Wight Life


Drawn and written by A W R Caws

The Worsley, Wroxhall

Drawing of the The Worsley, Wroxhall

0VER A PERIOD of about one hundred years the building which is now 'The Worsley' has had a remarkably varied history. Built in Victorian times as a rectory for the Wroxall village church, it was used as such for quite a number of years. About the time of the first World War it became the home of some Benedictine monks.

In more recent times it has been a billet for troops and also functioned for a considerable period as a country club. About four years ago it was taken over by a brewery and converted into an inn. In order to find a suitable name, a referendum was held in the village and there was an overwhelming vote in favour of a name having some connection with the Worsley family. Thus 'The Worsley' came into being.

This family has had close associations with the Island since the sixteenth century, more particularly with Appuldurcombe House, the remains of which can be seen from the garden of the inn. In the year 1511 Sir James Worsley, then Captain of the Island, married the daughter of Sir John and Lady Leigh and their son, Richard, entertained many notable people at what was then the Manor House. These included Henry VIII and, at a later date, Cromwell.

Another member of the family, Sir Richard, became Governor of the Island in 1780, and being interested in wine making, planted several thousand vines near St Lawrence. This venture was not, however, a success; it was thought that spray from the nearby sea ruined the crop.

Appuldurcombe House was hit by a land mine in 1943 during a raid on the adjacent radar station, the building being reduced to a shell. Happily, it has since been taken over by the Ministry of Works and is classed as an ancient monument, attracting many visitors to the locality. The present members of the Worsley family have their seat at Hovingham in Yorkshire, and permission to use their coat of arms on the inn sign was granted by Sir William Worsley, father of the Duchess of Kent. Their motto 'Quam Plummis Podele' roughly translated means 'Do good to as many people as possible'; not a bad motto for an inn. 'The Worsley' has been run since it opened by David and Mary Slaney. They are from the Southampton area and have three children.

This is their first venture as inn keepers, David having previously been employed as manager of an amusement catering company. Talking to David it is apparent that he is a perfectionist and has great enthusiasm for his job. On entering, one is struck by the immaculate appearance of the bars and the friendly manner in which visitors are greeted. This is reflected in the increasing number of people who become regular visitors here. His clientele represents a wide cross-section, both in age and occupation, coming from many parts of the Island to enjoy a drink and a chat in the congenial atmosphere.

Drawing of the bar Worsley, Wroxhall

Situated in the centre of Wroxall in a delightful setting with fine views of the surrounding countryside and downlands, the inn has a well kept lawn at the rear; just the place for a quiet meal or drink on a sunny day.

The garden is enhanced by some splendid trees, the most noteworthy being a monkey puzzle tree by the side of the lawn.

In addition to the bar, there is a children's room and a buffet food bar where hot and cold snacks are available. These include fish, sausages, griddle platters, meat pies, basket meals with scampi or chicken, and curries; all produced under the supervision of Mary Slaney.

Wine is served both by the bottle or by the glass and I've heard high praise from beer drinkers for the excellence of the brew dispensed at this very hospitable inn.