Welcome to Osborne House
Osborne House was built between 1845 and 1851 to provide Queen Victoria and Prince Albert with a private family home. It was built in the Italianate style in order to fit its setting on an island whose temperate climate and panoramic views over the Solent reminded Prince Albert of the Bay of Naples.
There is nothing significant left of the 18th-century Osborne House other than the front porch, which was reused as part of the entrance to the walled garden. The garden also dates to the 18th century.
The stables from the old house were retained, probably for economy’s sake. The building was later enlarged with a new carriage house, and then altered to provide kitchen offices and a servants’ hall.
Osborne has all the elements of an Italian house: the palazzo style, the picturesque silhouette with its pair of towers and the terraces connected by flights of steps. The terraces with their outstanding views are one of Osborne’s most successful features.
The house is divided into four distinct but connecting blocks, arranged around two courtyards. Three of these blocks were completed in Prince Albert’s lifetime: the Pavilion, in which the royal family had their rooms; the household wing, used by senior members of the royal household; and the main wing, used initially by the older royal children and later for the principal guest rooms.
The planning of the Pavilion combined freedom of circulation through linked reception rooms with close attention to the efficient arrangement of the domestic areas and their connection to the main rooms. The large plate-glass windows of the reception rooms on the ground floor make the rooms especially light and provide views across the terraces to the sea. The private rooms on the upper floors are more domestic in scale and have simpler decoration.
The most significant addition to Osborne in the years after Prince Albert’s death was the Durbar Wing (completed in 1892), which contained a large reception room and accommodation for Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s youngest married daughter, and her family.
Externally the Durbar Wing was given the same Italianate style as the rest of the house. The Durbar Room, however, was designed by Lockwood Kipling (father of the author Rudyard Kipling and director of the Mayo School of Art, Lahore, India). His elaborate Indian design was intended to reflect Queen Victoria’s status as Empress of India. The plasterwork in the Durbar Room was executed by the Indian plasterer Bhai Ram Singh.