Arthur Mee’s publications in the ‘The King’s England’ series - “the indispensable companion to the motor age” were originally published in the 1930’s to fill the demand for guidebooks fuelled by the growth of popular travel and the Youth Hostels Association, and the interest in England’s landscape sparked by such writers as H. V. Morton and S. P. B. Mais. A whole generation sought to rediscover their native land. Now, however, for the modern reader, his books have a twofold appeal: firstly as a guidebook pure and simple, a function it fulfils admirably, and secondly as an historical document in its own right, a fascinating glimpse of England on the eve of the Second World War.

Communities are examined alphabetically, village by village and town by town. In Arthur Mee’s elegant prose, we meet not only the famous and the mighty but also the lesser figures, patiently chronicled by the author’s journalistic pen, who have their place, albeit minor, on history’s stage. An example from the Isle of Wight is when he brings into glare of the 21st century, one Horace Smith, a poet of Binstead.

It was in the porch of this church that Horace Smith, writer of the famous Ode to an Egyptian Mummy, wrote these lines on leaving the island :

Farewell, sweet Binstead! take a fond farewell
From one unused to sight of woods and trees,
Amid the strife of cities doomed to dwell,
Yet roused to ecstasy by scenes like these;
Who could for ever sit beneath thy trees,
Inhaling fragrance from the flowery dell.”

Arthur Mee described his anthology 'A Thousand Beautiful Things: Chosen from the Life and Literature of the Word' as a “miscellany of beauty”: “In these pages are poems that will never die, thoughts that have come to us down the centuries, words that fill the air with music when they are said aloud, pictures we all love to see, gems of craftsmanship from artists who love beauty and have served it well, sculptures that adorn the galleries of the world.” All of the extracts (poetry, Bible passages, quotations from great men and women…) are fairly short, so that this volume (like the Book of Everlasting Things) is an excellent resource for anyone requiring suitable passages for copywork. In this respect he was instrumental in setting standards by which the beautiful in all its expressions could be defined. His descriptions of the country’s beauties are described with adjectives that always seem fresh and evocative. Not least, even today, they stimulate people to visit the places he singled out as being exceptional and worthy of a visit after which we are seldom dissapointed. The following gazeteer is based on the Isle of Wight section of the Hampshire King's England.


Arreton takes us back 1000 years in its wonderful church, which has a Saxon doorway and eight Saxon windows, a Saxon piscina, and a piece of Saxon sculpture. Yet not even these exhaust the interest of Arreton, for it has a perfect Jacobean farmhouse with a wing at each end, a pond sheltered by willows, charming cottages tucked away behind the inn, and groups of lovely trees with a glorious copper beech by the church gate.

A splendid Tudor porch, with a vaulted roof, leads us into one of the most charming church interiors in the Isle of Wight. It once belonged to Quarr Abbey and was largely rebuilt in the 13th century. Nearly every building century has given it something. It is long, lofty, and wide, with a fine nave arcade, graceful chancel arches, beautiful windows, a 1000-year-old font and a new one, a handsome pulpit made by a local carpenter from Jacobean panelling found in an inn, the old rood stairs, a 17th century chest, and a copy of the first edition of Foxe's Book of Martyrs. In the south chapel is a beautifully carved table made by an Elizabethan craftsman, and two brasses. One brass has a poem on William Serle telling us of the charities he left and that he died a bachelor in 1595. The other brass is a headless figure in 14th century armour, all that is left of the portrait of Harry Hawles, who has a rhyme ending:

Long tyme steward of the Isle of Wyght
Have m'cy on hym, God ful of myght.

The Saxon builder and the mediaeval craftsman bequeathed to Arreton a rich and varied legacy. Few churches can have more Saxon windows, six of them circular (three on each side of the nave with quatrefoil tracery of a later date) and two of them roundheaded. One of the round-headed windows is above the tiny Saxon doorway leading into the century tower. The best of this group of Saxon windows is in the chancel, the narrow and deeply splayed window making a lovely setting for a crucifixion scene. Set in the wall of the north aisle are two fragments of sculpture, one a Saxon carving of the Ascension fading out of recognition, the other a lifelike dragon's head from a I2th century statue of St George. The new font, which has a cover carved by a local lady, stands on an ancient pillar and has one ancient panel in the sides of the bowl.

It has two fishes on it which were rescued, fittingly enough, from a stream in the vicar's garden, where the panel was found.

There are some delightful corbels in the chancel, and there is a relationship which would hardly be guessed at between two stone heads in an arch near the pulpit; they look across at one another as they often did in life, representing a curate and his clerk. There are two Westmacott monuments to an ancient family of the island, one in memory of a boy drowned in a storm-tossed boat, which is shown in relief, and a third monument is to the last baronet of the family, Sir Leonard Worsley Holmes, whose wife and daughters are seen mourning for him. His youngest daughter died a few days after him and was buried in his grave.

So this old church thrills with its touch of history down 1000 years, and we were interested to find its sanctus bell still hanging in the belfry. In the churchyard, where the weathervane has been showing the way of the wind for 200 years, are two stones standing together, marking the graves of two sisters, one famous in the island as the heroine of one of the tales of Legh Richmond. She is Elizabeth Wallbridge, and at the death of her sister she was a servant at a great house. Legh Richmond, who was a curate on the island at the time, took the funeral service, and from the letter of gratitude written to him by Elizabeth sprang up a great friendship. Richmond made her the heroine of his story of The Dairyman's Daughter, a story which was printed in six languages and had a sale of two million copies. Her father's cottage is a plain slate-roofed house at Hale Common.

There are three fine old manor houses within easy reach of Arreton, and above the village is Arreton Down, with traces of Saxon and earlier civilisation and a magnificent view 444 feet up.

Arreton Manor once belonged to Alfred The Great and is mentioned in his will. As it stands today it is an early 17th century house (rebuilt between 1595 and 1612) with contemporary furniture and fine pictures in its seventeenth century panelled rooms. It has a museum of toys and domestic bygones, and is open to the public every day in the summer. Only a mile distant is Haseley Manor, completely restored from a ruin dated 1550.


Barton Manor has a longer history than Osborne House, its grander neighbour. The medieval h ouse, wholse predecessor was Barton Oratory, a religious house, was rebuilt by Victoria and Albert and the farm was used for scientific agricultural experiments.


Bembridge lies in the south-east corner of the island, a quiet, restful place amid much natural beauty, the sea, a harbour, and the downs. It has a school founded in our own time by Mr Howard Whitehouse and most deservedly famous already, built on the cliffs a mile or two from the village. Its handsome buildings are spread over extensive grounds, and the chapel is remarkably beautiful, with an impressive tower, which is an island landmark. We may climb it if we will ask permission.

Mr Whitehouse, founder and first warden of Bembridge, has infused into the atmosphere of the school the spirit of two of the noblest men of his time. He knew John Ruskin and has preserved s for the nation his home on Lake Coniston. He knew Dr Nansen and sent out his boys to Oslo to pay homage to him. They made a model six feet square illustrating Nansen's journey Farthest North. Round the margins were models of the Fram and of many of the accessories Nansen took with him.

As for John Ruskin, the founder has built up an association from which the school cannot escape, for in the grounds are the Ruskin Galleries, housed in a building of great beauty, and containing a unique collection of pictures, 300 of them original drawings by Ruskin in water colour, pen, and pencil. It is the most important collection of his drawings in existence, and includes many of the original plates for his books. The collection also includes works by artists associated with Ruskin, among them Sir Edward BurneJones, Walter Crane, T. M. Rooke, and Arthur Severn. There is also an art library, with many original Ruskin manuscripts.

Near Bembridge School is the great Culver cliff, a natural sanctuary for wild sea birds, and notable in literary history, for our poet Swinburne knew it and loved it, and as a boy climbed its precipitous slopes.

Bembridge Windmill is a stone towwer mill with a wooden cap. It was built about 1700, and was in use until 1913. Now the last windmill left in the Island, it was given in 1961 to the National Trust. It is open every day in the summer, and the working of the wooden machinery is explained to visitors.

The small Brading Harbour is said to come into the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle with the description of one of Alfred's naval battles. Danish pirate ships were constantly appearing off the coast, and it was to deal with these that Alfred turned shipbuilder. His ships were twice as long as the Danish; some had 6o oars, some more. What may have been the first British naval battle is described with much detail in the Chronicle under the year AD 896. The pirate fleet had been plundering along the South Coast, and had taken refuge in some land-locked harbour of the Isle of Wight. Alfred's new ships besieged the Danes. At low water the opposing crews fought on the sands; but before the battle could be decided the tide turned, and the sands which had witnessed the fight were covered with the incoming waters. One by one the boats righted themselves and were once more afloat; but the Danish boats, being smaller, were able to get out of the harbour first. Two of them were wrecked before they passed the cliffs of Beachy Head, and the crews were captured and brought before the King at Winchester. It is sad to read that Alfred ordered them to be hanged, an unusual decision, for he was truly merciful. In 1878 an embankment was built across the harbour to carry a new road and railway, which cut off Brading, the original crossing of the Yar, from the sea.

Foreland is the most easternmost point of the island. This is the best rocky shore on the island, The limestone pavement supports one of the best communities of seaweeds in the country and the sheltered channels contain large beds of eel-grass.


Binstead is a delightful corner of the island, it has views of Spithead through its trees, and quarries to which Winchester and Chichester cathedrals sent for stone. The Norman church was built by an Abbot of Quarr, who "would not have all his tenants and the inhabitants of Binstead come to trouble the Abbey Church." The 19th century church has kept its Norman chancel with early 14th century windows and a mediaeval bell, and some of the carvings of the old nave are built into the west wall of the new one. The old south doorway is made into a gateway of the churchyard; the stout little man with a beard sitting above it on the head of a queer beast must have looked down on many generations of Binstead folk. From this Norman gateway we have the best view of the fine little chancel. There is a grinning face curiously set in curling feathers below the bell turret, and a tiny heraldic beast at the head of the two lancets. Some of the early herringbone work has been preserved. The chancel is lined with beautiful quatrefoil panelling, and stalls once in the chapel of Winchester College. Between the two uprights of a reading desk is a striking piece of old Flemish craftsmanship carved in wood, representing Aaron and Hur supporting the hands of Moses while the Israelites fought the Amalekites. A vigorous scene carved on a smuggler's gravestone in the churchyard by the east end shows the smuggler trying to outsail the officers of the law, who won the race by shooting him on board his ship. It was in the porch of this church that Horace Smith, writer of the famous Ode to an Egyptian Mummy, wrote these lines on leaving the island :

Farewell, sweet Binstead! take a fond farewell
From one unused to sight of woods and trees,
Amid the strife of cities doomed to dwell,
Yet roused to ecstasy by scenes like these;
Who could for ever sit beneath thy trees,
Inhaling fragrance from the flowery dell.

By a farmhouse at the end of a lane, with lancet windows, a parapet, and a bellcot, is a stretch of grey ruined wall which is all that remains of old Quarr Abbey, consecrated by Henry de Blois in 1132. The whole island came feasting here to crown so good a work, in which every inhabitant had lent a helping hand. The feastwas on a summer's day in 1150; we called on a summer's day in 1932 and found cattle grazing where the proud founder lies- Baldwin de Redvers, who sleeps hereabout with his wife Adeliza and two sons Richard Lionheart loved. There are no marks for their graves, but in this little place they lie, proud folk of Norman England, their glory passed away. They are not forgotten, for a new abbey has arisen, built by French monks in 1904, its walls of pure red brick inside and out, its pinnacled turrets designed by one of the community. It is the only church we have seen of its size built with entirely new ideas, and its short nave and long choir, with the continuous line of arches from west to east, is one of the striking spectacles of the island.

