COWES, a seaport and watering-place in the Isle of Wight, England, 12 m. S.S.E. of Southampton. West Cowes is separated from East Cowes by the picturesque estuary of the river Medina, the two towns (each of which is an urban district) lying on opposite sides of its mouth at the apex of the northern coast of the island. Pop. (1901) West Cowes, 8652; East Cowes, 3196. The port between them is the chief on the island, and is the headquarters of the Royal Yacht Squadron (founded in 1812); it is in regular steamship communication with Southampton and Portsmouth. West Cowes is served by the Isle of Wight Central railway. A steam ferry and a floating bridge across the Medina, here 600 yds. broad, unite the towns. Behind the harbour the houses rise picturesquely on gentle wooded slopes, and numerous villas adorn the vicinity. The towns owe their origin to two forts or castles, built on each side of the mouth of the Medina by Henry VIII. in 1540, for the defence of the coast; the eastern one has disappeared, but the west castle remains and is used as the club-house of the Yacht Squadron. The marine parade of West Cowes, and the public promenade called the Green, are close to the castle. The industrial population is chiefly employed in the shipbuilding yards, in the manufacture of ships' fittings, and in engineering works. The harbour is under an elective body of commissioners. On the opposite side of the Medina a broad carriageway leads to East Cowes Castle, a handsome edifice built by John Nash, the favourite architect of George IV., in 1798, and immediately beyond it are the grounds surrounding Osborne House (see Osborne), built in 1845 after the property had been purchased by Queen Victoria, the church of St Mildred, Whippingham, lying a mile to the south.