More about Seaview

From Beauties of the Isle of Wight, 1830

Walk to Sea View.

This little village was originally called Old Fort : it stands to the east of Ryde. The road leading to it Forms a most beautiful marine walk. At the

commencement it passes along the foot of Appley ; after which the course may be pursued either by the sandy shore or through the narrow path which rises above and winds through the midst of a fine wood. Above this stands St. Clare, the seat of Lord Vernon. The view of it in this direction is very limited; being so much embosomed in the fine hanging wood. A little beyond this we pass the lovely villa of — Wyatt, Esq. the building is elegant, and presents a beautiful specimen of the ancient mode of ornament. At the termination of the wood the road passes over Puckpool Cliff where a pleasing assemblage of land and water scenery meet the view. The cliff is decorated with two antique lodges leading to the adjacent villa. As we approach Sea View, we pass a large salt manufactory. At a short remove from the village, stands the beautiful villa of Mrs. Beach, named Sea Field. The village itself is finely situated. The broken pieces of rock and of cliff which lie at the base, give it a romantic appearance. The sea opens here with very great sublimity: while the boldness of the view is softened by the eye falling on the distant shores of Sussex. There are several good lodging houses in the place, and in the height of the season, this sweet retired village is frequently filled with company. A little above this village is Fairy Hill, the lovely abode of Mrs. Gwvnn. A most enchanting view opens in front of this neat retired villa. Adjacent to this on the summit of the eastern cliff, is Sea Grove, the residence of -Matthews, Esq.


A short distance further to the east is seen the Priory, the seat of the late Sir Nash Grose, one of the judges of the Court of King’s Bench. The mansion is embosomed in the midst of a fine wood and most beautiful grounds, and has in the foreground a fine sea view: while at the base of the cliff near which it stands the water rolls into a delightful bay; and when it has ebbed, leaves a mass of sands which form a pleasant walk. This place was called Priory, from its being formerly a monastic cell to an abbey in Normandy. Some few of the remains are to be found in the farm and out-houses adjoining. The convent built a small church here, which they supplied from their own body, until the canon required vicars to be constantly resident. The parish was so small, that originally the bishop licensed the prior to celebrate mass and administer the sacraments. The walk from Sea View to the woody cliffs of Priory is very beautiful. As we approach the eastern curve of the bay the appearance is very commanding. It is enriched with large masses of rock thrown together in wild disorder, and forms a striking contrast to the velvet sands which are spread over the centre of the bay. Here, seated on the rock, sheltered by the cliff, and fanned by the breeze, the visitor may spend many a delightful hour. The smoothness of the shore, the placidity of the waters which flow into the small bay, and the broken pieces of rock which are scattered at the foot of the village, make it an attractive promenade.

From Ward Locks Red Guide around 1930

          Pretty Seaview, long regarded merely as an outpost of Ryde, has of late asserted a well-justified independence, and to-day holds an enviable position among those minor seaside resorts which appeal so much more strongly to discriminating holiday-makers than do the larger towns.

           It is appropriately named, being situated on a prominent headland at the north-eastern extremity of the Island, com­manding a spacious outlook over the Solent and the open sea. The constant procession of warships, liners and craft of all kinds is a source of never-failing interest. The fine firm sands of the two bays, the bordering woodland, reaching down to the very water, and the leafy lanes in the vicinity lend the place a rare charm. Both on and near the front are many attractive houses, but accommodation is in such demand during the season that the would-be visitor has generally to make arrangements months in advance.

The speciality of Seaview, and the principal attraction to the families who regularly, year after year, resort to it, is the sea-bathing. Very pleasing the many bathing tents look from the water, with their crowd of merry children on the sand in front and their dark green setting of foliage behind and eastward.

The visitor arriving by motor-’bus will alight in Bluett Avenue. For Seagrove Bay and the Pier turn right down a narrow road to the short front, then up High Street and take the third turning to the left down Pier Road.

