Osea Island is a relatively unkown yet fascinating part of the British Isles. A visit will offer the experience of life on an island that has seen over 5000 years of human existence, from historic Viking battles to top-secret Naval operations, and from the middle ages Elizabethan Royal occupants to today's context as an exclusive retreat for musicians, activity seekers and more. Amongst other things it was thought to be the one of the world's first rehabilitation shelters, and it bore the burden of misguided German rockets headed for London during WWII.
The earliest signs of human life on Osea are the remains of Neolithic villages which preceded Viking burial grounds left after the famous Battle of Maldon. The Romans took a big interest in the island and were responsible for building the tidal causeway which remains today, and stands as one of the three modes of transport onto Osea, alongside an eight minute Water Taxi ride to and from the mainland and a 20-minute helicopter ride from Battersea, south west London.
Following the departure of the Romans Osea Island passed through the hands of the rich and powerful for many centuries. Its many distinguished proprietors included William the Conqueror, who after the Norman Conquest presented the island (which was then called Uvesia) as a gift to his nephew. Thereafter Uvesia was owned by countless crusaders and nobleman.
In 1903 the island became possibly the world's first rehabilitation centre. Set up by Frederick Charrington, a director of the Mile End brewers, the centre was principally born out of guilt after he witnessed a man beat his wife after a night of heavy drinking in one of Charrington's own pubs - The Rising Sun in Bethnal Green. Feeling obilgated to help counteract the problems caused by alcoholism, Charrington bought the island with a vision to help those suffering from addiction. He built roads and houses and even imported plants and wildlife from Australia in an attempt to create an exotic appearance. Charrington's 'temperance society' went on to primarily support many unemployed residents from London's East End.
Notable developments since the days of Charrington include the Royal Navy's acquisition of the island in 1917 for top-secret naval operations. The Navy renamed it S.S. Osea, 'The ship that never sails', and it remained so secret that many people on the mainland still never knew of its existence years after the end of WWI. During the Second World War Osea was hit by a V2 rocket falling short of its London target and the evidence of the impact can still be seen today. There are also two bunkers at the furthest East and West points of the island which were designed to fend off a German invasion.
For several years after the war Osea Island was owned by Cambridge University who used it as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) due to its rare ecology, plants, birds and marine life. In the 1950s it fell into private ownership and has remained as such ever since.
Today it is a special destination not only for musicians looking for a creative and peaceful working environment, but also for visitors from the city and elsewhere who engage in the pleasures of numerous recreational activities all year round. Sailing, fishing, beach-lounging, swimming, creative workshops, yoga, tennis, trekking, bird-watching, gym and spa, wildlife photography, history tours, cycling, wine tasting and so much more are all provided. You can find out more details on all of the activities offered on Osea Island by visiting the 'What to Do' page.