were dedicated on Trinity Sunday 1907. The bells are dead-hung and can be played as a carillon. The mechanical clock was built in 1837 by John Moore & Sons of Clerkenwell. Outside, at the base of the tower can be seen a Myrtle bush which originated from a cutting taken from the head-dress of one of Queen Victoriafs bridesmaids. It is said that the young Queen presented her wedding bouquet to the church. Connections with Royalty have been maintained over the years. HRH Princess Beatrice was a regular visitor and HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh has attended many of the Cowes Week Services.


The windows in the building are mostly of clear leaded glass. However there are some small stained windows in the Sanctuary. The East window is in memory of Mrs. Sarah Goodwin the founder of the church. She died in 1858 at the age of 79. It is probably a legend, but the ghost of Mrs Goodwin is said to appear in the Gallery on Christmas Eve. As far as we know she has not been seen in living memory. However, there have been other incidents in the building when people have been seen and then disappear. Strangely, it is often possible to smell Incense in the building, although it has never been used at any service. The other windows in the Sanctuary commemorate the first incumbent, Rev, Maximilian Geneste and his wife Sarah. The West window which can be seen in the tower is in memory of Col. Edward Loyd, the second patron of the parish who died in 1890. The second window on the South side was given in memory of Rev. John Bailey, Vicar from 1884 to 1901. The Third window on the South side contains colourful depictions of "Ruth and Boaz"


In recent years some changes have been made to the interior of the church to allow a more flexible and customer-friendly use of the space. The area under the gallery was enclosed with a timber and glass screen so as to create a room for small functions and meetings. A few pews have been removed to make space at the front of the Nave for musicians and to allow a more imaginative use of the space during special services. One of the penalties of being so close to the sea is that the land underneath the building tends to move. During the last year, extensive works have been carried out to stabilise the building, including the provision of new tie-bars at high level. The windows have all been repaired and much stonework has been replaced. The church is now in good condition and will, we hope, not need any major attention for some time.

We are located at:

Holy Trinity Church Cowes,

Trinity Church Lane,


Isle of Wight,

United Kingdom

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© Paul Slade