Wednesday 04 August 2021

History, Architecture and Timber Windows in the Isle of Wight

Located off the South coast of England, the Isle of Wight is rich in history.  Although there is no evidence of any sites where they lived, tools have been found and the first inhabitants are believed to have been hunter-gatherers from the Stone Age.

The first mention of the island in records dates from the Roman Empire.  However, the Romans didn’t build any towns on the island.  Instead, the island was an agricultural centre with several Roman villas.  Today the villas at Newport and Brading have been excavated and are open to the public.

Along with the rest of England, the island was invaded several times over the following centuries and occupied by various people, such as the Jutes, the Vikings and the Normans.  Between 1597 and 1602, with the threat of attacks from the Spanish Armada, outer fortifications of Carisbrooke Castle were built to help defend the island from attack.

In November 1647, towards the end of the English Civil War, Charles I rode out from London hoping to escape from the Parliament supporters.  He travelled to the Isle of Wight as some thought that the governor was sympathetic to his cause and the King believed they would offer him refuge.  However, the Isle of Wight’s governor, Colonel Robert Hammond, had actually declared for Parliament and so imprisoned the King in Carisbrooke Castle.  King Charles I made several failed attempts to escape the castle, one time famously getting stuck in a castle window (source).

In 1669, Sir Robert Holmes became governor, and reorganised the defenses on the island, reducing the size of Yarmouth Castle.  He also built himself a house, which is today is Grade II* listed, known as the George Hotel and still retains many of its original features.

In 1802, the famous boat building firm, J. Samuel White, was established on the Isle of Wight and over the course of the 19th and 20th Centuries the marine industry grew with other noteworthy marine manufacturers establishing themselves on the island.

The famous Regency architect, John Nash, also lived on the island and designed Newport’s Guildhall, completed around 1816, which is today home to the Isle of Wight’s history museum.

Queen Victoria was very fond of the Isle of Wight, having spent many childhood holidays on the island.  When she became Queen she made Osborne House her winter home, resulting in the Isle of Wight becoming a fashionable holiday resort.  Several famous Victorians visited the island, including Lord Tennyson, Berthe Morisot and Charles Dickens.

Until the Victorian period, much of the Isle of Wight was rural, with most people employed in farming, fishing or boatbuilding.  However, the increasing popularity resulted in a substantial growth in tourism to the island.  As a result, there was a significant increase in urban development as many new homes and hotels were built.

During Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, the world’s first radio station was set up at the Needles Battery and in 1898 the first paid telegram was sent from this station.

Although the Isle of Wight is often thought of as part of Hampshire, it actually has its own separate county council.  However, for a brief time between 1888 and 1890, when the first county councils were created, the Isle of Wight was included within Hampshire.  In 1974, it was planned to merge the county back into Hampshire, however this plan was aborted after last minute changes, meaning that the Isle of Wight has remained separate from Hampshire since 1890.

Towards the latter part of the 19th Century, a large network of railways was built on the island.  Over the years there have been talks of a tunnel under the Solent, but this has not yet materialised.

Osborne House

Osborne House building, which is Grade I listed, has several 6 over 6 sash windows and is located in East Cowes.

A former royal residence, Osborne House has a rich history.  Built between 1845 and 1851 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the house was designed by Prince Albert and Thomas Cubitt, a London architect and builder, in the Italian Renaissance style.

The design of Osborne House is stately but welcoming.  Cubitt not only assisted with the design of Osborne House but also built it.  After work was completed, he was also commissioned to build the east wing of Buckingham Palace.

The house’s original wing was known as ‘The Pavilion’.  The Pavilion held grand rooms, including the Billiard Room, Queen’s Dining Room and the Drawing Room, on the ground floor, with more homely and private rooms, such as the Prince’s Dressing Room, the Queen’s Sitting Room and the children’s nurseries, on the first floor.  Additional wings, including the main wing, were built later as the royal family’s needs changed.

The royal family spent a lot of time at Osbourne during Queen Victoria’s reign.  After Prince Albert died in 1861, Queen Victoria continued to visit Osborne House.

In January 1901, Queen Victoria passed away while staying at Osborne House.  In her will she left strict instructions that the house was to remain in the family.  However, following her death, King Edward VII, presented the house to the state on his Coronation Day in August 1902, with the pavilion being retained as a private museum to Queen Victoria, only accessible to the family.

Between 1903 and 1921, part of the Osbourne House estate was used as a junior officer training college for the Royal Navy.  Students included the future Edward VIII and George VI.  During World War I, a section of the house was used as a convalescent home for officers, with famous patients including A. A. Milne.  The college later closed in 1921.

In 1954, Queen Elizabeth II gave permission for the ground floor of the pavilion to be unlocked and opened to the general public.

Since 1986, Osborne House has been managed and repaired by English Heritage, with the second floor also opening to the public in 1989.

Following extensive renovation projects, Queen Victoria’s private beach was opened to the public in 2012 and Swiss Cottage was reopened it to the public in 2014.

Appuldurcombe House

Appuldurcombe House is today the shell of what was a large 18th Century country house, lived in by the Worsley family.

The present building dates back to 1702 and was commissioned by Sir Robert Worsley.  However, Sir Robert never saw the completed project.  He died in July 1747 before work was completed and a monument was erected in his memory on Stenbury Down.

In the 1770s, the house was greatly extended by Sir Robert’s great nephew, Sir Richard Worsley.  After his death, the estate, which was burdened with extreme debts, was passed to his niece, Henrietta.  She married the Hon. Charles Anderson-Pelham, who made changes to the house and used the property as a base for his sailing activities.

In 1855, the estate was sold.  For a short period, it operated as a hotel before being leased as Dr Pound’s Academy for young gentlemen.  Between 1901 and 1907, the house was lived in by a hundred Benedictine monks.

During World War II the house was used by the military.  In February 1943 a mine was dropped very close to the house, causing the collapse of part of the roof and blowing in windows.  The roof was never repaired and, after the war, much of the remainder of the interior was removed and sold.

Today the house is managed by English Heritage and is open to the public.  Although the house is now mainly a shell, the front section has been re-roofed and glazed and a small part of the interior has been recreated.

Wolverton Manor

Wolverton Manor is a Grade I listed manor house in Shorwell.  Designed to replace the original family home, the manor was built by Sir John Hammond, who was one of the physicians to James I of England.

The original house was symmetrical and designed in the Jacobean style.  At the start of the 18th Century, the house was altered to a Queen Anne style to reflect latest trends.  However, the project was never fully completed.  As a result, today the manor demonstrates both styles, with mullioned windows from the original building and large sash windows on the newer South wing.

Still a private home, Wolverton Manor today is open by arrangement and hosts a Garden Fair, a Blues and Jazz Festival and many classical concerts.

Timber Windows in the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight has 36 Conservation Areas and almost 2,500 listed buildings, helping to preserve the character of the island.

With lots of period properties, timber sash windows and casement windows can be found across the Isle of Wight.

At The Sash Window Workshop we have extensive experience replacing and draught proofing wooden windows in period properties, including in Conservation Areas and listed buildings, including having previously carried out work on several properties in the Isle of Wight.

If your timber windows need replacing or repairing, contact us today for a free, no obligation quotation on 01344 868 668.

Appuldurcombe House Isle of Wight
Image by Cpsterling, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons