Osborne House 2018
Journey Arrive Ground F. 2nd Floor 1st Floor Ground F. Gardens Swiss C. Beach Museum Goodbye Read Me

A Visit to Osborne House
Tuesday 8th May 2018

I have always wanted to visit Osborne House in Cowes, since it is of historical, cultural and artistic importance. The sunny weather encouraged me to visit not only the house, but also the extensive gardens, including "The Beach", "The Swiss Cottage" and the nearby "Museum".

It was a nice sunny day for visiting Osborne House and its Gardens.

Osborne House was built between 1845 and 1851 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as a summer home. Prince Albert designed the house in the style of an Italian Renaissance palace. Queen Victoria died at Osborne House in January 1901. After her death, and contrary to her wishes, her son, Edward VII, gave the house to the state. It thus came under the aegis of the Ministry of Works, part of which later became English Heritage who look after Osborne House - and many other places - today. I learnt from the staff in the Museum that early on in her reign, the present Queen had considered Osborne House as her summer residence, but the costs were considered too high. It is however, as visitors will admit, a splendid and educative place to visit. (Please also see the footnote. Thankyou!)

Journey to Osborne House

From Alum Bay Road there were two bus journeys (routes 7 and 5), with a change at Newport. Essentially, I travelled on a weekday, without undue hassle. Yarmouth and Carisbrooke were on the route (7) and I managed to get a few pictures from the said bus.

It was a fine sunny day when I set off from Alum Bay Road.

Yarmouth, with its marina, is very much a leisure centre for those who like sailing.

Here's more of Yarmouth.

In Carisbrooke, near Newport, one can just make out, on the skyline, the outline of Carisbrooke Castle where King Charles I was imprisoned.

Arriving at Osborne House

The bus (route 5) passed the entrance to Osborne House. Opposite was the suitably named "Prince of Wales" pub, and close by there were also the arms of Cowes. Next to the unmistakably Victorian Gatehouse were some nice colourful flowers. A short walk leads to the place for the ticketing formalities and to the house itself.

The pub proudly displays the "Prince of Wales Feathers"
with the "Ich Dien" ("I serve") motto.

We now are actually in Cowes,
and from the crest - on a nearby building - of Cowes, one can see what Cowes is all about.

Near the Victorian Gatehouse ...

... are some ...

... colourful Rhododendrons. At least, I think they are Rhododendrons!

Here's a first view of Osborne House.

2nd Floor 1st Floor Gnd Floor Durbar Room Audience Room Council Room Entrance osborne layout

This is what we shall see inside the house.
You can click on the lower-case labels to access the rooms directly.
(This approximate diagram is for information only and does not claim to be to scale!)

Ground Floor
Entrance & Council and Dining Rooms

As might be expected, the entrance to Osborne House is on the ground floor. The Grand Corridor leads to the "Main Wing" with Audience and Council Rooms, and to the "Pavilion" with, amongst others, the Dining and Drawing Rooms.

Queen Victoria in her later years, looking very serious.

Entrance Room: Ceiling

Queen Victoria in her younger years.

Side Staircase

Grand Corridor

Views on to the terrace always seem to be close at hand.

This is somewhere near the Audience and Council Rooms, but I'm not sure what this is!

Side Corridor giving Access to Audience and Council Rooms

Council Room

Council Room: Queen Victoria often used to ask the participants (some of whom were presumably members of her British Government of the day) to her meetings to remain standing.
The usefulness and effectiveness of meetings in today's commercial and industrial worlds have often been questioned. Perhaps, asking participants to such meetings to remain standing might be a mechanism to ensure that agenda items are dealt with swiftly,
and indeed, that only relevant agenda items are discussed!

Council Room

View from the Council Room on to the Terrace

Audience Room

Grand Corridor

View from End of Grand Corridor on to Terrace

This seems to be somewhere in the Grand Corridor
after it turns the corner to reach the Dining Room in the "Pavilion".

Dining Room

Dining Room

Dining Room

Dining Room

Dining Room

Dining Room: The German artist, Winterhalter, was Queen Victoria's favourite artist. Here is his famous depiction of the Royal Family. The future Edward VII is just to Queen Victoria's right.
In accordance with the custom at the time, he is still dressed as a girl.
No, he's not a budding transvestite - it was the custom of the age!

You can see him on this web page at a more mature time of his life.

Drawing Room

Drawing Room

Drawing Room

Second Floor

The Main Staircase leads to both first and second floors in the "Pavilion". The second floor has the nursery bedroom and sitting room. These were sort of "state apartments in miniature" for the children, to get them used to the life of the grown-ups.

Main Staircase

Main Staircase

Main Staircase
Figure at bottom of staircase is unknown (to me).

Nursery Sitting Room

View of Terrace from second floor nursery rooms.

View of Terrace from second floor nursery rooms.

Nursery Sitting Room

Nursery Bedroom. Beds all in a row.

