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Cowes, Isle of Wight

Historical Description

Cowes, a town and two chapelries in the Isle of Wight. The town is in Northwood parish, is often called West Cowes, and stands at the left side of the mouth of the Medina river, 4½ miles N of Newport, and 11¼ SSE of Southampton. It occupies the declivity of a semicircular eminence, and looks very picturesque, as seen from the water, but consists chiefly of steep, dark, narrow, winding streets. A railway connects it with Newport. Cowes is the principal port of the island, the station of the Eoyal Yacht club, a favourite resort for sea-bathing, and a starting point of Isle of Wight tourists, and it possesses appliances, outskirts, and environs suitable to all its characters. The roads in front of it have sheltered anchorage in from 6 to 11 fathoms, and the harbour is capacious and secure. Steamers ply regularly to Southampton, Portsmouth, Ryde, Yarmouth, and Lymington, and steamers also at frequent periods start hence to sail round the island. Lodging-houses are numerous, and there are several hotels. A small castle, one of the circular forts for the defence of the coast, was built by Henry VIII. below the town at the debouch of the river, was modernised into a mansion, and is now occupied by the Eoyal. Yacht club. The club was founded in 1812, has a library, reading-room, and similar household arrangements to those of a London club; owns vessels to the aggregate burden of more than 10,000 tons, carries on yachting from the beginning of May till the end of October, and holds a regatta annually in the first week of August. Excellent baths, a well-sheltered bathing-beach, and a good supply of bathing machines are in the vicinity of the castle. A fine promenade, called the Marine Parade, extends from the castle westward to Egypt House, a Gothic building with a tower. Villas and gardens adorn the neighbourhood of the parade and other outskirts of the town, and Northwood Park, a large Italian edifice, stands on the summit of the hill. A floating bridge, capable of conveying horses and carriages, connects the southern part of the town with East Cowes. The town has a head post office, two banks, a town-hall, a custom-house, two churches, and Congregational, Wesleyan Methodist, Primitive Methodist, and Roman Catholic chapels. There are twelve almshouses and a Provident dispensary. The building of ships, steam-vessels, yachts, and boats is carried on. The number of vessels registered as belonging to Cowes in 1893 was 272 (12,937 tons). The entries and clearances each average 20,000 (1,680,000 tons) per annum. There are also foundries, a ropework, and two sail-making establishments. The two chapelries are St. Mary's, West Cowes, and Holy Trinity, dating from 1653 and 1832, and they divide the town between them, and are vicarages in the diocese of Winchester; value of the former, £310; of the latter, £300. Patron of the former, the Vicar of Caris-brooke. The area and rateable value are included in North-wood.

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


Online maps of Cowes 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 districtPO31
Post TownCowes