Are particularly requested to observe, that this being altogether a LOCAL PRODUCTION, it is peculiarly suited to take a s a PRESENT to a Friend, or as an Object of Curiosity: since it possesses a permanent interest, and will prove A NOVELTY in every other part of the kingdom – because it has never been in the hands either of Hawkers or the London Booksellers.











IT is a peculiar feature in the VECTIS SCENERY, and which must strongly recommend it to the attention of strangers, that it is altogether a LOCAL PRODUCTION, and never has been committed to the hands of either Hawkers or the London Publishers: and that its Sale is confined to the Trade in the Island, and three or four towns on the opposite coast.    Its accuracy may be fairly inferred from the long residence of the Artist in the island, and from the Views being studied and executed on the spot, as well as the printing of the Plates and Letter-press;—circumstances which render it singularly well-suited for a REMEMBRANCER, or to be taken away for the purpose of a PRESENT to a Friend, or as an Object of Curiosity ; since it always possesses the value of being a Novelty, taken to whatever part of the Kingdom it may.

These facts are mentioned, because so many cheap pictorial publications are every day starting, and which are said to pay exceedingly well from their very wide circulation. But it must be remembered at the same time, that all Graphic and Fancy Productions become cheapened in proportion to their multiplicity : or in other words, commonness destroys the interest and pleasure of possession.

The Artist has studied to execute the Engravings in a bold, DISTINCT, and effective style—keeping as close as possible to the natural character of the various subjects ; and whatever may be the differing opinions of connoisseurs respecting the general merits of the Work, he is proud of its having been pronounced by the resident Gentry, as very superior to any other yet published (however elaborately finished,) in the essential of the Views being strikingly correct and characteristic of the Island Scenery.

The Price must be deemed quite moderate when it is considered, that the Plates are made every year to correspond to any material changes which may take place in the subjects through natural causes or artificial improvements; that the Views are studied and engraved on the spot;—and that the number printed must be necessarily very limited, from the sale being so confined.   But these peculiarities in the mode of publishing the Work, added to its intrinsic merit, will no doubt be duly appreciated by those Visitors who desire to take some appropriate memento from the island which is ENTIRELY LOCAL, —which shall have a permanent interest, and prove to the latest period of life a most pleasing Remembrancer of their happy excursions through this Garden of England.

It may not be quite irrelative further to state, that the Engraver has been above thirty years a local resident: a circumstance which certainly must be admitted to afford him some advantage over those of his profession who make hasty trips for the purpose of taking sketcnes ; and which, when returned to London, they are anxious to elaborate into imposing pictures, rather than faithful copies of nature.



List of the Engravings.


VIGNETTE ON TITLE-PAGE.........………...North Entrance to the Village of Shorwell.


1          West Cowes, looking towards the harbour and mouth of Medina River,................. 20

2          -——-———westward of the Castle : the new Church, &c., .....................................

3          Osborne, the summer-residence of Her Most Gracious Majesty, .............................. 22

4          Norris Castle, looking towards Osborne, .......................................................................

5          Town of Ryde, and full-length View of the Pier,  .......................................................... 24

6          Ryde, eastward of the Pier, ...............................................................................................

7          View from Nunwell Down, embracing Brading, Bembridge, &c., ............................... 30

8          Shanklin Chine, as it appears from off the water at high-tide, .................................... 32

9          The Head (or waterfall,) of Shanklin Chine,  ..................................................................

10        View from Shanklin Down, looking over the village to the Culvers, &c. .................. 34

11        The Chine and Valley of Luccombe,  ..............................................................................

