Fellows House
Sir Charles Fellows


Fellows House is believed to date from the 1850's, but its exact date is not known. It was built by Sir Charles Fellows, a famous archaeologist, as a summer residence for the London gentry. Sir Charles actually built three similar houses in Castle Road, 25/27 Castle Road, 29/31 Castle Road next door, and the other being at the western end of Castle Road numbers 37/39. Despite the look there was never a fourth house at 33/35 Castle Road, as the Victorians only built on good solid ground and this was deemed not suitable (the Isle of Wight suffers from a lot of subsidence).

Each of the three houses built by Sir Charles was actually split into two residences. Each family lived on the ground and first floors and the whole of the lower ground floor was used by a single set of servants who would service both families. The old serving board with the bells from the various rooms can still be seen in the lower hall just outside the kitchen.

Sir Charles was born in August 1799 in Nottingham, where his family had an estate. When fourteen he drew sketches to illustrate a trip to the ruins of Newstead Abbey, which afterwards appeared on the title-page of Moore's Life of Lord Byron. In 1820 he settled in London, where he became an active member of the British Association. In 1827 he discovered the modern ascent of Mont Blanc. After the death of his mother in 1832 he passed the greater portion of his time in Italy, Greece and the Levant. The numerous sketches he executed were largely used in illustrating Childe Harold.

In 1838 he went to Asia Minor, making Smyrna his headquarters. His explorations in the interior and the south led him to districts practically unknown to Europeans, and he thus discovered ruins of a number of ancient cities. The publication in 1839 of A Journal written during an Excursion in Asia Minor roused such interest that Lord Palmerston, at the request of the British Museum authorities, asked the British consul at Constantinople to get leave from the sultan to ship a number of the Lycian works of art. Late in 1839 Sir Charles, under the auspices of the British Museum, again set out for Lycia, accompanied by George Scharf, who assisted him in sketching. This second visit resulted in the discovery of thirteen ancient cities, and in 1841 appeared An Account of Discoveries in Lycia, being a Journal kept during a Second Excursion in Asia Minor. A third visit was made late in 1841.

In 1844 he presented to the British Museum his portfolios, accounts of his expeditions, and specimens of natural history illustrative of Lycia. In 1845 he was knighted as an acknowledgment of his services in the removal of the Xanthian antiquities to this country. He paid his own expenses in all his journeys and received no public reward.

Sir Charles was a contemporary of the famous designer John Nash (who designed Marble Arch, the Brighton Pavilion, the redesign of Buckingham Palace, and East Cowes Castle), and they would have both been in Cowes at the same time and could have socialised at the Royal Yacht Squadron. Fellows House is believed to be based on a John Nash design, although it was built a number of years after his death. It is based on the same design as 37/39 Castle Road which was built in the 1820's by Sir Charles and was designed by John Nash, although Fellows House is actually slightly larger.

Sir Charles and John Nash were also closely associated with Britain's most pre-eminent painter JMW Turner. Turner is known to have spent some time on the island with John Nash and painted a number of works around Cowes. Sir Charles was an avid collector of Turner's work and actually donated several works to the Royal Academy.

Fellows House stopped being the residence of the London gentry some time ago, and was actually divided into two flats for a period of time. The house was eventually completely renovated in 2002. During the renovations to the Western side of the house the old cart track from Cowes to Yarmouth was discovered running under the house. The track dates from many hundreds of years ago.

The first written record of Fellows House dates from 1868 and the National Gazetteer, which says "The castle, built by Henry VIII., with its crescent shaped battery, stands on the parade near the mouth of the harbour, and is the Royal Yacht Squadron Club-house; and near it is the beautiful terrace, recently completed, the property of Sir Charles Fellows."

We hope you enjoy your stay at Fellows House and feel part of its interesting history.

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