2 Alexandra Gardens: Miller’s Rock

2 Alexandra Gardens is now known as Miller’s Rock and does largely stand on ground which was originally occupied by the old Ventnor Mill building. It has also been know as the Silvermere, Rosetta and Cherretton House at various times.

Like the other houses in the street it had a variety of uses over the years. For a short time, soon after it was built, it was a boarding school. However for many years it has provided holiday accommodation as a boarding or guest house.  The house has now been converted into flats.

In the early 1900’s R H Phillips ran apartments in the house, having previously lived in number 7. R H Phillips was a prime mover in the Ventnor Enhancement Association, local superintendent of the Wesleyan and General Assurance Company, member of the Wesleyan Church and one-time Sunday School Superintendent. He established “The Golden Key” grocery store at the top end of High Street at the corner of West Street.

Golden Key advertisement from 1888

In the 1930’s number 2 was known as the “Silvermere”, and the son of the then owners, Mr and Mrs John Wickes bought the Melbourne on the seafront – where the Golden Sands cafe now is – and renamed that as the “Silvermere”, after which number 3 was known as “Rosetta”.

“Rosetta” in the 1947 Ventnor Guide

For a while in the 1930’s the Wickes’ also ran “Bermuda” next door at number 3, but didn’t own it. After the house became “Rosetta” it was “a well recommended house of good standing”, according to the 1947 Ventnor holiday guide.

Percy Turney who, with his wife, ran the guest house for many years, died in February 1963. He was prominent in running the scout troop in the town. He was Vice-Chairman of the Parent’s Committee and Chairman of the local association at the time of his death, and had served for 14 years on the committee. When the 3rd Ventnor Scout’s new hut at Camp Hill Trinity Road was opened in May 1963 it was named the Turney Hut in his memory, and 300 people turned up for its opening – too many to get inside. Percy Turney’s son, Robin Turney has written an account of what it was like growing up in Rosetta.

The house was leasehold on a 999 year lease from 1882 issued in 1886, until 1978 when the leaseholder and resident, Mrs P Sharp, bought the freehold from the executors of Sybil Knight, the widow of Reginald Knight who lived and had a dental practice at number 1 from 1886 until 1922. Sybil bought the freeholds to numbers 1 to 6 in 1922 and placed a number of restrictions on the houses and gardens in the form of covenants, some of which are still in place today. She gradually sold off the freeholds with her estate only owning 4 and 5 after her death in 1977.

A postcard of Cherretton House from around 1982 shows the house refurnished in 1970’s style with brick fireplaces and even a TV in the dining room. It proudly proclaims on the back “own key – no petty restrictions”. They charged £8.50 per person per night to stay in rooms which all had “hot and cold water, central heating and tea making facilities. Some rooms with TV and shower”.


Here are some of the key names and dates associated with the house, gleaned from the Deeds, Kelly’s Directories and other sources.

1886/8 Kelly’s Directory shows it as the Mary Turner Boarding School
1888/95 Miss Mary A Burgess lodgings, according to Kelly’s Directory
1901 The Census shows the house as a lodging house run by Hannah ?uarrington (writing is unclear) – could this be the same Mrs Quarrington who was in number 1 in 1904?
1902 R H Phillips Apartments according to Kelly’s.
1908 Vacant according to Kelly’s Directory
1921 Occupied by G A Sawyer CBE according to Kelly’s
1924/33 Kelly’s shows the house as the Silvermere run by Mr and Mrs Ellerbeck. Mr Ellerbeck was interested in the Ventnor Rowing Club, the Ventnor Advertising Association and the Congregational Church.
1933 Ventnor Guide shows the Silvermere being run by Mr and Mrs John Wickes, who were also running “Bermuda” at number 3.
1937 Kelly’s shows number 2 as a Boarding House run by Sydney Arnold.
1938 The 1938 Ventnor Guide shows number 2 as a boarding house, “Rosetta” run by Mr and Mrs S Arnold.
Sept 1947 “Rosetta” bought by Mr and Mrs Percy Turney (with young children Robin and Margaret) who ran it as a guest house for seven years
1951 In Kelly’s as a guest house run by Percy Turney
c1982 Holiday accommodation run by Mercedes and Steve Cherrett.