Freshwater, Isle of Wight

Freshwater, Isle of Wight

Infobox UK place |
country = England
official_name= Freshwater
civil_parish= Freshwater []
latitude = 50.682566
longitude = -1.524884
population= 5360 (2001 census)
unitary_england= Isle of Wight
map_type = Isle of Wight
lieutenancy_england= Isle of Wight
region = South East England
constituency_westminster= Isle of Wight
post_town= FRESHWATER
postcode_district= PO39
postcode_area= PO
dial_code= 01983

static_image_caption = Freshwater Bay, 2006.
Freshwater is a large village and civil parish [ [ English Parishes & Welsh Communities N&C 2004] ] [Some sources describe Freshwater as a town [] , and since 1974 any civil parish has the right to declare itself as a town, but it does not appear on the List of towns in England.] at the western end of the Isle of Wight, England. Freshwater Bay is a small cove on the south coast of the Island which also gives its name to the nearby part of Freshwater. [Freshwater Bay was previously known as Freshwater Gate ( [ "Local Area"] , [ Freshwater Bay Residents Association] website)]

Freshwater is close to steep chalk cliffs. It was the birthplace of physicist Robert Hooke and was the home of Poet Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson.


The "Arch Rock" was a well-known local landmark [ [ Arch and Stag rocks 1903] , Steve Shafleet, [ Isle of Wight Historic Postcards] website, January 15, 2007] that collapsed in 1994. The neighboring "Stag Rock" is so named because supposedly a stag leaped to the rock from the cliff to escape during a hunt. Another huge slab fell off the cliff face in 1968, and is now known as the "Mermaid Rock". [ [ "Freshwater Isle of Wight"] , Steve Shafleet, showing the Mermaid Rock and Arch Rock and other images, [ Isle of Wight Historic Postcards] website, January 15, 2007] [ [ "Freshwater Gallery"] , Steve Shafleet, showing the Arch Rock, Freshwater Caves and other images, [ Isle of Wight Historic Postcards] website, December 31, 2005]

The hills above Freshwater are named after Tennyson. On the nearby Tennyson Down is a Cornish granite cross erected in 1897 in tribute to Tennyson, “by the people of Freshwater, and other friends in England and America.” There is also a hill in the area called 'Hooke Hill', named for Robert Hooke.

All Saints Church in Freshwater [ [ "Freshwater Church and Causeway"] , Steve Shafleet, [ Isle of Wight Historic Postcards] website, March 23, 2007] is one of the oldest churches on the Isle of Wight, and was listed in the Domesday survey of 1086. [ [ "Freshwater, All Saints"] , Steve Noyes, [ Welcome to Steve Noyes' web page: Here you will find a load of my bellringing programs, compositions and so on.] ] [ [ "All Saints, Freshwater"] , ©1998-2008 UK Church Directory Ltd] [ [ "All Saints, Freshwater"] , photoset on Flickr, 30 Sep 2007.] Mark Whatson is the pastor of All Saints, which is an Anglican Church [ [ "Church of England, Freshwater, All Saints and St Agnes"] , [ Official Isle of Wight website] ] in the Anglican Diocese of Portsmouth. A primary school associated with the church is nearby. [ [ All Saints Church of England Primary School, Hampshire official website] ] There is a marble memorial commemorating Tennyson in All Saints Church. Tennyson's wife Emily and other family members are buried in the church cemetery. The church is also the site of a memorial to Tennyson's son, Lionel Tennyson, who died of malaria in 1886.

Dimbola Lodge, the home of Julia Margaret Cameron and now a photographic museum, is in the village of Freshwater Bay, which is part of Freshwater.

Tennyson's son, Hallam donated land for a new church in Freshwater Bay. Hallam's wife Audrey suggested that the church be named for St. Agnes. St. Agnes Church was consecrated August 12, 1908. [ [ "Freshwater Isle of Wight Page 2] , Steve Shafleet, [ Isle of Wight Historic Postcards] website, December 26, 2006] It is the only thatched church on the Isle of Wight. [ [ "St Agnes Church, Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight"] , Norman Atkinson, Flickr website, January 14, 2008.] [ [ "West Wight"] , [ Official Isle of Wight Tourism] , 2007] [ [ "St Agnes Church, Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight"] , Mark Collins and Alan Loze, [ Roughwood website] , 2003]

Freshwater was the site of the largest station on the Freshwater, Yarmouth and Newport Railway that operated from July 20, 1889 to September 21, 1953. [ [ "Freshwater Station"] , Nick Catford, [ Disused Stations] website, updated March 20, 2006] [ [ "The Freshwater, Yarmouth and Newport Railway"] , Steve Shafleet, [ Isle of Wight Historic Postcards] website, August 24, 2005] The station location is now occupied by a supermarket and garden center. [ [ "Freshwater Station (then and now)"] , Steve Shafleet, [ Isle of Wight Historic Postcards] website, August 24, 2005]

Afton Marsh is found near the source of the Western Yar, a river whose estuary runs north to Yarmouth. Afton Marsh is a Site of Special Scientific Interest that has been designated a Local Nature Reserve.

