To most mainland folk, not much is known of the Isle of Wight, a relatively tiny island lying twenty or so miles off the Hampshire Coast. They’ve probably heard about its annual music festival, which has drawn some of the world’s biggest performing artists. They might have heard that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert used to spend their summers there, or that it’s a haven for the endangered red squirrel. But apart from these few things, what’s really known about the island of the Solent?
To illuminate you mainlanders of the joys of this remarkable little isle, we scoured the web to bring you ten weird and wonderful facts about the Isle of Wight. So let’s get to it.
- The Isle of Wight is the sunniest place in the UK, with 1,800-2,000 hours of sunshine each year – more than some parts of Spain! Why not rent a cottage on the Isle of Wight for a sunny summer break?
- Garlic has been produced on the island for centuries and is one of its most important exports. Islanders are so besotted with their crop of this wonderful superfood, they created the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival, a celebration of all things garlicky.
- In Victorian times, the Isle of Wight was home to several high-profile “celebrities”, including Alfred Lord Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin and Queen Victoria. Other famous faces who’ve graced the isle include Winston Churchill and Karl Marx.
- Despite its size, the Isle of Wight is said to be the most haunted island in the world, with an assortment of spectres lingering among the living. Supernatural sightings include phantom monks, marching Romans and grey ladies.
- Speaking of Romans: during their occupation, the Isle of Wight was known as Vectis. Surprisingly, this name is still used widely to this day, despite being dropped after the Romans left in the 5th century.
- At high tide, the Isle of Wight becomes England’s smallest county. When the tide is low, the historic county of Rutland near Leicestershire reclaims this title.
- The Isle of Wight is home to what is thought to be the world’s oldest amusement park: Blackgang Chine. Built in 1843, the park was named after a former chine (coastal ravine), and provided entertainment for Victorian holidaymakers.
- Throughout the year, the Isle of Wight receives over twenty times more overseas visitors than its permanent population. In 2011, the population of the Isle of Wight was around 140,000, but the island received over two million visitors.
- Due to its location, the Isle of Wight was considered an excellent location for housing some of the UK’s most infamous prisoners. Notorious names incarcerated on the isle include the Kray Twins, the Richardson Brothers, and king of England, George I.
- In 1896, Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi established the world’s first radio on the Isle of Wight. His invention was placed near the Needles, and went on to be distributed throughout the world.
Whether you’re interested in renting a holiday cottage on the Isle of Wight, or are just swatting for Friday’s pub quiz, we hope this has shed some light on this fascinating little isle. The Isle of Wight is a timeless destination for both young and old, with great beaches, charming countryside, and a warm, island welcome – why not give it a go on your next getaway?