Wight Life


Drawn and written by A W R Caws

The New Inn, Shalfleet

Drawing of the New Inn, Shalfleet

THE VILLAGE OF SHALFLEET sits along both sides of a stretch of the main Newport Road as it approaches Yarmouth, about four miles further west. In the centre of the village, opposite the fine old church and adjoining the entrance to the manor house, is one of the Island's few remaining genuine country village pubs: 'The New Inn'.

These premises were apparently built at about the same time as the church, which is mentioned in the Domesday Book.

Proof of its antiquity was confirmed when, a little while ago, a mechanical digger, which had been standing in the small car park at the rear of the premises, ran into the building, making a hole which exposed the mud and straw from which the walls, at least three or four feet thick, had been constructed.

The inn contains two bars, and a notable feature of one of these is the magnificent fireplace, its beams and surrounds darkened by years of smoke. Looking upwards through the massive chimney, one can see the sky, whilst at the rear of the fireplace there is a large oven.

The whole of the surrounding countryside was once the property of the lord of the manor, who was for a considerable period in recent years Sir John Simeon. Should you take a walk down the pleasant lane which passes the front of the inn at right angles to the main road, you will, in about ten minutes, reach Shalfleet Quay. This is situated at the western end of Newtown Creek, and is a favourite mooring place for the smaller yachts during the summer months. The area is quite different in character from the remainder of the Island, reminding one in many ways of parts of the East Anglian coast.

There was in fact a party from one of these craft lunching in the bar when we visited the inn. They had set sail from Sussex hoping to reach France, but adverse winds and bad weather had landed them here.

By strange chance, one member of the party, whose father had been a Trinity House pilot, met, during his school days at Ryde, my grand-father who also had been a pilot.

Standing at the end of the lane near to the Quay is a delightful residence converted from an old water mill which in its day used to grind the corn grown on the numerous nearby farms.

The landlord, William Barnes, who, together with his wife Doris, has run the inn for about seventeen years, once lived in the mill, and during this period carried on business as a market gardener.

Drawing of the bar New Inn, Shalfleet

Shove-ha'penny and cribbage are pastimes not often found these days in Island pubs but both are provided here. The inn also musters a pretty good darts team and, at an Island fete held earlier in the summer, produced a team which walked away with the tug-of-war championship.

Ploughmen's lunches, toasted sandwiches, steak pies and a variety of other snacks are available in the bars together with a wide range of beverages, alcoholic and otherwise.

We certainly enjoyed excellent cups of freshly made coffee served at tables out- of-doors in front of the inn.

This is a very busy little house where, in addition to a large local clientele, many visiting yachtsmen during the summer months enjoy the hospitality and attractive setting of this friendly inn.