"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 23 July 2018

Isle of Wight - Day 4, Monday, 9th July - Part 1: Inside Osborne House

On Monday it was slightly cooler (28 degrees) although still far too hot for me - I prefer the low twenties! We decided on a visit to Osborne House near Cowes - the house interior is superb and the gardens and grounds extensive.

The Osborne Estate on the Isle of Wight was bought by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1845. A private family home was built by Cubitt so that they could relax away from court life in London and Windsor.

The house has an Italianate design which came to be called "The Osborne Style" and was widely copied. The couple furnished the rooms to their own personal taste and Albert created designs for the planting of the grounds.

Queen Victoria regularly visited Osborne for over 50 years and she used it to entertain ministers, foreign royalty and her family. She continued to visit after Albert's death in 1861 and further changes were made including the building of the beautiful Dunbar room in the late 19th century which was filled with Indian artefacts and designs to represent her title as "Empress of India". She died at Osborne House in 1901 and in 1904 the house was partially opened to the public. At one time part of the house was used as a convalescent home and there was a Royal Naval College in the grounds but both of these have now closed.

Influential members of the Queen's household included : her Highland Servant John Brown, Henry Ponsonby her Private Secretary from 1870 to 1895 and Abdul Karim her Indian Secretary during the 1880's. English Heritage took over the management of the estate and house in 1986.

We decided to visit the interior of the house first before it became too hot. There are a lot of photos - some better than others (light was low in places and I had to bump up the ISO quite a lot) - on the two previous occasions we have visited photos were not allowed. I didn't get photos of all the rooms - taking pictures was also difficult because of the large number of people and school parties looking round. The three features that have always remained in my mind are the stunning ceilings, the beautiful marble in the Grand Corridor and the stunning Dunbar Room but the whole house is just full of historical interest.

I know this is a rubbish photo but I have included it as I love the words - so apt in view of the hot weather we were experiencing!

The Grand Corridor which links the household and main wings and Queen Victoria's private rooms. It was designed in the style of a classical sculpture gallery.

Just one photo of the gorgeous marble.

The Council Room where the Queen's Privy Council and ministers met several times a year. In 1857 Queen Victoria gave Albert the title of "Prince Consort" in this room. The room was also used for entertaining, for example, dancing, charades and drama.

The Audience Room where the Queen received her ministers. The chandelier contains convolvulus (Prince Albert's favourite flower) and arum lilies.

One of the staircases

A return to the Grand Corridor where Queen Victoria exercised when the weather was inclement.

The Dining Room, Drawing and Billiard Rooms are the main reception rooms in The Pavilion part of the house. All are furnished and decorated lavishly and the stunning ceilings contain designs by Gruner and have been restored by English Heritage.

The Dining Room

Dinner would be served at 8.00 p.m. Family portraits line the walls. The wedding of Princess Alice to Prince Louis of Hesse took place here in 1862 and Queen Victoria's body lay in state here in 1901 before being taken to Windsor.

The Drawing Room described by Queen Victoria in 1846 as "extremely handsome with its yellow damask satin curtains and furniture to match" The room was restored in 2003. After dinner the Queen would use the room to sing and play at the piano or play cards. Famous musicians often gave recitals here.

The Billiard Room - men often withdrew here in the evening to play billiards - the Queen would also sometimes play billiards in the daytime with members of her household.

Time to mount the stairs to the second floor for the Royal Nurseries.

Here I spotted the rest of the family coming back down - their tour was complete! None of them sadly share my love of historic houses.

The Royal Nursery Suite which was immediately above the Queen and Prince's rooms allowing them to see their children easily.

Sitting Room

Views from the windows - sorry the first is over exposed - I forgot to lower the ISO.

Nursery Bedroom

The Grand Staircase based on the design of the stairs at Claremont House where Victoria's uncle Leopold lived.

The painting is the allegorical Fresco "Neptune Resigning the Empire of the Seas to Britannia" symbolising Britain's supremacy as a world power. The painting is by William Dyce.

I didn't get too many photos (you will probably be glad to hear!) of the Queen and Prince's private rooms - it was too dark

Prince Consort's Dressing and Living Room

Queen Victoria's Sitting Room

and her bedroom where she died on 22nd January, 1901.

Back down the stairs to the Dunbar Corridor and

Dunbar Room - here the decoration was inspired by architecture traditional to North India.

The beautiful peacock above the the fireplace was suggested by Princess Beatrice

I could have spent many more hours in the house but it was time to leave in search of the others.

Photos all taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330

Reference: English Heritage Guide book to Osborne

Part 2 will include a trip to the Swiss Cottage and a look around the Walled Garden followed by a ghost walk in the evening.


Pam said...

It's a beautiful house, I do like to look round houses like this, i've found you can't always take photos in them though!

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - Thanks - I love houses like this too mainly because of all the history and the superb architecture and decoration. The National Trust has only allowed photos (without flash) within the last decade I think at most but I don't believe all properties.

I know the first time we went to Osborne photos weren't allowed and from memory I think it was the same second time.

Places like Maxstoke Castle and a place we went to in East Devon Powderham Castle didn't though. It is a shame in some ways as I like to share photos so people who may never visit can see them but there again you have to respect the privacy of families that might still live there.

Rosie said...

It's good that more and more properties are allowing photographs to be taken inside as long as there is no flash involved. It looks a magnificent house with much to see, I'd like to visit one day:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thank you and yes it is good news re photography being allowed. I seem to remember it was banned there at one time because some of the items belonged to the present Royal Family but I may be wrong.

If you manage to visit IofW one day Osborne House, in my view, is a must visit. You could easily spend a day there with the house, terrace gardens, walled garden, grounds, Swiss Cottage and beach. We have still to walk down to the beach! If we ever moved there - I would join English Heritage so I could go as often as I liked!

Caroline Gill said...

Ah, this post particularly brings back so much to me as Osborne was our first port of call on arrival at Easter. I could tell immediately, RR, just how much you had benefited from 'going back' by the detail that caught your eye. I tried to search it out on my visit, but my first impressions (and main memories) were definitely the majesty, the big vistas and general views etc. There is just so much to take in - but I do remember that butterfly quotation! The classical architectural influences should not have been such a surprise, but I think the bright paints in places highlighting the Greek style came as a (vibrant and pleasant) surprise.

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thank you so very much - hopefully I am returning the favour as your super blog posts from your visit brought back happy memories of our times there too :)

Yes, there is a lot to take in (this was my third visit) and I am learning more since returning reading the guidebook. I think you could visit dozens of times and still find new things and of course the gardens would change throughout the year. I think it is one of the most stunning houses I have ever visited and the views with the sea in the distance are just superb. One day I will return again and walk to the beach!

I would have liked to visit the church at Whippingham but we were too late leaving and by now my son's camera batteries had also gone flat! There is always next time....

amanda peters said...

What a great place inside, all looks very new and well looked after, must cost some money to keep it going. So pleased they do too.
Love the ceiling , it's hard to get my head round how much work , back when it was built the amount of detail and time it would have taken to build these big houses.
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thank you. English Heritage do maintain house, gardens and grounds so well - there again admission if you are not a member is not cheap so presumably they get a lot of money that way. I was tempted to join especially as we went to Yarmouth Castle which was EH too but there are not that many EH places locally except for Kenilworth Castle.

The ceilings were what stood out in my mind on the first visit. As you say so much money time and detail went into the place. At least now the public can enjoy it all.

CherryPie said...

This looks like a really interesting property to visit. So nice that you were able to take photos and share them.

Ragged Robin said...

CherryPie - Thank you - yes it is a wonderful place to visit.So much to see and do there.