Geology and Topography

The southern border of the parish is fringed by a long, high ridge of chalk which extends from the Needles through to Freshwater Bay or Gate and onwards east to terminate at Culver Cliff near Bembridge. The eastern boundary is formed by the River Yar that rises at Freshwater Bay in the south and proceeds in a northerly direction before joining the Solent at Yarmouth. The western edge is represented by cliffs that run from The Needles to Cliff End while the northern boundary is the low slumping cliffs of Norton.

The Freshwater region is very nearly an island, separated by a river estuary that extends northwards from Freshwater Gate on the southern shore of the island as far as Yarmouth in the north. This tidal estuary or creek derives from the River Yar and in effect it cuts the Freshwater presqu'ile off from the rest of the Island. The Yar is tidal as far as Freshwater causeway, south of which it becomes marsh wetland.

The southern half of the parish is dominated by the long, narrow ridge of the chalk downland that runs from east (at Freshwater Bay) to west (at The Needles) along the southern border of this parish. This down is 137 metres at the western end, rises to 147 metres at Tennyson Monument (the site of a former beacon) near the middle and then slopes down to almost sea level at Freshwater Bay. This stretch of downs forms a natural barrier, offering shelter from southerly winds. Otherwise the landscape is characterised by gently sloping land terminating in low slumping cliffs on the west and a gentle slope down to reed beds and mudflats of the Yar estuary on the east.

The geological formation which forms the bedrock of most of the southern area north of the chalk belongs to the Barton, Bracklesham, Thames and Lambeth Groups [Bagshot Beds, London Clay and Reading Beds of White, 1921] The Thames and Lambeth Groups consist mainly of muds and silty muds. Because of the action of folding on the Island, the strata that make up the formations of these groups have been forced into vertical alignments. This means that the Thames and Lambeth formations only form two very thin bands adjoining the north side of the chalk. The formations of the Bracklesham group form a wider band, which starts to broaden out to the west of Home Farm, extending itself north-eastwards towards Freshwater parish church. As a whole, the Bracklesham group consists of sand bodies, which alternate with heterolithic units consisting of finely interbedded muds, silts and sands. It is from the sand bodies within this part of the succession that most of the famous "coloured sands" derive. In the Barton group, there are four formations. There is the Boscombe Sand which consists of fine-grained, well sorted sand. There is the Barton clay which consists of various types of muds, some sandy, some laminated. There is the Chama sand, which consists of blue sandy clays. There is the Becton sand, which consists of white and pale yellow, fine-grained sands.

Farringford and its grounds thus lie predominantly on vertically-aligned sandy strata, although these are interspersed here and there with thin layers of muds, sandy clays and silts. Samples show units ranging from almost pure clay to mainly sandy soil (75% sand particles; 25% silt/clay). The topography of the area is characterised by land that gently slopes down away from Farringford to the north, west and east. On its north-east side, there is a small knoll at 30 metres. Farringford itself is located on a small plateau of ground at 35 metres, the land rising gently away on its south, while on its west, east and north sides the land falls away gently.


The area is watered by several small watercourses, that have helped to shape field boundaries, roads and paths. The main watercourse in the area is the River Yar that flows northwards from Freshwater Bay. The main stream in the area joins the Yar at Bow Bridge and runs west alongside the main street, School Green Road. This stream is fed by two small watercourses that originate in the southwest of the area. One derives from a spring source, situated near Stonewind Farm, and flows alongside Summers Lane, before turning northeast alongside a footpath to King’s Bridge near Freshwater Green. The other source is a spring south of Moon’s Hill at the foot of the downs. This stream flows north to Old Bay Road, and then follows this road east, before turning alongside Summers Lane to join the other watercourse at Sheepwash farm. To the south east of the house, there is a small, shallow valley or combe, along which a small stream runs in a north easterly direction towards St. Agnes church. This watercourse arises due south of Farringford Hotel alongside the path known as Green Lane

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Farringford · Bedbury Lane · Freshwater Bay · Isle of Wight · PO40 9PE · UK · © Farringford Estate Ltd 2013 · Company Reg No 590 4013