St Boniface Down

st boniface down is | elevation_m = 241 | elevation_ref = | prominence_m = 241 | prominence_ref = (island highpoint) | map = Isle of Wight | map_caption = Location of St Boniface Down in the Isle of Wight | map_size = 200 | label_position = left | listing = Marilyn, Hardy, County Top | location = Isle of Wight, England | range = | coordinates = 50°36′12.46″N 1°11′55.43″W / 50.6034611°N 1.1987306°WCoordinates: 50°36′12.46″N 1°11′55.43″W / 50.6034611°N 1.1987306°W | coordinates_ref = | grid_ref_UK = SZ568785 | topo = OS Landranger 196 | type = | age = | first_ascent = | easiest_route = }}

Ventnor Radar
The radar station on the summit
Ventnor from St Boniface Down, IW, UK
View of Ventnor, looking south-west down the steep southern face of the down

St Boniface Down is a chalk down on the Isle of Wight, England. It is located close to the town of Ventnor, in the southeast of the Island, and rises to 241 metres (791 ft), the Island's highest point, 1 kilometre (0.6 mi) north of the town.[1] There is reputed to be a wishing well on its southern slope, which requires the wisher to climb up from the south without looking back. In 1545, a French invasion force attempted this against a force of the Isle of Wight Militia commanded by Sir John Fyssher – which allegedly included several women archers- and were routed. In 1940, the radar station was bombed by Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers, which is reconstructed in the film "The Battle of Britain". The top is surmounted by a round barrow.

At the eastern foot of the down, on the A3055 road between Bonchurch and Luccombe, a path descends into Bonchurch Landslips via a scenic rock cleft, the Devil's Chimney.


St Boniface Down is home to the largest cricket within the British Isles, the great green bush cricket.

The area includes some unusual plant communities including acid grassland and heathland, resulting in parts of the Down being designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The gravel capping supports extensive tracts of gorse Ulex europaeus with intervening areas of heathland and acid grassland dominated by heather Calluna vulgaris, bell heather Erica cinerea, purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea, bristle bent Agrostis curtisii and locally bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus. The occurrence of heathland on deep gravel overlying chalk, the naturalised holm oak woodland and the juxtaposition of heath and chalkland vegetation are all unusual biological features in Britain.[2]

Cultural references

St Boniface Down is also the name and was the inspiration of a 1956 work by the English composer, Trevor Duncan.


  1. ^ "St Boniface Down, England". Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  2. ^ Natural England citation sheet for Ventnor Downs SSSI

50°36′12″N 1°11′55″W / 50.60346°N 1.19873°W

1962 Channel Airways Dakota accident

The 1962 Channel Airways Dakota accident occurred on 6 May 1962 when a Channel Airways Douglas C-47A Dakota registered G-AGZB operating a scheduled passenger flight from Jersey to Portsmouth collided with a cloud-covered hill at St Boniface Down near Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. The aircraft had previously been owned by British European Airways, then named "Robert Smith-Barry". The aircraft was destroyed and twelve of the eighteen occupants were killed (all three crew members and nine out of 15 passengers, including three infants).

Battle of Bonchurch

The Battle of Bonchurch took place in late July 1545 at Bonchurch on the Isle of Wight. No source gives the precise date, although 21 July is possible from the sequence of events. The battle was a part of the wider Italian War of 1542–1546, and took place during the French invasion of the Isle of Wight. Several landings were made, including at Bonchurch. Most accounts suggest that England won the battle, and the French advance across the island was halted.The battle was between French regular soldiers, and local English militiamen. Although the French force that landed was considerably larger than the English force, it is thought that the number of French soldiers involved in this battle to be about 500, with the number of militiamen uncertain, with one source stating 300 and another 2,800. The English forces are believed to have been commanded by Captain Robert Fyssher, and the French by Le Seigneur de Tais.The battle was one of several fought between English and French on the Isle of Wight. The majority of sources state that the English won this battle, although one suggests that the French were victorious. The battle was fought as part of the French attempt to cause enough damage to force English ships to leave their defensive positions and attack in less favourable conditions. Something they failed to achieve and had to withdraw from the island Other French landings were made at Sandown, Bembridge and St Helens.


Bonchurch is a small village to the east of Ventnor, now largely connected to the latter by suburban development, on the southern part of the Isle of Wight, England. One of the oldest settlements on the Isle of Wight, it is situated on The Undercliff adjacent to the Bonchurch Landslips (or "The Landslip") Site of Special Scientific Interest. The main village is backed by a cliff to the north, with the Upper Bonchurch section on the clifftop halfway up St Boniface Down on the main A3055 road.