12        Bonchurch : general view taken from near the old Church,  ....................................... 40

13        The Valley of Bonchurch: the Road through the elm-grove by the Pond,................

14        The Town of Ventnor, as seen from the water,  ............................................................

15        Steephill Castle, the seat of J. Hambrough, esq., .......................................................... 42

16        The Southern Coast of the Island, from St. Lawrence to Bonchurch, .......................

17        St. Lawrence Church, and the Undercliff looking to the westward, ........................... 44

18        St. Catharine's Light-house, near Niton, looking towards Mount Cleeves, ............. 48

19        The Sandrock Spring, looking towards Blackgang Chine,  .........................................

20        Blackgang Chine, at the time of the wreck of the ship  ‘Clarendon,' .......................... 50

21        The Medina Hermitage, Alexandrian Pillar, &c.,  .......................................................... 52

22        Freshwater Bay, from the cliffs, looking towards the beacon,  ................................... 54

23        Watcombe Bay : picturesque Rocks, Caverns, &c. ... ..................................................

24        The Needle Rocks, and Light-house.  ............................................................................ 56

25        The Freshwater Cliffs, particularly the Grand Arch in Scratchell’s Bay, ...................

26        Grand Arch in Scratchell’s Bay, from the interior; and the Needles, .........................

27        Alum Bay, as it appears from the first descent to the shore,  ..................................... 58

28        The River Yar: Yarmouth on the left—Norton on the right,  .......................................

29        Carisbrooke Castle, and Country to the southward,  ................................................... 62

30        ——- -——-Village and Church, as seen from the ascent to the castle, ...................

31        The High-street of Newport: Guildhall, Isle of Wight Institution, &c., ..................... 64

32        The River Medina, looking towards the town of Newport, .........................................

33        Wootton-bridge, looking over the River and Village to Fernhill,  .............................. 66

34        Gatcombe, and the Country between Newport and St. Catharine's Hill, ...................

35        Appuldurcombe, seat of the Right Hon. Earl Yarborough,  ........................................ 70

36        Ashey Sea-mark, and the Valley of Newchurch, ...........................................................




"Here in this delicious garden is

Variety without end : sweet interchange

Of hills, and vallies, rivers, woods, and plains:

Now land, now sea, and shores with forests crown'd,

Rocks, dens, and caves."

THE ISLE OF WIGHT has been so much and deservedly admired for the sweetness and variety of its landscapes, salubrity of air, and fertility of soil, as to have long acquired the very emphatic designation of the "GARDEN OF ENGLAND." Many other parts of Great Britain certainly surpass it in the magnificence of mountain and romantic scenery: but it is scarcely possible for any spot of the same narrow bounds to concentrate more of those qualities which at once charm the eye and animate the soul.  For with its attractions of picturesque beauty are combined the utmost advantages of insular position and general local conveniences, rendering it in the highest degree both desirable to the inhabitants, and inviting to the valetudinarian or pleasure-tourist: indeed the number of persons who make it their summer excursion either for health or amusement is beyond all calculation, which may be inferred from the number of fine steam-packets that are constantly plying the passage during the season, besides sailing-vessels and numerous wherries.

The Island is separated from the coast of Hampshire by a strait called the SOLENT Sea, which is about four miles average breadth, and is "a never-failing source of interest and beauty."  Its general appearance is that of a noble river flowing with a rapid tide, enriched with fleets of war and merchantmen securely riding at anchor, and innumerable smaller craft gaily sailing in every direction.   And in a walk of only six or eight miles across the country, we view the British Channel in all the grandeur of the mighty ocean :our attention constantly drawn towards different vessels nearing or vanishing: and occasionally to the most gratifying naval exhibitions—outward or homeward-bound fleets passing by under the eye as it were in review, and which have frequently exceeded two hundred sail.

The COAST changes its aspect with the surrounding sea, and is distinguished by a diversity of bold and picturesque scenery: its line being broken and varied by several rivers, creeks, and bays. The shore opposite Hampshire generally falls to the water in easy sweeps, cultivated or well-wooded, and enlivened by the presence of towns, villages, and gentlemen's seats; but the southern side, provincially called the Bade of the island, presents a succession of perpendicular cliffs of great altitude, or bold and precipitous slopes destitute of vegetation.  On the one side, all is busy, dressed, and cheerful, while calmness and security characterise the usual state of the river; but on the other, which is exposed to the impetuous tides of the ocean, the scenery participates equally of the beautiful and romantic, the sublime and terrific.

