“ The Model Village / Godshill / Isle of Wight / PO38 3HH / Tel: 01983 840270 „
"Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." ~ Roald Dahl
If there's one thing the Isle of Wight has - apart from red squirrels - it's a surfeit of pretty, chocolate box villages. Godshill is one such village. Think Midsummer Murders, but without the need for house to house enquiries.
What gives Godshill a slight upper hand over all it's equally pretty competitors, though, is undoubtedly it's little Model Village attraction.
It's a replica of the real Godshill village and nearby Shanklin Chine, but on a scale of 1/10. To put this into context, if I were enlarged x10, think Godzilla, but with bad hair.
It's housed in the walled gardens of the Old Vicarage (every chocolate box village should have one), where it's been a family run venture for nearly 40 years.
"The matter with human beans is that they is absolutely refusing to believe in anything unless they is actually seeing it right in front of their own schnozzles." The BFG - Roald Dahl
Well see it I did, nay I almost stood in it. Entering the Godshill model village, my usually average size shoes suddenly seemed much more befitting a Big Friendly Giant.
.. was unusually painless. My admission price, which I've included near the end, I thought was reasonable for an attraction like this. We forked out for a little guide pamphlet - brochure is too strong a word - which at £1 I thought was again good value.
Something which makes my heart sink is a visit to somewhere which has 'tourist attraction' written all over it, and finding it's heaving with other tourists. Yes, people just like me! There's nothing more annoying than having to stand behind four or five other people and wondering what we're all supposed to be looking at, down at the front, is there?
I found myself pleasantly surprised here. Despite it being a lovely warm day in early June, and despite there being at least one school group in evidence (who were being herded around with as much skill, their chaperones might as well have been herding cats), it didn't give me have that "Can't we go somewhere else?" feeling.
There's a recommended route to take around the Model Village, which is a good idea. I find it can be distracting sometimes if I've stopped to admire something, and I'm aware of people nearby trying to walk n different directions. The paths, though comfortably wide enough for a wheelchair or pushchair, would seem narrow if people were to try to pass by.
~ Meeting the glamourly flavoured people of Godshill ~
The first 'exhibit' if that's the right word, sets the tone nicely. Although it's not in keeping with the promised model village or model Chine theme, it's a miniature airfield, called 'Apse Air'. If only you could see the aircraft hangar in one of my photos and you'll see why some younger visitors were sniggering. Okay, so maybe the aircraft look suspiciously like Airfix model airplanes which have been re painted, but they still made me smile.
This having a large lawn (sorry, runways) is probably one of the more expansive displays here. A smart move on the part of whoever designed the gardens, as I didn't feel immediately hemmed in by looking at one of their smaller displays.
~ The scrumdiddlyumptious ~
Rather than giving a blow by blow account of the whole model village - after all, where's the joy in knowing what to expect if you were to go? - here's a lowdown of why I think you should visit:
* The perfect, or immaculate, conception
The attention to detail that has gone into the individual settings is first rate. If you were to come here expecting only lots of twee houses and human beans, you'd be mistaken. Each village area is separated by trees and conifers, which could easily seem dull but isn't. I checked out their website once I returned home, and it claims the Model Village has over 3000 ornamental shrubs and conifers, which considering the gardens are nearly 2 acres big, is not surprising.
Now I'm not an enthusiastic gardener by any standard, but to my untrained eye they were perfectly matched to the settings. Around the outside and along the paths of the gardens are taller conifers, which has the effect of partially screening from you what lies ahead. I don't know if this was intentional or not, but not being able to scan the whole model village too quickly somehow made it seem more interesting than it might have otherwise.
Apparently the owners employ one full time gardener and one full time model maker, and it was evident from what I saw how busy the gardener is kept. Not only are the planting arrangements superb, but all the lawns and greenery were in immaculate condition.
* The village within the village
Yes, the model village even has a model of the model village. Confused? Just take a look at my photo of some human beans admiring a model of the church on the hill. So maybe the lawn there looks a little like plastercine, but in real life it was another example that made me smile. All the beans look remarkably individual, just don't linger too long over their faces, some look rather spooky.
