Towns and villages on the Isle
of Wight offering accommodation for visitors
Ventnor is a seaside resort established in the
Victorian era on the south coast of the Isle of Wight, off the southern
coast of England. It lies underneath Saint Boniface Down, and is built
on steep slopes and cliffs leading down to the sea. The higher part is
referred to as upper Ventnor; the lower part, where most of the
amenities are located, being known as lower Ventnor.
The sheltered location, on the cliff of the island's south coast, means
the area experiences a microclimate with more sunny days than much of
the British Isles, and fewer frosts. This means that many species of
subtropical plant have been successfully planted and maintained. Of
particular note is Ventnor Botanic Garden. The gardens are unusually
large and well stocked. Commissioned by Queen Victoria, part of the
garden is built on the site what was once the Royal National Hospital
for diseases of the chest, and is said to be haunted The gardens also
contain a large temperate house.
Sandown is a seaside resort town on the south-east coast of the Isle of
Wight, England, neighbouring the town of Shanklin to the south. Sandown
Bay is the name of the bay off the English Channel which both towns
share, and it is notable for its long stretch of easily accessible
golden sandy beach.
Sandown is a typical Victorian seaside town, but is surrounded by a
wealth of natural features. To the north is Culver Down, a chalk down
accessible to the public, mostly owned and managed by the National
Trust, and supports typical chalk downland wildlife, and many seabirds
which nest on the adjoining cliffs. Nearby inland are Sandown Levels,
one of the few freshwater wetlands on the Isle of Wight, where
Alverstone Mead Local Nature Reserve is a very popular spot for
birdwatching. Further inland the woodland of Borthwood provides
delightful woodland walks, and bluebells aplenty in the springtime.
The most significant wildlife designation in the area is the Special
Area of Conservation which covers the marine sub-littoral zone,
including the reefs and sea bed. At extreme low tide a petrified forest
is partially revealed in the northern part of Sandown Bay, and fragments
of petrified wood are regularly washed up on the beach.
Sandown has been a seaside resort town since the Victorian age thanks to
its sands and the sunny weather on the Isle of Wight compared to other
parts of the United Kingdom. Its success, along with that of other
neighbouring Isle of Wight resorts led to the building of a railway
connecting Sandown with Ventnor at the south and Ryde on the north coast
of the Island. Sandown railway station is still on the one remaining
operational railway on the Island, which now goes from Ryde Pier Head to
Today, Sandown Esplanade boasts some fine Victorian and Edwardian hotels
which overlook the golden sands of the beach below. Sandown Pier hosts a
large amusement centre with arcade games and children's play areas,
typical of a sea-side resort. The pier is also good for doing a spot of
sea fishing with designated areas especially for the keen angler.
Further north, there is the Isle of Wight Zoo, big cat sanctuary and
other facilities including an 18 hole golf course, the Dinosaur Isle
geological museum and Sandham Grounds, offering tennis, bowls and
Yarmouth is a port in the western part of the Isle
of Wight, off the southern coast of England. The town is named for its
location at the mouth of the small Western Yar river (there is also an
Eastern Yar on the island). Yarmouth is a crossing point for the river,
originally with a ferry, replaced with a road bridge in 1863.
Yarmouth has been a settlement for over a thousand years, and is one of
the very earliest on the Isle of Wight. The first record of a settlement
here was in King Ethelred the Unready's record of the Danegeld tax of
991. It was originally called Eremue, meaning "muddy estuary". The
Normans laid out the streets of Yarmouth on the grid system, a plan
which can still be seen in the layout today. It grew rapidly, being
given its first Charter as a town in 1135.
Until the building of the Castle regular raids on the Island by the
French continued and in 1544 the town of Yarmouth was reputed to have
been burned down. Legend has it that the church bells were carried off
to Cherbourg or Boulogne.
Yarmouth Castle, was built in 1547. It survives, and is now in the care
of English Heritage.
Yarmouth Pier was built in 1876 and is the longest timber pier in
England which is still open to the public.
The Wightlink ferry sails from Yarmouth to Lymington in Hampshire.
