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Isle of Wight
Flag of the Isle of Wight.svg
Flag of the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight flag.svg
Isle of Wight Council flag
Motto of County Council: All this beauty is of God
Status Ceremonial & Non-metropolitan/Unitary county
Region South East England
- Total
Ranked 46th
384 km2 (148 sq mi)
Admin HQ Newport
ISO 3166-2 GB-IOW
ONS code 00MW
- Total (2008 est.)
- Density
- Admin. council
369 /km2 (956/sq mi)
Members of Parliament

The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, 3–5 miles (5–8 km) off the south coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent. The island is known for its outstanding natural beauty, its world-famous sailing based at the town of Cowes, and its resorts, which have been popular holiday destinations since the Victorian times.

The island has a rich history, including a brief status as an independent kingdom in the 15th century. Until 1995, in common with Jersey and Guernsey, the island had its own Governor - most notably Lord Mountbatten from 1969–1974, after which he became Lord Lieutenant until his assassination in 1979.

It was home to the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, and to Queen Victoria, who built her much loved summer residence and final home Osborne House at East Cowes. The Island's maritime and industrial history encompasses boat building, sail making, the manufacture of flying boats, the world's first hovercraft and the testing and development of Britain's space rockets. It is home to the Isle of Wight International Jazz Festival, Bestival and the recently-revived Isle of Wight Festival, which, in 1970, was the largest rock music event ever held.[2] The island has some exceptional wildlife and is one of the richest locations of dinosaur fossils in Europe.

In the past, the Isle of Wight has been part of Hampshire. In 1890, it became an independent administrative county, though it continued to share the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire. In 1974, it was reconstituted as a non-metropolitan and ceremonial county, with its own Lord Lieutenant, and recognised as a postal county. With a single Member of Parliament and 132,731 permanent residents in 2001, it is also the most populous parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom.

It is easily accessible from Southsea by hovercraft. Several ferry services operate across the Solent: the route from Southampton to Cowes is 10 miles (16 km), Portsmouth to Ryde 5 miles (8 km), Portsmouth to Fishbourne 7 miles (11 km), and Lymington to Yarmouth 4 miles (6 km).




Early history

The Isle of Wight is first mentioned in writing in Geography by Claudius Ptolemaeus.

At the end of the Roman Empire the island of Vectis became a Jutish kingdom ruled by King Stuf and his successors until AD 661 when it was invaded by Wulfhere of Mercia and forcibly converted to Christianity at sword point. When he left for Mercia the islanders reverted to paganism.

In AD 685 it was invaded by Caedwalla of Wessex and can be considered to have become part of Wessex. Following the accession of West Saxon kings as kings of all England, it then became part of England. The island became part of the shire of Hampshire and was divided into hundreds as was the norm.

In 686, it became the last part of the country to convert to Christianity.[3][4][5]

The Island suffered especially from Viking predations. Alfred the Great's navy defeated the Danes in 871 after they had "ravaged Devon and the Isle of Wight".

Middle ages

The Norman Conquest created the position of Lord of the Isle of Wight. Carisbrooke Priory and the fort of Carisbrooke Castle were founded. The island did not come under full control of the Crown until it was sold by the dying last Norman Lord, Lady Isabella de Fortibus, to Edward I in 1293.

The Lordship thereafter became a royal appointment, with a brief interruption when Henry de Beauchamp, 1st Duke of Warwick was in 1444 crowned King of the Isle of Wight,[6] with King Henry VI assisting in person at the ceremony, placing the crown on his head. With no male heir, the regal title expired on the death of Henry de Beauchamp.

Henry VIII, who developed the Royal Navy and its permanent base at Portsmouth, fortified the island at Yarmouth, East and West Cowes, and Sandown. Much later, after the Spanish Armada in 1588, the threat of Spanish attacks remained and the outer fortifications of Carisbrooke Castle were built between 1597 and 1602.

Civil war

During the English Civil War King Charles fled to the Isle of Wight, believing he would receive sympathy from the governor, Robert Hammond. Hammond was appalled, and imprisoned the King in Carisbrooke Castle. Charles had originally intended to flee to Jersey but had got lost in the New Forest and missed the boat.

Osborne House and its grounds are now open to the public

Seven Years War

During the Seven Years War, the Island was used as a staging post for British troops departing on expeditions against the French coast such as the Raid on Rochefort. During 1759 with a planned French invasion imminent, a large force of soldiers was kept there so they could be moved at speed to any destination on the Southern English Coast. The French called off their invasion following the Battle of Quiberon Bay. A later French invasion plan involved a landing on the Isle of Wight.[7]

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria made Osborne House on the Isle of Wight her summer home for many years and, as a result, it became a major holiday resort for fashionable Victorians including Alfred Lord Tennyson, Julia Margaret Cameron, Charles Dickens (who wrote much of David Copperfield there) and members of European royalty.

During her reign, in 1897, the world's first radio station[8] was set up by Marconi, at the The Needles Battery, at the western tip of the island.

Modern history

During the Second World War the Island was frequently bombed. With its proximity to France the island also had a number of observation stations and transmitters, and was the starting-point for one of the earlier Operation Pluto pipelines to feed fuel to the Normandy landings.

The Needles battery was used as the site for testing and development of the Black Arrow and Black Knight space rockets, subsequently launched from Woomera, Australia.

The Isle of Wight Festival was a very large rock festival that took place near Afton Down, West Wight in 1970, following two smaller concerts in 1968 and 1969. The 1970 show was notable both for being one of the last public performances by Jimi Hendrix and for the number of attendees reaching, by many estimates, 600,000.[9] The Festival was revived in 2002 in a different format and is now an annual event.