The interior of the island boasts of less sublimity of character; but we shall find the face of the country replete with the most animating rural charms. Considering the small dimensions of the island, its lofty hills and downs have quite as picturesque an effect in the composition of its landscapes, as the vast heaving swells of a more mountainous region. Its valleys are equally pleasing and diversified, everywhere displaying the triumph of cultivation, and enriched by fertilizing streams and navigable rivers.   The whole island is checquered by the most lively opposition of tints....the smooth pasturing down, the wild heath, the polished lawn, luxuriant meadows, and extensive corn-fields, delightfully inter-mixed with hedge-row trees, groves, and forest-woods.

In whatever direction the eye strays, it is saluted by the more embellished scenes of elegant seats, and genteel cottage-residences out of number; and as these enrich the face of Nature with their parks, shrubberies, and flower-beds, she is no less adorned by the respectable appearance of the farm-houses, and the neatness of the rustic habitations, while the proximity of a town or village gives to every scene the animating touches of busy life.

"The almost perpetual succession of hills and dales which cover the Isle of Wight, creates such a variety of breaks and openings, that the eye of the traveller is continually entertained with new and surprising landscapes of Nature's exquisite painting. It is here that the love of novelty and variety, so natural to the mind of man, is most highly gratified, and at an easy expense; it is but changing one's position, for which a quarter of an hour's riding is sufficient, and the scene is cast into a new form; it is varied by so many new lines and new disclosures of land and water, that it no longer appears to be the same thing."——STURCH.


The FIGURE of the island is that of an irregular lozenge, measuring 23 miles from east to west, and 13 from north to south: circumscribes about 60 miles, and contains upwards of 100,000 acres.  It is almost encompassed by formidable rocks and shelves, of which the most noted are the Needles and Shingles, at the western point, Rocken-end Race at the south, and Bembridge Ledge at the eastern extremity. No part of the British coast is more dangerous to vessels ungoverned and driving in a storm; and scarcely a winter passes without the melancholy catastrophe of shipwreck. Those places where the shore is low and accessible, are guarded by military fortifications. Cherbourg is the nearest part of the French coast, and is reckoned 20 leagues distant.  The strait which divides the island from Hampshire is about five miles across from Portsmouth to Ryde—from three to four towards the centre—and at one particular point, at Hurst Castle, only a mile across.——The GENERAL LEVEL of the land is considerably above the sea, and few parts of the great range of chalk hills are less than 500 feet high; Shanklin Down or Dunnose is 792 feet, Mottistone Down 698, and St. Catharine's Hill 830 feet above the sea-level.

The island is imagined by many to have once formed part of the main land; and. To have been, in the time of the Romans, a peninsula joined by an isthmus passable at low water. This supposed isthmus was from Gurnet a mile west of Cowes), to a place on the opposite shore called Leap, where the channel is not more than about three miles across; each point has a hard gravelly bottom, extending out to a considerable distance: and as the tides meet about midway in the channel, though the conflict occasions rough water, still there is not that impetuous current, as at either extremity to carry away the soil and
deepen its bed. But the arguments for this hypothesis are opposed by reasoning equally forcible, and in fact nothing conclusive has yet been advanced on either side of this difficult question.


The Coast throughout its whole extent manifests an important change; the sea making alarming encroachments in some parts, and retiring from it in others.

In many places on the south side, or back of the island, which is exposed to the rage of a tempestuous tide, the LOSS OF LAND has been estimated in certain spots to exceed 200 feet in breadth in the course of the last century.   As some balance, however, to this extensive depredation of the sea on the one side of the island, the very reverse is certainly taking place on the other, particularly from St. Helen's to Ryde; for vessels are said formerly to have come up an arm of the sea to Barnsley and Nettlestone, a mile from the shore, of which there is not at present the least trace remaining.   And about the year 1760, Ryde was accessible only at or near the time of high water, the shore being a disgusting stretch of mere mud, too soft to bear the slightest weight; but this is now covered with a layer of fine white sand, sufficiently firm to bear wheel-carriages, and is found to be gradually increasing both in depth and extent. The sea appears to be receding also in certain parts of the eastern coast, in consequence of an accumulation of shingles (or small pebbly stones), drifted and thrown up by the tides.

