Osborne House Estate
Isle of Wight
Tel: 01983 200022
DescriptionHistory of gardens
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought Osborne and its estate from Lady Isabella Blachford in 1845. In 1848 the old house was demolished and a new three-storey pavilion with flagtower and main and household wings was built. The 19th century estate eventually totalled over 800 hectares and included numerous cottages and lodges for estate workers and members of the household. Prince Albert's planting scheme was partially dictated by the already well-established late 18th century landscape that surrounded Osborne House. Other influences include his liking for poplars found at his family home of the Rosenau, and for the Italian fashion which he had seen at first hand of lining principal drives and walks with evergreens, such as myrtle and laurel. The walled kitchen-garden and adjoining pleasure grounds in front of the house remained as elements from the late 18th century landscape. The upper and lower terraces, with their ornamental parterres interspersed with statues representing the seasons, were constructed under the supervision of Prince Albert and Ludwig Gruner. The Swiss Cottage Garden laid out in 1853, with furnished cottage, was used by the children to grow and sell vegetables as a practical exercise in market gardening. The garden is following a restoration programme with the aim to present the park and garden landscape as close to the period before Queen Victoria's death as possible.
Osborne Contemporary Heritage Garden Osborne House is Grade II* on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.
* The parterre gardens and terraces have all been restored to their Victorian layout and are once again planted in seasonally changing Victorian bedding. These terraces host the many statues which Victoria and Albert bought to decorate these formal areas.
* Herbaceous borders planted with sub tropical and unusual species very fashionable at the time of Queen Victoria.
* Pleasure grounds containing mature specimens of unusual trees, many of which were some of the first introductions into Britain planted by dignitaries and royalty in Victorian times.
* The garden adjoining the Swiss Cottage, developed for Victoria and Albert's children where they could learn the domestic skills of gardening. Vegetables and fruit were grown which were sold to Prince Albert, at commercial rates for use in the house, providing them with a practical exercise in market gardening and commerce. A small thatched summerhouse contains the scaled-down garden tools branded with their owner's initials, which the Royal children used. (Queen Victoria's famous bathing machine can be seen by the public site nearby.)
* The walled fruit and flower garden has been restored and opened in July 2000 as part of the English Heritage Contemporary Heritage Garden initiative. Designed by Rupert Golby, it represents the dynamic nature of the fruit and flower planting of this important aspect of the Osborne Estate. Features include a variety of Victorian trained fruit trees, expansive cut flower borders and rose and fruit arches.
* A circuitous walk, the Ring Walk, has been restored which takes in historic features like the mount, the pond and the restored ice-house.
* Views to the sea through the restored vista.
Planting in the Contemporary Heritage Garden Garden Staff at Osborne, Photographer Toby Beasley Rare and unusual plants
An important visit or special anniversary was sometimes commemorated by planting a memorial tree, of which at least 270 existed throughout the estate. There are many examples of magnificent trees at Osborne including specimens of the Cork Oak, Quercus suber, from the bark of which is commercially harvested in Spain and Portugal for making corks, Cedars of Lebanon, and specimen evergreens. There is also an extensive collection of species and varieties of Ilex (Hollies), the impressive walled trained Magnolia grandiflora and the famous Royal Myrtle Myrtus communis. The herbaceous borders include many unusual Victorian bulbs and plants particular to that period and historic varieties of vegetables and fruit can also be seen.
Osborne is one of only four English Heritage properties with red squirrels and one of only two with dormice. Osborne boasts the presence of ten Red Data Book Species including six fungi, three plants and one fly. There are also seven Nationally Scarce Species on site including four insects, one plant and two lichens. Brown long-eared bats are also known to roost on site.
What are the opening times?
Dates Opening Times Opening Days
1 Apr-30 Sep 10am-5pm Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, & Sun.
1 Nov-31 Mar 10am - 4pm Prebooked guided tours only (last tour is 2.30pm. During the Christmas tour season 11 Nov-7 Jan, last tour time is 3pm) Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, & Sun.
24-26 Dec and 1 Jan Closed
1-31 Oct 10am-4pm Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, & Sun.
On 22-23 Jul, 28-29 Jul & 3 Aug the house closes at 3pm (grounds 4pm) for special events. Please call for details.
How much does it cost?
English Heritage Members:
Free - Join English Heritage
Family ticket (2 adults and 3 children) £22.40
Grounds only: £5.30/£4.00/£2.70. Family ticket £13.30
How do I get there?
