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Old Shanklin

“Leafy Shanklin,” two miles southward of Sandown, and also situated on the shores of Sandown Bay, has a shorter history than Sandown in modern respects. Yet Shanklin is of ancient renown, as the records of the Parish Church and its civil history declare. This old church lies on the right of the road leading through to Ventnor, about half-a-mile beyond modern Shanklin. The original part of the building was erected in the time of King Stephen, when Henry de Blois, the king’s brother, was Bishop of Winchester. The edifice contains a piscina and an old chest bearing the carved name of “Thomas Silksted.” The church, which was dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is a cruciform edifice of stone and wood in what is called the Perpendicular style of architecture. It was restored in 1859 at the expense of the patron and rector. It comprises chancel, nave, transepts, and spire with one bell. In the north transept is a handsome stained window and brass tablet, placed there by the parishioners, as a token of love and esteem for the late rector, the Rev. G. W. Southouse M.A., who resigned the living in 1881, when the patron, Mr. F. White Popham, J.P., the lord of the manor, gave it to the curate, the Rev. W. Barry Cole, B.A., the present rector. The church can seat 250 worshippers.

Speaking of the churches, we may here name the others. St. Saviour’s-on-the-Cliff provides accommodation for 750 people. It is a modern building, built of stone in the Gothic style. It contains north and south aisle of four bays, chancel, and nave. The eastern window is adorned with a handsome representation of the Ascension, and a carved oak screen divides the chancel and choir stalls from the body of the church. At the west end a handsome stone tower and steeple were added in 1877, and a peal of eight bells was swung in the tower. We may add that the organ is furnished with wind by the operation of a gas engine. The parish was formed for ecclesiastical purposes in 1869, and the church building cost about £10,000. The vicar’s residence is at the back of the church, and at the side is a large room erected for parochial purposes and as a Sunday School.

St. Paul’s Church is close to the railway station, and was erected to serve an ecclesiastical parish formed from the ecclesiastical parish of Christ Church, Sandown in 1876. It is a stone building in the Early English style, with an exceptionally noble and lofty interior. It contains nave and aisle of five bays, with chancel. It can accommodate - about 600 worshippers.

The Congregational Church, at the bottom of the High street and top of Landguard road, was erected in 1880 on the site of the old place of worship. It consists of a north aisle, tower and spire, the tower containing a large clock, which is illuminated at night at the public expense. The building, with the new schools in the Palmerston road, cost about £4,500.

The Wesleyans have a beautiful Chapel in the Station road, capable of seating about 300 people.

The Bible Christians also have a new Chapel, in the Sibden road, near the offices of the Local Board, to accommodate from 400 to 500 worshippers.

The Brethren meet in an iron room in the Landguard road.

The Salvation Army treat Shanklin as an “outpost” of Sandown, and the officers from that Station hold meetings in the square of the High Street on alterative Thursday evenings.

The Roman Catholic Church opened a small iron room in Atherley road in 1888, capable of seating about 100 people.

Shanklin is situated on the Isle of Wight railway, since the opening of which it has grown with marvellous rapidity. It is governed by a Local Board of nine members, who at a recent meeting ruled that they were quite sufficient in number, notwithstanding that nine were appointed when the population and rateable value were only about one-third of such of the present day.

The town has a handsome public hall belonging to the Literary and Scientific Institution. The building, which is of the Grecian style of architecture, was erected in 1879, at a cost of £3,000. The hall was handsomely decorated by Mr F. Marshall, and is further adorned with a large graphic oil painting representing the loss of H.M.S. Euridyce off Shanklin on a stormy Sunday afternoon in March, 1878. The painting is from the easel of the late Mr A. Fowles, of Ryde, and the gift of the late Mr Vivian A. Webber, of the same town. There are reading room, library, billiard room, and art class room in connection with the Institute.

The Club on the Cliff is a select institution. The building is a handsome structure of its kind. It is built in the bungalow fashion. It contains billiard rooms for ladies and gentlemen, reading, reception, and drawing room, and is surrounded by a covered balcony.. The grounds are beautifully kept, and among other attractions on the premises are tennis courts on asphalt for winter and grass for summer, with an American bowling green.

Another popular Club in the town is the Tennis Club, whose beautiful, well-ordered grounds are situated at the foot of the Shanklin Downs, in a valley of exquisite charms. It is reached by turning to the right from the High street at the Post Office corner. There is no club of the kind so popular in the Isle of Wright, we believe.

Shanklin has a Conservative Club, with its own buildings in Palmerston road, and a Liberal club without a local habitation. The public “place of the dead” is a cemetery near Lake, the ground for the cemetery having been presented by Colonel Atherley, of Landguard Manor.

