About us and Robins’ Retreat

In May 2012, Robins’ Retreat, formally known as Little Granville, situated in the grounds of Ford Farm House, was opened by Robin and Shirley Thornton, along with their bed and breakfast launched the year prior.

Previously, and for over thirty years, they were at their popular Old Park Hotel in St. Lawrence, which was owned by three generations of the Thornton family for more than fifty years.

They then moved on to run a successful guest house in the heart of Whitwell, and now, at Ford Farm House, although, sadly, Robin is no longer with us, Shirley continues to offer one-bedroom accommodation, with continental breakfast, as well as the self-catering cottage, ideal for two.

In 2022, in memory of the late Robin Thornton, we decided to change the name of Little Granville to Robins’ Retreat to better reflect the background of the cottage, which was dreamt up and converted by Robin himself.

We have lived on the Isle of Wight for quite a while and as a result we have got to know a lot of people who also reside here. Local communities are very active across the Island, and we often help out at our local village hall with other members of our community. Robin is somewhat of a history buff and has held talks for local residents about the local history of the area, and we’re happy to share this knowledge with guests too! We’ve also lent a hand at church fetes and other local events that often raise money for local causes and organisations. I have also spent around 14 years as a volunteer for the Island’s hospice, Earl Mountbatten, a place which provides essential care to people who are in need and have often spent many years contributing to local communities. Voluntary work has been a great way to give back to those in need within the community and to the people who work so hard to care for others. ~ Shirley Thornton.

Brief History of Ford Farm

The earliest reference to the farm, that we have found, is in 1560 when a Richard Newman was stated to be “of Northford.” Adjacent to our house is the location of the old mill, and the mill-house, with parts of that dwelling dating to 1618. The Worsley family, great Island landowners, subsequently were in possession, with Edward Worsley mentioned in 1712.

Thereafter, it was in the hands of various owners, until the whole farm was split up and sold on ­ in 2006. The main part of Ford Farm House was built in the late 1800’s, with an extension added in the 1980’s.

Ford Farm Hosted the first-ever Isle of Wight Festival in 1968!

Crowd at Ford Farm in 1968

One of the Fields at Ford Farm called Hayles Field, translated into “Hell Field” by the press, was the site of the first Isle of Wight Festival which took place way back in 1968. The Artists that performed in that year included Jefferson Airplane, The Move, T Rex, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Plastic Penny and The Mirage. Ten thousand people came to the Isle of Wight to watch the acts play on a rough stage made up of two trailers. The following year, the organisers decided to try to attract bigger names and after much persuasion, Bob Dylan agreed to headline after viewing a film of the Island showing its wonderful natural beauty and literary history. He was particularly swayed by the thought of performing at the place where Alfred Lord Tennyson once resided. Other acts appearing that year included Joe Cocker, Free, Richie Havens and The Moody Blues.

1968 Festival Ticket

You can see more about the Isle of Wight Festival, and this year’s festival line-up on www.isleofwightfestival.com.

Source: www.isleofwighttouristguide.com and www.rkmusic.co.uk

The marker on the map below shows the field where the first Isle of Wight Festival took place.