It is believed that Sir Joseph Paxton, who was knighted for his design of Crystal Palace in 1851, designed the house. He had also been Head Gardener at Chatsworth in Derbyshire, so may have also designed the gardens at Woodside.
The age of the house is unknown but is shown on the O.S. map of Wootton for 1863. One of the early owners was Henry George Hopkins Esq., who was in residence in 1859.
Rear-Admiral Albert Denison Somerville Denison (1835-1903). He was a churchwarden at St Edmund's and in 1886 he gave the bell turret. Admiral Denison died on 2nd Sept 1903 and is buried at St Edmund's. There is a plaque to his memory in the chancel of the church. One of his daughters was the Honourable Mrs. Ivy Mitchison who lived at Wootton Rise, Palmer's Road.
Admiral Sir John Erskine Kennedy Baird K. C. B. (1833-1908) was the next owner, and was also a churchwarden at St Edmund's until his death on 8th December 1908. He is buried near to Admiral Denison. Sir John's wife Constance was president of the Cowes branch of the British Red Cross during the First World War.
Robert Stayner Templeton was in occupation during 1924 to 1927. The house was sold in 1935 to the Rev Arthur Lewis Critchard and his wife Jean, who opened it as a Naturist Camp accommodating up to 80 people. The camp aroused much curiosity among the local children who now recall cycling to Woodside and standing on there saddles trying to see over the fences and hedges. The younger members of the Ryde Rowing Club used to row to King's Quay, then come ashore and walk to the Sloop peering through hedges on the way. No alcohol was sold on the premises as the Rev. Critchard was teetotal, but guests could bring their own.
Nudism was only permitted in the paddock abutting Lower Woodside Road, next to the orchard, although some guests did practice this on the beach among the tamarisk trees, which formed arbours. Some local residents were discouraged from using the beach, as they found this embarrassing. At that time the public footpath terminated further West towards the boathouse.
The camp closed during the war and travel between the Island and the mainland was restricted, although the Rev Critchard found his dog collar to be a very useful passport. The camp reopened after the war and continued till about 1960.
Mrs E. Loughlin for Wootton Millennium Project