"That beautiful island which he who once sees never forgets, through whatever part of the world his future path may lead him."
-Sir Walter Scott.
"As a resort of those who make holiday," said a writer in a daily newspaper, "the Isle of Wight is an embarrassment. Its attractions are so numerous and diverse that the visitor pauses on the shore to weigh the merits of half-a-dozen famous spots. Shall he remain in Ryde, seek the sands of Sandown, the green recesses of Shanklin, the bold heights of Ventnor, or, rejecting all these, push on into the less known western places? As a matter of fact, there is small need for such precision. The visitor to the Isle of Wight may drop down anywhere along the shore or inland, and be certain that the spot shall be a garden, and not a wilderness. He will find on every hand scenes of beauty such as, within the same compass, no other place frequented by tourists can show."
Although written many years ago, these remarks still to a large extent hold good. The Isle of Wight has, of course, developed with the times, and as a holiday resort is thoroughly up to date. The seaside towns have been enlarged and improved and offer every modern facility for sport and entertainment, while railway and motor-coach services render almost every part readily accessible. People who knew the Island years ago may regret the loss of some of its charm, but it has certainly suffered less from "progress" than many other parts of the country, and its beauties of coast and down and quiet byway are still unimpaired.
Nowhere in the British Isles is better or safer bathing to be had. This is notably the case in Sandown Bay, with its long stretch of firm and gently-sloping sands. Tennis, bowls and putting are catered for in all the larger resorts and in most of the villages. Golfers will find excellent links at Newport, Ryde, St. Helen's (Royal Isle of Wight Club), Sandown, Ventnor, Cowes, Freshwater, the Needles, and Chale. In connection with all forms of sport there are local clubs willing to welcome visitors. (Details are given on other pages.) Boating of the absolutely safe order may be had in Sandown Bay, while adventurous spirits may hazard themselves on the more ruffled waters of the Solent. For yachtsmen the Island, or rather the narrow strip of water which makes it such, is, of course, the resort par excellence. Regattas are held not only at Cowes, but at Ryde, Bembridge, Seaview, Yarmouth, Sandown, Shanklin, Ventnor, and elsewhere during the season. Fishing, both salt and fresh water, is fairly plentiful, though the latter is for the most part strictly preserved. Mullet, whiting, bass, plaice, flounders and dabs are the most common sea fish; rudd and dace, and less commonly trout, may be hooked by the patient fresh-water angler.
The pedestrian will find ample scope for his powers in tramping the Downs. The "Highlands" of the Island, if the term may be permitted, are not, in our opinion, sufficiently known or appreciated. The tourist who has climbed Ben Nevis, Snowdon, or even Cader Idris, may laugh at St. Boniface, with its paltry 787 feet, but we may assure the average stay-at-home citizen, with a short annual holiday, that he will find the ascent - particularly on the southern side - as stiff a bit of mountaineering as he is likely to care for. And, once up, what a panorama is unfolded! Not bleak, bare mountain heights, but a succession of warm and smiling valleys, typically English, with trim hedgerows and copses behind which snug farmsteads nestle; and here and there, through the gaps of the hills, a glimpse of the sea. And the air! People who want bracing air need not be afraid of the Isle of Wight. Some of the towns may be relaxing at certain seasons, but let the visitor climb any of the downs marked on the map, and walk along the springy turf, amid the heather and the gorse, for a mile or two, and he will not lack appetite.
Motorists sometimes ask whether it is worth while taking a car across to the Island, in view of its compactness and the excellence of the train and coach services. The answer is perhaps to be found in the popularity of the car ferries from the mainland; during the height of the season it is generally advisable to book places well in advance.
At the same time, it must be understood that the Island does not lend itself to motor touring in the ordinary sense, but many delights await those who can enjoy a short "potter" of a few hours. With a little ingenuity, a large number of alternative routes can be worked out, affording surprising variety. For those, too, who for one reason or another can enjoy a walk along the Downs but are averse to the long climb up or down, the car is a very handy adjunct to a holiday: it also enables one to get off the beaten track and explore odd corners otherwise difficult of access.
