Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight, known to the ancient Romans as Vectis, is an English county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about three to five miles off the coast of Hampshire, separated from Great Britain (referred to by its residents as “the Mainland”) by a strait called the Solent.
The Isle of Wight has the distinction of being England’s smallest county during high tide, while Rutland is the smallest when the Isle of Wight is at low tide and the island has several resorts which have been holiday destinations since Victorian times.
Home to the poets Swinburne and Tennyson and to Queen Victoria, who built her much-loved summer residence and final home Osborne House at East Cowes, the island has a maritime and industrial tradition such as boat building and sail making.
Nowadays, the island hosts annual festivals such as the Isle of Wight International Jazz Festival, The Walking Festival and the revived Isle of Wight Festival, which in 1970 was the largest rock music event ever held.
The Isle of Wight is the undisputed dinosaur capital of Great Britain and features in the top 6 ‘best locations’ in the world for dinosaur remains. Using the very latest augmented reality software, visitors to the island who download the brand new ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’ App can quite literally bring dinosaurs back to life when they visit the 6 meteorites which are dotted along the dinosaur trail which follows the coastline between Yaverland (near Sandown) and The Needles Park.
To celebrate the release of Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie, the Isle of Wight has partnered with 20th Century Fox and BBC Worldwide to bring you “Walking with Dinosaurs on the Isle of Wight”.
Queen Victoria (1846 – 1901) had a massive influence on the Isle of Wight during her time here and really helped to put the island ‘on the map’ as a holiday destination. She first visited the Isle of Wight as a princess in 1831, beginning a 70-year association with the Island. She and Prince Albert then moved to the Island in 1864 and the Prince set about re-designing and re-building Osborne House, their seaside palace.
Nowadays no trip to the island would be complete without a visit to Osborne House where Queen Victoria lived with her beloved Prince Albert and their nine children. Indeed, visitors to the Island can take an intimate glimpse into Queen Victoria’s family life by touring the nursery and private rooms of Victoria and Albert and admiring the stunning view from the terraces across the Solent – said to remind Prince Albert of the bay of Naples.
Charles Dickens wrote much of David Copperfield whilst staying here and various other well-known Victorians holidayed here, perhaps due to the island now being seen as a rather fashionable place to visit, loved by none other than royalty! Historically the Island has also attracted many other famous visitors in search of inspiration, including Chales Darwin, Lewis Carroll, J.M.W. Turner and Alfred Lord Tennyson.
Charles Darwin was possibly one of the most famous guests to the Island, staying at the Kings Head Hotel in Sandown during the summer of 1867 and it is believed that this is where he began his ‘Origin of Species’ assessment.