Freshwater Bay


"Freshwater is the terminus of the new railway from Newport. It nestles in a natural valley between Afton Downs on the south-east side and Freshwater Downs on the north-west, and commands a delightful view of the Channel. It has a small Esplanade, and the town or village is scattered, giving the double advantage of seaside and rural pleasures. It is 12 miles from Newport and 14 from Cowes, and in the extreme west.

All Saints’ Church was re-built and partially restored in 1876, at a cost of about £3,000, raised by subscriptions. It is in the Norman style of architecture. It contains north and south aisles, and the square embattled tower contains two bells. The ancient church was one of the six presented to the Abbey of Lire by William Fitz-Osborne. The Church provides sittings for 650 worshippers. A Parish Room has been erected in connection with the Church, and an Iron Room near the Bay serves as a chapel of ease.

The Wesleyans have a chapel at Freshwater, with a resident minister.

The Bible Christians and the Baptists have also places of worship here, and the Salvation Army treat Freshwater as a station for their "military" operations.

In the High street is a Soldiers’ home, very useful and suitable for its purpose.

The late Poet Laureate, Lord Tennyson, had a residence here, Farringford, and thus wrote of Freshwater and its surroundings:

"Where far from noise and smoke of town,
I watched the twilight falling brown,
      All round a careless order’d garden
Close to the ridge of a noble down.

"You’ll have no scandal while you dine,
But honest talk and wholesome wine,
      And only hear the magpie gossip
Garrulous under a roof of pine.

"For groves of pine on either hand,
To break the blast of winter, stand,
      And farther on the hoary Channel,
Tumbles a breaker on chalk and sand."

The present Lord and Lady Tennyson now reside at Farringford.

A ramble among the rocks in these places is a very interesting occupation. Freshwater Cave should be seen, the interior being remarkably interesting. The Arched Rock is an interesting curiosity, several hundred feet from the cliffs, showing how the sea has in ages past encroached upon the rock-bound coast.

Fresheater Arched Rock


Then, a visit should he made to the Frenchman’s Hole, in which it is said a French fugitive concealed himself until death overtook him from sheer starvation; Bar Cave; Neptune’s Caves; Lord Holmes’s Parlour and Kitchen, where it is said the lordly admiral entertained his guests and kept his wines; Roe Hall; Old Pepper and Wedge Rocks,

A coach journey may be made daily to

The Needles


There were formerly five of these rocky monuments, but only three of them are now to be seen above the surface of the water. It is believed the name needle as applied to the rock is derived from the German words "nieder fels,’ that is to say, "undercliff," and this probably alludes to the period when these rocks were a portion of an undercliff, like the range between St. Catherine’s and Ventnor, and again between Bonchurch and Luccombe. The Needles Lighthouse, which formerly stood at the head of the down, has been erected at the front of the outside pier or needle, and in foggy weather a bell is rung to guide the perplexed mariner.

In January of 1890 a new iron ship, the Irex, was wrecked near the Needles and in the direction of Freshwater, and most of the crew were saved by means of the rocket apparatus; they were drawn up from the ships masts to the towering cliffs, an awful experience in itself. The captain and mate were lost.

Letters arrive from School Green for delivery at 8.30 a.m. and 3 p.m., and are dispatched at 10.50 a.m. and 5.20 p.m. Sundays, 4.20 p.m.

School Green (Freshwater) letters arrive at 6.35 a.m. and 2 p.m., and are dispatched at 11.10 a.m. and 5.55 p.m. Sundays at 5 p.m.

There is excellent hotel and private accommodation at Freshwater.

The Island is almost like an isthmus at this point, and it is an easy walk across from the southern shores to the northern, where we find Freshwater.

Scratchell’s Bay lies between the Needles and Freshwater, and is famous for its cliff caverns." {Alum Bay}

Albion Hotel Freshwater

Trevanion Freshwater

The Minerva Isle of Wight Pictorial and Guide - circa 1900