The Island roads are being improved to meet the ever-increasing demands upon them. Banking at corners and good surfaces are everywhere apparent. But many of the roads must perforce be winding and narrow and some of the hills are not only steep but appear even steeper by reason of the suddenness with which they are encountered. Some of the roads, too, are difficult to negotiate at certain hours owing to the motor-coaches.
Road routes from London and the Midlands to the three ports serving the Island will be found outlined on pp. xi-xii. As this book is arranged on the assumption that the visitor will make his headquarters in one place rather than move from town to town, we have thought it most convenient to outline, at the end of the respective chapters, the road routes from Ryde, Sandown, Shanklin, etc., to other parts of the Island. Motorists making a tour of the Island or going from one town to another will find all needful directions by combining the various sections of any particular route. In any case, with the aid of our street plans and the map of the Island, little difficulty is likely to be experienced. The roads are on the whole well sign-posted.
Garages and repair depots are numerous throughout the Island.
I. By Railway. The Island railways form part of the Southern Railway system, and travel is convenient and cheap. As the evening trains are generally crowded, a first class ticket is an advantage. Cheap day tickets are issued, particulars of which are well advertised locally. Short-term Season Tickets entitling the holder to unlimited travel between all stations in the Island cost 10s.6d. per week first class, 7s.6d. third class; while tickets costing 18s. first class and 15s. third class give the extra privilege of crossing from Ryde to Southsea or Portsmouth. The seven days' validity of these season tickets includes the day of issue; it is therefore inadvisable to book overnight, as one day's travelling is thus lost.
The busiest route is that from Ryde to Ventnor via Brading, Sandown and Shanklin. Four branch lines connect Newport with Freshwater, Cowes, Ryde and Sandown, while the last- named route connects at Merstone with a short line to Ventnor. As these lines were originally laid out for three different systems, changes are usually necessary between the branch lines, but a few through trains are run in summer months. For example, from Ventnor, Shanklin, or Sandown the visitor will find a through train in the morning to take him to Cowes or to the West Wight, and corresponding through trains for the return journey in the evening. Where there is no through train, there is usually a train connecting at the junction station.
II. By Bus. The chief company in the Isle of Wight is the Southern Vectis, whose 'buses serve all parts of the Island with through rail-and-road bookings. Every town is linked up with every other town, and every village with the towns nearest to it. In summer the services are lengthened so that most of the longer journeys can be taken without change of bus, e.g. services from the Western Wight, terminating in winter at Newport, are extended to Ryde. An attractive summer feature is the Coastal Service between Ryde and Alum Bay.
Late 'buses leave the towns after the close of concerts, cinemas, etc. Full details as to services, times and fares may be obtained from the offices of the Company at 59, St. James's Square, Newport, or from the conductors on the 'buses. Ramblers should make a point of carrying a copy of the 'Bus Time-Tables with them, as it will on many occasions enable them to save energy and shoe leather on uninteresting stretches and give longer time for the enjoyment of worthwhile places and districts.
III. By Coach. The motor-coaches have made it possible to obtain at least a glimpse of every place of interest on the Island in a single day, though many of the "Round the Island" trips omit one corner in order to allow for a stay of an hour or two at such favourite places as Alum Bay (for the Needles), etc. There are shorter trips in abundance from all the principal towns. Blackgang Chine, Carisbrooke Castle and Osborne are among the spots most frequently visited. Fares range from 2s. 6d. for the shorter half-day excursions to 6s. for the longer whole-day excursions.
As some of the by-roads are closed to vehicles holding over 14 passengers, it is often preferable to travel by the smaller coaches if one wants to see the best beauty spots. Moonlight drives on to the Downs and other evening "mystery trips" are very popular features of the season.
IV. By Car. Motorists should see pp.2-3.
V. By Cycle. The cyclist will find that the Downs, though formidable, are not as difficult as they look, and the views amply repay the labour of an uphill walk. For the principal routes and distances, see under the various centres on following pages.
VI. By Steamer. Trips may be taken with almost equal convenience from Ryde, Ventnor, Sandown, Shanklin, or Cowes. Fares will, of course, vary slightly according to starting-point.