At the western end of Freshwater Bay on a bluff are the remains of Fort Redoubt, also known as Fort Freshwater or Freshwater Redoubt, a Palmerston Fort. Fort Redoubt was built in 1855-1856 to protect Freshwater Bay, and was in use until the early 20th century. It was sold by the military in 1928. Presently, part of it is a private residence, and other portions are being developed as holiday flats. [ [ "Freshwater Redoubt"] , David Moore, [ Palmerston Forts Society] [ Fortlog] Portsmouth 29, January 25, 1996, updated August 2002]

Two unusual structures that have been described as ice houses, pottery kilns or crematoria are found on Moons Hill in Freshwater. Robert Walker was the first to excavate these features in the 1890s, and he thought they were evidence of a Phoenician settlement in Freshwater. Chemical analyses suggest that they were most likely lime kilns. [ [ "What are the Moons Hill Structures?"] , Roger Hewitt, [ Isle of Wight History Center] , December 2000]

Famous residents

The renowned scientist Robert Hooke (1635-1703) was born in Freshwater in 1635. His father John Hooke was the curate of All Saints Church in Freshwater. When Hooke's father died in 1648, [ [ "Chronology of Robert Hooke"] , [ Robert Hooke page] , hosted by Westminster School © 2000 - 2007 Webmaster ] Hooke left Freshwater for London to be apprenticed to portrait painter Peter Lely. After that, he went to Westminster School and then Oxford.

George Morland, a famous painter, lived in Freshwater in a structure known as the "Cabin" around 1800.

British Poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson lived at nearby Farringford House (on the road between Freshwater and Alum Bay). Tennyson lived at Farringford from 1853 until the end of his life in 1892. Tennyson wrote of Farringford:

"“Where, far from noise and smoke of town"
"I watch the twilight falling brown,"
"All round a careless-ordered garden,"
"Close to the ridge of a noble down.”"

Tennyson rented Farringford in 1853, and then bought it in 1856. [ [ "The Home of Tennyson"] , Rebecca FitzGerald, [ Farringford: The Home of Tennyson] official website] He found that there were too many tourists who pestered him in Farringford, so he moved to "Aldworth", a stately home on a hill known as Blackdown between Lurgashall and Fernhurst, about 2 km south of Haslemere in West Sussex in 1869. However, he returned to Farringford to spend the winters.

In 1960, Dekyi Tseri, mother of the current Dalai Lama, stayed at the guest house of Sir Basil Gould's widow Cecily in Freshwater for six weeks. Tseri, known to Tibetans as "Amala", meaning "The Great Mother", was recuperating after a throat operation to remove a benign polyp performed at St. Mary's Hospital in London.


The Freshwater Village Association was created in November 2006. The Freshwater Village Association was formed by Freshwater residents who are concerned that Freshwater might lose its identity as a village. [ [ "About Us"] , [ Freshwater Village Association] website] The Freshwater Bay Residents Association was created July 2nd, 1984, with the goal of expressing concern about the development of Freshwater Bay. [ [ "About Us"] , [ Freshwater Bay Residents Association] website]

Freshwater Lifeboat is an independent lifesaving organization based in Freshwater Bay. [ [ "Freshwater Lifeboat: Making Our Seas Safer"] official website] It operates the Freshwater Bay Lifeboat Station on the promenade along Freshwater Bay and two lifeboats from public donations and profits from shop sales, since it is not part of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. [ [ "Welcome to the Home Page of the Freshwater Bay Residents' Association, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom"] ]

Freshwater is the home of Island Samba band "FAT Samba". It hosts the Freshwater and Totland Carnival every year.


There is evidence of a Roman harbor at the end of the Western Yar. In 530 CE, the Island fell to a combined force of Saxons and Jutes. After the Norman Conquest, Lord of the island William Fitz Osbern gave the Saxon All Saints Church and its tithes to the Norman Abbey of Lyre sometime between 1066 and his death in 1071. In 1414 all alien priories were seized by the Crown. In 1623, when King James I gave Freshwater Parish to John Williams, Bishop of Lincoln. Williams then granted Freshwater to St. John's College, Cambridge on March 24, 1623. [ [ "Parish History"] , [ Freshwater Parish Council] official website] [ [ "Local History"] , [ Freshwater Bay Resident's Association] official website]

The Freshwater Parish originally was composed of five farms, known as "tuns"; Norton, Sutton, Easton, Weston and Middleton. All of these place names still exist, except for Sutton, which is now called Freshwater Bay (previously Freshwater Gate). The first meeting of the Freshwater Parish Council was December 31st, 1894. [ [ Freshwater Parish] official website]

Village Attractions

There are several attractions within the immediate area:
#Farringford House, home of poet Alfred Lord Tennyson.
#Dimbola Lodge, home of photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.
#West Wight Sports Centre.
#Freshwater Bay Golf Course.
#Afton Down, the site of the Isle of Wight Festival 1970.
#The Needles Old Battery, a Victorian fort and post-Second World War rocket testing site.
#The Needles Lighthouse and chalk rocks.
#Compton Bay, where dinosaur footprints are visible at low tide.
#The Longstone, the only megalithic monument on the Island.Not all of these attractions are within the formal boundaries of the village.

Public transport

Freshwater is linked to other parts of the Island by Southern Vectis buses on route 7 and route 11, serving Totland, Yarmouth and Newport including intermediate towns. Wightbus also run local route 13. In the Summer, open top bus "The Needles Tour" serves Freshwater Bay.cite web | year = 2008 | url = | title = Southern Vectis - bus routes | publisher = | accessdate = 2008-05-04] cite web | year = 2008 | url = | title = Southern Vectis - The Needles Tour | publisher = | accessdate = 2008-05-04] cite web | year = 2008 | url = | title = Traveline - Wightbus route 13 | publisher = | accessdate = 2008-05-04] For the more athletic, Freshwater is on the Isle of Wight Coastal Path.


External links

* [ Freshwater Bay Residents Association]
* [ Freshwater Village Association]
* [ Towns on the Isle of Wight]
* [ Live Freshwater Bay Weather from the Isle of Wight Weather Station Network]
* [ Old pictures of Freshwater]

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