The Isle of Wight

It is strange to find that, although I have been berating myself for waiting more than half my life to reach this picturesque little island off the South coast of England, when I finally got here it was like stepping back in time to a lost childhood era. In many respects it resembles a story by the writer Enid Blyton: turn around one of the narrow country lanes and you half expect Julian and Timmy to come cycling towards you with “lashings of ginger beer” in their panniers (if you don’t follow then you are not old enough).

Despite my horrible misadventure last June when Chris and I tried to cross on the ferry, we were not to be deterred and came back this week to complete our visit. Chris had quite a bit of research to do into the Victorian shell houses of the Island (an enthusiasm I could find seductively uncomplicated) while I had plenty of opportunity to delve into the darker annals of its early history. The largest island off the coast of England is nonetheless pretty small and the October traffic was light so I did manage to see quite a bit:





Brading Roman Villa

1st – 4th cent. Magnificent mosaics. Site of great significance to the politics and economics of Roman Britain



11th cent. Tiny Saxon church, Christianity came late to the island after some very bloody invasions, notably by the Vikings


Carisbrook castle

6th – 16th cent. Norman castle built upon Saxon mound, keep added by Henry VIII, King Charles I imprisoned here in 1649 before his execution


Quarr Abbey

12th – 16th cent. Ruins of Cistercian Abbey. Early 20th cent. Benedictine monks re-built a monastery and large Abbey church, whose unusual tower is visible from the mainland.


Appuldercombe House

18th cent. Superb example of a Baroque country house reduced to a shell after WW2 bombing. Many stories, scandals and (some say) ghosts.


Dimbola Lodge

19th cent. Home of Julia Cameron (no relation) pioneering photographer, focus of the Freshwater Bay Victorian artistic set.


Osborne House

19th cent. Family home of Queen Victoria and her children, designed by Prince Albert and containing many personal possessions and mementos.

I will work on the photogallery over the next few days. Shell enthusiasts need not worry, there will be plenty of examples to pore over.


Categories: Britain, West of England


  • William King says:

    Dear Nicola,

    Thank you very much for the boat. It is now sitting on my office window ledge. I like to photo of you on the Red Funnel entitled ‘cold drinks only this time’!

    You do seem a traveller! I once travelled round central Amercica (Mexico,Guatemala, Belize and Honduras) with Chums. It was great. The scuba diving and Mayan ruins were amazing (especially Tikal).

    Best wishes from the Isle of Wight


  • Chris says:

    A Nice selection – thanks.

    Just a few comments:

    Timmy was the dog! I know he was clever – but riding a bike?! I think even dear old Enid would have drawn the line at that! The Famous Five were, Julian, Dick, and Anne, with their cousin, George (Georgina), and Timmy her dog.
    Shell Houses – although the buildings are nineteenth century, the shell decoration dates to the twentieth.

    091 – The exact location is Compton Bay
    102 – The precise identity of the thatched church is St Agnes, Freshwater Bay

    Glad to see the doctor got his gift.

    Do you know if the Indian Portraits book has arrived yet? It should be there by now.


Leave a Reply