Between 1066 and 1539 AD, in the vill of ‘Shoflet’ or ‘Shoesfleth’ [c.1248], which lay somewhere around the wooded inlet now called King’s Quay, a Walter Elaf granted in free alms to the abbey [Quarr] 10½ acres in various detached portions and two messuages, one called ‘Pinnukesheye’, paying only 6d. annually to the over-lord, Henry de Insula. Later John de Insula, Henry’s son would waive his claim to the 6d. rent, as also any right to the land Walter Elaf had donated. In 1215 King John after signing the Magna Carta is said to have retired to the Island. His host would undoubtedly have been Brian de Insula, who had witnessed the document, and King's Quay, a mile away, is said to derive its name from John's stay here. In 1519 Quarr was still able to lease a tenement in Shoufflete, but at the Dissolution all that was listed there was the wood and a close near by.91-95 Schoufflet [14th cent.], Showflyt 1, Kings Haven , Kings Key .
King's Quay today lies in an area between Wootton Bridge and Barton Estate, Whippingham on the northwest coastline of the Solent, where from the sea looks larger than in reality. The Quay is a causeway, which is breached in one place leading to a stone bridge, which is situated, on an inlet named 'Palmers Brook'. OE fleot 'a creek or estuary' and scoh 'a shoe' probably with reference to 'a shoe-shaped promontory or spit of land'. A manorial name indicating lands here formerly held by the local Palmer family 1521 and no doubt to be identified with 'the land of John Palmer' late John Coterel, in Wooditon (=Wootton) 1352.1
On Sunday the Vigil of the Epiphany (January 5) 1388, two men, Nicholas Baker and Richard Drynkwater, were having a fight. Thereupon, John Carter, a servant of William Dyer of Newport, came up to them, trying to separate the two so as to make peace. But, without any cause, Nicholas Baker struck John Carter twice on the head with a bottle of beer, fully intending to kill him. In self-defence John hit Nicholas Baker on the head with a stick, from which he died.2
Scientifically the area has the status of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI) and a Ramsar site. It is rich in fossils, particularly of Oligocene fish and Mesolithic artefacts in a rocky outcrop known as the Osborne Beds. It comprises an area of saltmarsh, sand and marsh, bounded by ancient woodlands at Wallhill Copse, Curlew Copse, Woodhouse Copse, and Brickhill Copse. King's Quay and the adjoining Meads Hole to the north in Osborne Bay was the site of a market of stolen goods, the plunder of the island pirates upon French and Spanish shipping. It is inaccessible to the public, but can be approached from the south western end of Forestry Commission land at Woodhouse Copse.3
Whilst carrying out survey of the Wootton-Quarr project (S126) of the intertidal areas, the following was identified:
The site is of medieval occupation (1066 to 1539 AD) though not shown on early Ordnance Survey maps at this grid ref., although it is situated on or near a trackway shown on the William Gardner map of 1791. Surface finds lying in recently ploughed soil were identified as fragments of Chalk and Bembridge Limestone, red brick, thick blue slate, peg tile, 13th century shell-and-flint-tempered unglazed pottery, glazed post-medieval pottery, Bellarmine and other stoneware's, oyster and whelk shell, charcoal.5
Longshore alignment of stakes surveyed gave ground to suspect that it may have been built in two phases; one oak stake radiocarbon dated to c.1210 - 1380 AD; one maple stake from the eastern part dated to c. 1310 - 1460 AD; hazel stake from western part dated c.1400 - 1490 AD.6
There is no neighbouring village and the creek is equally difficult to approach either from land or sea, nevertheless is very attractive and unspoilt. Years ago small yachts occasionally entered Kings Quay and anchored among the exceptional beautiful surroundings but the channel is now unmarked.7
91-95 [S F Hockey, Quarr Abbey and its lands 1132-1631, Leicester University Press, 1970. p.81-2 91-95: P.R.O. E210/2111 and E326/3206; E315/43/29; E315/50/18; E318/766, m. 3. E326/8361; E326/2809.]
1. A D Mills, Place Names of the Isle of Wight, Paul Watkins 1996; Kokeritz.
2. S F Hockey, Insula Vecta, The Isle of Wight in the Middle Ages, Phillimore, 1982
4. Geological Conservation Review. http://www.jncc.gov.uk/page-2731 Vol. 16: Fossil Fishes of Great Britain Ch. 14: British Cenozoic fossil fishes sites. Site: KING'S QUAY (Grid ID: 2909)
5. Isle of Wight County Archaeology and Historic Environment Service. Site visit. F. Basford 1990/1993
6. Isle of Wight Coastal Audit. Field visit. F. Basford. 1999
7. K. Adlard Coles, Creeks & Harbours of the Solent (1959)