Normandy to Isle of Wight

Because our travels took us south into France, we ferried back from Dieppe in Normandy to Southampton on the southern end of Great Britain rather than the further north as we had originally planned. This let Doré see the Isle of Wight, reputed to be the ancestral home of the Dores. Note the change in spelling, and the implications for pronunciation. We are now talking about the name “Door” rather than “Door A”. (Also noting that the Doré’s aren’t particularly happy when I explain the pronunciation as “Door A” rather than “Door B”.)

It is typical of the oddities of names and how they evolve that Fitzpatrick, which was Doré’s mother’s name and which could have come from “Fils Patrick“, may be more French than the Dorés, who seem to have come from the Dores on IOW. Or Fitzpatrick could be the English translation of a very old Gaelic name Mac Giolla Phádraig, which means son of a follower of St. Patrick; if so, they’ve been Irish for a couple thousand years.

The Isle of Wight is full of Dores. The County Records Office had about three feet of index cards for them recording births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths going back to the early 16th Century. If one had a starting point into the index, which we didn’t, it would probably be possible to trace the family all the back. Copies of wills and letters kept us interested for an hour or so and added nothing to what Tom already knew.

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Detail from a Memorial for a WWI Regiment from IOW, showing a W. H. Dore, who died on the 13th of January, 1969

We stayed in Newport, which of course is called that because it is only a few hundred years old. It was built as far up the River Medina as cargo boats could easily go. Compared to Cowes, which is at the mouth of the river (so should have been Medinamouth), it is the new port. We picked it (or rather I did) because it is centrally located. The island is so small that turned out to be not very important. And our hotel was one of the funkiest places we have ever stayed, putting it as politely as possible. The staff was nice and the breakfast was fine, if you like traditional English breakfast.

We were directly across Quay (“key“) Street from the county museum, which was very interesting. For some reason that wasn’t explained, this area is rich in dinosaur fossils, probably because the conditions were more conducive to preserving the bones. At the time of the dinosaurs, the Isle would have been connected to Britain (it fits nicely with the harbor of Southampton and Britain would have been connected to Europe). Maybe the climate was better than the rest Britain. Anthropology is a significant part of the economy.

The city of Ventnor, on the southeast side (the Isle is sort of diamond shaped, reasonably well aligned with the compass,) has a microclimate all its own. With the sea on one side and hills on the other, it is warmer than the rest of the island.  This lets it maintain a good botanical garden. Among many other things it has the oldest palm tree (not pictured) growing outside in the UK (it may not make it through another storm.)

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A type of redwood tree; probably the oldest and largest girth in the UK.

The western tip is The Needles, The Needles Lighthouse, The Needles Headland, The Old Needles Battery National Trust, and, of course, The Needles Landmark Attraction. When they say something like “National Trust”, there is usually no admission charge (but maybe no parking on site); when they say something like “Landmark Attraction”, they usually mean it’s a great location and they’ve built something tacky on it, so “it’s fun for the whole family”, rather like the Wisconsin Dells.

 

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The Needles Lighthouse from the chairlift to the beach

Newport’s other attraction for us was a model village; by which I mean a model of the Village of Newport. Part of its cuteness was the model contained a model of the model, and the model of the model contained another model. After that I couldn’t tell if it went on. The picture at the top has three versions of the house that can be seen in the photo and another level that doesn’t show.

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Doré in downtown model Newport

It didn’t have the grandeur of the model city we saw in Den Haag, but here they’re modeling a country village rather than the political history of the Netherlands.

 

The Isle of Wight was Queen Victoria’s favorite retreat. When she saw Osborne House, near Cowes, she thought, with modification, it could be a royal residence. Prince Albert apparently disagreed, tore the house down, and built something more appropriate. Albert died a few years after the house was finished and Victoria spent much of the next 50 years, and died there in 1901. While Victoria had intended it as a royal escape for her children, who spent much of their childhoods there, none were interested in taking over the house.  Princess Beatrice, the youngest, had lived there much of her adult life as well since the Queen demanded that Beatrice live with her, which was a condition of allowing her to marry.

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Gardens of Osborne House, rather a small part of the grounds

When Osborne house was turned over to the nation. Beatrice was given Carisbrooke Castle near Newport, now also an English heritage site.

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Carisbrooke Castle, much older and less homey than Osborne House

We ended our IOW experience with a visit to a butterfly garden. The butterflies themselves were impressive but we kept running into another couple who had a daughter who had just discovered butterflies (and flowers, and fish, and bugs, and rocks.) Watching her was almost as interesting as what we came to see.

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The world is full of awesome things.

Next a ferry back to Southampton and off to see Cornwall.

 

 

 

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