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

The Old Vicarage

The Old Vicarage used to stand overlooking Ventnor Cascade.  It was bought by the Ventnor Urban District Council in 1929 for public use, and renamed the 'Winter Gardens'.  The upper floor served refreshments, and entertainments included open air concerts and dances. In 1936 the Vicarage was demolished and replaced with a new art deco building, which was run by the Council and periodically let to tenants. The new dance hall/concert hall had a magnificent sprung floor which could accommodate a thousand dancers, and many of the biggest bands of the time played at the 'Ventnor Winter Gardens', which at one time was known as 'Cascadia'.Read more...

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