Nick Churton of Mayfair International Realty crosses over The Solent in the south of England to the Isle of Wight and a particularly fine Victorian house and garden of great importance and presence – now on the market with Biles & Co.
Less than 20 years after the completion of Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s magnificent Italianate home on the Isle of Wight off the south coast of England, Lord Calthorpe was preparing to move into Woodlands Vale at Seaview about 7 miles away.
Lord Calthorpe had seen action during some of the major battles of the Crimean War and was involved in the huge military and political brouhaha that followed the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava in 1854.
Whilst a great deal smaller than Osborne House, Woodlands Vale is no less stylish. Designed by architect S S Teulon it is built in the French Renaissance mode and enjoys wonderful views over the Solent to Spitbank Fort and beyond to Hayling Island on the mainland about 8 miles away. It is one of the surviving gentry estates on the Isle of Wight and one of the few remaining estates on the Isle of Wight with an open outlook to the sea.
Serious yachtsmen and women the world over know of the Solent. It is a Mecca for sailors, being a superb boating area noted for its testing currents and winds. The centre of all this activity is Cowes, home to many prestigious sailing and yachting clubs including the famous and exclusive Royal Yacht Squadron that hosted the first America’s Cup in 1851. Woodlands Vale would make a superb Isle of Wight base for a yachting enthusiast. Or, like Queen Victoria, for a family who just likes the peace and serenity of life on the island.
Notable for its turrets, finials and excellent carriage porch the house features stained glass windows; a Minton tiled floor, tracery ceilings and an internal specification expected of an aristocratic Victorian gentleman.
Before even reaching the house the eye is drawn to the almost 9.5 acres of fine grounds with formal garden, rose draped colonnades, kitchen garden, croquet lawn and magnificent specimen trees.
This is the sort of house that is rare in style, size and location. It would not be out of place in Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island where, even today, winning the America’s Cup remains a very important business.