The quarries of Binstead supplied the building stone, and unusual type of limestone for buildings such as Winchester Cathedral and Romsey Abbey.


The Victorians praised the village of Bonchurch in no uncertain terms; some said it was `heaven on earth'. Many literary people came here to live or to stay awhile — Dickens, Tennyson, Thackeray, Macaulay. It still has something of a peaceful Victorian atmosphere — large houses set among trees, a village pond converted from a swamp, given by H. de Vere Stacpoole, author of The Blue Lagoon, and unexpected views of the sea.
Bonchurch rests on terrace above the shore with steep flight of steps connecting them. The area was once noted for its stone quarries and a pyramidal stone erected near the pond in 1773 an example of the local stone. Horseshoe Bay lies at the foot of the village, a delightfully secluded little place where one can sample fresh seafood.
The beautiful old church, dedicated to St Boniface, is a simple nave-and-chancel building of the thirteenth century standing within sound of the waves below. Higher up is the new church of 1847-8, where in the churchyard is the grave of the poet A.C. Swinburne; he lived at East Dene from 1841 to 1865. Dickens wrote part of David Copperfield at the house named Winterbourne (now a hotel).
Bonchurch looks out to sea from the slope of St Boniface Down, the noblest height in the island, rising 787 feet; the down and the village are both named after the Saxon saint to whom the tiny church is dedicated, a Devon man who was educated in Hampshire, evangelised Germany, and was murdered at Dokkum.

The old church, standing on a Saxon site, has been fashioned through the centuries and has a doorway believed to be made up with the curved stones of a Norman arch. The door itself is of very great age, studded with nails and built up of two layers of planks. The altar rail is made from the old roof beams. It is thought that the first church on the site was founded by Boniface before he left the monastery of Nursling for his lifework on the continent.

In a new church on a site given by the wife of James White of Punch worshipped Elizabeth Sewell, whose tales for children were much read last century. In this church are six windows filled with old glass, painted with saints in rich robes by 15th century Flemish artists. There is also a charming little window with a figure of St Edith in memory of another worshipper, Edith Swinburne, the companion window with a figure of St Benet being to the memory of Admiral Swinburne. They were both friends of the church, and the most famous member of their family, Algernon Charles, the poet, lies in the churchyard, which is like a garden with little vales and hills among trees and flowers and shrubs. The Swinburne graves lie close by the path, all alike with grey stone; the poet had a home here called East Dene, the charming old white house backed by trees with the wide sweep of the lovely bay in front of it.

Every visitor to Bonchurch knows the beautiful water bordering the village street, and every bird knows it, too. It was part of the garden of Mr H. de Vere Stacpoole, the novelist, but its charm belongs to all who pass. It has an inscription to Margaret de Vere Stacpoole, and is a memorial to the novelist's wife which has now been presented to the village, and is to be kept, we hope, always as beautiful as we found it.

The history of Bonchurch is linked with a remarkable group of names. Here Macaulay lived for a time (at Madeira Hall on the Ventnor road). He would walk up this winding drive flanked by the rocks to which the coast here owes its rare beauty. Here Tennyson loved to come, though once he had the unpleasant experience of being set upon by unmannerly ladies who seized his hat and cut it into pieces-like rosemary, for remembrance. Here also is a hilltop which Mr Howard Whitehouse, the founder of Bembridge School, has given to the National Trust, naming it Nansen Hill. Here Scouts and Guides may camp, catching, let us hope, something of the indomitable spirit of the man whose name it bears: We must hope that the Isle of Wight is proud to have his name on its map.

Bonchurch was the birthplace of Sir Thomas Hopsonn, who became a tailor's apprentice but for ever heard the call of the sea and ran away to join the Fleet. His resourcefulness and his love of high enterprise earned him swift promotion, and his courage and skill won him a knighthood from Queen Anne.

Not yet is the list of famous men of Bonchurch exhausted, for in the graveyard of the old church sleep not only Swinburne but two other Victorians, William Adams and John Sterling. William Adams was a preacher and writer beloved by all throughout the island. He lived at the house called Winterbourne. As we look at his grave we are reminded of the best known of his beautiful allegories, The

Shadow of the Cross, for an iron cross casts its shadow across the grave when the sun is shining. John Sterling was one of the early Liberals. Everyone who knew him felt that he was remarkable, but the sum total of his achievements did not suffice to make him famous.


Brading was once known as 'The King's Town of Brading' and relics of those times, including its charter of 1547, can be seen in the Old Town Hall Museum. On the ground floor of the building is the old gaol with the stocks and whipping-post.

Brading was a port with a quay until the estuary was reclaimed in 1878-80, and soon after this it ceased to be a borough, though it has now regained town status. The site of the old quay and seawall is at the far end of Quay Lane; from here footpaths cross the marshes to Bembridge and St Helens. After several abortive attempts the sea was drained when the embankment at Bembridge was completed; the reclaimed land consists of tidal silt and sand and is used for grazing cattle. It is an important breeding area for birds such as lapwings, herons, warblers and coots. Many aquatic plants not found elsewhere in the island can be seen here.

At the road junction in the centre of the village there is a bullring, a relic of the days when the sport of bull-baiting was popular. The governor of the island provided a bull and the mayor and corporation attended in full regalia to watch this barbaric sport.It is said that when Wilfrid sailed from Selsey to convert the Jutes in the Isle of Wight he chose Brading for his first sermon, so that it has been a place for pilgrims since the 7th century began. The church goes back 800 years, and has two of its consecration crosses still seen; but Brading goes back farther yet. It has three wooden statues of a family 800 years old, and remains of a house 800 years older.

The statues represent three Oglanders, members of a family holding land in the Island since they landed with the Conqueror at Pevensey. It was Sir John of the days of Cromwell who wrote the history of the island, and he is one of the three statues which make this church a place of pilgrimage. They are in the 15th century chapel, panelled with a low wooden screen and decorated with small coloured shields. There are two imposing wooden figures and a small replica. The big ones are to Sir William Oglander, who died in 1607, and Sir John who died in 1655; the small one, in a niche behind his father's tomb, is of Sir John's only son George, a mite two feet long. The best of the three is the earliest; it shows Sir William with a noble head, wearing an Elizabethan beard and ruff; he has black and gold armour and his sword-hilt is beautifully carved and gilded. Sir John's statue shows him as a grey-bearded man in black and gold, his feet on a lion and his shield emblazoned with a gold bird on a blue ground. He was in this church one Sunday in 164.7 when the news of Charles I's arrival in the Island came to him. He rode over the next day to Newport to offer the king his homage, and the king came to see him at Nunwell, where Sir John went on his knees and offered him a purse of gold.

Near by is the table tomb of Oliver Oglander, older than all these, for he died in 1530. He kneels with his wife and seven children on one side of the tomb, facing a group of crippled beggars who have evidently thrived upon their charity.

The oldest monument in the church is a stone in the chancel floor, engraved with the delicate outline portrait of John Curwen, Constable of Porchester Castle, who died in 1441. His armoured figure stands under a beautiful canopy with the symbols of the Evangelists and six saints in niches. The stone was precious to antiquarians because the head, hands, and the sword-hilt were filled in with enamelled metals, which have now been stolen. The handsome altar in the Oglander chapel is Jacobean; it has lovely silver and crystal candlesticks. The altarpiece is a modern reproduction of the Pieta by Francia in the National Gallery. The chapel has also a beautiful Stuart chair inlaid with flowers in variously toned woods.

The arcades belong to the first period of English building, the arches resting on round pillars with carved capitals shaped by the Normans. There is a chest with iron handles and a slot for coins made in 1637, a charming marble font bowl of about the same time on a I3th century stem, and a brass candelabra of I798, made in Holland.

The fine tower is about 70o years old and like no other in the Island, for it is pierced with arches so that mediaeval Sunday processions round the church might pass through unhindered. The beacon irons once fixed to the top of the tower are in the porch.

When the 18th century met the 19th Brading had a popular curate named Legh Richmond, whose moral tales were printed as The Annals of the Poor. They were very popular, and three of his stories of rural life are often remembered. One was called ,Jane the Young Cottager. Jane was real, a delicate girl who attended Legh Richmond's Bible class and won his heart. She died when she was but 15; her grave is just beyond the chancel, and on it is written:

A child reposes underneath this sod,
A child to memory dear, and dear to God;
Rejoice; yet shed a sympathetic tear;
Jane the Young Cottager is buried here.

Her cottage was prettily covered with creeper when we called.

In this churchyard also sleeps an old man, Benjamin Maund, a chemist and bookseller of Worcestershire who made himself a name by his love of flowers, and has a collection in the British Museum. By the church are some half-timbered houses and the little town hall, which keeps the village stocks and whipping-post. Let into the ground at the top of the hill above the station is an iron block with. a hole in it; it is the old bull ring.

A mile or two away is a splendid hill 400 feet high called Ashey Down, with one of the noblest views of the Island, and on it are I2 burial mounds in which lie men of the Bronze Age.

We have a glimpse of Nunwell, Sir John Oglander's house, from the road; parts of it are modern, the oldest parts Tudor. Yet young indeed is Nunwell compared with the oldest house in Brading. It was found when an amateur archaeologist heard two children quarrelling over some potsherds (later recognised as Saurian) which had) one of the finest Roman villas in the land. It has been carefully excavated and preserved, and can be seen by all.

The size of the Roman villa and its elaborate mosaic floors show that it must have been the home of an official of some consequence. There were two blocks of buildings to the right and left of the villa, one with a hypocaust having 54 little the pillars to support the floor. These were not so interesting as the villa proper, however, and one of them has been covered up, part of the other being left to show the hypocaust. The villa has 12 rooms, some with plain tessellated floors, others with patterned pavements mostly in a good state of preservation and looking like carpets.

The hall of the house is 50 feet long and has for the subject of its pavement one that was popular with the early Christians, Orpheus charming the wild things with his lyre. A peacock, a coot, a fox, and a queer little monkey in a red cap are listening to the young god's music. The monkey is an unusual addition. There are the remains of a pavement in another room, with a gladiator, a fox under a tree, a little house with a flight of steps, the watchman, with the head and legs of a cock, and two fabulous winged animals, as part of its decoration. In the middle is a head.

The best pavements are in a room about qo feet long which appears to have been divided by a curtain, as one end is wider than the other. Between the two ends is a strip of pavement divided into three panels. Its central subject is a black-bearded astronomer seated by a pillar with a sundial on it, pointing with a stick to a globe below it, and a vase with what seems to be a pen sticking out of it is on his other side. It has been suggested that he is Hipparchus, the first great astronomer. Each part of this long room has picture pavements. One has been rather badly damaged; the subject of its remaining panel is the rescue of Andromeda by Perseus, who carries the Gorgon's head. At each corner is a bust of one of the seasons. Spring has almost entirely gone, but Summer has poppies in her hair; Autumn is garlanded with corn; Winter has a clock fastened on her shoulder by a brooch, and is holding a bare branch with a dead birch hanging from it. A peacock inquisitively examining a vase of flowers, his long tail trailing, has fortunately escaped damage.