Physical geography and wildlife

Isle of Wight Map.

The Isle of Wight is approximately diamond-shaped and covers an area of 380 km2. Slightly more than half of the Island, mainly in the west, is designated as the Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Island has 258 km2 of farmland, 52 km2 of developed areas, and 92 km of coastline. The landscape of the Island is remarkably diverse, leading to its oft-quoted description of "England in Miniature". West Wight is predominantly rural, with dramatic coastlines dominated by the famous chalk downland ridge, running across the whole island and ending in The Needles stacks — perhaps the most photographed aspect of the Isle of Wight. The highest point on the Island is St Boniface Down, at 241 m which is a Marilyn.

The famous view at The Needles and Alum Bay.

The rest of the Island's landscape also has great diversity, with perhaps the most notable habitats being the soft cliffs and sea ledges, which are spectacular features as well as being very important for wildlife, and are internationally protected. The River Medina flows north into the Solent, whilst the other main river, the River Yar flows roughly north-east, emerging at Bembridge Harbour at the eastern end of the island. Confusingly, there is another entirely separate river at the western end also called the River Yar flowing the short distance from Freshwater Bay to a relatively large estuary at Yarmouth. To distinguish them, they may be referred to as the Eastern and Western Yar.

The south coast of the Island borders the English Channel. Without man's intervention the sea might well have split the island into three; at the west end where a bank of pebbles separates Freshwater Bay from the marshy backwaters of the Western Yar east of Freshwater, and at the east end where a thin strip of land separates Sandown Bay from the marshy basin of the Eastern Yar, east of Sandown. Yarmouth itself was effectively an island, with water on all sides and only connected to the rest of the island by a regularly breached neck of land immediately east of the town.

Island wildlife is remarkable, and it is one of the few places in England where the red squirrel is flourishing, with a stable population (Brownsea Island is another). Unlike most of England, no grey squirrels are to be found on the Island,[10] nor are there any wild deer. Instead, rare and protected species such as the dormouse and many rare bats can be found. The Glanville Fritillary butterfly's distribution in the United Kingdom is largely restricted to the edges of the crumbling cliffs of the Isle of Wight.

A competition in 2002 named the Pyramidal Orchid as the Isle of Wight's county flower.[11]

The island is known as one of the most important areas in Europe for dinosaur fossils. The eroding cliffs often reveal previously hidden remains.


Being one of the most southerly parts of the UK, the Isle of Wight has a milder sub-climate than most other areas, which makes it a popular holiday destination, particularly the resorts in the south east of the island. It also has a longer growing season than most other areas in the UK.[12]

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg High (°C) 9 9 10 13 16 18 20 21 19 15 12 10
Avg Min (°C) 3 3 4 7 9 12 14 14 12 9 6 4
Mean (°C) 6 6 7 10 13 15 17 17 15 12 9 7
Avg Precip (mm) 89 61 66 48 56 53 41 56 66 79 84 89


Blackgang Chine circa 1910

The Isle of Wight is made up of a wide variety of different rock types ranging from Early Cretaceous times (around 127 million years ago) to the middle of the Palaeogene (around 30 million years ago). All the rocks found on the island are sedimentary, made up of mineral grains from previously existing rocks. These are all consolidated to form the rocks that can be seen on the island today, such as limestone, mudstone and sandstone. Rocks on the island are very rich in fossils and many of these can be seen exposed on the beaches as the cliffs erode.

Cretaceous rocks on the island, usually red, show that the climate was previously hot and dry. This provided suitable living conditions for dinosaurs. Dinosaur bones and footprints can be seen in and on the rocks exposed around the island's beaches, especially at Yaverland and Compton Bay. As a result, the isle has been nicknamed Dinosaur Island.

Along the northern coast of the island there is a rich source of fossilised shellfish, crocodiles, turtles and mammal bones. The youngest of these date back to around 30 million years ago.

The island is mainly made up of Tertiary clays, in most of the northern parts of the island, limestone, upper and lower greensands, wealden and chalk.

View south, showing cliffs below Luccombe, from Shanklin Chine


The Clipper Ship "Flying Cloud" off the Needles, Isle of Wight, by James E. Buttersworth, 1859–60.

The Isle of Wight is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county. Since the abolition of its two borough councils in 1995 and the restructuring of the county council as the Isle of Wight Council, it has been a unitary county. It also has a single Member of Parliament, and is by far the most populous constituency in the United Kingdom (more than 50% above the average of English constituencies).

As a constituency of the House of Commons, it is traditionally a battleground between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. The current MP Andrew Turner is a Conservative, and his predecessor Dr Peter Brand was a Liberal Democrat.

The Isle of Wight Council election of 2009 was a victory for the Conservative Party, which took 24 of the council's 40 seats.[13]

There has been a minor regionalist movement, in the form of the Vectis National Party and Isle of Wight Party, but they attracted little support in elections.

