Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island in England, located in the English Channel, on average about 2–5 miles (3–7 km) off the coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent. The island has many resorts which have been holiday destinations since Victorian times.

The island has a rich history, including a brief status as an independent kingdom in the 15th century. Until 1995, like Jersey and Guernsey, the island had its own Governor—most notably Lord Mountbatten from 1969 to 1974, after which he became Lord Lieutenant until his assassination in 1979.

It was home to the poets Swinburne and Tennyson, and to Queen Victoria, who built her much-loved summer residence and final home Osborne House at East Cowes. The island's maritime and industrial history encompasses boat building, sail making, the manufacture of flying boats, the world's first hovercraft and the testing and development of Britain's space rockets. It is home to the Isle of Wight International Jazz Festival, Bestival and the recently revived Isle of Wight Festival, which, in 1970, was the largest rock music event ever held. The island has some exceptional wildlife and is one of the richest locations of dinosaur fossils in Europe.

Until 1890 the Isle of Wight was part of Hampshire. Since then it has been an independent administrative county, though up to 1974 it continued to share the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire. In 1974, it was reconstituted as a non-metropolitan and ceremonial county, with its own Lord Lieutenant, and recognised as a postal county. With a single Member of Parliament and 132,731 permanent residents in 2001, it is also the most populous parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom. In 1832 the act popularly referred to as the Great Reform Act or Reform Act of 1832 established the principle of having a single MP for the Isle of Wight. Beginning in 2010, there is ongoing parliamentary debate to consider altering this.

It is easily accessible from Southsea (Portsmouth) by hovercraft. Several ferry services operate across the Solent: the route from Southampton to Cowes is 10 miles (16 km), Portsmouth to Ryde 3 miles (7 km), Portsmouth to Fishbourne 7 miles (11 km), and Lymington to Yarmouth 4 miles (6 km).

Read more about Isle Of Wight:  Physical Geography and Wildlife, Geology, Politics, Main Towns, Economy, Prisons, Education, Notable Residents, Places of Interest, Overseas Names, Notable Media References

Famous quotes containing the words isle and/or wight:

    She carries in the dishes,
    And lays them in a row.
    To an isle in the water
    With her would I go.
    William Butler Yeats (1865–1939)

    Then think I thus: sith such repair,
    So long time war of valiant men,
    Was all to win a lady fair,
    Shall I not learn to suffer then,
    And think my life well spent to be,
    Serving a worthier wight than she?
    Henry Howard, Earl Of Surrey (1517?–1547)