Godshill used to be something of a joke amongst the local population: a place that you avoided, especially in high season. But this is definitely no longer the case with a superb gastro-pub The Taverners, exclusive boutique shops and lovely cafes. We went to find the new cool Godshill.
Of course it hasn’t changed very much in hundreds of years, which is the thing that is most special about this postcard pretty thatched cottage idyll. The walk up to the church from Church Hill, round the back of the High Street, reveals one of the most iconic images you’ll see of the island. Reproduced on everything from tea towels to tins of shortbread this view is straight out of a period drama – even the hardest of hearts will soften at the sight.
All Saints Church is another revelation as it’s recently been restored and looking rather resplendent – when it’s lit at night it can be seen like a beacon from miles around. The church is medieval and noted for its medieval wall painting of a Lily crucifix, one of only two in Europe, and a huge painting of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, which has been attributed to Rubens that looks down on you as you enter the main door.
Oh and it’s a magic church! Legend tells that the building of a church was begun at the foot of the hill but that on three successive nights the stones were removed unseen to the site of the present church. Work was restarted on the first two mornings but on the third day it was assumed that God wished the church to be built on the hill, hence the name Godshill.
Walk down from the church and you find a selection of shops and cafes nestled beneath the hill. Maybe you would like to learn ‘Channelled Art’ from Nicola Gibbs at the Oracle Gallery. This is an opportunity to explore your own spiritual condition through expression, whilst being taken on a guided meditation. Plus you can buy and see all of Nicola’s colourful and ethereal work on the walls. www.nicolagibbs.com/news.php
Daisy Daisy has a rainbow coloured selection of goods from across the globe, all beautifully displayed, and they are members of the British Association of Fair Trade Shops. Felt hats from Nepal, Tagua seed jewellery dyed in beautiful bright colours from Ecuador, mirror frames, pots and a clock face covered in coiled recycled magazine and newspaper from Vietnam. Fairy lights made with the leaves from the rubber tree, rainbow striped crockery and lots of lovely children’s toys.
Next-door is Chocolate Island – a haven for all chocolate lovers. Watch goodies being made in the factory at the back of the shop and be amazed by the range of different chocolate items on sale: chocolate bars encrusted with nuts, cherries, fudge, jelly babies, marshmallows and smarties; chocolate shoes, bunnies, footballs, treasure chests, trains – you name it and Chocolate Island has probably got a chocolate version. There’s also a café. http://www.islelovechocolate.co.uk/
Nearby is the Essex Cottage where you can have themed afternoon teas – try Alice in Wonderland, complete with ‘drink me’ bottles or Willy Wonka chocolate themed tea. This is just one of many tea gardens in Godshill but the afternoon set teas here are to die for – you do have to book a day in advance. http://theessex.co.uk/
Next is the Model Village – a microcosm of the village in which you stand and parts of nearby Shanklin. It’s a world within a world. Children love this, but it’s a great attraction for all ages, with its vintage theme and quirkiness. See Shanklin Chine tumble down to the seashore and the cute shops in Shanklin old Village that kids can peer into; hear the parishioners singing in the church; watch the game of cricket on the village green and be amazed by possibly the largest collection of Bonsai trees you’ve ever seen. www. modelvillagegodshill.co.uk
The Taverners might be your next port of call – for lunch or dinner. Both are consistently good, sourced from local ingredients and really tasty. Locals can even exchange their home grown veg for beer at the bar. Don’t miss this, wherever you’re staying on the island you need to put The Taverners on your itinerary. http://thetavernersgodshill.co.uk/
Island Gems have a dinosaur that walks into the road! Maybe it’s the ‘Godshill’ effect given the church’s history. Their life size triceratops ended up stopping traffic and had to be manhandled back into the garden, making international news in the process. Make sure you check out the fabulous fossils, gems and minerals in the Island Gems shop whilst you’re admiring the large lizard beneath the Magnolia tree and book onto a Fossil Walk if you want to find one yourself. http://www.island-gems.co.uk/
The Old Smithy sits in the large car park opposite the Griffin Pub and it has one of the most stylish clothes shops on the Island, along with a very upmarket yet reasonably priced gift shop and an airy café with enormous meringues. And the Griffin pub has a maze in the shape of a Griffin’s head in their back garden if you want to lose the kids, whilst you tuck into a bit of lunch and a beer.
All in all a wonderful day of fun and surprises – and we haven’t space to include everything so you’ll be bound to find some we’ve missed.
- Stroll around the quaint local village shops, selling a selection of local crafts and produce such as cider, pickles, mustards and biscuits.
- Take time out to enjoy a cup of tea and some homemade cakes or buiscuits at one of the cosy village tearooms.
- Visit the model village,which depicts the local area in miniature.