Village History

Northwood Village History

Until 1894, the sources for local history do not always differentiate what we know today as Northwood from the history of the wider Cowes, Gurnard, Thorness and Parkhurst area, as the ecclesiastical parish of Northwood once included all these places. Its western boundary was the river at Newtown and its eastern one the Medina; its southern boundary was Parkhurst Forest and its northern one the sea. To further complicate matters, Northwood was itself a Living which the incumbent Rector held jointly as Rector of Northwood and Vicar of Carisbrooke.

West Cowes did not become a separate parish until 1894, even though a chapel (which later became St. Mary’s church) had been there since 1657.

The parish boundary probably marks old Anglo-Saxon land divisions. Some of the local hedges have been dated as being at least one thousand years old. Neolithic finds have been made at Pallance Farm. A coin of Vespasion was found in Pallance Road and a coin of Marcus Aurelius in Parkhurst Forest. Near the church is an unexcavated Roman site, on top of which evidence of the mediaeval strip field system has been identified.

One local farm was mentioned in the Domesday Book – Luton (Levinton). In the 13thC Northwood was called ‘Northewede’ and also, in 1295, ‘North Wode’, becoming Northwood by 1364. Fourteenth-Century Northwood was the site of one of the string of warning beacons across the Island, our one, called ‘Roghelonde’ existing in 1324.

In 1770, smugglers were apprehended at Three Gates. In the 1820s and 30s, several Northwood residents were tried for smuggling and sentenced to either serve in the Navy or be imprisoned in Winchester Gaol, their main contraband being brandy, spirits, wine, tobacco and East Indian silk.

In 1777, Sir Richard Worsley bought the Manor of Northwood.

Turnpikes were erected in 1813. In 1816 they were moved from Love Lane to ‘Dallimore’s -which was somewhere near Smithard’s Lane. Also in 1816, the Highway Commissioners removed the three gates on the road from the Horseshoe to Nodes Farm – the fields were to be enclosed with culverts, and drains were to be built on the ‘Northwood Road’.

1875 saw a boundary dispute between Newport and Cowes. In 1876 the village was hit by a tornado: a thirty-yard wide strip of trees was blown down in Parkhurst Forest; two houses at Marks Corner and one in Tinkers Lane (Pallance Road) were destroyed before the tornado tore through Cowes.

The Ward family began buying up farms and plots of land in the early 19thC until they owned most of the local farms. These were sold off at the turn of the 20thC when the estate was broken up.

Most of the housing development of Northwood took place during the 20thC, with the Nodes Farm estate (Venner Avenue, etc.) being built in the 1960s. Later, farmland at Medham was developed.

Historic Sites and Heritage Features

Northwood has one Grade I Listed Building – the Parish Church of St. John the Baptist. There are several Grade II Listed Buildings, including Hope Cottage and Fryers Cottage, Tara House, Pallance Farmhouse, Wyatts Cottage, Barleyfield Cottage and buildings at Chawton Farm.

St. John The Baptist Church was a chapel of ease in the Carisbrooke Parish until the reign of Henry VIII when it obtained parochial privileges. The building is mostly 12thC and 13thC with some Victorian ‘improvements’ and repairs being made in 1864. Most of this restoration was financed by Miss Emma Ward. In 1874 the church bell was hung.

The Old Rectory (Tara House) was renovated and enlarged in 1736 by a very rich Rector, Dr. Thomas Troughear a man connected by marriage to many of the landed families on the Island -but by the end of the 19thC the curate ran a boarding school in the house to supplement his stipend. The church sold the glebe lands surrounding the old Rectory to neighbouring farms in 1918 and finally sold the old Rectory itself in 1953, building the new Rectory in Chawton Lane as a replacement.

In 1855 the school was built in Wyatts Lane on land bequeathed by the Miss Ward sisters.

A certificate was issued in 1777 for a Dissenters’ Meeting House and James Day built a Presbyterian chapel.

In 1837 Trustees were appointed for the Independent chapel built at Marks Corner on land purchased in 1806 by James Flux and James Clarke.

1880 the old Wesleyan chapel was deemed insufficient to meet the increase in Wesleyan Methodism in the area and a new chapel and school room were build just below the old one in Tinkers Lane (Pallance Road). This new one could accommodate 130 people. It is now a private residence.

From modest industrial beginnings with, for example, a blacksmith next to the Horseshoe in the 1820s, this part of the Island became a major source of industrial employment. In 1919 Somerton Works was sold to a manufacturer of motor scooters, in 1927 it was leased to the Vectis Bus Company and in 1935 it re-opened and was re-equipped for the manufacture of aircraft components. Somerton Works finally closed in 1966. The old J S White’s sports ground was at Somerton.

