Culver Down

Culver Down is a chalk down to the north of Sandown, Isle of Wight. It is believed that its name derives from "Culfre", which is Old English for dove.

The down has a typical chalk downland wildlife on the uncultivated areas (generally the southern and eastern slopes). This includes plants such as Small Scabious, Harebell, Cowslip and Lady's Bedstraw. The chalk cliffs to the north and east are important nesting places for seabirds. Historically, Culver has been the source of commercial bird's egg collecting from ropes over the cliff. It was also known for breeding peregrine falcons, as well as breeding Common Woodpigeons (Culvers), the source of the cliff's name.

The northern side is intensively grazed by cattle, so fertilization and poaching of the soil, not to mention a spell as an artillery training ground, have all but eliminated the natural chalk ecosystem.

On Culver Down a number of unusual ant species live, including the semi-myrmecophilous Solenopsis fugax (Latr.), a thief ant which was recorded there several times by Horace Donisthorpe. The ant Ponera coarctata has also been taken from this location.

The public parts of this prominent headland are owned and managed by the National Trust, and afford views of the English Channel.

For many years the whole site was a military zone and not open to the public. There are several historic military features on the down, a number of private dwellings, the Culver Haven pub, and the very visible Monument. The military barracks which once adjoined the monument has been almost completely erased, but there is a substantial fort, now under the ownership of the National Trust and occasionally opened to the public. Part of the fort is leased to Micronair, manufacturing crop-spraying and military equipment. It is a Palmerston Fort, constructed in the 1860s. At the end of the cliff is a coastal and anti-aircraft battery from the Second World War.

In 1545 a French force was intercepted crossing from its beachhead at Whitecliff Bay to attack Sandown by local levies under Sir John Oglander and a skirmish fought on the Down. The French were finally repulsed at Sandown.

The poet Algernon Charles Swinburne said in a letter that he had climbed the cliffs at 17, in order to prove his manhood to his family after they refused to let him join the army.[1]

There is a legend that a 14th-century hermit lived at the end of the cliffs in a cave, in a structure then known as Culver Ness. He is said to have predicted that the well at Wolverton would be poisoned. When a pilgrim from Jerusalem came to bless the well, the vigilant and pious villagers are said to have murdered him. Shortly after, the French sacked the village and since then it has been lost beneath the trees of Centurion's Copse. They were repulsed from further mischief by Sir Theobald Russell. There was subsequently a great storm which destroyed the Ness and drowned the hermit. This was held to be divine retribution.[2]

Culver Down
Culver bill1
Culver Down seen from Sandown Bay, 2003
Highest point
Elevation104 m (341 ft)
LocationIsle of Wight, England
OS gridSZ631856
Topo mapOS Landranger 196

Suicides from Culver Down

There have been a number of reported suicides from Culver Down generally involving a vehicle being driven over the cliff. Measures to make the cliff edge less accessible to vehicles have been put in place but such incidents continue to occur.

On 17 August 2011, Paul and Jacqueline Charles, in an apparent suicide pact, drove over the cliff from the car park adjoining the Culver Haven pub in a blue Renault Espace. They died on impact with the shoreline after a drop in excess of 300ft. [3]

On 11 October 2012, Robert Hayball of Newport also drove his van over the cliff, resulting in his death.[4]

The Yarborough Monument

Yarborough Monument
Yarborough Monument

The monument is a memorial to Charles Anderson-Pelham, the 2nd Baron Yarborough (later first Earl of Yarborough and also Baron Worsley), founder of the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes. It was originally erected in 1849 on the highest point of Bembridge Down, 3/4 mile to the west, and was moved to its present position in the 1860s when its former site was used for the construction of one of the Palmerston forts.


  1. ^ Swinburne: the portrait of a poet, Philip Henderson, page 21, Taylor & Francis, 1974
  2. ^ Ltd, Not Panicking. "h2g2 - The Legend of Lost Wolverton - Edited Entry". Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  3. ^ "Car cliff plunge couple were in a suicide pact: Note found after double tragedy at beauty spot". Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Culver Cliff body identified". Retrieved 6 January 2017.

Coordinates: 50°40′00″N 1°06′31″W / 50.66666°N 1.10851°W

Borthwood Copse

Borthwood Copse, near Sandown, Isle of Wight, England is a piece of woodland owned by the National Trust and is one of the numerous copses which make up part of the medieval forest which covered most of the eastern end of the Island. Borthwood Copse sits on the outskirts of Newchurch, and is close to the neighbouring hamlet of Apse Heath and the villages of Queen's Bower and Alverstone. Borthwood Copse was originally a royal hunting ground. It was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1926 by Frank Morey. He had purchased it a few years earlier to preserve it for wildlife. Subsequent additions have added to the land and it now covers a total of 60 acres (240,000 m2).

