Residence of Queen Victoria
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight has always been a favourite among holiday makers for the charm of its countryside and villages and for its world famous yachting centre at Cowes where yacht races have been held since the 18th century. Two important inventors have also been associated with the island and particularly with Osborne House: Guglielmo Marconi and Alexander Graham Bell. It was from Osborne House that Bell gave a demonstration of the telephone to Queen Victoria in 1878 and it was Marconi who transmitted his first royal messages in 1898 enquiring about the health of her son the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) who was then convalescing on board the Royal Yacht.
A personalised Royal holiday retreat
Osborne House, probably the best known Victorian country House in Britain open to the public, is now administered by English Heritage. This three-storey royal seaside villa, overlooking the Solent, was built for the Queen and her consort Prince Albert on an estate of 342 acres bought from Lady Isabella Blachford. It was the Prince himself who designed this Italianate building with the help of the master builder and architect Thomas Cubitt, already famous for his work in London. The style of the building reflects the passion the Prince had for the art and architecture of the Italian Renaissance.
The building was erected between the years 1845-51 and financed by the Queen's own personal funds. It was the royal family's favourite holiday retreat where they spent their periods of rest during the winter and summer seasons. It was a place that enabled them to flee from the formalities of royal court life in London which, in part, would explain the personal affection the Queen had for it even after the death of Prince Albert.
Osborne House is a very large building, much of which was built to accommodate visitors and household staff; the royal family's private apartments constitute only a fraction of the entire building.