Shanklin Old Village contains the majority of the oldest properties in Shanklin, most of which are thatched. The quaint, picturesque, chocolate box cottages and winding road have provided the images for many postcards. The Crab Inn is the most famous pub on the Island, one of the oldest in Shanklin and remains at the heart of the vibrant Old Village.
During the day the Old Village is bustling with locals and visitors. Today many of the thatched cottages are craft shops, gift shops or tea rooms offering, amongst other things, wonderful Isle of Wight Cream Teas. As well as the Crab Inn there are many other pubs and restaurants in this area offering both local produce and cuisine from across the globe.
It was in the latter part of the eighteen century into the first half of the nineteenth century when Shanklin began to develop from a sleepy little village with only a dozen fishermen’s cottages. The early development was due to the Romantic Age which brought a taste for beautiful scenery. Further development came with Victorian seaside holidays and salt-water bathing becoming fashionable, the presence of Queen Victoria at Osborne House and improved rail communications. The Esplanade replaced the old sea wall in the 1880’s with a row of elegant establishments. Famous visitors to Shanklin during this time were Charles Darwin who stayed at Norfolk House in 1858 whilst working on “Origin of Species.” In 1868 Longfellow stayed at Williams Hotel (which later became Holliers) and wrote “This is one of the quaintest and loveliest places in the kingdom.”
Shanklin Chine has been drawing visitors to Shanklin since 1817 when it was first opened to the public. The word “Chine” is now only used on the Isle of Wight and in Dorset. It is a word of Saxon origin meaning “deep narrow ravine, formed by water cutting through soft sandstone leading to the sea.” When you enter Shanklin Chine either via the Old Village or the Esplanade, you feel as if you are stepping into a magical world of rare plants, woodland and wildlife, all surrounding the spectacular gorge and dramatic 45ft waterfall.
Parking for the Old Village is very easy with a large pay and display car park. The area is also served well by the Southern Vectis bus network and is within walking distance of the Island Line train station at the end of Regent St in Shanklin Town.
Written by Hana Johnson, Editor of Visit Shanklin Community Magazine