The Suspension Pier (toll 3d.), dating from 1880, has some claim to be considered unique in that it is undeniably hand­some. The pier-head is about a thousand feet from shore, and is sufficiently roomy for three vessels to lie alongside at the same time. Four standards support the pier by means of wire ropes, instead of the ordinary chains, and several ingenious devices lessen the oscillation usually attendant upon such structures. Excursion steamers call from Clarence Pier and South Parade Pier, but “ Round the Island” steamers do not stop at Seaview.

The town of Seaview is situated around Seagrove Bay, where are the Pier and most of the bathing tents. The row of attractive villas at the eastern end of Seagrove Bay is practically cut off at high water from Seaview, and when the sands are not available it is necessary to take a somewhat roundabout but pleasant footpath, or to pass through a private road and pay a modest toll of a penny.

A warning note is necessary with regard to the clayey fore-shore round the wooded Horestone Point, at the eastern extremity of Seagrove Bay, people caught by the incoming tide having been extricated with difficulty only after they have sunk more than knee-deep in the mud. Beyond Horestone Point is the less frequented Priory Bay, whence it is possible to get along the beach to St. Helen’s at low water.

In the High Street and near it are many good shops. St Peter’s Church dates from 1859, and was, until recently, a chapel-of-ease to the mother church of St. Helen’s. The south aisle and Lady Chapel were added as a War Memorial.

The private road of the Seafield Estate, along the sea-front, provides the quickest route to Ryde. (Toll: Motors, 6d.; motor-cycles, 2d., with sidecar, 3d.; cyclists and pedestrians free.)

A mile west of Seaview, at Springvale, is Puckpool Park. This was the site of the Puckpool Battery until 1928, when the St. Helen’s U.D.C. decided to transform it into a pleasure garden. A wonderful transformation has taken place. Grass tennis courts have been (2s per hour doubles, 1s. 6d. singles), together with an 18-hole putting green (3d.). Along the sea-wall have been placed bathing huts, which may be hired by the season, or at 4d. per bathe. Tents may be hired by the day, week or month. The barrack-room is now a café, while on the lawns Military Tattoos, Sports, Fetes and Band Concerts are held during the summer months. There is also a miniature rifle range in the grounds



Access.—The most convenient approach to Seaview is viậ Ryde, the journey from Ryde Pier being completed by a pleasant drive of miles viậ the Esplanade, St. John’s, Puckpool Park and the Seafield Estate. There is a regular public motor service between Ryde (Pier Gates) and Seaview. During the summer months a small boat (not carrying luggage) runs between Southsea’s two piers and Seaview. For current information, apply to the Manager of the South Parade Pier, Southsea.

Bank.—Lloyds (High Street).

Bathing.—Delightful. The sands cannot be beaten anywhere. Tents (both in Seagrove Bay and Priory Bay) can be hired from W. Bull, The Briars, but bathing from one’s place of residence is very general. Bathing tickets (6d. per bathe) may be obtained at the Seagrove Bay Toll Gate. There are also facilities for bathing at Puckpool Park (see p. 44).

Boating.—Good and exceptionally safe. Canoeing is popular here, and young people can safely venture for a considerable distance. Shallow foreshore, rocky in places. Sailing vessels with experienced boatmen, can be hired. There is a strong local Yacht Club, with a convenient clubhouse on the front. A popular regatta is held annually.

Clubs.—Seaview Yacht Club; Conservative and Unionist Club.

Fishing.—Good. Whiting and bass. Some good prawning can be had round Horestone Point.

Golf.—The links at St. Helen’s and Ryde are within about half an hour’s walk and are easily reached by ‘bus.

Hotels and Tariffs.—.See p. xii.

Motor-’buses to St. Helen’s and to Ryde at short intervals. ‘Buses start from Bluett Avenue.

Motor-coach excursions to all parts of the Island by the coaches setting out from Ryde. On some trips the vehicles can be joined as they pass through Seaview, but it is well to reserve seats beforehand.

