The History of The Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight has shown evidence of human settlement since prehistoric times, but it remained a quiet backwater throughout the ages.

With its mild climate and abundant wildlife, life was good for those who settled there. When the Romans arrived in Britannia, Julius Caesar reported that the Belgae, from modern day Belgium, took the island. It was eventually take back by the Romans, but no roads or towns were built. However, there is plenty of evidence of Roman Villa settlements, which means that even the Romans enjoyed it as a holiday destination.

In the Dark Ages, the last Pagan King took his forces there, but they were finally defeated in 686 and it was the last part of England to convert to Christianity. The Vikings invaded the island many times and used it as a staging post when they could not get to mainland Europe due to bad weather.

When William the Conqueror invaded in 1066, he gave it to a relative, William FitzObern and for it remained a personal fiefdom for about 200 years. It was eventually sold to the Crown of England. It was always at the forefront of any attack on England as suffered at the hands of the French and the Spanish.

King Henry VIII laid the foundations for the Royal Navy when he established Portsmouth as the naval dockyard. Its proximity to the Isle of Wight led the Crown to defend the island heavily.

Queen Victoria spent a lot of her childhood on the Isle of Wight and she built Osborne House there, where she died in 1901.

In World War 2, the island was bombed heavily by the Nazis and this was mainly due to the fact that the Royal Air Force had a radar station at Ventnor. When the tide turned, it was used as the starting point of a fuel line to Normandy to fuel the Allied invasion.

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