Odds and ends from the Isle of Wight

DSC07785

I didn’t go to the Isle of Wight to look for the Age of Sail (I went to sail round it on the Waverley and walk round it on my feet, both of which plans failed), but I can’t go anywhere without falling over something.

The first thing I came across was a monument to HMS Sirius, the flagship of the First Fleet, which sailed from a point in the Solent just offshore in 1787 – copies of the monument are also in Sydney, and at Norfolk Island where the ship was wrecked.

DSC07848
HMS Sirius monument
DSC07847
HMS Sirius plaque

Further round are the remains of the old church at St Helens – built close to the sea, it was already being eroded away in the 17th century, and in 1719 the remaining part of the tower was bricked up and painted white as a sea mark, a new church having been built further inland.

DSC07862
St Helen’s church
DSC07865
St Helens church plaque

(No one really seems to know why holystones are holy – they might have been ideally full of holes, like pumice, they might have been used for special Sunday cleaning, or it might just be that the sailors had to go down on their knees to use them!)

Another plaque record that HMS Victory was anchored off St Helens when Nelson left England for the last time and came to join her in September 1805 – I was more surprised by this than I should have been, because it’s not far from Portsmouth at all, and an island isn’t really a separate place to a ship.

DSC07864
Nelson plaque

I spent my second day on the island all along the lonely south shore, so it was the afternoon of the third day that I came to Newtown and its notorious town hall – this was once a busy town and harbour, with two seats in parliament as a royal burgh, but the harbour silted up and the population drifted away, leaving it as a ‘rotten burgh’ in Georgian times, with eventually only 23 voters for the 2 MPs!

DSC08167
Newtown Town Hall
DSC08168
Newtown Town Hall porch
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s