From Ryde, Sandown, Shanklin, Ventnor, etc., through tickets, including rail and steamer, are issued; they sometimes represent a considerable saving on ordinary fares. As alterations are frequent, the following particulars must be regarded as approximate only, and current announcements should be consulted for fares, etc. Luncheons, teas and light refreshments can be obtained on the steamers making sufficiently long trips.
I. Round the Island.-This is, as it deserves to be, one of the most popular trips. Except by the dangerous "back of the Island" (Blackgang to the Needles) the vessels keep well in-shore, and excellent views are obtained of Osborne, Cowes, Totland and Alum Bay, the Needles, Freshwater Bay, Ventnor, Bonchurch, Shanklin, Sandown, the Culver Cliff, Bembridge, etc. The trip occupies from six to seven hours. The catering on board is good. The boat usually picks up passengers at all the Island piers except Totland Bay.
II. To Bournemouth.-Another popular trip, affording a good blow at sea in addition to the passage through the Solent. The Guide to Bournemouth will he found useful for a short stay.
III. To Southsea (South Parade and Clarence Piers) and Portsmouth Harbour.-Daily during the season, Sundays included, there are cheap day excursions, by Southern Railway steamers. On week-days visitors are conducted round the Dockyard daily between 9.30 and 12 and between 1.30 and 5, except on Saturdays, when there is no admission after 12. The Victory is on view daily from 9.30 to 7.30 in summer and 5 p.m. in winter. Sundays from 11.30. See our Guide to Southsea and Portsmouth, with plans and maps.
IV. To Cowes.-Several boats daily, in connection with trains from Ventnor, etc. From West Cowes one can go by ferry-launch or floating-bridge to East Cowes for Osborne.
V. To Southampton Docks.-A popular day-trip allowing ample time for inspection of the Docks. The fare can include the permit necessary to go over one of the large Cunard-White Star liners.
Southampton can also be reached by the regular service of steamers from Ryde or Cowes.
VI. Whole-day trips from Ryde and other Island resorts to Brighton, Weymouth, Swanage, Cherbourg, etc.
The Isle of Wight measures twenty-three miles at its greatest length-from the Needles, on the west, to Bembridge Foreland, on the east; and about thirteen miles across at its broadest part-from Cowes to St. Catherine's Point. Its circumference is about sixty miles, and its total area one hundred and fifty-five square miles. In shape the Island may be roughly likened to a diamond placed horizontally, and, with greater exactitude, to a turbot. It is separated from Hampshire by a narrow channel or strait, known as the Solent. For centuries part of the county of Hants, the Island is now for administrative purposes a county by itself, having its own Council.
The Island is divided into two very nearly equal parts by a range of chalk hills, or downs, running from the Culver, at the north-eastern end of Sandown Bay, to the Needles, at the extreme west of the Island. Another range of hills runs along the south coast from St. Catherine's to near Shanklin, and shuts in the district of the Undercliff, "the Madeira of England." Myrtles and other delicate plants here grow to an immense size in the open air. This district is fertile in the extreme, and so warm and sheltered that lambs are seen as early in the season as October or November.
The principal river is the Medina, which rises at the foot of St. Catherine's Down and flows northward to Cowes, traversing almost the entire width of the Island. The Western Yar has its origin at Freshwater Bay, within a few yards of the English Channel, and in its short course northward to Yarmouth attains a fair width. The Eastern Yar is a narrow winding stream, rising near Niton, within a mile of the coast, and emptying itself in the sea near Bembridge. Wootton River, after a short course of two miles, falls into the Solent at Fishbourne, where it forms a wide creek, navigable at high water. Besides these, there are the Newtown River, a curious and irregular creek, which admits vessels of some size; the Lukeley, a tributary of the Medina, which it joins at Newport; and a number of other streams and rivulets.
The streams falling into the bays on the eastern and western shores have cut Chines (or clefts) through the solid rock. Shanklin and Blackgang are the most noted of these-the former for its fertility, the latter for its grand sterility ; but all the chines have their own features of interest.
