It was probably about a year ago when my Godmother and I were watching The Young Victoria, starring Emily Blunt. It is probably one of my favourite films because I love period drama and British history. My Godmother told me that Queen Victoria used to spend a lot of time at her home on the Isle of Wight and we were very excited after deciding that we should visit it whilst I was still living down in Bournemouth. It is now the summer of my final year at Bournemouth University and yesterday we took the Red Funnel ferry across from Southampton to East Cowes on the Isle of Wight.
We explored Osbourne House, remembered as the holiday home of Queen Victoria and her family. It is full of the family’s history and I loved every part of it!
The Table Decker’s
We started at the main entrance to the house and browsed a lot of the artwork that Victoria or Albert had purchased for their home. We went down into the servants quarters and learned all about the Table Decker’s Room, where the servants made finishing touches to the food which was then carried by the footman to where the queen was dining and possibly entertaining guests.
Empress of India
Queen Victoria became Empress of India in 1877 and although she never actually visited the country, she commissioned artists to go there and paint portraits of the Indian people, including Mahārāja’s and Dignitaries. We got to see the Dunbar Room, the design for which was Indian-inspired. It was often used for musical concerts and theatricals. I really enjoyed exploring this marvelous room and looking at the detailed layout of the dining table. I read that smaller family dinner’s were held at Osbourne House and that the queen often enjoyed curries made by her Indian staff.
The Terrace Gardens
We went outside to see the gorgeous Terrace Gardens at the back of the house where you can also see the clock tower and fountain. The sun was shining when we got outside and the gardens were absolutely beautiful. I enjoyed imagining the people who had walked those gardens, the clothes they wore and the conversations they had.
The Nursery Bedroom
We found our way back into the house and looked at the upstairs rooms. We explored Queen Victoria’s Dressing Room, which had a bath and an old-fashioned shower, and we also saw her Minton porcelain dressing table set which was given to her as Christmas gift from Prince Albert 1853. We looked at her bedroom where she died on the 22nd January 1901.
The Nursery Bedroom was used by Queen Victoria’s grandchildren when they were at Osbourne House. There is a painting of an owl on the wall which was created by Prince Albert when he was 17 and a sketch from the queen directly below it (not seen in photo). Although none of the original decoration from this room survived, and the children’s cots are reproductions, is it laid out with reference to a photograph of the room taken in the 1870s.
The Private Beach and Swiss Cottage
Next we took a mini-bus down to the private beach. We saw Queen Victoria’s bathing machine which was used to give her privacy whilst bathing in the sea. She had it installed at Osbourne House in 1846 by suggestion of Prince Albert who thought that bathing in the sea was beneficial to health. We sat down here by the beach and had a delicious ice cream (mine was chocolate)! We also looked at a small alcove by the beach which had a beautiful blue tiled interior and a curved bench, which was used by the queen as shelter from the sun.
We walked from the beach to the Swiss Cottage. Prince Albert was very involved in the upbringing of his nine children, whereas the queen was often busy with her duties. Prince Albert gave the children the Swiss Cottage as a gift. It was a place for them to play and learn. It even included a kitchen where the girls could learn cooking skills. The children each had their own garden plots and in 1856 Bertie and Alfred helped to built the Victoria Fort where they acted out battles. The Albert Barracks were also added in 1860.
I have always been interested in Queen Victoria’s story, her reign, her marriage to Prince Albert, and her family. I am now even more excited to learn more about this amazing English history. I got some Osbourne rock and a bookmark as a souvenir from my time at Osbourne House. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my experience.
Click here to find out more about Osbourne House.