“ Address: York Avenue / East Cowes / Isle of Wight / PO32 6JY Tel: 0844 824 6733 „
When I decided to go to the Isle of Wight during the summer of 2012, I knew I would have to go to Osborne House. Famous as the holiday home of Queen Victoria and her family during the nineteenth century, there is a wealth of history here, and I was really looking forward to my visit. An additional bonus was that Osborne House is owned by English Heritage: I am an EH member so I got in for free.
*Location and Access*
Osborne House is located at the north of the Isle of Wight, near East Cowes; its beach looks out towards the Solent and the Hampshire coast. The house is currently closed, reopening at the weekend from the end of February and during the week from the summer.
For those arriving by car, free parking is available near the house and car ferries can be taken from the mainland. For those using public transport, Southern Vectis services 4 (from Ryde and East Cowes) and 5 (from Newport and East Cowes) stop at the house. Ryde and Yarmouth can be reached via hovercraft (Ryde only) or ferry.
*A Brief Summary*
Queen Victoria fell in love with the Isle of Wight when she visited it as a child. She bought Osborne House and employed master builder Thomas Cubitt to demolish the old house and construct new wings and a new pavilion. Victoria lived here for several months of the year with Prince Albert and their seven children.
The house itself is grand and opulent, with a classically designed Grand Corridor, portraits of European royal connections and a celebration of Victoria's role as Empress of India in the form of the beautifully decorated Durbar Room, recalling Indian style and symbolism. However, family photographs and the private nurseries show that the grand house was also a happy home. The extensive gardens comprise Italianate formal gardens, a Swiss Cottage, a museum and a miniature fort and barracks, as well as Queen Victoria's private beach.
It was an easy matter to make my way to the entrance once I got off the bus, even if it was rather annoying having to walk through the car park. The admission centre is purpose-built and was bright and clean. I had a quick lunch in the pleasant café, and looked around at the information panels, all full of pictures and information about the house.
The house itself is a short walk from the admissions centre. I thought it looked stunning and very grand, with its imposing structure and tall turrets. I followed the well-signposted route around the house: there was a lot to see and it took me a good hour and a half.
The house was extremely grand and magnificent, full of art, ceramics and furniture. However, what stood out for me were the human touches: the photographs of the royal family, the little chairs and toys in the nursery, the lift installed for Victoria when she became too frail to climb the stairs (operated by hand by some unlucky servants). I also enjoyed looking at Victoria's family tree, displayed on the walls of her private apartments and showing how she tried to develop relations with Europe by marrying off her children to various royal figures. The bed in which Victoria died in 1901 is also on display.
After I'd left the house, I headed down the path to Swiss Cottage. As the name suggests, this was a little cottage built in the Swiss style and intended as a tool for the education of the princes and princesses. It was quite sweet to see their little wheelbarrows all together. Prince Albert was passionate about the education of his children, and encouraged them to develop interests in science, culture and nature. The collections in the small museum, comprising artefacts from all over the world, testify to this. Sometimes the children 'kept house' in the cottage, which had facilities of its own: it seemed very cosy and removed from the formality of the big house.
Near the cottage was the miniature army barracks and fort in which the children used to play. I thought it looked like great fun!
2012 saw the opening of Queen Victoria's private beach to the public. The beach is a twenty minute or so walk from the house, and is a small, contained area which I'm sure would have been very pleasant to spend time in. Queen Victoria's bathing house, a strange contraption designed to preserve her modesty when bathing, is on display here. I had a nice time buying an ice cream and looking out over the water while keeping one eye on the Punch and Judy show in the background, trying not to make this noticeable because I'm an adult and I'm supposed to be too old for this (even though I'm definitely not!).
I'm not really a 'garden' person but even I can see that the gardens here are pretty impressive. I thought there was a good mix of formal gardens and wilder, more natural space and there was plenty of space to walk around outside. Indeed, unless you have a mobility problem and choose to take the shuttle bus, you will need to do quite a lot of walking because of the distances between the house, Swiss Cottage and beach.