There are some ancient oaks, and a distinctive grove of beech trees which stand amongst glades of coppiced sweet chestnut and hazel. The woodland is one of the very few examples of working coppice with standards which can be seen on the Isle of Wight. A bridleway and many smaller paths lead through the woodland, which is open to the public. It is particularly popular with visitors in the autumn with its vivid colours and, in the springtime, when carpeted with bluebells. Borthwood Copse is one of the countless locations in the Eastern Isle of Wight that are home to large numbers of Red Squirrels.

Owing to its position on the downs, much of Borthwood Copse is hilly, and in wet weather the soil often becomes waterlogged and marshy, making travel through the copse on foot difficult.

Within the wood is a viewpoint looking east from where you can catch a glimpse of Culver Down and the sea. As the copse climbs a small hill, Bembridge Windmill can be seen in the distance through the downs on clear days.

Wildlife includes dormice, red squirrels, a wide range of bats, and many invertebrates.

The view point is called Kite Hill.


The ancient 'Kynges Towne' of Brading is the main town of the civil parish of the same name. The ecclesiastical parish of Brading used to cover about a tenth of the Isle of Wight. The civil parish now includes the town itself and Adgestone, Morton, Nunwell and other outlying areas between Ryde, St Helens, Bembridge, Sandown and Arreton. Alverstone was transferred to the Newchurch parish some thirty years ago.

Brading Down

Brading Down is a chalk down southwest of Brading, Isle of Wight. It is a prominent hill which overlooks Sandown Bay, with views across the bay towards Shanklin, Sandown and Culver Down. It is a Local Nature Reserve.Parts of the down are private, including an area used as a covered reservoir, and some for agriculture. However, much of the down, approximately 35 hectares (86 acres), is open to the public and is owned by the Isle of Wight Council. The main area of Brading Down is fenced and grazed but access on foot and for horse riders is available from the many pathways entering the area, and the car parks bordering the main Newport to Brading Road.

The thin chalk soils to the east of the site support a typical downland plant community with pyramidal orchids being a particular feature in the summer. In recent years, a programme of scrub clearance has been undertaken. The area is good for butterflies including common blue, chalkhill blue, small, large and dingy skippers, marbled white, gatekeeper, and meadow brown.In addition to the wildlife interest of chalk downland, the ancient field system on Brading Down is a Scheduled Monument. The finest surviving ancient field system on the Island is to be found on the down. This is likely to be of late Iron Age or Roman date and highlights the last time the fields were ploughed. The views over Brading Roman Villa and Sandown Levels reinforce the historical significance of the area. Further down the slopes, First World War practice trenches and former chalk pits show evidence of more recent archaeological interest.

Charles Anderson-Pelham, 1st Earl of Yarborough

Charles Anderson-Pelham, 1st Earl of Yarborough (8 August 1781 – 5 September 1846), styled Hon. Charles Anderson-Pelham from 1794 to 1823, was the founder of the Royal Yacht Squadron. He lived at Appuldurcombe House, on the Isle of Wight, which had been inherited by his wife Henrietta from her uncle, Sir Richard Worsley.

He died aboard his yacht at Vigo in Spain in 1846.

There are two monuments to him: one at Culver Down, on the Isle of Wight, and Pelham's Pillar at Caistor, Lincolnshire, England.

He was Member of Parliament (MP) for Great Grimsby from 1803 until his re-election in 1807 was overturned on petition in 1808, and for Lincolnshire from 1807 to 1823.His younger son, the Honourable Dudley Pelham, was a naval commander and politician.

Common wood pigeon

The common wood pigeon (Columba palumbus) is a large species in the dove and pigeon family. It belongs to the genus Columba and, like all pigeons and doves, belongs to the family Columbidae. It is locally known in southeast England as the "culver"; This name has given rise to several areas known for keeping pigeons to be named after it, such as Culver Down.

The genus name Columba is the Latin word meaning "pigeon, dove", whose older etymology comes from the Ancient Greek κόλυμβος (kolumbos), "a diver", from κολυμβάω (kolumbao), "dive, plunge headlong, swim". Aristophanes (Birds, 304) and others use the word κολυμβίς (kolumbis), "diver", for the name of the bird, because of its swimming motion in the air. The specific epithet palumbus is derived from the Latin palumbes, "wood pigeon".

Culver Battery

Culver Battery is a former coastal artillery battery on Culver Down, on the eastern side of the Isle of Wight. The fortification is one of several Palmerston Forts built on the island following concerns about the size and strength of the French Navy in the late 19th century. It was operational during the First and Second World Wars. The battery was closed in 1956.


