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Nestled in the bay between Sandown and Ventnor, and protected by high sandstone cliffs, Shanklin regularly tops the charts for the number of sunshine hours.

It is noted for its long sandy beach with beach huts, esplanade, The Chine, a wooded ravine and the old village with its thatched cottages and St Blasius Church. Regent Street and High Street are the main shopping area and are the largest retail area in the south of the Isle of Wight.


Shanklin was a remote and sleepy agricultural and fishing community, with a population of less than 400, until the second half of the C18th. The main settlement was around the Old Village with its thatched agricultural workers cottages around the manor house. It has hardly changed in appearance, although many buildings are now gift shops and tea rooms.



Fishermen lived in cottages at the base of the steep wooded ravine, known as the Chine. This was a popular smugglers route.



The visitors arrived when sea water bathing became fashionable, stopping at lodging houses in the Old Village. Vernon Cottage built in 1817 as a holiday home is now the Tourist Information Point.

Shanklin Chine with its waterfalls, become the first paying tourist attraction the Island and is still as popular as ever.

The arrival of the railway in 1864, along with the presence of Queen Victoria at Osborne House, led to a rapid increase in visitors, including many foreign royalty and famous people, including John Keats, Charles Darwin and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Longfellow waxed lyrical about Shanklin and his words are memorised on a fountain.

Ferruginous waters from the cliffs were piped to the newly built Royal Spa Hotel. The first sea wall was built in 1840 being replaced by the Esplanade in the 1880s. Shanklin developed rapidly as new houses and hotels appeared.

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Keat’s Green with its Cliff Club for Gentlemen, became a fashionable place to promenade after church on a Sunday. Osbourne Steps were built to provide a direct route from the town centre to the esplanade rather than using winding path down the Chine or Hope Road


A theatre opened in 1879 with an entertainment hall and meeting rooms. It also served as the Town Hall and Mayor’s Parlour.

A pier with pavilion, bandstand and landing for steamers opened in 1890. It suffered bomb damage during the Second World War and was destroyed by the 1987 hurricane

A Cliff Lift was built in 1890s with an hydraulically operated cage in a metal framework which saved the steep climb to and from the esplanade.

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This was also damaged during the war and was eventually demolished and replaced by the current lift which underwent a major restoration in 2016.


The Royal Spa Hotel on the Esplanade at the base of the Cliff Lift became popular for its mineral baths. However, attempts to make the town a spa failed because of its remote location and even the addition of a Winter Garden, Palm Court and marble baths did not succeed.

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By the turn of the 20th century the days of the spa were nearly over. During the Second World War, the building was used to house one of the pumping stations for the PLUTO (Pipeline Under the Ocean) fuel line, supplying allied troops in France during the liberation period. By the C21st the hotel was derelict and there are plans to sell and redevelop the site..


Shanklin is still a popular holiday town with a long sandy beach with beach huts.


This stretches as far as Lake and Sandown to the north with the headland of Culver Cliff.



To the south is Knock Cliff with Luscombe above it.


Eastcliffe Promenade lined with hotels makes a pleasant walk.



St Blasius Church, Old Shanklin

This is a lovely small church and graveyard on the edge of Old Shanklin and was originally the manorial chapel for Shanklin Manor.

It is thought to have been built in the C12th for the family and tenants and was a simple stone building with a small bell cote. The family were buried in a crypt under the chancel and their memorials can be seen in the church. Tenants were buried at Bonchurch, about three miles away. The first records of a baptism and marriage in the church date from the C18th.


Shanklin was still a small settlement with a population of around 350 until the mid C19th. Queen Victoria’s holiday home at Osbourne put the Isle of Wight on the tourist map and sea bathing became all the rage. The population of Shanklin grew rapidly, especially after the arrival of the railway. In 1853, the Lord of the Manor gifted the church to become the parish church for Old Shanklin. Their C18th family Bible is displayed in the the parish room off the nave.


By now, the building was in need of major restoration and enlarging. The nave was extended at the west end with an organ loft. North and south transepts added with a small porch giving entry into the south transept. A baptistry was added to the south wall of the nave. The roof was raised and a small bell tower built above the crossing. The floor of the chancel was also raised which explains why the sedilia is so close to the floor.


The church is set among trees and surrounded by its graveyard where burials took place between the 1850s to 1920s. The lych gate dates from 1894 as a memorial to Francis White-Popham, the las resident Lord of the manor. It is unusual as it has clock.

