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History Historical Buildings

Osborne House

REF NR: 116

Queen Victoria spent holidays as a child on the Isle of Wight, so when she and her husband Prince Albert began looking for a home to provide respite from their royal duties the island was an obvious choice. Osborne House, then a three storied Georgian property, provided views of the Solent that brought the Bay of Naples in Italy to Albert’s mind and so he and Victoria bought the house in October 1845 from Lady Isabella Blachford. However, it was soon apparent that this modest sized property was far too small for the needs of the royal couple and the decision was made to pull down the existing house and build a new three-storey pavilion with flag tower and household wings.

Between 1845 and 1851 the new Osborne House was built. Modelled on buildings styled in the Italian Renaissance the house features two campanile towers. Thomas Cubitt, a London architect and builder whose other work included building the main facade of Buckingham Palace, assisted Prince Albert in the design of the house. The new Osborne House’s furnishings were paid in large part by the sale of the Royal Pavilion at Brighton. In all the palace gardens and the estate at Osborne House was over 800 hectares with numerous cottages and smaller buildings to house the estate workers and other members of the household.

Queen Victoria passed away whilst staying at Osborne House with two generations of her family on January 22, 1901. Victoria has always adored “the palace by the sea” and instructed that upon her death Osborne House was to stay within the family. However, her children felt no attachment to the property and eventually King Edward VII presented it as a gift to the country. On the upper floors of the Pavilion Wing were the royal apartments, including Victoria’s bedroom. These were turned into a private museum only accessible to the royals.

Today Osborne House is open to the public and is under the care of English Heritage. In 1903, part of the estate was used for a naval college. The college’s former cricket pavilion was converted in a cottage made publicly available for bookings. Guests staying at the cottage are permitted to use Osborne House’s private beach.


3. Although photography is not allowed with the premises, thus interior pictures are quite rare. The link below takes you to several period postcards that show the real splendour of the palace


Some rather interesting internal shots from Ward Lock and Sons - Guide to the Island (various additions circa 1922 / 23 )