The best of these rich pavements has in the centre Medusa, with dark eyes and snaky locks furiously writhing. Four square panels hedge her about, and in each are two graceful figures, a man and a woman, some wearing quaint costumes. Four horn-blowing satyrs fill the triangles between the base of these squares and the edge of the pavement, and the whole is bound together by borders of intricately interlaced designs. Another narrow strip joins this fine pavement. It is decorated with queer creatures, half-man, half sea-beast, two of them carrying off plump damsels who do not seem to be in much distress, and one of them with a shepherd's crook over his shoulder.

There are cases filled with all manner of things found during the uncovering of the villa. Pottery, bronze ornaments, lovely fragments of glass, a red tile bearing the imprint of a man's foot and the paw mark of his dog; the hook and catch of a gate, horses' bits, locks and keys, huge nails, and shear of a hand plough, gimlets, and a piece of plaster with a beautiful bird painted on it. A quantity of charred wood suggests that this fine house was lost through fire, an interesting bit of news from the days of Roman Britain.

Morton Manor is a beautiful old building. Its history dates back to 1249, though the present house was rebuilt in 1680; it is furnished in eighteenth-and nineteenth-century style. The landscaped gardens include a formal rose garden and ornamental ponds. Camellias and magnolias are prominent in April,
valley. Inside there is a fourteenth-century rose window, a Royal Arms of 1700 and a pelican (or eagle?) lectern. Amazon World is a replica of the Amazon rain forest with a wide variety of live birds and animals.

A road from Brading that follows the ridge of the chalk downs to Newport, passing the Ashey seamark of 1735, is recommended for its excellent views over the island. South of the ridge lie the unspoilt villages of Alverstone and Newchurch (the church was `new' in Norman times when it was first built).
Alverstone is an unspoilt little village through which the railway from Sandown to Newport once ran; the station building is now a private house. The track of the railway provides a delightful walk east or west of the village; to the west it incorporates a nature trail. This area is noted for its wild flowers. On the way from Alverstone to Newchurch is Borthwood Copse (National Trust), an ancient oak woodland.


Brighstone shelters under the great heights of Brighstone Down, a delightful place. The top of the down (it is 700 feet up) is the highest point of the middle range, and from it we see almost from end to end of the island, from Culver Cliff above Sandown to Freshwater Bay, 20 miles as the crow flies. The little church (which has an old mass clock on its sunny wall) has a beautiful interior, with a Norman arcade for the north aisle and mediaeval arches on the south, a 13th century doorway, a 14th century tower, and a I5th century font. There is a pretty trefoiled niche in one of the piers, and in the splay of a window are the remains of the roodloft stairs. Two chairs in the sanctuary were given by Charlotte Yonge, who spent the profits of her books on Hampshire churches.

In this pulpit there preached that valiant and saintly man Thomas Ken; the sanctuary pavement is a memorial to him by Winchester College. He was rector here before he was Bishop of Bath and Wells, and in the rectory garden (where gentian from Switzerland flourishes as though still on its native heights) is a row of trees lie planted.

The first lifeboat in the island was stationed at Brighstone (at Grange Chine); it was named the Rescue and was donated by the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. A recommended walk through Brighstone Forest can start at the National Trust car-park on the west side of Brighstone Down. The path follows the Tennyson Trail and returns along forest rides between plantations of beech and Corsican pine. Plants such as clematis are abundant and many different birds may be seen. From the top of the down there are magnificent views on a clear day.


Brook is beautiful with chines cut by busy little streams, but is dangerous to shipping, and not once or twice but many times have seafarers owed their lives to the courageous men of Brook, hazarding their own lives in their lifeboat. Hanover Point near Brook Bay. At Brook (or Brooke as the local council spells it) one of the two earliest lifeboats in the island (the Dauntless) was stationed. At St Mary's church up the hill there are several lifeboat memorials, including one from a Spanish captain in bizarre English. The old roofless lifeboat station still stands near the cliffs. When the tide is low here it leaves behind on the beach what looks like a mass of rock, jumbled up and covered with seaweed. They are not, however, rocks; they are pine trees from a forest of the days before history, and are known as the Pine Raft. After the Pine Raft even the green mound on Brook Down 500 feet up does not seem very old, and the battered 13th century archway of the tower of the little church, rebuilt last century on the hill above the village, seems like a thing of yesterday.

The church (in which the only old possessions are a blocked arch in the tower and a stone carving of a lion) stands at the top of a steep God's Acre with the graves in front of it and in due season a glorious mass of rhododendrons behind, with Brook House as if in the sky beyond. The house is the old home of the Seelys, whose graves lie in a simple group on the slope of the hill, shaded by a great pine. In the shade of the tree is the grave of Henry George Gore Brown, VC, "a soldier who tried to do his duty," and more than tried, for he did it. He was a great grandson of Arthur Browne in whose arms Wolfe is said to have died at Quebec. He won his VC at the siege of Lucknow by rushing into a battery and spiking two heavy guns. With him here sleeps his grandson who, we read, at fifteen gave his young life for England.

Brook House set high above the island was owned in Tudor days by Dame Joan Bowerman who here entertained Henry VI. He left her his drinking-horn and the promise of a buck every year from Carisbrook forest which the good Joan apparently deserved, for she founded a chantry in which a priest was to sing for her, her husband, her father, and her mother and all Christian people. J.B. Priestley once lived at Brook Hill House.

A nature trail can be followed uphill from the village and then along the downs to the west where many typical chalk-loving plants can be seen.


The island has few more comely villages than Calbourne. It has a green and a group of great elms, delightful cottages, an old stone house in a wooded park, an ancient church, and Winklestreet, entrancing Winklestreet-a row of small houses watching the busy stream tumbling over its tiny falls on its way to the meadows.

Most of the church is as the builders left it 700 years ago when they refashioned the work of the Normans, but the tower was heightened in the I8th century, when the builders left on the wall an old tablet saying "I am risen from ye ruins of near 70 year." On an outer wall is an ancient mass dial and on one of the inner walls of the tower is a doorway nine feet from the ground, and near it is a deeply splayed window which once enabled the schoolmaster to keep an eye on the children sitting in what was the choir gallery. The font is 13th century. The east windows are lovely and unusual, two slender lancets wide apart with a trefoil in a ring between them. On the chancel walls is a brass to Daniel Evance, who was rector here in Cromwell's day. It has a verse, the figure of Time with a scythe and hourglass, a skeleton armed with an arrow, and an anagram on his name, I can deal even.

There is a brass portrait of a knight in armour, his feet resting on a dog, his hands folded in prayer, who may be William Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, a 14th century Governor of the island. A pathetic story has come down to us about his death. He was killed while jousting with his father, who, broken-hearted, set up an altar tomb with a brass portrait of his son in the church of every village where he held lands or houses. A tablet on one of the houses in Calbourne marks it as the birthplace of William Long, author of a work on the Isle of Wight dialect and editor of the Memoirs of the Oglanders, an ancient family of the island.

Through the trees on the road to Carisbrooke we catch sight of a beautiful house called Swainstone, mainly 18th century as we see it, but the successor of a palace founded for the Bishops of Winchester 80o years ago and still with a 13th century hall intact. It is suggested that Warwick the Kingmaker feasted in the hall, and his brave granddaughter Margaret Pole, last of the Plantagenets, whose execution is the foulest blot on the memory of Henry VIII.


We come to Carisbrooke for the castle in which a king was a captive and in which his daughter died, but Carisbrooke has something older than our English dynasties. The ruins of the castle are young compared with the ruin under the vicarage garden, where is a Roman bath, the central heating arrangement of a Roman village,and the remains of a tessellated pavement with a pattern of flowers. We can see the outline of the villa in the grass.

Halfway up one of the lofty hills stands the church with its I,th century tower, and a spire rising ioo feet. The tower has a beautiful stone turret, battlements, and crocketed pinnacles, and is decorated with rows of gargoyles and queer animals. Halfway up arc two figures holding a book on which is carved the date 1471. Its eastern buttresses grow up in the nave, and between them rises a majestic arch. The beautiful south doorway and its stone porch are 600 years old, and most of the I2th century arcade was refashioned by the builders of that time.

The elegant pulpit, with a doorway over it, is mid I7th century; the font cover is about the same age. The big chest with a slot for coins is Elizabethan. The oldest of three ancient gravestones has on it a quaint portrait of a prior, like a drawing of a child on a slate; it was done about 80o years ago. The other two stones are 13th century. On the wall is a canopied recess with an angel carrying a shield; it shelters Lady Margaret Wadham, aunt of Jane Seymour, Queen of England. Lady Margaret, a solitary figure on her fine tomb, was a great friend of cripples, and is kneeling before a group of beggars and cripples, each one in a lovely little panel. A picture painted on wood hangs on a wall in the nave in memory of William Keeling, an East India Adventurer who discovered the Cocos Islands and attended James I. The picture shows a ship with Death at the prow, a beautiful woman at the stern, and William Keeling in armour in a gay attitude by the mast. The frame of the picture is painted with gruesome devices, and we read:

Forty-two years with vessel frail,
On the rough seas of life did Keeling sail.

One of the treasures of the church is the finely wrought silver processional cross, 500 years old, made in Venice and carried by pilgrims of the Middle Ages to the Holy Land. It was brought back to Italy and given by Princess Beatrice to the church. It is in a glass case where all can admire the exquisite delicacy of the 13 Bible scenes on it, each in a separate compartment with many perfect figures. Another lovely cross on the altar was given in memory of his brother, a young soldier of the Great War, by Sir Victor Corkran, the buttons of the hero's uniform being set in the cross as jewels.

A little way from the church there stood in ancient days a priory of which nothing now is seen save what is in this church, and a few scribblings by some of its impish scholars. They are precious scribblings now, preserved in one of two recesses on the outer wall of the nave, one 12th century and one 13th. There are drawings of a woman's head, a few unreadable sentences, and something like a ship and Prince of Wales Feathers. The monks had the teaching of boys fortunate enough to get schooling in those days, and it is believed that the scribblings are the work of these young scholars in their idle moments. They are all that is left of the priory built by William Fitzosbern, a kinsman of the Conqueror.

He laid the foundations of the castle, too, on the site of a Roman fort, and this famous ruin stands on his earthworks. The flagstaff from which its flag flies is interesting because it was the boom of the Spinnaker sail on King George V's yacht Britannia. It is a 52-foot Norway pine. Keats wrote part of Endymion while staying here, and of this noble mass of masonry he said that he did not think he would ever see a ruin to surpass it. It is believed to have been on this spot that the Conqueror with his own hands arrested his brother Odo as he was leaving for Rome in the hope of obtaining the Papacy. The castle's outer gateway is Elizabethan and has the queen's initials; but it opens on to a stone bridge crossing the dry moat and leading to the splendid twin towers of a 14th century gatehouse. The towers were raised higher by Anthony Woodville, whose sister married Edward IV but whose chief distinction is that he translated the first book printed in English. The gatehouse has three portcullis grooves, 5oo-year-old gates with ancient hinges, and a knocker which has worn a hole through the wood. Facing the gatehouse across the neat lawns of the courtyard are the Constable's lodgings, refashioned in the 14th century, with a hall and staircase built by Anthony Woodville and a bigger hall older still, having a 12th century window. Keeping it company in the ground, just through the entrance doors through which the king would walk, is a mountain ash from his birthplace, Dunfermline Abbey.

