Pencil Cottage is one of the oldest properties in the village and has been a commercial property since the reign of George III.
An Old photograph (on display in the Shop) shows the cottage in 1860 when it was called The Shanklin Bazaar. Many people ask us why it is now called Pencil Cottage. The name changed over 100 years ago, a likely reason for this is that it became the nickname given to it by visiting artists and writers. A number of well-known poets stayed in the village – Keats and Longfellow among them – and it is almost certain that they purchased their supplies from the shop.
The shop continues to sell pencils today but now also offers a range of gifts sourced from the 5 continents, including island made goods. We spend a lot of time trying to find items that are a little bit different from traditional gift shops – take a look – you may be surprised what you find. When you visit the shop make sure you check out our ever changing antiques and collectables section for something truly different.
Pencil Cottage also served as an entry point for many smuggled goods. In the cellar is the entrance to one of the many smugglers tunnels that run through the village. The entrance was well positioned to spirit away the booty brought up the Chine from the beach below. The Crab Inn, next door, had a numbered wheel in the form of a game and before each shipment, the smugglers would agree on a number. When they came ashore, a man was sent ahead to see if the marker was aligned to the chosen number indicating that the coast was clear of the men from the Revenue (the original wheel is on display in our Garden Room.
The Isle of Wight is the largest in the English Channel but for six months of the year is the smallest county in England. A little known fact about the Island is that it rocks up and down as the tides change in the Channel. The island is 23 miles long and 13 miles wide with a population of c 126,000. Shanklin stands 150 feet to 250 feet above sea level. Keats wrote of it “a thing of beauty and joy forever”.
The Chine is Shanklin’s main attraction and can be entered down Chine Hollow just down from Pencil Cottage. The word ‘Chine’ means chink or fissure and Shanklin Chine is about 180 feet wide by about 280 feet deep and has been created by water erosion from a spring near the old church. The Isle of Wight is also proud to be one of only a few areas in Britain where the red squirrel can still be found. They live in and around the village and we have set up feeding stations for them in the lower garden, so keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready.