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The Hermitage, St Catherine's

Introduction

Woodland gardens of about 5 hectares, originally developed in the early 19th century and now surrounding a hotel rebuilt in the late 19th century. The gardens feature rhododendrons and spring bulbs.

The Hermitage is situated beneath St Catherine's Down with panoramic views to the north, south and east.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts
History

The following is taken from information about the historic development of The Hermitage supplied by the Isle of Wight Gardens Trust, and includes references used by them:

16th Century

The land on which the original house called The Hermitage stood appears to have formed part of the Appuldurcombe estate in the 16th century, although it is not mentioned by name in the 1571 rental of the manor of Appuldurcombe. This refers only to the holding of ‘Beere alias Berely with 30 acres' (now known as Bierley) which ‘Thomas Brading holdeth freely of the manor of Appledurcombe'.

17th - 18th Century

In 1629 Richard Brading sold Beere and Armitage to William Broad of Newport, mercer. Both properties passed by descent and marriage to Alexander Alchorne of the City of London, Gent. In 1705 he sold to Elizabeth Pickle of Southampton Beere and ‘a tenement and garden called The Hermitage'. The estate of Elizabeth Pickle passed to Robert Methuen and Robert Studley Vidal by descent and marriage. In 1778 the above owners, with Richard Thorold, sold ‘a cottage called Amitage, alias Snape End' to William Brake of the parish of Godshill, yeoman, for £30. Michael Hoy, a Russian merchant trading out of the port of London, then purchased the premises on which he built a mansion house for himself called The Hermitage and a great column, known as the Hoy Monument, on the highest point of the down behind the house, to commemorate the Czar's visit to England in 1814, after the Allied defeat of Napoleon. (Information from transcription and annotation of the Royal Survey of the Isle of Wight, Isle of Wight County Record Office.)

19th Century

In ‘Vectis Scenery' (1824) George Brannon describes Hoy's property as

‘a small seat belonging to Michael Hoy, esquire, called THE MEDINA HERMITAGE.... The house is characterised by simplicity and neatness; its greatest ornament is a large and elegant verandah, having a broad open trellis roof, beautifully entwined with the sweetest variety of climbing plants ... '

The Ordnance Survey (OS) 1866 25" map shows the main house and a large building to the north (named as The Coach House on the OS 1978 1:2500). To the west of the house a small rectangular structure is shown. An open lawn is shown to the east of the house with a pond and walled garden beyond. The lawn is surrounded by a shelter belt of mixed woodland encircling the property to the north, east and south. A summer house is marked within the woodland to the north of the lawn. A belt of woodland named ‘Snipe End' stretches up to St Catherine's Down from the west side of the property and continues to the north along the eastern side of the down. Within this woodland two small structures, possibly gazebos, are marked, linked by a path which contours around the steep woodland slope. To the south of the woodland ‘Hoy's Monument' is marked. To the south of Snipe End a small cottage, two other small structures and a series of small enclosures protected by a coniferous shelter belt are shown, directly under St Catherine's Down.

In the 1850s the house appears to have suffered at least partial damage by fire and was not lived in for a time. In 1895 the whole structure underwent complete rebuilding to take the form it has today.

Despite the loss of Michael Hoy's house and the now ruinous condition of the gazebos, the designed grounds of The Hermitage still provide evidence of the original layout. The ornamental woodland walk with vistas and gazebos is significant, as are the remains of the walled garden and the pond. The beech woodland surrounding the grounds and at Snipe End is an interesting feature, possibly originally established by Hoy, although the existing trees are probably of more recent date.

Features & Designations

Features

  • Lawn
  • Shrubbery
  • Pond
Key Information

Type

Woodland Garden

Purpose

Ornamental

Survival

Extant

Hectares

5

Civil Parish

Godshill

References

References