Historic England has upgraded the 143 acre landscape at Norris Castle from Grade II to Grade I in recognition of the exceptional nature of the park and garden after new research carried out in partnership with the new owners.
The landscape at Norris Castle is thought to have been designed in 1799 by Humphry Repton, one of England’s greatest landscape designers, and includes one of the grandest examples of a castellated walled garden anywhere in England. The landscape design makes the most of stunning views across the Solent and back towards the castle which was designed by the famous architect James Wyatt.
Within this largely unchanged landscape sits Norris Castle, designed in a striking Gothic Revival style and a model farm, which with its castellated walls looks more like a large fort. Along with a lodge, all of these buildings and the park and gardens were created as a seaside estate for George Henry Seymour, a life-long bachelor with an interest in farming and gardening. As well as having picturesque parkland, the model farm and unusually large kitchen garden meant the estate had a working agricultural role. Seaweed was collected for fertiliser, cattle and sheep grazed and there was even the odd peacock roaming the gardens.
During its history the landscape of Norris Castle has seen many a royal visitor. George IV visited in 1819 while Queen Victoria regularly stayed with her mother whilst a princess, and continued to visit with the family later in life. Queen Victoria wrote about the site in her diaries, sketched the landscape and even considered buying Norris Castle but finding it too expensive bought neighbouring Osborne House instead.
Later on Norris Castle frequently provided a residence for her grandson – Kaiser Wilhelm, and today there is still a canopy bath in the house called the ‘Kaiser’s Bath’. The castle and landscape has also played a starring role in more modern times featuring as the setting for the Dr Who series The Sea Devils with Jon Pertwee in 1972.
Andy Brown, Planning Director South East, Historic England, said:
“We are delighted the park and gardens at Norris Castle have received the recognition they deserve and become the Isle of Wight’s first Grade I landscape. We are in discussions with the new owner on the future of this outstanding landscape and look forward to working together as plans develop”.
The Isle of Wight Gardens Trust said:
“We have worked since 1989 to promote conservation of the Island’s historic parks and gardens and greatly welcome the upgrading of Norris Castle’s landscape on the National Heritage List. The adjacent designed coastal landscapes of Norris Castle, Osborne (Grade II*) and Barton (Locally Listed), all with royal connections and within the Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, form a very significant part of our garden heritage. We hope to work co-operatively with all interested parties to ensure a sustainable future for Norris castle and its landscape”.