IWNHAS visit to Lee Farm, Wellow, Wednesday 3rd May 2017

13 members met at Lee Farm, Wellow, the home of Steve and Jill Cowley since the 1950s (more…)

Wight Swifts needs your help

Wight Swifts is a new group set up on Facebook by Jim Baldwin – our IW British Trust for Ornithology Officer. (more…)


This month iWatch Wildlife are asking for records of the magnificent Stag Beetle (Lucans cervus)

Stag beetles live in woodland edges, hedgerows, traditional orchards, parks and gardens throughout Western Europe including Britain (more…)

Meeting at Lee Farm, 3rd May NEW INFORMATION

The grid reference for the meeting should read SZ383887. We are invited to bring a picnic lunch. Jill Cowley will provide tea/coffee.

Looking at the Countryside Brading Town – 7th February 2017

Fifteen members met on an unexpectedly pleasant sunny morning, after a run of overcast raw days.

Richard Smout led the group. We started by looking across to the old primary school, now the youth club, and touring the churchyard. Rusty-backed ferns were seen on the churchyard wall, close to a useful noticeboard which gave details of the plants to be found in the area. We admired the small gun house, and looked at a number of graves. These included the graves of Mary Warder (nee Toms) who brought Bible Christian Methodism to the Isle of Wight in 1823, settled in the town and was buried there in 1850. A little further on, in the same line of graves was the headstone for Jane Squibb .. Little Jane, the Young Cottager .. whose short life was immortalised by Rev Legh Richmond in “The Annals of the Poor” published in 1814. The stone itself was a later addition being erected in 1822, when Legh Richmond returned to the parish where he had been curate. We also looked at a set of graves near the churchyard cross. These included the tombs of a Shropshire ironmaster, of Joseph William Bazalgette (the father of the man with the same name whose engineering works had tackled “the Great Stink” transforming the sewage system of Victorian London), and a relative of Sir Robert Peel.

payment of a fee, and while we were there learnt about the goods that would have been taken to the quayside at the end of the lane, and the impact of successive attempts to drain Brading Haven, before the process was completed in the 1880s. We then looked at Rectory Mansion and compared what exists now with a Victorian image which showed that some of the gables and the conspicuous chimney stack are 20th century embellishments. We continued via the church porch. Here there were arches on three sides to allow a processional route around the building when the street frontage would have been obstructed with cottages. From there it was only a short distance down the slope to the Old Town Hall, with its lock-up, stocks and whipping post.

At this point the stroll picked up a certain amount of pace, and we went down Cross Street , past a terrace named in honour of Legh Richmond and into West Street, with an attractive set of cottages on the east side of the road. Near the Bull Ring was saw Summers Hall, (originally the church hall); the new town hall, built in 1902-3 and opened by Lady Oglander, as well as the bull-ring itself. Across the road, Cordwainers was the house lived in by the Warders. Their chapel, which no longer survives was nearby.

From here we moved into the Mall. There were a number of houses to admire at intervals along the route. We compared the brick frontages and the stone sides to two properties, Stoneham and Beech Grove. Other houses attracted interest including Hill House, the wooden boarding to Rosebank, and the porch at what is now the Beech Grove surgery.  Climbing higher we reached the lane that goes up to the downs. Near the bottom of this is Little Jane’s Cottage. Postcards of the house in Victorian times were compared with the building as it is now. There have been some additions but the house from the outside is instantly recognisable. This was a place of pilgrimage for the sensitive Victorian visitor. Two million copies of the Annals of the Poor were sold in English alone. Victorian postcards almost always feature a venerable elderly inhabitant standing by the picket fence .. nothing was allowed to jar with the image that the visitor had in mind for Little Jane’s home.

Back on the Mall we had the chance to compare two late Victorian terraces, Linden Terrace and Woodbine Terrace. The former had narrow windows, arched doors and bow windows at the ground floor, whereas Woodbine Terrace relied on the impact of a line of decorative brickwork to make its mark. We continued on as far as the Congregational Chapel established in 1846, next to the site of the British School set up three years earlier. One of the school’s early teachers was a Mr Bully, who gives his name to Bullys Hill which leads up onto the downs. Before the chapel was reached we admired the whitewashed and castellated manse, and Mall Villa, which seems to have been originally built as the home for the teacher at the British School. From here there were excellent views across to Bembridge Down, Sandown and over the Brading Marshes area. By the Mall here we saw a range of early plants including common field speedwell and a fumitory, and we found a seven-spot ladybird, moving in the warmth.

We then retraced our steps back along the Mall, looked at the Methodist Chapel established in the 1860s as New Road was being developed, spoke of the arrival of the railways and the impact that this had on the town, and then walked back along the High Street, considering where the water’s edge might have come to before the construction of some of the early sea walls in the Tudor period. There were a number of inns to admire on this final stretch, as well as the town reading room. The latter appears clearly on the front of another Victorian image of the High Street which we were able to compare with what can be seen today. We ended up back at the church, still in the dry after two hours, and feeling fortunate that the weather had added to the pleasure of the visit.

Looking at the Countryside Northwood Park 14 January 2017

25 Members met at the entrance to St Mary’s Church, Cowes on a cold but sunny morning.  David Biggs told them briefly about the history of the church, one of the very few erected during the Commonwealth (1657) and with no mediaeval antecedents; and of the church tower erected 1821 by Nash as a memorial to the Ward family by George Ward. (more…)

Looking at the Countryside – Christmas Walk 2016

22 people met at the Priory car park, Carisbrooke, on a lovely sunny morning. (more…)

Looking at the Countryside Mottistone 5th November 2016

21 members met at Mottistone last Saturday for a guided walk led by David Harding.It was a beautiful crisp November day, with blue skies, sunshine and excellent visibility.

The walk started at the “sunken path”, a delightful shaded area with steep hedgebanks either side which were clothed with ferns including the “Male Fern”, (Dryopteris felix-mas), Broad Buckler Fern (Dryopteris dilatata) and “Hart’s Tongue Fern” (Phyllitis scolopendrium).

The fungi enthusiasts amongst us found some nice specimens of  Earthballs, probably  Scleroderma citrinum, growing on the hedgebank.Some”Spindles “, Euonymus europaeus bearing their very colourful pink capsules which open to reveal bright orange seeds were also spotted.


Scleroderma citrinum “Earthball” (photo:Dave Trevan)


Looking at the Countryside – Ventnor Downs Wednesday 5 October

9 Members led by Andy Butler met on the top of the downs on a very windy morning (more…)

Looking at the Countryside report – Tuesday 16 August 2016

Six members joined the two leaders in the Big Mead car park Shanklin for a 3-1/2 mile walk on the downs and coast. (more…)