The Victorians loved the Ventnor area and especially liked to build larger mansions in the St Lawrence area, some of which are now hotels. The area is especially noted for its micro climate as it sits beneath an inland cliff, and it’s thought the Romans may have had vineyards here.
This is just one of the theories to the name Ventnor – a variation on ‘Vintner’ perhaps? Now St Lawrence is home to the lush Ventnor Botanic Garden, where there are many hardy tropical plants that would not survive elsewhere in Britain. Once the garden of a TB hospital, demolished in 1969, the flourishing garden now has a contemporary building with Echium restaurant, the Plantation café, a shop and art gallery.
The parish church has windows designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones and Ford Madox Brown, made at Morris & Co, which were in the hospital chapel. There’s also a much older church dating from the 12th century - one of the smallest in the country.
The only shop in St Lawrence is the Post Office and general stores, which is the prettiest sight in summer with flowering baskets and pots and a little balcony outside where you can have a tea or coffee.
The Old Park Hotel was once the home of William Spindler who built a sea wall and esplanade that now lay in ruins at Binnel Bay.
Currently the road that runs from here around to Niton is closed due to a landslip, but there is hope that it will be repaired.