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It has glorious cliffs where many famous men have loved to walk. Lewis Carroll would spend long holidays here. Darwin loved it as much as any place he knew by the sea. John Wilkes built a house here which he called his "Villakin;" there is a memorial plaque on the site of it at the corner of the High Street. On Sunday mornings John Wilkes would go to Shanklin church, and after the service would walk across the fields to Knighton with David Garrick and his wife. Sir Isaac Pitman is said to have worked on his system of shorthand here.
There are delightful gardens on the cliffs between Sandown and Shanklin, beautiful with rockeries and flowerbeds, and a wide view over the bay which runs from the gleaming white walls of Culver Cliff, rising 250 feet out of the sea, to the sunburnt cliffs on the way to Dunnose.
Sandown has no ancient church, but its 19th century church has a west doorway built in Norman style; it was put here in memory of Sir Henry Oglander, the last of the family which came over with the Conqueror and was part of the life of the Isle of Wight until Sir Henry died in 1874. They would be great people in the island when Sandown Castle was built by Henry VIII. It was second in importance only to Carisbrooke, but the sea destroyed it and Charles I rebuilt it. It was demolished in 1864 and the stones were used for the present fort. Not many minutes walk away are the remains of a building 1000 years older, the famous Roman villa at Brading.
It lies in the hollow and climbs the sharp slopes on a switchback hill on the Yarmouth road. We found its thatched roofs showing through masses of fruit blossom, the grey tower of the church rising grandly above. It is the oldest tower in the island, and has been saved by the engineering genius of the 20th century, for it was found that it was standing in 10 feet of clay and water, and the foundations have been relaid in concrete. Here on a small scale the miracle of the saving of Winchester Cathedral has been accomplished. The walls of the tower are five feet thick and it stands 20 feet square. The sturdy Norman doorway has a sculptured tympanum in which is a man is standing between two lions with tails curved above their backs. He is probably Daniel.
The spacious church has the splendid simplicity of the 13th century builder, with a lofty tower arch, a noble arcade on slender pillars of porphyry, and tracery windows with rare oval lights. The chancel belongs to the beginning of the 14th century. The screen made from ancient timbers is in memory of Thomas Hollis, who was sexton here for 55 years until just before the Great War. The reredos is made of old linenfold panelling, and the remains of the i7th century altar table. The Jacobean pulpit has carved brackets and two rows of carved panels. The wooden crucifix by the pulpit was found among old rubbish. The roof timbers of the nave and the south porch of stone are both 500 years old. Two faint sculptures are fading away after 700 years; they are on the gravestone by the south door, and are carved with shields and spears and a helmet. It is thought the helmet may mark the grave of Pagan Trenchard, a knight who lived here when men were still talking of William Rufus.
William II , (French: Guillaume II d'Angleterre) the third son of William I of England (William the Conqueror), was King of England from 1087 until 1100, with powers over Normandy, and influence in Scotland. He was less successful in extending control into Wales. William is commonly known as William Rufus, perhaps because of his red-faced appearance.