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Newport, Isle of Wight

Historical Description

Newport, a market-town, a parish, and a municipal borough in the Isle of Wight. The town stands on the river Medina, at the terminus of the Cowes and Newport line, at the end of the Medina navigation, in the NE vicinity of Carisbrooke, 1 mile N of the centre of the island, 88 miles from London and 5 S of Cowes. Newport is the centre of several lines of railway, and is often chosen as the headquarters of tourists wishing to visit all the most attractive parts of the island. It was founded in the early part of the reign of Henry I. by Richard de Redvers, Earl of Devon and lord of the island; was designed to be the port of Carisbrooke, and therefore was called Newport; was chartered in the time of Henry II. by the third Richard de Redvers, who called it the New Borough of Medina; rose in importance as Carisbrooke declined; was burnt by the French in 1377; took part with the Parliament in the Civil Wars of Charles I.; was the scene of high political negotiations during the time of Charles I.'s imprisonment in Carisbrooke Castle; became for sixty-one days, at the grammar school, the place of Charles' mimic court, whence he was suddenly seized for abrupt removal to Hurst Castle; and, at the restoration of Charles II., was one of the first places in the kingdom to recognise the new order of political events. Thomas James, who wrote learnedly against Roman Catholicity and died in 1622; Richard James, who published an account of his travels in Russia, assisted Selden in his work on the Arundel Marbles, rendered service in the formation of the Cottonian Library, and died in 1638; and Sir Thomas Fleming, lord chief justice of England, who acquired bad notoriety by his judgment in the "great case of impositions," were natives.

The town stands on a gentle slope of the Medina's valley; is nearly encompassed, at a pleasant distance, with low rounded hills; enjoys well-wooded and very pleasing environs; looks well as seen from numerous vantage-grounds on the surrounding hills; consists chiefly of five streets running E and W, and of three running N and S, all wide and well paved; and presents a neat, clean, and cheerful aspect. The town-hall was built in 1816, after designs by Nash, at a cost of £10,000; has on one side an Ionic portico, on another an Ionic colonnade; is disposed, throughout the basement, in a market-house; has in the upper part a handsome room, with a portrait of Sir Leonard W. Holmes; and occupies the site of a plain old gabled building, in which conferences were held between Charles I. and the Parliamentary Commissioners. The Isle of Wight County Club, in St James' Square, was built in 1810, after designs by Nash, at a cost of £3000; has a plain yet pleasing front of Swanage stone; and contains a good library and reading-rooms, a billiard-room, and other apartments. The Museum, in Lugley Street, contains a well-arranged series of fossils gathered from the various strata of the island, and a collection of the island's antiquities of Celtic, Roman, Saxon, and later dates. Carisbrooke Castle, the Isle of Wight House of Industry, Parkhurst Prison, and the Albany Barracks, though not in the town, are so near as to be associated with it in the minds of tourists; and the last contribute so largely to the throngs in its streets as to give it almost the appearance of a garrison town. Osborne House, the marine residence of H.M. The Queen, is also in the neighbourhood. The church of St Thomas a Becket was built in 1854-56, after designs by Daukes, at a cost of £12,000; is in the Early Decorated English style; consists of clere-storied nave, gabled aisles and chancel, N and S chapels, and N and S porches, with lofty W tower; and contains a quaintly carved pulpit of 1636, a very beautiful monument by Marochetti to the Princess Elizabeth, daughter of Charles I., erected by Queen Victoria, a handsome marble monument to Sir Edward Horsey, captain of the island in the time of Elizabeth, and a splendid medallion tablet by Marochetti to the late Prince Consort. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Winchester; gross value, £270 with residence. Patron, the Bishop of Winchester. The previous St Thomas' Church was built about 1173 by Richard de Redvers; ranked merely as a chapel of ease to the church of Carisbrooke; was a large, quaint, low building, in heavy Transition Norman; consisted of three aisles, with an embattled tower; and contained Sir E. Horsey's monument and the remains of The Princess Elizabeth, which were removed to the new church. Two other churches, St John's, Node Hill, and St Paul's, Barton, have connection with the town, the former a broad aisleless, towerless building, in a pseudo-Gothic style, erected about 1840 on the road to Shide and Rookley; the latter a later erection in the Norman style, with semicircular apse, and with a tower and spire, on the road by Staplers Heath to Ryde. There are Congregational, Baptist, Wesleyan, Bible Christian, Methodist, and Roman Catholic chapels, also a Friends' meeting-house. The old cemetery is adjacent to South Cosham Street, was formed at a visitation of the plague in 1582, was from time to time enlarged, has a good Tudor entrance gateway, and is now shut up. The new cemetery lies on the road to Ryde, and was formed in 1871. The grammar school stands in St James' Street, was founded in 1612 by Lord Chief-Justice Fleming, and has an endowed income. In the schoolroom was signed the treaty between the Parliamentary leaders and Charles I., afterwards known as the Treaty of Newport. The girls' school, known as the " Blue School," in Crocker Street, was established in 1761, and has an endowed income. There are a mechanics' institute, a library, and two suites of almshouses.

The town has a head post office, banks, and good hotels, is a seat of petty sessions and county courts, and practically the capital of The island. Markets are held on alternate Wednesdays and every Saturday; commerce is carried on in malt, corn, flour, and timber; and a good manufacturing trade exists in cracknels, lace, mats, brushes, and tobacco pipes. Water is supplied through pipes from springs at Carisbrooke. The town was re-chartered by Charles II.; sent two members to Parliament once in the time of Edward I., and always from the time of Elizabeth till 1867; was reduced by the Reform Act of that year to the right of seeding only one; and under the Redistribution of Seats Act of ! 1885 its representation was merged in that of the Isle of Wight. It is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors. The municipal borough is divided into two wards-North and South. Area, 511 acres; population, 10,216. The parish was formerly part of Carisbrooke, and was separated thence in 1858. Acreage, 59; population, 3058.

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 parishNewport St. Thomas à Becket 
LibertyWest Medina 

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

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Newport from the following:


Online maps of Newport 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 districtPO30
Post TownNewport