"No spot perhaps upon the terrestrial globe shows more evident proofs of the gradual secession of the sea, than the Isle of Wight.  The numerous salterns, and the many narrow vallies on the side towards Portsmouth, were indisputably ancient creeks, or inlets from the sea: and th» contracted creeks which still remain have visibly left long tracts of deserted land above them ; within the time of history, these are known to have been even ports or harbours.   At Sandown, it is remarkable that the British Channel is separated from a little brook only by a narrow, pebbly bank, iri a manner precisely similar to the separation at Freshwater-gate; and there can be no- doubt but the ocean once flowed between Brading and Yaverland, as well as between the parishes of Freshwater and Thorley. The low and level marsh of Sandown shows evident marks of its having been formerly covered by the sea; and it is probable, that a creek or inlet of the sea, in still more ancient times, flowed some miles higher up into the country, even to Newchurch and beyond it, where I was informed it was not uncommon, on the banks of the rivulet, to find shells and other marine productions, within a few feet of the surface of the present soil."——WYNDHAM.

"The operation of the sea upon coasts, sometimes in deserting them, and sometimes in gaining upon them, appears to be among the most surprising phenomena of Nature; and though its agency is so sportive, that it has all the appearance of caprice, it is governed by certain and regular causes. Where the land is high, and the sea cannot overflow it, the continual beating of the waves will make an impression by degrees, unless it consist of very stubborn rock. In all the looser parts the earth will give way ; which is the case with the high lands about Brighthelmstone: and if the shore be rocky, when the soil is washed off, the rocks will become insulated, like the Needle Rocks at the western end of the Isle of Wight; or perhaps they may fall off in fragments.——Again, when the coast is low, and the tides over-flow it, they are continually depositing sand, and ooze, or gravel, which by degrees become firm land, and keep back the sea.   Various causes indeed, such as currents, bold headlands, sand-banks, reefs of rocks, or sheltered bays, may counteract the sea in both operations; but where no foreign causes intervene, its action will be regular, in the manner just described.——GILPIN.


A range of chalk hills stretch from east to west the whole extent of the island, dividing it into two distinct regions, the soil and strata of which are essentially different: a stiff clay predominating on the north side, which is extensively covered with wood: while the south side is principally of a light sandy soil or mellow loam, and being exceedingly fertile, the whole tract is almost exclusively employed in tillage. In fact, the island affords a great diversity of soil, yet upon the whole is extremely well calculated for husbandry; and produces as much corn in one year, as would be consumed by the inhabitants in seven or eight.

The species of grain most cultivated are wheat, barley, oats, beans, and pease: the green crops are turnips, vetches, clover, rye-grass, and trefoil. Pasture and meadow land is extremely rich, and produces from two to three tons of fine hay per acre. Farms are generally of a moderate size, from 100 to £400 per annum, and a few from 700 to £.800. The extensive downs .of the island afford excellent pasture for sheep, whose wool is of a staple not inferior to that produced on the South Downs: the number annually shorn is supposed to be about 50,000,—and the lambs sold to the London butchers are usually from 5 to 6000 in a year. Oxen sufficient for home consumption are now fatted in the island : Devon and Alderney cows are generally preferred: and the husbandry horses are largeand handsome.

The demands of the Dock-yards both here and at Portsmouth have greatly thinned the TIMBER of the island, which is principally oak and elm, and is found to grow most luxuriantly in the wooded tract from East Cowes to St. Helen's.   In the time of king Charles II, it is said to have been so plentiful, that a squirrel might have run on the tops of the trees from Gurnard to Carisbrooke, and in several other parts for leagues together.

The public HIGHWAYS are generally kept in an excellent state of repair: but it must be obvious, from the very hilly nature of the country, that there is no possibility of avoiding steep acclivities and quick descents: but as this inconvenience is a source of constant change of scenery, and affords occasionally unbounded prospects, few pleasure-visitors will regret those frequent checks to their rapid driving.

