A short history of Chale and The Wight Mouse

The name Chale is recorded in the Domesday book as ‘Cela’, which probably derives from the Old English word ‘ceole’, meaning ‘throat’. This is thought to refer to the nearby ravine or chine at Blackgang. The name was also recorded as ‘Chele’ or ‘Chielle’, but it has been Chale since the 12th century.
The Wight Mouse Inn and Clarendon Hotel was named after the shipwreck of the Clarendon which sank in Chale Bay in 1836 claiming 25 lives. Some of the timbers from the wreck were incorporated into the hotel and it was a popular destination for the upper classes in Victorian times.
The Isle of Wight coast was notorious for shipwrecks and the after the sinking of the Clarendon and much public pressure, a lighthouse was built on St Catherine’s Down. Unfortunately the officials who were from mainland England had not taken into account the fogs which roll in from the sea and obscure the top of the down and after further shipwrecks a second lighthouse which is still in use was built at the foot of the cliffs.
The Parish Church of St Andrew which is next to the Wight Mouse was founded by Hugh Gendon in Chale in 1114. However, the present church dates from the 14th century.  Some of the graves of the crew and passengers from the doomed Clarendon can be seen in the churchyard and it has some very fine stained glass windows as well as its tower from where you have a panoramic view of Chale Bay. 
In 1843 Britain’s oldest theme park Blackgang Chine was established. During Victorian England, people were seeking out new healthy holiday resorts, ideally near the coast and destinations such as Torquay and Lyme Regis were very popular. As the railway network was getting closer and closer to the South Coast, the Isle of Wight was becoming an increasingly attractive holiday destination. Alexander Dabell, the founder of the park, soon realised the business potential of this, trying various ventures.  Blackgang’s initial theme of a general-purpose scenic and curiosity park led to one of its most famous attractions, a large whale skeleton, which had been washed up near the coast of The Needles in 1842, and is still a showpiece today.
For historians, there is much to see in Chale and its environs. From the historic Wight Mouse down to St Catherine’s Lighthouse you can enjoy several different British historical eras all in one short stretch of coast. And even if history is not your thing, you cannot help but be drawn in by this beautiful rugged scenery. So enjoy a drink or some lunch or dinner with us and just take it all in.