Appuldurcombe house is an early 18th century mansion built in the English baroque style. This style is evidenced in the treatment of the exterior two floors as equally important. Mouldings around the door and windows and a triple wedge-shaped keystone above the centre of each window as well as the bull’s eye window, carved scrolls, and swags all speak to the style.
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From a distance the house does not look like the shell that it is due to restoration of the 1701 south front. It was designed by John James and begun by Sir Robert Worsley. The Worsley family came into the estate’s possession after the dissolution of the monasteries—it was originally a priory. The estate became one of the Isle of Wight’s most important.
Appuldurcombe remained as the Worsley family home for 300 years. 70 years after its initial building a Worsley nephew enlarged the house and completed a number of alterations. At the end of the century ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped the grounds, much of which is now farmland.
In 1855 the estate was sold and then leased to a company who planned to turn it into a hotel. The plans never materialized, and the house became a school until the 1890s. Occupied for a short time by monks, the house fell empty in 1909 and gradually decayed. The great hall, dining parlour, and drawing room were re-roofed in 1986.
The house originally had a mansard roof with a double slope. At both ends of the house are pedimented pavilions that project outwards from the main house, making them of architectural importance to the design. The door is at the centre of the house. Inside the entrance are large columns attached to the walls. Tall stone or ashlar pilasters are topped with Corinthian capitals.
The hall was altered from the original low ceiling, one room deep design into one with a raised ceiling with scagliola columns added at the same time. A marble floor was also laid at this time. The drawing room and library were located in the south-east pavilion. The grand staircase originated here. The north-west pavilion contained the kitchen, added in 1770. A 19th century billiard room stood in the middle of the ground floor.
An exhibition of photographs and prints depict the house and its history. In the grounds is a neglected old ice house and viewpoints over the downs. The freemantle gate with its Ionic arch, at the park’s northern end, is thought to be the work of James Wyatt.
Appuldurcombe House is located on the Isle of Wight off the B3327, .5 mile west of Wroxhall, two miles north of Ventnor.
Tel. 0 1983 852 484
Open: April-end Sep, Sat,10am-12pm; Sun-Fri, 10am-4pm
Parking; shop; disability access
English Heritage property
Note: The nearby falconry centre is not run by English Heritage.