The site where the Appuldurcombe House was built has a long history dating back to the 11th century. It is believed that it was initially a manor owned by the first Norman King of England William the Conqueror and in the next four centuries it served as an Abbey for the nuns of the Poor Clares.
The property was leased several times until the 18th century, when it was bought by Sir Robert Worsley. He transformed the mansion into one of the most beautiful Baroque residences on the Isle of Wight, just off the coast of England. Besides the amazing architecture, the house is surrounded by stunning gardens created by the famous landscape designer Capability Brown.
After traveling around Europe, Worsley came back inspired by many beautiful gardens that he saw in different cities and tried to make this one even more beautiful. Together with Brown, he designed and built several smaller structures like the obelisk dedicated to Brown of which only a little part remains.
Construction of the house began in 1701 and was finished after almost 70 years. Worsley wanted the house to be light and airy, and so it was designed with more than 300 windows. It had nearly 50 rooms for him and his family and also for his guests. The best-known room for entertaining guests was the drawing room which was also used as a withdrawing chamber.
A known art collector, Worsley turned some of the biggest rooms in the house into exhibition rooms. The most stunning was the library, which was later divided into three separate parts. One part remained a library, the second was made a staircase, and the rest of the space was turned into a billiard room.
After his death, the house and gardens were inherited by his niece Henrietta who married Charles A. Pelham. Pelham became the Earl of Yarborough and later Baron Worsley. He made some significant changes to the property by adding new balconies on the exterior and several service rooms. After Worsley’s death, his son sold the house to Vaughn W. Williams, and in the middle of the 19th century, it is recorded that the property was leased as a school.
In the 1900s, no one lived in the mansion, and during WWII it sustained serious damage. A bomb exploded near the house, leaving only a shell of what was once the grandest house on the island. In the 1960s, some repairs were made but only on the façade. The interior was lost forever.
Today, the property is under the care of English Heritage and is open to the public where visitors can learn a lot about its nine-century history. As are many abandoned places, the Appuldurcombe House is also believed by some to be haunted. It is situated deep in the forests of the Wroxall village which only adds to the eerie atmosphere.
Many people claim to have seen the ghosts of monks or heard a crying baby while they were visiting. On the spot where the Great Hall was, some say that there is a change in the temperature and the feeling of being watched. However, during the day, the estate is a perfect place for family picnics and small events.
In the entrance hall, the marble floor has been restored together with the façade, which serves to demonstrate how beautiful the house was in its prime. There are also souvenir shops where visitors can buy postcards and a falconry center for children’s entertainment. Several cottages were built on the estate for family vacations from which there is a fantastic view of the surrounding countryside.