The shores of the Island are deeply indented by Bays, among the most noted of which are Alum Bay, famous for the coloured sands of its cliffs; Totland Bay; Freshwater Bay, with its caverns and isolated rocks; Brook, Brighstone, and Chale Bays, very dangerous to shipping; secluded Whitecliff Bay; and Sandown Bay, on the shores of which stand the two watering-places of Sandown and Shanklin. Two of the most dangerous headlands-St. Catherine's and the Needles-are protected by powerful lighthouses, while the Warner lightship does duty off Bembridge.
A former president of the Geological Society remarked that the Island "might have been cut out by nature for a geological model illustrative of the phenomena of stratification." Advanced students will hardly expect to find in a book of this character any very learned or elaborate disquisition and we must content ourselves with referring them to A Short Account of the Geology of the Isle of Wight, by H.J. Osborne White, an excellent memoir issued by the Geological Survey. It condenses and brings up to date the standard Geology of the Isle of Wight by W. H. Bristow, one of the Geological Survey Memoirs, now out of print. The Rev. J. C. Hughes's Geological Story of the Isle of Wight is also worthy of study.
The lowest and oldest strata exposed in the Isle of Wight are the Wealden Beds. They rise from the shore immediately north of Sandown, where their uppermost beds, the grey Wealden shales resting upon the red Wealden marls, can be fairly examined. The Wealden Beds have yielded many scattered bones and one or two almost complete skeletons of several kinds of gigantic reptiles, which were the dominant form of life in that remote period.
Of the Chalk formations, the most noticeable feature is the bold range of downs already referred to, stretching right across the middle of the Island from the Needles to the Culver Cliff. Farther southward, St. Catherine's, St. Boniface, and Shanklin Downs are also chalk, and form the loftiest part of the Island. The chalk of Culver Cliff, as viewed from the sea, is very striking, the flint bands of the upper chalk serving to bring out the sharp dip of the strata.
Immediately to the north-east of Culver Cliff is Whitecliff Bay, where may be found a fine exposure of the junction of the chalk and plastic clay (Woolwich and Reading Beds), followed by the whole of the Eocene and Oligocene series up to the Bembridge marls. The Bracklesham, Barton and Bembridge Beds are rich in fossils.
On the coast near Red Cliff just northward of Sandown there comes to the surface the Lowest Greensand Bed, which yields large fossil shells.
The Lower Greensand forms a great portion of the southern coast, but that part of the hills behind the Undercliff which is not chalk is of Upper Greensand. A belt of Upper Greensand and Gault runs at the southern foot of the Central Downs from Compton Bay to Limpet Run, north of Sandown. Along the Undercliff and elsewhere there are extensive bands of Gault, known locally as "Blue Slipper," and the presence of this clay is the principal cause of the great land slips that have formed the famous Undercliff.
By reason of the time and fatigue entailed, only the ardent geologist will examine thoroughly the cliff section of the Lower Greensand between Rocken End, near St. Catherine's Lighthouse, and Atherfield Point. The amateur's attention will probably be confined to the ferruginous sands which lie below the hard band over which the rivulet in Blackgang Chine fails. He will find it exposed at the Walpen, Ladder, and Whale Chines.
At Atherfield Point the junction of the Wealden and Lower Greensand may at times be well observed, and freshwater and marine fossils may be found very close together. In the blue sandy clay and greenish sand (changing to brown on exposure to air), which constitute the lowest of the Greensand series, are numbers of the large fossil shells, Perna-Mulleti and other species. The brown and grey Atherfield clay, which overlies the Perna Bed, yields flat nodules thickly set with shells; but the Crackers, the bed next above, is probably the most prolific of all the strata. Besides shells proper it has yielded fine specimens of one or more species of lobster, locally "fossil prawns," but these are not everyday finds. Wealden Beds form the cliffs all the way from Atherfield Point to Compton Bay. For some notes on the geology of the Western Wight, see pp. 129-130.
There is a remarkably complete geological collection in the Museum of Isle of Wight Geology housed in Sandown Public Library. The Ventnor and Bonchurch Literary and Scientific Institute also boasts a fine collection.
