Ventnor Botanic Gardens
The grounds of the Ventnor Botanical Gardens, cannot really be considered as a part of history – infact they where only opened as recently as 1972, by his Excellency Earl Mountbatten. (who was the Governor of the Isle of Wight at the time)
Instead, we need to go right back in time to 1861, ” The Royal National Hospital for the Diseases of the Chest ” had just opened its doors for the first time.
It was decided that the buildings location was ideal. The fresh sea air would heal the chest and lungs, while the cliffs high above, helped to shelter the building from high winds. Every ward room had its own balcony, the patients where wheeled out during the day (while still in their beds !) – and brought back in at night. (those that survived !)
The building served as one of the main hospitals on the south coast for over 80 years..
In 1969, after many years of neglect the building was finally demolished. Plans where already underway for a beautiful park, full of botanical flowers and plants.
Work on “The Steephill Pleasure Gardens” steadily began, the plan was to segregate the gardens into different areas and themes. The main attraction being the lovely pond, right in the middle of the gardens.
Panoramic view of the Visitors Centre and Pond
It wasn’t till 1972 that the garden was renamed into what is now ” The Ventnor Botanical Gardens “.
Although all the original hospital building was demolished beyond repair, certain ‘underground’ sections can still be found if you search hard enough. The new visitors centre you can see (above) has only recently been built, notice the roof.. inspired from the ‘Sydney Opera House’.
The main carpark you see here, is actually on the very foundations of where the hospital was. Under a certain section – (near the old toilet buildings) – is an underground tunnel that would lead up to the morgue building.
The tunnel is rumoured to still be accessible !, this part of the carpark has seen quite a lot of paranormal activity.
These stairs lead to the entrance of the underground tunnels. Later that day – on these stairs, Janis could hear the sound of movement coming from around the courtyard leading to the doors at the bottom. Could it have just been a swirl of wind? or was it something else!
Unfortunately this is the closest we will ever get to the secret of what is left of the tunnels.. FOR NOW! 😉
The Office, – to the right – is actually built on the original concrete foundations of the old ward, you can still see the concrete base even today !. This again, has had its fair share of ghostly sightings both in and around it.
Visitors have reported a smelling a strange antiseptic smell around the area, but this could be from the surrounding plants.. or is it !?
The garden also plays host to a huge greenhouse, which has recently became an indoor garden display. You can buy a wide variety of plants from the garden shop.
As you can see, its a very beautiful place – offering something for all ages. The garden seems to change all the time, its a constant delight to spend a sunny evening walking around. (Theres also a children’s playarea)
One thing you should keep in mind if you do ever get to visit, is that it is extremely haunted.