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To Black-gang Chine, Undercliff, &c.
THE usual route to this part of the Island commences from Ryde to Newport, but some of the drivers take the road lying across Down-End. Should this be the course, the visitor will pass very near the retired village of Arreton; but little of it can be seen. Arreton Down is celebrated as a spot in which some Roman armour was found, and as being the site of two large barrows. Its church is a fine old building: within it is a curious brass plate, with the effigy of a man in armour, his feet resting on a lion. In this church yard are deposited the remains of an humble individual, whose history has become familiar to the world, by the tract entitled, "The Dairyman's Daughter." The narrow cell in which she slumbers, is marked out by a simple grave stone, erected to her memory by subscription in 1822, and adorned with an epitaph from the pen of her biographer. So great is the attraction produced by the elegant sketch, which the late Rev Legh Richmond has given of this pious female, that the cottage in which she resided, situated about a mile and a half from the church, is visited annually by hundreds. In the church is a splendid monument to the memory of Sir L. T. W. Holmes, Bart.
Should the visitor be conducted this route, he will have a beautiful rural ride; but as it is more probable the road through Newport will be preferred, we shall describe the journey from that place.
On leaving Newport we enter a finely-cultivated piece of country, in which stands the lovely village of Shide, adorned with several well-built houses and neat cottages. We now pass Standen, the pleasant villa of Mrs. Roberts. Near this a very commanding view of Carisbrook Castle is presented. East Standen was once the residence of Lady Cecilia, the daughter of Edward IV. She died in this retired spot, and was buried in Quarr Abbey, near the town of Ryde. St. George's Down, which forms the fine back-ground of this spot, was formerly celebrated for its fine bowling green. On the right hand is seen at a distance Gat combe House. The seat is most beautifully situated; the village church, the lofty hill, the umbrageous wood, all contiguous to it, give great beauty to the scene. The church contains a curious monument of an unknown knight: the figure is cut in oak, and clad in a coat of chain mail with a flowing surcoat. The ride now assumes an air of rural beauty, till we reach Pidford House, the residence of H. Sewell, Esq.; after which we pass through Rookley, a small village, in which stands the neat cottage of Miss Leach. The road, after passing a little distance from this, opens on Bleak Down. One of the most barren views in the Island presents itself, forming a wide extending heath, with the exception of here and there some spot of arable land, which comprise the uninteresting prospect around us; while the scene is bounded by the lofty summit of St. Catherine's.
On the left is seen the ancient church of Godshill; this venerable pile, situated on a rising ground, has a very commanding and interesting appearance. It is a
fine old edifice with an elegant tower, having a peal of five bells and a clock. The interior has some old tombs, belonging to the families of De Aula, Heyno, and Fry; but they appear to have been much injured by violent hands. There are also some very fine monuments of the Worsley family. The village is exceedingly neat; and is superior to most of the villages in the Island in point of literary advantages. In the year 1614, Sir R. Worsley, Bart. founded and endowed a grammar school, and built a house for the residence of the master; in addition to which there is a large free school for the benefit of the parish.
This peaceful spot was the birth-place of Dr. Cole, dean of St. Paul's, and one of the persecuting ecclesiastics in the reign of Queen Mary.*
We now pass Billingham, the rural abode of the Rev. J. Worsley. At a short distance from this, the eye falls on Hermitage, the seat of Barlow Hoy, Esq. Immediately above the seat is a fine Alexandrian pillar. This splendid column was erected by the late
This time-serving priest, (who was a protestant under Henry and a catholic under Mary), was charged with a commission against the protestants in Ireland. In his way to Dublin he stopped at Chester, and made known to the mayor of the city the business with which he was entrusted; but being overheard by his hostess, who had a brother a clergyman in Ireland, she found means to obtain the box which contained his commission, from which she took out the document, and substituted a pack of cards in its place. On his arrival in Ireland, he was introduced to the Lord Lieutenant; when he began with all due form, to disclose his business; but on opening his box, to his utter confusion, he found nothing but a pack of cards. Mortified at the circumstance, he immediately used means to procure a fresh commission; but it was too late: Mary died, and the spirit of the persecutor was unable to execute its vengeance. The fact having reached Elizabeth, it is said she rewarded the ingenious hostess with a pension of £40 per annum.
proprietor of Hermitage, to commemorate the visit of the Emperor of Russia to this country.
We now arrive at the village of Niton. This little village is situated in a hollow, near the foot of St. Catherine's. The church is very ancient; its fine old cross standing to the south, was once ornamented with a pillar on its top. The only remains of this piece of antiquity is a flight of steps on a square basement. This ancient cross is supposed to have been appropriated for the administration of the ordinance of baptism. The church came to the crown, on the dissolution of religious houses; and was afterwards given to Queen's College, Oxford, by Charles I. in exchange for the college plate. The Parsonage is a very neat residence. A newly-erected Baptist chapel stands in the centre of the village.
Just below the village is a small cove, called Puckaster; celebrated as the spot in which Charles II. landed, after a dangerous storm. The incident is recorded in the parish register.
"July 1st, A.D. 1675, Charles the second, King of Great Britain, France, Ireland, &c. came safely on shore at Puckaster, after he had endured a great and dangerous storm at sea. Ut regnet diu et feliciter, vovitet exoptat. Thomas Collinson, rector de Nighton."
Among the wildnesses of nature, which lie scattered at a little distance from this village, is the celebrated Chalybeate of the Island, called Sand-rock Spring. This spring, which was discovered by the late Mr. Waterworth, a surgeon of Newport, in 1807, is situated a little to the east of Black-gang Chine: the approach to it is by a steep descent, through vast masses of broken rock and the ruggedness of the lofty cliff. A little cottage, standing like the solitary abode of a hermit, amidst the towering grandeur of nature, marks
the spot where visitors may rest, procure any quantity of the water they may wish, and be conducted by a flight of rude stone steps to the Spring.
Before reaching the Chine, we pass a spot called Rocken End, filled with immense fragments of rock, which appear to have been lying for ages in all their wild disorder.
A narrow path, almost imperceptible in some places, winds its way along the sides of the cliffs, and presents the nearest road from the Spring to Black-gang Chine. This phenomenon of nature has a boldness, ruggedness, and blackness, which give it an air of grandeur. The fissure which forms the Chine is not of any great extent or width; the particles of water, which drop like a shower from the summit to the base, produce a very pleasing effect; but the scenery which surrounds the Chine is characterized by the wild and awful in nature. It has nothing soft-nothing beautiful -scarcely any verdure to relieve the eye-no shrub nor tree to shed a partial beauty upon the scenenothing but immense masses of matter-large pieces of broken rock-and the dark black Chine, frowning awful defiance to the stormy ocean. In proceeding to the Chine we pass the Landslip, which occurred in 1799. The sight is exceedingly interesting. Nature appears in wild disorder; the cliffs towering above with indescribable grandeur, and seem looking in awful majesty on all who approach them; while all
* Black-gang Chine is rendered painfully interesting, from the circumstance of the Clarendon, West Indiaman, having been wrecked near this spot, October 11th, 1836, on her passage homeward, laden with sugar and rum. Her crew consisted of sixteen seamen and eleven passengers, twenty-four of whom perished. At six in the morning she struck; when such was the dreadful impetuosity of the overwhelming surges, that in about five minutes she was literally dashed to atoms.