Tel: 01983 855397

The Tunnel

Our regular Tunnel Tours are currently postponed. Please email if you'd like to enquire about a private tour.

Ventnor Botanic Garden has many secrets, some dating back to the days of the Royal National Hospital that formerly stood on the site. Underground caverns, secret passageways and a tunnel through the cliff can be found by the visitors to the Garden.

A proposal to dig a tunnel from the gardens down to the shore was mooted in the late 1800s.  The Royal National Hospital annual report for 1875 states that “There can be no doubt that if the patients were able to obtain free access to the shore it would be very conducive alike to their recovery and their enjoyment.” Money for the tunnel at that time was not forthcoming and although it was built later, its function was by no means the rather romantic conception that has given rise to a good deal of speculation and comment; it was in fact used as a conduit for rubbish that was propelled through it and dumped into the sea. Steel tramlines are still visible on the floor. Exactly when the tunnel was built is unknown; possibly it was in relation to a new system of drainage and sewage disposal that was completed sometime in the 1880s. The tunnel was closed at both ends in 1940.

The 350 foot long vaulted roofed tunnel exits through the cliff midway down and is inaccessible. DO NOT attempt to locate the exit, or try to enter unless with one of our guides, as the cliff is extremely dangerous. Bolted gates are also in place for safety.


Meet our featured artists

Alex Williams

Born in 1942, Alex Williams trained at St Martin’s School of Art and The University of Wales. He became an art teacher and later Head of Art before setting up his design and print studio. Moving to the Welsh Border country in the late 1970’s was catalytic in his development as a painter of farm landscapes, animals, buildings and agriculture. His work was widely exhibited in the UK and Alex then moved to Los Angeles for three years, exhibiting there and undertaking commissions for Tom Jones and Jackson Browne as well as for magazines and companies. His images have been widely used in Tableware and Fine Bone China, Limited Edition Prints and Greetings Cards. His versatility also extends to numerous TV appearances as artist and art teacher, in Australia as well as in the UK. He has exhibited widely in both individual and group shows and his work is in many public and private collections; The National Museum of Wales has purchased a number of his landscapes of the Welsh Borders and he has collaborated very successfully with the National Trust on a range of products.

Gianpaolo Mario Giancovich

I am an artist and photographer from Ventnor and have a passion for all things creative. The outdoors and photography have always been very significant in my life and it has been a long and interesting journey since I inherited my Grandpa’s SLR camera in the 1980s. I’m self taught and use photography as a tool to express my art and to record inspirational things I see in day to day life. I am continually working on new images inspired by nature; the sea; the seasons; my family and our beautiful island.The sea is never the same on any two days which is what makes photographing seascapes so challenging and interesting. Whether enjoying glorious sunshine, getting soaking wet, freezing cold or a mixture of the above, one thing I love is being outdoors taking photos. Even on this small island there will always be paths you’ve never walked and vistas you’ve never seen. I always strive to explore different places, discover unusual vantage points and be creative and original.

All of my images can be ordered in bespoke sizes, as limited edition giclée prints and are available mounted and framed. If you would like something truly unique I also do one off commissions.

Chad Powell

I’m Chad, a 25 year old Photographer with a passion for capturing the Universe above us and the beautiful landscapes of the Isle of Wight. Whilst studying for a Degree in Graphic Design, I bought my first DSLR camera and very quickly found myself falling in love with photography and taking pictures of anything and everything!

I always had a curious interest in the universe since I was a child and once I bought my first camera in 2013, I naturally began taking photographs of the night sky from my garden here in Ventnor. On one particularly clear night in late summer, I set up my camera once again but this time facing West, using a very wide fisheye lens, what I managed to capture with my low end camera gave me a massive buzz.

The milky way was clearly visible in the image – splashed vertically across the sky; something I never thought would be possible to capture in the UK, especially not the Isle of Wight. Knowing the limitations I would have with my current camera, I saved and finally upgraded to a Canon 6D, an incredible low light performer and perfect for the unforgiving conditions of night sky photography. I began heading out in the very early hours of the morning with one aim in mind, capturing the beautiful, ever changing and awe inspiring night sky above the landscapes of the Isle of Wight.

The Constant Doodler

My name is Shaun Cuff. I am a Graphic Designer and Caulkhead – born, bred and constantly doodling on the Isle of Wight.

All of my doodles are produced using a single continuous line. Why I hear you cry! Well it’s a nice technique, it forces me to think about the detail and the image as a whole at the same time. It also frees up the illustration – not being too precious about wandering off course. I do occasionally take my pen off the paper* but it always returns to the spot it left to continue its journey.

I use a fine line marker pen and a simple card aperture to act as a guide and frame whilst producing the doodles. This has a number of measurements on it showing thirds, quarters, fifths, etc to help give the doodles some structure – I am a designer after all!

* to take a step back and see how the doodle is coming together or to take a sip of coffee (white no sugar please).

Contact us

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Tel: 01983 855397  |  Ventnor Botanic Garden Community Company C.I.C  | Company Number: 07976468 | Registered Address: Undercliff Drive, Ventnor, Isle of Wight, PO38 1UL