The historic St Thomas Church in the centre of Ryde is 1 of 2 Isle of Wight Council-owned buildings which have been sold – generating a total of £278,000 for reinvestment.
The church was transferred to the Council by the Church Commissioners for England for community use in 2005, but lack of demand meant it has largely been unused in recent years.
Now it has been sold for £75,000 to a private individual, and as a grade II listed building its future preservation and use will be properly protected.
Also sold by the Council has been the former County Archaeology Centre in Clatterford Road, Carisbrooke, which has been empty for the past year. It has been purchased by a private individual for £203,000.
Councillor Stuart Hutchinson, Cabinet member for resources said:
“St Thomas Church is an historically-important and symbolic building in the heart of Ryde – but which sadly has had a fairly chequered recent history in terms of levels of use. We are pleased to have found a buyer to help preserve its future, which reassuringly will be governed by planning protections and church covenants.
“The former archaeology centre in Clatterford Road, was previously a school site, and has been empty since our archaeology service moved to Westridge at Ryde.
“Both buildings were at risk of deterioration and were incurring significant costs to maintain their security and to prevent vandalism. The capital generated from their sale will be reinvested as part of our ongoing commitment to regeneration, productivity and growth for the Island.”
St Thomas Church was rebuilt in 1827 for George Player, whose family owned much of the land in and around Ryde. It ceased to be used as a church in 1959 and fell into disrepair, before being rescued by the Friends and then Trust of St Thomas, and for a period after 1987 was run as an Australian Bicentenary Heritage Centre. The first fleet to Australia had sailed from off Ryde 200 years earlier.
The churchyard next to St Thomas Church, a green open space in the heart of the town, is also owned by the council, and was not part of the sale.