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Queen Victoria's Residence
Osborne House (Isle of Wight)
Member Name: lyndsey1989
Osborne House (Isle of Wight)
Advantages: Lots to see and do.
Disadvantages: Individual ticket prices are quite high
Where is Osborne House?
Osborne House is located in East Cowes on the Isle of Wight. If you arrive by ferry from Southampton it is literally a five minute drive down the road which we thought was great as we didn't particularly want to sit about travelling any more after being on the ferry for over an hour and a half.
Why is Osborne House special?
Osborne House was the family home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert where they lived with their nine children. When Queen Victoria first visited the house she claimed "it is impossible to imagine a prettier spot".
Arriving at Osborne House
We arrived at around 10:30am. The car park was large with plenty of space and I imagine during the summer it can get extremely busy. However, on a cold October morning it wasn't overly crowded and we parked in a spot close to the entrance. Before you go in there are some toilets which were very clean and well looked after.
You then enter the grounds through the shop, you are greeted by friendly staff who either sort out your admission fee's or check your membership card. There is also the opportunity to become a member of English Heritage if you wish.
We headed straight for the house as this was what I wanted to see the most. We were greeted by a very friendly gentleman who checked our tickets and also answered a few questions we had about the house.
The first room you enter is a sort of information gallery about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. I have been known to urge people on at this point as I like to get in and see the actual house but I personally found this section absolutely fascinating. I don't know a great deal about the couple but felt as though the information boards really helped visitors to understand what they were like. There were numerous extracts from letters that the Queen had written which I found very interesting.
You then leave that room and enter the house itself. Initially you walk down long corridors with lots of artwork and then you enter drawing rooms and living areas. There are a lot of staff around and these are all very polite and friendly, leaving you alone if you wish to look around quietly or answering any questions you have. All of them seem to have a vast knowledge of the house and they all sound very passionate when talking about it.
One room has been set up just how a kitchen would have been in the Queen's era. I found this room really interesting and we all enjoyed having a look around. There was lots to see in the kitchen and it had mixing bowels and cutlery and even a member of staff on hand to tell visitors all about the food that was prepared and the type of people who would have worked in here.
Going upstairs there are numerous bedrooms and also a gallery containing lots of information about the family and also the Battenberg family. There was lots to read in here and I did read most of it but in the end got a bit bored with people shoving in front of me!
The bedrooms were beautiful and I felt quite taken aback when entering the Queen's bedroom. I just found it amazing that she had been there. I have visited numerous similar properties before so I don't know why I was so amazed by this room, maybe because she is an extremely well known monarch.
Going back downstairs there is a large gallery in the hallway of artwork. There was a very kind member of staff here who had a vast knowledge of all of the paintings and obviously enjoyed sharing his knowledge with us.
The Grounds and Other Attractions
The house is set in 342 acres - surprisingly we didn't quite manage to see it all! The grounds are beautiful and there is a lovely garden situated at the rear of the house. The rest of the grounds are very pretty and we enjoyed having a half an hour wander around them. There was also a walled garden near the house which I enjoyed having a quick look around.
The Swiss Cottage is around a ten minute walk from the house itself. This is very large and sadly part of it was shut when we visited because there was filming taking place however we did get to spend some time in the rest. There is a museum which has a number of artefacts in and next to this there is a charming vegetable garden. There is a small snack bar on the ground floor of the Swiss Cottage which sells things like cake and drinks. It is quite expensive in here (expect to spend £10 for 4 drinks) so if you are on a budget taking a bottle of water would be sensible. Upstairs, the Swiss Cottage showed us where the children spent their time. It was interesting to see where they were educated and learn more about them.
You can take a 15 or 20 minute walk from the house down towards a small cottage, this is an easy and enjoyable walk on flat grass, however there is a free mini bus service every so often for those who would find this difficult or even those who just don't fancy walking back up!
When we returned from this we saw there were horse and carriage rides being offered which would be a lovely way to see the grounds.
Did we enjoy our day?
Absolutely. We spent a few hours here but we could have spent all day as there really is plenty to do. The house is beautiful as are the gardens and the grounds are vast allowing visitors to enjoy walks and picnics.
All of the staff we came into contact with were extremely kind and helpful, giving any information we needed and asking how our day was etc.
3 places to eat and drink - waiter served gourmet food overlooking the gardens, the self serve café area near the entrance and the food stand at the Swiss Cottage
Picnic Area - There are plenty of picnic benches around and there is also a special area conveniently situated next to the playpark
Shop - Standard English Heritage gift shop selling souvenirs of Osborne House, local produce, wines, books and snacks
Toilets - three toilet blocks located around the house, one area for baby change and two with access for disabled
Admission prices, opening times and address
These are the current prices but from 27th July 2012 the prices are increasing so do check the website before visiting. Most prices are increasing by just over 10%.
Adult - £11.50
Child (5-15) - £6.90
Concessions - £10.40
Family (2+3) - £29.90
Opening times - April through to September the house and grounds are open from 10am to 6pm (house closes at 5pm), there are a lot of varied opening times over the winter period and these seem to change quite a lot throughout the season so please look at the website before travelling.
Isle of Wight
Telephone - 01983 200022
A fabulous English Heritage property with plenty to see and do. Good for a miserable day aswell as a good couple of hours can be sent looking round the house. If we go to the Isle of Wight again we will definitely visit here, especially is we are still English Heritage members as entry is free. I do think the admission fee's are quite high but you could spend the whole day if you took a stroll around the grounds and had a leisurely picnic, I do think the family ticket represents good value for money though.
Summary: Nice place to visit