Welcome to Carisbrooke Castle Museum
‘It is my earnest hope and desire that with the help and co-operation of others I may be able to form a full collection of objects of historical interest connected with the Island, so that this memorial gatehouse may become a museum worthy of such an interesting castle.’
With these words, Princess Beatrice, the Island Governor and youngest daughter of Queen Victoria, on 11 August 1898 opened the museum in the gatehouse newly restored as a memorial to her late husband Prince Henry of Battenberg The exhibits related mainly to King Charles I - imprisoned in the castle for the last year of his life - and comprised personal relics, documents, prints, and armour of the English Civil War period.
Princess Beatrice's vision of an Island museum came nearer to realisation in 1911 when local archaeological collections from the old Newport Museum were acquired. As a result the castle became the focus for displays illustrating human settlement on the Island from prehistoric times.
Another landmark in the museum’s history was the move in 1951 to the more spacious accommodation of the former Governor’s house, by permission of King George VI. At the same time, the Museum Trustees, with funding support from the Ministry of Works in partnership with the Isle of Wight County Council, were also able to employ a professional curator to care for the enlarged museum.
The manuscript collections were placed on deposit with the nascent County Record Office - at first housed in the museum building and later in Newport; and in 1981, with even the former Governor’s house now bursting at the seams with rapidly growing collections, the pre-medieval material was placed on deposit with the County Archaeological Service.
The museum has for many years had a lively educational involvement with both Island and mainland schools, in addition to its service to the local community.