Our regular Tunnel Tours are currently postponed. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Ventnor Botanic Garden has resurrected the centuries old tradition of hop growing on the Isle of Wight. Starting in 2009, we became the sole specialist grower of hops on the Island. Hops are truly ripe on a single day each year, so our Botanists keep an hourly vigil over the hop rows in late August. On the chosen day a call goes out to our Friends and Volunteers and a community harvest begins. You’re welcome to join us picking or at our Hops Festival, just watch our website for dates.
Our Original Ale was launched in 2013. Described as “Light golden with a small, off-white head and effervescent during pouring, the hops on the nose are punchy and earthy with light apricot fruit. The hops turn piney and slightly spicy on the palate, with the apricot taste cutting through, but work well with the juicy malt…it’s a pleasure to be drinking something with a distinctively British taste, yet a clearly artisan style…” Darren Norbury, Beer Today.
To buy your Original Botanic Ale follow this link to our shop.
In 2015 we launched our Limited Edition American Pale Ale. Working with our friends at Goddard’s Brewery here on the Island we have created a strong ale, charging VBG’s green handpicked Sovereign Hops in alongside dried Cascade and Admiral Hops in the style of the new American craft beers. Some say it had something to do with the accent of VBG’s Director. Our Botanic Pale Ale is a beer with a mission – each one you enjoy supports the Island’s only botanic garden.
To buy your Limited Edition Botanic Pale Ale follow this link to our shop.
In 2017 we’re excited to have launched our first Botanic Lager with a hint of Eucalyptus. We have chosen to work again in partnership with Goddard’s Brewery to develop this new addition to the Botanic series. Head Brewer at Goddards, Nigel Eldridge, explains, “I have rarely enjoyed tasting a lager in development as much as this one. The eucalyptus is innovative and refreshing. It complements the Boadicea hop’s flavour notes beautifully.” This hand crafted lager is brewed in small batches of 3,300 litres ensuring full attention to detail is given to balancing the delicate flavours or this exciting new beer.
To buy your Botanic Lager follow this link to our shop.