Skip to main content

Discover St. Lawrence
What's On
History Gallery
Old John Green
St Lawrence Hall
Stained Glass Windows
Photo Gallery
Community Assoc.
Church News
Flora & Fauna
Village Hall
Your Letters/Rants
The Green Pages
Weather/Tide Data
Contact Us
Site Map / Links



I would like to thank Alan Champion for the following extracts which are from his very informative website.


VENTNOR, JUNE 4, 1890.

To the editor of the I.W. Mercury.

Sir,- The recollections of old John Green, for many years the Parish Clerk at St Lawrence, may possibly prove interesting to some of your readers, or perhaps to the residents of the Undercliffe in the present day. The reminiscences were written in 1847, and are interesting, from recalling some incidents in the local life of the period when they were recorded. "Tailor" Green, as he was sometimes called, was endowed with a wonderful memory, readily recalling even the Christian names. This faculty he retained almost to the end of his life.
Perhaps some of your readers may be able to supplement the facts with other details they may have heard, and thus fill the gap in the earlier history of the district,
I remain, yours truly,
M.D. 1

To Doctor Martin, Belgrave House, Ventnor.
Sir.- I hope you will pardon my delay in not performing according to you request. The reason was : I can give no perfect account of the date when many things happened since my remembrance for want of a personal diary. Perhaps it may not be improper to give some account of myself.
I was informed by my parents, John ( born 1746) and Jane Green ( born 1752) that I was born on the 29th day of March, 1774, at Atherfield, in the parish of Brixton, Isle of Wight. 2I was a strong , healthy, growing child till about 18 months old , when I was sorely afflicted with convulsive fits, which never left me an hour at a time for the space of nine whole weeks, which were the sad cause of my infirmity 71 years and a half, I now being 73 years. The first of my recollections is : I had a large wen growing on my right eyebrow: and a young lady dying suddenly at Brook Farm, my mother was persuaded to take me there and rub my wen with the lady`s hand , and it would diminish as the corpse decayed in the grave.  I recollect the coldness of the her hand particularly, although it was done 70 years ago. The wen has been gone from my eyebrow more than 10 year. I happened to strike it against the pulpit in St Lawrence Church and burst it ; but it was diminished in size before it was hurt., and as it got well it disappeared

1. Dr George Anne Martin, of Belgrave House was one of the first doctors to practice in Ventnor, coming here in 1836 .
2. This was a folk remedy regularly used to ‘treat’ growths. A `wen` is a sebaceous cyst.

In 1799, January 31st., a ship was wrecked opposite St. Lawrence Church, an outward bound West Indiaman, called the Three Sisters, with a general cargo. It was the most severe weather that any person could ever remember. It was a very thick driving snow, which clogged up the rigging, and the sails being frozen together the crew could not work them, or the rudder, so that the ship drifted before the wind, from the southeast, till she struck rocks a little to the westward of the fort at St Lawrence, under the high cliffs called Woody.
There were nine poor souls drowned. They were buried in St Lawrence. One that was a pasenger was later disinterred.
A gentleman came from London who had a brother on board with a particular mark on one hand, by which he was known, and he was taken home. A young woman was killed by the foundering of the cliff; also a lad. Several people perished by the severity of the weather. The fort erected on the lawn at St. Lawrence by the late Right Honourable Sir Richard Worsley, of Appuldurcombe Park,13
 ( who died August 8th. 1805 ), and mounted six six cannon guns, a present by his late Majesty, King George the 3rd. The guns were Bell metal, cast from bells of churches in Frace in the time of war, and taken by some of gallant heroes and brought to England as a prize. At the finish of the fort, there was great rejoicing amongst the people, and in exercising the guns an accident happened, and a man`s thumb was blown off by neglect in stopping the vent.
The fort has been improved by the late Honourable Earl of Yarborough; but `tis not the same guns as were there at first.
Early in the present century his Royal Highness the late Duke of York visited the Isle of Wight and came through St. Lawrence with a great train of attendants, which was a great sight for us.
August 1825, - Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge 14 visited the Right Honourable Earl of Yarborough at a public breakfast on the lawn.That was a grand day. There never had been such a number of carriage and gentry seen in one day at St. Lawrence before by any person then living.
In 1832, their Royal Highnesses the Duchess of Kent and the Princess Victoria visited the Right Honourable Earl of Yarborough at a public breakfast on the lawn. They came round in the Royal Yacht, and several of the Royal Yacht Squadron followed their noble Admiral’s Yacht, which accompanied their Royal Highnesses to St. Lawrence Bay, near the fort, and a Royal salute was fired and due homage paid by all. This was a more pleasant sight than such as used to be seen in time of war.