Decca opened in Northwood in 1959 before becoming Plessey and going through several name changes until the current BAE Systems.

There were several brickyards in the parish including those at Medham (which was in existence in 1772), Werrar (which was then in the Parish and was pre-1884), Wyatts Lane and Marks Corner.

In 1513 there was a hospital in Northwood. A confraternity called the Brothers and Sisters of St. John the Baptist was founded near Northwood Church about 1513 and was dissolved in 1536. The building housing the confraternity, later known as Church House, was still standing in 1690 and was near St. John’s church.


In 1727 and predating the one at St. Mary’s, one of the earliest work houses in the country, instigated by the Revd. Thomas Troughear, was opened near the church. This supplied apprentice labour to many of the local farmers – and also the Rector himself to work his glebe land.

Land was purchased for a cemetery in 1855 (in Newport Road), with two thirds consecrated and one third unconsecrated.

The Present Community

The community today is characterised by several discrete areas and phases of settlement: ‘Central’ Northwood

Most of what residents consider today to be ‘Northwood’ developed when part of Decca Radar relocated onto the old aerodrome site in the late 1950s. Prior to the development of the Wroxall Farm and the Nodes Farm Estates (housing many Decca – later Plessey – employees and families), there were distinctive communities in Furzyhurst close to the school and sporadic houses in Wyatts Lane and Tinkers Lane (Pallance Road). Victorian and Edwardian properties, with some later, inter-war and post-WWII buildings result in a mixed building stock in the older, linear settlements in Oxford Street, Wyatts Lane, Pallance Road, Pallance Lane, Coronation Avenue and the Newport/ Cowes Road. Significant development took place in Harry Cheek Gardens and Cranleigh Gardens in the 1990s – the latter increasing significantly the social housing stock in the community.

A number of new infill developments have been created, most recently Willow Tree Drive (off Venner Avenue) and Wyatts Close. The majority of lower-cost or affordable housing is found within ‘central’ Northwood.


The area known as Chawton, around Northwood Church, is the oldest part of the village. In recent years Chawton Farm barns were sympathetically converted into housing.

Pallance Gate

Pallance Gate is a small community of three or four dwellings, former farm-workers’ cottages, off Hillis Gate Road.


Hillis refers to the dozen or so households located from Hillis Corner to the road to Parkhurst Forest (Hillis Gate Road). The houses at Hillis Gate Road are a combination of former farm houses and cottages, forest-workers’ cottages and homes to residents once employed at the local brickworks.


Medham Village is a 1980s development of seventy one properties surrounded by open countryside at the bottom of Medham Farm Lane.


Somerton is host to most of the industry in Northwood as well as being an area of housing. There is a thriving industrial estate as well as BAE Systems, Cliftongrade scrap yard, and a branch of the Co-op (now closed). Somerton is probably most famous for having the air strip which was in existence from 1916 to 1951 (now the BAE site).

Northwood 1841 Census  Summary
by Jacquie Pearce

Updated February 2010

This information has been compiled from transcripts of the 1841 Census held at the Isle of Wight Records Office, Hillside.  I have tried to identify records which fall within the current village area (except Chawton).   Details are grouped by location with single farms and other principal locations listed first.   The total number of households in each location is given in brackets after the heading, followed by the number of persons.  Some locations are obscure e.g.  “Pallance”, “Wroxall”, “Horseshoe”.  These appear to refer to the farms/pub of that name plus adjoining groups of houses.

The first-named individual is the person identified as the Head of Household, followed by the names of those living in that household.  Surnames of the latter are given only when different from the Head. These may be relations of the wife or visitors.  Within each location the households are listed in the order shown on the Census records.

Warning : while the information has been compiled to the best of my ability it may contain errors and omissions.  Thanks to information provided by Wendy Chalmers née Dunford I have been able to correct and amplify certain details including locating Wyatts Lane (under “Pallance”).

Around 60 households are listed containing around 300 people.  The most common male occupation is Agricultural Labourer (AgLab) but with a sprinkling of artisans (smith, thatcher, bonnetmaker, laundress, bricklayer, dressmaker, shoemaker, carpenter), a few mariners and shipwrights presumably working out of Cowes.  Apart from the farmers, the better off households included the Rector (3 resident servants), a gamekeeper and farming steward, the latter employed by the Ward Estate which owned most of the land.

