St Catherine's Point

St. Catherine's Point is the southernmost point on the Isle of Wight. It is close to the village of Niton and the point where the Back of the Wight changes to the Undercliff of Ventnor.

On nearby St. Catherine's Down is St. Catherine's Oratory, locally known as the "Pepperpot", a stone lighthouse built in the 1323 by Walter De Godeton. It is Britain's oldest medieval lighthouse.[1]

Reportedly, de Godeton felt guilty for having scavenged wine, destined for a monastery [2] from the wreck of the St. Marie of Bayonne in Chale Bay. He was ordered, on pain of excommunication, to make amends by building this lighthouse. Fires were lit in the lighthouse tower to warn ships at sea of the presence of the coast.

There was an attached chapel at one time, but it has been long demolished. There is a Bronze Age barrow nearby which was excavated in the 1920s.

A replacement lighthouse was begun in 1785. However it was never completed. Locally this half finished building is known as the "salt pot".

St. Catherine's point is often foggy, so it is not the best location for a lighthouse, but as a weather station the location is fairly suitable. The weather station is one of the 22 locations whose reports are included in the BBC Shipping Forecast.

St catherines lighthouse 2010
St. Catherine's Lighthouse at St. Catherine's Point
St Catherine's Point, Isle of Wight, UK
The beach directly below the lighthouse. Erosion threatens the southern wall of the lighthouse compound (2017).

See also


  1. ^ BBC h2g2 - The Pepper Pot
  2. ^ J.C Medland "Shipwrecks of the Wight".Coach House Publications ltd, 2004

External links

Coordinates: 50°34′30″N 1°17′44″W / 50.57500°N 1.29556°W

Compton Chine to Steephill Cove SSSI

Compton Chine to Steephill Cove is a 629.2 hectares (1,555 acres) Site of Special Scientific Interest which extends from Compton Chine on the south-west coast of the Isle of Wight along the coast, around St. Catherine's Point to Steephill Cove, just west of Ventnor on the south-east coast of the island. This is the largest SSSI area on the island. The site was notified in 2003 for both its biological and geological features.

Egypt Point

Egypt Point is the northernmost point of the island county of the Isle of Wight off the south coast of England, and was one of Queen Victoria's favourite places during her time on the island. According to the Post Office at the 2011 Census the point population was included in the civil parish of Northwood, Isle of Wight.

Egypt Point lies in between the town of Cowes and the village of Gurnard. Between 1897 and 1989 a lighthouse was maintained there by Trinity House. Initially lit by paraffin, in 1925 it was converted to run automatically on acetylene; then in 1969 it was converted to run on electricity. Though the light no longer functions, the structure remains a landmark for yachtsmen.

Egypt Point derives its name from a nearby gypsy encampment from the 16th century. It is now a popular vantage point for the annual Round the Island Race which starts and ends at Cowes.

Freshwater Bay Independent Lifeboat Station

Freshwater Lifeboat Station is owned and operated by the Freshwater Independent Lifeboat Service located in the village of Freshwater on the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom. The organisation operates 2 lifeboats and is on call to the Coast Guard 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The station covers an area up to 30 miles off shore from Hurst Point to St Catherine’s point. The service is not part of the RNLI and do not receive funding from the RNLI or the government.

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.

HMS Acheron (H45)

HMS Acheron was an A-class destroyer of the Royal Navy. She served during the Second World War in Home waters and off the Norwegian coast, before becoming an early war loss when she sank after hitting a mine off the Isle of Wight on 17 December 1940. The wrecksite is designated under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.

Hardy Monument

The Hardy Monument is a 72-foot-high (22 m) monument on the summit of Black Down in Dorset, erected in 1844 by public subscription in memory of Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy, a commander at the Battle of Trafalgar. Admiral Hardy lived in Portesham and his family owned the Portesham estate which stretched from the middle of Portesham to Black Down. The site for the monument was chosen because the Hardy family wanted a monument which could be used as a landmark for shipping. The monument has been shown on navigational charts since 1846 and is visible from a distance of 60 miles (97 km).