In an upper room of the Constable's lodgings Charles I had his Presence Chamber, and leading off from it is a wing with a little room in which his daughter Elizabeth died. Here also her brother, the little Duke of Gloucester, described by Clarendon as a prince of extraordinary hopes, was captive till Cromwell set him free.

Beyond the stately Governor's house is a 16th century well-housc, sheltering the shaft sunk probably 80o years ago when the old well failed. A mighty wheel about 50 feet round was made in 1587; its frame is oak and its shaft is chestnut. It was used for hauling the bucket by means of a donkey.

A long flight of steps leads us to the top of the outer wall, where we can look across the valley stream with its nesting swans, and see the village with its noble tower, the grey castle buildings, cedars, and many blossoming trees. The path brings us to the ruined keep in which is still the ancient well which failed Baldwin de Redvers when he held the castle against King Stephen, so that he built the new well. We can still see the water glistening faintly through the ferns lining this old well.

We may walk across the grassy square where Charles I used to walk, and through the ruins of the rooms he lived in. We may sit and meditate in the chapel of St Nicholas which stands where there has been a chapel since the Conquest, though the place we see is a beautiful reconstruction in celebration of the 25oth anniversary of the execution of the King. The tracery of the windows is beautiful, and the carving of the reredos clear and fine. In a vestibule is Bernini's bronze bust of Charles with the starry crown of martyrdom below it, and his last word on the scaffold, Remember.

The Isle of Wight County Museum in the governor's house has much to attract us with its memory of the past. It has some extraordinarily delicate jewelry work of the Bronze Age, one fragment truly enchanting, showing a running hare inlaid with enamels. It is from the burial mounds on the hills, where there was also found a necklace made from animal claws. Yet it is the Stuart relics that thrill us most. There is a small red and gold Bible given by the king to his valet; the ivory top of the walking stick he used here; a crystal locket with a lock of his hair, the lace cap he wore on his last night; and a fragment of the lace cravat he wore on the scaffold. There is an outer ring of fortifications built by the Italian Gianibelli late in the 16th century.


There is much to see and remember in Chale -the lofty downs 780 feet high, the bay three miles from Atherfield Point with its treacherous ledge to St Catherine's Point with its famous light, the fine old manor house with a 15th century barn 100 feet long, the beautiful church, the chine, the old beacon, and the column on the downs.

The all-devouring sea has left its mark on this beautiful coast. At the beginning of the Undercliff, along which we could once go from here to Ventnor, is Blackgang Chine, a deep chasm cut in the cliffs by a stream trickling to the sea, and beyond are the tumultuous tumbled slopes with the ragged cliffs above, and the green woods in which there was built a graceful little temple in honour of Shakespeare's 300 years. The temple was built about 1864, and a spring below is dedicated to the memory of Shakespeare with an inscription from Two Gentlemen from Verona.

St Catherine's lighthouse, built in 1840 on the southernmost point of the island, has the most powerful light in southern England (over 5,000,000 candlepower).
On St Catherine's Down (an easy walk from the main road viewpoint car-park) is a curious fourteenth-century lighthouse that looks something like a rocket. It stands within the foundations of an oratory that was demolished in the time of Henry VIII, the lighthouse tower being kept as a sea-mark. About a mile north stands Hoy's Monument, erected in 1814 to commemorate the visit to the island of Tsar Alexander I. It was erected by Michael Hoy, a local landower, who had spent many years in Russia. Ironically a memorial inscription was added to it 40 years later to honour the British troops who fought in the Crimean War against Russia

Chale's 15th century church has a fine turreted and pinnacled tower, and we come into it through a pointed door with rows of moulding. The oldest parts are two low bays of the south arcade which have come from the end of the I zth century. The candlesticks on the canopy posts of the altars are four golden angels with outstretched wings. The fine candelabra in the sanctuary are to the memory of a rector who was once Bishop of North-West Australia. There are some lovely painted windows by Kempe, five of them given by an American in memory of ancestors who were rectors. In the west window are six warrior saints resplendent in golden armour.

A century older than the church is the shrine on the summit of St Catherine's Hill, nearly 800 feet above the moving waters. Here a small stone tower has stood 600 years, 36 feet high, with a pointed cap and pierced with openings all the way round. On one side are two doorways, one above the other, and over them are the marks of an old gable roof. The little tower in its impressive solitude is a remarkable survival, actually a mediaeval lighthouse. It is mentioned in the Winchester registers of 1328 as having been endowed by Walter de Godston. It was a shrine in the old days, when an oratory which has now vanished joined on to it, the keeper being a priest whose duty it was to see that a light was burning all night, and to offer Mass for those who were lost at sea.

The oratory had two storeys, the lower one where the priest lived and kept his stores, the upper one for a chapel. The tower had four storeys, the two upper ones reached by ladders. Night after night the lonely priest would climb the ladders to tend his beacon, and night after night his prayers would go up to heaven for the souls of the drowned or for some desperate ship of whose lights lie would catch fleeting glimpses from his eyrie above this treacherous coast.

At St Catherine's Point, the most southerly point of the island, is the lighthouse built in the 19th century, with a light equal to more than 15 million candles, and one of the most powerful sirens in the world. The lighthouse tower rises 8o feet from the ground but the lamp is 136 feet above high water. As this height the horizon is 17 miles off and ships at that distance can easily see its powerful beam, which moves through 220 degrees, nearly two-thirds of a circle. In the vast area thus covered by the light its flashing can be seen for a fifth of a second every five seconds. There is another lamp in the lighthouse tower 22 feet below the first, showing a fixed red light visible 16 miles away.

Beyond Walter de Godston's tower on the inland run of the downs is a column 72 feet high with a ball on top. It was erected by Michael Hoy, a merchant in Russia, in memory of Tsar Alexander's visit the year before Waterloo, and (Mr Hoy adds) in remembrance of many happy years he lived in the emperor's domains. In I857 a lieutenant had a second inscription cut, allowing the emperor to share his column with those brave men who fell in the Crimea.

The downs hereabouts look across the lovely woods and valleys, and in the distance is the great white wall of Freshwater Bay, majestic in the sunlight and crowned by Tennyson's Cross.


The granite column on the summit of High Down marks the height to which Tennyson would come on all days in all weathers, climbing the down he loved and rejoicing in its sweeping views over land and sea, woodland and meadow. He found this place before he was famous and when he was a struggling poet. He had a little money invested in a railway and thought he could get on with that and the £50o he was earning from his poems, so he came to Farringford. He thought the view from its windows a miracle of beauty, and he loved to roam about, doing a little farming, sweeping up the leaves on the lawn, mowing the grass, gravelling the walks. He became so interested in his garden that he began making a flower dictionary. He went exploring with the local geologist.

He kept himself aloof from the village folk, but would go about in his green coat and his big-brimmed hat, concerning which the local people used to say that "once round Tennyson's hat twice round Freshwater."

We may see over the house at times during the summer. In the drawing-room hangs G. F. Watt's lovely portrait of Lady Tennyson, and in Tennyson's study (still practically as he knew it) is his highbacked chair, the desk in the window, his candle stand, and his tobacco jar. A turret stair leads from it to the playroom, now filled with touching and intimate things. Here is a cast of the poet's hand, manly and strong, a little manuscript book containing a poem called Armageddon written when he was 15; his pipes, his paper-knife, his pruning knives, pens, quills, some of his tobacco, his paint-box, and some seals. There are some of his favourite books: Don Quixote in Spanish, the Bible in Hebrew, Goethe, and Virgil. A little collection of things associated with his last days includes the very last book he asked for, Shakespeare opened at Cymbeline, and with it is his New Testament, his nightcap, and the glass he took his medicine in. There is a white pall embroidered with flowers, and Queen Victoria's laurel wreath with the card on which she wrote the tribute to a poet whose fame will outlast her own: "A tribute of true regard and affectionate admiration from his sovereign."

The garden path, running among the trees and over the little bridge where he would stand watching the moonlight over the sea, takes us to the small ivied summerhouse in which he wrote Enoch Arden. It walls were painted with peacock's feathers by Tennyson himself. The church and the village are not far away. The poet died on Blackdown in Sussex and lies in the Abbey, but Lady Tennyson's grave is by the east wall of the churchyard with the River Yar winding peacefully past. They died at the same age with four years between them, and the happiness of their long married life is expressed in the words on Lady Tennyson's grave: "Dear, near, and true, no truer Time himself can prove you, though he make you evermore dearer and nearer." There is a stone in memory of the poet telling us that his happiest days were passed at Farringford, and on it are two lines:

Speak, living voice, with thee death is not death;
Thy life outlives the life of dust and breath.

The church was restored while Tennyson lived at Farringford, and looks almost new outside, but the impressive arcades are about 80o years old, and in the north aisle, hidden between two doors, is a small Norman doorway. The font is also on a Norman base. The chancel arch is 15th century, and by it are two tablets in marble frames in memory of Tennyson and his son Lionel, who died on his way back from India in 1886 and was buried at sea. The poet was profoundly grieved by the loss of his affectionate boy, who had grown up at Farringford and gone into the India Office, and was on a visit to Lord Dufferin in India when he caught jungle fever and hung for three months between life and death. He died in the Red Sea and they stopped the ship under a silver moon and lowered the coffin.

Not there to bid my boy farewell,
When That within the coffin fell,
Fell and flashed into the Red Sea,
Beneath a hard Arabian moon
And alien stars.

The tablet to Lionel in the church has these four lines by the poet:

Truth, for truth is truth, he worshipt, being true as he was brave,
Good, for good is good, he followed, yet he looked beyond the grave:
Truth for truth and good for good! the Good, the True, the Pure, the Just!
Take the charm for ever from them, and they crumble into dust.

In one of two small chapels here, both 13th century, is a small brass portrait of a man in armour with his feet on a lion; he is thought to be Adam de Compton, who would be living when the chapel was built. It is a lovely brass. At the eastern end of the south aisle are the matrices of two brasses very effectively painted black on the white walls.

The voyager to the Isle of Wight, if he is crossing in the evening, must always remember that it was while crossing here that Tennyson wrote the most familiar and most moving of all his poems, the 16 lines of Crossing the Bar. They came in a moment, he said to one who described the poem as crowning his life's work, but Dr Jowett was right when he predicted that they would be immortal:

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

There was born at Freshwater, a parson's son, one of the most extraordinary men of the 17th century, Robert Hooke. He started life in the summer of I635 as the most miserable slip of humanity that can be imagined, but this poor little crooked boy became the cleverest man of his age, though because he was a little quarrelsome history has never given him his due. As a child he made amazing mechanical toys, and book-learning came to him easily : he mastered the six books of Euclid in a week. He brought out most of his inventions without help, and claimed that I oo discoveries were entirely due to him. Yet he never boasted of his work. The experiments he performed before the Royal Society must have numbered hundreds. Being very poor, he had to make most of his own instruments.

