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.  CONTRIBUTIONS WELCOME, see foot of page. 

 Click red type to see a text or website 

Blue type shows areas of interest

NEW  Indicates recently added material

Old sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

Website archive

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.


Extracts from Cock & Bull Stories: Animals in Folklore, Dialect and Cultural History (2008) by Alan R Phillips. on Dialect, Place names, Recreations, Stories: Introduction,  Cats and Dogs,  Cockerels,  Cattle,   FoxesHares,  Insects,  Pigs,   Rats,  Sheep,  

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

Shroving Customs also cake and treats distributed on New Year’s Day  shroving

Recollections of childrens’ Singing Games and other games played on the Isle of Wight  Games Remembered

Information about Mummers collected by Stephen Roud  Roud collection

NEW  Recollections of Folk Song Club venues   Folk venues updated

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

Article and photograph on early Folk Song Clubs by Mike Butler.  Early Clubs

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

Article on St. Boniface and the Well by Richard Downing. Stories, Legends.   StBonifaceWell

An 1863 Isle of Wight variant of the Folk Song carol ‘ Wold Hark’.  Hark, also Performance  by Brian Reeves

Customs and Legends from St Helens  St Helens

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

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/Pictures

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

Possible harvest Custom  Harvest

Postcard from 1913 about  King Arwald

Morris dancers in Niton, 1926  Morris 1926

Over 200 Years Ago John Nixon (b.1759-d.1818) Produced This Caricature Of “A Blind Fiddler At Ryde Isle Of Wight” dated 1815. John Nixon was one of the most notable amateur artists working in London in the late eighteenth century, He was best known for his caricatures of urban society. He moved to the Island in his later years.
Blind fiddler 1815


Photographs 1950 onwards

Men of Wight, Morris, early performance MOW 73

Mummers, Morris  Christmas now

School Dance Group  Carisbrooke group

Recorded Media

*** Recordings of the final rehearsal by The Trilanders before their performance in 1971 at Folk Fest 5 (The Scout and Guide National Folk Music Festival) at  The Albert Hall.  The musicians are Martin Tennant, aged 21, Robin Holbrook 18, Jeff Taylor 17, Paul Elliott 17.  The Advertising Man by Laurie Say    Muirsheen Durkin, Irish traditional

Collection of audio reminiscences from Isle of Wight farmers, with texts, and  photographs. Folk Songs in ‘Pub’. Farming  also from seafarers Sea

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, also a CD of the songs. 

‘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.

Carters Mate

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

Anonymous poem, pre 1970s.



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, Peter Chick, Sally Colegrove, Richard Downing, Graham Drudge, Keith Grist, Deborah Hollebon, Carole Holmberg, Tony Jones, Steve Love, Jo Palfrey, Alan Phillips, Brian Reeves, Dave and Anwyl Williams, Peter Yardley.