Main towns

  • Newport, located in the centre of the island, is the county town of the Isle of Wight and is the island's main shopping area. Recent developments include a new bus station with retail complex and a new retail park on the outskirts. Located next to the River Medina, Newport Quay was a busy port until the mid 19th century, but has now been mainly converted into art galleries, apartments and other meeting places.
  • Ryde, the island's largest town with a population of around 30,000, is located in the north east of the island. It is a Victorian town with an 800 metre long pier and 6 km of beaches, attracting many tourists each year. Every year there is a Ryde Carnival in two parts, spread over more than one day: one in the daytime, and one at night with many coloured lights. Ryde is also home to the ice hockey club Isle of Wight Raiders, who play in the English Premier League.
  • Cowes is the location of Cowes Week every year and a popular international sailing centre. It is also the home of the record-setting sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur.
  • Sandown is another seaside resort, attracting many tourists each year. It is also home to the Isle of Wight Zoo and Dinosaur Isle geological museum, and one of the island's two 18-hole golf courses.
  • Shanklin just south of Sandown, also attracts tourists, with its sandy beaches, Shanklin Chine and the old village.
  • Ventnor, built on the steep slopes of St Boniface Down on the south coast of the island, leads down to a picturesque bay that attracts many tourists. Recent developments include Ventnor Haven, a small harbour built around a Victorian-style bandstand.
Graveyard on the grounds of the church in the town of Brading, Isle of Wight

In addition there are smaller towns along the coasts, particularly on the eastern side of the island. There are also a number of smaller villages. Some of these (for example, Godshill) also attract many tourists.


Language and dialect

The accent of the Isle of Wight is somewhat stronger than, but similar to, the traditional dialect of Hampshire, featuring the dropping of some consonants and an emphasis on longer vowels. It is similar to the West Country dialects heard in SW England, but less removed in sound from the Estuary English of the SE. As with many other traditional southern English regional dialects and accents, a strong island accent is not now commonly heard, and, as speakers tend to be older, this decline is likely to continue.

The island also has its own local and regional words. Some words, including grockle (visitor, tourist - hence grockle-can, tour coach) and nipper/nips (a younger male person), are still commonly used and are shared with neighbouring areas of the mainland. A few are unique to the island, for example overner (a mainlander who has settled on the island), caulkhead (someone born on the island and born from long-established island stock) and 'somewhen' (a derivative of sometime, with similar meaning). Other words are more obscure and now used mainly for comic emphasis, such as mallishag (meaning "caterpillar") and nammit ("noon-meat", meaning food). Some other words are gurt meaning "great", and gallybagger ("scarecrow").[14]


There has been and still is some confusion between the identities of the Isle of Wight as a separate county and, as it once was, a part of the nearby county of Hampshire.[15] Prior to 1890 the Isle of Wight was normally regarded and was administered as a part of Hampshire. With the formation of the Isle of Wight County Council in 1890 the distinct identity became officially established - see also Politics of the Isle of Wight. In January 2009 the new Flag of the Isle of Wight, the first general flag for the county, was accepted by the Flag Institute.[16]


Cowes is a world-famous centre for sailing, playing host to several racing regattas. Cowes Week is the longest-running regular regatta in the world, with over 1,000 yachts and 8,500 competitors taking part in over 50 classes of yacht racing.[17] In 1851 the first America's Cup race took place around the island. Other major sailing events hosted in Cowes include the Fastnet race, the Round the Island Race,[18] the Admiral's Cup, and the Commodore's Cup.[19]

The Isle of Wight Marathon is the United Kingdom's oldest continuously held marathon, having been run every year since 1957.[20] The course starts in Ryde, passing through Newport, Shanklin and Sandown, before finishing back in Ryde. It is an undulating course with a total climb of 459 metres.

The island is home to the Isle of Wight Islanders speedway team, who compete in the sport's third division, the National League. The club was founded in 1996, with a first-night attendance of 1,740. The island is also home to the Wightlink Raiders, an ice hockey team based at Ryde Arena. They compete in the 1st Tier of the English National Ice Hockey League, the 3rd Division in the country. There is also an amateur team the Vectis Tigers of the 2nd Tier English National Ice Hockey League, and four youth teams including the Isle of Wight Wildcats, all based at Ryde Arena.

The Isle of Wight Hockey Club run three senior teams and a junior side, with the 1st XI competing in Hampshire's top division, just one below the regional leagues. The island also has a ladies team—the Vectis Ladies—which is a separate organisation from the IW Hockey Club. Ventnor Middle School on the Isle of Wight runs a successful hockey set-up, producing a number of players who have since gone on to play at high standards.

The now-disbanded Ryde Sports F.C. founded in 1888 and became one of the eight founder members of the Hampshire League in 1896. There are several other non-league clubs such as Newport (IW) F.C. There is an Isle of Wight Saturday Football League with three divisions, and a rugby union club,[21] plus various other sporting teams.[22] Beach football is particularly prevalent on the island and has several of the nation's premier clubs with almost all of the England Beach Soccer team made up from players from the island.

The Isle of Wight is the 39th official county in English cricket, and the Isle of Wight Cricket Board organise an internal cricket league between various local clubs, and Ventnor Cricket Club compete in the Southern Premier League, and have won the Second Division in several recent years. There is a new County Ground near Newport,[23][24][25] which held its first match on 6 September 2008.[26] The Board's intent is to enter a side in the Minor Counties tournaments in future seasons.

The Isle of Wight competes in the biennial Island Games, which it hosted in 1993. The Isle of Wight will host these games again in 2011.


The Isle of Wight is home to the Isle of Wight International Jazz Festival, the Isle of Wight Festival and the Bestival. The Isle of Wight is also the home of the band The Bees. Recently they have been having more national success and often perform at smaller concerts on the island. The band Trixie's Big Red Motorbike (popular in the early-to-mid 1980s) as well as Mark King of Level 42 also came from the Isle of Wight.


A satellite photograph of the Isle of Wight and the Solent.

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added by the Isle of Wight economy at current basic prices by the Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of pounds.[27]

Year Regional Gross Value Added[28] Agriculture[29] Industry[30] Services[31]
1995 831 28 218 585
2000 1,202 27 375 800
2003 1,491 42 288 1,161

Industry and agriculture

The largest industry on the Isle of Wight is tourism, but the island has a strong agricultural heritage, including sheep and dairy farming and the growing of arable crops. Traditional agricultural commodities are more difficult to market off the island because of transport costs, but island farmers have managed successfully to exploit some specialist markets. The high price of these products overcomes the transport costs. One of the most successful agricultural sectors at present is the growing of crops under cover, particularly salad crops, including tomatoes and cucumbers. The Isle of Wight has a longer growing season than much of the United Kingdom and this also favours such crops. Garlic has been successfully grown in Newchurch for many years, and is even exported to France. This has led to the establishment of an annual Garlic Festival at Newchurch, which is one of the largest events of the island's annual calendar. The favourable climate has led to the success of vineyards, including one of the oldest in the British Isles, at Adgestone near Sandown.[32] Lavender is also grown for its oil.[33] The largest sector of agriculture has been dairying, but due to low milk prices, and strict UK legislation for UK milk producers, the dairy industry has declined. There were nearly one-hundred and fifty dairy producers of various sizes in the mid-eighties, but this has now dwindled down to just twenty-four.

The making of sailcloth, boats and other connected maritime industry has long been associated with the island, although this has somewhat diminished in recent years. Cowes is still home to various small marine-related companies such as boat-builders.

Although they have reduced the extent of the plants and workforce, including the sale of the main site, GKN operates what was once the British Hovercraft Corporation a subsidiary of, and known latterly, when manufacturing focus changed, as Westland Aircraft. Prior to its purchase by Westland, it was the independent company known as Saunders-Roe. It remains one of the most notable historic firms, having produced many of the flying boats, and the world's first hovercraft.

The island's major manufacturing activity today is in composite materials, used by boat-builders and the wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, which has a wind turbine blade factory and testing facilities in Newport and East Cowes.

Bembridge Airfield is the home of Britten-Norman, manufacturers of the world-famous Islander and Trislander aircraft. This is shortly to become the site of the European assembly line for Cirrus light aircraft. The Norman Aeroplane Company is a smaller aircraft manufacturing company operating in Sandown. There are have been 3 other aircraft manufacturers that built planes on the island.[34]

In 2005, Northern Petroleum began exploratory drilling for oil, with its Sandhills-2 borehole at Porchfield but ceased operations in October that year, after failing to find significant reserves.


There are three breweries on the island. Goddards Brewery in Ryde opened in 1993.[35] David Yates, who was head brewer of Burts and Island Brewery, started brewing as Yates Brewery at the Inn at St Lawrence in 2000.[36] Ventnor Brewery, under new management, is the latest incarnation of Burt's Brewery, which has been brewing on the island since the 1840s in Ventnor.[37] Until the 1960s most pubs were owned by Mews Brewery sited in Newport near the old railway station, but it closed and the pubs taken over by Strongs and then by Whitbread. By some accounts Mews beer was apt to be rather cloudy and dark. They pioneered the use of cans in the 19th century for export to British India. The old brewery was derelict for many years but was then severely damaged in a spectacular fire


Tourism and heritage

Compton Chine, looking east towards Blackgang

The heritage of the island is a major asset, which has for many years kept its economy going. Holidays focused on natural heritage, including both wildlife and geology, are becoming a growing alternative to the traditional British seaside holiday, which went into decline in the second half of the 20th century, due to the increased affordability of air travel to alternative destinations.

Tourism is still the largest industry on the island. In 1999, the 130,000 island residents were host to 2.7 million visitors. Of these, 1.5 million stayed overnight, and 1.2 million visits were day visits. Only 150,000 of these visitors were international visitors. Between 1993 and 2000, visits increased at a rate of 3% per year, on average.[38]

At the turn of the nineteenth century the island had ten pleasure piers including two at Ryde and a "chain pier" at Seaview. The Victoria Pier in Cowes succeeded the earlier Royal Pier but was itself removed in 1960. The piers at Ryde, Seaview, Sandown, Shanklin and Ventnor originally served a coastal steamer service that operated from Southsea on the mainland. The piers at Seaview, Shanklin, Ventnor and Alum Bay were all destroyed by storms during the last century. Today only the railway pier at Ryde and the piers at Sandown, Totland Bay (currently closed to the public) and Yarmouth survive. Blackgang Chine is arguably the oldest theme park in the UK, and one of the oldest in the world.

As well as more traditional tourist attractions, the island is often host to walking holidays[39] or cycling holidays through the attractive scenery. Almost every town and village on the island plays host to hotels, hostels and camping sites. Out of the peak summer season, the island is still an important destination for coach tours from other parts of the United Kingdom and an annual walking festival has attracted considerable interest. The 108 km Isle of Wight Coastal Path follows the coastline as far as possible, deviating onto roads where the route is impassable closer to the sea.

A major contribution to the local economy comes from sailing and marine-related tourism.


A map of the island from 1945

The Isle of Wight has a total of 787 km of roadway. Major roads run between the main island towns, with smaller roads connecting villages. It is one of the few counties in the UK not to have a motorway, although there is a dual carriageway from Coppins Bridge in Newport towards the north of Newport near the island’s hospital and prison.

A comprehensive bus network operated by Southern Vectis links most island settlements, with Newport as the central hub.

