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St Cecilia's Abbey


A small landscape park developed in the 18th century as the grounds of Appley House, which is now part of the Benedictine convent.

Location, Area, Boundaries, Landform and Setting

The former grounds of Appley House, which now form the grounds of St Cecilia's Abbey.

Appley is situated in an elevated position to the east of Ryde and north of St John's House, with views to Spithead.

Entrances and Approaches

The former entrance in Appley Rise survives. This consists of a pair of vermiculated gate piers set within a recessed entrance wall of stucco panelling.

Gardens and Pleasure Grounds

The modern boundaries of the Abbey grounds remain similar to those shown on the O.S. 6" map of 1866. The grounds consist largely of open parkland to the south of house. There are a few large oak trees in the park, including one very large specimen. There are a number of recently planted broad leaved species including an avenue leading to a statue of the Virgin Mary. To the south of the house is a garden area. The site of the former kitchen garden is now occupied by the conventual buildings of the abbey.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details

St Cecilia's is a cloistered Benedictine community, but visitors are welcome at services. For more information view the St Cecilia's Abbey website.


18th Century

The remains of the original 18th century house are incorporated within St Cecilia's Abbey.

The former grounds of Appley House, which now form the grounds of St Cecilia's Abbey.The house is reputed to have been the home of David Boyes, a notorious 18th century smuggler, and was possibly built by him.

19th - 20th Century

Details are shown on the OS 25" (1866), including small groups of trees, individual trees and shrubberies. A walled kitchen garden lies to the west, with a greenhouse against south wall of garden. There is a lodge to the east, and approach drives. (Ordnance Survey 25" 1866).

A description of Appley House in 1876 refers to it as the yachting residence of N Clayton Esq. There is reference to a large walled kitchen garden, an orchard, vineries and a peach house. 'The pleasure grounds... were designed by Mr Milner of Norwood'. [There is a detailed description of the pleasure grounds and park.] The article includes illustrations of the house and grounds. (The Gardeners' Chronicle December 30 1876.)

The 'Mr Milner' referred to in the above article is Edward Milner, a noted 19th century garden designer.

From 1879-1906 Appley House was occupied by The Isle of Wight Proprietary College Ltd.

In 1906 the Community of Sainte C├ęcile (Benedictine nuns) moved from Northwood House to Appley, where they remain at the present day.


The house and grounds are shown on a number of historic maps.

  • Occupier named as Roberts (Andrews 1769).
  • (Worsley 1781).Grounds shown (Ordnance Survey 1793).
  • (Clarke 1812).Shown on map (Brannon 1824). Illustrated (Brannon 1824).
  • Shown as "Park" (Ordnance Survey 1866 6", Ordnance Survey 1909 6").
  • Plan of Appley House Estate, IW, for Sale by Daniel Smith, Son & Oakley, 1868.


18th Century

Associated People
Key Information


Landscape Park



Principal Building



18th Century


Part: standing remains

Open to the public





  • Isle of Wight Gardens Trust