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Bonchurch, Shanklin and the Undercliff and their vicinities. W.B.Cooke 1849

Updated: Feb 19, 2021

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There are many wonderful guide books that touch on Bonchurch and gradually I will add to the collection on the blog.

Bonchurch, Shanklin and the Undercliff by W B Cooke is a superb example describing Bonchurch in all its glory.

It is wonderfully gossipy with descriptions of the major properties in Bonchurch, listing the owners and residents at the time.

It also touches on the extensive fossil collection at Mountfield made by Mr Saxby and his son. (Mountfield used to stand on the site of Grangeside.) When the foundations were laid for Mountfield cinerary urns were discovered containing bones and ashes, indicating it was once a Roman Station.

Descriptions of the village are very vivid and familiar in many respects however, the language places you very firmly in the period when it was written.

There are very good descriptions of the two churches, and the tour continues visiting the pond and the neighbouring houses. The visit to the beach tells us that it was un-usable until the enterprising village builder, Mr Joliffe, carried out work accommodating a private beach for ladies as well as the one for gentlemen.

The tour of Bonchurch is completed at Bonchurch House (now the allotments).

I suggest you continue reading because Bonchurch is mentioned throughout with interesting snippets of information about the amount of landslip in those times, it also talks of herds of red deer living in the landslip.

From page 94 there is a lovely description of a carriage ride from Shanklin to Bonchurch.

Admiral Thomas Hobson's story is on page 95, giving the fullest account I have read so far! (Sometimes written as Thomas Hopsonn or Hopson ) The story of an orphan based in Bonchurch who spotted the fleet sailing and took off to join them and through heroism in various forays at sea eventually became Admiral of the fleet.

Portrait of Hopson, painted between 1705 and 1708 by Michael Dahl

Pages 106 - 108 describe Boniface down and the wishing well.

This is a charming book about Bonchurch, there are some wonderful insights that are unusual and interesting. I have found that many of the later guide books have cribbed from this book with facts becoming a little distorted over time. To complete the book, it contains some of the loveliest engravings depicting the region.

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