The island's location 8 km off the mainland means that longer-distance transport is by boat. Car ferry and passenger services are run by Wightlink and Red Funnel as well as a hovercraft operated by Hovertravel. Fixed links, in the forms of tunnels or bridges, have been proposed.

The island formerly had its own railway network of over 88 km, but only one line remains in regular use. The Island Line is part of the United Kingdom's National Rail network, running a little under 14 kilometres from Ryde to Shanklin. The line was opened by the Isle of Wight Railway in 1864, and from 1996 to 2007 was run by the smallest train operating company on the network, Island Line Trains.

There are currently two airfields for general aviation, Isle of Wight Airport at Sandown and Bembridge Airport.

The island has over 322 km of cycleways, much of which can be enjoyed by families off road. Major Trails are

  • The Sunshine Trail, which incorporates Sandown, Shanklin, Godshill, and Wroxall in a 19 km circular route
  • The Troll Trail' between Cowes and Sandown (21 km, 90% off road)
  • The Round the Island Cycle Route, which circumnavigates the island on a reported 100 kilometre ride

A full list of routes are available here: Isle Cycle The site is constantly updated to add new routes

Cycles can be brought to the island by foot passengers on any of the car ferries. Hire cycles are also available.[40]


All the island telephone exchanges are broadband-enabled, although some areas, such as Arreton, have no broadband access. Some urban areas such as Cowes and Newport are also covered by cable lines.


The Isle of Wight's main local newspaper is the Isle of Wight County Press. It discusses local issues and is published each Friday, or on the previous working day if the Friday is a public holiday. In May 2008 the Isle of Wight Gazette was launched as a free newspaper supporting the local Earl Mountbatten Hospice.

The island had a television station called Solent TV from 2002 until its closure on Thursday, 24 May 2007.

The island has two local commercial radio stations and also falls within the coverage area of a number of local stations on the near mainland. Isle of Wight Radio has broadcast in the medium-wave band since 1990 and on 102 and 107 MHz FM since 1998, as well as streaming on the internet. In 2007, Angel Radio began broadcasting on 91.5 MHz from studios in Cowes.[41] On 1 February 2009, Wight FM began broadcasting as an internet radio station.

An active local websites with coverage of island news is Ventnor Blog.


The geography of the island, and its location near the densely populated south of England, led to it hosting three prisons: Albany, Camp Hill and Parkhurst, all located outside Newport near the main road to Cowes. Albany and Parkhurst were among the few Category A prisons in the UK until they were downgraded in the 1990s. The downgrading of Parkhurst was precipitated by a major escape: three prisoners (two murderers and a blackmailer) made their way out of the prison on 3 January 1995 for four days of freedom before being recaptured. Parkhurst especially enjoyed notoriety as one of the toughest jails in the British Isles and "hosted" many notable inmates, including the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, New Zealand drug lord Terry Clark and the Kray twins.

Camp Hill is located to the west of, and adjacent to, Albany and Parkhurst, on the very edge of Parkhurst Forest, having been converted first to a borstal and later to a Category C prison. It was built on the site of an army camp (both Albany and Parkhurst were barracks); there is a small estate of tree-lined roads with well-proportioned officers' quarters (of varying grandeur according to rank, but now privately owned) to the south and east.

These 3 prisons were merged into a single HMP Isle of Wight in April 2009.


There are sixty-nine Local Education Authority-maintained schools on the Isle of Wight, and two independent schools. As a rural community, many of these schools are small, with average numbers of pupils lower than in many urban areas. There are currently 46 primary schools, 14 middle schools and five high schools. However, education reforms have led to plans for closures (for full details on these see Education reforms on the Isle of Wight). There is also the Isle of Wight College, which is located on the outskirts of Newport.

The island implements a middle school system.

Famous residents

Over the years, the island has had many well-known visitors. Many come over for health reasons due to the cool sea breeze and clean air. For example, Winston Churchill and Karl Marx were visitors to the island.

Notable residents have included:

Selected places of interest

Notable media references

  • The 1980s pop group Level 42 is from the Isle of Wight.
  • The Northumbrian scholar, Bede, recorded the arrival of Christianity on the Isle of Wight in the year 686, when the population was massacred and replaced by Christians.[43]
  • The Beatles' song "When I'm Sixty-Four", written by Paul McCartney, refers to renting a cottage on the Isle of Wight (if it's not too dear).[44]
  • The Isle of Wight is called The Island in some editions of Thomas Hardy's novels in his fictional Wessex.
  • There is a running joke in radio sitcom The Navy Lark involving Sub-Lieutenant Phillips inability to navigate and subsequent "tailing the Isle of Wight ferry".
  • The Isle of Wight is the setting of Julian Barnes's novel England, England.
  • The island also features in John Wyndham's novel The Day of the Triffids and Simon Clark's sequel to it, The Night of the Triffids.
  • In the radio series Nebulous, the Isle of Wight has been accidentally disintegrated by Professor Nebulous while he was trying to move it slightly to the left to give it more sunlight, on Janril 57, 2069.[45]
  • Bob Dylan recorded the songs "Like a Rolling Stone", "Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)", "Minstrel Boy", and "She Belongs to Me" for the album Self Portrait live on the Isle of Wight.
  • The Isle of Wight is the setting in D. H. Lawrence's book The Trespasser, filmed for TV in 1981 on location.
  • In the 1966 novel Colossus, the entire island is selected for the development of a new base by the supercomputer, Colossus.
  • The Isle of Wight is the setting of Graham Masterton's book Prey.
  • Parts of Frágiles (Fragile: A Ghost Story), a 2005 movie starring Calista Flockhart, were filmed on the island.
  • Karl Marx visited the Isle of Wight on numerous occasions while he was writing The Communist Manifesto.
  • The Commodore 64 game 'Spirit of the Stones' by John Worsley was set on the Isle of Wight.[46]
  • In the radio panel game Genius, someone proposed that to increase Isle of Wight tourism , it should be made symmetrical, even though it would involve destroying Ventnor. The idea was rejected.[47]
  • In the Blackadder II episode "Potato", Blackadder's plot to sail to France is thwarted when it turns out that the captain of his ship is completely incompetent at navigation. Because of this, every expedition the captain had organised so far had been limited to "sailing around the Isle of Wight until everyone gets dizzy", and then sailing back home to Southampton.
  • The song "Island in the Rain", by The Men They Couldn't Hang is about the Isle of Wight.
  • In S.M. Stirling's novel The Protector's War, in which all high energy technology ceased to function, the Isle of Wight became the refuge of the English monarchy and government. After the holocaust that followed, the island was the base for re-population of England and the European mainland whose populations had perished except for cannibals and savages.