First Floor

Before descending from second to first floor in the Pavilion, we take a look at the top of the Main Staircase. On the first floor are the "private" royal apartments. These include bedrooms, dressing rooms and Queen Victoria's Sitting Room.

Top of the Main Staircase.

One of the decorative panels.

At the top of the staircase is a statue of Prince Albert in Roman armour, "executed" by Emil Wolff.
Prince Albert had a passion for things Italian.

Main Staircase: "Neptune Resigning to Britannia the Empire of the Sea".

Main Staircase: "Neptune Resigning to Britannia the Empire of the Sea" (in more detail).

Another decorative panel.

A decorative gate leading to destinations unknown.

On the second floor we encounter Albert's Dressing Room.

Albert's Dressing Room

View from Queen Victoria's Sitting Room towards the Gardens and the Solent.

Queen Victoria's Sitting Room.

Queen Victoria's Sitting Room.

Queen Victoria's Dressing Room.

Queen Victoria's Bedroom.
Here Queen Victoria died in 1901. Her body was lifted together by her son, the future Edward VII, and by her grandson, the German Kaiser, into her coffin. Her coffin would be transported to London and then taken to the mausoleum at Frogmore in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Queen Victoria's death marked the end of a remarkable era in British history.

Ground Floor
Drawing and Billiard Rooms

The Main Staircase - with the "Neptune-Britannia painting - in the "Pavilion" leads again to the ground floor. We pass again the "unknown" white statue at the foot. On the Ground Floor we reach the Dining Room and the Drawing Room (both visited earlier), and the Billiard and Horn Rooms. After that we allow ourselves to be impressed by the Durbar Room.

At the top of the stairs is the "Neptune-Britannia" painting.

At the foot of the stairs is the white marble statue whose name eludes me.

The names of these three gentlemen also elude me. Sorry!

The billiard room was where the men used to meet after the dinner. Sometimes, affairs of state were discussed at such meetings, but one assumes that Queen Victoria made sure that she knew what was going on! Here we are looking back in to the drawing room which we visited earlier.

Here is another view of part of the drawing room.

Here is the ceiling of the billiard room, with ...

... the "V A" monogram at each corner.

Next door is the "Horn Room", so called because most of the furniture was made from deer horn which the royal couple (V+A) collected when hunting at Balmoral. I'm not sure how popular deer horn would be nowadays in the light of the trade ban on ivory. The "Horn Room" was a sitting room for visitors waiting to see the queen.

This is the Durbar Corridor which leads, as you might expect, to the Durbar Room.

Durbar Room: Queen Victoria loved India,
and this is the India-styled dining room for special banquets.

Durbar Room

Durbar Room

Durbar Room

Durbar Room

Durbar Room

Durbar Room

Durbar Room

Durbar Room

Durbar Room: The famous peacock over the fireplace.

Durbar Room

Durbar Room

Durbar Room

Durbar Room: Decorative Panel

Durbar Room: Decorative Panel

Gardens of Osborne House

It was fine weather, so it was nice to get out onto the terrace and also to stop for some Earl Grey tea. I had a chance to admire the "parterres" before continuing to the "Swiss Cottage" and to Queen Victoria's "Beach".

Crows are regarded as quite intelligent birds.

They might be here to see what is on offer from the visitors!

Here he/she is again. Not a speck of brightness in the plumage!

Here you can see a part of the formal gardens.

The curved balcony on the right
is often associated with Regency and early Victorian architecture.

More ...

... and yet more of the formal terrace gardens.

Looking towards the Solent.

The tea room has this Victorian-style stained glass window complete with Victorian-style sentiment! The window is nice, however, officially, customers in this tea room had to queue up and were guided to their respective tables and then served. Far too formal, when a National Trust style self-service would have sufficed beautifully!

More of the spacious gardens.

More of the Rhododendrons.

A side-ways view of the house.

A side-ways view of the house.

A side-ways view of the house.

Swiss Cottage

The Swiss Cottage was built to teach the royal children about housekeeping, cooking, carpentry and - just outside, using the rectangular plots - about gardening. It was built in 1853 - 4. The German proverbs, around the exterior of the building, suggest that German, not English, was at the time, the first language of the royal family. Indeed, Queen Victoria and her son, the future Edward VII, both spoke English with a strong German accent. The following are three of the (perhaps ten) German proverbs, given here with my humble (obviously not word for word!) translations, appearing engraved on the exterior of the Swiss Cottage in the once customary German Gothic font.

Früh zu Bett, früh wieder auf,
Stärkt zum munteren Lebenslauf.

Early to bed and early to rise
Makes you healthy, happy and wise.

An Gottes Segen ist Alles gelegen.
It's on God's blessing that everything depends.

Wer Gott vertraut, hat wohl gebaut.
Who trusts in God has chosen well.

Swiss Cottage with gardening plots.

Swiss Cottage: Kitchen for the Royal Children

Swiss Cottage: Dining Room for the Royal Children

Swiss Cottage: Prince of Wales (future Edward VII) and his bride, Princess Alexandra of Denmark.
The Prince of Wales looks much more mature than in the family picture in the dining room!

