Cowes, Isle of Wight - Framed Picture - 11" x 14"
Cowes Isle of Wight - Framed Picture - 11" x 14"
Cowes is an English seaport town on the Isle of Wight.
Cowes has been seen as a home for international yacht racing since the founding of the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1815. It gives its name to the world's oldest regular regatta, Cowes Week, which occurs annually in the first week of August.
Much of the town's architecture is still heavily influenced by the style of ornate building that Prince Albert popularised.
The name Westcowe was attested in 1413 as the name of one of two sandbanks, on each side of the River Medina estuary, so-called after a supposed likeness to cows. The name was subsequently transferred to fortifications built during the reign of Henry VIII on the east and west banks of the river to dispel a French invasion, referred to as cowforts or cowes. They subsequently gave their names to the towns of Cowes and East Cowes, replacing the earlier name of Shamblord.
In earlier centuries the two settlements were much smaller and known as East and West Shamblord or Shamelhorde, the East being the more significant settlement.
The Isle of Wight was a target of attempted French invasions, and there were notable incursions. Henrician Castles were built in both settlements in the sixteenth century. The west fort in Cowes still survives to this day, albeit without the original Tudor towers, as Cowes Castle. The fort built in East Cowes is believed to have been similar but was abandoned c1546 and since destroyed.
It is believed that the building of an 80-ton, 60-man vessel called Rat O'Wight on the banks of the river Medina in 1589 for the use of Queen Elizabeth I sowed the seed for Cowes to grow into a world-renowned centre of boat-building.
It was not until the reign of keen sailor George IV that the stage was set for the heyday of Cowes as 'The Yachting Capital of the World.' In 1826 the Royal Yacht Squadron organised a three-day regatta for the first time and the next year the king signified his approval of the event by presenting a cup to mark the occasion.
The opium clippers Nina (1852), Eamont (1853) and Wild Dayrell (1854) were built in Cowes.