Brighstone Down

Brighstone Down is a chalk down on the Isle of Wight. It is located close to the village of Brighstone, in the southwest of the island (the Back of the Wight), and rises to 214 metres (702 ft) at its highest point, northeast of the village of Mottistone.

Towards the west part is called Mottistone Down, to the East, Shorwell Down.

The Northern part is covered by Brighstone Forest the largest forest on the Island.

Chink (Isle of Wight)

The Chink is a scenic rock cleft between Bonchurch and Luccombe, Isle of Wight, with steps descending from St Boniface Down to the Bonchurch Landslips below.

Its upper end is at the northern end of clifftop parkland accessed from the Leeson Road (A3055) car park, where there is a Southern Vectis bus route 3 stop.

The Chink was known in Victorian times as part of the development of the Bonchurch Landslips as a picturesque woodland walk.One of several such paths with carved steps connecting the clifftop to the Isle of Wight Undercliff, it follows a joint through the Upper Greensand crags capping the cliffs above the Landslip. The path continues down through the Landslip as footpath V65, which joins the coastal path V65A at its foot.A similar rock cleft, the better-known Devil's Chimney, is about 200 yards south.

Devil's Chimney (Isle of Wight)

The Devil's Chimney is a scenic rock cleft with steps descending into the Bonchurch Landslips between Bonchurch and Luccombe, Isle of Wight.

Its upper end is at the Smuggler's Haven Tearooms on St Boniface Down, at the southern end of clifftop parkland accessed from the Leeson Road car park on the A3055 road, where there is a Southern Vectis bus route 3 stop.

One of several such paths connecting the clifftop to the Isle of Wight Undercliff, the Devil's Chimney follows a joint through the Upper Greensand crags capping the cliffs above the Landslip. The path continues down through the Landslip as footpath V65C, meeting the coastal path V65A at its foot.

A similar rock cleft, the Chink, is about 200 yards north.

The feature is within the Bonchurch Landslip nature reserve, managed by Gift to Nature on behalf of the owners, the Isle of Wight Council.


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".

England (British postage stamps)

England was included in a set of special commemorative postage stamps issued by the Royal Mail in 2006 to celebrate the component nations in the United Kingdom. The stamps featuring England were the final part of the British Journey series, which had previously featured Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. They were available as mint stamps, as a presentation pack, stamps cards, and a first day cover.

Freshwater Redoubt

Freshwater Redoubt, also known as Fort Redoubt (map reference SZ345856) is an old Palmerston fort built in Freshwater Bay on the western end of the Isle of Wight. Construction work for the fort began in 1855 and was completed in 1856. It was finally sold in 1928 and has now been converted into a private residence.

Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight (; also referred to informally as The Island or abbreviated to IoW) is a county and the largest and second-most populous island in England. It is in the English Channel, between 2 and 5 miles off the coast of Hampshire, separated by the Solent. The island has resorts that have been holiday destinations since Victorian times, and is known for its mild climate, coastal scenery, and verdant landscape of fields, downland and chines. The island is designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

The island has been home to the poets Swinburne and Tennyson and to Queen Victoria, who built her much-loved summer residence and final home Osborne House at East Cowes. It has a maritime and industrial tradition including boat-building, sail-making, the manufacture of flying boats, the hovercraft, and Britain's space rockets. The island hosts annual music festivals including the Isle of Wight Festival, which in 1970 was the largest rock music event ever held. It has well-conserved wildlife and some of the richest cliffs and quarries for dinosaur fossils in Europe.

The isle was owned by a Norman family until 1293 and was earlier a kingdom in its own right. In common with the Crown dependencies, the British Crown was then represented on the island by the Governor of the Isle of Wight until 1995. The island has played an important part in the defence of the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth, and been near the front-line of conflicts through the ages, including the Spanish Armada and the Battle of Britain. Rural for most of its history, its Victorian fashionability and the growing affordability of holidays led to significant urban development during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Historically part of Hampshire, the island became a separate administrative county in 1890. It continued to share the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire until 1974, when it was made its own ceremonial county. Apart from a shared police force, there is now no administrative link with Hampshire, although a combined local authority with Portsmouth and Southampton was considered, this is now unlikely to proceed.The quickest public transport link to the mainland is the hovercraft from Ryde to Southsea; three vehicle ferry and two catamaran services cross the Solent to Southampton, Lymington and Portsmouth.

List of English counties by highest point

This is a list of the ceremonial counties of England by their highest point.

