Osborne House
Overview
 
Osborne House is a former royal residence in East Cowes
East Cowes
East Cowes is a town and civil parish to the north of the Isle of Wight, on the east bank of the River Medina next to its neighbour on the west bank, Cowes....

, Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 2–4 miles off the south coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent...

, UK
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. The house was built between 1845 and 1851 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as a summer home and rural retreat.
Prince Albert designed the house himself in the style of an Italian Renaissance
Italian Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance began the opening phase of the Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned the period from the end of the 13th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe...

 palazzo. The builder was Thomas Cubitt
Thomas Cubitt
Thomas Cubitt , born Buxton, Norfolk, was the leading master builder in London in the second quarter of the 19th century, and also carried out several projects in other parts of England.-Background:...

, the London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 architect and builder whose company built the main façade of Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, in London, is the principal residence and office of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality...

 for the royal couple in 1847. An earlier smaller house on the site was demolished to make way for a new and far larger house.

Queen Victoria died at Osborne House in January 1901.
Encyclopedia
Osborne House is a former royal residence in East Cowes
East Cowes
East Cowes is a town and civil parish to the north of the Isle of Wight, on the east bank of the River Medina next to its neighbour on the west bank, Cowes....

, Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 2–4 miles off the south coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent...

, UK
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. The house was built between 1845 and 1851 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as a summer home and rural retreat.
Prince Albert designed the house himself in the style of an Italian Renaissance
Italian Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance began the opening phase of the Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned the period from the end of the 13th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe...

 palazzo. The builder was Thomas Cubitt
Thomas Cubitt
Thomas Cubitt , born Buxton, Norfolk, was the leading master builder in London in the second quarter of the 19th century, and also carried out several projects in other parts of England.-Background:...

, the London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 architect and builder whose company built the main façade of Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, in London, is the principal residence and office of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality...

 for the royal couple in 1847. An earlier smaller house on the site was demolished to make way for a new and far larger house.

Queen Victoria died at Osborne House in January 1901. Following her death, the house became surplus to royal requirements and was given to the state with a few rooms retained as a private royal museum dedicated to Queen Victoria. From 1903 until 1921 it was used as a junior officer training college for the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 known as the Royal Naval College, Osborne. Today it is fully open to the public.

History

Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert bought Osborne House on the Isle of Wight in October 1845. They were searching for a home away from the stresses of court life. Queen Victoria had spent two holidays on the Isle of Wight as a young girl. The setting of the existing three storey Georgian house appealed to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert; in particular, the views of the Solent
Solent
The Solent is a strait separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England.The Solent is a major shipping route for passengers, freight and military vessels. It is an important recreational area for water sports, particularly yachting, hosting the Cowes Week sailing event annually...

 reminded Albert of the Bay of Naples
Gulf of Naples
The Gulf of Naples is a c. 15 km wide gulf located in the south western coast of Italy, . It opens to the west into the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered on the north by the cities of Naples and Pozzuoli, on the east by Mount Vesuvius, and on the south by the Sorrentine Peninsula and the main...

 in Italy. It soon became obvious that it was too small for their needs. Pulling down the house and building a new residence was deemed to be the appropriate course of action.

The new Osborne House was built in the style of the Italian Renaissance complete with two belvedere
Belvedere (structure)
Belvedere is an architectural term adopted from Italian , which refers to any architectural structure sited to take advantage of such a view. A belvedere may be built in the upper part of a building so as to command a fine view...

 towers between 1845 and 1851. Prince Albert designed the house himself in conjunction with builder Thomas Cubitt
Thomas Cubitt
Thomas Cubitt , born Buxton, Norfolk, was the leading master builder in London in the second quarter of the 19th century, and also carried out several projects in other parts of England.-Background:...

, the London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 architect and builder whose company also built the main façade of Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, in London, is the principal residence and office of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality...

. The sale of the Royal Pavilion at Brighton
Royal Pavilion
The Royal Pavilion is a former royal residence located in Brighton, England. It was built in three campaigns, beginning in 1787, as a seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales, from 1811 Prince Regent. It is often referred to as the Brighton Pavilion...

 paid for much of the new house's furnishings.

The house consisted of the original square wing known as 'The Pavilion', which contained the principal and royal apartments. The apartments contain reminders of Victoria's dynastic links with the other European royal families. The Billiard Room houses a massive porcelain vase, which was a gift of the Russian Tsar. The grandeur of the Billiard Room, Queen's Dining Room and the Drawing Room on the ground floor forms a marked contrast with the much more homely and unassuming decor of the royal apartments on the first floor. These rooms contain the Prince's Dressing Room, the Queen's Sitting Room, The Queen's Bedroom and the children's nurseries, were intended for private, domestic use, and were therefore as comfortable as possible. Both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were determined to bring up their children in as natural and loving environment as their situation allowed so that as a consequence the royal children visited their parents' bedrooms when other children of a similar status lived in a far more detached manner.

