The first record of Shanklin Manor was all the way back in the Doomsday Book of 1086, where it was noted as being owned by Gosselin Fitz-Azor, son of Azor. Before then, it is believe to have been held by six freemen of King Edward and also Livol held a hide. Gozelin’s daughter married Hugh de Lisle (originally the de Insula family) in 1100 and the manor remained in the de Lisle family for over 600 years.
In 1710, it was taken over by John Popham, thought to be descendants of the de Lisle family also, and whilst remaining in the family through the Popham and Hill families, after his passing in 1754, it was let to the Joliffe family, who farmed the land until 1880. Many of the local residents worked on the land. After John Popham died in 1816 with no male heir, as his son John junior died before him, it passed to John’s daughter Mary, who was married to Reverend Richard Walton White. Their son Francis White Popham then took over the house and become lord of the manor, assuming the Popham name in 1852 in accordance with his grandfather John’s will. He performed extensive rebuilding and renovations in 1883 and 1884 on the site of the former manor farm, adding the two wings to the side of the main building and also the entrance porch, all of which remain today. He also started to grant leases on some of the land in Shanklin for development of villas, many of which can still be seen around Shanklin.
Francis died in 1883 and the estate passed to his wife, Margaret, Lady Hatherton, and then his sister, Mary Popham White, later Popham-Macpherson. It passed to her son Duncan, his son Cameron and then his daughter Anne. Memorials to many of the Popham family can be found in St Blasius church, which was the manor’s church originally and built by Geoffrey de Lisle in the twelfth century, and the lychgate was built in 1894 and dedicated to Francis. The family still own many buildings and land in Shanklin, including Shanklin Chine, through Anne Springman (nee Macpherson), Francis’ great-great niece.
In the early twentieth century, the manor was sold to the council and much of the land then found new uses, with the Big Meade park being formed and also tennis courts, which are now Shanklin Cricket Club, being established. The manor itself was sold in 1935 to the Workers’ Travel Association, which was part of the Labour party and ran the site as a hotel for the underprivileged. It was then sold 1979 to become Shanklin Manor House Hotel. Further development saw the site of Quality Street become Shanklin Manor Mews, which formed part of the hotel. The hotel continued until it underwent its extensive refurbishment and restoration to form the current apartments.
Over the years, there have been a number of historical figures that have visited the manor in its various guises. Back in the 1820s, physicist Captain Henry Kater used the summerhouse as part of his research, using his Kater’s pendulum to determine the strength of gravity. You’ll spot a plaque at on the summerhouse honouring this.
The summerhouse itself was used as a table tennis room and deck chair store during the hotel era and additional accommodation under the WTA, as well as rumoured to have been a court house and also a meeting place for local Jacobite supporters. Whilst modified over the years, it is expected to date back to the 17th century and possibly constructed by Sir Edward Dennys, deputy governor of the island and a member of the de Lisle family. It was given a grade II listing for its special historic interest in 14th March 1949 alongside the remains of the brick and stoned walled kitchen garden
The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins visited in 1863 and as well as completing a number of poems and drew the manor, which you can see on the right courtesy of its current home, Boston College, who kindly provided a scan of the original sketch.
Given the connection to the Labour party from 1935, there were a number of visits including Nye Bevan acting as Father Christmas in 1943 for the troops and Clement Attlee’s cabinet visiting in 1949 to discuss election strategy, with the visit known as the Hush Hush Weekend and filmed by British Pathe showcasing much of Shanklin Manor that still remains today.
The history of Shanklin Manor is always a work in progress, so if you have any further information, do get in touch.