Motor Park.—By Pier: 6d. per 3 hours.

Places of Worship.St. Peter’s (Parish) Church, Sunday services: H.C. 8, each Sunday and 1st Sunday, 12 noon; 2nd, 10; Morning Prayer, 11; Evensong, 6.30. In August, Mattins, 10a.m. Sung Eucharist and Sermon, 11. Wesleyan Church 11 and 6; Beuiah Chapel (Free Wesleyan), 10.45 and 6. St. Helen’s Church is reached by a pleasant walk of about a mile and a half from the front.

Population.—About 2,000, augmented in the season to over 3,000.

Post Office.—Madeira Road. Open weekdays, 9 to 7; Sundays and Bank Holidays, 9 to 10.30 am.

Railway Facilities.—Motor-’buses link Seaview with the railway system of the island at St. Helen’s, miles, and at Ryde. Through railway bookings viậ Ryde Esplanade Station can be made with any station in the Isle of Wight.

Tennis.—The Conservative Club hires out hard courts in Bluett Avenue at 4s. per hour July to September, 3s. April to June, and 2s. October to March. There are grass tennis courts in Puckpool Park, a mile to the west of Seaview. Charges: 2s. per hour doubles, 1s 6d. per hour singles.


From the Ryde and Seaview guide around 1950

SEAVIEW AND ST. HELEN’S— it would indeed he difficult to find in the whole Island any district which, for quiet charm and picturesque surrounds, could rival Seaview and St. Helen’s. Both places are easily accessible by frequent bus services from central Ryde, and St. Helen’s can also be reached by rail.

Seaview has been renowned for years for its fine sands and, as a centre for carefree holidays, has gained a very wide reputation. Not only does one find safe bathing here, but surf-board riding and all forms of shore sports are indulged in to a remarkable extent. Bathing tents on the beach are procurable by the day, week or longer period and Seagrove Bay presents a very animated and colourful spectacle with its various aquatic attractions. Fishing is very popular and prawns and lobsters abound in the rock strewn sections of the beach.

Though the centre of activity lies between the Pier and Horstone Point, a wooded promontory which curves out to sea and lends an air of seclusion to Seagrove Bay, the whole atmosphere of Seaview is one of unconventional revelry. Regattas are organised by the local yacht club during the season and an annual sports regatta arranged by the residents of the village invariably provides exceedingly good fun.

An unusual Pier, built on the suspension principle, has long been a feature of Seaview, but this, alas, has now fallen into dis-repair and is no longer used as a landing place. Although thus abandoned, the structure has not yet been dismantled and its peculiar design still remains as a centrepiece to this picturesque beach.

      The natural curiosity of most people which urges them to see what is round the next corner compels most visitors to explore Horstone Point. They find their effort well rewarded, for after climbing over the rocky point they find themselves in Priory Bay where a vast expanse of exquisite sand greets the eye. Traversing this lido, they come upon the ideal contrast of a rocky beach where­on the receding tide leaves countless pools abounding in prawns. Close by, a Norman tower marks all that remains of the Old Church of St. Helen’s which suffered so by erosion that it was abandoned as the Parish Church in the nineteenth century. Seamen landing from ships anchored in the vicinity to collect sand for the purpose of scouring the decks, discovered that the crumbling stone front the perished masonry when used in conjunction with the sand, pro­duced a snow white finish. It was in this manner that the term Holy Stone “ an expression which still survives in nautical parlance came into being.

      An intriguing feature of Seaview and St. Helen’s is the natural simplicity of the surroundings and their complete innocence of vulgar ostentation, for no ultra modern highways flanked by rows of stereotyped buildings are to be found there. Quaint little roads with quainter buildings tucked away in the most unexpected places are a source of continual delight to the visitor and provide an atmosphere of pleasant escape from the harsh symmetry of our modern existence.


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7 December 2008