Shanklin is a popular seaside resort on the Isle of Wight, England, just
south of Sandown on the south-east coast. The old village and the chine
are its main attractions along with the sandy beach. The esplanade along
the beach is occupied by hotels and restaurants for the most part, and
is one of the most tourist-oriented parts of the town. The other is the
Old Village, at the top of Shanklin Chine.
The main shopping centre consists of two roads, Regent Street and High
Street, which comprises the largest retail area in the south of the Isle
of Wight, significant for tourists but also as an amenity for residents.
Near Regent Street is the town's major supermarket, Somerfield. There
are also many local shops, including three newsagents, three bakeries,
two arts and craft shops, several clothing and sports shops. The High
Street also has shops, but is dominated by tourist shops and
Shanklin railway station is the terminus of the Island Line from Ryde.
The railway used to continue south to Ventor, but this section was
closed in the 1960s.
There are two theatres in Shanklin, Shanklin Theatre is just off the top
end of the High Street, and The Portico Theatre is in Shanklin Old
Beaches and esplanade
Location within the British Isles Shanklin has two beaches; 'Small Hope
Beach' and 'Hope Beach.' Small Hope Beach eventually meets Sandown Beach
and has many beach huts available for hire, and a small cafe. Hope Beach
stretches in the opposite direction. Above Hope Beach is the esplanade
which boasts some traditional seaside attractions including an amusement
arcade, a crazy golf course, and a children's play area, with slides,
ball pools, bouncy castles, rigging, swings etc available to be hired
for a childs birthday party. There are several seafront hotels, a cliff
lift to carry you from the seafront to the top of the cliff, a golf
course, several cafes and restaurants and pubs, and a large, clean
beach. Shanklin used to have a pier, but this was destroyed in the Great
Storm of 1987.
Bembridge is a village located on the easternmost point of the Isle of
Wight. It had a population of 3,567 according to the 1991 census of the
United Kingdom, leading to claims by residents that Bembridge is the
largest village in England.
Bembridge is a local service centre, hosting both a primary and middle
school (see Isle of Wight School System for more information), a post
office, several shops, a local airport, and Catholic, Methodist and
Anglican Churches. It is also the location of a local fire and lifeboat
The RNLI station is particularly important, as extending into the sea to
the east of the village lies the notorious "Bembridge ledge", a large
rocky outcrop which poses a major threat to passing boats. Although it
is private sailing yachts which are most at risk, a wide variety of
boats commonly run aground here, especially in the often stormy weather
conditions which affect the Solent during winter months.
Close to the lifeboat station lies a coastguard outlook and the
ever-popular Crab & Lobster pub, both of which offer (due to their high
elevation) outstanding views of the Solent meeting the English Channel
to the east of the Isle of Wight. Boating enthusiasts can observe a
range of shipping - most of it keeping a safe distance from the
Bembridge ledge - here, especially during the summer. The Crab & Lobster
is also popular for its locally-caught seafood, on which it prides
The Britten-Norman aircraft factory is located near Bembridge.
Niton is a village on the Isle of Wight, near
Niton village is split into two halves by a break in the inner cliff
large enough to house the main road through Niton. Upper Niton lies in a
hollow and is set around a crossroads. The lower part of the village,
below the inner cliff is often known as Niton Undercliff, which was a
small fishing hamlet until the 19th Century. This part of Niton
flourished in Victorian times due to the popularity of Ventnor as a
health resort and many mansions and holiday cottages were built here.
The road on the Undercliff continues east from Niton towards Ventnor.
The Undercliff at Niton includes the most southerly point of the Isle of
Wight, St Catherine's Point and St Catherine's Lighthouse.
The source of the Eastern Yar is in the parish, a little to the north of
Niton church has a sixteenth-century tower and squat spire. The church
has both Norman and mediaeval walls. The chancel is of the Decorated
period, and has a rich modern reredos. There is a porch from the 14th
century and the large Norman font that has a band of moulding and
pointed arches on round pillars is around 700 years old. The chancel is
On the wall can be found a memorial portrait done by John Flaxman,
depicting a woman holding pelicans in her hand in relief.
The registers, which date from 1560, show the following entry:
July the 1st, Anno Domini 1675. Charles II, king of Great Britain,
France, and Ireland, etc., came safely ashore at Puckaster, after he had
endured a great and dangerous storm at sea.