The island affords many rare and quite singular GEOLOGICAL phenomena, and is, from its smallness and the nature of its coasts, peculiarly adapted for the investigation of its structure. It abounds with chalk, marle, excellent brick-earth, gravel, tobacco-pipe and potter's clay, fuller's earth, and red and yellow ochres.   The finest white sand in the kingdom is obtained from the cliffs of Alum Bay (Freshwater), which is carried in great quantities to the glass and porcelain manufactories of London, Bristol, and Worcester.

Excellent Stone of various qualities is also found in most parts of the island : and with that procured from the quarries of Binstead, which were formerly very extensive, the body of Winchester Cathedral was built. "A stratum of limestone is found along the north of the island, which is full of hollows left by the perishing of the shells imbedded in it, but is nevertheless of an extremely durable quality, and Cowes Castle is built of it.” A stratum of coals is said to run through the ridge of hills already mentioned, appearing at the foot of Bembridge cliff, again at the side of Arreton Down, and the west end of the island : veins of iron ore have likewise been discovered.  Common native alum, yellow sulphur, copperas, and other minerals, specimens of petrifactions, and many curious varieties of sea-weed, are picked up on the shore; and in the cliffs are found beautiful fossil shells frequently of a vast size.

The Chalk that composes the great range of hills which runs from east to west, is in every part divided into strata of different thicknesses, from two to four or five feet, exactly parallel, with scarcely any bend, and having a high inclination dipping north, in one instance quite perpendicular. "It is in general of a closer and harder texture than that of most of the chalk ranges in the south of England. Many of the strata are so hard as to stain the fingers but slightly when handled, and afford a very beautiful material for walls, which, when sheltered from perpendicular drip, are extremely durable.   It universally burns into very good lime, and pits are opened in it in every part of the island, and worked to a great extent for that purpose, as well as those of building and manure, for which use, of late years, a great deal has been carried coastwise to considerable distances. The strata are in general separated from each other by beds of flint, which (except the detached nodules in the body of the strata), are universally found in a most extraordinary state; they are broken in every direction into pieces of every size,—from three inches in diameter to an absolutely impalpable powder.   The flints thus shivered, as if by a blow of inconceivable force, retain their complete form and position in their bed.   The chalk closely invests them on every side, and till removed, nothing different from other flints can be perceived, except fine lines indicating their fracture; but when moved they fall at once to pieces.   The fragments are all as sharp as possible, and quite irregular, being certainly not the effect of any peculiar crystallization, or internal arrangement of the materials, but merely of external violence."——SIR H. ENGLEFIELD.

FISH of every kind common to the southern coast of England is caught off the island, hut not in such abundance as might be expected,—except crabs and lobsters, which are uncommonly large and fine. Mackarel are some seasons extremely plentiful, small, but peculiarly sweet.  Numbers of porpoises are seen rolling along in the Solent Sea and Southampton Water. Sharks are frequently observed off the back of the island; and sometimes even the grampus pursuing its prey.  In the year 1814, a large whale was taken on the Shingles to the westward of the Needles, having been left a-ground by the ebbing tide; and in 1841, another of greater magnitude was taken near the same spot, its skeleton being now preserved in a shed at Blackgang Chine.

GAME is abundant: particular attention being paid to its preservation.   "The great plenty of hares and other game is owing to the care of Sir Edward Horsey, governor in 1582, who is reported to have given a lamb for every living hare brought to him from the neighbouring counties." Otters are frequently seen. It is very remarkable, there are no polecats nor badgers loose in the island: nor were foxes till lately, but these have been repeatedly introduced by some-admirers of hunting (regardless of their mischievous depredations), and are now breeding rather numerously in those parts which afford them a favorable haunt.

Astonishing numbers of sea-fowl resort in the summer to the cliffs of Freshwater and Bembridge: and in the latter, the eagle has been known to build its eyry.—The quantity of poultry reared in the island is very considerable, and much esteemed.