13.1807 Sir A. Wellesley M.P.for Newport. 1809. Peninsular War. Wellesley defeated the French at Oporto and is made Duke of Wellington. Josephine Divorced. 1811. George III became insane and his eldest son, George, Prince of Wales, was made Prince Regent
14 The Duke of Cambridge, Adulphus Frederick, 10th. Son of George III.

No able man was safe at home with his wife and family; nor in any vessel or boat at sea, if he had no protection. He was liable to be pressed by sea or land, or perhaps taken by a French privateer, many of which were very daring on this coast.
In 1807, August 29th., two men and a lad were in a small vessel in the Channel homeward bound to this coast, when a privateer-lugger chased and came up with them and cowardly fired a volley of musket shot at the man at the helm ( Robert Joblin ). Two shots passed through his neck, and he died soon after. They boarded the vessel and took all that was of any value to them, and carried the other man ( the captain ) on board the lugger with them, leaving only the poor boy ( John Beavis , now of Ventnor,) then about 12 years of age to manage the vessel and assist the dying man. After they had used the captain in this cowardly and shameful manner, they shoved him into his boat, without any oars to get on board his vessel how he could, which was a very great difficulty in a rough sea. The poor boy was not able to , to manage the vessel, being so much alarmed at the situation he was left in But by God`s help the captain ( William Harvey now living at Whitwell ) got to the vessel a little before the dying man,who desired to be taken below to die in his berth, expired.
When they arrived we saw the vessel passing by St. Lawrence with a signal of distress, and seeing but one man and a boy on deck we thought the other had been pressed. He was put on shore at Shanklin Chine, and brought to St. Lawrence to be buried. His name was Robert Joblin.

Richard Dyer and a son, Thomas Prouten and a son, were drowned off Mill Bay
1778, August 15, John Orchard drowned ; aged 45 years. John Beavis, of St. Lawrence drowned, and Daniel Dixson.
1786, January 7, Three shipwrecked mariners, names unknown.
1792,March 7, David Coleman aged 19 years, drowned at Orchard Bay, St. Lawrence.
1799, February 5, Jane Saunders, servant at Old Park, killed by the falling of part of the cliff.
Also , four men drowned at the shipwreck opposite St. Lawrence Church.
1807, August 29, Robert Joblin shot by a French privateer, before mentioned .
1812, August 14, the body of an unknown sailor was found off St. Lawrence.
1814, December 21, James Coleman aged 30 and Robert Dyer, aged 19 both drowned at Mill Bay.
1815, April 8, John Cawse of Ventnor, and William Dyer from Ryde, and James Watson were all three drowned near Puckaster Cove. Their boat and one hat was found.
Date unknown,- William and Jeremiah Jolliffe, brothers and Charles Chick were drowned in the Channel. Martin Woolsen, of Ventnor, Thomas Saunders of Ryde, and William Harvey, of Whitwell drowned . Two soldiers, belonging to the 12th regiment of foot, fell over the high cliff above Mirables; both died. William Palmer and Henry Drudge, both of Ventnor, Drowned. P.S. Mrs Palmer`s husband.
1825, August 26, Samuel Headen and two sisters - Juliana Headen and Emily Headen- were unfortunately drowned from a small boat off Shanklin. They were from Islington, Middlesex.
1826, August 26, William Jones, Esq., of Kensington Gore,was killed in St. Lawrence by the upsetting of a carriage. Simeon Singleton hurt by a waggon ( which caused his death ) coming down St.Lawrence Shute.
1827, September 21, Barnabas Hunt, of Steephill Cove, a fisherman drowned near the cottage he occupied, and was found amongst the rocks when the tide had left. His widow, Lucy Hunt, and part of his family are now living in Ventnor.

