Location: East Cowes, PO32 6JX, Isle of Wight
Visited: September 2017
Like most of the nation I am currently watching Victoria on a Sunday night and have fallen madly in love with Prince Albert so when we decided to visit Osborne House for my Dad’s birthday I was more than excited at the prospect! We travelled to the IOW on a quick 15 minute journey by hovercraft (Betsey was left at home much her disgust), then an enjoyable bus trip from Ryde over to Osborne House.
We decided to head first to the Swiss Cottage built by Prince Albert for the little princes and princesses to provide them with an insight into “normal life”, their individual vegetable plots are still there and the cottage although more like a luxurious holiday home has a very personal air about it and you can still picture the family having their meals there, apparently Queen Victoria still used it after the children left home and it was a favourite with her grandchildren. Don’t miss the little museum full of various unusual collectables. This was also the location for a tea and cake stop much to Dad’s delight!
It was a glorious day so we walked down to Queen Victoria’s private beach, the views across the Solent were stunning and you do indeed feel like you are away on holiday in a remote location. The birthday boy also decided we were going to try the famous Minghella’s ice cream which was very tasty and huge! You can also see the Queen’s bathing machine and colourful alcoved seating area or “exedra” where she spent time sketching and writing letters.
After the cake and ice-cream we thought we should walk up to the house rather than use the courtesy bus and this provided us with the most beautiful first view of this magnificent house. The gardens are immaculate with red and purple flowers and statues galore, again all perfect but with a personal touch and framed by the backdrop of the house in one direction and the sea in the other.
On arriving at the house entrance we were given a warm welcome and told that we had timed our visit just right as there had been many visitors earlier on in the day. Well what can I say about this wonderful house? Beautiful, stunning and romantic with lots of entwined V&As and family touches throughout. We were told by one of the guides, aptly named Vicky, that many of the items in the house were selected by Victoria and Albert from the Great Exhibition in 1851 as this was around the time the work on Osborne was completed and they needed to fill the house with beautiful things. You can almost feel their presence in the nurseries, their side by side desks (hers slightly shorter) and more profoundly in the bedroom where the Queen died with Albert’s portraits surrounding her. There is currently a costume display from the upcoming film Victoria and Abdul in the exquisite Durbar room which actually made me gasp as I stepped into its glory. You really could spend hours wandering around this house and not take everything in, it is one of the loveliest in the land.
BG Tips~Don’t forgot to look up when in the house, there is so much to see but the ceilings are works of art in themselves!
~If the house is busy do what we did and visit the gardens, cottage and beach first then your views/photos in the house will not be obstructed by too many people.
~ If travelling by hovercraft when you by your ticket ask for a combo ticket for hovercraft/bus and house entry at a discounted price.