He realised before Sir Isaac Newton the idea of gravitation. He had a distinct conception of a mechanical flying-machine. He found out all about the function of air in regard to breathing and combustion, and made pneumatic tyres possible. He worked out the law relating to falling bodies. By the use of a pendulum he proved the movement of the earth, and he invented a circular pendulum for watches. He made a workable model on which to fashion electric clocks. He ascertained how sound is caused, and explained to Samuel Pepys how many times a second the wings of a humming insect beat. He described how light is composed, and what heat is.

He displayed the wonders of the microscope, improved the telescope, and laid the foundations of astronomy.

George Morland the painter was a frequent visitor to Freshwater. Julia Cameron, the famous early photographer, bought two adjacent cottages and named the property Dimbola Lodge, after her family's estates in India. Here she entertained and photographed many famous people. Earlyphotographs and cameras are on display, together with some of her work.

At Alum Bay (alum was first worked here in 1561) has a chair-lift to the beach where visitors can purchase souvenirs made of the multi-coloured sands in the cliffs, where the strata have been folded vertically so that a large number are encountered in a short distance.
A monument in the car-park commemorates the world's first wireless telegraph station, where Marconi conducted experiments from 1897 to 1900. From here the first radio messages were exchanged with a boat in Alum Bay; scientists came from all over the world to see the station.
From the park a minibus service runs to The Needles Old Battery at the western end of the downs (no cars allowed), which has been opened to the public by the National Trust. Built in 1861-3 as part of the Solent defences against possible attack by the French, it mounted six heavy guns. A hundred years of military history on this bleak headland ended with its recent use as a space-rocket testing-site. From the end of the searchlight tunnel there is a splendid view of the Needles, the most famous landmarks of the island, and their lighthouse of 1858.
An exhilarating way to reach the Needles is the 3-mile walk over Tennyson Down from Freshwater Bay. Once the path out of the bay has been climbed it is easy walking on level ground with views over the English Channel to the south and across the Solent to the Hampshire coast to the north. On Tennyson Down is the best collection of chalk grassland lichens in Great Britain.


Nature made Gatcombe lovely and man has not spoiled it. At the foot of the New Barn Down (539 feet high) and in the green serenity of the park, is Gatcombe church, with precious memories of the centuries and a treasure of our time. It has the last monument fashioned by one of our great sculptors in memory of one of our young heroes. The sculptor was Sir Thomas Brock and the monument to Charles Grant Seely, who gave up his life in 19 17; he was wounded three times and fell leading his men on the "Turkish stronghold of Gaza. We read that he is greatly beloved (for he was a very gallant gentleman) and that he lies at Gaza surrounded by the men of his regiment who fell with him that day. In the panels of the tomb are low reliefs of his battlefield grave and of an eastern city, with shields bearing coloured badges set in laurel wreaths. It is a monument of poignant dignity, moving us deeply, as if the sculptor had felt that it was to be, as indeed it is, his own memorial too.

One other figure of a warrior has this 13th century church; one of the rare wooden figures of knights (there are only about I oo in the country). He is here with sword ready, an angel at his head and a lion at his feet. His name is unknown, but he lies in a recess which, with the chancel arch and a lancet window in the nave, is all that remains of a 7oo-year-old church built by the Estur family of Gatcombe Manor. He was perhaps an Estur and this may be a Jacobean copy of an older figure which has vanished. The arcaded font has been here 700 years. The tower itself is 500 years old, built in three stages, and the top stage is garlanded with a stringcourse of angels and gargoyles, one of them a winged and grinning demon. The stone porch has a cross on its gable supported by another of these fearful heads with clenched teeth. There is a Jacobean altar table, and the finely carved altar rails of the same period now form part of a screen. Some fragments of glass showing four angels in pale yellow are all that is left of the angelic glory which once made the windows beautiful.


Godshill’s delightful cottages are scattered along the road and grouped about all that is left of its lost priory, the biggest old church in the island, mainly from the 15th century. The porch has for a companion the pillar of a cross 700 years old, with a sundial on it and on the top of the porch gable is a square head with bared teeth and glaring eyes. We come into the church by a studded door which has kept its wooden lock and an original iron hinge reaching across the top, and we find ourselves in a noble interior with a black oak roof in which are over half a mile of timbers.

The church is remarkable for the tombs in the chancel, which go back to Tudor days. Here sleeps Sir James Worsley, whose family came over with the Conqueror. One of them went crusading and lies buried on the Island of Rhodes, but Sir James stayed at home, brought up at Court as a page to Henry VII, and having as his playfellow the boy who grew up to be Henry VIII. So it was that many honours came his way when his young friend was crowned; he was made Master of the Robes at a time when it fell to him to organise the glittering pageant of the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Sir James is seen here kneeling with his lady under a canopy on which three boys are supporting shields, and above them hangs a mediaeval tilting helm, no mere funeral helmet, but worn in the tournaments, flaunting in the lists on some victorious head with some proud lady's favour blowing from its crest. It was probably the helmet of the knight himself, and he may have worn it on that glittering field. The pageant he organised was the most brilliant array of nobles the world has ever seen. Nearly 600o people and over gooo horses took part in the great cavalcade across the Channel. A palace was built for them 320 feet square, and there were 82o tents set up on the field. Such was the English pageantry alone; and two kings left their palaces to meet in a tent of gold.

By the high altar is what the historian once called the fairest tomb in our island, on which lie Sir John and Dame Agnes Leigh, nobly carved in alabaster by the famous Chellaston craftsmen. Dame Agnes is daintily dressed in a tight-fitting gown and a long cloak with heraldic embroidery, her head resting on a cushion supported by angels. Sir John's head rests on a tilting helmet, and he wears armour, his feet resting on a boar, as do his wife's.

On a wall-monument in the north transept are the busts of two other Worsleys of the I8th century, with figures of Faith and Hope, and there is a big cenotaph which has been locally christened the Bath, set up 130 years ago to Sir Richard Worsley.

The ancient font has a cover zoo years old. There is a beautiful Elizabethan chair with strap work and a delicately carved scroll, an 18th century almsdish, a 17th century chest, and the altar rails and altar table are Jacobean. In the chancel are two 17th century stools. A wall-painting which has been here about 500 years has been rescued from many coats of whitewash on the wall of the south transept; it shows Our Lord nailed to a tree with thrce branches from which spring willow-like leaves, the form of the tree being known as the Budding Cross. The fine cradle roof of the south transept has faces on its wooden bosses, two of the heads wearing gold crowns. The stone corbels of the transept have queer devices, one a dog's head with a padlock in its teeth. On the north wall hangs an oil painting of Daniel with the lions, and in the sanctuary is a small painting of the Madonna by Tiorelli. One of the east windows is lovely with figures of the Madonna and Child, St Michael, and St Gabriel in robes of green, blue, and purple, a nave window has a blue Madonna and a woman looking up appealingly to her in a garden, and another east window has a beautiful Crucifixion scene. There is a processional cross 60o years old, made by an Italian craftsman.

Beneath a broken stone near the porch sleeps a man of the 17th century, Richard Gard, who was apparently not beloved, for he is described as being "as crafty a knave as any, a penurious base fellow of little religion," and we are told that he lies only just below the stone, apparently lest he should fail to hear the Resurrection trumpet. Another stone covers the grave of Bartholomew Jacobs, and on it runs this 18th century rhyme:

Man is the seed, God is the sower;
Man is the grass, Death is the mower.

A sundial has been set on the churchyard's 13th century cross, and looking down on it are many green creatures creeping round the battlements.


A quiet way brings us to the church perched on a knoll and sheltered by the downs, with a beautiful manor house at its feet. Smooth green banks and flower beds slope down to the grey garden walls and the Elizabethan front, where from a wide buttress rise five tall red chimneys, towering above the mossy tiled roof. From the drive we climb 20 worn and narrow steps to the tiny manorial church, refashioned last century but keeping 13th century sedilia and the delightful brass portraits of Richard Mewys and his four sons in long gowns and square-toed shoes. Richard died 400 years ago, and he looks like a lawyer; his family lived in the island 300 years and held the manor from the 15th to the 18th century. It is all very simple and neatly kept, and the 20 narrow pews are lighted by candles.


Mottistone is a place of enchantment, with all the blessings country near the sea can lavish on a village it loves. Mottistone Down is 667 feet up, and there are trees in profusion, green fields and wild flowers, and in the summer the air about it is scented with sea, gorse, and hay all magically blended.

The winding road slips between the church and a 16th century manor house, with smooth green lawns and exuberant flower beds. It was once the home of the Chekes, kinsmen of that Sir John Cheke who was Cambridge's first Professor of Greek, tutored Edward VI, and comes into Milton's sonnets:

Thy age, like ours, 0 soul of Sir john Cheke,
Hated not learning worse than toad or asp,
When thou taughtest Cambridge and King Edward Greek.

A great landslide from the hill behind this charming Elizabethan house buried much of it under 1500 tons of sand, and for a long time it was abandoned and no one had the courage to reclaim it. The first Lord Mottistone, however, excavated the house from its great mass of sand and gave to the l0th century a notable example of a lovely Tudor house. The date 1559 is on a stone over the doorway, and tradition says that our boy king Edward VI once stayed here with his tutor.

A footpath near the manor leads up to the downs, passing the remains of a neolithic long barrow known as the Long Stone.


Newchurch is on a hill near Sandown, with a view from its churchyard across a lovely valley to a range of downs. It is delightful to see the great spread of wistaria at one end of the street, and the little red steeple on the wooden tower at the other. Here a sundial has marked the hours since the 17th century. The church goes far back to the Conquest, though the oldest work we see is in three small Norman windows and in the nave arcades by our earliest English builders (notably a crude arch at the east end of the south arcade). We wonder at the size and spaciousness of the building, but it was once the only church of a parish which stretched across the island and included Ryde and Ventnor.

There are several ancient barrows on the downs, the biggest a huge mound called Black Barrow, and the view of sea, woods, and downs from here is one of the things the traveller in the Isle of Wight does not forget.

The church is small and charming; in it meet several centuries. The nave arcades and the chancel are probably 15th, and there is in the chapel a delightful Tudor arcade on clustered columns. By the altar is the table tomb of Sir Robert Dillington's wife Jane, who died in 1674. The base of the 13th century font is Norman and of unusual design, being solid and almost square, with a pillar at each corner. A Jacobean carpenter made the pulpit and filled its panels with charming designs; and some village carpenter long ago must have furnished the chancel with its reddish roof, for it is made of cedar from the cargo of a timber ship wrecked off this coast.

The church tower is weatherboarded, and built over the south porch, in which the ancient door is still swinging on its hinges. The panelled 17th century pulpit has a big canopy held by chains, with an angel holding a Bible. The beautiful gilded lectern came here last century after having been a century and a half at Frome in Somerset. It is carved with an eagle and its eaglets. There are 15th century rood stairs, an 18th century barrel organ, and altar vases of Roman pottery; perhaps the first time we have come upon Romans remains on a Christian altar.

In this small place good Richard Forward spent his long and useful life from I750 to 1826; he sleeps by the path at the west of the churchyard. He was parish clerk 54 years and schoolmaster

The stone on his grave was paid for by a penny subscription among his old pupils, and we were able to read this verse upon it:

In yonder sacred pile his voice was wont to sound,
And now his body rests beneath the hallowed ground.
He taught the peasant boy to read and use the pen;
His earthly toils are o'er; he's cry'd his last Amen.