See also


  1. ^ Resident Population Estimates by Ethnic Group (Percentages)
  2. ^ Isle of Wight Festival history
  3. ^ Saxon Graves at Shalfleet, Isle of Wight History Centre, August, 2005
  4. ^ England, A Narrative History, Peter N. Williams
  5. ^ The English Accept Christianity, The Story of England, Samuel B. Harding
  6. ^ William Camden, Britain, or, a Chorographicall Description of the most flourishing Kingdomes, England, Scotland, and Ireland (London, 1610)
  7. ^ Longmate, Norman. Island Fortress: The Defence of Great Britain, 1603–1945. London, 2001. p.186-88
  8. ^ Connected Earth: The origins of radio
  9. ^ Movies
  10. ^ Operation Squirrel
  11. ^ Plantlife: County flowers
  12. ^ Isle of Wight Climate Statistics
  13. ^ Isle of Wight Council, 2009. Local election results.
  14. ^ Lavers, Jack (1988). The Dictionary of the Isle of Wight Dialect. Dovecote Press. ISBN 0-946159-63-7. 
  15. ^ Example story in the Telegraph 16 Jan 2008 showing confusion between the Isle of Wight and Hampshire
  16. ^ Flag institute
  17. ^ Skandia Cowes Week 2008 - Welcome
  18. ^ JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race
  19. ^ Rolex Commodores' Cup - Home
  20. ^ Isle Of Wight Marathon Race
  21. ^ The Isle has produced several high profile players including Kevin "The Hitman" Broderick, now playing for a local Sunday side. Isle Of Wight Rugby Football Club
  22. ^
  23. ^ Isle of Wight County Cricket Ground | Isle of Wight Cricket Board
  24. ^ Southern Premier Cricket League - Construction work underway on new island county ground
  25. ^ Newclose: Cricket Scoreboard Arrives | Isle of Wight News:Ventnor Blog
  26. ^ "Newclose County Cricket Ground Open Days". Retrieved 21 November 2008. 
  27. ^ published (pp.240–253)
  28. ^ Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  29. ^ includes hunting and forestry
  30. ^ includes energy and construction
  31. ^ includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
  32. ^ English Wine - Wine for Sale - Vineyard Tours, Isle of Wight
  33. ^ Isle of Wight lavender farm, lavender products, lavender plants, teas
  34. ^ A list of aircraft and airplane manufacturers as well as airfields on the Isle of Wight
  35. ^ about us
  36. ^ Yates' Brewery
  37. ^ Ventnor Brewery:: Since 1840
  38. ^ A website with Isle of Wight statistics for investors
  39. ^ Isle of Wight walking holidays - Wight Walks
  40. ^
  41. ^ ""History of Our Station" and "Gallery"" (Flash). Angel Radio Isle of Wight Website. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  42. ^ "Roll of High Sheriffs of the Isle of Wight". Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  43. ^ arrival of Christianity
  44. ^ Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band
  45. ^ "Holofile 001: Genesis of the Aftermath". Nebulous. 2008-05-15. No. 1, season 3.
  46. ^ The Lost Talismans of Spirit of the Stones
  47. ^ "Matthew Wright". Genius. 2007-10-29. No. 5, season 3.
  48. ^

External links

General Information:




Coordinates: 50°40′51″N 1°16′51″W / 50.68083°N 1.28083°W / 50.68083; -1.28083

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Isle of Wight article)

From LoveToKnow 1911

ISLE OF WIGHT, an island off the south coast of England, forming part of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by the Solent and Spithead. It is of diamond shape, measuring 2 22 m. from E. to W. and 132 from N. to S. (extremes). The area is 147 sq. m. The south coast is for the most part cliff-bound and grand, and there is much quietly beautiful scenery both inland and along the northern shores. Although east winds are at times prevalent in winter and spring, and summer heats may be excessive, the climate, especially in certain favoured spots, is mild and healthy. As a result numerous watering-places have grown up on the coasts.