Has always been considered extremely salubrious, from the highly cultivated face of the country, and the ever-refreshing sea-breezes: but since the publication of Dr. darkens Treatise on the Influence of Climate in the cure of Chronic Disorders, the island has been much more resorted to by invalids.   "The Isle of Wight, from the variety which it presents in point of elevation, soil, and aspect, and from the configuration of its hills and shores, possesses several peculiarities of climate and situation, which render it a very favorable and commodious residence throughout the year, for a large class of invalids. On this account, the island claims our particular attention, as it comprehends within itself advantages which are of great value to the delicate invalid, and to obtain which, in almost any other part of England, he would require to make a considerable journey." And after describing the temperature of various parts, whether sheltered or open, the Doctor sums up with this declaration:—"And the Undercliff bids fair to exceed all other winter-residences in this country, and the island will have added to its title of the Garden of England, that of the BRITISH MADEIRA."



No manufacture of any consequence is carried on in the island, except at a lace-factory which has been established near Newport, and gives employment to a considerable number of persons.  Corn is the staple article of trade. Flour is exported to London, and to most of the ports in the British Channel; and sometimes to France, Spain, Portugal, &c. A great quantity of salt is made in the island, part of which is likewise exported.  The imports are deals, iron, coal, &c. There are in all 42 corn-mills (six only of which are worked by wind), and several public breweries.

The stationary population of the island is at present about 45,000 : and the total number of houses about 8500. The constant intercourse which the inhabitants have with persons from all parts of the kingdom, has entirely erased any insular peculiarity which might have formerly existed. The yeomanry are a very respectable class; and the native females have the reputation of possessing superior personal charms, and certainly are no less remarkable for those solid and amiable qualities, which form the basis of domestic happiness.

The following extract from the Memoirs of Sir John Oglander, which were written about the year 1700, exhibits a most amusing picture of the simplicity of manners which characterised the islanders in the 16th century.  "I have heard," says Sir John, "and partly knowe it to be true, that not only heretofore there was no lawyer nor attorney in owre island, but in Sir George Carey's time (1588), an attorney coming in to settle in the island, was by his command, with a pound of candles hanging att his breech lighted, with bells about his legs, hunted owte of the island, insomuch "that owre ancestors lived here so quietly and securely, being troubled neither to London nor Winchester, so they seldom or never went owte of the island, insomuch as when they went to London (thinking it an East India voyage), they always made their wills, supposing no trouble like to travaile."

[Is it a disposition for litigation that has since spread among the inhabitants of this once peaceful spot, or what other cause is it, that has led to the present multiplication of lawyers'? seeing that there are no fewer than 15 or 16 in Newport alone, besides a sufficient number at Cowes and Ryde;—and even this ample number is not adequate to the demand for legal assistance, for very frequently professional gentlemen are engaged from the opposite shore to plead the cause of injured innocence or invaded right.]

PAROCHIAL DIVISIONS.—The river Medina, which rises in the south, and flows to the north, divides the island into two nearly equal parts or hundreds, called respectively the East and West Medene: the first comprising 14, the latter 16 parishes, viz.—EAST; Arreton, Binstead, Bonchurch, Brading, Godshill, Newchurch, Niton, Shanklin, St. Helen's, St. Lawrence, Whippingham, Whitwell, Wootton, and Yaverland.——WEST: Brixton, Brooke, Calbourne, Carisbrooke, Chale, Freshwater, Gatcombe, Kingston, Mottistone, Newport, Northwood, Shorwell, Shalfleet, St. Nicholas, Thorley, and Yarmouth.





THE HISTORY of a small dependent island, such as the Wight, must be in its leading circumstances the same as that of the country to which it belongs : and the relation of its peculiar sufferings by predatory descents and invasions, forms only a broken and unconnected narrative. According to Suetonius, it was first conquered by the Romans about the year of our Lord 43; but they seem to have entertained no apprehension from the inhabitants, as not the least traces of their usual fortifications have been discovered.   By them the Island was called VECTA or VECTIS, but its present appellation of Wight is derived from WECT, WITH, or WICT, as it is found variously written in Doomsday Book.

