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

Museum interior

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.


Exhibitions, stories, images . . .

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 between Bonchurch and Dunnose Point in a south-easterly gale on the night of 26th/27th September 1871. 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 Inquiry. For many years a finely-carved name plate from the ship adorned a wall on the Landslip path.

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