The 'main wing', containing the household accommodation and council and audience chambers, was added later. The final addition to the house was a wing built between 1890 and 1891. It contains on the ground floor the famous Durbar Room which is named after an anglicised version of the Hindi word darbar
Darbar
Darbar may refer to:* A term for a court in Urdu from the Persian - Durbar * A surname used in the Indian Subcontinent, it originated during Mughal rule...

. This word means court
Court
A court is a form of tribunal, often a governmental institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accordance with the rule of law...

. The Durbar Room was built for state functions and decorated by Bhai Ram Singh
Bhai Ram Singh
Bhai Ram Singh MVO was one of pre-partition Punjab's foremost architects, dominating the scene for nearly 2 decades. Amongst his works is the Durbar Hall, Osborne House; Lahore Museum and Governor's House in Simla.-Mayo School of Arts:...

 in an elaborate and intricate style, with a carpet from Agra
Agra
Agra a.k.a. Akbarabad is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, west of state capital, Lucknow and south from national capital New Delhi. With a population of 1,686,976 , it is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh and the 19th most...

. It now contains the gifts Queen Victoria received on her Golden and Diamond Jubilees. These include engraved silver and copper vases, Indian armour and even a model of an Indian palace. The first floor of the new wing was for the sole use of Princess Beatrice
Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom
The Princess Beatrice was a member of the British Royal Family. She was the fifth daughter and youngest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Juan Carlos, King of Spain, is her great-grandson...

 and her family. Beatrice was the Queen's youngest daughter, who remained permanently at her side.

The India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n associations of Osborne House also include its housing a collection of paintings of Indian persons and scenes, painted at Queen Victoria's request by Rudolf Swoboda
Rudolf Swoboda
Rudolf Swoboda the younger was a 19th-century Austrian painter, born in Vienna. He studied under Leopold Carl Müller, and voyaged with him to Egypt in 1880. He was a well-known Orientalist....

. There are both depictions of Indians resident or visiting Britain in the 19th Century and scenes painted in India itself when the painter went there for the purpose.

The royal family stayed at Osborne for lengthy periods each year: in the spring for Victoria's birthday in May; in July and August when they celebrated Albert's birthday; and just before Christmas. In a break from the past, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert allowed photographers and painters to capture their family in the grounds and in the house, partly for their own enjoyment and partly as a form of propaganda for the nation to show what a happy and devoted family they were. Many thousands of prints of the royal family were sold to the public which led Victoria to remark, "no Sovereign was ever more loved than I am (I am bold enough to say)." Writing to her daughter Victoria in 1858 about the gloominess of Windsor Castle, Queen Victoria stated, "I long for our cheerful and unpalacelike rooms at Osborne."

The domestic idyll at Osborne was not to continue. In December 1861, Prince Albert died at Windsor Castle. During her widowhood, Osborne House continued as one of Queen Victoria's favourite homes.

In 1876, as a tribute to the Queen of Victoria, the Government House
Government House, Melbourne
Government House, Melbourne is the office and official residence of the Governor of Victoria. It is set next to the Royal Botanic Gardens and surrounded by Kings Domain in Melbourne. It was the official residence of the Governor-General of Australia from 1901 to 1930...

 of the colony (now State) of Victoria, Australia, was constructed as a copy of Osborne House.

The Grounds

The laying out of the estate, gardens and woodlands provided a way for the Prince Consort to prove his knowledge of forestry and landscaping, an area in which previously at the more official royal residences he had been thwarted by the Commissioners of Woods and Forest. Below the gardens was a private beach where the Queen kept her own private bathing machine
Bathing machine
The bathing machine was a device, popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, to allow people to change out of their usual clothes, possibly change into swimwear and then wade in the ocean at beaches. Bathing machines were roofed and walled wooden carts rolled into the sea...



The grounds include a 'Swiss Cottage'. The cottage was dismantled and brought piece by piece from Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 to Osborne where it was reassembled. There, the royal children were encouraged to garden. Each child was given a rectangular plot in which to grow fruit, vegetables and flowers. They would then sell their produce to their father. Prince Albert used this as a way to teach the basics of economics. The children also learned to cook in the Swiss Cottage, which was equipped with a fully functioning kitchen. Both parents saw this kind of education as a way of keeping their children's feet firmly on the ground in spite of their royal status.

The 20th century

Queen Victoria died at Osborne on 22 January 1901 with two generations of her family gathered around her. Although Victoria had adored it, Osborne held few charms for her children. Victoria's will left strict instructions that Osborne was to stay within the family, but nobody wanted it so the new King Edward VII
Edward VII of the United Kingdom
Edward VII was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910...

 presented it to the nation. With the exception of Princess Beatrice
Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom
The Princess Beatrice was a member of the British Royal Family. She was the fifth daughter and youngest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Juan Carlos, King of Spain, is her great-grandson...

 and Princess Louise
Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll
The Princess Louise was a member of the British Royal Family, the sixth child and fourth daughter of Queen Victoria and her husband, Albert, Prince Consort.Louise's early life was spent moving between the various royal residences in the...

