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)

About Ventnor Heritage Centre |

About 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.

The Heritage Centre is also the headquarters of the Ventnor and District Local History Society.

We are involved in community events, providing talks and slide shows on local history, and local heritage walksl  We also take part in the Ventnor Carnival and Fringe programme – in 2017 we collaborated with Ventnor Guitar Group on ‘Playing with History’, and in 2016 we showed  ‘Ventnor Unseen’,  a compilation of archive film clips with a soundtrack specially provided by local artists, which included  ‘Storm of 87’ written and performed by Paul Armfield.

One of the most interesting parts of our work is collecting local stories and memories; you can see some of these by searching this website for ‘Your Stories’, and if you would like to contribute your own stories or photographs, please see our main Your Stories page.

The Ventnor Heritage Centre and Local History Society are both entirely run and managed by volunteers. If you think y ou might be interested in joining us, please have a look at our Volunteering Opportunities – we would be delighted to  hear from you!


From our archives

Underley Shipwreck

  The Underley was a full-rigged ship of 1202 tons built in 1866 in Lancaster.  She was owned by a  Captain Chambers who traded as the Liverpool and Lancaster Line between Britain and Australia. Under the command of Captain Tidmarsh, the vessel was outward bound from London To Melbourne when she came ashore in a south-easterly gale on the night of 26th/27th September 1871.  She came ashore between Bonchurch and Dunnose Point. There were thirty passengers on board and a cargo of cotton, machinery and gunpowder. Passengers and crew were all saved except for a steward, Richard Tatton-Groves, who  reputedly re-boarded the vessel to save a pet bird and was swept overboard as the vessel started to break up.  Tugs stood by but they were unable to move her and she became a total loss. The Captain and the Pilot were both blamed for negligence at the Court of Inguiry. For many years a finely-carved name plate from the ship adorned a wall on the Landslip path.  We understand that this is now at a private house, close by, in safe keeping.Read more...