What a pleasure to wake up to glorious sunshine and the promise of it remaining that way for the day! We were breakfasted and out on time and a perfect day was on the cards. We drove from Totland, southwards on the coastal road taking in Compton Bay, Brightstone Bay, Chale Bay and Niton, We paused for photos and to admire the views before heading north to Godshill. Leaving the main roads and heading up the back roadss to Godshill was like slowly going back in time, and arriving in Godshill was a bit like arriving by some time capsule. Every building is a cottage and every cottage is thatched. The warm sunshine and cloudless sky made the light perfect; it felt like we were walking through a beautifully staged scene in a movie.
We climbed the gentle slope past more thatched cottages until we came to Godshill Church. In 1929 it was one of Doris' first visits on her holiday. She wrote of the church: Captain Worsley, a descendent of the Lords of the Island, conducted us over the Church, showing us the monuments erected to his ancestors as far back as thirteen generations. He told us tales of many people connected to the church and showed us the famous picture of “Daniel in the Lion’s Den”. I was touched to find it was all there. Just as she wrote 80 years ago. “Daniel in the Lion's Den” is a painting with a mystery attached. There is doubt as to who the artist is and although it looks and feels like s Rubens, it probably is painted by an unknown artist 'after' Rubens.
We spoke with a couple of delightful old ladies doing voluntary work raising money for Christian Aid. I showed them my Grandmother's diary and was astonished at how interested and touched they were by it. I wanted to find out about Captain Worsley and particularly whether he was buried at the Church, No one knew but I was given the name and address of the Vicar and will contact him to find out more when I am at home.
The Church is as pretty as its setting.
We walked back past the thatched cottages and into Godshill in order to visit the Model Village. We had a happy hour wandering through a miniature Isle of Wight and was especially taken with the model maker's art, especially with their execution of a 1/10 scale model of Godshill Church. It is so impressive that later I showed Jean some close up detail from photographs I had take taken and asked her to tell me whether the detail was from the real church or the fake church. She struggled!
We left Godshill and headed to Shanklin Chine. Another sense that we were travelling back in time swept over me as we walked through the chine. The air was cool and the steep walls were covered with trees, overhanging roots and ferns. It felt Prehistoric. Doris, however, had better luck than us; she wrote: “We were impressed by the perpendicular sides, covered with luxurious vegetation, the falling water and the tameness of the various birds we saw – thrush, blackbird, (mother and father) chaffinch, sand martin, etc” I was surprised that there was a complete lack of wildlife in the chine. Not even a pigeon. It could be the time of year but I was rather hoping to see something. Especially maybe a Red Squirrel. The Isle of Wight is famous for having an exclusive Red Squirrel population and the longer I have been here without seeing one, the more determined I feel about achieving a sighting.
Our time travel took a leap further back in time. We moved on to the outskirts of Brading and to their famous archaeological excavation of a Roman Villa. Now the Romans occupied the Island extensively but in Brading their residency was significant. Mosaic floors were uncovered in the 19th Century and excavations have taken place on and off ever since.
Doris visited in 1929 and records “the guide there gave us a very interesting account of the various rooms. We noticed the mosaic floors and the walls and tiling of Bembridge limestone.” We also had a guide who showed us around some of the recent developments in the archaeology of the site. She told us that esteemed archaeologist Barry Cunliffe has recently reopened some earlier excavations in order to try to find answers to the chronology of Roman habitation around the Brading area. The particular area of interest is an old Roman Bathhouse which may have fallen into disrepair and had a Bakehouse built on top. Interested parties await the findings with bated breath. I was interested to learn that some of these valuable excavation sites have been treated with less respect in the past. Our guide pointed out an old milk urn, a couple of bottles, obviously modern, in the re-excavated site. The guide told us that there was a time when some of the excavated sites themselves fell into ruin as they were used as rubbish tips. She went on to say that when the Second World War 'Dig For Victory' campaign got under way, some sites were covered up to grow vegetable
Now the Villa itself is housed in a wooden building, with the mosaic floors safe from the elements.
As our day grew to a close, we headed out to Bembridge to look at the sole surviving windmill on the Isle of Wight. The Bembridge Windmill was built in 1700 and now in the care of the National Trust. We were to late to visit but walked along a lane lined with blackberry laden hedges in order to have a quick look-see and take some photographs. Again, my thoughts returned to my grandmother and occasions when she and my grandfather used to take me on holiday to Devon and Cornwall as a child. She often seemed to be at her happiest when confronted with a mass of free hedge-fruit. In fact, a Tupperware container was stored in the boot of the Austin Cambridge for that very purpose! An afternoon would be spent harvesting the bounty and the next few Sundays would feature delicious stewed blackberries with evaporated milk or (if we were lucky) clotted cream.
From Bembridge we headed up to Seaview and headed westwards back to Totland.