Tourist attractions on the Isle
Appuldurcombe House is the impressive shell
of a grand 18th-century baroque style stately home of the Worsley
family. It is near Wroxall on the Isle of Wight.
The great eastern front to Appuldurcombe House It is now managed by
English Heritage and is open to the public. A small part of the large
and magnificent 1.2 km² estate which once surrounded it is still intact,
but other features of the estate are still visible in the surrounding
farmland and nearby village of Wroxall, including the grand entrance to
the park, the Freemantle Gate, now only used by farm animals and
Appuldurcombe began as a priory in 1100. It became a convent, then the
Elizabethan home of the Leigh family. From here, the site came into the
ownership of the Worsleys.
The present house was begun in 1702, replacing the large Tudor mansion
left to Sir Robert Worsley. The architect was John James. Sir Robert
never saw the house fully completed. He died on 29 July 1747.
The house was greatly extended in the 1770s by his great nephew Sir
Richard Worsley. The newly extended mansion was where Sir Richard
brought his new wife, whom he married ‘for love and £80,000’. The famous
Capability Brown was commissioned in 1779 to design the ornamental
grounds at the same time as the extensions. A romantic ‘ruin’ called
Cooke’s Castle was built on the hill opposite to improve the view.
Freemantle Gate, the former grand entrance to the Appuldurcombe
Estate.During Sir Richard's time the house held a magnificent collection
of works of art, and played host to some of the most eminent figures of
The subsequent owner, Charles Anderson-Pelham, the 2nd Baron Yarborough
(later first Earl of Yarborough), founder of the Royal Yacht Squadron at
Cowes, made few changes to the house, and was quite happy to retain the
property as a convenient base for his sailing activities. In 1855 the
estate was sold. An unsuccessful business venture ran Appuldurcombe as
an hotel, but with its failure, the house was then leased for use as a
college for young gentlemen.
The house was inhabited for a few years in the early 20th century by the
large community of Benedictine monks who had been exiled from Solesmes
Abbey in France and were shortly to settle at Quarr Abbey on the Isle of
Wight. Troops were billeted in the house during both world wars. It was
badly damaged in the Second World War, when a Dornier Do 217 that was
engaged in a mine laying mission turned inland and dropped its final
mine very close to the house on February 7, 1943 before crashing into St
Although the house is now mainly a shell, its front section has been
re-roofed and glazed, and a small part of the impressive interior
recreated. Even in its present state, Appuldurcombe still retains an air
of its baroque grandeur—when it was justly called the "grandest house on
the Isle of Wight".
Blackgang Chine is the location of a natural chine (a coastal ravine) in
the soft Cretaceous cliffs near Ventnor at the southern tip of the Isle
of Wight, United Kingdom.
Unstable terrain due to the underlying Gault Clay strata has resulted in
a succession of huge landslips, notably in the 1920s, giving the area a
very rugged and spectacular appearance quite atypical of southeast
The site is home to the Blackgang Chine amusement park, established in
1843 by Victorian entrepreneur Alexander Dabell, whose descendants have
owned it ever since. It is allegedly the oldest theme park in the UK,
and famous for its lifesize plastic dinosaurs. Originally a
general-purpose scenic and curiosity park, it featured a whale skeleton
and landscaped paths down the chine to a waterfall and the beach below.
The paths were swept away in the early 1900s, and the continuing coastal
erosion has since obliterated the chine itself and forced the owners to
repeatedly move the clifftop facilities inland. The park's focus now is
themed entertainments for families with young children. The same owners
run a sister site, the Robin Hill countryside adventure park.
Blackgang is also the name of the nearby village. According to a May
2000 talk to the Isle of Wight Postcard Club by the present owner, Mr
Simon Dabell, the etymology is simply "black pathway" (the original
appearance of the chine), but the theme park understandably fosters the
interpretation of a smuggling origin. Thus visitors to the park are
greeted by a gigantic fibreglass smuggler between whose legs they must
pass to enter.
Clifftop walks in and around the area give panoramic views of the
English Channel and the south-western Isle of Wight coast. Blackgang is
also notable for dinosaur fossils and the nudist Blackgang Beach.