The varying and variable climates of the Island have not as yet received due attention. "Relaxing" and "rheumatic" are the two charges which have been laid at the door of the Isle of Wight, but mere alliteration is probably at the root of these two kinds of offence. Sea-air-bathed as even the central parts of the Island must be, the advantages and disadvantages of a sea-climate must obtain here par excellence. Add to these the prevalence of south-west winds, as witnessed by the trend and bending of nearly every twig on the higher lands, and the climate becomes easy to summarize, so far merely as its air-borne merits and demerits go. It is when one comes to note the different effects of subsoil water that one gets surprises. And when this inquiry is continued to the subsoil itself, one gets not only explanations but suggestive hints as well. To summarize under specific localities
Cowes (West and East).-Looking north-houses built, as far as possible, with climatic, (i.e., southern aspect,) ideal-drainage and water good, sanitary authority extremely capable, occasional winter fogs, humidity, of course, of a sea kind, but very bracing interludes.
Newtown.-An old "importance," stifled by modern progress. The climate of a somewhat inland creek. Equable, rather damp perhaps.
Yarmouth.-An old angle of silence with a once-eloquent past. Some very fair houses. A certain type of asthmatic cases do well here.
Freshwater.-Rambling; and with Totland Bay, Alum Bay, etc., as its satellites. An excellent, almost hyper-excellent water supply. Climate equable-sea-air-bathed, of course. Protected from cold winds. Not very quick-drying subsoil, except Totland way.
Chale and Blackgang.-The most bracing of all Island localities, not half enough patronized as yet, but will be. Admirable climate for convalescents from wasting diseases.
Ventnor and the Undercliff.-The advantages of this reach of the Island have stood the test of too many searching years of medical annotation to need any fresh impetus. The existence and success of the National Hospital for Consumption is alone sufficient evidence of the healing airs of the Undercliff. In fact, Ventnor is a sun-box, and the east and north winds would have to confess that they have not even a visiting acquaintance with her.
Sandown and Shanklin.-Add to a large proportion of the healing airs of Ventnor some of the bracing characteristics of Chale, and to this some qualification as to spring east winds for those who need no bracing, and there is (broadly) the climate of these two towns. Shanklin, strangely enough, has three distinct climates of her own, and they are not merely word-distinctions. Thus the Chine, the Cliff, and the Downs at the back of the town all provide a different type of climate. Subsoil extraordinarily porous and dry
Bembridge.-Has every advantage of a sea-cove, with very sheltered nooks in it. Moreover, its subsoil is fairly dry.
Ryde.-Often very cold in the streets that straighten to the sea, but the houses are so good and the sanitation and water supply so excellent that Ryde would always have a great following.
The centre of the Island is the climate of exposure or non exposure to prevalent winds, with alternating humidity and comparative dryness, - but always a sea air.
Many flint implements mark the presence of man in this Island from the Early Stone Age onwards, and numerous barrows on the Downs point to a considerable population during the Bronze Age. Middens in several places have disclosed remains of the earlier Iron Age Culture, and pottery of the later phase of this era has been found on many sites.
The name is generally held to be a corruption of the Celtic gwyth, or channel; and so the Isle would be "The Isle of the Channel." To the Saxons it was Whitland or Wiht-ea. This name, as well as the Greek name Ouichthis or Ictis the Roman Vectis or Vecta, and the English Wight, as well as such spelling as Wechts, are to be regarded as attempts by various new comers to pronounce or write the ancient name, The Island was formerly thought by some to be the Ictis mentioned by Diodorus as the emporium of the tin trade, but recent authorities hold that the reference is almost certainly to St. Michael's Mount, near Penzance. The Romans, under Vespasian, took possession about A.D. 44 in the reign of the Emperor Claudius, and the Romanization of the district is attested by numerous finds, including six Roman villas, three of which, at Brading, Newport and Carisbrooke, are open to public view. Bede states that the Island was occupied by the Jutes after Roman dominion ended, a statement con firmed by the resemblance of finds in a cemetery at Chessell to those discovered in Kentish graves of the same period, but according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Cerdic, of the West Saxons, seized the Island in A.D. 530 after a fight at Carisbrooke. Most of the island place-names are of Saxon origin. At the Norman Conquest, the Island was bestowed by William on Fitz-Osborn, Earl of Hereford, but in the rebellion of his son it reverted to the Crown. In 1100 Henry I granted it to Richard de Redvers, Earl of Devon, and for nearly two centuries it was governed by independent lords, who exercised all the rights of sovereignty. In 1293, Edward I, realizing the importance of having such a base in the hands of the Crown, purchased the royalty by somewhat dubious means from Isabella de Fortibus, the famous "Lady of the Island," for the sum of six thousand marks (upwards of £60,000 of our money). The Island has since been part and parcel of the realm of England. It has been governed by a succession of Governors and Captains, many of whom have been men of note. Since 1841 the governorship has been honorary. In 1889 Prince Henry of Battenberg was appointed to it, and after his death, in the Ashanti war of 1896, H.R.H. Princess Henry (Princess Beatrice) succeeded him, residing at Carisbrooke Castle.