1835, April 14, Barnabas Bull ( brother to the late Thomas Bull who was killed in Ventnor ) drowned near the fort in St. Lawrence when coming on the shore from a vessel, on which he had been employed in loading stone.1843, July 30, Lawrence Meighers , belonging to the Preventative Station at St.Lawrence, fell overboard while assisting to get a vessel off that had struck on the rocks. Miscellaneous ( omitted ) : Reuben Bull killed by a waggon running over him on the road from Newport to Whitwell - ( P.S. he was the uncle to the late Thomas Bull, killed in Ventnor, above mentioned, ) Robert Beavis killed by a fall and his waggon passing over him on the road from Newport to Whitwell . James Young also killed by his father`s waggon, on the same road, from Newport to Nettlecombe,-( P.S. at different times.)
1832, July 5, Simon Day was killed by a stone falling on his head when Steephill castle was building. A lad was carrying a hod upon a ladder to a very high scaffold, and a stone of 7lb. weight, fell out of the hod and pitched on his head as he was passing under. He died on the spot. He was the owner and builder of the first cottage ( Cove Cottage ) in New Ventnor.
The last mentioned cottage in the preceding page ( Cove Cottage ) was the first cottage built in New Ventnor in the year 1828. But there was a house built for an inn for the late Widow Groves by the side of St Boniface Down, now called Hillside House, began to be built in the year 1800. Mrs Groves had kept a smaller inn close by the south side of Steephill Castle. It was her own property (lifehold ), but when the lives dropped, it fell to the Earl of Dysart. Though Mrs Groves had but a small house for an inn at Steephill, she accommodated the greater part of the gentry that came to the Undercliffe in those days. She had many fine shady trees and arbours around the inn, the gentry could walk through the late Earl of Dysart`s grounds and into this cottage. Mrs Grove’s was the only accommodation for gentry between Shanklin and Niton, except what little was sometimes done at the Crab and Lobster
( old } Inn at Ventnor. Parties of trades-people sometimes happened to stop there to refresh themselves, bringing refreshments with them.
Mrs Groves, being highly respected, had many friends, and her licence was transferred to a small cottage close by the inn , that she built under St Boniface Down ,where she had such extensive
business, though there was plenty to do at Steephill, at times, as I was informed by my sister, who was a cook for Mrs Groves three years-living with her before she left Steephill- that she had cooked 19 dinners in one day, f or different parties. While the preparations were being made for the building of the large inn under St Boniface Down, Mrs Groves carried on the business in the small cottage above mentioned . She had a shed for her kitchen and tap-room, and tents pitched by the side of the down to accommodate company.
I was in her tap-room on a day when General Don the Commander-in-Chief , of the army in the Isle of Wight, came with a party of officers to inspect the places where there could be any defence made against the enemy. When they dismounted near the entrance of the tap-room, we who were there began to go out to give place for them; but the General ordered us to keep our seats , saying he would not come in if we left on his account. Mrs Groves made an apology, but the General said that he had meet with many worse accommodations than that shed was and he ordered a lunch for his party, and two gallons of beer for us. He asked for a guide to direct him to find some suitable places for the purpose ( defence). An old man ( James Saunders of Bonchurch ) ,was his guide, and the General retuned highly gratified with his guide`s information, saying Bonchurch outdone all the places he had ever seen before.
VENTNOR, JULY 2, 1890.
During the war there were barracks erected , and some whole and some parts of many regiments of soldiers occupied them; the large barracks , near Newport, in the forest of Parkhurst, and smaller, for the detachments near the sea coasts, viz , at Freshwater, Brook, Brixton, Niton, Old Park, Steephill, Bowcombe and Sandown. There were many companies of loyal volunteers in different parishes. The first was "risen" by Captain Cole, a gentleman farmer , then occupying the two farms "Dean" and "Ash". Captain Cole had the honour to take the right of all companies of volunteers in the Isle of Wight, he being the first commissioned captain in the Island. His company had the title of " Niton Loyal Volunteers", as the company consisted mostly of the valiant men of Niton and Whitwell. The volunteer companies were formed into battalions, and those in this part were called the south-east battalion, and the late Colonel Arnold of "Mirables" was their commander till he died. He was buried at Niton with military honours.
General Don was an old warrior, as he told the volunteers he had been a soldier all through the piece, from a drummer-boy to what he then was; indeed, it was certified to by a man who happened to pass through the forest at a time when some of the volunteers were being inspected by the General.


In the beginning of the century St. Lawrence Shute was improved by the late Right Hon. Sir Richard Worsley, then living at St. Lawrence Cottage, who employed some soldiers belonging to the Cornish miners, a detachment of them being in this Island, one of whom was a very active man and an officer’s servant - John Pascoe. He married a woman, of some property, of the village of Newchurch, and was a waiter at Grove`s New Inn, under St. Boniface Down , and afterwards landlord of the Crab and Lobster (old ) Inn.
The bell of St. Lawrence ( little ) church was cast in 1777, and was rung at Appuldurcombe as their dinner bell, and afterwards given to the church by Sir Richard Worsley. The church was much improved by the Hon. Charles Anderson Pelham, who came to the estate, August 8, 1805. Some time after he erected the church porch, a stone arch over the bell and new seats instead of the three old oaken pews - then being in a feeble state. Since that time there has been a great improvement in the village of St. Lawrence by the late Right Hon. Earl of Yarborough. All the poor have comfortable cottages to dwell in, and St. Lawrence Cottage was much improved ,and a new coach house and stables, with comfortable apartments for coachmen, grooms and helpers, were built.

