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In a new church on a site given by the wife of James White of Punch worshipped Elizabeth Sewell, whose tales for children were much read last century. In this church are six windows filled with old glass, painted with saints in rich robes by l5th century Flemish artists. There is also a charming little window with a figure of St Edith in memory of another worshipper, Edith Swinburne, the companion window with a figure of St Benet being to the memory of Admiral Swinburne. They were both friends of the church, and the most famous member of their family, Algernon Charles, the poet,lies in the churchyard, which is like a garden with little vales and hills among trees and flowers and shrubs. The Swinburne graves lie close by the path, all alike with grey stone; the poet had a home here called East Dene, the charming old white house backed by trees with the wide sweep of the lovely bay in front of it.
Every visitor to Bonchurch knows the beautiful water bordering the village street, and every bird knows it, too. It was part of the garden of Mr H. de Vere Stacpoole, the novelist, but its charm belongs to all who pass. It has an inscription to Margaret de Vere Stacpoole, and is a memorial to the novelist's wife which has now been presented to the village, and is to be kept, we hope, always as beautiful as we found it.
The history of Bonchurch is linked with a remarkable group of names. Here Macaulay lived for a time (at Madeira Hall on the Ventnor road). He would walk up this winding drive flanked by the rocks to which the coast here owes its rare beauty. Here Tennyson loved to come, though once he had the unpleasant experience of being set upon by unmannerly ladies who seized his hat and cut it into pieces-like rosemary, for remembrance. Here also is a hilltop which Mr Howard Whitehouse, the founder of Bembridge School, has given to the National Trust, naming it Nansen Hill. Here Scouts and Guides may camp, catching, let us hope, something of the indomitable spirit of the man whose name it bears. We must hope that the Isle of Wight is proud to have his name on its map.
Bonchurch was the birthplace of Sir Thomas Hopsonn, who became a tailor's apprentice but for ever heard the call of the sea and ran away to join the Fleet. His resourcefulness and his love of high enterprise earned him swift promotion, and his courage and skill won him a knighthood from Queen Anne.
Not yet is the list of famous men of Bonchurch exhausted, for in the graveyard of the old church sleep not only Swinburne but two other Victorians, William Adams and John Sterling. William Adams was a preacher and writer beloved by all throughout the island. He lived at the house called Winterbourne. As we look at his grave we are reminded of the best known of his beautiful allegories. The Shadow of the Cross, for an iron cross casts its shadow across the grave when the sun is shining. John Sterling was one of the early Liberals. Everyone who knew him felt that he was remarkable, but the sum total of his achievements did not suffice to make him famous.
It shelters under the great heights of Brighstone Down, a delightful place. The top of the down (it is 700 feet up) is the highest point of the middle range, and from it we see almost from end to end of the island, from Culver Cliff above Sandown to Freshwater Bay, 20 miles as the crow flies. The little church (which has an old mass clock on its sunny wall) has a beautiful interior, with a Norman arcade for the north aisle and mediaeval arches on the south, a i3th century doorway, a i4th century tower, and a 15th century font.