Located on the Isle of Wight, Osbourne House is a historic home that was once the seaside residence of Queen Victoria and her family. Set amidst beautifully landscaped gardens and overlooking the Solent, the house offers visitors a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of the Victorian era. With its ornate architecture, opulent interiors, and fascinating history, Osbourne House is a must-see attraction for anyone interested in British history, architecture, and culture.
Osborne House in a Nutshell
|⏰ Suggested Duration:||3 hours|
|☀️ Best Time to Visit:||Before 11 AM and after 2 PM|
|💜 Osborne House Entry Ticket:||17 GBP|
Must-see at the Osborne House
- State Rooms
- Swiss Cottage
- Queen Victoria’s Beach
- Walled Garden
York Avenue, East Cowes, Isle of Wight, PO32 6JT
Monday to Sunday: 10 AM - 5 PM
What to expect at Osborne House?
- Lavish interiors: Osborne House boasts grand reception rooms, luxurious furnishings, and an impressive collection of royal art.
- Beautiful gardens: The well-manicured gardens at Osborne House have highlights like the walled garden, the formal terraces, and the tranquil woodland walks.
- Historic royal artifacts: You can expect to see a range of historic royal artifacts on display, including Queen Victoria's personal writing desk, the chair she used during her jubilee celebrations, and Prince Albert's study.
- Stunning sea views: Osborne House overlooks the Solent and offers stunning sea views, which can be enjoyed from the Terrace, the Swiss Cottage, and Queen Victoria's private beach.
- Unique Rooms: Osborne House features several unique rooms, such as the Durbar Room, which was designed in an Indian style to commemorate Queen Victoria's status as Empress of India, and the Swiss Cottage, a charming wooden chalet built for the royal children.
Recommended Osborne House Tickets
Depending on the kind of experience you seek and time in hand, you can choose from a variety of Osborne House tickets.
Osborne House History
In 1845, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought the Osborne estate as a tranquil countryside getaway from London and Windsor. The first pavilion was constructed in 1846 to house the royals, complete with a nursery. Cubitt, the chief architect, helped the royal couple create a model farm, cottages and a sea wall to save the coastal frontage of the estate.
Prince Albert played a significant role in the creation of Osborne House's Italianate architecture, which became so renowned that it was dubbed "the Osborne style" and replicated throughout the British Empire. Additionally, the prince took a keen interest in the estate's gardens, and much of the landscaping is based on his ideas and designs.
Victoria and Albert were able to explore their interests and express their likes in this beachside haven away from the pressures of court life. The Queen utilized Osborne House for over 50 years, seeking solace at the residence following the death of Prince Albert in 1861.
Today, the extravagantly furnished rooms depict the tale of a marriage, a family, and an empire. Even Osborne's most private spaces, such as the children’s nursery and the bedroom where Victoria passed away in 1901, are open to visitors.
The Military History of Osborne House
In 1903, a Royal Navy College was established at Osborne House to instruct young cadets. The residential and major wings of the property were later converted into a convalescent center for officers, which opened in 1904 with modern medical facilities and a former medical officer as the House Governor.
As the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth began producing enough cadets to meet demand, the Navy College at Osborne House was ultimately shut down in 1921.
During World War II, Osborne Bay was used as a training ground for soldiers in preparation for the D-Day landings.
Osborne House - Architecture and Design
Prince Albert was passionately involved in the design of the house. It was built by Thomas Cubitt but he played the role of a developer more than an architect. The home was constructed in the traditional Italian "palazzo" style. This can be seen in its attractive silhouette, two towers, and terraces joined by flights of stairs. It was made to blend in with the island, which Prince Albert compared to the Bay of Naples.
The Pavilion served as Victoria and Albert's private getaway and family home. On the ground floor, you can see the billiard room, drawing room, and dining room all opening into one another on three sides of the staircase. This allowed for the presence of all the necessary household members without making the chambers appear excessive.