The Farm House, called St Lawrence Farm, was new built, the famed St Lawrence Well , the addition to St. Lawrence Church,1842 ( lengthened 15 feet ) . The Honourable Captain Dudley Pelham had his cottage newly built, with extensive pleasure grounds and beautiful flower garden.
Adjoining the premises there is a small cottage covered with ivy called the Lodge, with a well called Victoria’s Well , instituted first by old John Green on the 10th day of February 1840 being the Queen’s wedding day.




A great many years ago, I remember a woman was found that had been missing from West Cowes a twelve month or more. She was found in a place called Shamblers, in the parish of Northwood. It was thought she had hung herself, as she was found lying under a tree, and her head was separated by the weight of her body. Her name was Booker. Her remains were conveyed to the House of Industry, and buried in her clothing as she was found. A young woman was found drowned, by accident, on passing over a brook in a field, near the forest, in a footpath to Carisbrooke. After a heavy rain the run of water was increased, and she mistook the stepping -stones in the dark. I have forgotten her name. I saw her when she was brought to the House of Industry. She was a fine young woman ,and appeared as one in warm sleep. A poor old man was found drowned in a cistern in the starch manufactory, near St. Cross, where he was employed. His name was Jerrett. James Prouten , a man whose name was Brett and two more- one named Snow - were all drowned. Richard Matthews was shot on the beach at Chale Bay. He belonged to St. Helen`s, and had been landing smuggled goods , and a man whose name was Johnson, of the Preventive Station , came and shot him dead as he was endeavouring to make his escape. The men on board the vessel went on shore and took his body home with them, and Johnson was moved to another station on the west coast, fearing that he should meet the same fate.
The Rev. John Lancaster, who had been the curate of St.Lawrence Church from 1790 till 1808, was afterwards the Rector till 1811,and on one Sabbath Day he performed the divine service at three churches , viz., Godshill, Whitwell and St. Lawrence. He baptised a child, married a couple, churched a woman and buried a corpse, and when he returned home in Godshill he destroyed himself by taking poison.

VENTNOR, JULY 9, 1890.
Mr William Griffin, stonemason, of Niton, hung himself, while his wife was gone out a short while to get something for his dinner. He locked himself in a bedroom and was found dead.
I now give you some account that I heard of old times about smugglers. There was no coastguard station round this coast till 1818.
Five preventive men were sent to St. Lawrence, and lodged ar Mr Reynolds, who then lived in
a cottage where the Honourable Captain Dudley Pelham’s cottage 18 now stands. They remained there in lodgings until the watch house was built, that is now Orchard`s bay, near the shore. I have known when a very rough sea and high tide have “flowed “ all around it. The men all being strangers to this country, they did not get much prize money for some time, until it happened that they took a boat and goods which were valued at £297. I have not heard of any prize to that amount since at St. Lawrence station ; though I have not been much acquainted with their doings for many years. There were only a few land officers belonging to the Customs and Excise, who used to visit these parts when any vessel arrived that gave them any suspicion, and sometimes they would get information. The little account of old times that I have heard , as above mentioned, I believe to be true. There used to be vessels come to this coast, called Irish wherries, laden with smuggled goods, and they would send their boats well manned , to see if there were any boats belonging to the Revenue, which would often happen to be in different places. The Irish would soon clear the coast of them. They drove a Revenue boat`s crew from Mill Bay over the Down to Wroxall, and guarded the people that bought their goods till they had conveyed them away safely. I knew a man that was one of their customers, and they delivered the goods that he bought on Rew Down according to agreement, and there he paid them. There were also vessels from Holland called Dutch Doggers, and people used to go on board and buy casks of Holland’s gin; and it happened on a Sunday morning that a Dogger did lay off the shore opposite St. Lawrence, and some of the people went on board, and when the minister came to the church to perform divine service there was no person at all to be seen at the church, and he waited a while, wondering why the clerk was not come up to open the church, and he went down to see what was the reason he did not attend to his duty, and when he went to his house the clerk was sitting by the fire very comfortable smoking his pipe. The rev. Minister asked the clerk if he did not think it was time to prepare for divine service. The clerk answered as follows: “I don`t know, sir,. It won`t be much use to go up there, I believe, for they be all gone out on board the Dogger.” The minister told him that it would be better to go up and open the church , and be ready if any should come. So they went up together, and the service was performed, though but few attended. The minister was the late Rev. James Worsley of Billingham, and he told me the same words himself. The clerk was the late Tom Payne, an old man , who then kept a public-house in St. Lawrence called “ The Duck. 19


