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Bonchurch, Isle of Wight

Historical Description

Bonchurch, a village and a parish in the SE of the Isle of Wight. The village stands on the coast, at the eastern part of the Undercliff, and adjoins Ventnor. It has a post, money order, and telegraph office under Ventnor (T.S.O.), and an excellent hotel. It is charmingly situated among picturesque scenery, and includes a number of fine, scattered, private residences. The parish contains part of Nettlecombe tithing. Acreage, 561 of land and 61 of foreshore; population, 668. The name Bonchurch is a corruption of Boniface-Church, the church being dedicated to St Boniface or Winfrid, born at Crediton, near Exeter. A legend exists to the effect that on a certain occasion St Boniface lost his way in a fog on St Boniface Downs (now so-called), and made a vow that if he reached the bottom safely he would give an acre of land to the rector of Bonchurch (Ventnor did not exist in those days). Whether this is true or not, an acre of land in Ventnor, at the foot of the Downs, belongs to the living of Bonchurch, but how it became the glebe thereof does not appear. Quite possibly the story was made to fit the fact. St Boniface Down rises behind the village to an altitude of 783 feet above the level of the sea, and commands a grand prospect. Parts of the acclivities and of the coast are highly romantic. The Pulpit Rock, which is 400 feet above the sea, is a very striking feature with a rude cross on the summit. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Winchester; net value, £143 with residence, in the gift of the Church Patronage Society. The church was built in 1848, and is a plain edifice in the Norman style. The previous church, now disused, still stands. The Rev. William Adams, author of the "Shadow of the Cross" and John Sterling, whose life was written by Achdeacon Hare and Thomas Carlyle, lie interred in the churchyard.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyHampshire 
Ecclesiastical parishBonchurch St. Boniface 
LibertyEast Medina 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Bonchurch from the following:


Online maps of Bonchurch are available from a number of sites:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitations of Hampshire, 1530, 1575, & 1622-34 is available to view on the Heraldry page.

CountyIsle of Wight
RegionSouth East
Postal districtPO38
Post TownVentnor