Sunday, June 3, 2012

Isle of Wight with John and Sue Moxon

At Osbourne House
Since John and I (officially me) are taking over Moxon Down Under for The Moxon Society at the end of this year (from Margaret Moxon of Brisbane, no relation), I thought it would be a good idea to make contact with John and Sue Moxon who live on the Isle of Wight.  They are very active in The Moxon Society, and have been since day one, about 25 years ago.  In fact, they met through the Moxon Society, which I find rather sweet.

Before I left Sydney, they had invited me to stay overnight, so me being not so shy these days took up the invitation.  And I'm so glad I did.  They are perfect hosts, and made me feel quite at home, and generously showed me around.

I was able to book the Red Funnel Ferry return trip from Southampton to Cowes online, and a entry ticket to Osbourne House, which is the place Queen Victoria lived and died in 1901.  Her children were mostly brought up there, and it was her favourite place.

Royal wheelbarrows, each with the child's initial
The house of course is huge and her many children had their own cottage about 500 metres away - called Swiss Cottage.  The royal children would have loved it - each child had his or her own garden plot, and Prince Albert would pay them for their produce if it was any good.

Prince Albert encouraged the children to explore and bring back curiosities or strange looking or shaped items.  The Swiss Cottage is full of items from all over the world.

Later Princess Bea, the youngest daughter who looked after Queen Victoria in her old age  lived at Carisbrooke Castle and started a museum there.  Apparently she used to fossick all over the island for articles for the museum - she must have picked up the habit in childhood.

We spent some considerable time at Osbourne House and saw many splendid rooms.  I was most interested in the rooms used during World War 1 as a convalescent hospital.  I was told my grandfather was convalescing there in 1918, but he wasn't an officer, so maybe that story was wrong!  I shall have to check.

After a very pleasant dinner at John and Sue's place we took the dog Nutmeg for a walk down to Northwood House near the water.  It was still light at 8.30pm.

Northwood House built in 1839
Sue is a qualified family history researcher, both John and Sue having done a course with the Heraldic Society.  But John didn't sit the exams.  They are both extremely knowledgeable.

After coming home with a satisfied dog, we sat over a cup of coffee and John filled me in on the history of The Moxon Society.  Very interesting and useful if I am to become more involved at the end of the year.

Then to bed and to catch up with the Sydney Morning Herald on iPad.

The following morning, after a leisurely breakfast we attempted to Skype John (my John Moxon) but not terribly successfully.  We were doing it on their computer since my laptop wasn't on line.  The call kept dropping out.  But nevertheless, Skype is wonderful for keeping in touch.  We are missing each other dreadfully.  Think I'll invest in a magic carpet so I can whisk him over here without going anywhere near Qantas or Heathrow Airport.

A visit to Carisbrooke castle beckoned.  I also had a ticket to that, bought online with a one third concession.  Luckily my hosts have a season ticket to all these heritage listed places, since they often take visitors there.

Carisbrooke Castle was built about 1100 as the main first line of defence for Britain against the marauding French and Spaniards over the centuries.  It is famous for being Charles 1's place of imprisonment in 1647 prior to having his head chopped off in 1648.  He tried to escaped twice but got his shoulders stuck in the window grills.

Replica of bed he slept in - the very room

Just to make me feel at home, here is a reminder of Australia - right outside their house at West Cowes - they have other Australian visitors from time to time.

The lovely Ange met me at the ferry and so to "home" in Totton, near Southampton.

So to bed, and tomorrow will be full of Union Jacks and a very British menu.  I'm no monarchist, but I do appreciate a woman who has done her duty very well for over 60 years - and even before she was Queen she stayed in London throughout the Blitz and drove an ambulance.  Jolly good show!


  1. Reading this reminded me of the week Deb and I spent on the Isle of Wight - a truly lovely place to visit. Pity you didn't have more time to explore and see the rest of the island.

  2. I was thinking of you, Hazel and Deb whilst I was there. I loved it. Just didn't have the time, or more to the point, have much more to explore in Southampton re family history.