From Wikishire
Jump to: navigation, search
Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight, England-26Dec2013 (1).jpg
Freshwater Bay
Island: Isle of Wight
Location: 50°40’57"N, 1°31’30"W
Population: 5,360  (2001)
Post town: Freshwater
Postcode: PO39
Dialling code: 01983
Local Government
Council: Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight

Freshwater is a large village at the western end of the Isle of Wight in Hampshire.

The village is on Freshwater Bay, a small cove on the south coast of the island; the bay also gives its name to the nearby part of Freshwater. Freshwater Bay was previously known as Freshwater Gate.[1]

Freshwater sits at the western end of the region known as the Back of the Wight or the West Wight which is a popular tourist area.[2]

The village is close to steep chalk cliffs. It was the birthplace of physicist Robert Hooke and was the home of Poet Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson.


All Saints' Church is one of the oldest churches on the Isle of Wight. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.

Lord Tennyson's son, Hallam, donated land for a new church in Freshwater Bay. Hallam's wife Audrey suggested that the church be named for St Agnes, and accordingly St Agnes' Church was consecrated on 12 August 1908. It is the only thatched church on the Isle of Wight. [3][4]

A primary school associated with the church is nearby.[5] There is a marble memorial commemorating Tennyson in All Saints Church. Tennyson's wife Emily and other family members are buried in the church cemetery. The church is also the site of a memorial to Tennyson's son, Lionel Tennyson, who died of malaria in 1886.


The "Arch Rock" was a well-known local landmark[6] that collapsed on 25 October 1992. The neighbouring "Stag Rock" is so named because supposedly a stag leaped to the rock from the cliff to escape during a hunt. Another huge slab fell off the cliff face in 1968, and is now known as the "Mermaid Rock".[7]

Freshwater's beach is very popular. It is mostly sandy but it is also covered in chalk from the nearby cliffs.

The hills above Freshwater are named after Tennyson. On the nearby Tennyson Down is a Cornish granite cross erected in 1897 in tribute to Tennyson, “by the people of Freshwater, and other friends in England and America.” There is also a hill in the area called 'Hooke Hill', named for Robert Hooke.

Dimbola Lodge overlooking Freshwater Bay

Dimbola Lodge, the home of Julia Margaret Cameron and now a photographic museum, is in the village of Freshwater Bay, which is part of Freshwater. There is also a tearoom and bookstore.

Freshwater is near the source of the Western Yar, a river whose estuary runs north to Yarmouth. Freshwater Marshes are a 'Site of Special Scientific Interest',[8][9] and a large part of the Marshes are also a Local Nature Reserve called Afton Marshes.[10][11]

At the western end of Freshwater Bay on a bluff are the remains of Fort Redoubt, also known as Fort Freshwater or Freshwater Redoubt, a Palmerston Fort. Fort Redoubt was built in 1855-1856 to protect Freshwater Bay, and was in use until the early 20th century. It was sold by the military in 1928. Presently, part of it is a private residence, and other portions are being developed as holiday flats.

Two unusual structures that have been described as ice houses, pottery kilns or crematoria are found on Moons Hill in Freshwater. Robert Walker was the first to excavate these features in the 1890s, and he thought they were evidence of a Phoenician settlement in Freshwater. Chemical analyses suggest that they were most likely lime kilns.[12]


The Poet Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson lived at nearby Farringford House (on the road between Freshwater and Alum Bay). Tennyson lived at Farringford from 1853 until the end of his life in 1892. Tennyson wrote of Farringford:

Where, far from noise and smoke of town
I watch the twilight falling brown,
All round a careless-ordered garden,
Close to the ridge of a noble down.

Tennyson rented Farringford in 1853, and then bought it in 1856.[13] He found that there were too many starstruck tourists who pestered him in Farringford, so he moved to "Aldworth", a stately home on a hill known as Blackdown between Lurgashall and Fernhurst, about a mile south of Haslemere in Sussex in 1869. However, he returned to Farringford to spend the winters.


The Freshwater Village Association was created in November 2006. The Freshwater Village Association was formed by Freshwater residents who are concerned that Freshwater might lose its identity as a village.[14] The Freshwater Bay Residents Association was created on 2 July 1984, with the goal of expressing concern about the development of Freshwater Bay.[15]

Freshwater Lifeboat is an independent lifesaving organisation based in Freshwater Bay.[16] It operates the Freshwater Bay Lifeboat Station on the promenade along Freshwater Bay and two lifeboats from public donations and profits from shop sales, since it is not part of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.[17]

It hosts the Freshwater and Totland Carnival every year.

Freshwater is the headquarters of the Robert Hooke Society who have created a walking trail around he area called the "Hooke Trail" to visiit sites associatesd with him. They hold bi-monthly meetings at the Island Planetarium at Fort Victoria and a yearly Memorial Luncheon on 3 March on the date of his death and week-long celebrations of his birthday (18 July)

Village attractions

There are several attractions within the immediate area:

  1. Farringford House, home of poet Alfred Lord Tennyson.
  2. Dimbola Lodge, home of photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.
  3. West Wight Sports Centre.
  4. Freshwater Bay Golf Course.
  5. Afton Down
  6. The Needles Old Battery, a Victorian fort and post-Second World War rocket testing site.
  7. The Needles Lighthouse and chalk rocks.
  8. Compton Bay, where dinosaur footprints are visible at low tide.
  9. The Longstone, some four miles distant, the only megalithic monument on the Island.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Freshwater)