Swiss Cottage: Living Room for the Royal Children

Swiss Cottage: Living Room for the Royal Children

Swiss Cottage: Living Room for the Royal Children

Swiss Cottage: Toy Grocers Shop

Swiss Cottage: Exterior

Swiss Cottage: Exterior

Swiss Cottage: Exterior

Queen Victoria's Beach

Queen Victoria and her family liked a dip in the sea. At Osborne House they had their private beach on the Solent. The beach is a woodland walk away from the Swiss Cottage. Queen Victoria's massive bathing machine and the decorative alcove are interesting.

This barn owl is one of the carved birds and animals
that "guard" the way through the woods to the beach.

At the beach Queen Victoria could look across the Solent to the mainland.

Here is Queen Victoria's Bathing Machine with private loo.

The Bathing Machine was winched
down into - and up out of - the water along "rails" by a cable.

Sailing boats in the Solent.

Sailing boats in the Solent.

It's much quieter, looking east from the Beach.

Way to the Beach and the Solent.

The Alcove was built slowly between 1865 and 1869, and its purpose was to provide some protection from inclement weather. The tradition of royal alcoves derives from Kensington Palace and dates from Queen Anne's time.

Domed interior has "blue Minton tiles" - would you believe!

The sailing boats have dispersed a tad. The mainland coast is visible.

The way through the woods ...

... leads back to the Swiss Cottage and the "Museum" ...

... past wild garlic.

Museum in the Gardens

Like their parents, the royal children were also avid collectors, and so the "Museum" was built in 1862, also like a Swiss Cottage, and close to the Swiss Cottage, to house the ever-expanding collections. The Museum housed curiosities from foreign travels, as well as natural history specimens from the grounds and beach at Osborne.

This is the second Gurney Stove I have ever seen in my life.
The first one was in Hollingbourne church in Kent.

Model of a 110-pounder gun (circa 1860).
The original gun was designed and built by the famous Tyneside manufacturer William Armstrong.

"Gun Metal figure of the Bodhisattva. Siamese, 18th Century.
Presented to Queen Victoria by the King of Siam."

Sculpture from the Alhambra, Granada.

"Ivory Chessman. Chinese 19th Century.
Formerly belonging to Queen Victoria."

Alabaster Model of the Taj Mahal.

"Carved Ivory Ball containing ten concentric balls.
The whole cut from a single block of ivory.
Chinese 19th Century.
Formerly the property of Queen Victoria."

Another view of the Swiss Cottage and the Kitchen Gardens.

Last view of the Swiss Cottage.

Goodbye to Osborne House

Late afternoon was approaching. It had been an interesting day, and I had learnt quite a number of new things. Indeed, I had immortalized many of my impressions in pixels, for my future delight, and hopefully for the delight of the visitors to my web page.

It was a shortish walk from the Swiss Cottage ...

... to the main house.

I passed an interesting old tree which must have witnessed the numerous comings and goings of Queen Victoria and her family.

Here are ...

... some more ...

... sideways views of ...

Osborne House.

At Osborne House artistic detail exudes from every corner.

View from the terrace towards the Solent and the mainland.

A time-honoured cedar in the gardens.

Here is the entrance for the disabled and for the bearers of rucksacks and other baggage. As you can see, the entrance is guarded on one side by a wild boar and on the other by a large dog. These two animals were probably on guard since Victorian times.


In the entrance for the disabled and for the bearers of rucksacks and other baggage, I discovered this print. The light effects I could not avoid, they but serve to indicate the glass within the frame.
The print is dedicated to "His Royal Highness, the Prince Albert.", and was
"Published as the Act directs by George Brannon & Son, Wootton IW, June 15 1848."
The new-age frame and mount are my "creation" courtesy of HTML5.

Having collected my rucksack, I pass the Rhododendrons ...

... in all their colourful glory.

Near the entrance there is a Victorian pillar box ... it might just be a reproduction.

And here is ...

... the Gatehouse.

Outside the gates, the "Prince of Wales" pub waits at the ready for tourists and visitors.

Here are the "Prince of Wales Feathers" in more colourful detail.

Return from Osborne House

My journey back to base was on buses routes 5 and 7, changing at Newport. The journey was of course quite scenic. However, a highlight was the traffic jam coming into Newport. Railways replaced by traffic jams?

Traffic jam coming into Newport.
Getting rid of the Island's railways meant a greater chance of islanders enjoying traffic jams.

Finally, I get back to "Frenchman's Cove" ...

...my base for a day or two.

Closing Notes


On this page, I have matched up, on a best efforts basis, the rooms and their originally intended purpose, but cannot vouch for a complete lack of errors!

To Put Things Straight

This page should in NO way be regarded as a political statement on society, past, present or future, nor on the consequent consideration of waiving admission charges to the public. The emphasis on this page is fully on the artistic splendour and the historical significance.


On this web page, the picture of the scrolls in the headers is from the Microsoft® clip-art libraries, supplied with some versions of MS Office®.