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To Freshwater, the Needles, Yarmouth, &c.
IN taking the western tour of the Island, we again pass Newport, and from thence through the beautiful and finely watered village of Carisbrook-famed alike for its loveliness and its historic remembrances. We now pass the village of Clatterford, from which a road winding along the sides of the hill, and sometimes bending its circuitous path at the foot, shaded by the tall and reverend elm, conducts us to Northcourt. This fine old seat was commenced building by Sir John Leigh, in the reign of James I. and was completed by his son. The finely shaded grounds of this venerable mansion have a number of beautiful terraces, which appear like so many intrenchments, and give a very unique character to the spot; and an elegant rustic bridge crosses the road. In the midst of its umbrageous trees stands a mausoleum, erected by its late owner to the memory of a beloved daughter. We now approach Shorwell, a very delightful village embosomed in a beautiful valley. Its church adds to the beauty of the spot; it has a neat spire, and the interior has that rare piece of antiquity, a stone pulpit. Several handsome monuments of the Leigh family adorn its walls; and in the chancel is a fine old p. 63. † p. 69.
figure, inlaid in a stone slab, to the memory of Sir Richard Billet, Vicar of the parish, who died in 1518.
As we proceed, the Island unfolds to us the diversified features which so powerfully characterize it. At a short distance we pass Westcourt, a farm beautifully mantled with ivy; and a little to the west stands the fine old farm of Wolverton. We have then an open prospect immediately before us-the adjacent downs and lofty summit of St. Catherine's-the spreading ocean rolling abruptly and grandly to the view; and on the other side, fields of uncommon fertility, waving with the promise of the future harvest. The valley on which we enter contains the village of Brixton or Brightstone. This village is situated in a lovely spot. It has a fine range of downs on its back ground, and the boundless ocean in its front. Its church has a leaden spire, with a tower and peal of five bells; and is remarkable, not for the splendour of its monuments, but for the neatness of its pews, and the chasteness of its internal decorations. The Hotel, which is in the centre of the village, is replete with every accommmodation. Mottistone, which is the next village in this direction, is most beautifully situated, commanding some very lovely sea views. Upon the down, which bears its name, were two large stones, which tradition has handed down as the relics of a Druidical place of worship. There does not appear to be the least credit due to this: the Islanders have a strange legend respecting these stones, (one of which only remains,) but it is merely a legend, for the solitary stone is remarkable for nothing but its size and position. This little village is celebrated as being the native place of Sir John Cheke, tutor of Edward IV. and one of the earliest patrons of Greek learning in this country. He was born in the manor-house adjacent to the church.
The little village of Brooke now presents itself. A very picturesque view opens from the church; wood, ocean, and cliffs, all combine to give enchantment to the prospect. At the end of the village is Brooke House, the residence of Mr. Howe, lord of the manor. As we ascend Brooke Down, a very delightful and extensive scene is unfolded.* The most commanding prospect is from the summit of Afton Down. From this lofty elevation, which rises five hundred feet above the sea, the eye ranges over a vast tract of fertile country, with the little villages and hamlets scattered beneath. From hence the greater part of the Island can be seen; while in the distant vision appear the opposite coast of Hampshire, the cliffs of the Isle of Purbeck, and, in a very clear day, the remote shores of Portland. Here are to be found some tumuli or barrows; in these the ancient warriors had left a few relics of the armour with which they were equipped, the weapons with which they fought, the ornaments with which they were adorned, and the vessels from which they drank, or by which they practised their divinations. The ride along this down to Freshwater Gate is one of the finest in the Island: the dark and rugged aspect of Black-gang Chine in the east-the fine expanse of sea which opens on the south-the little cottages which lie scattered in the valleys-the small villages with the ancient churches, standing in the midst of a beautiful and fertile country, reaching to the summit of the cliffs which rise from the shore, present a most delightful prospect; while on the west, the bold white cliffs at Freshwater, rising in grandeur, and to the north, the town of Yarmouth,
* The visitor who may prefer a walk of about three miles would find a most delightful ramble along the summit of the small cliffs, from Brooke to Freshwater Gate, where several small chines present themselves.