A mile away at Knighton are the ruins of a 13th century chapel.


Newtown is the oldest town of the island, it is called New because it was made new after the French burned it down 60o years ago. It is on one of the five creeks of the Newtown river which, like the fingers of a hand, run far into the low-lying land between Cowes and Yarmouth. In the days of its prosperity it had anchorage for 50 ships of 500 tons and had a busy market where the green is now. It was the island's best haven for shipping in the I8th century, when it was twice the size of Newport. Today the tides have deserted it and its people have moved to other centres. It was one of the most notorious of the "rotten boroughs" of the days of corruption, and used to send two members to Parliament; among them the first Duke of Marlborough and Canning the Prime Minister.

The old town hall, built soon after the Restoration of the Stuarts, was for many years neglected and almost a ruin, but by the generosity of a mysterious band of benefactors it has been restored and put under the protection of the National Trust. This beneficent achievement was the work of one of the oddest companies of good people working in our time, a group of men and women who went about doing good in the name of Ferguson's Gang. One member of the Gang, wearing a mask and giving the name of Kate O'Brien, slipped into the office of the National Trust one day in I934, all unnoticed, and dropped on the secretary's desk £500 for saving this town hall, the document she handed in being sealed with blood and full of misspellings.

It is a pretty little building the Gang has saved, with its old oak door and a dainty portico of fluted pillars. The silver seal and the mace (one of the most beautiful of its kind) are in the hands of the lord of the manor.

The church is 19th century, built in imitation of the 13th, and the sign of the ship on the house which used to be the Old Inn is a copy of the town's seal in its great days six centuries ago.

There has been found here in our time a bronze urn of the Iron Age, in which were ashes 2500 years old, and on the beach was found a complete skull of the earliest known type of wild ox, which has been extinct in this country thousands of years.


Niton lies in the midst of some of the finest down scenery on the Island, and when we called its sloping street was a lovely sight, with great bushes of fuchsia hanging their tassels like crimson bells over grey garden walls, a brook babbling below along its stony bed. It is sheltered by St Catherine's Hill.

We come into the church, which has Norman and mediaeval walls, under a yew reaching over the path. The tower, with a little stone spire, is probably 16th century. The church has a 14th century porch, a big Norman font with a band of moulding, slightly pointed arches on round pillars about 700 years old, and a chancel of the 15th century. On the wall is a memorial to a friend of the village whose portrait is here by Flaxman; with it is a relief showing a woman holding young pelicans in her hand, while the mother bird is on her nest feeding them. The battlemented modern reredos is glorious in painted and gilded oak, with Christ in majesty attended by angels. In canopied recesses inlaid with gilt mosaic are oak figures of saints. There are three old chairs, a French one of the I6th century and two Jacobean.

The churchyard has a modern cross mounted on the steps of the old one; and in. this peaceful place sleeps Edward Edwards, who lived through most of the 19th century and is remembered as one of the founders of public libraries. High on the downs is seen the mediaeval lighthouse, where for generations a solitary priest kept a light burning for ships in trouble on this treacherous coast.

The Military Road from Niton to Freshwater Bay closely follows the cliffs in the south-west of the island and affords magnificent views of the downs further inland and of the cliffs below Tennyson Down. It was constructed in the 1860s to serve the garrisons of troops stationed along this coast during the French invasion scare.
The road was not surfaced until the 1930s; at that time no thought was given to its proximity to the cliffs, and it is now apparent that in some places it will eventually be breached by cliff recession or landslips, as happened between Niton and Blackgang in 1928. Near Brook Bay a coastal mud-slide has encroached to within 80ft of theroad and cliff recession at Compton Down has brought the cliff edge to within 40ft of the road.
To enable the road to be used for as long as possible and to give warning of impending landslips, instruments known as tiltmeters have been installed under a section of road at Compton Down. These measure the increase in tilt of the ground and are connected to warning signs on the road. If the amount of tilt exceeds a pre-set limit the warning signs will be illuminated and traffic will be diverted over a more inland route.


Northwood. Away from the red village overlooking the River Medina, its church stands among the trees on a hill with a fine view of the distant downs. We come into it by a doorway with a Norman arch on two little pillars to find ourselves in a nave with arcades by the earliest English builders, the arches on the south having a graceful line of moulding round them. The chancel is 15th century; the panelled pulpit is 17th century and has a graceful carved canopy. The dignified reredos is carved with trefoils, and the plain altar was made of old oak from Carisbrooke. An oil painting of the Baptism is thought to be the work of the 16th century artist Bassano. On the windowsill we found a wooden frame, painted with cherubs, skulls, and crossbones, in which is a beautifully written manuscript poem to two children of the 17th century, and in a glass case is kept the old clarionet which helped the village choir to keep in time in the far-off days. One of the wall-monuments is unusually rich in the gruesome things so fashionable in the 17th and 18th centuries; it has a grinning skull at each side, a skull and a heap of bones below, and a winged hourglass to remind us that time flies.

Close by Northwood House is the church founded during the Commonwealth and made new last century. George Ward built the tower, and inside is a wall-monument to himself and his wife. In the south aisle is a brass to the famous Dr Arnold. A little way down the road is the Roman Catholic Church, which has a small picture of the death of the Madonna by Antonello da Messina, who is said to have taught the Venetian artists the use of oils. The church has also a great altar-painting of the Descent from the Cross. Beyond Princes Green, a lovely stretch of turf by the Solent, past the small column carrying a powerful light for ships, the road runs along the water's edge to Gurnard, where the remains of a Roman villa have been found. Gurnard Head is rich in fossils. On the parade is a plaque set up by the people of Maryland in memory of the sailing of the Ark and the Dove, which carried the first settlers to Maryland 300 years ago.

Osborne House.

Osborne House was the seaside home of Queen Victoria. Here she died. Here ended the life which ended the Victorian Era, the most famous and prosperous 6o years in the history of the English people. Today the house is a memorial to the queen and is in the care of the Ministry of Public Building and Works; it is also a convalescent home for members of the armed forces and civil service, serving and retired. It was built in the classical style in 1846. There are lofty apartments filled to overflowing with furniture, ornaments, curios, china, pictures, and sculptures. The Durbar Room is a mass of teak carving and ornamental plaster work, with a handsome ceiling. A plaster peacock in his pride stands over the mantelpiece, and in glass cases are examples of Eastern craftsmanship, a fish with gold and silver scales and shining eyes among them. In the dining-room hangs a picture of the queen as a happy young mother with her children about her and Prince Albert at her side, and let into the floor is a brass plate showing where her coffin lay in state.

The grounds are a sanctuary for birds, and are very beautiful, especially the wilder parts with the trees growing in copses and the Solent glittering through. A long path leads us to the Swiss cottage where the children played at housekeeping; it is now a small little boat suspended between two posts with a satin pillow embroidered with the queen's initials. There is a model of Jerusalem given to the queen by Dean Stanley, a case of porcelain ornaments collected by her as a child, and an enchanting model shop with the name Spratt over the door and the words "Grocer to Her Majesty." There is King Ceteayo's hide shield, the skull of an Australian crocodile,and fossils and curios from all over the world.

In the Swiss cottage is a white kitchen with pots and pans we could make mirrors of, and floors and walls as clean as the china. The only people who have cooked in this kitchen are princes and princesses of the children of Queen Victoria. They would stand in rows with their sleeves rolled up and their pinafores on, mixing their cakes, and here is the kitchen as they knew it, unused since their day. It was their domestic school to which their mother sent them.

The queen died on the evening ofJanuary 22,1901, having lived from the end of the second decade of the 19th century into the first month the 20th. The queen of peace died in the midst of war, and almost her last act was to greet Lord Roberts on his return from the Boer War, where he had laid down the command for Lord Kitchener; the earldom she conferred on Lord Roberts was the last title she gave. On the 10th of January she saw Mr Joseph Chamberlain, her last interview with the minister being to receive news of war; on the 15th she took her last drive; on the 19th she had grown very weak, and her children were summoned. The German Emperor arrived andwas present when the queen passed away, 81 years old, having reigned 63 years, seven months, and two days, the longest reign in british history. On the first of February her coffin was placed on the yacht Alberta, passing between long lines of warships, from which a last salute was fired as the queen left for ever her island home.

St Helen's.

In a little patch of woodland overlooking the harbour, where at low tide the horses and lorries go out to cart away the mud shingle, stands the tower of its old church right on the shore. The rest of the church was destroyed by a storm in 1703. It is shored up by buttresses, and has little round-headed windows and a doorway through which no bellringer passes in now. Yet, though no services are held within, it renders service to others still, for it is a landmark which sailors have known about 700 years, and its seaward side is kept white for their sakes. When the priory was disssolved in 1414 its lands were given to Eton College.

Some way from the village is the church rebuilt in the 19th century on the site of one consecrated in 1719. In the chancel is a tablet flanked by the emblem of Roman law to the memory of a judge who died in 1814, and another decked with flags and arms of his son, who, after coming safely through many battles, was killed at Waterloo.

The houses of the village surround a long rectangular green. There are buildings of all dates and descriptions- old cottages and Victorian Villas. A plaque on one house records that Sophie Dawes a daughter of a local smuggler, was born there. She ran away to London and eventually became the mistress of the Duc de Bourbon.


Shalfleet lies in the hollow and climbs the sharp slopes on a switchback hill on the Yarmouth road. We found its thatched roofs showing through masses of fruit blossom, the grey tower of the church rising grandly above. It is the oldest tower in the island, and has been saved by the engineering genius of the 20th century, for it was found that it was standing in 10 feet of clay and water, and the foundations have been relaid in concrete. Here on a small scale the miracle of the saving of Winchester Cathedral has been accomplished. The walls of the tower are five feet thick and it stands zo feet square. The sturdy Norman doorway has a sculptured tympanum in which is a man looking very much like the Mr Noah of our nurseries, standing between two lions with tails curved above their backs. He is probably Daniel.

The spacious church has the splendid simplicity of the 13th century builder, with a lofty tower arch, a noble arcade on slender pillars of porphyry, and tracery windows with rare oval lights. The chancel belongs to the beginning of the 14th century. The screen made from ancient timbers is in memory of Thomas Hollis, who was sexton here for 55 years until just before the Great War. The reredos is made of old linenfold panelling, and the remains of the 17th century altar table. The Jacobean pulpit has carved brackets and two rows of carved panels. The wooden crucifix by the pulpit was found among old rubbish. The roof timbers of the nave and the south porch of stone are both 500 years old. Two faint sculptures are fading away after 700 years; they are on the gravestone by the south door, and are carved with shields and spears and a helmet. It is thought the helmet may mark the grave of Pagan Trenchard, a knight who lived here when men were still talking of William Rufus.


Shanklin was not really developed until after the coming of the railway in 1864 and its better houses date from soon after this. Like Godshill, Shanklin old village appears quite attractive at those times, early in the morning or late of a summer evening, when it is deserted and quiet.
Shanklin Chine is the oldest tourist attraction on the island. The Chine, 300ft deep, is one of many steep-sided ravines in the cliffs, called 'chines' in the Isle of Wight and Dorset; when opened in 1817 it was instrumental in the expansion of the tiny fishing village to a busy seaside town. The Victorians came in great numbers to see it and reckoned it far superior to Blackgang Chine, though the latter is now much more popular. It is noted for its flora, particularly the many species of mosses, ferns and liverworts. Ofhistorical interest is the section of pipeline (PLUTO), which during World War II carried petrol down the chine and across the Channel to Normandy.

