Osborne: Queen Victoria’s island retreat

In the June 2015 issue of BBC History Magazine, Professor Jane Ridley and features editor Charlotte Hodgman take a trip to Osborne on the Isle of Wight, a former holiday retreat of Queen Victoria

Osborne House

The central block of Osborne – known as the Pavilion – housed the royal family’s private apartments and was the first part of the house to be built. It was completed in 1846. Prince Albert was heavily involved in the landscaping of Osborne’s grounds and would direct gardeners from the top of the tower shown to the right of this picture


The drawing room at Osborne was restored in 2003 to reflect how it would have looked in the 1890s. Visiting foreign royalty were received in this room, and Victoria usually retired here after dinner to play cards, sing, or play the piano. The cut-glass chandeliers were wired for electricity in 1893.


The Durbar Wing was constructed in 1890–91 to house Victoria’s youngest daughter, Beatrice, and her husband. Designed by Lockwood Kipling (Rudyard Kipling’s father) and master carver Bhai Ram Singh, the Durbar Room shown here was decorated with intricate Indian-style plaster work, which reflected Victoria’s position as Empress of India, a title she assumed in 1877


Part of the dining room at Osborne. The room contains a number of family portraits, including the painting of the royal family, shown here, by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. As well as eating dinner here, Queen Victoria would sometimes take breakfast in this room if it was too cold for her to eat outside.


The nursery bedroom, sited immediately above Victoria and Albert’s private apartments, was used by the royal children until the age of about 6. The swing cot was made for Vicky, the couple’s first child, in 1840, while the table holds a number of baby limbs, sculpted in marble for the queen


The private beach at Osborne was a favourite destination for the royal family. Queen Victoria used the bathing machine here to bathe privately in the sea, while the children learnt to swim in a floating bath apparently devised by Alvert himself

Find out more about Osborne at www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/osborne


Images © English Heritage