Blackgang was the birthplace of the actress and comedienne Sheila
The site of Carisbrooke Castle may have been occupied in pre-Roman
times. The existence of a ruined wall suggests there was a building
there in late Roman times. The Jutes may have taken over the fort and
the by the late 7th century. An Anglo-Saxon stronghold occupied the site
during the 8th century. Around 1000, a wall was built around the hill as
a defence against Viking raids.
After the Norman Conquest, William the Conqueror gave the Isle of Wight
to his friend William fitzOsbern who built a wooden structure. The
castle is mentioned in Domesday book under Alvington, and was probably
raised by fitzOsbern, who was made first lord of the Isle of Wight. From
this date lordship of the Isle of Wight was always associated with
ownership of the castle, which thus became the seat of government of the
In 1100, Henry I gave Carisbrooke to Richard de Redvers. The castle was
garrisoned by Baldwin de Redvers for the Empress Matilda in 1136, but
was captured by Stephen.
The castle remained in the possession of Richard de Redvers family until
1293, when Countess Isabella de Fortibus sold it to Edward I, after
which the government was entrusted to wardens as representatives of the
In the reign of Richard II it was unsuccessfully attacked by the French
(1377). The keep was added to the castle in the reign of Henry I, and in
the reign of Elizabeth I, when the Spanish Armada was expected, it was
surrounded by an elaborate pentagonal fortification by Sir George Carey.
Charles I was imprisoned here for fourteen months before his execution
in 1649. Afterwards his two youngest children were confined in the
castle, and the Princess Elizabeth died there. Most recently it was the
home of Princess Beatrice, daughter of Queen Victoria, as Governor of
Isle of Wight, 1896-1944.
Entrance to Carisbrooke Castle
Carisbrooke was the strongest castle on the island, though it does not
dominate the countryside like many other castles.
There are traces of a Roman fort underneath the later buildings.
Seventy-one steps lead up to the keep; the reward is a fine view. In the
centre of the castle enclosure are the domestic buildings; these are
mostly of the 13th century, with upper parts of the 16th. Some are in
ruins, but the main rooms were used as the official residence of the
Governor of the Isle of Wight until the 1940s, and they remain in good
The Great Hall, Great Chamber, and several smaller rooms are open to the
public, and an upper room houses the Isle of Wight Museum. Most rooms
are partly furnished, but on the whole it is the fireplaces and other
features of the rooms themselves which are most interesting.
One of the main subjects of the Museum is King Charles I. He tried to
escape from the castle in 1648, but was unable to get through the bars
of his window.
The name of the castle is echoed in a very different structure on the
other side of the world. A visit to the castle by James Macandrew, one
of the founders of the New Zealand city of Dunedin, led to him naming
his estate "Carisbrook". The name of the estate was later used for
Dunedin's main sporting venue.
The Main Gate
The gateway tower was erected by Anthony Woodville, Lord Scales in 1464.
The chapel is located next to the main gate. In 1904 the chapel of St
Nicholas in the castle was reopened and re-consecrated, having been
rebuilt as a national memorial of Charles I. Within the walls is a well
200 ft. deep, and another in the centre of the keep is reputed to have
been still deeper.
Near the domestic buildings is the well-house with its working donkey
wheel. As it is still operated by donkeys, the wheel is a great
attraction and creates long queues.
The Constable's Chamber
The Constable's Chamber is a large room located in the castle's medieval
section. It was the bedroom of Charles I when he was imprisoned in the
castle, and Princess Beatrice used it as a dining room. It is now used
as the castle's education center.
Surrounding the whole castle are large earthworks, designed by the
Italian Federigo Gianibelli, and begun in the year before the Spanish
Armada. They were finished in the 1590s. The outer gate has the date
1598 and the arms of Queen Elizabeth I.
The castle is one of the major attractions now owned by English
Dimbola Lodge was the Isle of Wight home of the Victorian pioneer
photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.
It is now the home of the Julia Margaret Cameron Trust, and a
History of the property
Julia Margaret Cameron bought two adjacent cottages in Freshwater Bay
from a local fisherman called Jacob Long in 1860. In order to make the
house look more beautiful to her friends returning from the beach, they
were linked by a central tower in the Gothic style current at the time.
