Bembridge is a village located on the easternmost point of the Isle of Wight, lying behind the spectacular headland of Culver. It is also claimed to be the largest village in England, with a population of approximately 4,000 residents. Bembridge stretches around most of the Eastern tip of the Isle of Wight which includes its harbour and three beaches, and has its own airport.
Prior to land reclamation, the area of Bembridge and Yaverland was almost an island unto itself, separated from the remainder of the Isle of Wight by Brading Haven. Before the Victorian era Bembridge was a collection of wooden huts and farmhouses, which only consolidated into a true village with the building of the church in 1827 (later rebuilt in 1846). The historical heart of the village is located close to the church in the north of the village, consisting of a number of shops, pubs and restaurants, along with the Village Hall. Bembridge Community Library serves the village and there is a local museum in the same location.
The Lane End district is located in the east of the village. It is largely composed of modern bungalows and a small shopping area which includes a Co-Op store. The lane comes to an end at the beach, where Bembridge Lifeboat station and the Bembridge Coast Hotel are situated. Further inland from Lane End you will find Bembridge C of E Primary School and the Bembridge Youth & Community Centre, which is situated in Steyne Park.
Bembridge is currently represented on the Isle of Wight Council by the two members of the ward of Bembridge, St. Helens and Brading.
Bembridge is governed by a Parish council of 12 members. For parish council elections the village is divided into two wards, the North and South, each electing six members to the body. The parish council has succeeded in obtaining Lottery funding for improvements to the village recently, including a play-park in Steyne Park. It is also one of the few Parish Councils that has a village centre office open 5 days a week on Foreland Road 9.30am to 12.30pm. The Parish Council manages all the public toilets in the village found at Station Road, Steyne Park, Lane End carpark and behind 5/7 High Street, as well as the Lane End Cemetery, Steyne Park/Playing Field, the War Memorial Gardens, Palmer Memorial, Lincoln Way Pond, Scouts Hut/Bowling Green and a number of other small areas.
Bembridge Windmill is the only remaining windmill on the Isle of Wight and is located to the west of the village. Dating from around 1700, it is a National Trust property generally open from April to October.
The RNLI station is particularly significant, as it extends into the sea to the east of the village. Here lies the notorious “Bembridge Ledge”, a large, rocky outcrop which poses a major threat to passing boats. The former Bembridge lifeboat, the RNLB Jesse Lumb (ON 822), is part of the National Historic Fleet, and was until recently exhibited at Imperial War Museum Duxford; she is now back on the Island and will be displayed in the IW Historic Lifeboat Centre in West Cowes once it has been completed. The current Offshore boathouse was completed in Autumn 2010 and houses RNLB Alfred Albert Williams (Tamar 16-17). A new concrete walkway was built, with the new station made completely of naturally durable timber. The Offshore boathouse is open to visitors most days of the year (see www.bembridgelifeboat.org.uk for details). The Inshore lifeboat station, which houses RNLB Norman Harvey (D-778), was rebuilt in 2014 and includes parts of the original Victorian boathouse that was built in 1867. The building includes an RNLI shop which is open similar hours to the Offshore boathouse.
The Coastguard lookout is further along the coast from the Lifeboat Station. Positioned at a high elevation, this offers views of the Solent meeting the English Channel to the east of the Isle of Wight.
A short distance from the village centre is Culver Down, the white cliffs of which can be seen from Sandown Bay all the way through to Shanklin. The chalk down of Culver has a fascinating mixture of wildlife and natural features, mixed with several remaining military features including a monument with the adjoining remains of a former barracks, a substantial fort owned by The National Trust and a 2nd world war anti-aircraft battery at the end of the cliffs. Beneath Culver on the Bembridge side is the magnificent Whitecliff Bay, a sheltered cove well worth exploring.
Bembridge Harbour is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the nearby Brading Marshes are home to the first RSPB site on the Island. There are many picturesque walks in and around the area, historic sites to visit, beautiful beaches to enjoy and a busy Harbour where there’s always something to watch. A surprisingly busy little harbour, Bembridge is one of the Isle of Wight’s best kept secrets; its relative remoteness adding a certain charm. It attracts keen yachtsmen from all over who are lured by the excellent conditions, beautiful location and superb facilities.