Once owned by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, more recently visited by Princess Beatrice and Eugenie and even a holiday destination for the Queen of Pop, Madonna, Barton Manor in the Isle of Wight is certainly a holiday destination fit for a royal. And as you approach the Grade-II listed property via a half kilometre drive down a private tree-lined avenue, you certainly feel like a VIP!
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Barton Manor was once owned by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
In fact, it was the necessity of a global pandemic that had us heading for the Isle of Wight for our summer holidays this year, rather than heading off into sunnier climes on a plane. But as with many aspects of living life through these unprecedented times, something which initially seemed an inconvenience, turned out to be a true blessing in disguise. While staycationing wasn’t something I had planned for our summer school break, it was clear the moment we arrived at Barton Manor Farmhouse that we were spending a week somewhere very special indeed.
Its history is remarkable - as we pulled our car up to the front porch we immediately spied the imposing royal crest carved into the stonework – the result of Edward VII's extensions to the farmhouse after inheriting it from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
The holiday property is a converted farmhouse
It had been Albert's dream to create the perfect model farmstead, and Barton Manor farmhouse, our home for the next week, was part of this creation. Edward VII added to the building and during that time the estate welcomed many famous guests, such as Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra who, with their five children, visited Barton for tea, as guests of Edward VII in 1909.
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In more recent history, royals including Sarah, Duchess of York and her daughters Beatrice and Eugenie visited the manor as guests of Robert Stigwood (the music impresario behind the BeeGees, Grease and Saturday Night Fever) who owned the property between 1992 and 2004. Madonna, Elton John, the Bee Gees and many other Hollywood A-listers had holidayed on these grounds - we were in good company!
The journey to the Isle of Wight was easy – the hop from Portsmouth on the ferry is less than an hour and the manor house in 200 acres of land is only 15 minutes from the terminal. Once inside the extensive grounds, it’s like being in a haven of peace and tranquillity.
Barton Manor Farmhouse has four bedrooms
The house is beautifully decorated. With four bedrooms and four bathrooms there’s space for extended family – and after a couple of months locked down in our London home, the internal space was fantastic.
There’s a huge kitchen, pantry and dining area, plus a large TV snug with 3 sofas and surround-sound TV where we had some fun family movie nights. Then there’s an adult sitting room for games and quieter conversations.
The home has a separate adult sitting room
Everything you think you might need for a holiday is there, which is what makes this farmhouse such a luxurious destination. Beach days on the estate’s private beach are made so much easier with the provision of body boards, buckets, spades and a cupboard full of beach towels. Four-legged friends are welcome downstairs, and a basket of old towels is provided for post-walk rubdowns.
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The kitchen is fully equipped, from the coffee machine to the huge American fridge/freezer. If you fancy healthy smoothies, there’s a nutri-bullet; if you want to cook a huge roast there are two ovens to allow for all the trimmings. When you stay in a holiday home you want it to feel like you're having a break, and when the kitchen is an upgrade it definitely helps!
Social distancing was important for us as our visit occurred at the start of July, and the manor grounds are perfect for having masses of family fun without seeing a soul. The 15-minute wander down to the beach through the woods is a private nature trail, and the beach, which can only be reached via the Barton Manor estate, is totally secluded. Bring your jelly shoes, as the ground is mainly stones and shells, but the sea was surprisingly warm and shared only by visitors who anchored down their yachts in our bay to enjoy the peace and quiet.
A private beach is accessible via the woods on the estate
At other times, when social distancing isn't a priority, being adjacent to English Heritage's Osborne House would be a great advantage, and somewhere we have on our list of places to visit next time. But even trying to keep ourselves to ourselves, we managed some good adventuring.
Bike hire at nearby Cowes allows for a day spent exploring the Red Squirrel Trail (the picnic benches at the old Sandown Station are a fab lunch spot). We made a trip to Steephill Cove – unspoilt by traffic and many visitors thanks to its relative inaccessibility. Our half hour cliff walk was well rewarded by an ice cream and dip in the sea at the bottom of the hill.
There are quiet country walks galore, and in more normal times, an array of tourist activities to enjoy. But for us, the real joy of Barton Manor Farmhouse was the property and with its beach, tennis courts, table tennis table and piles of board games, there really is no reason to leave. Not to mention the fab array of royal movies to watch on DVD! It's the perfect place to unwind as a family, get back to basics, and enjoy a week away in as regal a way as possible.
A stay at Barton Manor Farmhouse costs from £1330 for 7 days and can be booked via Classic Cottages. Dates in 2021 can be reserved now.
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