Whitwell, Isle of Wight

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The White Horse in Whitwell.JPG
The White Horse, Whitwell
Island: Isle of Wight
Grid reference: SZ520770
Location: 50°35’47"N, 1°15’47"W
Population: 578  (2001)
Post town: Ventnor
Postcode: PO38 2
Dialling code: 01983
Local Government
Council: Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight

Whitwell is a small village in Hampshire, located on the south of the Isle of Wight, approximately three miles north-west of Ventnor, the village's nearest town, and about five minutes away from its neighbouring small villages, Godshill and Niton, with the latter of which Whitwell forms a share civil parish.

An old village, Whitwell has a variety of stone and thatched houses, as well as some more modern housing.

Whitwell's small size has led it to become a very close-knit community with a range of amenities including a garage, a 700-year-old church, the oldest pub on the island, dating back from the 15th century, and a post office, which was recently re-located to new premises inside the church bell tower.

There is a trout farm located towards Nettlecombe, with three lakes covering one and a half acres, stocked with carp, roach and tench.[1]

The village is named after the "White Well" inside the village. The well was visited during the Middle Ages by those on pilgrimages. Across Whitwell, six more old water standards can be seen, built in 1887 by William Spindler. Half the cost of installing the wells was covered by William Spindler himself, the remainder by people of the village. The water was supplied by Mr Granville Ward from a spring on his land at Bierley.


One of six red iron water pumps in the village

The village of Whitwell is likely to take its name from a well or spring with a reliable supply of fresh water. The original White Well, located towards the south end of the village was once a place of veneration as a 'holy well' and a site of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. The waters of the well were believed to contain healing powers for the infirm.

A tradition of well dressing, a Derbyshire custom, was adopted in Whitwell in recent years and is now an annual event at the site of the well. Each year the well is dressed and blessed by the local vicar giving thanks for water and a blessing for the village.

In the village, six red iron water pumps can be seen at various intervals. These were built in 1887 by William Spindler, a prominent figure in St Lawrence whose tomb now lies in Whitwell Graveyard. One is located next to the White Well in Ventnor Road, two along Kemming Road, two along the High Street, and one on Nettlecombe Road.

Many of the village's buildings such as the White Horse pub, date back to the 15th century.

The church has portions dating back to as far as the 12th century, with newer additions built in the 13th, 15th and 16th centuries. In comparison to this and the rest of the village, new housing has been built relatively recently along Bannock Road.


Whitwell is located in the south of the Isle of Wight, slightly to the south of Godshill, and extends to the southern shore of the island. The nearest town is Ventnor, about three miles south of the village.

Niton is the nearest village about two miles away. Also close to the village, is Nettlecombe, the site of a lost mediæval village located slightly to the north east.[2]

The entire village is surrounded mainly by fields and classed as an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, forming part of the Isle of Wight AONB.' The relief is mainly flat, with some slight hills.

The River Yar's infant tributary in Whitwell

The village benefits from Ventnor's micro-climate as a result of being in a sheltered location beneath the cliff of the island's south coast.

Although very close to the south coast of the island, Whitwell is north of the island's watershed, formed by the ridge of the downs overlooking the Back of the Wight. One of the headwaters feeding the Eastern Yar rises on the slopes south of Whitwell and at one point. There is an old, stone sheep wash on the stream here. The River Yar Trail was set up in 2002, with a milestone outside the White Horse in Whitwell.[3]

Whitwell's built environment is characterised by its mixture of stone and thatched housing. There is a mixture of single and two-story houses, with most single-story housing on Bannock Road, recently developed with a small estate of bungalows. Terraced housing features in the centre of the village. The most notable house in the village is The Old Rectory, close to the church and was formerly a Bed and Breakfast.


The Church of St Mary and St Radegund is a Church of England church, located on rising ground at the south end of the village, adjoining the rectory. It is the only church in the village. Parts of the church date back to different centuries, the earliest being 12th, with later parts added in the 13th, 15th and 16th century. In April 2007, the village's post office was relocated inside the church's bell tower, the first of its kind to actually be located inside the church.

About the village

The village pub is The White Horse, in the village centre. It was a thatched put until two damaging fires twenty years apart, since when it has had a tiled roof.

The village hall hosts a variety of activities, including the Whitwell Village Show, which takes place annually each summer.

Due to the village's small size and population, most amenities are located outside the village, in neighbouring Niton, or in Ventnor.

The village used to have a wider range of shops and amenities, but over the years, many of these have gone; amongst them two shops, a playgroup, a Methodist church, a forge, a nursing home and youth hostel.


An old section of track to Whitwell Station

Whitwell Station, on the Ventnor West branch of the Isle of Wight Central Railway, was opened along with the other stations on the branch on 20 July 1897. It was equipped with a passing loop, two platforms, a signal box and a substantial station building. Located at the top of Nettlecombe Lane, the station is located close to the village and the community it was intended to serve, unlike any other stations on the line.

However the track has now closed, and the waiting rooms have now been converted into two cottages and the old up platform has been restored. The site is now a popular tourist destination and is used for holiday accommodation.[4]

An old railway tunnel just outside the village is used as a mushroom farm.[5] Another tunnel is still present on Nettlecombe Lane, leading to the station.


The River Yar trail runs through the village with the milestone outside the village pub. In addition to this, bridleways are maintained, running to nearby villages Wroxall and Niton. Future plans could see a pedestrian link from Whitwell to Niton along the main road.[6]

Outside links

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about Whitwell, Isle of Wight)