A General History of Lake
Looking at Lake today one could think back to the days when it was still a quiet country hamlet. The High Street still runs through the centre of the village much as it did in the early 1900’s.
There are several stories as to the origins of the district named Lake, one being that a cottage built in a hollow near the corner of New Road and Sandown Road was often surrounded by water, hence the name Lake.
The other coming from circa A.D 1280 when a William atte Lake was a landowner at nearby Black Pan Farm. Lake derived from “Laca” meaning stream which ran then and still does under Lake Green Road to Lake Common and so on to join the River Yar.
THE GOLF COURSE
The Golf course was built in the year 1900, originally as a 9 hole course. Its present size is now an 18 hole course, covering some 1300 acres.
THE METHODIST CHURCH
The present Methodist Church was built in 1955, very near to the old Church, built in 1877, which still stands to the rear of the present building.
THE STAG INN
The Stag Inn was built circa 1840, next to the site of the former Toll-Gate and wooden fronted cottage, at the entrance to the old “Newport Road”. Altered and enlarged during the 1930’s to its present well known appearance.
Lake Halt was opened 9th July 1987, after more than twenty years of periodic local requests for a station. The line itself was opened between Ryde and Shanklin on 23rd August 1864. Electric train services in place of steam were introduced from 20th March 1967 along what has become known as the “Island Line” since 1989. It is currently operated with 1938 vintage ex London Underground Trains.
THE CHURCH OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD
Designed in 1892 the Church of the Good Shepherd in Sandown Road was completed by May 1894 and consecrated on 3rd June that year. It replaced the former “Little Iron Church” of 1876, materials from which are believed to have been used for the Good Shepherd church hall.
THE LAKE WAR MEMORIAL
The Lake War Memorial and associated stone built horse drinking trough dates from 1920, commemorating the Great War of 1914-1918.
THE POST OFFICE
The Post Office dates from the 1950’s and is still central to much of village and local community life.
“The first part of this booklet was originally an essay written for the Women’s Institute, the subject of which was ‘History, and Present Day record of life in the member’s own village’. The facts related found favour with certain old inhabitants of Lake, who suggested that I should write a second part, and in this I was helped by various recollections of theirs, for which I thank them”
E.M. Porter, Bloomfield, 80 Sandown Road, Lake.
The Village of Lake on the Isle of Wight
An old village in modern times is full of contrasts. Side by side with the remains of venerable stone built thatched cottages will be found up to date bungalows, and the ancient tiled barns are repaired with corrugated iron roofing. The picturesque gravel roads between hedgerows – dear old roads, though dusty in summer and muddy in winter – are only to be found in side streets, the main thoroughfares being tarred to meet the needs of motors. One wonders whether their uniform greyness does not unconsciously affect the spirits of the inhabitants, as it does the beauty of the neighbourhood, whose sunny-coloured roads are so much a thing of the past.
The particular village, of which this stretch treats – Lake, Isle of Wight, lying between Sandown and Shanklin, was full of these contrasts, but alas! The modern is swiftly superseding the ancient, and many well-known landmarks live only in the memories of the older inhabitants.
To a native of our village who can look back over sixty years, the changes are indeed many, and again the contrasts great. Where now stands the modern post-office combined with a grocery store, there used to be a tollgate, with a little wooden-fronted cottage where lived the toll-gate keeper and his family. The wife or children would come out to take the toll – 3d, for one horse, 6d for a pair, with a ticket to frank you through the next toll-gate, eight miles away. It was an exciting episode when the tolls were once taken over by a new proprietor who raised the prices and shut the gates when the people refused to pay and an enterprising Waggoner drove his horse’s right through the gates, splintering them right and left. Opposite the toll-gate were two antiquated cottages, held together seemingly only by the ivy which enveloped them to the chimney stacks; near at hand stood and old mile-stone where the village street curved prettily, with some fine old trees here and there adding to its beauty. The road had to be straightened for safety to traffic, and the trees sacrificed, but the mile-stone is still there to be seen, set back in a garden wall.
So many trees have been cut down, some perhaps necessarily, but most really ruthlessly destroyed. One – an ash – should have been preserved for it had a story connected with it. There lived in Lake an old man who was in some sort the wise man of the village – one who took your bees when they swarmed, doctored horses and cattle, and gave advice generally to his neighbours. Near his house was born a child who was badly ruptured, and it was decreed that he might be cured if a young ash tree were planted close to the house and the stem cleft, and the child passed out of the window and through the cleft tree, this was to be repeated three times and it had to be done on the 21st day of the month, at 6 o’clock in the morning. Then the stem was to be bound up with a wheaten straw-band – no doubt the child bound up also! – And if the tree lived and grew, so would the child. This was actually done, and the child is now a man living in the neighbourhood, but the tree has been cut down, which seems a pity when it had fulfilled its part of the contract. There are on record other cases of this curious superstition.
The old farm house, pulled down at the beginning of the war, was dated 1704, and the date stone is now in a garden near, with a sundial on it, marking the flight of time. Another farm “Merriegardens” remains – dated 1684 -though the merrie trees, from which it took its name, are gone; there used to be a Merrie-Fair there when these little black cherries were ripe.
The “Stag Inn” also remains intact, with the original stag over the door, which was carved by the builder, a native of Lake; this man must have been something of an artist, and his son, though quite untaught, had a natural gift for portrait painting; he also designed and painted the signs of the “Green Dragon” and “Falcon” Inns and others in neighbouring towns. In these days such decided talent would be cultivated, but the lad had to work at less congenial tasks and never prospered in consequence.
The good old Isle of Wight speech used to be heard in Lake, but it is dying out and spoilt by a sort of hybrid cockney brought by the “overner”; yet it was very characteristic. The said “wise man” once described how he got a sunstroke: “I mind,” he said, “How the zun were a-glowering and a-glimmering athwart the vallow vield” – a realistic picture of the quivering summer heat.
Nowadays tradesmen call for orders which motor-vans deliver, but formerly the old butcher came once a fortnight and had to be entertained with a pewter pot of home-brewed ale; he suffered from ague, and thus described his sensations: “Well, Miss, I’m entirely zick and zorry a-trying for to do; what with hot fleshes and cold jowers I’m all of a twilly willy.”