Ventnor Heritage Centre

"To make the past present, to bring the distant near . . . to call up our ancestors before us with all their peculiarities of language, manners, and garb, to show us over their houses, to seat us at their tables, to rummage their old-fashioned ward-robes, to explain the uses of their ponderous furniture . . . " Thomas Babington Macaulay describing what the study of history can do (written in 1828)

Ventnor Heritage Centre

Ventnor Heritage Centre, with its museum and archive, records how the town grew from a tiny fishing hamlet in 1840 to a fashionable Victorian resort complete with two railway stations and a pier, and how the villages of Bonchurch and St Lawrence became a favourite destination for writers and artists including Dickens and Macaulay. We have an extensive collection of photographs and documents, and books, prints and postcards are available for sale in our shop.  We are open all year – see Visit us for opening times, location and admission charges.
Read more about the Heritage Centre.

From our archives

Old Park, St Lawrence

The  house is thought to date back to 900 AD, and  may have been a hunting lodge. 1309 – Charter for hawking at St Lawrence Park.  At one time there was a mill below the house with a large lake. 1740 – Present house built. 1820 – Thomas Haddon was the owner.  He converted the house for use as a country residence, and it was visited by Queen Victoria. 1865 – A new wing was added to the house.  Sir John Cheape owned the property, and he also installed central heating and plumbing. (There were three taps in bathroom - one labelled 'Hot', one 'Cold' and one 'Rainwater.) 1883 – Walter Spindler owned the house. He imported and planted a million trees on the Old Park Estate in Whitwell Parish, and had water pumps  erected in Whitwell for the people living there to use. Sarah Bernhardt, a famous actress, visited – she had a liaison with Mr Spindler, who painted her portrait. In its latter days it was owned by Thornton Family, and the 'Bird Park' and Glass making factory were on the estate.Read more...