Norton Grange Coastal Village History
A stunning seaside retreat with a twist or two
The story of Norton Grange, a wonderful chalet resort which gazes out over the glorious western Solent, begins appropriately with a double-first. For the understatedly pretty nearby port of Yarmouth was not only the first recorded town on the Isle of Wight, but also the very first port to be discussed in the Domesday Book.
The history of Norton Grange can be traced to 1760, when the mansion formerly known as Norton Lodge was bought by Rear Admiral Hammond Grahams. The occupancy lasted until 1901, after which the house was owned by various families until 1933.
As Norton Chalet Hotel, the property was to enjoy a brief rebirth as a pre-WWII holiday venue under the Yelland family, then requisitioned for the war’s duration by the Admiralty as the shore-based HMS Manitae. Hostilities ceased, the Yellands took over once more until Warners acquired the estate in 1966.
Of course, there’s plenty to appreciate of the Isle of Wight’s stirring military history, some of it within easy walking distance of Norton Grange. A stroll along the sea wall will take you to Fort Victoria; built in the 1850s, this defensive redoubt later became a submarine centre and is now home to a maritime museum, a planetarium, an aquarium, a model railway and a café commanding superlative views of the sea. You’ll also enjoy a picturesque, coastline-hugging country park rich with flora and fauna. Or why not follow the sea wall in the opposite direction? This takes you the scenic route to Yarmouth, with its charming medley of art deco, Regency and medieval styles, including a Tudor castle raised by Henry VIII.
Then there’s the bigger splendour of Carisbrooke Castle, the natural geology of the Needles, and a few surprises: Newchurch’s annual Garlic Festival, celebrating the pungent bulb’s status as a popular export to France. Or the many rabbits in Yarmouth, or the palm trees which lend the locale an almost tropical air. Unsurprising, however, is the warmth of welcome from the moment you arrive at Norton Grange: a gemstone of the western Solent.