Victorians in Search of Winter Health: Ventnor, Isle of Wight: The Mediterranean on a English Shore by Michael Freeman
Ventnor is a small resort on the southern coast of the Isle of Wight in an area known as the Undercliff. It occupies a spectacular steeply terraced site that makes it among the sunniest and warmest places in Britain.
But what many people do not know is that it grew initially as a winter sanatorium after a distinguished physician identified it as having a winter climate that made it ideal for consumptives. London-based capitalist entrepreneurs descended upon the nascent town to build accommodation for wealthy invalids so that they might escape the trials of an English winter. The story is played out in astonishing detail in the pages of the Times newspaper. It became the primary conduit for the letting and sale of property and land. The newspaper, in effect, became Ventnor’s window on the world.
Investors brought housekeepers and their servants down to manage the portfolios of property. Tradesmen soon followed and the town’s shops began to bear comparison with London’s West End. By 1890, Ventnor’s rising terraces had become packed with villas, hotels, and lodgings houses, most facing south to winter sun and to sea. The resort became the Mediterranean on a English shore.