Chale is referred to in the Domesday Book as "Cela" almost certainly from the Old English "ceole", a throat, in the transferred sense of a gorge or ravine, presumable the chine at Blackgang. Later it appeared as "Chele" or "Chielle", stabilising as "Chale" from the 12th century onwards.*
*Taken from "Place Names of the Isle of Wight" by H K?keritz.
The oldest secular building in the parish is Chale Abbey Farm which has a 14th century window. It was never actually an Abbey, its name coming from its ecclesiastical architectural style. Chale Abbey Farm and Walpen Manor, also in the parish, are probably two of the oldest buildings on the island.
The south coast of the Isle of Wight has always been known for its treacherous rocky outcrops causing many shipwrecks. In 1312, William de Godeton, Lord of the Manor, appropriated casks of wine from a wrecked French cargo ship. Unfortunately the wine belonged to the Church and William was found out. He was made to have built a light tower and oratory at the top of the hill above Chale. The furze fire was tended at all times to act as a warning to shipping and a monk was installed in the oratory dedicated to St Catherine. The octagonal tower of the oratory remains at the top of St. Catherine's Down. It now belongs to the National Trust and is sited on their land.
Following the public outcry at the loss of some 25 lives in the sinking of the vessel Clarendon in Chale Bay in 1836, the authorities decreed that a new lighthouse should be built. From their mainland offices, experts decided the best place for this was the high ground of St Catherine's Down . It was not until there were further wrecks that these officials realised that the village was not known locally as Foggy Chale for nothing and that their light was often obscured by the mists. A second light was built on the coast at St Catherine's Point and it is still in use.
The oratory and remnants of the Victorian lighthouse are known to islanders as the pepper pot and salt cellar
At the inland end of the same ridge the Hoy Monument was built by Michael Hoy in 1814 to commemorate the visit of the Tsar of Russia to Great Britain. This pillar belongs to the parish of Chale but, like St. Catherine's Oratory, it is on National Trust land. A later plaque erected on the bottom of the pedestal in 1857 was to commemorate soldiers killed in the Crimea. The pillar was surveyed and repaired in 1992 using donations in cash and kind, amounting in value to some £85,000, from members of the community at large and expert contractors.
Blackgang Chine was opened in the 19th century. It was Britain's first theme park and is still a national attraction managed by the same founding family.
Chale had at least one school as early as 1784. The main school building which was completed in 1883, still remains with more recent additions including the hall and kitchens. To bring it up to date for the 21st century it has a well- equipped computer complex.
The church, school and Wight Mouse Inn lie close together at the southern end of the parish.
The Wight Mouse Inn and Clarendon Hotel - named after the 1835 wreck, some of whose timbers were incorporated in the building, was a thriving coaching inn through the second half of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. It was a favourite haunt of European royalty, society and literary figures in the heyday of the Island as a holiday venue for the smart set.
About a mile inland, Chale Green lies on either side of the common land which was enclosed in 1855. Originally known as Stroudgreen, the name Chalegreen began to appear in the first half of the 19th century as development increased. The earlier name is still retained in Stroud Green Farm which is situated at the north of the Green. In 1870, clustered around the Green there was a shoeing smith, a wheelwright and carpenter, a sweep, a beer retailer (The New Inn) a grocer and a shoemaker. There was also a sawpit in the first half of the twentieth century. Sprake's Brewery was founded in 1833 and The Star pub on the same site only closed a few years ago.
Much of the land around Chale and Chale Green was held in the 19th century by Charles Seely. He was required to build the Military Road in the 1860's as part of the defence measures along the coast. The exposed southern coast offered no shelter so all development had been inland leaving the shore vulnerable to invasion. The Military Road enabled troops to be deployed rapidly along the cliff top in case of imminent attack
The largest single residential development in the village was built
in the late 1970s. Spanners Close consists of about 70 units of flats
and terraced homes situated to the west of the Green.