From the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, the French made frequent descents upon the Island, but though on one occasion (in 1377) they succeeded in burning Yarmouth, Newport and Newtown, they were more often repulsed with heavy loss by the doughty islanders. The most interesting event of later history is, of course, the incarceration of Charles I in Carisbrooke Castle. This is dealt with at length on pp.164-166.
A far different connection with royalty arose from the purchase in 1845 of the Osborne estate by Queen Victoria. Here for many years she spent a portion of each summer, and here on January 22, 1901, she passed away.
It is somewhat curious that the Isle of Wight, with its wealth of natural and historical interest, should have figured so little in fiction. The writer has yet to rise who will do for it what Scott did for the Highlands, Blackmore and Kingsley for North Devon, Thomas Hardy for "Wessex," and more recently Sheila Kaye Smith for Sussex, and Brett Young for Worcestershire. Dickens, we know, stayed at Bonchurch, and wrote enthusiastically of his surroundings, but, beyond a brief reference to Shanklin Sands in Our Mutual Friend, he did not introduce them in any novel. References, more or less extended, are made to the Island in numerous well- known works, of which we need only mention Fielding's Voyage to Lisbon, Scott's Surgeon's Daughter, Marryat's Poor Jack and The Dog Fiend, and Meredith's Adventures of Harry Richmond and The Ordeal of Richard Feverel.
Readers with a partiality for "local colour" may be glad of references to other novels dealing with the district. Recent works can of course be purchased from any bookseller, or borrowed through the subscription libraries. For others it may be necessary to consult the files at public libraries or seek for second-hand copies.
Chronologically, our summary should commence with two excellent historical stories, The Count of The Saxon Shore, by Professor Church, and Caedwalla, or the Saxons in the Isle of Wight, by F. Cowper. Topographically, we will start with the capital of the Island, Newport, which appears as "Oldport" in Maxwell Gray's The Silence of Dean Maitland, in which also "Chalkburne" is Carisbrooke. The Captain of the Wight, by F. Cowper, is a romance of Carisbrooke Castle in 1468; The Prisoner of Carisbrooke, by S. H. Burchell, deals with the imprisonment and attempted escape of Charles I, and the same subject is treated in The Cavaliers, by S. R. Keightley, and in Marjorie Bowen's Governor of England. The White King's Daughter, by Mrs. H. Marshall, narrates the latter days at Penshurst and Carisbrooke of Charles's young and ill-fated child, the Princess Elizabeth. A Reputed Changeling, by C. M. Yonge, has episodes at Carisbrooke Castle and Blackgang Chine about 1667; and Moonfleet, by J. Meade Falkner, in its early pages an exciting smuggling story of Dorset about 1757, hinges upon the discovery of hidden treasure in the well of the Castle. Jitny and the Boys, by B. Copplestone, describes a visit to the Island and especially to Carisbrooke during the Great War. Reminiscent of the War also is The Sub., by Taffrail-the training at Osborne of a naval sub-lieutenant and his after experiences.
Cowes appears as "Lowport" in The Caddis Worm and as "Thorneyhurst" in The Story of Anna Beames, by Mrs. C. A. Dawson Scott, whose The Burden is set at the mouth of the Medina. Wootton and neighbourhood are the scene of Scarlet Sails, by Mrs. Baillie Saunders.