, who both retained houses on the estate, the rest of the royal family saw Osborne as something of an inaccessible white elephant
White elephant
A white elephant is an idiom for a valuable but burdensome possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost is out of proportion to its usefulness or worth...

. The royal apartments on the upper floors of the pavilion wing, including the late Queen's bedroom, were turned into a private museum accessible only to the royal family.

Naval College

In 1903, part of the estate became a junior officer training college for the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 known as the Royal Naval College, Osborne. Initial training began at the age of 13, and further studies were continued at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth
Britannia Royal Naval College
Britannia Royal Naval College is the initial officer training establishment of the Royal Navy, located on a hill overlooking Dartmouth, Devon, England. While Royal Naval officer training has taken place in the town since 1863, the buildings which are seen today were only finished in 1905, and...

. The College closed in 1921, with the last students leaving on 9 April 1921.

Former students included Queen Victoria's great-grandsons, the future Edward VIII
Edward VIII of the United Kingdom
Edward VIII was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India, from 20 January to 11 December 1936.Before his accession to the throne, Edward was Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay...

 and George VI
George VI of the United Kingdom
George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death...

, and their younger brother George, Duke of Kent
Prince George, Duke of Kent
Prince George, Duke of Kent was a member of the British Royal Family, the fourth son of George V and Mary of Teck, and younger brother of Edward VIII and George VI...

. Another well-known alumnus of the college was Jack Llewelyn Davies, one of the five Llewelyn Davies boys
Llewelyn Davies boys
The Davies boys were the sons of Arthur and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies . They served as the inspiration for the characters of Peter Pan and the other boys of J. M...

 who inspired J. M. Barrie
J. M. Barrie
Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM was a Scottish author and dramatist, best remembered today as the creator of Peter Pan. The child of a family of small-town weavers, he was educated in Scotland. He moved to London, where he developed a career as a novelist and playwright...

's Peter Pan
Peter Pan
Peter Pan is a character created by Scottish novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie . A mischievous boy who can fly and magically refuses to grow up, Peter Pan spends his never-ending childhood adventuring on the small island of Neverland as the leader of his gang the Lost Boys, interacting with...

. Davies—whose brothers all went to Eton
Eton College
Eton College, often referred to simply as Eton, is a British independent school for boys aged 13 to 18. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as "The King's College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor"....

—described his five years at Osborne as horrendous. The case of George Archer-Shee
George Archer-Shee
George Archer-Shee became a British cause célèbre in 1910 when the issue of whether he stole a five shilling postal order ended up being decided in the High Court....

 from 1908, who was expelled from Osborne after being falsely accused of stealing a 5-shilling
Shilling
The shilling is a unit of currency used in some current and former British Commonwealth countries. The word shilling comes from scilling, an accounting term that dates back to Anglo-Saxon times where it was deemed to be the value of a cow in Kent or a sheep elsewhere. The word is thought to derive...

 postal order
Postal Order
In the United Kingdom , a Postal Order is used for sending money through the mail. In the United States, this is known as a Postal money order...

, inspired the play The Winslow Boy
The Winslow Boy
thumb|1st edition cover The Winslow Boy is an English play from 1946 by Terence Rattigan based on an actual incident in the Edwardian era, which took place at the Royal Naval College, Osborne.-Performance History:...

.

Officers' convalescent home

During World War I, the secondary wings of Osborne House were used as an officers' convalescent home—Robert Graves
Robert Graves
Robert von Ranke Graves 24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985 was an English poet, translator and novelist. During his long life he produced more than 140 works...

 and A.A. Milne were two famous patients. Known as King Edward VII Retirement Home for Officers, this later included convalescents from military and civil service
Civil service
The term civil service has two distinct meanings:* A branch of governmental service in which individuals are employed on the basis of professional merit as proven by competitive examinations....

 backgrounds, until the late 1990s for retired officers of the British Armed Services. The Naval college semi-developed into the nearby T.S. Osborne Sea Cadet unit.

Osborne today

Today, Osborne House is under the care of English Heritage
English Heritage
English Heritage . is an executive non-departmental public body of the British Government sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport...

and is open to the public. The former Naval College's cricket pavilion was converted into a holiday cottage in 2004 and can be booked by members of the public. Guests staying at the cottage are given the right to use the Osborne Estate private beach.

Since 2005, the house has occasionally hosted picnic-style concerts on the lawn outside the main house.

English Heritage has a management contract to run Osborne House as a historic tourist attraction. The residence's ownership since 1971 has been held in a private property trust connected to Historic Royal Palaces - the overarching trust covering among others Hampton Court, the Tower of London etc.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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