Newchurch’s Newest Neighbours

The heritage and history of one of the Isle of Wight’s most ancient parishes, Newchurch, is moving into a new era as new community neighbours settle into Branstone Farm homes and businesses.

Newchurch today is a beautiful, peaceful semi-rural location – but was once the centre of a much larger parish that stretched ‘from sea to sea’, crossing the Island north to south and incorporating a little of everything across the islands landscape.

A little bit of history…

Branstone sits within the wider parish of Newchurch, one of the 33 parishes that make up the Isle of Wight. It was mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086 as one of the seven manors along with Ashey (including now modern Ryde), Knighton, Branston (which most likely took in the village of Newchurch), Winston, Bathingbourne, Apse and Wroxall.

At the time, Newchurch was surpassed in its religious significance only by Carisbrooke on the Island. The Abbey of Beaulieu appropriated the church parish in 1410, followed by Henry VIII who created six new districts at the time of the Dissolution, one being Bristol to which Newchurch was given. Later in the 19th century, Newchurch was then passed to Winchester, and is now part of the Diocese of Portsmouth (along with the rest of the Island).

The oldest landscape features, still visible today, the strikingly north-south lines of hedgerows and their embankments, are probably the still-visible boundaries of the original ‘Mother Parish’ itself derived from an Anglo-Saxon Island estate. The village of Newchurch and smaller settlements such as Adgestone provide a direct link with the Island’s medieval landscape and many of the existing field patterns derive from this time.

Fascinating stuff!

Thanks to Isle of Wight Council Archives for this map of the medieval parish boundaries
All Saints Church, Newchurch
View from Newchurch to Brading Downs

Bringing history into the present day…

Branstone Farm is a major regeneration site on the east of the Isle of Wight on the original studies centre that was an education farm set up back in 1973 by Isle of Wight Council. The community of Branstone becomes the 10th hamlet in the Parish of Newchurch.

With over half the island designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Branstone Farm as it is now, continues that connection and respect for the environment with a new public green space which will be open to all, and include hedges, new woodland, ponds and an outdoor education area.

With 42 affordable housing properties and 15 business units now becoming occupied, it means over 100 people will be calling Branstone Farm ‘home’, whether it’s to live, work or play. As a ‘community within a community’ there is a real buzz about how the newest Newchurch neighbours will be reaching out and contributing into a one of the oldest parish communities on the beautiful Isle of Wight.

As they say, ‘watch this space’!

Did you know…

Branstone as a small village community was also the site of the first Co-operative shop on the Island!

An inclusive community welcome for Branstone Farm new residents
Branstone ‘community within a community’ as neighbours say ‘hello’
Agriculture plays an important role in our landscape heritage
Hedgerows around Newchurch
Low light in Newchurch village