Portal:Isle of Wight

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Isle of Wight

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The Isle of Wight is an English island and county in the English Channel three miles from the south coast of Great Britain. It is situated south of the county of Hampshire and is separated from mainland England by the Solent. Popular since Victorian times as a holiday resort, the Isle of Wight is known for its natural beauty and for its world-famous sailing based in Cowes.

The Island has a rich history including its own brief status as a nominally independent kingdom in the fifteenth century. It was home to the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Queen Victoria built her much loved summer residence and final home Osborne House at East Cowes. The Island's maritime and industrial history encompasses boat building, sail making, the manufacture of flying boats, the world's first hovercraft and the testing and development of British space rockets. It is home to the Bestival and the recently revived Isle of Wight Festival, which, in 1970, was one of the largest rock music events ever held.[1] The island has some exceptional wildlife and is also one of the richest fossil locations for dinosaurs in Europe.


Selected article

Cowes is an English seaport town on the Isle of Wight, an island south of Southampton. Cowes is located on the west bank of the estuary of the River Medina facing the smaller town of East Cowes on the east Bank. The western town is sometimes referred to as West Cowes where distinction is needed - such as at the two differing ferry termini. However the unqualified name 'Cowes' invariably means the western town. This article describes both towns.

Leland's nineteenth century verses described the towns poetically as "The two great Cowes that in loud thunder roar, This on the eastern, that the western shore".

Cowes from the sea

The two towns are linked by the Cowes Floating Bridge, a chain ferry. The combined population was 16,925 in the 1991 census, a figure that is easily doubled during the regatta in early August (see below). Each town comprises a civil parish.[2]

Cowes is renowned for sailing, Cowes Castle being home to the world famous Royal Yacht Squadron, which ranks amongst the world's elite yacht clubs. The town gives its name to the world's oldest regular regatta, Cowes Week, which occurs annually in the first week of August. Later on in the summer, powerboat races are held.

East Cowes is the site of Norris Castle, and Osborne House, the former summer residence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The Prince had a major influence on the architecture of the area, for example on the building of St Mildred's Church in Whippingham, East Cowes, which features distinctive turrets imitating those found on a German castle. Both towns' architecture is still heavily influenced by the distinctive style of ornate building which Prince Albert popularised.


Selected biography

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Jeremy John Irons (born 19 September 1948) is an English film, television and stage actor. He has won an Academy Award, a Tony Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and twice won the Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award. Irons was born in Cowes, Isle of Wight, the son of Barbara Anne (née Sharpe), a housewife, and Paul Dugan Irons, an accountant.

Irons trained as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and is now president of its fundraising appeal. He performed a number of plays and supported himself by busking on the streets of Bristol, before appearing on the London stage as John the Baptist and Judas opposite David Essex in Godspell, which opened at the Round House on 17 November 1971 before transferring to Wyndham's Theatre playing a total of 1,128 performances.

He made several appearances on British television, including the children's television series Play Away and as Franz Liszt in the BBC 1974 series Notorious Woman. More significantly he starred in the 13-part adaptation of H.E. Bates' novel Love for Lydia for London Weekend Television (1977), and attracted attention for his key role as the pipe-smoking German student, a romantic pairing with Judi Dench in Harold Pinter's screenplay adaptation of Aidan Higgins' novel Langrishe, Go Down for BBC television (1978). He recently played Lord Vetinari in Sky One's dramatisation of Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic

The role which brought him fame was that of Charles Ryder in the television adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited in 1981. Brideshead reunited him with Anthony Andrews, with whom he had appeared in The Pallisers seven years earlier. In the same year he starred in the film The French Lieutenant's Woman opposite Meryl Streep.


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  1. ^ Isle of Wight Festival history
  2. ^ English Parishes & Welsh Communities N&C 2004