COWES, EAST, a parochial district, in the parish of Whippingham, liberty of East Medina, Isle of Wight division of the county of Southampton, 5 miles (N.) from Newport; containing 880 inhabitants. The village is situated on the eastern side of the mouth of the river Medina, by which it is separated from West Cowes, and owes its origin to a fort or blockhouse, erected in the reign of Henry VIII., for the defence of the harbour, but of which no vestiges are now discernible. Until of late here was an establishment of the Customs, which has been removed to West Cowes, and the buildings are now occupied as a station for the men employed in the preventive service. Ship-building is carried on to a considerable extent; and good buildingstone is obtained in several parts of the vicinity, particularly at Osborne Park, where it was raised in large quantities for the erection of the Southampton docks. The neighbourhood abounds with interesting features and finely-varied scenery; and on the brow of a hill near the village is East Cowes Castle, a handsome structure, consisting of one square and two circular embattled towers, erected by the late eminent architect, Mr. Nash, for his own residence, and commanding a fine sea-view. Osborne House was purchased in 1845 from Lady Isabella Blanchford by Her Majesty as a royal residence: the estate comprises 376 acres, and, with Barton farm, 817 acres; having an indented line of sea-shore about a mile and a half in extent. Important additions have been made to the house, and the grounds in various ways embellished. The church, dedicated to St. James, and of which the first stone was laid by Her present Majesty, when Princess Victoria, who was also present at its consecration in 1831, was erected at an expense of £3000, raised by subscription, towards which Her Majesty and the Duchess of Kent contributed liberally, and which was also aided by a grant of £375 from the funds of the Incorporated Society; it is a handsome edifice, in the Norman style, and contains 668 sittings, of which 370 are free. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Rector of Whippingham, with a net income of £135. There is a place of worship for Independents. At Barton was an oratory of Augustine monks, founded by John de Insula, in 1282, and the beautiful remains of which have been converted into a farmhouse.
Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.