A range of high chalk downs crosses the island from east to west, terminating seaward in the Culver cliffs and the cliffs near Freshwater respectively. It is breached eastward by the Yar stream flowing N.E., in the centre by the Medina, the principal stream in the island, flowing N., and by another Yar, flowing N., in the extreme west. These downs reach a height over 700 ft. west of the Medina, but east of it do not greatly exceed 400 ft. The slope northward is gradual. The north-west and north-east coasts, overlooking the Solent and Spithead respectively, rise sharply, but hardly ever assume the cliff form; they are beautifully wooded, and broken by many picturesque estuaries, such as those of the western Yar and Newtown on the north-west, the Medina opening northward opposite Southampton Water, and Wootton Creek and the mouth of the eastern Yar on the north-east. The streams mentioned rise very near the south coast; the western Yar, indeed, so close to it that the high land west of the stream is nearly insulated. A second range of downs in the extreme south, between St Catherine's Point and Dunnose, reaches the greatest elevation in the island, exceeding Soo ft. in St Catherine's Hill. Below these heights on the seaward side occurs the remarkable tract known as the Undercliff, a kind of terrace formed by the collapse of rocks overlying soft strata (sand and clay) which have been undermined. The upper cliffs shelter this terrace from the north winds; the climate is remarkably mild, and many delicate plants flourish luxuriantly. This part of the island especially affords a winter resort for sufferers from pulmonary complaints. Along the south coast the action of small streams on the soft rocks has hollowed out steep gullies or ravines, known as chines. Many of these, though small, are of great beauty; the most famous are Shanklin and Blackgang chines. The western peninsula shows perhaps the finest development of sea-cliffs. Off the westernmost promontory rise three detached masses of chalk, about 100 ft. in height, known as the Needles, exposed to the full strength of the southwesterly gales driving up the Channel. During a storm in 1764 a fourth spire was undermined and fell.


The geology of the island possesses many features of interest. Its form has been determined by the simple monoclinal fold which has thrown up the Chalk with a high northward dip, so that it now exists as a narrow ridge running from the Needles eastward to Culver Cliffs. Owing to a kink in the fold the ridge expands somewhat south of Carisbrooke. On the north side of the ridge the Chalk dips beneath the Tertiaries of the Hampshire Basin. Immediately north of the Chalk the Lower Eocene, Reading beds and London Clay form a narrow parallel strip, followed by a similar strip of Upper Eocene, Bracklesham and Bagshot beds. The remaining northern portion of the island is occupied by fluvio-marine Oligocene strata, including the Headon, Osborne, Bembridge and Hamstead beds. The various Tertiary formations are exhibited along the north coast, and may also be studied to great advantage in White Cliff and Alum Bays. In Alum Bay the vertical disposition of the strata is well shown, and the highly-coloured Bagshot sands and clays form a conspicuous feature. From the excellent coast sections many fossils may be obtained. South of the Chalk ridge that rock has been completely removed by denudation so as to expose the underlying Upper Greensand, which has slipped in many places over the underlying Gault (locally called "blue slipper"), forming picturesque landslips. The Lower Greensand formation may best be studied in the cliff section from Atherfield Point to Rocken End, and in the chines of Shanklin and Blackgang. Beneath the Greensand the Wealden is exposed in the section from Brook to Atherfield, and also, to a much less extent, in Sandown Bay. The Wealden strata have yielded abundant fossil remains of extinct reptiles (Iguanodon), especially in the neighbourhood of Brook and Cowleaze Chines; and at Brook Point an extensive fossil forest exists, being the remains of a great raft of timber floated down and deposited in estuarine mud at the mouth of a great river. At Brook also the characteristic Wealden mollusk, Unto valdensis, occurs abundantly.

Towns, &c. - Newport at the head of the Medina estuary is the chief town; Cowes at the mouth the chief port. The principal resorts of visitors are Cowes (the headquarters of the Royal Yacht Squadron); Ryde on the north-east coast; Sandown, Shanklin and Ventnor on the south-east; Freshwater Gate on the southwest, and Yarmouth on the Solent. Others are Totland Bay near the mouth of the Solent, Gurnard near Cowes, and Seaview and Bembridge south of Ryde. The principal lines of communication with the mainland are between Cowes and Southampton, Ryde and Portsmouth, and Yarmouth and Lymington. Newport is the chief railway centre, lines running N. to Cowes, W. to Yarmouth and Freshwater, S. to Ventnor, with a branch to Sandown, and E. to Ryde. A direct line connects Ryde, Sandown, Shanklin and Ventnor, and has a branch to St Helen's and Bembridge. There are few industries in the island. The land is chiefly agricultural, a large proportion being devoted to sheep-grazing. Fishing is carried on to a considerable extent on the south coast - lobsters, crabs and prawns being plentiful. Oyster cultivation has been attempted in the Medina, in Brading Harbour and in the Newtown river. At Cowes shipbuilding is carried on, and timber is grown for the British navy in a part of the ancient forest of Parkhurst, between the Medina and the Solent. The general trade of the island centres at Newport, but in the coast towns the chief occupation of the inhabitants consists in providing for visitors. The island shares in the defences of the Solent, Spithead and Portsmouth; there are batteries at Puckpool near Ryde, and on the eastern foreland, and along the west coast between the Needles and Yarmouth. Strong associations connect the Isle of Wight with the British royal family. Osborne House, near Cowes, was a residence and the scene of the death of Queen Victoria, and was presented to the nation by King Edward in 1902 (see CowEs). Princess Beatrice succeeded her husband Prince Henry of Battenberg as honorary governor of the island in 1896. The island is divided into two liberties, East and West Medina, excluding the boroughs of Newport and Ryde; and it forms one petty and special sessional division of the county. The urban districts are Cowes, East Cowes, St Helen's, Sandown, Shanklin and Ventnor. Until 1885 there was one member of parliament for the island and one for the borough of Newport; now, however, there is only one member for the whole island. Episcopally the island has for many centuries belonged to the see of Winchester. Pop. (1891) 78,672; (1901) 82,418.


