Mon. May 16th, 2022

Isle of Wight Observer News

The Island's Free Newspaper

The history of Northwood House

2 min read

Northwood House is a country manor house and the current building dates back to 1799. It was originally built for a businessman, George Ward, remaining in his family for five generations.

Northwood House, and 26-acre Northwood Park, were given to Cowes Urban District Council by the Ward family in 1929. It was given on the condition that the house will be used for municipal offices and pleasurable gardens for the people and residents of Cowes.

George Ward set up the first paddle steamer service between Cowes and Southampton, which later became Red Funnel. Throughout the years the Wards owned the house, it was often left empty or rented out, it also housed temporary establishments such as a school, convent, and a Red Cross hospital in World War II.

In 1817, Northwood House was the site of a fatal duel between Major Orlando Lockyer and Lieutenant John Sutton, where Lockyer shot Sutton straight through the heart. In happier times many dinners, balls, and garden parties were hosted at Northwood House for royalty and other VIPs who were visiting Queen Victoria at Osborne House.

In 1947, a bowling green was added to the estate. In August 1965, over 800 guests attended the Royal Yacht Squadron’s annual ball; among the guests were Prince Phillip and the Spanish Ambassador.

As early as 2002, a charitable scheme was established and managed by local residents. That way, Northwood House could be used as a registrar’s office and the council could still use the building.

In 2010, the council withdrew completely from Northwood House and so the building was left in the care of the charitable trust’s volunteers. The management structure changed in 2012 and the original trust was replaced by the Northwood House Charitable Trust Co Ltd. Their aims are to provide the public with ‘pleasure grounds’, provide public car parks and recreational activities, and restore, conserve and maintain the property with historical and architectural merit.