In Atherley road is conducted a small hospital for children, established and maintained by a wealthy resident, Madame Scaramanga. Drs. Dabbs and Cowper are the physicians (honorary, we believe), and although it has only recently come into existence, it has been a great blessing to numbers of poor children needing surgical and medical skill. The establishment is a picture of neatness and quiet happiness.

As to Shanklin, this is how Mr Clement Scott speaks of it in his ‘‘Round About Notes : “

“There is no spot like Shanklin. There is no cool green corner in the island like Shanklin. Its wonderful variety, its woods and streams and brooks and picturesque houses, give it the prize unquestionably for beauty. The great drawback to all seaside places is the glare of the sun. The Isle of Thanet and the South Sussex coast are charming enough, but the white blaze from the chalk is often terrible. There is no need for blue spectacles at Shanklin. It is all green and soothing. You enter the village from the sea, through a tunnel of green, and the famous Chine is a shady nook and babbling brook. Nor need it be said that Shanklin is dull or uninteresting. The girls do not dress to please, but please to dress. There is archery on the sands, and boat building, and bathing and horses to ride, and croquê in the villa gardens; and all over the village cosy corners for reading or working.”

One of the chief attractions of Shanklin is the world-famed Chine, a cleft (as the old Saxon word indicates) in the cliff.

Shanklin Chine


The favourite approach to the Chine is from the beach at the extremity of the Esplanade. The visitor enters a pretty rustic gateway, passes over a little bridge, and is in the Chine. He may wander hither and thither, or sit in the pretty shaded nooks for hours, enjoying the blissful quietude. The grand and picturesque glen is adorned with handsome ferns, shrubs, mosses, and wild flowers of various hues. The lower end is certainly the best for entrance, as the visitor has a better impression of the various natural beauties of the Chine by making an accent of its deviating pathway. At the upper end there is a cascade of water, formed by the uprisings of a spring near the Parish Church. The water finds its way along a brook on the south side of Church road, crosses the roadway known as Chine hollow, and bounds over into the Chine, through which it meanders to the sea. Passing out at the wicket gate at the head of the Chine the visitor enters Chine Hollow, and turning to the right, ascends a short steep hill into Old Shanklin, with it thatched houses and its rural and ancient appearance. At the point at the top of this short incline where the visitor comes in contact with the High street is a rustic fountain, which is kept in order by the town authorities. In 1868 the American poet, Longfellow, was staying at Shanklin, and he wrote the following lines, which have been inscribed on a shield and affixed to this fountain:

‘O, traveller, stay thy weary feet ;
Drink of this fountain, pure and sweet;
It flows for rich and poor the same.
Then go thy way, remembering still;
The wayside well beneath the hill,
The cup of water in His name.’

In his report for the year 1891-2 the Medical Officer of Health (Dr  G.H. R. Dabbs) states that Shanklin is favoured with three kinds of climate- one on the Esplanade, another in the heart of the town, and a third in the New Road  district. This he regards as of supreme importance in the treatment of invalids.

Shanklin Old Village


The visitor should not fail to take a walk along the avenue which runs from Old Shanklin to the edge of the cliff. On Regatta nights this canopied road is profusely illuminated by means of oriental lanterns, and presents a spectacle long to be remembered.

Shanklin Chine Avenue


Shanklin now has a pier, running out from about the middle of the Esplanade for a distance of some 1200 feet, by 30 feet in width. A landing stage has also been constructed at the head, sufficient to berth the large excursion steamers which visit it from Bournemouth, Southampton, Portsmouth, &c, and in the summer season a great number of visitors from these and other places are landed on the pier. It is a favourite promenade for visitors and residents.

In 1891 a hydraulic lift was erected near the entrance to the pier. It was constructed, at a cost of about £4,000, for Mr. George Newnes, M.P., the owner of Tit Bits, and is a great convenience for making the ascent and descent of the cliff. One penny per passenger is charged for each journey.

There is one local newspaper for Shanklin, and not three or four as some guide books erroneously assert. This is the Weekly Illustrated Isle of Wight Guardian, printed and published in the Station road, the Boulevards of leafy Shanklin. It is published on Friday evening for Saturday, and contains on the front page a large illustration of the beach and cliff, with several views inside. The Guardian has eight pages, and its list of visitors is carefully revised weekly, no charge being made for insertion of names. Price for paper, including visitors’ list, one penny.

The Freemasons have hall of their own in East-cliff road.

There are several first-class hotels in the town, and private apartments can be secured in most parts of the district.

There are some delightful walks about Shanklin, among them being one through the old churchyard, over the downs to Wroxall or over the downs to Ventnor;  a walk through America Wood (please do not miss this, and the inhabitants will show its locality); a walk past the Gas-house to Ninham and Apse through the woods; through Chine Hollow to the Landslip, Bonchurch, and Ventnor, &c." {Luccombe}


The Minerva Isle of Wight Pictorial and Guide - circa 1900