List of counties of England and Wales in 1964 by highest point

List of counties of England and Wales in 1964 by highest point. In 1964 they are more or less the ancient counties, with the addition of the County of London and a number of historic divisions in place as administrative counties: Cambridgeshire into the Isle of Ely and Cambridgeshire; Hampshire into the Isle of Wight and Hampshire; Lincolnshire into the Parts of Holland, Kesteven and Lindsey; Northamptonshire into Soke of Peterborough and Northamptonshire; Suffolk into East and West; Sussex into East and West; and Yorkshire into the East, North and West Ridings.

List of hills of the Isle of Wight

This is a list of hills on the Isle of Wight. Many of these hills are important historical, archaeological and nature conservation sites, as well as popular hiking and tourist destinations on the Isle of Wight in southern England.

Luccombe Manor

Luccombe Manor (also Lovecombe, 11th century) was a manor house on the Isle of Wight, situated in the parish of Bonchurch.

Quercus ilex

Quercus ilex, the evergreen oak, holly oak or holm oak, is a large evergreen oak native to the Mediterranean region. It takes its name from holm, an ancient name for holly. It is a member of the Cerris section of the genus, with acorns that mature in a single summer.

The first trees to be grown from acorns in England are still to be found within the stately grounds of Mamhead Park, Devon. From Britton & Brayley The Beauties of England and Wales (1803):

"The woods and plantations of Mamhead are numerous and extensive. Many of them were introduced by Mr Thomas Balle (sic), the last of that family who, on returning from the continent brought with him a quantity of cork, ilex, wainscot, oak; Spanish chestnut, acacia, and other species of exotic trees."

Undercliff (Isle of Wight)

For other locations of the same name, see The Undercliff.

The Undercliff, Isle of Wight, England is a tract of semi-rural land, around 5 miles long by 0.25–0.5 miles wide, skirting the southern coast of the island from Niton to Bonchurch. Named after its position below the escarpment that backs this coastal section, its undulating terrain comprises a mix of rough pasture, secondary woodland, parkland, grounds of large isolated houses, and suburban development. Its sheltered south-facing location gives rise to a microclimate considerably warmer than elsewhere on the island. Although inhabited, the Undercliff is an area prone to landslips and subsidence, with accompanying loss of property over time. Settlements along the Undercliff, from west to east, are: lower Niton (also called Niton Undercliff), Puckaster, St Lawrence, Steephill, the town of Ventnor, and Bonchurch.


Ventnor () is a seaside resort and civil parish established in the Victorian era on the south-east coast of the Isle of Wight, England, eleven miles (18 km) from Newport. It is situated south of St Boniface Down, and built on steep slopes leading down to the sea. The higher part is referred to as Upper Ventnor (officially Lowtherville); the lower part, where most amenities are located, is known as Ventnor. Ventnor is sometimes taken to include the nearby and older settlements of St Lawrence and Bonchurch, which are covered by its town council. The population of the parish in 2016 was about 5,800.

Ventnor became extremely fashionable as both a health and holiday resort in the late 19th century, described as the 'English Mediterranean' and 'Mayfair by the Sea'. Medical advances during the early twentieth century reduced its role as a health resort and, like other British seaside resorts, its summer holiday trade suffered the changing nature of travel during the latter part of that century.

Its relatively sheltered location beneath the hilly chalk downland produces a microclimate with more sunny days and fewer frosts than the rest of the island. This allows many species of subtropical plant to flourish; Ventnor Botanic Garden is particularly notable. Ventnor retains a strongly Victorian character, has an active arts scene, and is regaining popularity as a place to visit.

Ventnor railway station

Ventnor railway station was the terminus of the Isle of Wight Railway line from Ryde.

The station lay on a ledge 294 feet (90 m) above sea level which had to be quarried into the hill side. The station was immediately outside a 1,312 yards (1,200 m) long tunnel through St. Boniface Down. A lack of space meant that a turntable was used to allow steam engines to runaround their trains. In later years this was replaced by a three way switch. The various tracks merged just before the tunnel and the locomotives had to enter the tunnel during their runround manoeuvres.

The station had one side platform connected to the station buildings plus one narrow island platform. Unusually, there was only one track between the side platform and the island platform. When this track was already occupied by a train, a second incoming train had to arrive at the outer face of the island platform and passengers had to pass through the train on the inner track. If this train then departed, a temporary bridge (in fact a ship's gangway, as used on the Portsmouth to Ryde ferries) had to be manually pushed across the intervening track to allow passenger access to the train on the outside of the island platform. Further away from the station buildings were goods sidings which mainly served coal merchants who operated from caves in the chalk sides of the station cutting.

The station closed to all traffic in April 1966, when the line south of Shanklin fell victim to the Beeching Axe. The track was lifted by 1970 and the station subsequently demolished. The site is now an industrial park with Southern Water using the tunnel to run water pipes through.

This station should not be confused with Ventnor West railway station.

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