Looking at the Countryside – Christmas Walk 2016

22 people met at the Priory car park, Carisbrooke, on a lovely sunny morning. Bill Shepard showed us the trees in the dip below, always known as ‘Twelve Trees’, but thought to have always been only eleven. We walked through the arch to look at the statue of the Countess of Clare, who founded the priory in 1866.  David Biggs gave us a brief history of the Priory, which closed in 1963 & is now administered by the Carisbrooke Priory Trust.
Turning into Nunnery Lane we stopped at the gate on our right to admire the extensive view across the fields, with  Shanklin Church to the west, St. Boniface to the south & Whitcombe Manor to our right.  We stopped at Verbum Dei, now an ecumenical retreat, & Bill Shepard told us the nuns once kept a cow which was housed in the field behind us. Remains of the old gate were just visible in the hedge.  Another lovely view was across the land of Newclose Farm, (currently for sale at over £1,000,000), where the deer were enjoying the sunshine.
We walked over Mount Joy to look down the river Medina, & returned to enter the cemetery to view the oldest grave & the tomb of the Countess of Clare & her companion, Charlotte Elliot, & that of ‘Poor Little Percy Hayter’.  The Countess had bought the land as there was no burial place for Catholics in Ryde, where she had lived.
Crossing the road we walked to the top of the Shrubbery, Clerken Lane, so-called because it was a route used by clerks from the old Carisbrooke Priory to worship at Sheat Manor,  round the castle to the entrance, where Bill showed us a small square metal cover, apparently hiding a ribbon which was stretched across the path to control crowds.  He was pleased to find a second cover which had hitherto eluded him!  Down the path for some unknown reason called ‘Constitution Hill’ we turned left to Millers Lane, past the site of ‘Paper Mill’ & up Froglands Lane, where John Edmunds pointed out the Wessex Helicopter in the field, which can be rented for bed-&-breakfast for a weekend break.
We enjoyed a hearty soup & home-made bread at the Priory, Alan & Renella Phillips won the IW quiz, & we adjourned to the tearoom for tea & coffee & cake for some!
Mary Edmunds
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