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!

 


Exhibitions, stories, images . . .

Ventnor’s first carnival in 1889 was a torchlight procession of ladies and gentlemen in fancy dress, followed by a Masquerade Ball. It was such a success that it became an annual event, attracting crowds of thousands. So each August, the town comes to a standstill to enjoy a parade of music and elaborate costumes with tableaux created by local groups and businesses, and a Carnival Queen chosen for the year and paraded round the town with her retainers. However there has always been another, more subversive side to 'Carnival’. Those taking part can step outside their day to day lives and turn the world upside down, dressing up, assuming different characters, and poking fun at established order and authority. It is a feast of dressing up, foolery, and music, perhaps best symbolised by the much loved Ventnor Comic Jazz Band.

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