"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Isle of Wight -Day 3 (28th June) - Bonchurch, Wroxall Down and Compton Beach

Sunday started well with the sighting of a Hummingbird Hawk-moth on Valerian in the cottage garden. Sadly, (like the one at home a few weeks ago) it was impossible to get a photo. As you as you started to creep up on it camera in hand, it flew immediately away. Forgot to mention that I saw my first Painted Lady of the year the previous day in Godshill. Plenty of Small Tortoiseshells around too.

We started Sunday with a visit to Bonchurch - a lovely little village to the East of Ventnor on the eastern side of the Undercliff. It faces south and has an almost sub-tropical climate. Originally, it consisted of just 3 farms and there were fishermen who made pots from withies which grew in the osier beds (now the village pond). In the 1700's stone quarrying began and during the 18th century the village became popular with artists and the literary circle. Wealthy people moved into the area resulting in many of the fine buildings seen today.

Bonchurch appears in the Domesday Book with the spelling Bonecerce. Bone is a short form of Boniface, the Devonshire Saint who became the Apostle of Germany in the 8th Century. Cerce is the Anglo Saxon word for church.

The village pond is delightful. There are supposed to be water voles here but no sign on this or our previous visit.

Henry de Vere Stacpoole (1863-1951) moved to Bonchurch around 1920. He wrote more than 50 novels including "The Blue Lagoon" and "The Pearl Fishers" and a book entitled "Bonchurch Garden". He presented the village pond to the villagers in memory of his first wife. "On this rock each year a moorhen makes her nest, a model of neatness and propriety. May you who enjoy this place emulate her admirable example" - Stackpoole.

Hedge Woundwort

Wherever I went on the Island there were walls covered in various plants sprouting from crevices and crannies but I've saved all these photos to do a separate post later in the month when I've tried to id all the flowers!!

The poet Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909) spent his childhood at Eastdene in Bonchurch.

Charles Dickens wrote 6 chapters of "David Copperfield" when he stayed at Winterbourne in 1849. Carlyle and Tennyson are believed to have also stayed there during this period. Dickens enjoyed daily climbs to the top of Boniface Down and games of rounders on the beach in the afternoon.

Monks from the Abbey of Lyra in Normandy landed at Bonchurch about 1000 years ago and built the Old Church in 1070, possibly on the site of an existing Saxon Church. The chancel was added in the 14th century.

The porch was added in the 18th century and the

South Doorway contains ancient stonework. The door is very old and built of wooden planks placed vertically and horizontally.

Medieval Wall Paintings which may depict the Last Judgement.

The Altar Cross is 17th Century Flemish carved in black oak and the altar rails and model of the church are constructed from timber salvaged during repairs to the roof in the 1920's.

The windows date back to the 13th and 15th centuries.

The church was beautiful in its simplicity and I would imagine the candlelit services are very atmospheric.

Lichens in the churchyard. One day I will have a serious attempt at identifying lichens.

While I was looking round the church B D and E went for a walk along the coastal path where D found this delightful cave.

Photos of Grey Heron on the Village Pool taken by D with the Canon Bridge Camera.

We went and ate our lunch up on Wroxall Downs and then went for a short walk.

I think this is Crosswort - I forgot to smell it to see if it smelt of honey. To be honest at the time I thought it was Lady's Bedstraw. If anyone can confirm id please leave a comment.

We planned to go to Ventnor Botanical Gardens after lunch

but they now charge for entry (its rather expensive!!) and as we've been several times in the past we decided to give it a miss.

Instead we went to my favourite beach at Compton Bay. If you are interested in Geology you are in Paradise on the Isle of Wight. There are so many interesting geological features and rocks not to mention dinosaurs and fossils.

Unfortunately the tide was coming in which ruled out rock pool exploration so we went a walk instead in the direction of Freshwater.

There were several of these "Dinosaur" points along the Coast Road. Am not really sure if its "dumbing down" or not although I suppose anything that gets children interested in fossils and geology has to be a good thing.

Before I followed the others onto the beach I walked along the coastal path looking for the Glanville Fritillary (Melitaea cinxia). This butterfly was first described by a Lady Eleanor Glanville (a Lepidopterist) in Lincolnshire in the 1690's. Sadly today there are only colonies of this butterfly on the Isle of Wight, one or two in Southern Hampshire and an unauthorised introduction in Somerset. To return to Lady Eleanor - after her death, her son and other relatives who were unhappy with the will she left, challenged it on the grounds of lunacy. They argued that none but those deprived of their senses would go in pursuit of butterflies!!!!!!!!!! A novel was written about her life a few years ago and how I wish I had bought the book at the time as its now has an extortionate second hand value.

The Glanville Fritillaries are often found around thrift so I concentrated my search on pockets of the flowers. Sadly, no luck but it was cloudy and very windy and it is late in the flying season.

Its fascinating as you walk along the beach to imagine the area as it would have been 130 - 125 million years ago when this coast was a series of muddy lagoons and rivers where dinosaurs such as Iguanodon and Neovenator roamed. Its a great place to look for fossils and when the tide is further out you can see footprints and casts of Iguanodon on the beach.

Found several of these Cuttlebones along the beach.


Margaret Adamson said...

I am loving following you on your holidays and places I still have to explore. So many veery interesting things you have found.

David Turner said...

Another enjoyable account of your holiday on the Isle of Wight :-) The cosy little church looks rather idyllic and I have to say these days I actually prefer smaller, humbler and more intimate churches compared to grand cathedrals, at least as regards enjoying quiet periods of reflection.

The beach and the fossils sound fascinating, indeed my nephew would have loved all the dinosaur stuff :-)

Love the little cave :-)

Kindest regards :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Margaret Adamson - Thanks very much Margaret - we are still finding new things to do and see there :)

David Turner - Thanks so much David. I agree with you about the smaller, humbler churches. To be honest I spent quite a long time there waiting for other visitors to leave so I could be in the church on my own :)

Lots of dinosaur stuff on the Island - Dinosaur Farm by Compton Bay is worth a visit and now there is Dinosaur Isle in Sandown which we once visited and is superb - especially for children. There are guided fossil hunts you can go on too :)

Millymollymandy said...

Enjoying your holiday posts. It's so nice that you take an interest in the history of the places you visit - I'm sure loads of people don't, and therefore miss so much.
I also read all about the Glanville Fritillary when I saw my first and only one last year in southern Brittany. Sorry you didn't get to see one. :-(

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy - Thanks so very much. Am very interested in history - problem I have is too many interests and not enough spare time to indulge in them as much as I would like!! Well done on the Brittany Glanville Fritillary - I look every time we go to the IofW and never have any success - too late in the flying season I think especially when we used to have to go in the school holidays.

Deb said...

It looks lovely on the IOW, just how I imagined it and there seems to be so much to explore too. :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Deb - Thanks so much - yes, it is very lovely there and there is lots to do :)

Pete Duxon said...

ah memories!! was a while since i went