Bonchurch is a small village to the east of Ventnor, on the southern part of the Isle of Wight, England where Charles Dickens holidayed with his family.
In the late 1830s and onward, the hitherto rural Bonchurch was extensively developed for exclusive private villas, following land acquisition and sale by the Reverend James White. White married Rosa Hill, heiress to the manor of Bonchurch, and subsequently obtained a private local Act of Parliament to overturn parts of his father-in-law’s will forbidding development and breakup of the estate. In the mid to late 19th Century, Bonchurch developed into a fashionable centre for writers and artists. Celebrated Victorians such as Charles Dickens, Thomas Carlyle, and Thomas Babington Macaulay came here and stayed in large villas that they rented, often for the season.
Charles Dickens and Bonchurch.
Charles Dickens brought his family and spent the Summer of 1849 at Bonchuch. He stayed at Winterbourne house, the home of the parish priest, Rev. James White. White was also an author and mixed with literary circles in London which is likely to have led to Dickens introduction. The Dickens family stayed at Winterbourne from mid July to early October of that year.
During that Summer, Dickens entertained many notable figures at Bonchurch including William Makepeace Thackeray, Justice Thomas Talfourd, Thomas Carlyle, Alfred Tennyson, Douglas Jerrold and Mark Lemon.