Lewton (=Luton Farm)  (1) (8)
Edmund Lee (50) Farmer, Elizabeth (40), Joseph (19) Carpenter App, Robert (15), Mary (11), Maria (9), Frank (4), Harriet (1)

Parsonage  (next to Luton)  (1)  (4)
John “Brecks” (= Breeks)  (70) Clerk i.e. the Rector, Thomas Hinton (60) Manservant, Jane Arnold (40) Female servant, Hannah Coombs (40) Female servant

“Furzyhurst”  (Farmhouse, at bottom of Oxford Street)  (1) (6)
John Judd (45) AgLab, Ann (45), Louisa Toogood (8), Elizabeth Dawson (20), Alfred Dawson (5), Henry Dawson (3)

“Roxall” =Wroxall  Farm with neighbouring properties (4) (18)
(a)    Wroxall Farmhouse ( Willow Tree Drive at bottom of Venner Avenue)
–    William Saunders (60) Farmer, Patience (55), Jane (20)

–     Harriet Wells (35) Independent [William Saunders’s widowed daughter], Matthew (19) AgLab, William (17) AgLab, Charles (15) AgLab, Cornelius (13),  Mark (11), Maria (8)

(b)  Furzyhurst Cottages
–    Richard Small (45) Shoemaker, Frances (35), Ellen (12), Edward (10), Henry (5)]

–    Catherine Small (70) Laundress,  Mary (35) Laundress, Frank (20) Lab

“Horseshoe”  (4)  (25)
Joseph Jerram  (45) Wheelwright, Mary (45), Mary (13), Ellen (8), Frank (6),  Mary Richards (80) Pauper

Mark Loving (35) Carpenter, Mary (40), Ann Woodford (70) Independent

[Horseshoe Public House] Edmund Slade (30) Publican, Eliza (35), Ann (2), Ellen (3 mths),  Louisa Sivier (12), William Sivier (10), Richard Sivier (8)

Ashford Saunders (30) AgLab, Mary Ann (35), Lewis (5), Amelia (3), Richard (2), Mary Ann Netten (10), Joseph Rabbets (60) AgLab, Louisa Rabbets (60)

Hillis Farm. (1)  (6)
Alfred Carr (40) Independent, Sophia (20), Eliza (20), Louisa (12), Elizabeth Sanden (65) female servant, Henry Fry (22) manservant.

“Hillis”  (2) (8)
William Paul (50) AgLab, Dinah (50)

James Young (45) AgLab, Jane (40), Eliza (20), Maria (15), Jane (11), Harriet (5)

Skinners Farm  (1) (9)
William “Harrow” [=Farrow] (45) Farmer, Mary (40), John (14), Elizabeth (10), Henry (12), Edward (8), George (4),  Charles (3), Walter (1)

Comforts Lodge  (1) (4)
William Bullock (40) Gamekeeper, wife Charlotte (40), children Charles (13) and Clara (15).

Manor House (Rew Street) (1)  (3)
George Dunford (24) AgLab , Ellen (20) and Solomon, Ag Lab (20)

White House (1) (3)
John Taylor (70) Farmer, Mary (30), Catherine Hurst (20) Female Servant

Tinkers Lane (Pallance Road)  (25) (110)

Robert Miller (65), AgLab, wife Hannah (65). Children? Grandchildren? William (14),
Elizabeth (11)
[Location believed to be a house shown on the 1845 map between Comforts Lodge and the Manor House, Rew Street.  According to 1844 Tithe Apportionment records, Robert Miller was also the “occupier” of land towards the top of Pallance Road/Tinkers Lane.]

(Springhill Cottage) Edward Day (48) Merchant, Dolores (18), Elizabeth (9)

(Langleys Cottage) Hannah Davis (25) (Head).  Eliza Mary (2), John (30) AgLab, Jane (25), Mary Ann (13), Louisa (11), Jane (1)  (shown on 1862 OS map near Wyatts Lane)

(Kings Cottages)
(1)  Charles Spencer (40) Bricklayer, Jane (37), Ellen (11), Harrison (8), Morris (5), Frank (2), Abraham (1)
(2) Mark Moores (33) AgLab, Jane (30), Mark (8), Sarah (5), Jane (2),  William (21) Smith
(3) John Spencer (64) Mason, Sarah (67)
(4) Mary Dowdney (64), Mary Ann Dowdney (22), Ann Taylor (50), George Eyres (7)

William Pope (40) Mariner, Fanny (40), Stephen (11), John (9), Henry (5), Leonard Barter (15) brickmaker

George Simmonds (30),  Mary (30), Henrietta (12)

Mary Long (80)

David Dunford (55) Thatcher, Jane (50), David (10)

James Wadham (55) AgLab, Sarah (50)

Thomas Gladdis (40) AgLab, Amelia (35), George (15), Thomas (15) Butcher J, Elizabeth (14),  Jane (12), William (10), Amelia (4), Alfred (2)

Robert Wadham (35) AgLab, Elizabeth (30), Jane (10), Eliza (9), James (3), John (6 months)