The monument is situated on Black Down, a hill overlooking the English Channel near Portesham in Dorset, England, on the road between Abbotsbury and Martinstown. It was restored in 1900 by his descendants and bought in 1938 by the National Trust for the sum of £15.

The monument was designed to look like a spyglass, as Admiral Hardy would have used on board ship. Its eight corners are aligned with the compass points. Viewed from the ground the corner to the right of the lightning conductor points due south. The bench mark on the northwest face denotes the altitude of Black Down at 780 feet (240 m).

From the top of the monument at a height of 850 feet (260 m) above sea level it is possible on a clear day to see the coast from Start Point, Devon to St. Catherine's Point on the Isle of Wight, both of which are 56 miles (90 km) distant. To the north can be seen Pen Hill in the Mendip Hills which is 38 miles (61 km) away.

The monument was closed to the public in 2009 when major renovation work was required. This work was completed in January 2012. To date, the monument is regularly opened during the peak season, where visitors can climb the 120 steps to the viewpoint at the top.

The heathland area around the monument was in 1984 designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, when the Nature Conservancy Council decided that the geology of the area was very rare.

Adjacent to the monument is a stone seat erected in memory of Lt Col William Digby Oswald who was killed on the Somme in 1916.

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.

Knowles Farm

Knowles Farm is the name of an area of National Trust land at the southern tip of the Isle of Wight located at St. Catherine's Point. It takes its name from a nearby farm which lies outside the NT area just along the southern edge of it.

The area is 170 acres (0.69 km2) in total and was acquired by the NT in 1967 using its Neptune funds. The land is an area of undercliff and is a mixture of scrub, grass downland and woodland, spread over a rough folded and unstable landscape.

The area includes a carpark in the centre, a section of gravel beach to the west, a rocky bay called Watershoot Bay. St. Catherine's Point lighthouse lies just outside the area to the south east.

MV Pool Fisher

M/V Pool Fisher was a British merchant vessel that sank off the Isle of Wight on 6 November 1979 with the loss of most of her crew.


Niton is a village on the Isle of Wight, west of Ventnor, with a population of 1142. It has one pub, several churches, a pottery workshop/shop, a pharmacy , a busy volunteer run library, a medical centre and three local shops including a post office. The post office includes a café that serves as a local meeting place. The village also offers a primary school with a co-located pre-school and nursery.


Puckaster is a hamlet on the Isle of Wight, England. Puckaster is on the southern coast of the Isle of Wight, south of Niton , between St. Catherine's Point and Binnel.

Reeth Bay

Reeth Bay is a small curved bay on the southernmost tip of the Isle of Wight, England. It lies to the south of the village of Niton with a 1⁄4-mile-long (0.4 km) shoreline. It faces south out into the English Channel and lies to the east of St. Catherine's Point lighthouse. It is at the centre of a small hamlet called Castlehaven where there is a concrete ramp for launching small craft. The beach is predominantly sand and pebbles. The seabed is a mixture of rocks and mud. The bay is best accessed from the road from Niton that leads down to the bay.

SS Espagne (Anversois, 1909)

The SS Espagne was a Belgian cargo ship that was torpedoed by SM UC-71 in the English Channel off St. Catherine's Point, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom while she was travelling from Le Havre, France to Newport, Monmouthshire, United Kingdom.

St. Catherine's Down

St. Catherine's Down is a chalk down on the Isle of Wight, located near St Catherine's Point, the southernmost point on the island. The Down rises to 240 metres at its highest point, between the towns of Niton and Chale.

Upon the hill is St. Catherine's Oratory (known locally as the pepperpot"), which is a stone lighthouse built in the 14th century by Walter De Godeton. It is the second oldest, and only surviving medieval, lighthouse in the British Islands: only the Roman lighthouse at Dover is older.

Reportedly, de Godeton was found guilty for having plundered wine that belonged to the Church from the shipwreck of the St. Marie of Bayonne in Chale Bay. He was ordered to make amends, under threat of excommunication, by building and maintaining the lighthouse. It was completed after his death, and manned by a priest; fires were lit in the tower to warn ships of the coast. There was originally a chapel attached, since demolished.

