St Lawrence, Isle of Wight

St Lawrence is a village on the south side of the Isle of Wight, in southern England. It is located to the west of Ventnor and many consider it a part of that town. St Lawrence is situated on the Undercliff, and is subject to frequent landslips. The village is a 1 12-mile (2.4 km) strip along the coast next to the English Channel,[1] nearby bays include: Woody Bay, Mount Bay and Orchard Bay.[2] The area of the village is around 329 acres (133 ha) in size.[3]

St Lawrence
Iow undercliff sep08

The Undercliff area of St Lawrence
St Lawrence is located in Isle of Wight
St Lawrence
St Lawrence
Location within the Isle of Wight
Area0.51 sq mi (1.3 km2)
OS grid referenceSZ562775
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townVENTNOR
Postcode districtPO38
Dialling code01983
FireIsle of Wight
AmbulanceIsle of Wight
EU ParliamentSouth East England
UK Parliament


St. Lawrence is much older than Ventnor dating back to at least the Middle Ages. The Old Church of St. Lawrence dates from the 12th century. When first built it was only 20 feet long and 12 feet wide,[1] considered at the time to be the smallest church in England. In 1842 it was lengthened by the addition of a ten-foot chancel.[4] Although there are undoubtedly smaller chapels including the tiny church at Les Vauxbelets on Guernsey, this arguably remains the smallest to be built as a parish church — although this role has long since been supplanted by a larger church in the village.

St Lawrence Old Church
St Lawrence Old Church.

The old church has a 15th-century baptismal font - a stoup that is about 500 years old and a series of 18th-century hat pegs. The piscina niche is almost the same age as the church. The church was refurbished in 1926-7.[5] A larger church, St Lawrence's Church, St Lawrence, is situated 200 yards (180 m) away from the Old Church dates from the 19th century.[5] It also has a 17th-century altar and a chest that dates from 1612.

RAF St.Lawrence - - 89021
RAF St. Lawrence. Remains of a buried reserve CH radar site
Historical Population of St. Lawrence[6]

In the 1870's the village was described in the Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales as consisting of "ivy mantled thatched cottages, with orchards" with many Juniper trees nearby.[1]

During World War II the village was home to RAF St Lawrence. Originally a temporary base for RAF Ventnor and RAF Southbourne, by 1942 it was a fully active radar base in its own right. The base had two 120-foot-tall (37 m) masts approximately 200 yards apart.[7] The base ceased operations in 1947 and in 1994 a memorial plaque was placed at the site.[8]

William Spindler

St Lawrence, Isle of Wight, UK
St Lawrence village

St Lawrence was in the nineteenth century the subject of an ambitious plan by a German developer, named William Spindler (who had made his fortune as a chemist in Berlin), to develop St Lawrence as a resort to rival Ventnor. He lived on the Isle of Wight from 1881 to his death in 1889 and is buried in Whitwell. During his time in St. Lawrence, he had an enormous influence there and on the surrounding areas. He possibly alienated local opinion with a series of "improving pamphlets" criticising local perceived laziness. His legacy has been a number of grand Victorian houses, often semi-derelict and half hidden by woodland. Perhaps his most noticeable memorials are several huge pieces of masonry in Binnel Bay, which once formed a harbour which is all but inaccessible from the land. These have fallen into titanic ruins and are known locally as "Spindler's Follies".[9]


The village has a post office and two churches. There was a glassworks styled as Isle of Wight Glass by the Old Park Hotel in St. Lawrence but this is now closed. Nearby was the site of a Tropical Bird Park, now also closed.

Close to the newer church is the site of the Rare Breeds Park, which closed while the A3055 road was closed to the west of the village due to a landslip.


It is linked to other parts of the Island by Wightbus bus route 16, serving Ventnor and Shanklin and intermediate villages.[10] This service was withdrawn along with all other wight bus services in 2011. The village was served by a two-hourly service by Southern vectis' route 6 between Ventnor and Newport until a landslip between St Lawrence and Niton in 2014. Since February 2014 Southern Vectis route 6 terminates at Ventnor Botanic Gardens with a more limited morning service between St Lawrence village and Ventnor.



"The Church at St Lawrence", engraving by Richard Godfrey of Long Acre, c. 1780. ^


R. H. C. Ubsdell. "A sermon at St. Lawrence's church, Isle of Wight"

  1. ^ a b c "St Lawrence Hampshire". A vision of Britain Through Time. Great Britain Historical GIS, University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  2. ^ Google (3 September 2018). "St Lawrence, Isle of Wight" (Map). Google Maps. Google.
  3. ^ "St Lawrence area acres". A vision of Britain Through Time. Great Britain Historical GIS, University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Parishes: St Lawrence". British History Online.
  5. ^ a b "Old Church of St Lawrence". Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  6. ^ "St Lawrence Population". A vision of Britain Through Time. Great Britain Historical GIS, University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  7. ^ "RAF St. Lawrence - Chain Home Remote Reserve". Subterranea Britannica. 2004.
  8. ^ "RAF St Lawrence Radar Station". Imperial War Museum.
  9. ^ Lake House Design: William Spindler
  10. ^ "Traveline - Wightbus route 16". 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-04.