Isle of Wight - PO32 6JY
1 mile SE of East Cowes (Map 196; ref SZ 516948)Local Tourist Information Cowes (01983 291914) and Newport (01983 525450)Ferry: East Cowes 1 1/2 mile (Red Funnel - 023 8033 4010), Fishbourne 4 miles, Ryde 7 miles (both Wightlink - 0870 5827744)Hovercraft: Ryde (01983 811000)
Ryde Esplanade 7 miles and Wootton (IoW SteamRailway) 3 miles
Southern Vectis services 4 Ryde - E Cowes, and 5 Newport - E Cowes
Find a hotel near this property
Map of location
Find the site on the National Cycle Network
What facilities are available?
Parking Tearooms or restaurant Suitable for people with disabilities Male/Female Toilets Male/Female Toilets Education Guidebooks No dogs allowed Shop
Toilets: Adapted unisex WC in reception centre.
Shop: Level access.
Refreshments: Small lip to seating area. Garden with tables and chairs. Picnics welcome in grounds.
Parking: Access to house: Four wheelchairs available. Ground floor accessible to wheelchairs via ramp. NB Queen Victoria's private apartments are not accessible to wheelchair users.
Gardens: Accessible on tarmac and impacted gravel paths. The Walled Garden is heavily gravelled and may be difficult for wheelchairs. Facilities available to take wheelchair users to Swiss Cottage. Seats provided.
50m from reception centre, then a further 230m to house entrance. Disabled visitors may be set down at house entrance (not coaches).
Visually Impaired Visitors:
Flower garden and blossom.
What facilities are available for groups?
15% discount for groups of 11 or more plus a free place for every additional 20 paying passengers. Free entry for coach driver and tour leader.
In winter and spring, groups of 20+ can enjoy special all-inclusive group packages which include tour of the house and admission to the gardens, two course meal, plus generous shop discount.
Coach Parking Facilities:
Please contact the Head Custodian on ++44 (0)1983 200022
Free parking for approximately 20 coaches, 350 metres from the house entrance
Average Length of Visit:
For details on inclusive admission and cross-Solent travel visit www.hovertravel.co.uk or www.redfunnel.co.uk or www.wightlink.co.uk
Christmas Shopping Weekend and Carol Singing
Isle of Wight
Join us for traditional carols around the Christmas tree and enjoy a special Christmas shopping day at Osborne House.
Sat 25 - Sun 26 Nov
Time of Event:
Noon - 4pm
Member Price (adult):
Member Price (concession):
Member Price (child):
Member Price (family):
Join English Heritage
Celebrate Christmas at Osborne House
When Osborne House on the Isle of Wight slows down for the winter, visitors can enjoy special hour-long guided tours of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's private rooms without the crowds!
Osborne House - Bedroom where Queen Victoria died Queen Victoria's bedroomFind out about the royal couple from expert staff who give insight into life away from the limelight for Britains longest reigning monarch. See her beloved island home come to life with its beautiful rooms full of personal memorabilia, rich furnishings and works of art.
With tours themed to life in the house in winter and spring, youll love what you discover at this spectacular palace-by-the-sea.
Terrace Restaurant at Osborne House (c) English Heritage Complete your day with a visit to the Terrace Restaurant. With stunning views across the terrace, digby trout Restaurants offers seasonally themed menus throughout the guided tour season including delicious Christmas lunches, available to groups, pre-booking essential. Please call: 01983 203055
A VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS
A Christmas tree at Osborne House A Christmas tree at Osborne House Between 11th November 2006 and 7th Jan 2007, the tours take on a festive flavour and highlight some of the traditions enjoyed by the Victorian royal family.
CHRISTMAS LUNCHES FOR GROUPS
English Heritage are offering groups of 20 people or more the option of a glittering Christmas Package. At a cost of £25.00 per person, it includes a tour of the house, entry to the grounds and a traditional 2 course Christmas lunch in the beautifully decorated Terrace Restaurant as well as a generous shop discount. One driver or host receives a free lunch for every 20 paying. Pre-booking essential. Please call: 01983 203055
The new Osborne Café is open all winter and will be offering a range of mouth-watering Christmas specials including;
hot spiced winter berry punch with home made mince pie
hot chocolate, whipped cream & caramel drizzle and a ginger biscuit
tea or coffee and a slice of home-made rich fruit cake
turkey breast and cranberry filled roll and a choice of drink