There is a Bronze Age barrow near the Oratory, which was excavated in the 1920s.

A replacement lighthouse was begun in 1785, but was never completed, because the Down is prone to dense fog. Locally the surviving foundations are known as the "salt cellar".

A new lighthouse was built after the wreck of the Clarendon in 1837 to the west of Niton at the foot of the Undercliff.

The northern end of St. Catherine's Down carries the Hoy Monument. This was created by Michael Hoy in 1814 to commemorate the visit of the Russian Tsar to Great Britain, hence its informal alternative name the "Russian Monument". There is an 1857 plaque at the base that commemorates soldiers killed in the Crimean War. The Hoy Monument was repaired in 1992 at a cost of £85,000, which was donated.

St. Catherine's Oratory

St. Catherine's Oratory is a medieval lighthouse on St. Catherine's Down, above the southern coast of the Isle of Wight. It was built by Lord of Chale Walter de Godeton (sometimes spelled "Goditon") as an act of penance for plundering wine from the wreck of St. Marie of Bayonne in Chale Bay on 20 April 1313. The tower is known locally as the "Pepperpot" because of its likeness.

It is Britain's only surviving medieval lighthouse, and the second oldest (only the Roman lighthouse at Dover being older). It is a stone structure four stories high, octagonal on the outside and four-sided on the inside, originally attached to the west side of a building; remnants of three other walls are Godeton was tried for theft in Southampton, before a jury from the island, and fined 287 and half marks on 27 February 1314. However, he was also later tried by the Church courts, since the wine had been destined for the monastery of Livers in Picardy. The Church threatened to excommunicate him unless he built a lighthouse near Chale Bay.There was already an oratory on the top of the hill, dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria. This was augmented by the construction of the lighthouse, with a chantry to accommodate the priest who tended the light, and also gave Mass for those at peril on the sea.

Although de Godeton died in 1327, the lighthouse was nevertheless completed in 1328. It remained in active use until the Dissolution of the Monasteries between 1538-1541.

In the 18th century Sir Richard Worsley of Appuldurcombe House bolstered the structure by adding four large buttresses to prevent its collapse.

Nearby there are the footings of a replacement lighthouse begun in 1785, but never completed, because the hill is prone to dense fog. Its remnants are known locally as the "salt cellar". A nearby Bronze Age barrow was excavated in 1925.The current St. Catherine's Lighthouse, constructed after the 1837 wreck of the Clarendon, was built much closer to sea level on St. Catherine's Point.

St Catherine's Lighthouse

St Catherine's Lighthouse is a lighthouse located at St Catherine's Point at the southern tip of the Isle of Wight. It is one of the oldest lighthouse locations in Great Britain.

Tennyson Down

Tennyson Down is a hill at the west end of the Isle of Wight just south of Totland. Tennyson Down is a grassy, whale-backed ridge of chalk which rises to 482 ft/147m above sea level. Tennyson Down is named after the poet Lord Tennyson who lived at nearby Farringford House for nearly 40 years. The poet used to walk on the down almost every day, saying that the air was worth 'sixpence a pint'.

Watershoot Bay

Watershoot Bay is a bay on the southernmost tip of the Isle of Wight, England. It lies 1 1⁄2 miles (2.4 km) to the south-west of the village of Niton. It faces south out into the English Channel, and is one of the smallest and remotest bays of the Isle of Wight with a rocky shoreline only around 500 feet (150 m) in length. It lies to the west of St. Catherine's Point lighthouse and is surrounded by a 170-acre area of undulating grassland and scrub owned by the National Trust and known as Knowles Farm.The beach is composed predominantly of sandstone, chalk and chert boulders (which are around 90 to 110 million years old) which are rich in fossils.The bay is best accessed from the car park about 350 yards (320 m) to the north or from the road that leads to the lighthouse but will involve a hike over rough terrain.The name of the bay may have come from that of a sloop lost there in 1755. The bay was home to a boathouse from the mid 19th century to early 20th century.


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.