James Howells (45) Steward, Mary (45)
On the 1844 Tithe Map he appears to be living in Navarine Cottage, the forerunner of the house currently known as Woodside.  It was destroyed in the tornado of September 1876.  The Northwood Cemetery records show a James Howells, Farming Steward buried in December 1858 aged 66, implying he was born in 1792 rather than 1796.  Mary Howells, widow, was buried in March 1859 where her age is given as 75, possibly an error for 65.  Their grave lies behind the Church of England chapel.  Above it an impressive monument has been erected by the “grateful proprietor and tenants” of the Northwood Estate.  The inscription indicates that Mr Howells had served as steward for 30 years (1828 to 1858)  and celebrates his diligence and integrity.

Previous occupiers of In 1861 Navarine Cottage :
1861 Robert Daniell ;  1871  Ann Dunford, a servant in charge of the house.  At the time of the 1876 tornado it was known as the “Redferns house” so they must have moved here between 1871 and 1876. e two dates.
After the Redferns left Cowes around 1805/6, Hannah Beazley, John Redfern’s sister-in-law, lived at Woodside until after the Great War when it was bought by the Phillips family, also Cowes drapers.  It has now been converted into flats.

Edwin Smith (20) Mariner

George Dunford (45) Farmer, Jane (30), Solomon (50) AgLab

John Parkman (55) Navy HP (? Half pay), Margaret (45), Sarah (15), Ann (13), Eliza (11), Victoria (11), Selina (8), Henry (5), Frederick (1)

Daniel Morey (40) AgLab, Elizabeth (50), Jane (15), Ann(15), George (15), James (13), James Underwood (80) AgLab

Ann Harber (55) Laundress, Mary (20) dressmaker, Emily Moth (20)

Benjamin Bennett (40) AgLab, Charlotte (30), Joseph (11), Ellen (7), Benjamin (5), George (11 months)

Jacob Jerrom (35) AgLab, Elizabeth (35), Jane (15), Joseph (15) Carpenter Apprentice, Charlotte (12)

John Harber (90) Independent

John Howard (55) AgLab, Elizabeth (45), Eliza (25), William Jerrom (14), James Jerrom (11), Charles Jerrom (5), Jane Jerrom (2)

John Taylor (45) AgLab, Martha (30), John (10), George (7), Ann (3), Henry (1 month) 25

Pallance Lane  (9) (49)
Peter Randall (30) Shoemaker, Fanny (30), Henry (11), Ann (9)

Abraham Wells (45) AgLab, Elizabeth (40), James (15), Abraham (15), Elizabeth (15), Charlotte (12), Mary (9), Eliza (4), Catharine (1)

William Young (80) AgLab, Mary (75)

Daniel Young (35) AgLab, Harriet (35), Harriet (12), Martha (10), Ann (8), James (6), Isaac (2), Jane (4 months)

James Wells (45) AgLab, James (11), Martha (6), Emma Davis (20) Female Servant

John Hine (30) Smith, Elizabeth (20), Ellen (9), Mary (5), Eliza (3), George (2)

Edmund Dunford (45) AgLab, Martha (45), Mary (14), Martha (12), Edmund (10), Fanny (6)

John Loving (35) AgLab, Charlotte (30), Ellen (8), James (4), Jane (9 months)

Joseph Jupe (40) AgLab, Mary (45), William (15), Betsy (10), Isaac (8)

“Pallance”  (Pallance Farm in Pallance Lane and nearby properties)  (7) (43)
William Jones (45) Farmer, Mary (45), Charles (13), Charlotte (11), Ann (9), Frank (6), David (70) Independent,  William Taylor (20) MS (? Manservant)

John Gapes (30) AgLab, Sarah (35), Jane (10), William (8), Frank (6mths)

[the following entries for “Pallance”  refer to Wyatts Lane]
[Wyatts Cottage]  James Morley (50) Independent, James (15) Shipwright, Charles (8), Alice (7), Fanny (6)

[? Fern Cottage] Augustus Dawes  (20) Farmer, Thurza (25), Isabella (3), Thurza (1), Jane Claele (20) Bonnetmaker,  Maria Glassby (20) Female servant

[some of the following may well have been living in Ivy and Barleyfield Cottages]
Jacob Ridett (40) AgLab, Charlotte (30),  Mary (11), Emma (9), Edward Farley (60) AgLab

James Long (45) AgLab Charlotte (40), Jane (15), Joanna (10), Jacob (10), Martha (6), William (3)

Abraham Dunford (50) AgLab, Jane (50), Isaac (25) AgLab, George (20) Mariner, James (15) AgLab, John (13), William (10)


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