The Gardens and Grounds of Osborne House
The gardens in summer are an absolute delight with the evergreen foliage and sea views. The Italianate mansion has its lower walls covered in myrtle and magnolias. Interestingly, these myrtles have been featured in the bouquets of several generations of royal brides including Diana and Meghan.
In spring, you can spot daffodils in the garden beds, with rhododendrons, lilies of the valley, and barberries in full bloom. Nestled amidst the meadows, the Swiss Cottage is a charming alpine-style house adorned with delightful pockets of primroses. Additionally, the expansive Pavilion Terrace, in particular, has a spectacular display of spring bedding with clematis and camellias in full bloom.
Highlights of Osborne House
- Durbar Room: This one-of-a-kind room was designed by Rudyard Kipling's father, Lockwood Kipling, and master carver Bhai Ram Singh to commemorate Queen Victoria's role as Empress of India. The room hosted ceremonial banquets for European royalty. It served as the backdrop for Queen Victoria's preferred theatrical performances. A new banqueting table takes you back in time to witness a 19th-century dinner held here.
- Drawing Room: The drawing room is decorated with yellow satin drapes, full-length mirrors, and a pair of elegant cut-glass chandeliers. The queen used this parlor to play cards, sing, and play the piano with members of the royal household after supper, as well as to entertain foreign monarchs during ceremonial occasions.
- State Dining House: The State Dining Room at Osborne House, Isle of Wight, is a grand Victorian space with high ceilings, mahogany walls, and expansive views. Designed by Thomas Cubitt, it features a magnificent dining table for 24 guests, adorned with Queen Victoria's monogrammed chairs. The room witnessed significant events during her reign and showcases opulence and elegance. Visitors can now experience its historic splendor, imagining the lavish banquets that once took place within its walls.
- Queen Victoria's Bedroom:The Queen’s bedroom is exactly how it was when she passed away. It features a framed photograph of Prince Albert on the headboard, and his watch on the bedside. Other details include an embroidered footstool, a chintz-covered chaise lounge and a fireplace.
- King Edward VII's Bedroom: The room features a half-tester bed, which was presumably adorned for the Prince and Princess of Wales' honeymoon in 1863. There is a chintz-covered chaise lounge with numerous artworks on the walls. Other details of the room include a clock on the mantelpiece with a pair of candlesticks and urns.
- Pavilion: The regal suites were situated on the first and second floors of the house's original square wing, which was referred to as "The Pavilion." In particular, the primary suites serve as a reminder of Victoria's dynastic connections to the other European royal families.
- Swiss Cottage: You will find the alpine-style chalet tucked away from the main house, and see how it was so special for the royal children. -Prince Albert built this space to engage the children in learning about the world around them, and this cottage even helped them as adults, learn important skills like cooking, housekeeping and gardening. Take a peek into how tea was prepared in these tiny kitchens and later, explore the lush green garden plots.
- Walled Garden: This was Prince Albert’s nursery and was later used by Victoria as a cut flower garden. During your visit, check out the cold frame near the glasshouses, which houses the seasonal assortment of bulbs and parma violets. Also, the roses that bloom between the arches of the walled garden every June are not to be missed.
Best Time to Visit Osborne House
The best time to visit Osborne House is during the Summer and Spring seasons to witness the gardens in their full glory and enjoy a nice picnic outdoors. Osborne House is pretty famous and attracts a huge number of visitors hence it is advisable to visit early during the day to avoid crowds.
Also an opportunity to link to Best To Visit London.
The Best Time to Visit London - The Ultimate Month on Month Guide
Osborne House Timings
- Monday to Sunday - 10 AM to 5 PM
- Last Admission at 4 PM
- Closed on 25th December
Southern Vectis services 4 & 5
The 65-mile Round the Isle of Wight Cycle Route connects each ferry terminal and passes through Osborne.
Ryde Esplanade (7 miles)
East Cowes (1.5 miles), Fishbourne (4 miles), Ryde (7 miles)
10-minute Hovercraft service from Portsmouth – Ryde, with convenient bus links to East Cowes.