The structure dominates the skyline from Freshwater Bay and gives a
focus to the surrounding area.
Dimbola Lodge served both as her home and her studio. It was here that
the greatest of Julia Margaret Cameron's photographs were made.
After the Camerons returned to Ceylon the property was again divided
into two parts. These were later renamed Dimbola, which became a private
residence and holiday flats, and Cameron House which eventually became
unoccupied and under the threat of demolition by developers. The Julia
Margaret Cameron Trust acquired both properties in 1993 and it is now
open to the public.
Dinosaur Isle is a museum located on the Isle of
The museum was designed by Isle of Wight architects Rainey Petrie Johns
in the shape of a giant pterodactyl, it claims to be the first custom
built Dinosaur museum in Europe. The £2.3 million cost of the museum was
provided by Isle of Wight Council and the National Lottery Millennium
Commission. Dinosaur Isle opened to visitors on 2001-08-20.
Fort Victoria (Isle of Wight)
Fort Victoria was a single tier battery with defensible barracks west of
Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, England, built in the 1850s, later used as a
submarine mining centre and training area for military purposes.
The larger barrack blocks were demolished in 1969, but the sea-facing
casemates were not, and this is now all that remains of the Fort. It can
now be visited in its role as a country park. The linear park follows
the coastline, and has spectacular beaches and soft cliffs. Through the
wooded upper cliff area runs the old military road to Fort Albert. The
path is now a part of the Round the Island Footpath.
Fort Victoria is the Isle of Wight's largest and most popular country
park, owned and managed by the Isle of Wight Council, it has several
attractions in the old fort buildings including a marine aquarium, a
planetarium, a cafe and the ranger base from where, in the summer
months, educational visits are operated by the rangers.
The Fort provides easy access to the beach, and excellent views of the
Solent, Hurst Castle, and passing shipping.
Isle of Wight Steam Railway
Vintage carriage and O2 Class 0-4-4T no. 24 Calbourne.The Isle of Wight
Steam Railway is a heritage railway line on the Isle of Wight, an island
off the south coast of England across the Solent from Portsmouth and
Southampton. The Isle of Wight Steam Railway passes through five and a
half miles of unspoiled countryside from Smallbrook Junction station to
Wootton station, passing through the small village of Havenstreet where
the line has a station, headquarters and depot. At Smallbrook Junction
the steam railway connects with the Island Line.
The railway is owned and operated by the Isle of Wight Railway Co. Ltd.
and run largely by volunteers. Services are operated on most days from
June to September, together with Sundays in April, May and October and
public holidays. Over each August bank holiday weekend, the railway
organises the Island Steam Show, which combines an intensive service on
the railway with displays of various sorts of steam power including
traction engines and steam fair equipment, together with other
attractions that vary year by year.
As the name suggests, services are hauled by steam locomotives, with
most of the fleet having spent much of their working life on the
island's railways. The principal locomotives in use are:
Calbourne, 02 class 0-4-4T number W24, built in 1891 for the London and
South Western Railway and transferred to the island in 1925.
Freshwater, Terrier class number W8, built in 1876 for the London,
Brighton and South Coast Railway and transferred to the island in 1913.
Newport, Terrier class number W11, built in 1878 for the London,
Brighton and South Coast Railway and transferred to the island in 1902.
These locomotives are supported by a handful of more recent steam and
The locomotives are complemented by two distinct fleets of carriages.
One fleet consists of bogie carriages built between 1911 and 1924,
representing the final generation of steam hauled stock used on the
island. The other fleet consists of four-wheel carriages built between
1864 and 1898 representing the previous generation; most of these have
been rebuilt from bodies previously sold off for use as holiday homes or
storage sheds. The two fleets are not normally mixed in the same train.
The first railway on the Isle of Wight, opened in 1862, linked Newport
and Cowes. It became the nucleus of the Isle of Wight Central Railway.
The line from Ryde to Newport was opened in 1875 and by 1890 the island
was served by an extensive network of lines. However most of these lines
were relatively poorly trafficked, reflecting the isolation and poverty
of the island in general.
