Wednesday, 3 April 2013

IOW Part 1....

 I was away last week on another little jaunt to the Isle of Wight.   The Isle of Wight is the largest island of England, (approx 23 x 15 miles) located in the English Channel off the coast of Hampshire, separated from Great Britain (referred to by its inhabitants as "the mainland") by a strait called the Solent.  It has the distinction of being England's smallest county - but for only half of the time.  It has been calculated that during high tide Wight's area is slightly less than that of Rutland (England's smallest county), but not during low tide.   The island has many resorts which have been holiday destinations since Victorian times.  It's rich history includes a brief status as an independent kingdom in the 15th century.

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, sail making, the manufature of flying boats, the worlds first hovercraft and the testing and development of Britain's space rockets.  The Isle hosts annual festivals including 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.   The island has well-conserved wildlife and some of the richest cliffs and quarries for dinosaur fossils in Europe.

The Isle of Wight was part of Hampshire until 1890 when it became an independent adminstrative county.  Until 1974 it continued to share the Lord Leiutenant of Hampshire when it was reconstituted as a non-metropolitan ceremonial county which gives its own Lord Leiutenant and recognised as a postal county.

We were picked up from home at 7a.m. to meet our coach at a nearby motorway services, with a comfort stop at Sandbach in Cheshire, where we picked up more passengers, before heading towards Banbury for lunch.

 Banbury Cross was designed by John Gibbs and built in 1859.  At one time Banbury had many crosses but these were destroyed by Puritans in 1600.  Banbury remained without a cross for more than 250 years until the current Banbury Cross was erected in 1859 at the centre of the town to commemorate the marriage of Victoria, Princess royal (eldest child of Queen Victoria to Prince Frederick of Prussia.  The current Banbury Cross is a stone, spire-shaped monument decorated in Gothic form. Statues of Queen Victoria, Edward VII and George V were added in 1914 to commemorate the coronation of George V.  The cross is 52' 6" high and topped with a gilt cross.

 The English nursery rhyme "Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross"

Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And she shall have music wherever she goes

may refer to one of the crosses destroyed by Puritans.  In April 2005, The Princess Royal unveiled a large bronze statue depicting the Fine Lady upon a White Horse of the nursery rhyme.

 There are lots of beautiful buildings in Banbury, including The Parish Church of St. Mary The Virgin. With 13th Century origins the Church stands as part of the Broughton Castle estate, home to the Fiennes family. Features include a 13th Century Norman font, 14th Century rood screen and 15th Century gateway tower.

The Church House, originally the main hall for St Paul's Church which is just across the road, the Church House was later transformed into a theatre, but future plans for the theatre were shelved and it stood empty for a number of years until about 1997 when it was fully renovated and turned into a pub / brassiere.

 and Whately Hall, a 17th Century Coaching house now a hotel,  to name a few.

We would have liked more time in Banbury to explore, but only had 90 minutes to get some lunch and have a quick look round before boarding the coach again to get to Portsmouth, to catch the 4.30 p.m. ferry across the Solent to Fishbourne, IOW, and then continue our journey to the south coast of IOW to our hotel in Sandown.

If you ever find yourself  in the IOW I can thoroughly recommend The Ocean Hotel,  family run since 1958 it offers 96 bedrooms and is conveniently situated between the High Street and the Esplanade overlooking Sandown Bay, with its six mile stretch of glorious well groomed sand.    The hotel boasts a huge lounge with real fires.

A beautiful dining room overlooking the well kept gardens.

We arrived with just enough time to find our sea view room

freshen up and go down to dinner.   The breakfast and dinner menus were vast and we were spoilt for choice at meal times and the food was delicious!  After dinner we repaired to the lounge to enjoy a couple of drinks and that evening's entertainment, a guitar playing singer.

Join me next time for our day trip to see The Needles and Yarmouth.


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

i just LOVE that you two take these fabulous trips! sarge and i used to do things like this all the time too and the memories are marvelous!

hugs, bee

Beach Bum said...

Awesome post! Didn't know any of the history concerning the Isle of Wright.

Valerie said...

It's years since I visited Banbury. Thank you for refreshing my memory.

