Island Folk History

See below for items relating to Isle of Wight dialect, folk song, legends and customs, also links to websites with similar material.  THIS IS WORK IN PROGRESS, CONTRIBUTIONS WELCOME, see foot of page. 

Sections: 1.Written information  2. Photographs  3. Recorded media  4. Books

Red type is a link to click to see a text or website, blue type highlights areas of interest.

Written Information

Tales and Legends of the Isle of Wight with the adventures of the author in search of them by Abraham Elder, published 1839. Reprints are available. Stories and Legends    Elder’s Tales

Animal-related articles by Alan Phillips on Dialect and place names, Recreations, Stories:  Cats and Dogs,  Pigs,    Sheep,   Names,  Cock & Bull,  Hares, Creepycrawlies,

Text of  ‘A Glossary of Words in use in The Isle of Wight (Original Glossary XXIII) compiled by Major Henry Smith RM with additions by C Roach Smith published by the English Dialect Society in 1881. Reprints are available. This work was a major source for WH Long.   Dialect words and examples of use in dialogue and poetry. Folk Songs sung on the Island, local Superstitions, Customs, Festivities, Sayings, Recreations.   Isle of Wight Words   A link to the copy of XXIII held by Cornell University  Glossary XIII

WH Long’s Dictionary of the Isle of Wight Dialect, Subscribers’ Edition published 1886. Reprints are available. Major source of Dialect with examples, Folk Song, Mummers’, Customs.  Long’s Dictionary

Website containing words, sheet music and recordings of a large number of Isle of Wight Folk Songs,  also details of Country Dances, Legends, Stories, Festivities and Singing Games.

Miscellany, from a variety of sources, of Customs, Sayings, Festivities, Mummers’,  Pastimes and Folk Songs  The way we were

Words and tunes from Alice E Gillington’s book Old Isle of Wight Singing Games, published 1909      AG Singing Games 1   AG Singing Games 2

Information about Mummers collected by Stephen Roud.  Roud’s collection

Article and photograph about Folk Song activity at the Sloop Inn, written by Brian Reeves, originally published in ‘The Bridge’.  Bridge Sloop item

Article about Morris Dancing, local records from 1595 to 2015, written by Brian Reeves, originally published in ‘The Bridge’.  Bridge Morris item

Victorian Poetry: Poets of the Wight compiled by Charles John Arnell, published 1922. Includes Dialect poems by Sir Frederick Black, p 238-242 and Percy Goddard Stone p326 and Stories. Poets of Wight

The Vecta Garland by Albert Midlane published 1860. Poem about May Day Customs in Newport, p73. Stories p75, 78 and 86. Vecta Garland

Brief details of 107 paranormal sightings from Legends, Stories and recent reports.   Paranormal records

Revival of the Custom of Beating the Bounds of the Fleming estate in 1910.  Boundaries 

Newspaper report about a revival of Jack in the Green Customs in Ryde in 1865. Text Discussion of Jack in the Green, including the Ryde report. Mustrad article

University thesis in which James Rayner discusses Celtic influence on the Isle of Wight Dialect.  Rayner’s thesis

Anglo-Saxon Isle of Wight Legends article.  Anglo-Saxon legends

Isle of Wight Christmas Festivities article Christmas traditions

Short piece about Dialect use in the 1980s. 1980s dialect

The Hidden Heroes website includes the Jute King Arwald’s Story  and Percy Goddard Stone, PG Stone .

Early Photographs

Photographs from the Stears family. Morris, Country Dances  Stears Archive

 Postcard from 1913 about  King Arwald

Morris dancers in Niton, 1926  Morris 1926

Possible harvest Custom  Harvest

Photographs 1950 onwards

Men of Wight, Morris, early performance MOW 73

Folk Song Clubs  Folk Clubs

Mummers, Morris  Christmas now

Recorded Media

First dance of Whitgar Morris, Lilibulero, September 2015 Whitgar


‘Folk On Wight’, by Brian Reeves, describes the Isle of Wight folk scene from 1940s to 2000. Folk Songs, Festivities, Morris Dancing.  In print, copies available from

Book ‘Legends and Lays of the Isle of Wight’, in Dialect, by Percy Goddard Stone published 1912. This does not seem to be available online but reprints are available.

‘Hampshire and Isle of Wight Folk Tales’ by Michael O’Leary, has fourteen Stories and Legends for the Island. In print.

The Dictionary of Isle of Wight Dialect by Jack Lavers, pub 1988. Out of print. 

Proverb about the Island from ‘Ray’s Collection of English Proverbs’, originally published 1768

Do you have any additional material or suggestions for links to go on this page? Anything on Isle of Wight traditional culture and history – legends, folk tales, songs, tunes, dances, customs would be great. It is possible to add recordings and videos via a Youtube link. Please email:

Thanks for contributions, ideas, help- Ian Anderson, Maurice Bower, Mike Butler, Sally Colegrove, Keith Grist, Deborah Hollebon, Carole Holmberg, Tony Jones, Steve Love, Jo Palfrey, Alan Phillips, Brian Reeves, Dave and Anwyl Williams, Peter Yardley.