A downland is an area of open chalk hills. This term is especially used to describe the chalk countryside in southern England. Areas of downland are often referred to as downs, deriving from a Celtic word for "hills".

Foreland, Isle of Wight

Foreland or Forelands, and the adjacent Foreland Fields (50°40′57″N 1°04′36″W), is the easternmost point of the Isle of Wight, part of the village of Bembridge. It is located about 6.5 miles due south of the city of Portsmouth on the British mainland, separated by the eastern reaches of the Solent. It is characterised by a pub called the Crab and Lobster Inn and various beach huts plus a beach cafe and a coast guard lookout. In the sea are the reefs of Bembridge Ledge which is rich in edible crabs, lobsters and spider crabs and shoals of mackerel. In the Crab & Lobster Inn are photographs of the many shipwrecks, which included the submarine HMS Alliance, now a museum ship at Gosport and the First World War troopship the S.S. Mehndi carrying troops from South Africa, with great loss of life.Foreland Fields includes Bembridge ledge, an area formerly popular with shipwrecks and smuggling, but also for crab and lobster fishing; there is a Coastguard Station. The channel through the interior of the Bembridge Ledges is known as "Dickie Dawes Gut" after a notorious local smuggler (and father of the courtesan Sophie Dawes) due to his feat of escaping the excise men by superior local navigational knowledge. There was a pillbox built in the Second World War, now subsumed in the sea defences. The beach is sandy with stones which contain Cretaceous fossils. The cliffs also feature Horsetails ferns.

Horseshoe Bay, Bonchurch, Isle of Wight

Horseshoe Bay is a bay on the south-east coast of the Isle of Wight, England. It lies to the south-east of the village of Bonchurch. It faces south-east towards the English Channel and its shoreline is approximately 250 yards (230 m) in length. It should not be confused with a similarly named bay about 8 miles (13 km) along the shoreline to the north near Culver Down.

Horseshoe Bay, Isle of Wight

Horseshoe Bay is a small bay on the south-east coast of the Isle of Wight, England. It lies at the east end of the headland of Culver Down. It faces south-east towards the English Channel and its shoreline is approximately 100 yards (90 m) in length. It should not be confused with a similarly named Horseshoe Bay about 8 miles (13 km) southwest at Bonchurch.The seabed is rocky and the beach comprises a steep bank of flint pebbles. The cliffs are sheer, concave and are made of chalk, which is unstable and persons on the beach are at risk of being injured by falling rocks dislodged by the many seabirds that use the cliff as a breeding ground. Horseshoe Bay lies north-north-east and adjacent to, two caves known as The Nostrils. These can be reached by scrambling over a small rocky outcrop and are partly submerged at high tide.

The beach can only be reached at high tide by boat; but in low tide it can be reached at beach level from the headland from Whitecliff Bay. At a certain time of the year, on very low tides, it is possible to reach Horseshoe Bay from Sandown Bay. Walking to the bay should only be attempted on an ebb, a falling tide. This entails some scrambling and a short traverse even at extreme low tide across the submerged base of the cliff between an old collapsed cave and the nostrils. The coastguard and the lifeboats (rescue) are sometimes called to rescue people trapped by a rising tide, or unable to cope with the terrain.

Isle of Wight Coastal Path

The Isle of Wight Coastal Path (or Coastal Footpath) is a circular long-distance footpath of 70 miles (113 km) around the Isle of Wight, UK. It follows public footpaths and minor lanes, with some sections along roads.

List of places on the Isle of Wight

This is a list of towns and villages in the county of Isle of Wight, England.

Palmerston Forts, Isle of Wight

The Palmerston Forts are a group of forts and associated structures built during the Victorian period on the recommendations of the 1860 Royal Commission on the Defence of the United Kingdom. The name comes from their association with Lord Palmerston, who was Prime Minister at the time and promoted the idea.

The structures were built as a response to a perceived threat of a French invasion. The works were also known as Palmerston's Follies as, by the time they were completed the threat (if it had ever existed) had passed, largely due to the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and technological advancements leading to the guns becoming out-of-date.As well as new structures, extensive modifications were made to existing defences.

The defences on the Isle of Wight were built to protect the approaches to the Solent, Southampton and Portsmouth. They consist of three separate groups, those at the western end of the island, those at the eastern end, and four built in the Solent.

The information in the tables is taken from documents for each site, from the Victorian Forts website.

Point Culver

Point Culver is a headland on the south coast of Western Australia. It is located at 32° 54' S 124° 41' E, near the western end of the Great Australian Bight.

