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

Daniel Day and Family

Daniel Day was born in Whitwell in 1814.  His father, Stephen,  was a stonemason who was later employed in building Steephill Castle and Cove Cottage in Belgrave Road in 1828.  In 1832 he was killed in an accident at the Castle, when he was struck by a block of stone falling from the building. Daniel also became a stonemason and continued the family business in Ventnor and built many of the early houses at the time when the town started to grow. In about 1840 he partnered Jonathan Jolliffe in building the many fine villas which sprang up in Bonchurch after the building ban was lifted by Act of Parliament in 1938. They also built the new church in 1849.  Properties from this era in Bonchurch today are a lasting testament to Mr Day's workmanship. He built Elm Cottage in the main village street.  It was to become the family home for various members of the Day family for about 150 years.  It was renamed 'The Croft' and still bears that name today.  Daniel later lived at 'Wykeham Cottage' in Upper Bonchurch.  Three of his children lived at 'The Retreat' at the top of Bonchurch Shute. In 1894 the firm of Daniel Day …Read more...