Just before I left I popped into the gift shop, which was located in the admissions centre on the way out.
I spent almost a whole day at Osborne House and had a great time. A visit here is certainly expensive, but there is a lot to do and see both indoors and outdoors. In my opinion Osborne House is a must-see place if you are visiting the Isle of Wight, particularly if you are interested in history.
There are toilets at the admission centre, the main house and the Swiss Cottage. There is also a gift shop at the admission centre. Dogs are not permitted except for assistance dogs.
Food is available at four places:
Terrace Restaurant - this is a high-end restaurant serving gourmet food via waiter service
Admissions Centre Café - this sells light snacks and drinks
Beach Café - this small café sells drinks and light refreshments including ice cream
Swiss Cottage Kiosk - this sells snacks and cold drinks
There is also a picnic area.
Disabled toilets are available at the admission centre and the main house, and it is possible to hire a wheelchair. Wheelchair access is normally possible to the first floor of the house via a lift. Assistance dogs are welcomed and there is a shuttle bus running between the house, Swiss Cottage and beach for those who find walking difficult.
English Heritage Members: Free
Child (5-15 years) £7.80
Family (2 adults and up to 3 children) £33.80
For more information about Osborne House, see the website:
I visited Osborne House as part of my holiday in April.
I was really excited to be visiting and let me say I was not disappointed, we had such fine weather that day.
Osborne House sits on roughly about 2000 acres of land, which also has it's own private beach, You can't access some of the land as some of it is privately owned now.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were lucky to buy Osborne house and it's estate from a Lady Isabella Blachford in 1845.
Most of the original house was demolished and replaced with the one we see now with its wings and clock/flagstone tower.
When I first walked into the house my breath was taken away with all the beauty of the pictures and architect, you really get the feel of how much pride Queen Victoria and Prince Albert put into making it a family home away from their hectic life back in London.
When first walking in your greeted with seeing pictures, letters and even a night dress that Queen Victoria wore.
You then move on to the rest of the rooms, as you walk through the corridors to get to the next room you get the full scale of the gifts that Victoria and Albert gave to each other.
Each room is unique in different ways and shows the personality of the couple and their taste in furniture and decoration.
My favourite rooms would be the drawing room and the billiard room that are connected but in a L shaped way so that the men of that day could be hidden from the Queen but still be in her presence.
To make the rooms feel as if they are separate from each other they have beautiful marble pillars to give that separate look.
The furnishing in the drawing room is this bright gold colour, unfortunately not the original, with big windows mostly all the way round the room it gives it a bright and airy look.
I loved the house but I loved the gardens more, I felt so at peace walking round the grounds it really makes you feel as if your in the middle of nowhere and as if nothing can trouble you.
It's like it's own little world.
When you stand on the garden terrace you have a nice view looking out to the sea, you can't access all of the terrace as it's not open to the public, to admire the middle terrace you have to look down to it from the top terrace.
To get to the Swiss cottage you have a lovely walk down this road, if you don't fancy the walk then you have a shuttle bus that takes you there and back which is included in you ticket price (so no extra cost).
What me and my partner did was we walked down to Swiss cottage and got the shuttle bus back up to the house.
Swiss cottage is this cute little 2 storey timber cottage that the royal children used for their educational learning.
Just near by to the cottage is the museum that houses all the natural history collection that the royal children collected throughout their learning.
I wasn't to keen looking round the museum as looking at stuffed animals gives me the chills (I always think they are looking at me), If your not keen on stuffed animals either then stick to the front of the museum don't go right to the back.
The house and gardens are accessible for wheelchair users, I did notice that some of the grounds were a bit uneven so there might be some trouble on pushing a wheelchair.
The only parts that aren't accessible for wheelchair users is Swiss cottage as you have to walk up a flight of stairs to look round.
Prices to look round the house and grounds which also includes looking round Swiss cottage, the museum and the shuttle bus are:
Family Ticket:- £27.30
I thought this was a very reasonable price for what you was going to see.