18.Now `Lisle Combe`.
19. Now `Spring Cottage`, Undercliff Drive

It was reported that the clerk had fallen asleep in the time of the sermon, and awoke and said , “ They be all gone out on board the Dogger” but what I have stated was told me by the minister, as above mentioned.
A very fractious old dame lived at the cottage, now called the Poultry Cottage, at the west end of Steephill Castle Estate. She was called Dame Scovel. She was often poorly; but I believe she was better in health than in temper. I was told that the late Lady Dysart usually walked out to visit the poor on the estate, there being eight or nine cottages on the estate, and as she met with Dame Scovel she kindly said to her” How do you do today, Dame Scovel ? “ She was answered as follows: “ I don`t know nor do I care how I be: It is enough to make me crazy to think I can`t be no better.“ The old dame had a husband, but he was not much comfort in her old age
I have been informed that the Earl of Dysart`s Cottage, that stood where Steephill Castle now stands, was built by a gentleman whose name was Standley, the then governor of the Isle of Wight, and in 1783 it was partly burnt by a thoughtless person, who was assisting the cook to get dinner for a large party of French gentlemen visitors. To hasten the fire for cooking she threw some dripping on the grate, which caued a furious blaze and set the kitchen on fire, and the man who was on the roof at work, finding the lead was melting, jumped off to escape the fire and broke his leg. It was said that the Governor was treacherous and a confederate with the French, and sometime afterwards he was like to be proved a traitor, and he destroyed himself in a wood, in the County of Nottingham, by cutting his throat in a dreadful manner. Two women met him near the place where he entered the wood, and soon after they passed by him they heard a dismal groan ,and went to see what was the matter, and found him dying in a dreadful state. Part of the premises belonging to Steephill Castle was pasture land before the Governor built his cottage. It belonged to a farm called Barkham`s ( the owners name ). The farm and the other buildings were situated below the road opposite the Castle. I knew the man who planted the sycamore trees that are between the castle and the lodge. His name was William Black from Scotland. He came to plan the garden and pleasure grounds, and was the gardener for the Earl of Dysart till he dropped in the garden and was brought home to St.Lawrence and died in 1806. Mrs Day of St. Lawrence was his daughter.
Colonel Hill, formerly of St. Boniface House and father of the Rev. Archdeacon Hill, shot himself in Shanklin Church porch. He rode there on horseback. It was supposed that he put the muzzle of the pistol in his mouth, as the upper part of his head was blown to atoms, and the pistol was found lying by him, and the horse was seen standing hitched on near the church sometime before he was found.
During the war three soldiers were hung in the forest near Newport; two Irishmen - Patrick Quin and Patrick Coin for housebreaking and robbery; and ditto for highway robbery and stabbing and cutting a man in Pollers lane, leading from Newport to Ryde..
The house that is now ( 1847 ) occupied by Joseph Hadfield Esq., was called Ventnor Farm 20 and some years ago it was occupied by the late Lady Frances Tollemache, sister of he Right Hon. Earl of Dysart, and while her ladyship was gone from home the house was left in the care of servants, and as they were frying pancakes the fat in the pan caught fire , and the cook in a fright ran out of the door into the porch with the pan on fire and caught the thatch on fire. It was in the harvest and there was plenty of help and water handy, but they could not stop the fire till the after roof fell in. When her ladyship came home she scolded because the household goods were moved out of the house.


20. Now called ‘The Manor’. It is behind St. Catherine`s Church.

His Grace the Duke of Bedford occupied St. Boniface House and Uppermount Cottage at Bonchurch, at 10 guineas per week each residence. These were fine times for many poor people, as the houses were cleared every night of the fragments of provisions.
I was employed to assist by the person who had a bathing machine, and the first that ever was at Mill Bay, or anywhere between that and Ryde, so that I knew the originality of the bathing system before Mr Bull ( who claims it ) came to Ventnor to dwell. Mr James Morgan, a ladies boot and shoemaker, had the original bathing machine and employed me to assist, and we had some of the Bedford family bathing daily, when weather permitted. This was in 1813 and 14.
The Right Honourable Earl of Stamford occupied the cottage at Steephill sometimes while the Right Honourable Earl of Dysart was at Helmingham Hall ( his seat ) in the county of Suffolk.
The landslip at Chale Common , the part called Pitlands to eastward of Blackgang Chine, was seen by a gentleman while moving and sinking, and a cottage that stood on the land sank with it. This was in the severe winter of 1799, well known to many. About twenty years afterwards a landslip happened at the eastern part of Bonchurch called East End. This began in the night. I knew a preventive man, who was on watch for smugglers near where the tremendous crash began. His name was Edward Quadling. He told me that it was like the most tremendous thunder he had ever heard. It kept moving for some time. I knew some young men so presumptuous as to walk on it the next day to see how the ground kept cracking and tearing the roots of trees asunder. I passed through Bonchurch a few days after the landslip happened ,and I saw on top of the hill, near the high road ,in a field where a horse had been tied to feed , a square place was sunk perpendicularly down so deep that if it had happened while the horse was feeding there , it would not have been hurt , except when struggling when being hoisted out. There was no crack or chasm in the square place, but it was all level at the bottom as it had been on the surface before it had sunk, and the manure that the horse left was in the same state as when it fell.