In front of the porch is a modern Celtic cross inserted in the four
steps of the old churchyard cross. Near the Celtic cross a marble
monument covers the grave of Edward Edwards, (d. 1886) the pioneer of
the public library movement.
Fishbourne, Isle of Wight
Fishbourne is a small village between Wootton and Ryde, on the Isle of
It is positioned on the eastern bank of Wootton Creek, and includes the
terminal for the Wightlink car ferry from Portsmouth.
Fishbourne, together with the adjoining Kite Hill area, has applied for
Parish Council status. The new parish will also include the ruined
Norman abbey (founded 1132) and the Benedictine abbey of Quarr (founded
in the early 1900's).
The Royal Victoria Yacht Club and the 'Fishbourne Inn' are located near
the ferry terminal
Whitwell is a small village on the Isle of Wight. It is in the south of
the island, some five kilometres west of Ventnor. Whitwell is a close
knit community about 5 minutes away from the small village of Godshill.
It has a church, pub and Whit Well after which the village was named.
The post office has recently been closed down.
Knighton is a small hamlet near to Sandown on the
Isle of Wight.
It is usually pronounced as Kay-nighton by local people, to avoid
confusion with the larger, homophonic village of Niton, near Ventnor.
It is home to the ruined manor house of Knighton Gorges. All that is
left of the house is the two stone gateposts, but it is rumoured to
reappear each New Year's Eve in ghostly form. Locals have also reported
seeing animal-like gargoyles on top of each gatepost; these figures were
removed many years ago and all that is left is plain stone.
Wootton is a village on the Isle of Wight between Ryde and Newport.
The area of the village close to Wootton Creek is known as Wootton
Bridge, and in the past, this was in fact a separate settlement,
although the extensive development of residential areas during the 20th
Century has essentially made the two settlements contiguous.
Wootton is the terminus of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.
Newtown is a small hamlet on the Isle of Wight, in England.
Newtown is located on the large natural harbour on the island's
north-western coast, now mostly a National Nature Reserve owned and
managed by the National Trust.
A French raid in 1377, that destroyed much of the town as well as other
Island settlements, sealed its permanent decline. By the middle of the
sixteenth century it was a small settlement long eclipsed by the more
easily defended town of Newport. Elizabeth I breathed some life into the
town by awarding two parliamentary seats but this ultimately made it one
of the most notorious of the rotten boroughs. By the time of the Reform
Act 1832 that abolished the seats, it had just fourteen houses and
St. Helens is a small village located on the
eastern side of the Isle of Wight.
St Helens Old ChurchThe village (population about 2000) is based around
5 village greens.
Lying on the high ground to the north of Bembridge, St Helens has good
views over the busy harbour. It is a small village with five fine
village green on which cricket is played during the summer and football
in the winter.
A short walk from the village to the sea leads to the St Helens Duver at
the mouth of the harbour, a sand-dune complex which was the first golf
course on the Isle of Wight, and where there is now a popular sheltered
beach, cafe, and beach huts. The Duver is no longer a golf course and is
maintained by the National Trust, who also offer limited self-catering
accommodation for holiday-makers in the area.
The origins of St. Helens seems to revolve around the Cluniac Priory and
the monastic church, built circa 1080. In 1340 a French raid landed at
St Helens but was repulsed. In 1346 Edward III set sail from St Helens
to invade Normandy.
After the alien priories were suppressed by Henry V in 1414 the old
church became the parish church. The original church eventually became
unsafe, and a new church was built further inland. In 1720 a great wave
destroyed the old church. The tower still stands to this day, the
seaward side is painted as a seamark.
St Lawrence is a village to the west of Ventnor, on the Isle of Wight,
and many consider it a part of that town.
The "old church" of St Lawrence is a 12th century building that, for
many years, was considered the smallest church in the British Isles.
Although there are undoubtedly smaller chapels including the tiny church
at Les Vauxbelets on Guernsey, this arguably remains the smallest to be
built as a parish church – although this role has long since been
supplanted by a larger church in the village.
St Lawrence is situated on the Undercliff, and is subject to regular