February in the Isle of Wight, 1866, John Brett
Bonchurch Downs by John Brett, 1865
Public Domain via Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Discover the cultural highlights of the Isle of Wight, with a particular emphasis on its Victorian heritage
Explore the connections between the island and the Pre-Raphaelite movement
Delve into the broader history of the Isle of Wight, from Roman times to the 20th century, and enjoy a journey on its historical steam railway
“An excellent choice of beautiful gardens, ancient and modern churches… A whole new revelation on the Isle of Wight!”
- ACE customer on a previous Isle of Wight tour with Suzanne Fagence Cooper
The Isle of Wight features picturesque scenery once favoured by royalty, from charming thatched cottages to medieval churches that stand alongside Regency and Victorian towns.
The island will forever be associated with Queen Victoria, whose reign came to an end there at the beginning of the last century. We will explore the former royal residence of Osborne House and St Mildred’s Church in Whippingham, frequented by the Queen; and our tour is based in the seaside resort of Cowes, which still bears substantial traces of Victorian England.
As well as these royal links, the Isle of Wight also holds connections with the radical Pre-Raphaelite movement of the 19th century, which we will explore during the tour. Many of the artists linked to and inspired by the Brotherhood lived and worked on the island, including the 19th century photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, and the painters George Frederic Watts, John Brett and Val Prinsep.
We will visit Dimbola Lodge, overlooking the stunning Freshwater Bay, where Julia Margaret Cameron made her home, and will also pay a visit to the restored Farringford House, former home of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Poet Laureate during much of Queen Victoria’s reign.
Our itinerary includes several other stunning houses that stand on land layered with history. Northcourt is the largest of the island’s Jacobean manor houses, built in 1615 on the site of a medieval monastic building, while the monastic buildings and church of Benedictine Quarr Abbey – whose origins date back to the 12th century – are among the most important religious constructions of the 20th century in the UK.
We look forward to a journey on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, a beautifully preserved heritage line, with a guided tour of Havenstreet Station, giving an insight into railway history on the island and how the historical carriages and locomotives are being restored.
Further highlights will include the beautiful Mottistone Gardens, a haven for wildlife set in a sheltered valley and featuring delightful herbaceous borders that are full of colour from spring through to the early autumn; and the Princess Beatrice Garden, designed by multiple Chelsea award-winning designer Chris Beardshaw, which we will see on our visit to Carisbrooke Castle.
We will stay throughout at the comfortable three-star Best Western New Holmwood Hotel, situated on the water’s edge in Cowes, which enjoys a sea-facing lounge and restaurant. Double rooms with a sea view (for double or single occupancy) are available at a supplement – please contact the ACE office for more details.
This tour will be led by Suzanne Fagence Cooper, MA, PhD, a curator and historian who specialises in 19th and 20th century British art. An Arts Society accredited lecturer, Suzanne was a curator and Research Fellow at the Victoria & Albert Museum for 12 years and has collaborated with many of Britain’s regional museums. She is the author of books including How We Might Live: At Home with Jane and William Morris (2022).
Places are limited.
Please contact the office
for more details.
Included: return travel as foot passenger, accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, five breakfasts, two lunches, five dinners with water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.
Not Included: travel insurance, double room for single use supplement £145. Limited rooms with sea view available at a supplement.