In the year 1820 a Russian ship was wrecked on the coast of France, and part of the ship called the quarter deck floated away with ten or twelve men on it. They were drifting according to the wind and tide for six days and nights. At last they arrived on the shore at Steephill Cove in a distressing state, almost perished with hunger, cold, and fatigue. They were assisted by the neighbouring people and the preventive men of St. Lawrence station, and a gentleman then living at Niton, belonging to the Humane Society ( Hollford Esq. At the Right Honourable the Earl of Dysart`s Cottage). Sent a cart with provisions and they were relieved.
A great many years ago I recollect seeing the remains of the gallows on Arreton Down near the marl pit, where a man had formerly been hanged, it is said for killing his grandson. The boy was found in a copse, near the Down, with his head cut off and laid on a bible. The murderer’s name was Michal Morey.24
In 1799 I knew that man that had cultivated the vineyard for the late Right Honourable Sir Richard Worsley, at St. Lawrence. His name was John Julin, a native of Nantes, in France. He was very tall and uncommon stout, and I believe the strongest man in the neighbourhood. He was a mere frame of bones when he first came to St. Lawrence. It was a droll appearance to see him in his French dress and large wooden shoes.

24.See `For Rooks and Ravens`, by Kenneth S. Phillips, 1981, for the full story

Karenhappuch Newnham, the daughter of Mr John Newnham, fishmonger, of St Lawrence, fell from the top of the cliff opposite Mirables. It was a very windy day, and she was going on the top of the cliff where there was a style in the path. She had a basket and put it over the style, was getting over herself, and a puff of wind moved the basket a little way from the top. When she stopped down to reach the basket a violent puff of wind blew her over. She tumbled heels over head from top to bottom. It was said that the height was 169½ feet. She lost one shoe ,and walked to Niton with one. She was scratched and bruised, but not seriously hurt. The Rev. Mr Dixon sent his carriage to take her home.
A few years ago I was sitting near St.Lawrence churchyard ,and I saw a party of those people called gipsies walking on the top of the cliff, opposite St.Lawrence Church, and a little girl was running along before the rest. She came down the slope towards the perpendicular rocks and fell down headlong over the precipice and tumbled down among the bushes. I was very much alarmed at seeing her tumble towards the precipice. I thought she would be dashed to pieces against the rocks; but the violence of her tumbling down the slope forced her body out free of the perpendicular rocks, and she alighted on some ivy at first and then rolled amongst the bushes. I was glad to hear her say to her brother, “ O, dear, Jim, Come and get me out.” He went and took her and brought her into the path and put her down on her feet. She was not hurt, only scratched a little. Her mother was in great agitation, and was coming in great haste towards the precipice till I called her with all my might telling her the danger she was in, and she turned back into the road and came down. I asked how it was they professed to have a knowledge of all things and did not prevent the accident. The girl was about five years old .
A very old woman died some years ago at a place called Stone Brook, near Whitwell. Her name was White, aged 103 years
Also a very old man died a few years ago in the village of Whitwell. His name was Anthony Edmunds, aged 104 years. He was a very “ laborious husbandry man.” exposed to much rough weather in the winter season. His general employment was hedging and ditching. He worked at Whitwell Farm upwards of sixty years for the late Mr William Hardley, and sons . The late Mr Thomas Hardley, of Stenbury Farm, one of his master`s sons , ordered an inscription to be engraven on brass in memory of him and fixed in Whitwell Church. He bred up a large family and had a great many grandchildren.

The oldest man in the parish of St. Lawrence is 76 years of age- Robert Day. He says he can remember coming to Ventnor to see a shipwreck which happened 70 years ago. She was laden with Spanish wool - a valuable cargo. She struck on the rocks near High Port,Ventnor Cowleaze. I recollect it being talked about above 60 years ago.
A man whose name was Bungey was killed by lightning when he was coming from Wootton, where he had been to join a choir of singers, as was usual in former days. He was on horseback, and a little boy ( his son ) behind him on the horse. The little boy was not hurt, but the father and horse were killed on the spot. This was more than 60 years ago.
A man who kept the hotel at Blackgang Chine, whose name was Reaves was killed by falling over the cliff going home from Niton. His widow and son are now living in Ventnor.
A poor young man, whose name was William Harvey, a native of St. Lawrence, was shockingly mangled by a thrashing machine, by which he had both hands torn off and part of his arms. After his wounds were cured, he heard of a shipwreck in Chale Bay, near Atherfield Rocks, and set out on his journey to go there . It was dark before he arrived, and being unacquainted with the country he walked over a very high precipice and was killed on the spot. He was a strong hardy lad before the accident happened.
Some years ago two gentlemen, wishing to see the rough sea beating against the cliff at Freshwater , hired a boat for this purpose, went out, and were upset and drowned. I know not who they were, or where they belonged. I understood that the person who let them have the boat was very much to blame.

VENTNOR, JULY 30, 1890.
A young gentleman with a very large party were assembled on Freshwater Down for pleasure,and I believe sitting down taking refreshments, and the young gentleman left them and strolled (perhaps for curiosity ), and when they finished they packed up and started, not thinking of the young man, nor did they miss him till they got to Yarmouth. They sent back in search of him and he was found dead at the bottom of the high cliff. It was supposed that his curiosity had led him to go down part of the way and then he slipped to the bottom. I believe that a stone is erected on the cliff near the spot, giving the sad account of his death.

A gentleman was walking on the road coming towards Bonchurch. He had a horse and gig, and was leading the horse. A little while before he came to descend the hill the horse took fright and plunged the reins out of his hand, and turned short about and ran over a high precipice and was dashed to pieces. I heard that the hose and gig were very valuable.
Sir, - I had forgotten to give you an account of two vessels being chased by French privateers. One was called the Little George. She used to go to Alderney in the smuggling trade. As she was going over (as it was termed ) she was taken by a French privateer, and the four men on board were carried to France and there detained 18 months. John Beavis of St. Lawrence, was captain, and I believe, owner. He had a wife and four children, one of whom, his son, is now living in Ventnor- John Beavis. He was the lad who was afterwards on board the other vessel, when Robert Joblin was shot, that I mentioned. There were tree more men on board the Little George when she was taken :- John Dyer of St. Lawrence, who was afterwards a branch pilot; he had a wife and four children; John Westcomb of St. Helen`s,and Jeremiah Willis of Niton, both single men. The Frenchmen did not find Captain Beavis`s money that he had taken with him to buy his freight with, though they searched in his shoes. He had it concealed in his stockings, which they did not inspect. Neither was he kind enough to give his men any share of it. After they had been in prison long time, the Frenchmen made them work on a farm, and they made an attempt to escape,but wer discovered by a woman. At last they got acquainted with an American friend, who instructed them how to proceed to pass as natives of America , and by that me and they obtained an American passport to England and returned safe home. The Little George cruised the Channel as a French privateer, and had the impudence to lay wait under the high cliff called Woody, opposite St. Lawrence Church. The Little George was well known to many who had seen her so frequently on the coast, that some thought it proper to inform the officer of the telegraph on Wroxall Down, and a revenue cutter being in Shanklin Bay the officer of the telegraph did not make a signal to the cutter, thinking that the Frenchmen would see and know the meaning of the signal and make their escape before the cutter could get to St. Lawrence to pay her a visit. So the officer of the telegraph went himself to Shanklin, and informed the captain of the cutter that the Little George was waiting for his company at St. Lawrence. The captain and his men proceeded with all speed and visited the Little George and took charge of her , which was a bold adventure, for there were 40 men on board,and the
cutter had not half the number. When the Frenchmen were secured as prisoners and knew what few in number had made so bold to take charge of them the captain cried like a child, and they said that they foolishly had given themselves away.
Another French privateer lugger gave chase to a vessel belonging to Captain Wallace, of Bembridge, with three or four men and the captains son, who was but a lad. The captain and men expecting to be taken by the lugger, abandoned the vessel and went ashore in the boat. Young Wallace ( the lad ) refused to go with them, saying he would not leave the vessel. So he was left in the vessel by himself. He Took the helm and managed the vessel with great spirit and good judgement. He being windward of the lugger, and wide awake, every time she shipped her lugsail ( which is usually done to go about ,and is a hindrance to speed, and gave advantage to the vessel ) the lad would put the helm on the opposite tack, and so puzzled the Frenchmen that he made his escape and got safe into harbour, to great praise and their great shame who abandoned the vessel.
In former days ( before steam was up ) it was said that an old woman was living in a cottage in Bonchurch, whose name was Mackett, and hearing some talk about London being a very fine place,it was such a strange sound in her ears that she very much wished to go and see it ,and even said “If they would not take her there to see it , she should never die happy.” So thinking it a pity to deprive her of her happiness, though there was no general conveyance from place to place at the time , the thoughts of dying unhappy caused her friends to contrive the best means they could to give her satisfaction. They at last found means to carry her on the road till they had full view of Appuldurcombe House, which very much surprised her ,and she said ,”La! She could not have thought London had been half so big.” There is but one of this singular family of Macketts now living in Bonchurch ( Robert Mackett ). I think he must be near 70 years of age . Perhaps `twas his great grandmother that is above mentioned . He is a bachelor , and his mother had four brothers bachelor, and two sisters single.



