The sleepy, leafy village of Bonchurch is sheltered beneath St Boniface Down, centred about a large pond overhung with willows, and has a winding road to the pretty Monks Bay below. The Undercliff is one of the oldest settlements on the Island with prehistoric remains found near to the spring that feeds the pond.
The Saxon patron saint, St. Boniface, visited the area where Bonchurch is now located, in the 8th century. In the 9th century monks from Lyra in Normandy are thought to have landed at Monks Bay and erected a building in dedication to St. Boniface, where the Old Church now stands. A newer and larger church was erected on the main road during the Victorian era.
Bonchurch was the haunt of many famous faces in the 19th century, including Dickens who wrote part of David Copperfield staying at The Winterbourne. The writer and politician Macaulay lived at Madeira House and Henry De Vere Stackpole, author of The Blue Lagoon, gave the pond to the village in memory of his wife.
The poet Algernon Charles Swinburne lived at East Dene, now a children’s activity centre and venue. There are small hotels and self-catering accommodations such as Westfield Lodges, and a famous traditional pub, The Bonchurch Inn, which has something of a reputation for its food that has an Italian flavour.
- Enjoy a quiet stroll through the village and along the seafront.
- Take a dip in the sea on a warm summer day.
- Let the kids play in the shallow rock pools on the beach.
- Feed the hungry fish and ducks in the village pond.