Entry is through a door into the south transept. It is disorientating at first as the view is across to the north transept rather than the more usual view of nave and chancel. The church still feels small and has a friendly feeling with whitewashed walls and wood beamed ceiling. The bell rope can be seen hangings down from the crossing ceiling.


At the west end is the organ gallery.


At the east end is the altar surrounded by wood panelling and panels with the Ten Commandments. The Lord of the Manor and his family would originally have sat in the choir.


Set in the chancel floor near the crossing, are three marble slabs to the memory of the children of John Popham.


Slate slabs, now partly hiiden by the altar rail, commemorate other dead Pophams, including John Popham.


On the chancel walls are two funeral hatchments. That on the south side is for John Popham.


That on the north wall belongs to another John Popham who died in 1816.


Also on the north wall are two brass memorial plates.


The chancel floor was raised during the C19th restorations which explains why the sedilia on the south wall of the chancel looks so low.


In the nave are the Royal Coat of Arms above the original south door. Opposite above the north door is the smaller Royal Insignia.



The Lord of the Manor would originally have used the doorway in the north wall of the nave. The tenants would have used the south door. This now leads into the Parish Room which is separated from the nave by two symmetrical glazed glass arches. A mass sundial is carved into the arch surrounding the original south door.


In the Parish Room is a splendid carved chest with the inscription "Dom Prius Thomas Silksted, Prior from the year of Our Lord 1512". Thomas Silksted was Prior of St. Swithin's, Winchester, and it is not known how the chest came to be in the church. It could have arrived filled with Winchester Cathedral treasures for safekeeping during the English Civil War as the Lords of the Manor were staunch Royalists. Alternatively it could have been a gift or bequest from Prior Thomas.


The pulpit is at the south east corner of the crossing where it can be seen from all of the church


On the wall at the end of the south transept are two wooden panels with the Prince Of Wales Feathers and the Tudor Rose. These were hung in all churches during the reign of Charles I . Most were destroyed during the Commonwealth after the English Civil War. These are a very rare survival. The panels were hidden by the Lord of the Manor and reinstated in the church at the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660.



The north transept is less interesting apart from the lovely modern etched glass window depicting St Blasius on the east wall.


The dedication to St Blasius is interesting. He is one of the less well known saints and a C4th Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia. He was persecuted and took refuge in a cave where he ministered to sick or injured animals. Hunters discovered his hiding place and took him back to Sebaste to claim a reward. On the way a woman brought her son to him who was choking to death on a fishbone in his throat. Blasius removed the bone and saved the boys. The woman brought Blasius food and candles in prison as he awaited his trial. Blasius was condemned and torn to sheads with sharpened wool combs before being beheaded. He became the patron saint of wool combers and also sore throats.

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St Saviour on the Cliff

High on the cliff above the beach, St Saviour on the Cliff was built in the mid C19th to serve the increasing population of Shanklin resulting from its popularity as a tourist destination

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The nave, chancel and organ chamber were built first, followed by the south aisle and porch. The congregation continued to grow and a north aisle was added a few years later. The tower and spire were the last to be built although the Galilee porch and baptistry date from 1905.

The church follows the Catholic tradition of the Church of England and is under the episcopal care of the Bishop Of Richborough, one of the special bishops provided by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to give sacrament assurance and pastoral care to Parishes who have passed a resolution under the House of Bishops’ Declaration “whose theological conviction leads them to seek the priestly or episcopal ministry of men to only.” Their specific purpose to promote and maintain Catholic teaching and practice within the Church of England.

Entering the church, the first impression is colour from the brightly coloured embroidered kneelers contrasting with the pale coloured stone walls and dark timber roof. Around the chancel arch is a quotation from Hebrews. “Draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith”



Columns and pointed arches separate nave and side aisle with stained glass clerestory windows above. The original wooden pews still fill the nave and south aisle.


A carved wooden screen separates the nave and chancel with elaborately carved choir stalls. As it was still Lent, the carved reredos was covered up.



At the end of the south aisle is the memorial chapel, with boards recording the names of those who died in World War One.


The Lady Chapel is in the north aisle with the organ behind. The statue of Mary holding the Christ Child was again covered for Lent.


The Baptistry with stone font, is at the back of the church


On the walls are small modern carvings of the Stations of the Cross.


The church is kept closed apart from services. I was lucky as the Wednesday Mass had just finished with refreshments being served to parishioners. I was made very welcome as I visited the church and took photographs.


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