Dianne said...

the hotel looks lovely
I'd love to visit IOW

I was chuckling at the nursery rhyme
I can't imagine a single American boy getting past the term 'cock horse'
we're so uncivilized :)

Anonymous said...

My granny, who ran an old people's home in Southsea, used to take me to the Isle of Wight on day trips. Happy memories.

Akelamalu said...

We really enjoy our trips Bee and, as you say, they give us many wonderful memories. x

So glad you enjoyed it Beach, more to come. :)

It's the first time I've been to Banbury and the IOW Valerie, it's lovely.

Akelamalu said...

It was Dianne and I just know you would love the IOW. Ah yes schoolboy humour would make the most of the nursery rhyme. LOL

Oh lovely memories for you then Dumdad :)

Ron said...

I was sooooo eagerly anticipating this post and you didn't disappoint once again!

I found it fascinating to read about the history of Banbury.

" Banbury remained without a cross for more than 250 years."


Love the photos of the Ocean Hotel. What a charming, yet stunning hotel. It kind of reminds me of the hotel they used in the movie, Somewhere In Time, which was located in Mackinac Island in Michigan.

Thanks for sharing, m'dear! Looking forward to Part 2!


Daryl said...

sad not to get to paris this week, but i now have your fascinating trip to enjoy

Akelamalu said...

So pleased you enjoyed this Ron. The hotel was really lovely, olde worlde in parts but with all modern amenities. Perfect!

Such a shame you didn't get to Paris Daryl as I was so looking forward to hearing/seeing all about it. I'm happy our little trip will give you some enjoyment. x

Banker Chick said...

You should be a travel guide. I love that you take some of your trips to spots of interest in Britain. I know I will not get to all the marvelous spots of interest when we finally make out trip to England, but with you I feel like I am there.
Katie atBankerchick Scratchings

CrystalChick said...

Interesting history, lots to see and do on the IOW! Certainly sounds like you had another very enjoyable getaway. Always nice to see your travel photos, too!

MorningAJ said...

I've never been to IoW but it looks good. I'm looking forward to your next post.

Travis Cody said...

You always share such wonderful scenery and history.

Akelamalu said...

We go to places we've never been before BankerChick so try to see as much as possible. Glad you're enjoying our trip and I hope you get some ideas of where you would like to visit when you come to England. x

Yes there's lots to see on the IOW even though it's a small island CrystalChick. :)

Our first time to the IOW AJ, somewhere I've always wanted to see. Glad you're enjoying the photos. x

Thanks Trav, I'm pleased you're enjoying the posts. x

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Akelamalu said...

Thankyou Sifat :)

Smalltown RN said...

The moment you started to mention Banbury the rhyme started to go through my head..and then only a few lines down you post funny. I love England for all it's history..I can hardly wait for the day when I can get back there. Happy Thursday to you!

Secret Agent Woman said...

Interesting stuff. And now I'm thinking of that Beatles song with the line, "Every summer we can rent a cottage on the Isle of Wight, if it's not too dear."

Melanie said...

One of these years, when I finally make it across the Atlantic to visit my family, I want to go there! (My cousin has actually told me he'll take me where ever I want to go!!) Love the pictures...makes me want to visit even more!

G-Man said...


Akelamalu said...

I hope you get back here then you can see Banbury for yourself SRN

Oh yes, I'd forgotten about that line in the song SAW!

When you do get over here do visit the IOW, you will love it Melanie. :)


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Angelina Jolie said...

The Isle of Wight has a special magic for all ages. I first went there as a six-year-old lad on a day trip with my grandparents. Since then I have visited the island many times. The island is unique; the locals have their own way of doing things just that little bit different from the mainland. This website is my very personal view of the island. It was begun in March 1998 when I first connected to the internet. I thought it would be interesting to develop a site. In order to maintain quality and avoid intrusive 'pop-up' windows I do not use free ISP providers. However this site is, and always will be, free to access. In order to meet some of the cost of maintaining this site I have included a few unobtrusive advertising links. Links to individuals advertising IW services are not paid advertising and are provided to help the reader and the Island economy.

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