Local folklore has it that the main church of the village was to be built in what is now the High Street. The builders left the stone in position overnight and the next morning it had all been moved to the top of the hill. They tried again the next evening, but the stone was again mysteriously moved to the summit of the hill. They took this to be a Heavenly sign that the church must be built at the top, and thus the village became called Godshill.
At several points around the gardens you can see the 'real' church in the distance with the model one in front of you. Another thumbs up here for the planning.
* Chuffin' crazy
What village is complete without large cats or dinosaurs? Again, not in keeping with the real Godshill, but a miniature train track here has two or three trains running around it. Probably something which locomotive enthusiast James May would dislike, but seeing one carrying a cargo of a caged tiger and dinosaur around - stopping at Godshill station naturally - just seemed, somehow, right.
~ Any uckyslush here? ~
Not that I could see, no. The owners have clearly done their best to make the visit as enjoyable as possible. A big plus for us was that you can bring your pet dog in with you (provided you're willing to clean up after it, which should be a given). Many attractions, as I'm only too aware, won't entertain having canine visitors.
What outing would be complete without food? There is a small café here with some outdoor seating, although having just eaten before we arrived we didn't get to sample anything. Cynics among you might suggest that that's only another standard money making venture designed to part visitors from their money. In fairness to the owners though, there's also a really nice picnic area here too, for those who've had the forethought to bring their own grub. Even better, the website states that there are blankets available to borrow for those wanting to use one in the picnic area - how's that for real customer service?
This attraction being what it is, the only niggle children might have when visiting here would be that there's nothing 'interactive' for them to do in the way they might expect at a museum or heritage site. There are however lots of small notice boards, low down near the ground which have been carefully hand written, and even I found them entertaining to read. There are also plenty of good photo opportunities to take advantage of for any budding David Bailey's. I would be surprised if any little beans got bored here, it really is so delightful.
There are toilets here of course, and the ladies one was kept in good condition when I was there. There's a further larger toilet for wheelchair bound visitors which also has baby changing facilities.
~ Still not convinced? What else is there nearby? ~
The real Godshill village is just so lovely, a walk along the High Street is a must. This won't take long though as the village really consists of little more than a High Street. For most of the length of the High Street there is only a pavement - a narrow one at that - on one side of the road too.
There are several gift shops to browse in if you want, but given that it was around lunchtime when we got here, we found somewhere nice to grab a bite to eat first. Part of the fun was walking up and down the main road deciding where to eat. Many of the houses along the High Street seem to have opened as tea rooms and they were all doing very good business when we were there.
We chanced upon a gem called the Hollies tea room. The offer on a small blackboard of a tea cake and cup of coffee or tea for £1.75 made our eyes light up and drew us in. They have plenty of seating outside, as do others, and with some lovely hanging baskets and planting arrangements here as well. Before we left we bought some ice creams too for while we walked. Their ice creams - I can vouch for their 'rum soaked raisin' one - are absolutely delicious. They are called Minghella ice creams and are made on the island. by the family of film director Anthony Minghella.
Just down the road is the Herb Cottage Garden. This is owned by the Isle of Wight Glass Studio next door. We didn't visit the Glass Studio, but we did wander around the pretty garden, which is free. Despite it's fairly small size, I thought it was interesting and worth a visit. The Herb Garden and Gallery, unlike most of the surrounding businesses isn't seasonal and will be open throughout the year, should you visit.
East of here the coastal towns of Shanklin and Sandown are only around 5 miles away, Ventnor is to the south with Newport to the north neither of which are that much further away.
We probably spent nearly three hours in Godshill, about an hour and a half of that being in the Model Village. It was a perfectly enjoyable way to spend an afternoon and one I would highly recommend. For anyone travelling by car it would be ideal to combine a visit here with time spent in Ventnor, as we did, or Shanklin without having to cover any real distance at all.
~ Getting there ~
I don't know what came first, the tourists to see the quaint village of Godshill or the Model Village, but they both seem to be doing very well this season. That, in itself is partly thanks to the canny local council who have built a car park on the outskirts of the village.
Much of the beautiful countryside on the island is interspersed with little villages which deserve closer inspection, but for visitors by car the problem is invariably where to park. There are undoubtedly lots of first rate pubs which all have some parking, but Godshill has plenty of parking, not only for cars but coaches too, and better still it's free. There were probably around 50 or 60 cars and 4 or 5 coaches all parked there when we arrived. Before the older among you start humming Big Yellow Taxi, relax. It doesn't look an eyesore or spoil the appeal of the village because largely it's set back out of sight.
