The Isle of Wight was the last place in Britain to convert to Christianity. The change occurred in ad 686, almost a century after the rest of the country. It
was subjugated by Cadwalla, King of the West Saxons.
The Isle of Wight fell easily to the Romans over 600 years earlier under Vespasian. He went on to become Emperor and began the construction of the Flavian amphitheatre - which is the real name of the Colosseum.
The name Wight derives from wiht meaning 'raised up', supposedly given to the island by the Bronze Age Beaker people who arrived in 1,900 BC, but is probably Celtic. The Romans co-opted the sense of 'lift' in their name for the island, Vectis (from Latin vehere, to lift or carry). Vectis is Latin for ‘crow-bar’.
Islanders (or 'caulkheads') refer to the mainland as 'England' and its inhabitants as 'overners'.
The early history of the Isle of Wight is little more than a chronicle of successive invasions.
The Royal Mail once issued stamps featuring the ‘Isle of White’.
The Isle of Wight is (by certain definitions) the smallest county in Britain and the last place in England not to have fallen prey to the Grey Squirrel. It is also the last place in the UK to have been invaded by a foreign power – by the French in 1545. Their plan was to provoke Henry VIII to commit his fleet to the Solent. It worked - the great English flagship, the Mary Rose, was sunk soon afterwards.
The Isle was a popular holiday destination for the Victorian intelligentsia. Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Tennyson, Dickens, Darwin, Swinburne, J. M. W. Turner and Lewis Carroll all spent time on the island. Karl Marx spent a year convalescing there from 1881-82. Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) carried out his early radio experiments there and, while investigating sites for a radio mast for Queen Victoria at Osborne House, was jumped by two policemen who mistook him for a Fenian assassin.
The first known game of conkers was played in 1848 on the Isle of Wight.
The Royal Mail once mistakenly issued stamps featuring 'The Isle of White'. They are now worth over £100.
It is said that Henry Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, was crowned King of Wight by Henry VI as a child so that they could play as equals.