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)

The Museum |

The Museum

Here the Heritage Centre carries visitors back in time to explore Ventnor’s origins and the way it grew at phenomenal speed to become a premier Victorian resort town.

Our many display boards tell this story in words and pictures. There are finely detailed images from glass plate negatives that offer glimpses into vanished lives. There are reproductions of paintings from visiting artists of the time, fascinated as they were with the dramatic coastal scenery of Ventnor and the Undercliff and the people who came to visit. Other displays document the life-worlds of outlying villages in the earlier 20th Century, a time when horizons were limited and the pace of existence altogether different from today.

Current displays and exhibitions

Visitors will also see showcases of artefacts that recover lost material worlds. There are even models of the town’s vanished railway lines. We play several DVDs that offer voyages back in time. Finally, you can absorb our Victorian kitchen and laundry exhibits, telling of an age when household chores took on a scale that is difficult for many to appreciate today.


From our archives

New exhibition and book: ‘It used to be like this . . . “

"I was born at Beach Cottage, Castlehaven, Niton Undercliff in the year nineteen hundred and six. Beach Cottage was built for my father by my grandfather of the local hard stone which we call Rag Stone. . . It was a most excellent cottage." These are the words George Roland Haynes used to begin his memories of life in Niton Undercliff in the last century; the picture here is a sketch he made of Beach Cottage. We have now published his memories as a book, ‘It used to be like this . . .’ available from the Heritage Centre (see our publications page for details), and we have a new exhibition in the museum, using some of his words along with historic photographs from our archive.Read more...

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