In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described St Helens like this:
HELENS (ST.), a village and a parish in the Isle of Wight. The village stands adjacent to the lower part of Brading harbour, 3 miles SE of Ryde; bears the name of St. Helens-Green; is a small but pretty place; and has a post office, ‡ of the name of St. Helens, under Ryde. The parish contains also the villages or places called Springvale, Woodlands, Cherrygin, Nettlestone, Seafield, and Seaview. Acres, 3, 676; of which 1,844 are water. Real property, £13, 132. Pop. in 1851, 1, 948; in 1861, 2, 586. ...
Houses, 523. A Cluniac monastery, a cell to some foreign abbey, was founded here before 1155; and, at the suppression of alien monasteries, was given to Eton college. A modern mansion, called St. Helens Priory, now occupies the site of the monastery; was built by Sir Nash Grose; and is now the seat of R. A. Gray, Esq. St. Helens Spit, a tongue of sand at the foot of Brading harbour, was the landing place, in 686, of Wilfrid, the apostle of Sussex, -in 1340, of a French invading force, who were speedily driven back to their ships, -and, in 1655, of Charles II. on his way to Sandown fort. It was also the embarking place, in 1488, of Sir Edward Wydville, with a force to aid the Duke of Brittany against the king of France; it was likewise the spot on which, in 1545, the treasure ship of the French armada came on shore and was deserted; and it has a ferry, for foot passengers, to Bembridge. The coast all northward thence is described by Mantell as "almost everywhere covered with vegetation to the water's edge, a low bank or cliff of the fresh water Eocene marls and limestones being the only indication of its geological structure., , A roadstead, called St. Helens road, with anchorage in from 3 to 5 fathoms, lies off the coast, but is beset with some dangers, particularly the Princessa shoal, Betty's ledge, and the Nab rock. A small headland, confronting the roadstead, ¾ of a mile N of St. Helens Spit, and bearing the name of St. Helens or Watch house point, was, in former times, the station of constant watchers, by night and by day, in readiness to fire a beacon on the appearance seaward of any invaders. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Winchester. Value, £1 21. Patron, Eton College. The church stands in the neighbourhood of Watch house point, and is a mean structure of 1719. The previous church stood on St. Helens Spit, and was undermined by the sea; but the tower of it still stands as a sea mark, includes some early English work, and was rudely strengthened, for its present purpose, by tasteless brickwork. The vicarage of Oakfield is a separate benefice. There are national schools.
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 St Helens 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 St Helens and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of St Helens, in The the Isle of Wight and Hampshire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 11th December 2013
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