Katherine Euphemia Farrer, 1839-1931
Culver Cliff from Bonchurch Isle of Wight, March 16th 1892, Combe Wood

signed with various signtures of house party guests staying at Combe Wood; Reginald J Farrer, Harry Fletcher Bessie A Farrer, Arthur E J Newman".

pencil and watercolour
10.50 x 17.50 cm.


Culver Down is a chalk down to the north of Sandown, Isle of Wight. It is believed that its name derives from "Culfre", which is Old English for dove.

The down has a typical chalk downland wildlife on the uncultivated areas (generally the southern and eastern slopes). This includes plants such as Small Scabious, Harebell, Cowslip and Lady's Bedstraw. The chalk cliffs to the north and east are important nesting places for seabirds. Historically, Culver has been the source of commercial bird's egg collecting from ropes over the cliff. It was also known for breeding peregrine falcons, as well as breeding Common Woodpigeons (Culvers), the source of the cliff's name.

The northern side is intensively grazed by cattle, so fertilization and poaching of the soil, not to mention a spell as an artillery training ground, have all but eliminated the natural chalk ecosystem. On Culver Down a number of unusual ant species live, including the semi-myrmecophilous Solenopsis fugax (Latr.), a thief ant which was recorded there several times by Horace Donisthorpe. The ant Ponera coarctata has also been taken from this location.

The public parts of this prominent headland are owned and managed by the National Trust, and afford views of the English Channel.
For many years the whole site was a military zone and not open to the public. There are several historic military features on the down, a number of private dwellings, the Culver Haven pub, and the very visible Monument. The military barracks which once adjoined the monument has been almost completely erased, but there is a substantial fort, now under the ownership of the National Trust and occasionally opened to the public. Part of the fort is leased to Micronair, manufacturing crop-spraying and military equipment. It is a Palmerston Fort, constructed in the 1860s. At the end of the cliff is a coastal and anti-aircraft battery from the Second World War.

In 1545 a French force was intercepted crossing from its beachhead at Whitecliff Bay to attack Sandown by local levies under Sir John Oglander and a skirmish fought on the Down. The French were finally repulsed at Sandown.The poet Algernon Charles Swinburne said in a letter that he had climbed the cliffs at 17, in order to prove his manhood to his family after they refused to let him join the army.

There is a legend that a 14th-century hermit lived at the end of the cliffs in a cave, in a structure then known as Culver Ness. He is said to have predicted that the well at Wolverton would be poisoned. When a pilgrim from Jerusalem came to bless the well, the vigilant and pious villagers are said to have murdered him. Shortly after, the French sacked the village and since then it has been lost beneath the trees of Centurion's Copse. They were repulsed from further mischief by Sir Theobald Russell. There was subsequently a great storm which destroyed the Ness and drowned the hermit. This was held to be divine retribution.

Bonchurch is a small village to the east of Ventnor, now largely connected to the latter by suburban development, on the southern part of the Isle of Wight, England. One of the oldest settlements on the Isle of Wight, it is situated on The Undercliff adjacent to the Bonchurch Landslips (or "The Landslip") Site of Special Scientific Interest. The main village is backed by a cliff to the north, with the Upper Bonchurch section on the clifftop halfway up St Boniface Down on the main A3055 road.
Bonchurch is situated on a stable section of former landslip, its main street (Bonchurch High Street) running east-west in a valley sheltered to the north by cliffs, and to the south by The Mount, a ridge of slipped rock. Bonchurch High Street has an adjacent landscaped pond, fed by a spring, on the site of former withy beds. The Shanklin-Ventnor route originally passed through Bonchurch, descending the ciff by the steep Bonchurch Shute; now it is bypassed by the clifftop A3055 Leeson Road.

The presence of a water spring is believed to be the reason why humans first settled in the area where present-day Bonchurch is located.A prehistoric race lived in the area around the Undercliff, land which was wild forest.Evidence has also been found showing that men that lived during the Stone Age had lived near to the water spring. Five burial mounds have been discovered at St. Boniface Down. Evidence has also been discovered showing that the Romans[2] established a settlement in the area. The Saxon patron saint, St. Boniface, is believed to have visited the Isle of Wight, and possibly the area where Bonchurch is now located, in the 8th century. Legend states that monks from Lyra in Normandy landed at Monks Bay, near to modern-day Bonchurch, and erected a building in dedication to St. Boniface. This building could be the wooden building which is believed to have existed in the 9th century where the Old Church now stands.

The first documented proof of the existence of Bonchurch is found in the Domesday Book. In the Domesday Book, the settlement was called Bonecerce 'Cerce' is Anglo-Saxon for 'church', whilst 'Bone' is presumed to have been derived from St. Boniface.
Bonchurch has two churches. The oldest one is called the Old Church.The Domesday Book recorded its existence. See Old St. Boniface Church, Bonchurch and St. Boniface Church, Bonchurch. In July 1545, the Battle of Bonchurch was fought. 500 French soldiers had landed at the coast near Bonchurch, one of three landings that took place on the coastline of the Isle of Wight by French soldiers.300 Isle of Wight militiamen engaged the French forces, and the militiamen won the engagement.Some accounts state that local women participated in the battle by firing arrows at the French soldiers. The victory is considered to have decisively stopped the French invasion of the Isle of Wight.
Soon after the battle, a number of men from the French fleet which had retreated from the Solent after the Battle of the Solent landed on the coast near Bonchurch.[4] The men were engaged in a military action by English soldiers whilst they were on a mission to collect fresh water on the island.A French senior officer, Chevalier D'Aux, was killed. His body was buried in Bonchurch, but was exhumed and taken back to France in 1548 after the war between England and France had ceased.

In the late 1830s and onward, the hitherto rural Bonchurch was extensively developed for exclusive private villas, following land acquisition and sale by the Reverend James White. White married Rosa Hill, heiress to the manor of Bonchurch, and subsequently obtained a private local Act of Parliament to overturn parts of his father-in-law's will forbidding development and breakup of the estate. In the mid to late 19th Century, Bonchurch developed into a fashionable centre for writers and artists. Celebrated Victorians such as Charles Dickens, Thomas Carlyle, and Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay came here and stayed in large villas that they rented, often for the season.
The poet Algernon Charles Swinburne spent his boyhood in Bonchurch, at East Dene, and was buried in 1909 at Bonchurch New Church, his grave being the subject of a poem by Thomas Hardy. He had an atheist funeral which was picketted in protest by his relatives. In the 20th Century Henry De Vere Stacpoole lived in the village for over 40 years, and was buried here in 1951.

In the 2006 TV Robin Hood, Much is made Earl of Bonchurch in the episode "A Thing or Two About Loyalty". It is implied it is not far from Locksley, but the non-fictional geography is different. The village is also the setting of Graham Masterton's supernatural horror novel Prey.
Bonchurch, and its church is featured in the Commodore 64 videogame Spirit of the Stones, in which the game itself is set on the Isle of Wight itself. The engineer Thomas Rumble retired to Bonchurch for health reasons and died there in 1883. He is buried in the New Churchyard there..
Tony Bristow had a studio pottery in Bonchurch from 1961-1967 and in 1974 his son, Andrew, began production in Bonchurch. The pieces are often signed 'Bonchurch' on the base.