History of Lepe
Why is it called Lepe?
There are three theories of where Lepe got its name.
The most fitting is from ‘lapis’ a Roman word for stone. Others are from an Anglo-Saxon type a basket made in this area and from when it was necessary to ‘leap’ across the Solent river when the Isle of Wight was part of the mainland.
- 70,000 years ago during the last Ice Age, sea levels were low and a chalk ridge extended from Studland in Dorset to The Needles, Isle of Wight. The shingle cliffs seen at Lepe are remnants from the Solent river bed flowing east over Lepe.
- 5-12,000 years ago the Ice Age ended and sea levels rose breaking through the chalk ridge creating the island. Man lived a nomadic life in small groups at seasonal camps but were forced inland as sea levels continued to rise.
- 1-5,000 years ago, man began farming and so settled in villages leaving evidence in the form of Bronze Age burial mounds, Iron Age pottery, Roman coins, and Medieval tidal mills.
- In 1500s there was a series of Tudor forts to be built to protect the river mouths and open beaches from invasion, including; Calshot, Hurst, Cowes and Yarmouth Castles.
- In 1700s harbours existed at Lepe Village and Stone Point. After Stone Point harbour was destroyed in a great storm Lepe harbour was used for ship building until 1825 when it silted up.
- In 1800s after years of smuggling in the area, the Coast Guard Cottages and Watch House were built, housing the Preventative Officers and their boat. Soon after Billy Coombes, the captain of a smuggling ship, was captured and hanged at Stone Point.
- On 6 June 1944 Lepe played an important roles in the D-Day landings, as a major departure point for troops, vehicles and supplies, for the construction of the Mulberry Harbour and as the mainland base for the P.L.U.T.O pipeline. Today at Lepe you can still see evidence of the wartime efforts.
What does the future hold?
Lepe is going under! At the end of the last Ice Age, the heavy ice sheets covering Scotland melted causing it to rise and Southern England to sink. This is called tilt
Global warming is melting polar ice caps and has raised sea levels by about 2.5 metres in the past 5,000 years. As this process continues waves will breach our revetments and flood the low land behind more often.
We have to accept that our coastline is changing and one day the beach car park may become the beach!