"A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men." Roald Dahl
A model village may seem like nonsense, but it's definitely worth visiting.
The only question remains, if human beans really do come in dillions of different flavours, what would the good folk of Godshill taste like?
If pushed, I would say toasted teacake with the merest hint of chalky residue.
They are open 7 days a week from March to October, but the times vary, so you should check their website.
Senior citizen or student: £3.50
Family ticket for 2 adults and up to 3 children: £12
The Model Village
Isle of Wight
Telephone: 01983 840270
Also published on Ciao with some photos.
The Isle of Wight model village is situated in the pretty village of 'Godshill', approximately 3 miles inland on the south side of the island between the towns of Newport and Shanklin.
***** Godshill *****
Godshill in itself is well worth a visit, with traditional thatched cottages and several tearooms, with attractive gardens, ideal for enjoying a drink and piece of cake on a warm day. There are also gift shops, a free car park, with ample parking and of course, the model village.
***** The Model Village *****
The model village is a family run business. In the website, it is described as being:
'Godshill's secret garden'
and there is no denying that the model village has charm and appeal.
The model village consists of:
2 churches, 4 pubs, an airfield, a working railway, 3 hot air balloons, an airship, 2500 miniature conifers and shrubs and numerous islanders. It is set amongst one and a quarter acres of land.
The model village has an 'Isle of Wight' theme and many of the models show buildings and events, past and present, that are associated with the island. There is a footpath that runs through the village that enables visitors to study the models. Access for wheelchairs and pushchairs along this path is adequate, although it is narrow. This, however, adds to the authenticity of the 'miniature' theme.
The layout and design of the village has been carefully thought out to make the best use of the space available. The models are intricate and detailed. The people characters are each individual and different, almost coming alive with their own personalities and facial expressions. The characters are relevant to match the theme of their accompanying models, which include a game of football (complete with steaker), a row of old fashioned shops, show jumping (with rather plump horses and riders) and a church christening. The characters are fun and humerous.
Some of the models are accompanied by relevant music, which includes church organ music and ballroom music.
In the middle of the village is an added surprise, a working model railway, with trains that actually stop at stations, go through tunnels and travel over bridges. This seems to be the highlight for many children and adults.
The model village is spotlessly clean and the models are immaculate. The miniature shrubs and conifers are a nice touch and it is obvious that these are carefully looked after. There is even a nursery for the seedlings and tiny plants. I'm sure a botanist would enjoy looking around the model village for the greenery and plants alone!!
In addition, the model village has toilet and baby change facilities and a gift shop. Dogs are welcome, providing they are on a lead. There is even a self catering holiday apartment for hire, which overlooks the garden, with a 4 star rating and unlimited visits to the model village.
***** Opening Times *****
March - 10.00 to 3.00
April - Early July - 10.00 to 5.00
Late July / August - 10.00 to 6.00
September - November - 10.00 to 5.00
***** Prices *****
Adults - £3.25
Children (3 - 16) - £1.75
Family (up to 2 adults and 3 children) - £9.00
Senior Citizen / Students - £2.90
***** Contact Details *****
Telephone - (01983) 840270
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Website - www.iowight.com/model-village
***** Summary ******
The model village is well worth a visit and is an attraction on the Isle of Wight that will take up an hour or two of your time. It is good value for money and I highly recommend a visit.
My personal recommendation is to combine this trip with a look around the village of Godshill and a drink and a piece of cake in the tea gardens next to the entrance to the model village. This will make a good half day excursion.
For a whole day, combine the above with a trip to the nearby donkey sanctuary (admission free) or Amazon World, which is a great indoor attraction.
Nestling in the gardens of the Old Vicarage is this beautiful Model Village of Godshill and Shanklin Old Villages as they were in yesteryear. The exquisite details include 1/10 scale houses, many with real thatched roofs; miniature trees and gardens; a Model Railway; an airship; a wind turbine and local characters going about their business. The 1 1/4-acre garden is landscaped with over 2,000 conifers, many treated with coarse bonsai to form a perfect setting for the models.