Note: The Isle of Wight is a narrow island and you have to take a ferry or a hovercraft to get there. Taxis are available at all ports for the journey to Osborne House.
Insider Tips to Visit Osborne House
- There could be variations in the opening hours depending on the time of the year and other momentous occasions where the House might remain shut. We recommend checking the opening hours before visiting Osborne House
- If traveling with children, ensure they don’t wander off on the trails or the beach.
- Visit early in the day to avoid crowds and capture the place without being photobombed.
- You can explore the indoors if it rains but to enjoy the gardens and trails, visit on a sunny day.
- There is a shop which offers gifts and souvenirs for you to take back.
- Parts of the house are accessible by wheelchair such as the ground floor but some parts are not.
- You can enjoy the refreshments available on site, and there’s space to have a picnic as well.
- If you are planning to visit the Isle of Wight during the winter, you can catch a glimpse of how Queen Victoria celebrated Christmas there. Keep an eye on the official website for details and dates of the events.
Osborne House Facts
- Osborne House allows visitors to see the royal lifestyle intimately.
- The House has an exquisite art collection and features several gifts given to the Queen from people across the globe.
- Some parts of the house have been used as a convalescence home for officers which also includes AA Milne, the creator of the cartoon Winnie the Pooh.
- One part of the estate had later become a Navy College and two children from the Royal Family have attended the same.
- Visitors can enjoy the scenic views of gardens and grounds with horse-drawn carriages.
Restaurants near Osborne House
This cafe is perfect to start your day with. The place offers a wide assortment of snacks, light lunches, soup and cakes. You can also sip on refreshing hot and cool drinks and there's plenty of outdoor and indoor seating available. Additionally, they also provide lunchboxes for children and have a “Prince and Princess” menu.
Housed in Queen Victoria’s private chapel, this restaurant serves light lunches, snacks and cakes. The majority of the items are made with fresh local ingredients. There are plenty of options available exclusively for children as well.
Located near the Swiss Cottage, this small cafe is perfect to grab a bite during your exploration. Be sure to try out the Beatrice Cake. It was inspired by an age-old recipe and is named after Victoria’s youngest daughter.
Relish a scoop of the famous Minghella Ice Cream on Queen Victoria’s private beach. The unmatched views make it an ideal spot. During the winter months, you can go for a hot cup of coffee and a side of cake.
Places to Stay Near Osborne House
Things to Do Near Osborne House
Located in the heart of the Isle of Wight countryside, the Steam Railway is a historic railway and museum. You can enjoy a trip on the magnificent steam trains, and experience the breathtaking scenery of the iIsland. The journey consists of four stops along the five and a half miles of route.
Once an artillery fortress and summer residence of the royals, visitors can visit the room where King Charles I was kept as a prisoner and watch the daily demonstration of the Carisbrooke donkeys raising water from the well at Carisbrooke Castle. Also, enjoy the panoramic view of the islands from the high castle walls.
The fort was constructed between the 1850s and 1860s to defend Portsmouth and its important seaport from a French invasion. It has mostly remained unchanged and has many interesting things to see. You can view the parade field, cannon ramps, moated keep, and armory.
Titchfield Abbey was erected over the ruins of a medieval abbey. It features a gorgeous Tudor gatehouse. Furthermore, the medieval tiles—whose colors are so vivid that some people claim they could have been produced yesterday—are also striking remnants of the place.
Osborne House is open between 10 AM and 5 PM.
Yes, you can click pictures at Osborne House.
There are several dining options available at Osborne House to have snacks, lunch, cold drinks and ice-cream. One such place is the Petty Officers’ Quarters Cafe.
Yes, dogs are allowed on the Osborne House grounds. They should always be on a short lead and not left unsupervised.
Yes, you can have a picnic at one of the tables scattered across the grounds. A family picnic space is also conveniently located near the children's play area.