June 2022. Making the best of four weeks off, after the Mediterranean cruise for Danny and Mexico for Timothy, we organised a train trip in England. On the menu: Bletchley Park, the night train to Penzance, the Dartmouth Steam Railway and the Isle of Wight. On the last day, we roamed around London to sample the new Elizabeth Line.
Osborne House is a main attraction on the Isle of Wight. It is a former royal residence in East Cowes. The house was built between 1845 and 1851 for Queen Victoria and Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Prince Consort as a summer home and rural retreat. Albert designed the house himself, in the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo.
The builder was Thomas Cubitt, the London architect and builder whose company built the main facade of Buckingham Palace for the royal couple in 1847. An earlier smaller house on the site was demolished to make way for a new and far larger house, though the original entrance portico survives as the main gateway to the walled garden.
Queen Victoria died at Osborne House on 22 January 1901. Following her death, King Edward VII, who had never liked Osborne, presented the house to the state on the day of his coronation, with the royal pavilion being retained as a private museum to his mother.
From 1903 to 1921, part of the estate around the stables was used as a junior officer training college for the Royal Navy, known as the Royal Naval College, Osborne. Another section of the house was used as a convalescent home for officers.
In 1933, many of the temporary buildings at Osborne were demolished. In 1954, Queen Elizabeth II gave permission for the first floor rooms (the private apartments) in the royal pavilion to be opened to the public.
In 1986, English Heritage assumed management of Osborne House. In 1989, the second floor of the house was also opened to the public.
‘Victoria & Abdul’
Osborne House features heavily in the 2017 biopic ‘Victoria & Abdul‘, starring Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Michael Gambon, Eddie Izzard, Tim Pigott-Smith (in his final film role), and Adeel Akhtar.
It’s how I came to learn about Osborne House. Or was it via a Lucy Worsley documentary?
The site is big. There’s the main mansion, but also the Swiss Cottage, the Albert Barracks and Fort Victoria, the Walled Garden, Victoria Beach.
It’s a popular site, and the catering options where busy. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, you can’t have ha proper afternoon tea anymore. It’s all cafeteria style self service, which is a major let-fown. So we went outside, to the nearby Albert Cottage. But afternoon tea had to be booked 24 hours in advance.
Allow a few hours to visit Osborne House.
Either way, I enjoyed visiting Osborne House and is certainly worth a visit. It was on my wishlist and I could tick this box off. The tour ends with the impressively kitsch Durbar Room.
- ENGLAND 2022 | Bletchley Park.
- REVIEW | GWR Night Riviera sleeper train from London to Penzance.
- DEVON | Cruising River Dart from Totnes to Dartmouth.
- DEVON | Dartmouth Steam Railway from Dartmouth / Kingswear to Paignton.
- DEVON | Paignton – Totnes – Dartmouth.
- REVIEW | The Channel View Boutique Hotel in Paignton.
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