Calbourne has a green and a
group of great elms, some rather pretty cottages, an old stone house in a wooded
park, an ancient church, and Winkle Street, which is one of the islands biggest
Most of the ancient church
is just how it was more than 700 years ago when builders refashioned the work of
the Normans, though the tower was made higher during the 18th century and on the
wall the builders left an old tablet that is inscribed; "I am risen from ye
ruins of near 70 year."
A mass dial can be found on
an outer wall and one one of the inner walls of the tower there is a doorway
that is about nine feet above the ground, near to this is a deeply splayed
window in which the schoolmaster is reputed to have used to keep an eye on the
children in what used to be the choir gallery.
The church has a font from
the 13th century, beautiful but unusual east windows and two lancets that are
wide apart with a ring in between holding a trefoild.
There is brass on the
chancel walls to Danieal Evance who during Cromwell's time was rector here, and
there is a figure of Time carrying a scythe and hourglass, a skeleton with an
arrow and an anagram on his name, I can deal even.
A brass portrait depicts a
knight in armour with his hands folded in prayer and his feet resting on a dog
and this is believed to be William Montacure who was the Earl of Salisbury and a
governor of the island in the 14th century. The story of his death is that he
was slain while jousting with his father, who was so broken hearted that he he
set up an altar tomb with a brass portrait of his so in every village church
where he owned land or houses. In one of the houses, Grants Cottage, there is a
mark that depicts it as the birthplace of William Long who wrote about the Isle
of Wight dialect and was the editor of the Memoirs of the Oglanders who were an
ancient island family.
Swainston, a beautiful house
that is mostly of the 18th century lies on the road to Carisbrooke and it is on
what was once the site of a palace founded by the Bishops of Winchester around
800 years ago, its 13th century hall is still intact and it is said that Warwick
the Kingmaker once attended a banquet here and his granddaughter the brave
Margaret Pole who was the last of the Plantagenet's and whose execution was one
of Henry VIII's biggest mistakes.
Calbourne is still mainly a
farming community and the village has a good community spirit, its name comes
from the small stream the Caul Bourne which rises from the chalk, and is one of
the oldest island parishes and once included Brighstone and Newtown. These later
all became parishes in their own right, but Newtown was again united with
Calbourne in the middle of the 19th century.
The original deed for the
land dated 826 records it as Cawelbourne and the 30 hides of land was the whole
of the original parish including Brighstone and Newtown.
The village is at the
crossroads with the Sun Inn and a blacksmith and wagon builder on the north east
corner which is now occupied by a garage. The centre of the village was grouped
around the Church in Lynch Lane that lead to Brighstone.
A lot of the houses can
claim to be old but Barrington Row, which is better known, especially among the
tourists as Winkle Street is a very good example of the older type village
houses. Barrington Row is thought to be undoubtedly derived from the Barrington
family who live at Swainston until 1832. But there is no official reason for the
change to Winkle Street, though and it may have come from an old English word
meaning angle or corner or from an old verb to 'winkle' which means to sparkle
or twinkle. Another belief is that it is in some way connected to the rector of
Shalfleet between 1339 and 1347, as his name was John Winkle.
Just to the south of Winkle
Street can be found the Westover Estate that dates back to the reign of Edward
the Confessor though now very much smaller. Westover House is square shaped and
is set in beautiful gardens with its main drive and lodge at the junction of
Winkle Street and Lynch Lane. The house was once owned by Col Moulton-Barrett
who was a relative of Elizabeth Barrett who was a poet and later became the wife
of another poet, Browning.
Just over a mile from the
village and to the east is the old Manor of Sweyn's Town which is now called
Swainston but pronounced as Swanston. Calbourne parish was once dependant upon
the manor which has its own ancient church, which unlike the house escaped
damage by incendiary bombs during the Second World War. Sweyen who originally
founded and held Swainston had a son that became famous in a strange way, for it
was this son that sat by the Solent at Southampton and ordered the tide to
recede, and was known as Canute.
Another of the famous people
connected with the village is Alfred Lord Tennyson who is said to have written
part of 'Maud' in its grounds, he also wrote 'In the Garden at Swainston' after
Sir John Simeon, the owner at the time, and a dear friend of Tennyson died.
The Rectory is basically
Tudor and the north wall has many mullioned windows, the main doorway is also
from this period. A lot of restoration has taken place inside, though most of it
has been spoiled by the Victorians. Tennyson is also said to have been a great
friend of Thomas Woodroffe(?) who was rector here and again Tennyson is reputed
to have composed poetry while in its garden.
Remains of a fairly modern
well can be seen just north of the church where Pitts Lane meets Lynch Lane and
water is plentiful in the village which has its own pumping station and supplies
most of the water for the west of the island. There are three mills lying west
of the village and the Fulling Mill is the nearest on the Freshwater Road, this
was where monks used to full cloth to cleanse and thicken it. Further west is
Calbourne Mill and Lower Mill is more difficult to find and is just off the
Calbourne to Newbridge Road, the latter still produces stone ground flour for
home bread making.
Text courtesy of:
Southern Life (UK)