It was discovered on 18 January 1801 by Matthew Flinders:

The shore curved round here, and took a more eastern direction; and the bank of level land, which continued to run along behind it, approached very near to the water side. Three leagues further on it formed cliffs upon the coast; and a projecting part of them, which I called Point Culver, bore N. 77° E. four leagues: this was the furthest land in sight.

The white cliffs reminded Flinders of the cliffs of Culver Down on the Isle of Wight.

The area was explored by land in the 1860s.It defines part of the coast where there are three possible locations of access by boat, Toolinna Cove and Twilight Cove being the other two locations.


Sandown is a seaside resort and civil parish on the south-east coast of the Isle of Wight, England, with the town of Shanklin to the south and the settlement of Lake in between.

Sandown is the northernmost town of Sandown Bay, known for its long stretches of easily accessible, sandy beach.

The outer Bay is also used as a sheltered anchorage, with ships requiring salvage periodically towed there (such as the Tarpenbeck). The wreck of a salvage tug could be seen until recently at low tide under Culver Cliff, (the Harry Sharman) which had been assisting the stricken tanker Pacific Glory in the 1970s.

Together with Shanklin, Sandown forms a built-up area of 21,374 inhabitants.

Sandown Bay

Sandown Bay is a broad open bay which stretches for much of the length of the Isle of Wight's southeastern coast. It extends 8 1⁄2 miles (13.7 km) from Culver Down and Yaverland in the northeast to just south of Shanklin in the southwest, near the village of Luccombe. Near Luccombe, the bay is separated from The Undercliff by a large headland from which Upper Ventnor sits atop. The towns of Shanklin, Lake and Sandown are located on the bay's coast, while Luccombe and Upper Ventnor feature panoramic views across both Sandown Bay to the East and the Undercliff to the southwest. Due to the bay being relatively sheltered from offshore winds it is often used as temporary anchorage point for boats, including large cargo ships, before continuing east towards Continental Europe, or north towards The Solent.

Whitecliff Bay

Whitecliff Bay is a sandy bay near Foreland which is the easternmost point of the Isle of Wight, England, about two miles south-west of Bembridge and just to the north of Culver Down. The bay has a shoreline of around three-quarters of a mile (1.2 km) and has a popular sandy shingle beach which is over half a mile long. It is a tourist site with three holiday parks in the vicinity of the bay; it has two cafes though minimal facilities. Access is limited and only possible down two steeply sloping concrete tracks.

The site is of major geological interest, being part of the Whitecliff Bay And Bembridge Ledges SSSI.


Yaverland is a village on the Isle of Wight, just north of Sandown on Sandown Bay. It has about 200 houses. About ​1⁄3 of a mile away from the village is the Yaverland Manor and Church. Holotype fossils have been discovered here of Yaverlandia and a pterosaur, Caulkicephalus. The White Air extreme sports festival was held annually at Yaverland pay and display car park between 1997 and 2008, but moved to Brighton for 2009.The older part of the village is spread along the road to Bembridge by the Norman Church. The newer part is along the seafront, consisting entirely of a bungalow estate. The name appears to come from a local rendition of "over land" - being the land over the once-tidal causeway. An alternative derivation is from "Yar Island".

In the fields below Yaverland the archaeological television programme Time Team discovered a Roman smithy.

In 1545 a battle took place in Yaverland between French forces and local levies. The French were crossing Culver Down from their landing at Whitecliff Bay in order to attack Sandown Castle and link up with a force from Bonchurch. The French fought their way into Sandown but were defeated at Sandown Castle, then under construction in the sea.

The Isle of Wight Zoo is in Yaverland. The zoo is noted for its collection of rescued tigers and increasingly realistic and spacious enclosures for them. The zoo inhabits much of the converted buildings of the Granite Fort built by Lord Palmerston as a defense against the French in 1860. The grounds were used by the military during World War II as part of the Pluto pipeline to send oil under the English Channel to France to fuel the Allied war efforts.

By the sea is the Yaverland Sailing and Boat Club and along the seashore are fossil-bearing beds, which may be explored by guided walks from Dinosaur Isle. A holiday camp is located further north in the village, and was once the site of Yaverland Battery.

In November 2008, the Isle of Wight Council opened a new public toilet block which runs completely from renewable energy generated on-site. It is thought to be one of the "greenest" facilities in the UK.Southern Vectis bus route 8 links the village with the towns of Newport, Ryde, Bembridge and Sandown, including intermediate towns. Wightbus run route 22 around Culver Way to Sandown, after Southern Vectis withdrew route 10 from the area.

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