Opening times for Osborne house are from 10am to 5pm or 6pm depending on the season you are visiting.
If you was planning to visit the whole day I would suggest paying a visit to the terraced café, a bit on the expensive side but they did some very tasty cream teas which was all made fresh that day.
If you want a proper lunch they did sell proper food but nothing that interested me though, but just outside Osborne house on the main road there was a little pub that looked like it sold hot food.
I didn't have a car when I went to the isle of Wight so I used their public buses.
You can either get a number 4 or a number 5 bus right outside the main entrance depending where on the Island your staying.
A wonderful house and grounds that I can't wait to visit again.
Anybody planning to go on holiday to this Isle of Wight should make sure to fit this in their schedule, if you live there but have never visited then I would suggest when you have that spare time to go and visit.
I would not recommend for younger children though as I think they might get bored easily.
Osborne House is situated on the north east of the Isle of Wight and was home to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. This beautiful palace is such a must see if you live on the Island or here on holiday!
Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert purchased this property with an estate of 342 arces. They had the palace designed and built by arcitect Thomas Cubitt in 1845 and believe it was finished in 1851. The previous house there was then later demolished.
Thomas Cubitt also designed and built Buckingham palace and Brighton pavillion.
This house is so beautiful with amazing surroundings and has it's own beach. The beautiful interior is wonderfully decorated with marble sculptures, super art and portraits.
There is so much history that they allow you to see such as her diarys, letters, hand moulds of her childrens hands and most of the rooms. The tools and general facilities they used in those days and they show you how and what they were used for.
The magnificent grounds that also contain a summerhouse, a museum, swiss cottage and a miniature fort and barracks are somewhat breath taking, so peaceful and tranquil.
*History of Queen Victoria*
Queen Victoria was born at Kensington palace 24th May 1819 and became Queen at the age of eighteen. As a child she was very much protected by her mother and was very isolated from the world. She had strict Kensington rules which was to prevent the princess from ever meeting people whom they deemed undesirable!
She only spoke of german until the age of three, then learnt a whole range of languages (hopefully english! as she was our Queen!) She had to sleep in her mothers bedroom with her until she ascended the throne. Can't really believe that someone could be a regnant of the united Kingdom with a lack of independants and lack of communications to her people.
She later then married Prince Albert her first cousin at aged twenty-one in 1940 at the Chapel Royal of St. James Palace.
Queen Victoria and Albert had their first born Victoria 21st November 1940. They then had eight more.
Prince Albert died in 1861 of typoid fever, Victoria found this extremley hard and wore black for the rest of her life. She out lived three of her nine children and came within several months of out living her fourth. She also out lived 11 of her 42 grandchildren. She then died aged 81 on the 22nd January 1901.
It's a great day out. I would recommend to take a picnic as the range of food they sell there is minimal. They have some sort of cafe that sells mostly refreshments and snacks. They have lots of areas to sit and have a picnic and they have some picnic benches too.
The house itself probably takes 3-4 hours and the outside takes around 2 hours. Make sure you go on a good day as its so worth walking around the grounds to see the museum, swiss cottage and of course taking the pleasure to walk around the wonderfully done landscapes.
There is a lot of walking not just the grounds but the house itself!
They also have a 9 hole golf course which was established in 1904 and was formed in 1972. I have played this course a few times and is one of the most beautiful courses I have played on.
Osborne now belongs to the English heritage and you can have your wedding there and stay at the former Navel colleges cricket pavillion as this was converted into holiday cottages in 2004. If you stay there you even get to use Osbornes private beach that no member of the public get to see.
They have held picnic type concerts there too headlined westlife, Ronan Keating, Girls Aloud, Anastacia and Simply Red.
I went to see girls aloud at Osborne and it was fab! We took a picnic and some booze and sat there on our blankets have a right girly time.
If you are a member of English Heritage then you get in for free and upto six children. The membership costs £44 a year very worth while.
Concession £9.30 they also do special family prices.