History of the Yarborough Monument on Culver Down

This section of the page features an image gallery, so if you're using a screen reader you may wish to jump to the main content.

Close to our land on Culver Down, the impressive Yarborough Monument – the tallest on the Isle of Wight – is a prominent feature on the skyline of the east of the island.

For many years it has acted as a seamark for shipping but, surprisingly, not always from its present position.

It was originally built on the slightly higher summit of Bembridge Down. But this massive granite obelisk on its stepped ashlar stone plinth was painstakingly moved, stone by stone, in the 1860s. It was to make way for Bembridge Fort, which was built as part of the island’s defences against invasion.

We are in the process of renovating the fort, which is now open for guided tours between April and October.

So who was the man whose memory inspired such a grand memorial? 

The Earl of Yarborough, 1781-1846

The Earl of Yarborough was born Charles Anderson Pelham in Lincolnshire. Thanks to the twin circumstances of birth and marriage, he rose to wealth and power. He received a baronetcy on the death of his father and, in 1806, married Henrietta Simpson.

She inherited the estate of her uncle, Sir Richard Worsley, the largest landowner on the Isle of Wight. Charles was one of two MPs returned by the ‘rotten borough’ of Newtown.

Why not visit Newtown Old Town Hall and see where the action took place. In 1837 he was elevated to an Earl.

Charles’ great passion was sailing and in 1815 he was one of the founding members and later the first Commodore of what was to become the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes. It's arguably the most prestigious yacht club in the United Kingdom and perhaps the world.

Sadly, his son did not follow in his father’s illustrious footsteps but is remembered nevertheless for the ‘yarborough’ – an exceptionally weak hand in bridge.