Two poets have loved Shanklin, and we do not wonder, for it is the best little town in the island, old village and new town together, sheltered by Shanklin Down. There are wonderful walks through the trees and shrubs of Luccombe Chine with its hidden talkative spring, and at the Landslip where great boulders thrust themselves up ruggedly among low twisted trees. The hydrangea hedge on the sunny strip of turf, known as Keats Green, runs for three-quarters of a mile along the cliff walk, and Luccombe Common is covered with gorse and daisies and little trees.

At the top of the Chine stands the village with its old cottages, its ancient yews, vigorous elms and cedars, and a gabled and thatched inn with little bow windows. The town is rich in public gardens where we may sit and watch the ships pass up and down the Channel or listen to the community singing when the gardens are aglow with fairy-lights. It is good to know that Shanklin's community concerts have attracted attention far and wide and that singing is heard here not only in English but in French, German, Danish, and Welsh.

The old church stands a little aloof, drawing its cloak of ash trees about it in the shelter of the Down. It has lost much of its ancient aspect, but keeps one of its 14th century windows, a 14th century piscina, two 17th century chairs, and a splendid 16th century chest carved with the name of Thomas Silksted, Cathedral Prior of Winchester and the date 1512. The timbered lychgate, handsome with its clock and bell, was set up in memory of a lord of the manor.

The two poets who loved this place were Longfellow and Keats. Keats began his long poem Lamia in a cottage under the cliff in the days when he came to the island in his pathetic search for health; and Longfellow came to the inn on the slope of Shanklin Chine in the old part of the town. This verse he wrote is let into a brick pillar from which water trickles for the thirsty traveller:

0, traveller, stay thy weary feet;
Drink of this fountain pure and sweet;
It flows for rich and poor the same.
Then go thy way, remembering still
The wayside well beneath the hill,
The cup of water in His name.

The little spring discovered by the court physician to Charles II is still running bravely. We do not wonder that the population of Shanklin has gone up 50 times in Ioo years, for it is an enchanting place, with an average of five hours of sunshine every day, with heights about 80o feet above the sea, and with down and copse in the safe keeping of the National Trust. Darwin thought there was no place like it by the sea and did some writing here.


Shide is a hamlet by Newport, and actually part of it, and is known to scientists for two considerable reasons, having to do with Roman Britain and world earthquakes. Here in 1926 were unearthed the foundations of a Roman villa. Three of the eight rooms have mosaic pavements fairly complete and well preserved. An interesting find was an open fireplace, very unusual in a Roman house. The arrangements for the heating of the baths were astonishingly elaborate for so small a house. Part of the villa has now been completed with walls and roof, so that it can be pictured as a dwelling-place and not a mere foundation, and in it we may see many coins and pieces of pottery.

As for earthquakes, time was when, if an earthquake happened anywhere, Shide was almost always the first to record it. Professor John Milne built an earthquake observatory here and made this quiet green village famous through the scientific world. Now the observatory is no more. The good work is carried on at Oxford, and Shide is left peaceful and forgotten, but it seems a good place to remember good John Milne, who died here in 1913 and lies at Barton, a little way off.

This remarkable man, after interesting experiences in Central Europe, Newfoundland, and Palestine, found himself a servant of the Japanese Government, and it was on his first night in Tokyo that he was so impressed by an earthquake that he resolved to study earthquakes for the rest of his life. He lived another 40 years and kept his word. The Japanese Government made him the first Professor of Seismology in the Imperial University. The practical and scientific results of the novel study Professor Milne thus initiated have been of capital importance. It has saved an incalculable number of lives, and prevented an inestimable amount of damage. He discovered methods of building houses and bridges which make these structures comparatively immune from the effects of earth tremors. Having spent twenty years in Japan, and visited the principal earthquake regions of the Pacific coast, he returned to England in I895 and settled at Shide, where he established a highly equipped observatory.


Perhaps more than a fair share of the island's treasures are to be found in Shorwell, for it has some noble houses. Yet its chief treasure is probably that confronting us as we pass through the ancient doorway of its church.

It is a big 15th century wall-painting of St Christopher carrying the Child, painted by a master hand and in splendid preservation. It has scenes from the saint's life round it, an unusual addition in such pictures. The river is full of fish, and a hermit stands on the right bank before his hut holding a lighted lantern. Three ships sail the waters, and from the mast of one is a light, seemingly an answering signal to the lantern on the bank. The smaller pictures show the saint riding beside the devil, and then comes his joyous renunciation of his fearful companion, this scene showing him beside a crucifix, with a staff blossoming in his hand. Next we see his martyrdom, when he is bound and wounded by arrows, the executioner in long pointed shoes holding the sword which finally ended his suffering. Among his enemies is a crowned figure with an ill-aimed arrow entering one of his eyes. The colours are red, yellow, black, and green, the draughtsmanship is remarkably good, and the whole painting is full of conviction and vigour.

Another great rarity of this small church is its enchanting stone pulpit, about 500 years old. There are only about 6o of these mediaeval pulpits left in England. This one grows out of a pillar in the north arcade and is entered by an archway cut in the pier. It has a delightful wooden canopy made in I62o, and near it is an hourglass stand with an old hourglass in it.

A fine copy of Cranmer's Bible, printed in 1541 and in excellent condition, is in a glass case, and there is a copy of Richard Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity opened at its elaborately printed title page, with a seal bearing Cranmer's arms and another seal blank, the empty space having been for Thomas Cromwell's arms, which were removed on his falling into disfavour. This Bible was restored to the church in 189 I after it had been away more than 100 years. On the wall of the south aisle hangs a small oak panel of the Crucifixion.

The font was new when the church was refashioned in the 15th century; its Jacobean cover has a dove on the top. The old Tudor gun-chamber, built on to the church at the time when every village on the island was ordered to keep a cannon, has been panelled with wood from Shorwell elms and turned into a vestry.

In the south chapel is an Elizabethan altar with carved legs, and over it a quaint painting on wood of the Last Supper, brought from Iceland and given to Shorwell in 1898. On the east wall is Elizabeth Leigh's heraldic brass.

There are two portrait brasses, one of Sir Richard Bethell, a 16th century rector, in a long full-sleeved gown and a tippet fastened by a rosette on one shoulder. By an economical arrangement the upper part of the stone in which this brass is inlaid was used later for another inscription to John Godsall, a vicar here for 54 years, who died in 1732. The other portrait brass is of two pretty women with 15 children, the "deare and loyal wives" of Barnabas Leigh. The Io sons and five daughters belong to Mistress Elizabeth Bampfield, resplendent in handsome Elizabethan gown and headdress. The second wife has lovely clothes too, but no headdress hides her beautiful hair.

In the north aisle is the canopied alabaster monument of Sir John Leigh, who died in 1629. He kneels at a prayer desk and has the beard, ruff, and hose of the day. Behind him in a long gown on a high hassock kneels his great-grandson Barnabas. When Sir John had died and was lying in the house awaiting burial, Barnabas, a lovely little fellow here, only nine months old, fell sick and died, and they sleep together, their epitaph ending:

Inmate in grave, he took his grandchild heir,
Whose soul did haste to make to him repair,
And so to heaven along as little page
With him did post, to wait upon his age.

Sir John, who built the splendid many-gabled house across the way (North Court), gave the church its stone spire with the weather cock dated 1617.

Yafford Mill, a mile southwest, is a well-restored nineteenth-century water-mill with an overshot wheel, which used to grind feeding-stuffs for animals. Among many things to see here are waterfowl, seals, rare breeds of cattle and a collection of implements and tools.


Thorley is a quiet place off the road not far from Yarmouth, Thorley has two churches. In the new one is the ancient font of the old one, 700 years old, resting on a squat pillar and having a curious base with carved corners and a little arch below.

Close to an old farm is all that remains of the old church, a porch and a buttressed belfry. From the road we see, over the farm buildings, a cross above an ivy-clad gable. It is roofed with tiles and looks like a small barn, but still has its charming 13th century doorway, with a beautiful image niche inside. On the floor is the grave of Thomas Urry, who died on Christmas Day in 1631. He has a heraldic brass and these lines :

His aged years (almost) were twelve times seven,
He's called to keep his Christmas now in Heaven.

Near the door is an ancient stone coffin with a place for the sleeper's head, showing how long this church had been a place of prayer before it was put on one side and left.

Totland Bay.

Totland Bay is the farthest West inhabitable bay, one of the most impressive points of the island, and one of the most comfortable places in the world for the traveller, it is easily reached from Lymington, with the ferry landing us at the delightful little harbour of Yarmouth. From the windows on the bay we look across to the mainland with Hurst Castle in good view by day, the lights of Bournemouth by night, and with clear visibility the white cliffs of Swanage in sight. Many great liners pass this way.

A little way off is Alum Bay with the coloured sands which every child loves and the near view of the Needles, and within an easy walk is Tennyson's Down, the house where he lived, and the church with seven memorials of his family and the grave of his wife. The I 9th century church has little for the traveller to see, but the all-red church of St Saviour's, built by the Roman Catholics, is delightful, with its walls of neatly patterned brick, its elegant tower, its projecting baptistry, the five arches along its west front, and an interior with three big and three small bays, half-moon windows in the sanctuary, and other windows shining with the Madonna, the Good Shepherd, and saints. Hereabouts is Weston Manor, with a private chapel built by the theologian William George Ward, near neighbour and great friend of Tennyson, who thought him among the "most worthy of mankind," whose living like he would not find again.

Not far from Totland Bay in the last years of last century the first British wireless transmitting station was set up by Marconi. The first readable signals were exchanged with a steamer at sea on November 6, 189 7, and in June of the following year the first paid Marconigram was sent from this station by Lord Kelvin. The station has entirely disappeared, but a granite memorial has been set up to mark the spot on which it stood.


Ventnor is without much doubt one of the steepest towns in Brit. ain for it is built on terraces on th( cliff-face, inviting the inevitable comparison with the French an( Italian Rivieras; it has been calle( `the English Madeira'. With its sub-tropical climate it is also one of the most sheltere, towns. In summer the sun rise and sets behind the hills but i winter the town receives th maximum possible sunshine. Th Victorians soon realised the cl matic advantages of what yAq then a tiny fishing village, decide that it was an ideal place i which to live and built the villas and hotels on the cliff-face.
The town was eventually served by two railways, the first in 1866 from Ryde, approaching the town through a tunnel from Wroxall to a terminus in Mitchell Avenue. The second line was from Newport and Godshill, through a tunnel south of Whitwell, emerging dramatically on to the Undercliff at St Lawrence high above the sea, ending at Ventnor West station. Both lines are sadly now closed and their demise has had a marked effect on the prosperity of the town.

Ventnor is a combination of seaside resort down by the shore and busy town higher up connected by steep zigzag roads; it has a more sophisticated and elegant character than the other island towns. There is just enough room on the shore for the usual seaside amenities including the Winter Gardens. In the town Hurst's ironmongers has its original Victorian facade and Burt's old brewery still produces quantities of Ventnor Ales. Visitors interested in the history of Ventnor and the coast should on no account miss the Longshoreman's Museum on the front and the Ventnor Heritage Museum in the town.
Above Ventnor and Bonchurch towers St Boniface Down, culminating in the highest point of the island (787ft above sea-level); from here on a clear day the views are magnificent.

