22 January 2012

Isle of Wight--Osborne House. . .

Osborne is another English Heritage property. . .between our EH membership and the recommendations, it was one of the places we decided to visit while on the Isle of Wight.  It is a beautiful property and we had a really nice walk on the grounds.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought the estate in 1845, and it became their private escape from court life.  They used Osborne for more than 50 years.  The house was built as a sea-side family home rather than a palace, so it was really interesting to see how a Queen really lived.  (Still very luxurious and ornate.)  We were able to visit almost all the rooms. . even the Queen's bedroom where she died.

The gate house?  It was out by the road and matches the main house.

The grounds on the way in.

For a pound each, Hannah, Maggie, and I were able to travel up to the house by horse-drawn carriage--the same way the Royal Family traveled the estate.

Osborne House

We took a walk down to the Swiss Cottage--my favorite part of the tour.  Prince Albert wasn't impressed with the way the English palaces were being run; we were told by one of the guides that he and the Queen actually purchased the Osborne Estate with the money he saved making their various palaces more efficient.  Swiss Cottage was his way of teaching his children to properly manage a household.  Each of their nine children had a garden plot.  They planted, tended, and harvested their own crop which they could then sell to their father at their store for market value.  The children used that money to run their fully outfitted Swiss Cottage--they prepared the food, served it, entertained, etc.  . . learning every aspect of how to run a successful household.

Queen Victoria's bathing machine. ..don't know how well you can read the sign below. . they rolled this dressing room right down to the water's edge so that the Queen could enter the water without being seen in her bathing suit.  I have got to get one of those!!

We ate at the Terrace Restaurant on the grounds. . .and Keith and I went for a traditional tea, with tea or coffee, finger sandwiches, and various cakes and biscuits:

The gardens leading down to the sea.

I got one of my favorite souvenirs here:  a stem of myrtle from  the Osborne myrtle, planted by Queen Victoria in 1845.  The myrtle flower is said to bring luck, fidelity, and security in a happy marriage, and has been present in every royal wedding bouquet since Queen Victoria.  Each of Victoria's five daughters had Osborne myrtle in their bouquets, as did Princess Kate when she married Prince William.  (Their wedding was four days after we moved to the UK).  Her bouquet also contained sprigs of myrtle from Queen Elizabeth's 1947 bouquet.  I am just really impressed by this tradition. . not that all the marriages worked out, but it seems such a romantic notion.
  My myrtle. . artwork by Maggie.