Among the most interesting relics of the Roman occupation of the Isle of Wight following its conquest by Vespasian in A.D. 43 are the villas at Brading and Carisbrooke, the cemetery at Newport, and remains of foundations at Combly Farm, Gurnet, and between Brixton and Calbourne. Of the settlement of the island by the Jutes no authentic details are preserved, but in 661 it was annexed by Wulfhere to Wessex and subsequently bestowed on his vassal, the king of Sussex. In 99 8 it was the headquarters of the Danes, who levied their supplies from the opposite coasts of Hampshire and Sussex.

From the 14th to the 16th century the island was continuously under fear of invasion by the French, who in 1377 burnt Yarmouth and Francheville (the latter being subsequently rebuilt and known as Newtown), and so devastated Newport that it lay uninhabited for two years. In 1419, on a French force landing in the island and demanding tribute in the name of King Richard and Queen Isabella, the islanders replied that the king was dead and the queen sent home to her parents without any such condition of tribute, "but if the Frenchmen's minde were to fight, they willed them to come up, and no man should let them for the space of five hours, to refresh themselves, but when that time was expired they should have battayle given to them"; a proposition prudently declined by the Frenchmen, who returned to their ships and sailed home again. A more formidable raid was attempted in 1545 when a French fleet of 150 large ships, 25 galleys, and 50 smaller vessels drew up off Brading Harbour, and in spite of the brave defence of the islanders wrought much serious destruction. Wolverton near Brading having lain a ruined site ever since. As a result of this, the last French invasion, an organized system of defence was planned for the island, and forts were constructed at Cowes, Sandown, Freshwater and Yarmouth. During the Civil War of the 17th century the island was almost unanimous in support of the parliament, and Carisbrooke Castle was the prison of Charles I. from 1647 to 1648, and in 1650 of his two children, the princess Elizabeth and the duke of Gloucester, the former dying there from the effects of a chill after only a few weeks of captivity.

The lordship of the island ,was granted by William, the Conqueror to William Fitz-Osbern, but escheated to the crown by the treason of Roger, son of William, and was bestowed by Henry I. on Baldwin de Redvers, whose descendant Isabella de Fortibus sold it to Edward I. in 1293 for 6000 marks. Henceforth the island was governed by wardens appointed by the crown, who in the reign of Henry VII. were styled captains, a title revived in 1889 in the person of Prince Henry of Battenberg. The ancient place of assembly for the freemen of the island was at Shide Bridge near Newport, and at Newport also was held the Knighten Court, in which cases of small debt and trespasses were judged by those who held a knight's fee or part of a knight's fee of Carisbrooke Castle. The feudal tenants held their lands for the service of escorting their lords into and out of the island, and of serving forty days at their own cost in defence of Carisbrooke Castle. In the Domesday Survey twenty-nine mills are mentioned, and salt-works at Boarhunt, Bowcombe, Watchingwell and Whitfield. The island quarries have been worked from remote times, that of Quarr supplying material for Winchester cathedral. Alum was collected at Parkhurst Forest in 1579. Alum and sand for glass-making were formerly obtained at Alum Bay. In 1295 the united boroughs of Yarmouth and Newport made an isolated return of two members to parliament. From 1584 the boroughs of Lymington, Newport, Newtown and Yarmouth returned two members each, until under the act of 1832 the two last were disfranchised. By the act of 1868 Lymington and Newport lost one member each, and by the act of 1885 were disfranchised.


Early antiquities include British pit villages near. Rowborough, Celtic tumuli on several of the chalk downs, and the so-called Long Stone at Mottiston, a lofty sandstone monolith. The Roman villa near Brading contains some beautiful and well-preserved examples of tesselated pavements. Carisbrooke Castle is a beautiful ruin built upon the site of an ancient British stronghold. There are slight remains of Quarr Abbey near Ryde, founded for Benedictines (afterwards Cistercians) by Baldwin de Redvers in the first half of the 12th century. The most noteworthy ancient churches are those of Bonchurch (Norman), Brading (transitional Norman and Early English), Shalfleet (Norman and Decorated), and Carisbrooke, of various styles.

See Victoria County History, Hampshire; Sir R. Worsley, The History of the Isle of Wight (London, 1781); Richard Warner, The History of the Isle of Wight (Southampton, 1 795); B. B. Woodward, History of Hampshire, including the Isle of Wight (3 vols., London, 1861-1869); Percy Stone, Architectural History of the Isle of Wight (London, 1891).

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Simple English

[[File:|right|thumb|250px|A satellite photograph of the Isle of Wight]] The Isle of Wight is an island that is just off the south coast of England. It is about 40 kilometres (25 miles) by 20 kilometres (13 miles) in size. About one hundred and twenty thousand people live on the island.

The Isle of Wight is known as a county. This means that it has a council of people who make decisions about some things that affect the people who live there. The county town of the island, which is the place where the council work from, is called Newport.

Lots of people like to go on holiday on the island. There are a lot of hotels and things for tourists to do there. The island really is quite spectacular.Queen Victoria used to like to visit the Isle of Wight where she had a house called Osbourne House. Tourism is the most important industry on the island, and lots of people have jobs looking after tourists so it is awfully good that a lot of people do choose to come to the island!

Over half of the island is officially designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is also widely recognised as the most important site in Europe for finding dinosaur remains.

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