In the undercliff east of Ventnor is Bonchurch which has a story about a baby boy being born in Crediton , Devon in 680AD, he was baptised Winfrith and entered a monastery in Nursling, Hampshire where he was given the name of Boniface which mean the 'doer of good'.

It was years later that he came to the Isle of Wight and founded a church in the Undercliff  which was called after him as was the great down that towers above the village. Boniface went to Germany to Evangelise and was murdered later at Dokkum.

A pyramid was set in the wall of a stone arch to commemorate the local stone that was quarried here. There are some large Victorian houses here one of which is East Dene which was the home of Algernon Swinburne when he was a child. A lot of writers and painters came to Bonchurch including Charles Dickens and it was here that he wrote David Copperfield and he described the views form the downs as 'only equalled on the Genoese shore of the Mediterranean'


The church at Bonchurch
Photo reproduced by courtesy of Gwynn White


The Old church at Bonchurch
Photo reproduced by courtesy of Gwynn White

The Undercliff is situated at the southern tip of the island and stretches for a distance of approximately 7 miles from Luccombe in the east to Blackgang in the west and is about 200 feet high and stands a quarter to a half mile inland and is dominated by Niton down, 780 ft high and St Boniface Down 787 fee above Ventnor and Bonchurch, and it is the highest down on the island.

The cliff is a result of landslips which have happened regularly after the island was separated from the mainland of Britain in 7000BC and these landslips are occurring even now the most notable being between Blackgang and Niton in 1928.

The church of St Boniface is on the site of the old Saxon church and the doorway, thought to be made up of the curved stones of a Norman archway, with a door that is studded with nails and made of two layers of timber. A tiny windows that shows St Edith is in memor of Edith Swinburne and its companion windows to Admiral Swinburne who with Edith were two of the churches greatest friends.. Algernon Charles Swinburne rests in the churchyard and the Swinburne grave consists of grey stone.

The new church was given by the wife of James White of Punch and she lies with Elizabeth Sewell of the children's story fame.

Other famous names that have lived here include Macauley who lived at Madeira Hall on the Ventnor Road, and this area was much loved by Lord Tennyson and Harold Whitehouse the founder of Bembridge School donated the hilltop to the National Trust.

The village is famed for the water that borders its street and which was one a part of a garden that was owned by a novelist called Mr H de Vere Stacpoole and there is an inscription to his wife Margaret.