Day out: Osborne House, Isle of Wight
Feel a sense of regal history in the sumptuous rooms and stunning parkland of Osborne House,
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s much-loved summer retreat
Perhaps the best views of Osborne House are from the Solent itself. Standing proudly at the top of a sloping valley amid 323 hectares of parkland, terraces and gardens, and with its own beach, this is a holiday home fit for royalty.
For Queen Victoria, Osborne House was more than a summer home. Designed by architect Thomas Cubitt under Prince Albert’s direction, this palatial Italianate villa was a place where family life and royal entertainment duties could co-exist. After the death of Albert in 1861, it also served as a welcome retreat. Queen Victoria herself died at Osborne House in 1901.
Osborne House: past and present
After his mother’s death, Edward VII ordered his parents’ private rooms to be sealed, then gave the estate to the nation. These chambers weren’t reopened to the public until 1954, when Queen Elizabeth II permitted access.
In 1952, the Queen reportedly considered creating an apartment at Osborne for herself and Prince Philip, but plans never came to fruition.
Today, Osborne House is managed by English Heritage. Visitors can enjoy the state and family rooms, explore the gardens, stroll on the beach, and delight in the Swiss Cottage. For the family, there are two playgrounds and a garden adventure trail, as well a choice of eateries.
Food has always played a big part of life at Osborne, from the royal children’s home-grown, home-cooked meals to world-famous Victoria sponges and Osborne puddings. Not to mention plenty of fine dining for foreign dignitaries in the Durbar Wing.
Osborne House and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
Celebrations at Osborne for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee are already underway. In March, a Nootka cypress was planted as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy initiative, while local primary children have taken part in a competition to design a new commemorative flowerbed.
Join in the jubilee joy at Victoria’s Family Day Out, 31 May to 2 June 2022. There will be all the fun of an old-fashioned fair, with a dose of Punch and Judy, too. Free for English Heritage Members; advance booking is recommended.
Fi is an outdoor instructor and writer. She teaches navigation and expedition skills, and specialises in route finding and location story telling.