Places to Go

History lover's guide to the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight may be a small island, but there is certainly a lot of history present there, with numerous historic sites of interest to visit. I'll walk you through the most impressive of those sites:

Yarmouth Castle

On to Yarmouth Castle in the west. There is very little left of this castle, but it does provide a great spot for relaxing and enjoying the views over The Solent. Rooms have been recreated and there is an interesting exhibition about the ships that got wrecked on route to the castle in the seas it overlooks. Yarmouth Castle was the last castle to be built by Henry VIII for coastal defence.

Carisbrooke Castle

In the middle of the island you can find Carisbrooke Castle. As well as being at the heart of the island, it is at the heart of its history too. It was a power and defense centre for the island for over 1000 years. This castle was a royal summer residence in Elizabethan times, but also serves as a Saxon fortress, and a castle in the Norman conquest. This castle today is a little more commercial, and you can take a donkey ride, or dress up as a prince or princess for the day which is great fun. 

 

Carisbrooke Castle

Appuldurcombe

On the south side of the island, you can find Appuldurcombe House and St Catherine's Oratory. St Catherine's Oratory is basically a medieval lighthouse built in 1328, situated on St Catherine's Down. It is the second oldest lighthouse in the country, and the last remaining medieval structure of this type. The most interesting thing about this site is its backstory. It was actually built by the Lord of Chale, in penance for the fact he pillaged wine from a shipwreck nearby, but he perished before its completion. 

Appuldurcombe exterior

Appuldurcombe House is arguably one of the most striking pieces of architecture on the island. It was built in the early part of the 18th Century for the Worsley family. This family have an interesting history too, with Sir Richard Worsley admitting to a court he had 27 lovers to the disgrace of his wife. The house is a stunning example of Baroque architecture, and the gardens too are simply exquisite. The perfect place for a picnic. The historic exhibition here is fantastic for those interested in this period of history. A more modern addition to this house, which makes it a great place to visit, is the Falconry Centre which boasts a grand collection of eagles, hawks, owls, falcons and kestrels.  

Appuldurcombe ruins

Osborne House

On the opposite side of the island in the north, there is the beautiful Osborne House which was completed in 1851. This house was the holiday home of Queen Victoria, and it has Italian influences in its styling. You can see her private apartments and, my personal favourite, their private beach where they would bathe and the children would play, and you can too! The Swiss Cottage and museum is also a highlight; it is here royal children would learn and grow vegetables. Out of all historical sites I have visited, Osborne House gives you the realest sense of what it would have been like to be a royal in times gone by - which is why this house is one of my favourites to visit when on the island.

Osborne Gardens Osborne ornate ceiling Osborne House

 

 

 

The island really does provide the ultimate day out for history lovers, and if you are staying on holiday on the Isle of Wight we can highly recommend a day out at some of these beautiful historic sites. 

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