Whitwell is a pretty village that sits above the Undercliff approximately three miles north-west of the seaside resort of Ventnor in the south of the Isle of Wight. Niton is its near neighbour with the well-known thatched village of Godshill a couple of miles to the north.

Whitwell or Whittle

Red boy water hydrant Whitwell Isle of Wight

‘Red boy’ or ‘lion’ water hydrant.

You might hear locals referring to Whitwell as ‘Whittle’ and its name is thought to have originally been corruption of ‘White Well’, where white is an old English word meaning pure or clean. The original white well was much venerated in days gone by and visited during medieval times on pilgrimages. The well is located to the south of the village and is ‘dressed’ every year in the summer. The need for fresh water also explains the presence of the distinctive red water hydrants that are dotted all around the village. These were installed with the assistance of a local philanthropist in the late 1800s.

Walkers and cyclists welcome

Whitwell is popular with walkers and cyclists as it has a network of paths and a trails that lead out of the village in every direction; head up to Stenbury Down or down the Undercliff to the sea. It’s close to the Worsley Trail and Source to Sea route that winds through the Island following the path of the River Yar all the way to Bembridge harbour on the Isle of Wight’s eastern tip.

The village church is St. Mary and St Rhadegund is over 700 years old and is unusual not only being formed from two chapel but also in that only a handful of church in England are dedicated to St Rhadegund. The village Post Office runs from the church every Friday and Monday morning. You can read much more about Whitwell and its history on Robin Thornton’s Whitwell History website.