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Bonchurch, My Home and Workplace

Updated: Aug 4, 2021

I was immediately captivated by Bonchurch on my first visit on holiday over twenty years ago when I was lucky to stay in one of the oldest houses in the village, the Old Smugglers Cottage. It is the subject of many early photographs of Bonchurch and so far I have found around ten different images from the early Victorian era. The photograph below the postcard is around 1840 and the postcard looks taken maybe thirty or forty years after judging by the state of the thatch on the nearest roof, and the growth of the trees. #earlyphotographs #oldpostcards

The charm of the village is evident when you enter from either end of the main road. One end of the road leads through a narrow valley road through tall trees passing unusual houses with intriguing names like Fountains Cottage. The other end of the road drops steeply down The Shute past more beautiful 'Victorian Cottages' and craggy rocks before passing a story book style gate lodge that leads to a hidden grotto of shells and skulls. Onwards on the main road passing another small elephant topped grotto, once the source of fresh water for the village. #grotto #victorianvillas #victoriancottages

Opposite is The Forge above which is my workshop. The huge front gates have the old signage revealed. #Forge #hiddensignage

Onwards a few steps beyond on the other side of the road is the village pond full of huge carp and small fishes along with resident ducks.

The road is set in a valley 10 minutes walk from the sea and so is a microclimate protected from the south facing sea, next stop France. #pond #microclimate

Our garden is crammed with an assortment of unusual plants that grow easily here compared with other regions of the Isle of Wight because of the climate. Space is very tight and so the plants have spread into many garden pots. The village organise an Open Garden annually that is online this year, so keep a lookout on our village facebook page @bonchurchvillage #opengardens

The weather has been beautiful and in lockdown have felt extremely lucky to have very good bathing beaches a walk away.

Islander, Robin McInnes, has carried out extensive research on the history of the Isle of Wight. His interests cover the people who visited, the development of the many interesting properties and the changing landscape. He discovered through his research that Bonchurch is one of the most painted places in England.

Many of the people who came to live here, brought their artists friends. The family of the poet Swinburne (a great friend of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood) lived here in East Dene and is buried in the 'new' churchyard. Dickens wrote part of David Copperfield in Winterborne. The editor of Punch magazine married the daughter of the main landowner, so he brought many of his artist and author friends who then came to stay or move here. Later H De Vere Stacpool author of the Blue Lagoon lived and worked here. #swinburne #dickens #hdeverestacpool #bluelagoon

So we have lots of interesting history including an 11th Century church, and the village is still a working village with an assortment of thriving businesses including a lovely pub called the Bonchurch Inn, and longshoremen who are out every day catching crab and lobster.

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