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 Osborne House IoW

Whilst most will remember the performances of Dame Judie Dench and Billy Connolly in the 1998 film "Mrs Brown" it was the romantic gardens and architectural splendour of Osborne House that was the star of the film.

As a child Queen Victoria had enjoyed visiting the Isle of Wight, so when after her marriage to Prince Albert in 1840, the young Royal couple felt a need for a family residence in the country, both Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort were determined to buy the property after they paid a visit there. The Queen wrote: 'It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot.'

In 1845, the royal couple purchased Osborne House with an estate of 342 acres, plus the adjacent Barton Manor to house equerries and grooms, and to serve as the home farm. Before the deeds had even changed hands, architect Thomas Cubitt had been approached - firstly to build a new wing and then to demolish the old house and add further wings. Osborne House soon evolved from its modest beginnings and now comprises several wings, apartments and buildings; including the exquisite pair of Italianate towers dominating the landscape of terrace fountains and rolling parklands and looks out over passing ships in the nearby Solent.

The interiors of Osborne also abound with opulence in both architectural design and decoration, Queen Victoria's role as Empress of India is celebrated in the decoration of the Durbar Room, constructed in 1890-91. The completion of the room coincided with the introduction of electricity and so the Indian-influenced lamp stands were designed to take full advantage of this emerging technology.

In keeping with the house, the terrace gardens were designed in formal Italianate style by Cubitt and Prince Albert himself. The walled garden has been restored as part of the Contemporary Heritage Gardens scheme run by English Heritage. The grounds are a delight with the Victorian spirit of the garden recaptured for modern visitors.

Osborne was a refuge for Queen Victoria and the royal family, who took great delight in seeking sanctuary here from London life during the summer months. In her last years, the Queen spent a great deal of time on the Isle of Wight at Osborne and it was in the Pavilion that she died in the company of her family.




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