Bembridge, Ryde and Sandown all appear in The Privateers, by H. B. Marriott-Watson. Ventnor and Shanklin, under different names, will be found in Old Mr. Tredgold, by Mrs. Oliphant. Ursula, by Miss E. Sewell, and A Romance of the Undercliff, by Mrs. E. Marshall, deal with the Undercliff, and the closing chapters of William Black's Madcap Violet take us to the same delightful region. The Rev. Wm. Adams, author of Sacred Allegories, lived at Bonchurch, the scene of his stories, and is buried there.
Blackgang will be found in A Cavalier's Ladye, by Constance MacEwen, a tale of the sixteenth century. Freshwater and the Needles are seen in H. B. Marriott-Watson's Twisted Eglantine. The Trespasser, by D. H. Lawrence, includes a visit to Freshwater; Headon Hill's Spies of the Wight and Millions of Mischief are staged at Totland Bay, while Beacon Fires, by the same author, includes stories of Freshwater and Hurst Castle. Laurence Clark's Bernard Trever's Boots is a Wartime "spy" story set at Freshwater and Newport. And the Stars Fought, by Eva Fitzgerald, The Lady Isabella, by Sir F. W. Black (Cowes and Carisbrooke), and Towards Love, by Irene Macleod, are other good Island stories for holiday reading, as is also Yesterday, a Tory Fairy Tale of the Isle of Wight, by Norman Davey.
Finally, The Scarlet Rider, by Bertha Runkle, is an exciting romance of a highwayman about 1780, and deals with an old manor-house, and we are informed that the manor-houses of The Reproach of Annesley and Ribstone Pippins, both by Maxwell Gray, are respectively Arreton and Westridge.
Good descriptive books are The Isle of Wight, by A. R. Hope Moncrieff; and books with the same title by Edward Thomas and Telford Varley; The New Forest and the Isle of Wight, by C. Cornish; and The Undercliff of the Isle of Wight, by J. L. Whitehead, M.D.; while Geological Excursions in the Isle of Wight, by G. H. Mantell; A Geological Guide to the Isle of Wight, by Mark W. Norman; Rev. J. C. Hughes's Geological Story of the Isle of Wight; H. J. Osborne White's Short Account of the Geology of the Isle of Wight; Morey's Guide to the Natural History of the Isle of Wight; F. Stratton's Wild Flowers of the Isle of Wight, and Architectural Antiquities of the Isle of Wight, by Percy Stone. F.S.A., are excellent works in their respective departments.
Rear-Admiral Arnold-Forster's At War with the Smugglers contains glimpses of Cowes and the Solent a century or more ago, when Thomas Arnold, the father of the famous Head Master of Rugby School, was a Collector of Customs. An interesting historical document, A Royalist's Note-Book, the notes and writings of Sir John Oglander, of Nunwell, near Brading (1585-1655), has recently been transcribed and edited by F. Bamford, an Isle of Wight man.
The Isle of Wight has not gone unsung. Some of the choicest songs will be found in Poets of the Wight, compiled by C. J. Annell. But, above all, the Island can point to a Laureate of whom all England is proud-a poet who, though not native to the soil, loved it with a native's passion. In all the work which Tennyson produced during his long residence at Freshwater the inspiration of the surroundings is apparent, the invitation to Maurice being the most conspicuous example. Another modern poet, Algernon Charles Swinburne, passed his boyhood at East Dene, Bonchurch, and was laid to rest in the quiet churchyard there in 1909. (The literary associations of Bonchurch are dealt with more fully on p. 100.) Keats lived and wrote for a time at Newport and at Shanklin: the latter town's most attractive promenade is named after him. His friend, John Hamilton Reynolds, joint author with Hood of Odes and Addresses to Great People, lived and died at Newport. George Macdonald wrote his longest poem, Within and Without, while living at Blackgang.
Sandown has attracted many writers. Lewis Carroll was a frequent visitor in the "70's" ; Sir Hall Caine wrote his first novel, The Shadow of a Crime, at Vectis Cottage; Charles Darwin stayed at Sandown with relatives while working on The Origin of Species; and of course in earlier days Wilkes wrote his "Memoirs" after taking up his residence at Sandown. Mention must also be made of Mrs. Barclay author of The Rosary, who lived at Seaview, A. E. W. Mason at Wootton, and J. B. Priestley for some time at Billingham Manor, near Kingston.
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