Wootton Bridge and Whippingham on the Isle of Wight

The wind of change passing through as seen and commented on by VICTORIA M SNOW. (1911 - 1998)

Chapter 6

One day we went to Newport in Farmer Brown's cart, a young lad threw a stone and it hit me on the head. I had a red serge hat on and it cut through that. As soon as he realised what he had done he ran down the road to his home, a thing I always remember as he had short legs and they went like bees-wings, I had to have my hair cut off and iodine put on the wound by the nurse.

One day a little old lady riding a tricycle came up the road and sat on the gravelled bank by the roadside to have her lunch. She had on a black costume and a little pointed black hat. I talked to her but I was a bit wary of her as I thought she might be a witch, one heard a lot about them years ago.

Sometimes after school or on Saturdays we would go to Brocks' Copse, along Top Road and turn left by Beach Croft and just round the corner there was Palmers' Farm. On the barn roof was a weather-vane in the shape of a fox (running). Well it is still there. The fox has seen great changes around there in the last fifty years or so. If he could speak he would have many tales to tell wouldn't he? Houses all around him now on each side to the Church Road cottages and Beach Croft beside him with the new estate as well. The farm still looks the same, my mother told me that one of her aunts had walked from there to Whippingham Church to be married many years ago.

The road below the farm has not changed much so thank goodness for that. The little Beach Croft lodge on the left of the farm is where Mr Wood lived, he kept bees and we often went there to buy honey. He was very kind and often brought some in a honeycomb for my father.

Then a few yards further down there was Westwood Lodge and the drive that led to the house and beyond that to the Lodge and gate in Lushington. I have never been through this even though my father worked there for a time.

Just below on the left there is a stream and in this I would sail my little celluloid ducks. They sailed merrily downstream after rains when the water runs swiftly, then a little way further there is a copse on each side. Westwood side was private, but on the right side we could pick all the spring flowers again and on the banks each side there were other sorts of wild flowers and I spent many times here on our walks it was a lovely country spot.

There was a little pale yellow vetch-like flower with a long stem and pointed narrow leaves called cows wheat. It could also be found at Woodside. The enchanted nightshade a white branchy habitat flower, mauve and yellow vetches and bracken ferns. Then my favourite a little sweet pea, I should think this was the wild sweet pea before it was cultivated, they were in shades of pink, blue, mauve and white. I never saw them anywhere else. Also the blue bugloss or blue bottle as we called them, anemones, and violets, wild roses, primroses and bluebells, campions and wild arum, we called them devils and angels as some stamen were purple and some white. Many other kinds of flowers too which I cannot name.

At the bottom of the long hill, Wootton is a very hilly place and this lends to its attraction, there is a stream with a bridge and here again it is a place to rest awhile and admire the surroundings. A stream goes from there to King's Quay, and there is the copse and the two lodge gates. The one on the left leading to the one at Lushington and the one on the right to King's Quay. The lodge cottage path is now overgrown. When Queen Victoria was at Osborne the roads and verges were kept in perfect condition. This copse and surrounds is called 'Nowhere' by the local folk. "We are just going to Nowhere!!" "Where is that?" "It's down Brocks' Copse," we would say.

Wandering our way up the hill with a copse on each side of us, more on the right though than the left, the copse on the right was well fenced in with iron spiked fencing. This was the Queen's property. Wild yellow daffodils could be picked there in the spring but it was a good game trying to get through or over the fence. If people are determined they will succeed eventually. The gypsies were blamed for taking the daffs and I expect other people did too.

In later years some of the fence was removed and so was made easy for all to pick them. The only other place I have seen wild daffodils is at Firestone Copse near Havenstreet. When our children were young, we often had a picnic at Brocks' Copse and took granny with us to pick flowers and gather wood for the fire. There were pussy willows and catkins, lots of vetches, lovely grasses and spurges etc. We had some lovely nostalgic times.

There were a couple of pairs of houses at the top of the hill. But otherwise Brocks' Copse has not changed much through the years and let's hope it won't do that so people can still enjoy those lovely country places.