Guide to Isle of Wight National Trust Places to Visit
The biggest and best National Trust property on the Isle of Wight has to be the acres of stunning coast, chalk downland and estuaries that include most of the best views and make for some of the most uplifting walks. But there are also a few interesting properties and attractions you might like to explore.
Needles Old and New Batteries
The Old Battery, built in 1862, is an imposing fortification right at the end of the chalk cliffs, overlooking the Needles. You can even take a spiral staircase down to the tunnel leading to the lookout post right at the end of the chalk promentary, which children find especially exciting and scary. Up on the top of the down is the New Battery that was last used as one of the premier rocket testing sites during the Cold War from 1957 until 1972 with former control rooms containing exhibitions telling the secret story, rockets on view and a scale model of the Prospero satellite. Walk round to the rocket launch site on the southern side of the cliff. Both Batteries are open March to December, including the tearoom at the Old Battery – a great pitstop when out on a bracing walk.
Newtown Old Town Hall
Originally rebuilt in 1699 on the foundations of an earlier building, the Gothic fenestration and four columned portico on the north front of Newtown Old Town Hall were probably added around the end of the l8th century. Newtown was once the capital of the Isle of Wight but was raised to the ground in 1377, by French invaders, after which it was only partially rebuilt and you can see the old roads, now grassed over if you take a walk around the houses. Newtown Old Town Hall is open March to October except Friday and Saturdays, but there is still the estuary to discover and a lovely walk across the mudflats via a narrow wooden walkway to the former salt pans.
Mottistone Manor Garden
The pretty sheltered gardens are in a natural valley and in the autumn you have the colourful falling leaves to see around the ancient manor house. Look out for the secret sunken pathway and make sure to visit the tea garden set alongside The Shack, a unique cabin retreat designed as their summer drawing office by architects John Seely (2nd Lord Mottistone) and Paul Paget. Open from March until the end of October, excluding Fridays and Saturdays.
The last surviving windmill on the Island and one of the oldest surviving Tower Mills in the country, Bembridge Windmill is reputed to have been painted by Turner in 1795. Built around 1700 and out of commission since 1913, it still has most of its original machinery intact and you can climb up the steep stairs to the top and follow the milling process back down its four floors. Open from March to November, make sure that you find the push button information recording on each floor from a gentleman with a genuine and lovely ‘Oile o Woyht’ accent.
Only open to the public on certain Tuesdays throughout the season, inside Bembridge Fort is a really spooky tour through tunnels and underground magazine rooms. Plus you get to climb on top of the fort to see the recently restored gun emplacements and have fab views down to Sandown and across the Eastern Yar estuary to Bembridge Harbour.
19 April 2016