West Wight painters, photographers and writers

The coast and landscape of West Wight have inspired painters, photographers and writers for more than 200 years.

George Morland stayed at The Inn, now The Albion hotel. JMW Turner’s first oil painting Fishermen at Sea portrays a storm in Freshwater Bay. He must have witnessed the raging waters from the windows of the same inn in 1796.

Freshwater Bay

Photo: Albany Associates

Victorian photography pioneer Julia Margaret Cameron fell in love with the intense stillness and clarity of light. Her home at Dimbola Lodge is now a museum of photography. Famous visitors included Tennyson, Darwin, Thackeray, Longfellow, Sir Arthur Sullivan, Edward Lear, Ellen Terry, John Ruskin, John Everett Millais, Robert Browning, Thomas Carlyle, Lewis Carroll and little Alice Liddell. This Victorian cultural circle was satirised by Mrs Cameron’s great-niece Virginia Woolf in her play Freshwater.

Later visitors to Freshwater Bay include TS Eliot (on honeymoon), George Bernard Shaw (also on honeymoon!), John Betjeman, JB Priestley, WH Auden, Christopher Isherwood and DH Lawrence. The Trespassers includes recognisable descriptions of the beach and cliffs… all within a few minutes’ walk of the bothy at Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight.

 

5 thoughts on “West Wight painters, photographers and writers

  1. The artist George Morland stayed at The Inn, Freshwater Bay. This is now The Albion hotel. JMW Turner’s first oil painting Fishermen at Sea portrays a storm in Freshwater Bay. He must have witnessed the raging waters from the windows of the same inn in 1796. However, the background is imaginary. He has taken the chalk stacks of the Needles, where the Solent meets the English Channel at the far end of High Down, and added them to Freshwater Bay’s Arch Rock and Stag Rock, the so-called Miniature Needles.

  2. The Tennyson Mile of 19th-century seaside villas leads from the beach along Gate Lane and Bedbury Lane to Farringford. The Lodges are described by Anne Thackeray in From an Island as “nestled below High Down with views to the sea.” William Thackeray’s daughter was also related to Virginia Woolf as Aunty Anny through a second marriage.

  3. Many people become hooked on photography while visiting Freshwater Bay. Victorian photographic pioneer Julia Margaret Cameron fell in love with the intense stillness and clarity of light. She was a family friend of poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson who lived at nearby Farringford.
    Mrs Cameron’s home at Dimbola Lodge, Terrace Lane, is now a museum of photography with excellent temporary exhibitions, a tearoom and a shop selling postcards and souvenirs.

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