 In the year 495, it was invaded by Henric, a Saxon chief, who barbarously slew most of the natives, whom lie replaced with a great number of Jutes and Saxons, and bestowed the island on his two nephews.   After this revolu- tion it probably remained undisturbed till attacked and laid waste by Wulfar, king of Murcia, in 661; a few years after which it was again ravaged by Ceadwalla, who claimed it as his inheritance. Bede relates, that the inhabitants not having embraced Christianity (although it was 90 years after the mission of Augustine), Ceadwalla formed a determination to root them out as idolaters, and to repeople the island with "Christians;" he was however prevailed upon to make use of less sanguinary measures, and to spare the lives of such as would receive baptism, to which the majority most probably submitted.    The islanders being thus converted to Christianity, nothing remarkable occurred till 787, when the island was surprized by Danish pirates, with a design to render it a place of retreat, to which they might retire with the spoils taken from the English coast. No appearances however remain of their intrenchments; perhaps owing to their being protected by a fleet much superior to that of the Saxons, who had for a long time neglected their navy, till, roused by the repeated incursions of these piratical freebooters, king Alfred and his successors augmented their naval force. In the year 897, a fleet of Danish pirates again approached the island, and after the inhabitants had been cruelly plundered, sailed to the coast of Devonshire with their booty ; but being followed by Alfred, only one vessel escaped his vengeance. Although such transient invasions cannot be expected to have been minutely recorded, yet from the silence of our chronicles, it is very probable, that the vigilance of that 'patriot king' procured a temporary quiet to the southern coast.

998—1001.]   During the reign of Ethelred, the Danes again appeared in the Channel, and after plundering the coast, carried their spoils to the Isle of Wight, where they lived at discretion, no English force being able to withstand them: and appear to have made this defenceless spot their customary retreat whenever they had ravaged the neighbouring- counties, and collected any considerable booty. On one occasion, after making an excursion to the west, and setting fire to several towns in Devonshire and Somersetshire, they revisited the island, and here also burned a number of villages, and a town called Wealtham, which is conjectured to have been either Newtown, or Weri-ow (a hamlet near Thorley, which has evident marks of its being once a populous place).   The last of these invasions mentioned in history happened in 1066: still however the island remained exposed to other occasional violence : for the outlawed Earl Godwin having been furnished with a naval force by the Earl of Flanders, he made a descent on the Isle of Wight and the peninsula of Portland, both of which he pillaged, and his son joining him afterwards with nine ships, returned, and stripped the miserable inha- bitants of all that had escaped his former depredations.

The island seems to have enjoyed a state of tranquillity from the time of William the Conqueror to the 13th. of Edward III, when it was attacked by the French, who landed at St. Helen's point, and marched forward till met by the islanders, who drove them back to their ships'. About this time a variety of excellent regulations were made by the inhabitants for their better security : the land-holders were by their tenures bound to defend the castle of Carisbrooke for 40 days at their own charges: the county of Devon sent for its defence 76 men-at-arms, and the city of London 300 slingers and bowmen.

Although invasions were frequently menaced, the place continued unmolested till the first year of Richard II, at which time the French, as Stowe relates it, "took that invincible isle more by craft than force;" this he supposes could not have happened, had the watches done their duty; but on what grounds he formed so high an opinion of the strength of the island at that time, is not obvious, for it was exposed to the insults of all invaders; there being then no forts to obstruct their landing, and Carisbrooke Castle standing in the centre of the island, could only serve for a retreat. In fact, this want of domestic security so discouraged the natives, that many families withdrew, when an order was issued to the-wardens to seize the lands of all such as refused to return.

1370.] The preparations of the French having given timely notice of their hostile intentions, the militia of the island, which then consisted of nine companies of 100 men each, were reinforced both from Southampton and London. On the landing of the enemy the people fled for refuge to Carisbrooke Castle, which was defended by Sir Hugh Tyrrel, who slew a considerable number of the assailants. During the siege, a party of the French fell into an ambuscade, and were cut to pieces; the place is still named Deadman's Lane, and a tumulus where the slain were buried, was exultingly
called Noddies Hill, now covered by Node-hill, the southern avenue to Newport.   The French, unable to subdue the castle, at length withdrew; but before they re-embarked, obliged the natives to redeem their houses from being burned, by a contribution of 1000 merks, and also bound them by oath not to resist, should they revisit the island within a year.

