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Royal Residences: A brief history of Osborne House

By, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Royal Central has taken a look at the history behind one of Queen Victoria’s favourite homes, Osborne House.

Where is it located?

The former royal residence where Queen Victoria died is located in East Cowes, Isle of Wight and was built in an Italian Renaissance style by Thomas Cubitt. Prince Albert heavily contributed to the home’s design and enjoyed looking out across the Solent as it reminded him of the Bay of Naples.

When was it built, and when was it used as a royal residence?

Osborne House was built on the site of a smaller three-storey Georgian house between 1845 and 1851 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The Queen chose the Isle of Wight as the site for a retreat-style home after spending two holidays in the neighbouring Norris Castle as a child.

The Royal Family would stay at Osborne for long periods of time every year: in May for Queen Victoria’s birthday, in July and August for the celebration of Prince Albert’s birthday and just before Christmas.

After Prince Albert died on December 14, 1861, at Windsor Castle, Queen Victoria continued to visit Osborne House more and more as it was one of her favourite residences.

Which key events have happened here?

The most famous event to happen at Osborne House was Queen Victoria’s death on January 22, 1901, in the presence of two generations of her family at her bedside. 

Following her death, her successor and son, King Edward VII donated Osborne House as a national gift to the state on the date of his coronation on August 9, 1902, even though Queen Victoria had left strict instruction for Osborne to remain within the family.

Who is it used by today?

The Queen’s former holiday home is no longer an active royal residence, and it belongs to English Heritage. Osborne is now a museum in honour of Queen Victoria and is open to the public. At Osborne you can see the Royal Family’s private beach as well as her own personal bathing machine which was extensively restored in July 2012.