Freshwater, Isle of Wight
Freshwater is a large village and civil parish 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 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 that collapsed on the 25th of October, 1992. The neighbouring "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". 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, Freshwater is one of the oldest churches on the Isle of Wight, and was listed in the Domesday survey of 1086. Mark Whatson is the pastor of All Saints, which is an Anglican church in the Anglican Diocese of Portsmouth. A primary school associated with the church is nearby. 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, Freshwater was consecrated August 12, 1908. It is the only thatched church on the Isle of Wight. 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. The station location is now occupied by a supermarket and garden centre. 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. 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.

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, 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. He found that there were too many starstruck 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. Freshwater was also the birthplace of Sir Vivian Ernest Fuchs FRS (11 February 1908 ”“ 11 November 1999). An English explorer whose expeditionary team completed the first overland crossing of Antarctica in 1958.

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. The Freshwater Bay Residents Association was created July 2, 1984, with the goal of expressing concern about the development of Freshwater Bay. Freshwater Lifeboat is an independent lifesaving organisation based in Freshwater Bay. 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. 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 harbour 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. 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 31, 1894.

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, some four miles distant, the only megalithic monument on the Island. Not all of these attractions are within the formal boundaries of the village.

Freshwater is linked to other parts of the Island by Southern Vectis buses on route 7 and route 12 serving Totland, Yarmouth and Newport as well as intermediate villages. In the Summer, open top bus " The Needles Tour" and tourist service "Island Coaster" serve Freshwater Bay. Freshwater is on the Isle of Wight Coastal Path.

Building Activity

  • removed a media
    about 6 years ago via