1.^ Published in Worsley, Sir Richard, History of the Isle of Wight, London, 1781

External links

Chain Home

Chain Home, or CH for short, was the codename for the ring of coastal Early Warning radar stations built by the Royal Air Force (RAF) before and during the Second World War to detect and track aircraft. Initially known as RDF, and given the official name Air Ministry Experimental Station Type 1 (AMES Type 1) in 1940, the radar units themselves were also known as Chain Home for most of their life. Chain Home was the first early warning radar network in the world, and the first military radar system to reach operational status. Its effect on the outcome of the war made it one of the most powerful weapons of what is today known as the "Wizard War".In late 1934, the Tizard Committee asked radio expert Robert Watson-Watt to comment on the repeated claims of radio-based death rays and reports suggesting Germany had built some sort of radio-based weapon. His assistant, Arnold Wilkins, demonstrated that a death ray was impossible but suggested radio could be used for long-range detection. In February 1935, a demonstration was arranged by placing a receiver near a BBC shortwave transmitter and flying an aircraft around the area; an oscilloscope connected to the receiver showed a pattern from the aircraft's reflection. Funding quickly followed. Using commercial shortwave radio hardware, Watt's team quickly built a prototype pulsed transmitter, and on 17 June 1935 it successfully measured the angle and range of an aircraft that happened to be flying by. Basic development was completed by the end of the year, with detection ranges on the order of 100 miles (160 km). Through 1936 attention was focused on a production version, and early 1937 saw the addition of height finding.

The first five stations, covering the approaches to London, were installed by 1937 and began full-time operation in 1938. Operational tests that year, using early units, demonstrated the difficulties in relaying useful information to the pilots in fighter aircraft. This led to the formation of the first integrated ground-controlled interception network, the Dowding system, which collected and filtered this information into a single view of the airspace. Dozens of CH stations covering the majority of the eastern and southern coasts of the UK, along with a complete ground network with thousands of miles of private telephone lines, were ready by the time the war began in 1939. Chain Home proved decisive during the Battle of Britain in 1940; CH systems could detect enemy aircraft while they were still forming up over France, giving RAF commanders ample time to marshal their entire force directly in the path of the raid. This had the effect of multiplying the effectiveness of the RAF to the point that it was as if they had three times as many fighters, allowing them to defeat the larger German force. With such high efficiency, it was no longer the case that "the bomber will always get through".

The Chain Home network was continually expanded, with over forty stations operational by the war's end. CH was not able to detect aircraft at low altitude, and from 1939 was normally partnered with the Chain Home Low system, or AMES Type 2, which could detect aircraft flying at any altitude over 500 ft (150 m). Ports were covered by Chain Home Extra Low, AMES Type 14, which gave cover down to 50 ft (15 m) but at shorter ranges of approximately 30 miles (50 km). In 1942 the AMES Type 7 radar began to take over the job of tracking of targets once detected, and CH moved entirely to the early warning role.

Late in the war, when the threat of Luftwaffe bombing had ended, the CH systems were used to detect V2 missile launches. After the war, they were reactivated as part of the ROTOR system to watch for Soviet bombers, before being replaced by newer systems in the 1950s. Today only a few of the original sites remain intact in any fashion.

John Oliver Hobbes

Pearl Mary Teresa Richards (November 3, 1867 – August 13, 1906) was an Anglo-American novelist and dramatist who wrote under the pen-name of John Oliver Hobbes. Though her work fell out of print in the twentieth-century, her first book Some Emotions and a Moral was a sensation in its day, selling eighty-thousand copies in only a few weeks.

List of new churches by George Gilbert Scott in South East England

George Gilbert Scott (1811–78) was an English architect. Following his training, in 1836 he started working with William Bonython Moffatt, and they entered into partnership, initially specialising in designing workhouses. Scott became increasingly interested in the Gothic style, and the design of churches in this style. The partnership was dissolved in 1846, and Scott then set up his own office. He became "known primarily as a church architect", and as such he designed many new churches, and restored many more. In addition he designed monuments and memorials, public buildings including government offices, educational buildings, commercial buildings, and houses.This list contains new churches designed by Scott in the South East England region. It is not complete, not least because some of the churches have been demolished.

Noel Odell

Noel Ewart Odell FRSE FGS (25 December 1890 – 21 February 1987) was an English geologist and mountaineer. In 1924 he was an oxygen officer on the Everest expedition in which George Mallory and Andrew Irvine famously perished during their summit attempt. Odell spent two weeks living above 23,000 feet (7,000m), and twice climbed to 26,800-ft and higher, all without supplemental oxygen. In 1936 Noel Odell with Bill Tilman climbed Nanda Devi, at the time the highest mountain climbed.

Saint Lawrence (disambiguation)

See also San Lorenzo (disambiguation) for Italian and Spanish usesSaint Lawrence or Saint Laurence (also St. Lawrence, St Laurence) is a title applied to many things named after Saint Lawrence, the 3rd century Christian martyr. Its French equivalent is Saint Laurent (and typically hyphenated when used for place names).

St Lawrence's Church, St Lawrence

St Lawrence's Church, St Lawrence is a parish church in the Church of England located in St Lawrence, Isle of Wight. It is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II* listed building.

St Lawrence railway station (Isle of Wight)

St Lawrence railway station is a former railway station in the village of St Lawrence on the Isle of Wight. It opened in 1897 and was the original terminus of the branch line from Merstone until the 1½ mile extension to Ventnor was completed in June 1900. From 1927 the station was downgraded to the status of an unstaffed halt.

Unitary authorities
Major settlements
Settlements on the Isle of Wight
Civil parishes
Other villages
and hamlets
See also


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