Page Three

Meanwhile, in 1791, he had been appointed Governor and Vice‚ÄďAdmiral of the Isle of Wight, and in 1800 he was created Lord-lieutenant of Hampshire. During Lord Bolton's official connection with the Island, he built the beautiful mansion at Fernhill, and repaired the Governor's residence at Carisbrooke. At this stage I do not think I can do better than to quote the following passages from J. Albin's "History of the Isle of Wight, 1795", which describes the house and gives an account of a most interesting and colourful occasion celebrating Earl Howe's great victory over the French in June,1794.

"Though last mentioned, but not the least in importance, as a modern situation, Fernhill the seat of the Rt. Hon. Thomas Orde Powlett, the present worthy, respected and respectable Governor of the Island, has peculiar claims to our attention.

It has a most delightful aspect and its high gothic tower is visible to Portsmouth and many places of the Island, from the different parts of which it has a very fine effect. It is contiguous to the road from Newport to Wootton Bridge on the north-east side of Wootton Common, and stands nearly on the summit of the eminence on the south-west side of Fishbourne Creek. In most of the maps of the Island heretofore published it has been called Barr House. It has a gate from the park on the opposite side near the foot of Wootton Bridge, and another at the end of Beech Lane.

We cannot, perhaps discharge our duty as historians better than by citing an M.S. copy of an inhabitant of the Island, with which we have been favoured for this work, of the proceedings there in the month of June last, which we shall present to our readers in the language of the writer. It is needless to say that this was occasioned by the visit of their Majesties to Portsmouth to view the Fleet after the memorable 1st of June.

'No displays of animated ardour, at this period of celebrating so matchless a naval victory, have exceeded those at Fernhill, the seat of our excellent Governor, the Rt. Hon. Thomas Orde Powlett. Fernhill House with its aspiring gothic tower was adorned with more than 1,000 lamps of powerful lustre. The arts united to convey the feelings of its generous master to the captivated spectators. The lawn and gardens were crowded with respectable parties of the Island inhabitants and within doors hospitality loaded the table with every kind of substantial and delicate refreshment. After the King, Queen and Royal Family, a long continuance of their health and augmented felicity, the Navy and Army of Great Britain, the gallant Lord Howe, his brave admirals, officers and men, were drunk with heartfelt applauses. Many sentiments of purest affection to our gracious Sovereign and unrivalled constitution were repeated, many spirited songs encored, and the three festive evenings concluded with universal harmony and grateful acknowledgments. The exhibition of fireworks was inconceivably pleasing and superb.

It would be unjust to omit the exertions of Mr. Vick, an eminent miller at Wootton Bridge. Ingenuity and loyalty concurred in the disposition of brilliant ornaments in his house and gardens, which reflected from the water had the effect of almost magical enchantment."

From the naval angle it will be perhaps interesting to note that Lord Bolton (who was then the Rt. Hon. Thomas Orde Powlett), had a very distinguished brother, Sir John Orde, who was a Royal Naval Captain serving with the Channel fleet at the time of the above mentioned proceedings. Therefore, from his ship at Spithead he must have viewed with especial enjoyment and pride the brilliant lighting of Fernhill with which his brother was honouring Earl Howe's victorious naval battle., Incidentally, he attained the rank of rear admiral on the 1st June, 1795, and on the 9th ,of November, 1805, he became admiral of the blue.