The town of Ventnor has been built within the complex of landslides and has the largest urban landslide problem in Great Britain. Occasional movements necessitate constant repairs to some roads and buildings, but no deaths have been recorded since 1799. The woods on the landslips have a distinctive character though some have been planted, some are older natural woods. Open land survives near St Catherine's Point and this is rich in rare and local plants. Stone walls were made from the rocky debris when the land was cleared for farming. The whole area is rich in wildlife and migrant birds make this their first port of call.

St Lawrence is well wooded, its large houses partly hidden by subtropical vegetation. Uphill from the main road is the tiny twelfth-century church, which until its chancel was extended in 1842 was the smallest church in England. A little further uphill is the old railway station building, now a private house; the line was closed in 1952.

Old Park on the Undercliff was one of the three hunting-parks on the island; the estate was once the property of Sir Richard Worsley, governor of the Isle of Wight. It was bought in the late nineteenth century by a German, William Spindler, who unsuccessfully tried to build a port and town there; the broken-up promenade can be seen on the shore.

Ventnor Botanic Garden, built on the site of a large TB sanatorium, is one of the best sub-tropical gardens in England, with over 10,000 plants of some 3,500 species. Rare trees, shrubs, alpines, perennials and succulents from all over the world flourish here in the open air. In the garden is the unique underground Museum of Smuggling History, which illustrates the history of smuggling through the ages with many relics of this fascinating occupation. Ventnor was the chief smuggling port of the island.

The great coastal terrace of the Undercliff is seven miles long and in some parts half a mile wide, running from Dunnose Point to Blackgang Chine. The terrace is believed to be the result of a prehistoric disaster when the whole face of the downs fell suddenly into the sea. There have been many landslips since that first fall, but the Undercliff as a whole, the geologist tells us, came to rest before the dawn of history. The road (surely one of the loveliest in the land) winds along it, climbing and falling at the caprice of this natural ledge, and leading us through peaceful avenues to surprise us suddenly with wild open slopes covered with gorse and r"ocks and mighty tumbled boulders. These slopes are the scars that refuse to heal, and will never let us forget the terror and magnitude of the disaster which turned this land into a playground of rare beauty. Under the gracious trees, covering some parts of it so thickly that we see neither cliffs nor sea, and in among its happy army of wild flowers, we can easily forget, but out on these slopes it is hard to think of anything else. The Undercliff is never really at rest; its enemies are too many. Rain, frost, the hungry sea, and that traitor within the gates called Blue Slipper (the grey, slippery clay that causes so many of the falls) are constantly at work. So here and there the movements go on, mostly making no great difference, sometimes more serious. Enchanting paths fight their way resolutely to the top of the cliffs where glorious views are the rich reward of those who follow them. At Chale it ends in the vast chine called Blackgang.

On the Undercliff are two big estates with something to make them interesting Wolverton because in its gardens is the ruin of a little 14th century house with slits only six inches wide for windows; and the Orchard because its garden comes in the dedication of Swinburne's poem The Sisters:

Between the sea-cliffs and the sea there sleeps
A garden walled about with woodland, fair
As dreams that die or days that memory keeps Alive . . .

St Lawrence is now part of Ventnor though greatly its senior, for Ventnor is modern and St Lawrence had its church in the 13th century. Ventnor itself has a group of modern churches, and St Lawrence also has a Igth century church with a I7th century altarpiece and a chest of 1612. Its old church, before the addition of its chancel in 1830, was only 25 feet long by I I feet wide, among the smallest in England. It has a big 15th century font, a 13th century piscina niche, a sturdy movable stoup about 500 years old, and over the doorway a row of 18th century hat pegs. There is a lovely view from the churchyard.


Whippingham is the tiny village on the banks of the Medina, with a medley of a church built close by the seaside palace of Queen Victoria, Osborn House. The church stands on a hill overlooking the river and is reached through a lychgate of Indian teak and an avenue of cypresses. Built into the porch is a much-worn sculpture of two men on horseback with a tree between them, a fragment from a church built here by Fitzosborn, kinsman and councillor of the Conqueror. His church has been twice replaced, the present building being erected on the site by the Prince Consort. The massive marble tomb in the Battenberg Chapel is that of Prince Henry and Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria's youngest daughter.


Whitwell, north of St Lawrence, is an unassuming place, but its church has a strange history. The medieval church consisted of two chapels side by side, one dedicated to St Radegund and the other to the Virgin Mary; in the sixteenth century the dividing wall was removed.
The White Horse Inn claims to be the oldest on the island. The village has some strange pieces of street furniture —handsome nineteenth-century iron water standards. They were provided by William Spindler, the wealthy owner of Old Park at St Lawrence.

Seven centuries old, and in a garden blooming with flowers in due season, the church has a Tudor porch and a Tudor tower. It has lost its ancient wall-painting but keeps its ancient bell. A water colour of the painting hangs in the aisle; the original fell away after being recovered from many coats of whitewash. The old bell stands under the west window, ringing no more.

The oldest part of the walls is on the north side of the chancel arch, where there is 12th century carving. Long ago the chapel and the chancel were two places, used by two parishes and divided by a wall; in the 16th century the wall was transformed into a fine arch and became part of the Tudor church. There is a curious pillar which forms part of the chancel arch and nave arcades; it is of Purbeck marble and unlike any of the other pillars, evidently a misfit and much too short, for a long upper capital has been added to it. There is a tub-shaped font and a Jacobean pulpit and table. For altar rails the church has some delightful old carved benches, black and polished with age. A glass case on the wall holds a strange relic found when the roof was repaired in the last century, a finely carved wooden model in miniature of the Hands of Our Lord, bearing the prints of the nails.


The tide comes up to it and works an ancient mill; and it has a heronry, and a tiny church founded in the time of William Rufus. Its south doorway is the work of late I I th century builders and is charming, with a pillar on each side and a double roll of moulding. The chancel is 13th and 14th century and the lovely pulpit is Jacobean, with carved panels and a canopy.

It is the simplest of little buildings, with nave and chancel in one and a tiny chapel for the organ. The nave is plain to severity, but the chancel is bright with colour. The arms of King Edmund the Martyr, the patron saint, are in a chancel window, and in four glowing lancets are the Four Evangelists. The roof is painted between its old beams, and the stone reredos has pillars and background of coloured marbles. Modern paintings of St Michael and St Gabriel are on the chancel walls, and the lovely east window by Kempe represents the Crucifixion.

There was once a tide mill near the Sloop Inn at Wootton Creek. One of several on the island, the main road bridge is the causeway of the dam that controlled the mill-pond. Corn was brouigh from Southampton and the flour produced from is was sent all over the island.

On the other side of the creek is Quarr Abbey. The Benedictine Abbey was built in 1907-14 entirely of Flemish bricks and is considered to be a minor masterpiect of modern ecclesiastical architecture. Thje scanty ruins of the original Cistercial abbey of Quarr, founded in 1132 and now incorporated into a farm, can be seen from the footpath that leads to Binstead.


Wroxhall north of Ventnor, is the site of the magnificent shell of Appuldurcombe House, for 300 years the seat of the Worsley family. Rebuilt in classical style in the early eighteenth century with a room, it is said, for every week of the year and a window for every day, it became a school and then lay empty for many years until bombed in 1943. The beautifully-kept grounds were laid out by the famous 'Capability' Brown.


If we set out from the pleasant ferry of Lymington this is the first place to welcome us to the Garden Isle; it is like a piece of tapestry as we approach, and on arriving is a veritable picture with its little harbour full of sail. There is no more delightful scene in the island than Yarmouth Harbour on a sunny day when the ferry arrives and the yachts of many colours (red, green, yellow, and white) are lying here. It is among the oldest towns in the island, and was once the seat of the Governor.

The castle was completed in 1547 on the 'King's land' outside the borough; its single 'arrowhead' bastion, which gave complete lateral covering fire, is the earliest surviving example in England.
Steamers first came to Yarmouth from Lymington in 1830; until then the crossing was usually by rowing-boat and not always pleasant. The attractive timber pier or landing-stage dates from 1876. The church was rebuilt in 1614-26 and its unattractive tower was added in 1831. In the chapel is a statue of Sir Robert Holmes, governor of the island in the late seventeenth century, said to have the body of Louis XIV and the head of Sir Robert!
The old tide-mill of 1793 which stands at the head of the mill-pond went out of use when the railway embankment was built across the pond. The railway line from Yarmouth to Freshwater is now a footpath and nature trail, following the east bank of the River Yar for part of the way.

There is a tiny 18th century town hall standing over what was once the market, and in it is a lovely mace of solid silver, with Charles II's arms on the top and his initials at the foot. There are beautiful old charters written on vellum, with seals attached by coloured plaits of silk, of which the earliest goes back to 1334. The old books of Yarmouth are at the bottom of the sea, and this is how they went. At a Court Leet dinner in 1784 one of the guests was a captain from a ship in the harbour, and, having dined not wisely but too well, he saw as he left a case of what he thought to be wine, and secretly carried it off to his ship. There he discovered that the case was full of books, and in his disgust he threw them overboard.

Many pilgrims are drawn to the 17th century church by a monument which has had a strange adventure. It is on the tomb of Sir Robert Holmes (1692), the bluff admiral who twice entertained Charles II and is renowned for deeds that made their mark upon the world. He stands under a canopy supported on porphyry columns, an impressive but singular figure in rich armour, his face rather out of keeping with the rest of him for a reason that is no fault of the sculptor. The statue was not made for him but for Louis XIV of France. It was finished except for the head, which the sculptor wished to fashion from life, and the marble was on its way to Versailles for this purpose when it was captured by the admiral, who thought it would do splendidly for his tomb and had his own head put where the French king's should have been.


Where Bembridge slopes southward to the sea the small church and the stately 17th century manor house of Yaverland stand side by side, both with something from the past. Yaverland was an island until the I3th century, when the lord of the manor made a causeway to Yarbridge. The church was built about 1150 as the private chapel of the manor. The house, with tall wide gables and an imposing front, is one of the finest on the island. Part of the I2th century walls are left; the side wings were added in 1620. Its chief beauty is in the carving of the fine door and the oak staircase with grotesque corbels on the wall.

The best part of the church is in the doorway and the chancel arch, which are counted the best Norman craftsmanship in the island. The doorway (near which is a mass dial) has a lovely tympanum of diapered pattern, and wide mouldings of short pilasters and zigzags. A friendly face smiles from above it, and the two pillars are rich in a shell-like pattern. The chancel arch is not surpassed for its impressiveness in any Hampshire church. Its slender pillars are completely covered with similar designs, and the deeply cut mouldings are exquisitely carved. There is a small movable holy water stoup with a broken bowl which was found when the church was restored in the 19th century; it is 15th century, and preserved with it is another vessel discovered at that time, a big Celtic urn that must have seen twenty centuries. It rests on a carved bracket which was once part of the ancient roof. The font is 14th century. There is a 15th century holy water stoup, and the roodstairs have survived the Reformation.