In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described the Isle of Wight like this:
Wight, Isle of, in the English Channel, and in the co. of Hants, from which it is separated by Spithead and the Solent; greatest length, E. and W., from Bembridge Point to the Needles, 23 miles; greatest breadth, N. and S., from Cowes to St Catherine's Point, 13 miles; area, 93,341 ac., pop. 73,633. From E. to W. the island is divided into two parts by a range of downs, which form excellent sheep walks; the northern part is wooded, and the soil is generally a stiff cold clay, while the southern part has far less timber, and the soil is a fertile sandy loam. ...
From S. to N., again, the island is divided by the river Medina into 2 liberties of nearly equal extent, called respectively East Medina and West Medina, the former comprising 14 and the latter 16 pars. The Isle of Wight was invaded, A.D. 43, by the Romans, who retained possession of it till 530, when it was reduced by Cedric the Saxon. The Conqueror conferred on William Fitz-Osborne the lordship of the island, which continued to be governed by its independent lords till 1293, when the regalities were purchased by Edward I. Since that time it has been governed by wardens, appointed by the Crown, but the office has now become honorary. Cement is manufactured, and largely exported. The mildness of the climate (especially in the district known as the Undercliff), and the beauty of the scenery, have made the Isle of Wight a great resort of invalids, and a favourite place of residence. Newport is the chief town, Cowes is the principal port, and Ryde and Cowes are important yachting centres. The other places of note are Bembridge, Brading, Fresh-water, Sandown, Shanklin, Ventnor, and Yarmouth. The most interesting antiquities are Carisbrooke Castle and the remains of Quarr Abbey. Osborne is a royal residence. The Isle of Wight returns 1 member to Parliament.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing the Isle of Wight has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of the Isle of Wight. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering the Isle of Wight and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of the Isle of Wight, in The the Isle of Wight and the South East | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 12th December 2013
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