Newtown stands on the north-west coast of the Isle of Wight, a sleepy, marshy hamlet inhabited mainly by birds. Today visitors go to walk along the solitary street and admire its unspoilt panorama. Three centuries ago it helped to shape the Island's history.
Its proximity to the mainland and with a safe anchorage, in the Middle Ages Newtown was a thriving harbour. In 1256 the Bishop of Winchester gave it a charter. The Island was at that time independent being in the possession of the wealthy de Redvers family. The last of the line, Isabella, having outlived her children was forced on her deathbed to hand her lucrative kingdom over to the new king Edward 1st and the Island was then officially part of England.
These were troubled times, however. An almost permanent animosity with France had the Island on alert for signs of invasion. There was the odd skirmish, plenty of false alarms and then in 1377 the worst happened. A sizable French raiding party landed and virtually razed Newtown, along with Yarmouth and Newport. Slowly the towns were rebuilt but by this time the estuary into Newtown was silting up and .Newport had become the anchorage of choice.