|Michael Hoy was a gentleman of substance in the Regency period of the 19th Century who not only made his mark in society at the time, but also left a tangible reminder on his presence in the form of what has become one of the Isle of Wight's most distinctive landmarks.
The Hoy Monument is a gracefulstone pillar which rises 72 feet into the windswept sky above St Catherine's Down. A plaque on the south face of the square base explains it was erected by Michael Hoy to commemorate the visit to Britain in 1814 of Tsar Alexander 1 of Russia.
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Alexander was hailed as the Saviour of Europe from Napoleon. Hoy had more personal reasons to be grateful the Tsar. As a wealthy entrepeneur and member of the thriving Russian company of merchant ventureres he had made his fortune in the then Russian capital of St Petersburg and it was believed he was acquainted with the monarch.
Michael Hoy was born around 1758 in London where he built up his considerable business interests. In 1792 he became a Yeoman of the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers and in 1798 a Freeman of the City of London, in respect of which honour he paid over the princely sum of 46 shillings and eight pence.
He was Sheriff of London for the year 1812/13 and although he had offices in Bishopsgate, he had already begun to amass land and property at his second home; the Isle of Wight. These were in and around Chale, one being the substantial Hermitage country house nestling in the lee of the down where he erected his monument.
Hoy died in 1828 and a later tenant of The Hermitage added another chapter to the history of the monument. William Henry Dawes served in the 22nd Regiment of Foot and had a plaque put on the north face of the pillar's base in memory of the British soldiers who fell at Inkerman and Sevastopol in the Crimea War.
Perhaps Dawes was annoyed by the column's tribute to the Russian Monarch whose descendant led the troops opposing Britain in the Crimea.
Now the Hoy Monument is an integral part of the Island landscape. It provides an intiguing way-point for thousands of seasonal visitors enjoying the spectacular Isle of Wight footpaths as well as a familiar sentinel overloking the residents of Chale and Chale Green at the foot of the down.