Towards the latter end of the reign of Henry V, a considerable body of Frenchmen landed, and boasted that they would here keep their Christmas; but as near a thousand of them were driving cattle towards their ships, they were suddenly attacked by the islanders, who compelled them to leave not only their plunder, but also many of their men behind. Not long after this, a large French fleet arrived: and demanding a subsidy, were boldly answered, "that if they had any desire to try their prowess, they should not only be permitted to land without molestation, but should be allowed also six hours to refresh themselves, after which the islanders would meet them in the field." This generous invitation however ttie enemy thought it as well to decline, and accordingly retired.

While the rest of the kingdom was ravaged alternately by the partizans of the houses of York and Lancaster, the remote situation of the island procured it an exemption from the calamities of civil war; nor was its tranquillity disturbed by tlie French, who at that time were sufficiently employed with their own intestine troubles, till the year 1545, when they again made a descent. Having landed about 2000 men, it was proposed in a council of war to fortify and keep possession of the island : but this being found impracticable, they began to pillage and burn the villages; but were soon met by the natives, who repulsed them with the loss of their commanding officer and many of his men.

To secure the coast from the like insults, several forts were constructed in different places by order of king Henry VIII: these, though at present of little estimation, were at that time deemed of the first importance. But the island was afterwards more effectually guarded by the naval strength of England (which was augmented by queen Elizabeth to a degree before unknown); and thenceforth was secured from the calamity of foreign invasions.

At the time when the peace of the nation was destroyed by the division between king Charles I. and the parliament, its situation happily preserved it from scenes of hostility between the troops; but so important a contest could not but interest all men in the event.   At first, the inhabitants manifested a zeal in the king's favor: but the fickle populace changing, Carisbrooke Castle and the other forts were seized by the opposite party; and on the arrival of the Earl of Pembroke, the gentlemen and principal farmers assembled at Cowes, and tendered their best services.   The inhabitants having thus taken a decisive step in closing with the prevailing power, they remained undisturbed spectators of the ensuing commotions, until the king injudiciously sought here an asylum.

Nov. 12, 1647.] On the first arrival of the king in the island, the governor, Colonel Hammond, lodged him in Carisbrooke Castle, not as a prisoner, but as a guest: there appeared not the least restraint on his actions; he rode out when and where he pleased; his faithful servants were permitted to repair to him, and all who desired it were admitted into his presence without distinction.   His liberty however was soon abridged ; his confidential servants removed, and himself confined to the walls of the castle.   For his recreation the colonel converted a parade into a bowling-green; and at one side was an agreeable summer-house, where his majesty passed his vacant hours—exercising himself by walking on the ramparts or in the bowling-green, but carefully observing stated hours for writing and devotion. Several unsuccessful attempts were made to liberate him by a few of his friends, and some of the gentlemen of the island,—which only served as a pretext for increasing the rigor of his confinement: in the mean time he laid aside all care of his person, suffering his hair and beard, grown to an extraordinary length, to hang disheveled and neglected.  During the time of the Treaty of Newport (Sept. 18—Nov. 25, 1648,) he was so far released as to be a prisoner at large on his parole; till the army suddenly put an end to the negociation, by seizing and imprisoning him in Hurst Castle: the final catastrophe of which affair is too well known to require here a recital.————During the civil war the island enjoyed a much happier state than any other part of the kingdom ; which invited many of the inhabitants of the neighbouring counties to retire hither, a circumstance that for the time rose the farm-rents in the proportion of 20 per cent. Subsequently, the local history pre- sents nothing interesting.

The absolute lordship of the Isle of Wight was given by William the Conqueror to one William Fitz-osborne, as a reward for his services at the battle of Hastings; but in consequence of the defection of his descendant, it was resumed by the Crown. Henry I granted it to the Earl of Devon, in whose family it long continued; till the alienation of it was craftily obtained by Edward I, for a trifling sum.  The last grant was to Edward de Woodville in 1485 ; from which time there have been successively appointed by the Crown, wardens—captains—and governors of the island; but the office has long been a sinecure, and it was generally understood that the salary (£.1200 per annum,) ceased with the life of the late Earl Malmesbury.