St Helens, Isle of Wight
Helens, St, a parish in the Isle of Wight The village, called St Helens Green, situated on the bay called St Helens Road, 4. miles SE of Ryde, is a small but pretty place, and has a station on the Isle of Wight railway. It has a post, money order, and telegraph office under Ryde. The ecclesiastical parish contains also the villages or places called Sea-view and Nettlestone. The area of the civil parish is 1883 acres of land and 954 of water and foreshore; population, 4611; of the ecclesiastical, 1615. A monastery, in connection with the abbey of Clun in Normandy, was founded here before 1155, and at the suppression of alien monasteries Henry VI. built and endowed Eton College with its revenues. A modern mansion, called St Helens Priory, now occupies the site of the monastery, and was built by Sir Nash <5rose; it is now the seat of the Grose Smith family. St Helens Spit, a tongue of sand at the foot of Brading Harbour, was the landing-place in 686 of Wilfrid, the apostle of Sussex; in 1340 of a French invading force, who were speedily driven back to their ships; and in 1655 of Charles II. on his way to Sandown Fort. It was also the embarking place in 1488 of Sir Edward Wydville, with a force to aid the Duke of Brittany against the King of France; it was likewise the spot on which, in 1545, the treasure-ship of the French armada came on shore and was deserted, and it has a (ferry for foot passengers to Bembridge. The coast all northward thence is described by Mantell as " almost everywhere covered with vegetation to the water's edge, a low bank or cliff of the fresh-water Eocene marls and limestones being the only indication of its geological structure." The roadstead, called St Helens Road, is beset with some dangers, particularly the Princessa Shoal, Betty's Ledge, and the Nab Eock. A small headland, confronting the roadstead, three-quarters of a mile N of St Helens Spit, and bearing the name of St Helens or Watch-house Point, was in former times the station of constant watchers by night and by day, in readiness to fire a beacon on the appearance seaward of any invaders. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Winchester; gross value, £127. Patron, Eton College. The church stands in the neighbourhood of Watch-house Point, and is a small building in the Gothic style. The previous church stood on St Helens Spit, and was undermined by the sea, but the tower of it still stands as a sea-mark, includes some Early English work, and was rudely strengthened for its present purpose by tasteless brickwork. The vicarage of St John's Oakfield is a separate benefice, in the gift of the Vicar of St Helens, and contains the places called St John's Oakfield, Springvale, and Cherrygin. There are Wesleyan and Bible Christian chapels.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for St Helens from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858. (Helen's, St.)
Online maps of St Helens are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)
The Visitations of Hampshire, 1530, 1575, & 1622-34 is available to view on the Heraldry page.