Northwood House, Cowes - a little history

Northwood House, and its 26 acres, was originally owned by London businessman George Ward and remained in the family for 5/6 generations until 1929 when it was gifted to Cowes Council to be used, ‘as pleasure gardens for the people of Cowes’. Now the house is owned and administered as a charitable trust and the main rooms (Ball Room, Dining Room, Drawing Room, Morning Room, Library, Rotunda, House Bar and Stables) can be hired for events, conferences and special occasions.

George was a highly successful merchant banker from London and bought the original estate of Bellevue (Belle Vue House and 17 acres of land), demolished the house and built Northwood House on its site, some of which was designed by John Nash. He also owned around 20,000 acres of land (said to be 1/5 of the island’s area) and set up the first paddle steamer service between Cowes and Southampton, much later to become Red Funnel. Throughout the Ward years the house was sometimes empty, rented out, housed temporary establishments such as a school, a convent, a Red Cross hospital and was even the site of a fatal dual in 1816. It was often a, ‘scene of unexampled gaiety and good cheer’ and held splendid dinners, balls and garden parties for the many royalty visiting Queen Victoria at Osborne House in East Cowes, as well as Marquis, Viscounts, Earls, Lords and Knights and ‘respectable visitors and resident gentry’ of the town and neighbourhood.

Please read more about the history of Cowes buildings with more illustrations on our page Cowes History.

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