This isolation and poverty meant that island's railways could rarely
afford to acquire new locomotives or rolling stock and instead relied on
using already elderly equipment transferred from the mainland. Much of
the equipment currently used on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway falls
into this category, representing usage on the island in the early
twentieth century but also the mid to late nineteenth century on the
The first railway closures started in 1952 and in 1966 the Ryde to
Newport and Shanklin to Ventnor lines were closed. The last steam
services on the island ran on the remaining Ryde to Shanklin line on
December 31st 1966. However a small group of rail enthusiasts formed the
Wight Locomotive Society and raised funds to preserve one of the last
steam locomotives, W24 Calbourne, and a number of the remaining
carriages. Then, in 1971, the Isle of Wight Railway Co Ltd was formed to
buy the 1½-mile length of track between Wootton and Havenstreet. From
that early beginning, the railway has been gradually extended back from
Havenstreet towards Ryde. This extension reached Smallbrook Junction
(and the still operational Ryde to Shanklin railway) in 1994, and a
brand new interchange station was built at that location to permit
visitors to change to and from Island Line trains there.
An extension of the line westwards from Wootton to Newport has been
suggested in the past but now seems unlikely – the site of Newport
station now lies under a road and houses have been built on another part
of the old line. A slightly more possible extension is one from
Smallbrook into Ryde St Johns Road station, using one of the two Island
Line tracks on this stretch, although this will depend on the future of
Robin Hill is a family theme park, billed as a countryside adventure
park, in the centre of the Isle of Wight, United Kingdom.
It is located close to the pub "The Hare and Hounds", in Adgestone. It
is the sister park of Blackgang Chine, another Isle of Wight amusement
area. Its attractions include: "The Time Machine" "Simulator", "Squirrel
Tower", and the famous "Toboggan Run", a 300 metre course of metal
half-pipe, designed as a track for toboggans (including brakes).
As well as a park for family fun, its other attractions include a wide
wildlife variety, including the red squirrel, a mammal once native to
all of Britain until it was gradually pushed aside by its accidently
imported Canadian cousin, the grey squirrel. Robin hill is one of its
very few sanctuaries.
Robin Hill is known all across the island and is a popular attraction
for tourists there.
Alum Bay is a sandy bay near the westernmost point
of the Isle of Wight, England, within sight of The Needles. The bay is
noted for its multi-coloured sand cliffs.
An amusement park exists at the top of the cliffs, and during the summer
season a chair lift takes tourists down to the beach below.
Samples of the sand in vials and jars were for many years available in
tourist shops all over the island. Some fine examples of pictures made
with the coloured sand also exist. The practice of collecting sand for
these purposes is no longer possible, due to the continuing erosion of
the cliffs, and so sand is now imported and dyed for the purpose of
making such souvenirs. Signs on the beach warn tourists not to climb the
cliffs because of the danger of sandslides. A facility for visitors to
fill their own sand vials has been incorporated into the amusement park.
The Needles is a row of distinctive stacks of chalk that rise out of the
sea off the western extremity of the Isle of Wight, England, close to
Alum Bay. A lighthouse has stood at the western end of the formation
since 1859. The formation takes its name from a needle-shaped pillar
called Lot's Wife that used to stand in its midst until it collapsed in
a storm in 1764. The remaining rocks are all short and squat and not at
all needle-like, but the name has stuck. The Needles can be considered
as an extension of The Undercliff, the cliffs which make up much of the
southern coast of the Isle of Wight.
The Needles Old battery was built on the cliff top above the stacks in
1861–63 to guard the West end of the Solent. It was initially equipped
with 7" Armstrong RBLs, which were replaced by 9" RMLs in 1873. Early
searchlight experiments were conducted in 1889–92, just after which the
new battery was built higher up the cliff. In 1903 the old guns were
considered obsolete and thrown off the cliff. During World War I early
trials of anti-aircraft guns were carried out, and the site saw action
in World War II. The new Needles guns were scrapped in 1954. The
headland was used for Black Knight rocket tests from 1956–71, and the
site is now open to the public, owned by the National Trust.
It was featured on the 2005 TV programme Seven Natural Wonders as one of
the wonders of the South.