Northwood House
  • Northwood House

  • Event Date : Saturday, 16 April 2016
  • Start Time  : 7pm
  • End Time    : 7am
  • Address      : Northwood House Ward Avenue Cowes PO31 8AZ

About this location

is a strange house outside and stranger within.

The Northwood House you see today was built, rebuilt and modified at various times between 1807 and 1841, based on the original layout of the 1768 Bellevue House that originally stood on the site. Over the past 200 years the House has had a complicated and at times wild past, some of which may never be entirely unravelled after this distance of time. Each owner, tenant and custodian has imposed their brand of order, (or otherwise) upon its fabric and history and today every room and every wall still tells a part of that story.

Architecturally the House is a perplexing mix of additions and alterations; essentially an eclectic mix of the fads, fashions and curiosity that typified the Victorian era. It has Roman, Greek, French and even Egyptian influence and is a product of an age that was, for the wealthy elite, a time of almost unlimited opportunities, experiences and horizons. The House entered the twentieth century with an uncertain future but today it proudly bears the scars of another hundred years of faithful service, use and sometimes misuse. With its future now more secure in the next Century these marks and changes are as much a part of basic fabric of the House as the very best frescos or the unique Egypt corner.

The current Northwood House is the third dwelling to be built on what was once called Nutt's Meadow, although it is possible that the site has been occupied since the late sixteenth century. The first house that we can positively identify was known as Bellevue, built in 1768. It was bought at auction by George Ward for ??2,180 in 1793.

During the early 1800s the Bellevue Estate was renamed Northwood Park and John Nash the famous 'Royal Architect' was commissioned around 1807 to completely remodel the estate mansion, now known as Northwood House. By 1802 George Ward and John Nash had become great friends and had much in common. They were similar in age, both speculators and members of the fashionable new rich and when Nash completed the first elevations at his East Cowes Castle home they became close neighbours.

Nash's design for Northwood House provided a Classical house of generous proportion sharing elemental features of his earlier work at Harpton Court (1805) and much later work at Carlton Gardens (1827).

During 1811 and 1822 further work was carried out which included a study, domestic offices and three bedrooms above, accessed by an oval staircase. The later work included the conversion of a stable block into additional bedrooms. In 1837 a large domed annex was added to the house, the architect was believed to have been Charles Lee who had trained in Nash's office.

Across the park from the house stands St. Mary's Church, enlarged by Nash during 1811 and later enhanced with a slender tower at the base of which became the Ward family mausoleum. The main body of the church was rebuilt during 1867 but the tower, standing at the west end, remained. Barber commented that: ???The style of this tower is certainly more singular than tasteful.'

Immediately to the east of the church is a Classical lodge also designed by Nash for his friend George Ward around 1816, constructed of stone with a prominent Doric order to the front elevation. It survives a similar Nash designed lodge that also provided the main House entrance arch, know as Park Lodge which was demolished in 1939 to allow Park road to be widened.

Around 1840 the House grounds were also modified to a design by James Pennethorne, an adopted son of Mrs Nash who became Nash???s business successor in 1832. The modern Ward Avenue formed the boundary between the pleasure gardens and the park. The kitchen garden and the large Victorian greenhouses were located where the Park Court flats now stand. Only part of the original Bembridge stone wall and a single fig tree now survive.

At first the new house was intended to be a family home and the centre of a Ward dynasty - George Ward

Included on this event

  • Refreashments
  • Parking
  • Use of Equipment