Undercliff Road Isle of Wight antique print. Undercliff Road. The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest and second-most populous island in England. It is in the English Channel, about 4 miles (6 km) off the coast of Hampshire, separated by the Solent. The island has resorts that have been holiday destinations since Victorian times, and is known for its mild climate, coastal scenery, and verdant landscape of fields, downland and chines. The island has been home to the poets Swinburne and Tennyson and to Queen Victoria, who built her much-loved summer residence and final home Osborne House at East Cowes. It has a maritime and industrial tradition including boat building, sail making, the manufacture of flying boats, the hovercraft, and Britain’s space rockets. The island hosts annual music festivals including the Isle of Wight Festival, which, in 1970, was the largest rock music event ever held. It has well-conserved wildlife and some of the richest cliffs and quarries for dinosaurfossils in Europe. The Isle was owned by a Norman family until 1293 and was earlier a kingdom in its own right. The island has played an important part in the defence of the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth, and been near the front-line of conflicts through the ages, including the Spanish Armada and the Battle of Britain. Rural for most of its history, its Victorian fashionability and the growing affordability of holidays led to significant urban development during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The island was part of Hampshire until 1890 when it became its own administrative county, but continued to share the Lord Lieutenant until 1974 when it became a ceremonial county.