1. `Old John Green` was buried in St. Lawrence churchyard on 29th. December 1855, aged 82.
2.See ‘The Undercliff of the Isle of Wight, Past and Present, Dr J.L.Whitehead , 1911, p.199.
“ `Old John Green`, the parish clerk of St.Lawrence, has given, with some approach to accuracy, the dimensions of the old church, in the following doggerel lines, entitled :-
‘On St. Lawrence Church,
being the smallest in the British Dominions, September 9th. 1835.’
This church has often drawn the curious eye,
To see its length and breadth, to see how high;
At length to measure ir, ‘twas my intent,
That I might certify its full extent,
Its breadth from side to side, above the bench,
Is just eleven feet and half an inch:
Its height from pavement to ceiling mortar,
Eleven feet four inches and a quarter;
And its length from east to west end ,
I tell the truth to you, you may depend-
Twenty-five feet, four inches; quarters, three,
Is just its measurement as you may see,
And situated close to the high road,
Here you may join in pray’r, and worship God;
And though the building is so low and small,
You may be near to heaven, as at St. Paul,
t stands firm on some consecrated ground,
Fenced with a wall, and ivy growing round;
Its length is sixty feet, breadth forty-two,
And there the dead do meet to wait for you.“
3. Hoskins’s Guide, 1900, p.56. This gives an alterative ending, written after the alterations.
From quarters, three :
`But now t`is forty feet as you may see.
In eleven hundred and ninety seven
T`was built by us to show the way to heaven.`
4. Another poem, with the above, was published in :
ISLE OF WIGHT MERCURY August 6th. 1890.

On the Parish St. Lawrence.

Now I’ve described the Church and the burial ground,
Next let us view the little parish round ;
These rocky cliffs and landscapes here in sight ,
No finer view in all the Isle of Wight
The British Channel next, where billows roll,
Until the mossy rocks the waves control
The wond`rous works of God when view`d around,
Shews sinful man His power has no bound.
Pure water from the rocks continual springs,
And many blessings undeserved brings.
A villa where a noble lord can dwell,
And cottages for poor to suit them well.
With lodgings, too, for strangers when they come,
Both rich and poor find here a pleasant home.
Industry here is shown by rich and poor,
The farmer is well stocked with corn in store:
The fisherman attends the briny tide,
For the ensuing winter to provide.
Now let us render thanks to God above,
Who, by his power and mercy, with his love,
Has fixed our lot on such a blessed land;
Let us prepare to meet Him at command.

Composed by John Green, St Lawrence, and Isle of Wight September 9th. 1835

`Recent Tramps in the Isle of Wight` Gwillim,1845. The full poem is given with a foot-note:
“This is sad stuff certainly; but what can you expect of a native.”
5. St.Lawrence 1156-1928. Daisy E. Warne, pp. 9 10 & 13.
She quotes the poem in full and suggests that he lived in ‘Vestry Cottage’.
6. Brettell`s Guide1840, quotes the full poem “which is too curious to be omitted”.
7. `Shanklin 60 Years Ago ` Matthew, 1881.p.13. says “It was customary at that time, when any thing occurred which seemed to demand exposure to employ someone who was clever at rhyming, to satirize it. Particulars would be sent to a person named Green, a tailor living at Whitwell, whose abilities as a poet were of a somewhat superior order. as the following incident will show. On one occasion Green happened to be sitting near the church of St. Lawrence when a gentleman and his lady came to view the building and being aware of Green’s aptitude for poetry gave him his name and desired him to compose a rhyme on it before he returned. This Green did by reciting the following lines-.
` A gentleman came and gave me his name,
I think it was something like BOWMAN;
He appeared to be willing to give me a shilling
And his wife was a good looking woman..
And we may suppose that Green did not go without his reward. It will therefore be readily believed that `tailor Green` as he was called, was often sought and obtained when either songs or satires were required. “Mark Norman ,who was Ventnor tradesman and amateur geologist said in his ‘Memoirs’ “John Green was the village schoolmaster and parish clerk to the little church of St Lawrence He was a cripple had a red face and a nose of the Bardolphian type. He was a little man and was with one crooked leg and it will be seen that he had a remarkable retentive memory. In his early days was afflicted with convulsions.”